Too-Specific Top 10 - Path From Exile
(Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival | Art by Marta Nael)
Gone Today, Here Tomorrow
Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Merchant of the Vale is the only creature with a rummage ability that can cast itself from exile?)
March of the Machine: Aftermath may have been a bit light on cards (and story, and Limited, and...), yet with the new set comes another commander that cares about, you guessed it, casting cards from exile: Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival.
While this whole genre may have started with Prosper, Tome-Bound, we've been seeing it more and more, from Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival to Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald. This means that we've now seen exile-matters decks in red-black, red-green, and red-white. Throw in a corner-case Tasha, the Witch Queen, and now you have a case for exile-matters in any of the five colors.
The only problem? People are really only playing one kind of exile card for the most part.
Now don't get me wrong, impulse draw is great. I'm on record as saying such since before Prosper even existed. But there are many more ways that you can cast from exile that are being forgotten about here.
Top 10 Mechanics That Can Cast/Play From Exile
Whether keyworded or not, a mechanic is essentially a theme of how to do a thing. Impulse draw, for instance, is some variation of "exile a card from the top of your library. Until the end of your turn, you may play that card." There are, however, a ton more variations out there that use casting or playing cards from exile as a means of achieving things in the game. I feel that a woefully small amount of them see play in decks like Prosper or Pia Nalaar, so why not explore those other options?
Criteria: Mechanics which appear on three or more cards that allow a player to cast or play cards from exile. Per tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.
8,193 Inclusions (Invasion of Ikoria)
The newest mechanic to utilize exile is also the newest card type: battles! While it does feel a bit clunky that battles flip and cast themselves from exile (rather than transforming themselves as other double-facing cards have done for over a decade now), I must admit that I do like the change. It not only allows for future battles to have a back side that's a spell, but it also allows for triggers on cast and enter the battlefield, the latter of which always felt like it should happen anyway.
More importantly, that means that all of these new battles will trigger the exile-matters commanders. Invasion of Kaldheim probably already landed on a bunch of exile fans' radars, but there are some others that would work well in different colors:
- Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival: Invasion of Gobakhan, Invasion of Mercadia, Invasion of Belenon
- Prosper, Tome-Bound: Invasion of Fiora, Invasion of Karsus
- Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald: Invasion of Shandalar, Invasion of Ergamon
17,199 Inclusions (Big Game Hunter)
Under most circumstances, it's going to be a bit awkward trying to play an exile-matters deck and a discard deck all at once. This makes Madness perhaps not the best choice when it comes to stuff to trigger your commander. If you do happen to have some rummage lying about, however, here are a few cards that might work out:
- All: Stromkirk Occultist
- Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival: None. Seriously, don't try this, madness and Thopters don't mix.
- Prosper, Tome-Bound: Big Game Hunter, Call to the Netherworld, Blazing Rootwalla
- Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald: Blazing Rootwalla, Basking Rootwalla
37,118 Inclusions (Apex Devastator)
Cascade is perhaps one of the best-known mechanics to cast from exile. This means that it actually does see a fair amount of play in already existing exile-matters decks, especially in the case of Wild-Magic Sorcerer. With that said, I've noticed a disturbing lack of Bloodbraid Elf in Faldorn decks. Let's go ahead and go over some of the better cards in each of the options.
- All: Wild-Magic Sorcerer, Flamekin Herald
- Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival: Throes of Chaos (If playing Land Tax effects), Bloodbraid Marauder
- Prosper, Tome-Bound: Rain of Riches
- Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald: Bloodbraid Elf, Violent Outburst
46,163 Inclusions (Murderous Rider)
Adventure doesn't have quite as many hoops to jump through as Madness, but it does often mean spending quite a bit of mana to eventually cast something from exile. At the same time, it can let you double dip if you do manage to exile an Adventure card with an impulse draw. Depending on what you're looking to do, there can be some pretty strong candidates here.
- Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival: Horn of Valhalla, Crystal Dragon
- Prosper, Tome-Bound: Murderous Rider, Embereth Shieldbreaker, Merchant of the Vale, Young Red Dragon
- Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald: Tlincalli Hunter, Emerald Dragon
(53,638 Inclusions (Ravenform)
Foretell is a bit of a double-edged sword in exile-matters decks. On the one hand, it allows you to trigger your commander even if you don't have an impulse effect laying around. On the other hand, if you do exile them with impulse draw or something similar, they generally cost a whole bunch to cast without their Foretell cost. This can really derail your efforts to keep the ball rolling. Still, there are some cheaper cards that are worth it, along with some effects that are powerful enough that you probably don't care if you have to tap out to make it happen.
