Almost There: Journey to Eternity

Posted in How to Build on February 2, 2018

By Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

Paulo has been playing Magic since he was eight years old. At fifteen, he ventured outside of Brazil for his first international tournament, and he's been globetrotting as a professional player ever since.

The Rivals of Ixalan gold flip cards have very strong effects if you manage to flip them. So far, we've already seen Path of Mettle being played in aggressive red-white decks, and now we have this Journey to Eternity deck that was played by DR_OOM to a 5-0 finish on Magic Online:

DR_OOM's Journey to Eternity

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This deck is very interesting, but seems to be a little too all-over-the-place for me. It's hard to imagine that Scrapheap Scrounger, Rhonas the Indomitable, and Journey to Eternity belong in the same deck. What I would do is streamline it a bit more, and turn it into more of a value deck with fewer aggressive components.

If we want to play a Journey to Eternity deck, we have to think of two things: how to flip it, and how to best make use of it once it's flipped. Luckily for us, it seems like you don't have to go very far out of your way to achieve either of those things in this Standard format.

Imagine you're playing against an aggressive red deck and you play land, go. They play Bomat Courier, and on your turn you play Dusk Legion Zealot. They play Earthshaker Khenra and attack for 3. Now, on your turn, you play Journey to Eternity on the Zealot. What are they supposed to do? They can't burn it down with Abrade, Lightning Strike, or Shock, and they can't really attack into it. If they sit back, it's good for you, and if they attack, it's also good for you—you kill one of their creatures, get your Dusk Legion Zealot back, and flip your Journey into Atzal, Cave of Eternity.

Against people who aren't interested in attacking, flipping Journey is going to be a little bit harder. The key there is either putting it on a creature they have to kill, flooding the board so they have to Fumigate everything, or killing the creature yourself. Against control decks, Fatal Push is going to be bad anyway, so you can just use it to flip your Journey. And once you do, you should be set up very well for a long game.

I think that, right now, the best creature with a sacrifice ability is Thrashing Brontodon, because the body is solid and the ability is very good to recur. If they have an artifact or enchantment in play, you can enchant your Brontodon with Journey to Eternity, destroy their permanent, and immediately bring the Brontodon back with your flipped land. If they're playing a deck full of targets, such as Mardu Vehicles, God-Pharaoh's Gift, or White-Blue Cycling with Drake Haven, then the ability to start recurring Brontodons every turn can win you the game on its own. The best part is that, due to the way the rules work, you can sacrifice Brontodon to kill your own Journey to Eternity—you choose the target (the Journey), then you pay the costs (sacrificing the Brontodon). The Journey will trigger, returning both the Brontodon and Atzal, Cave of Eternity to play, and by the time the original Brontodon ability resolves, the Journey to Eternity that was targeted will be long gone. In practice, this means you can always use Brontodon to flip Journey if you want to.

Once Journey flips, it becomes very hard to lose a long game. Your creatures become immune to most removal, and, with the right combination of enters-the-battlefield effects, they also can't be interacted with in combat very well. Any mill effects you have also become much better (such as Liliana, Death's Majesty). Against other creature decks, a stream of Ravenous Chupacabras and Noxious Gearhulks will be very hard to push through, and against slower decks, you should be able to generate a lot of advantage from grindy value creatures such as Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Jadelight Ranger, Kitesail Freebooter, and Dusk Legion Zealot.

Past that, I think we should probably just streamline the deck and play four of most cards that are good, including Journey itself. This is how I'd build it:

PVDDR's Journey to Eternity

Download Arena Decklist

Another possibility is Walking Ballista. It doesn't work very well with Liliana or Atzal, since it dies if you try to bring it back, but it also makes it really easy to flip Journey, since it can sacrifice itself at will. Once we have Ballistas, you might move to a small +1/+1 counters subtheme with Winding Constrictor. Jadelight Ranger is particularly good with it, and can become a 6/5 on turn three if you hit a nonland. I would try something like this:

PVDDR's Journey Ballista

Download Arena Decklist

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