- All: Delayed Blast Fireball
- Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival: Starnheim Unleashed
- Prosper, Tome-Bound: Rise of the Dread Marn, Dream Devourer, Dual Strike
- Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald: Battle Mammoth, Green Slime, Dwarven Reinforcements, Sarulf's Packmate
57,485 Inclusions (Profane Tutor)
If there is one mechanic I absolutely believe doesn't see enough play in exile-matters decks, it's Suspend. But it can be a bit risky. The most popular Suspend cards, like Sol Talisman, Wheel of Fate, and Lotus Bloom, don't have a casting cost and therefore cannot be cast out of an impulse draw where you actually have to spend mana, meaning they can be dead cards in exile. For those cards that do have a casting cost, however, Suspend can be an amazing way to have your cake and eat it too, with spells that can both be cast off the top or at the beginning of your upkeep. It should also be noted that if you're playing cheap Cascade spells, like Bloodbraid Marauder or Pia Nalaar with a Flamekin Herald in play, then the no-cost Suspend cards can be tutored for and played for free with a Cascade trigger, which can be a huge win.
- All: Rousing Refrain, Rift Bolt, Epochrasite
- Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival: Glimpse of Tomorrow, Riftmarked Knight
- Prosper, Tome-Bound: None.
- Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald: Search for Tomorrow, Venture Forth, Rift Sower, Nantuko Shaman
66,747 Inclusions (Ephemerate)
Rebound isn't a very deep mechanic. Unfortunately the color where it's deepest is blue, the color that currently doesn't have a real exile-matters commander (all respect to Tasha, the Witch Queen). Thankfully, what it lacks in depth it makes up for in being absolutely amazing, so thankfully there are a ton of options here.
- Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival: World at War, Emerge Unscathed, Nomads' Assembly, Survival Cache, Center Soul, Great Teacher's Decree
- Prosper, Tome-Bound: Fevered Suspicion, Consuming Vapors (both came in Prosper's precon)
- Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald: Prey's Vengeance
119,877 Inclusions (Mosswort Bridge)
I should've kept my not-very-deep-mechanic critique in the chamber, because even with the revisit in Streets of New Capenna, there are still only 12 Hideaway cards, or two per color with the exception of blue, which got three. Even worse, the red addition in New Capenna technically has a five-color color identity, meaning you can't play it with any of the current exile-matters commanders. Still, there's obviously some Hideaway cards out there that we're all familiar with that absolutely should be put into your exile-matters deck if they're not there already:
- Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival: Windbrisk Heights, Rabble Rousing
- Prosper, Tome-Bound: None.
- Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald: Mosswort Bridge, Spinerock Knoll, Fight Rigging
2. Opponent Impulse
138,344 Inclusions (Dauthi Voidwalker)
Reaching the end of the keyword mechanics, we start to go for more general ideas. Second among those is the idea of exiling your opponents' things and playing them. First made popular with Gonti, Lord of Luxury, it's since exploded as a typically black mechanic that allows you to steal your opponents' stuff while maximizing the size of your hand, although it's still well-represented in red. As for what works with specific commanders, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer makes literally any deck with red in it better, and that goes double for exile-matters decks if you're made of money. If not, then I might suggest You Find Some Prisoners and Dire Fleet Daredevil?
1. Impulse Draw
219,511 Inclusions (Jeska's Will)
Finally, the backbone that exile-matters decks have always been built on: impulse draw. There's little here that's not already seeing play in these decks, but I would note that the newest addition, Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival, doesn't come with an impulse effect stapled to her like previous editions. With that in mind, you're going to want to go even deeper on exile effects than you've ever seen with Prosper and Faldorn, so don't slouch!
Speaking of, what exile-matters cards can only be cast by our new commander?
Top 10 Mono-White Cards That Can Cast From Exile
- Resurgent Belief
- Cosmic Intervention
- Horn of Valhalla
- Starnheim Unleashed
- Giant Killer
- Realm-Cloaked Giant
- Stoic Farmer
- Emerge Unscathed
- Nomads' Assembly
There aren't any instant winners here, but there are more than a couple of things that might be worth considering, depending on how you want to go about your Pia Nalaar build. For instance, with all the Thopter-makers that care about entering the battlefield, Ephemerate isn't the worst idea. We already listed Horn of Valhalla, but it's worth mentioning just how good that card is going to be in a deck that cares about going wide. Making a ton of Serra Angels with Starnheim Unleashed could end a game fairly quickly as well. Stoic Farmer could help you ramp a bit while also making some Thopters, Emerge Unscathed is going to protect your commander that is absolutely going to attract attention, and Nomads' Assembly is probably overkill, but who doesn't love that?
Nuts and Bolts
There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.
What Do You Think?
With the clear trend to get Prosper, Tome-Bound into every color, I imagine before long we'll see an Izzet version. What scares me is that we'll probably soon after see one that's less about choosing, and more about having it all.
Finally, what is your favorite card that can cast from exile that isn't a regular impulse draw effect? Do you play an exile-matters deck, or are you planning on building one? Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the folding table in the closet. I mean, of course we'll pull it out of the closet and set it up in the main room first, but you know what I mean.