Journey To Eternity In Modern

When you want a card that people are sleeping on to get all kinds of busted up, you go to world class deckbuilder Sam Black! The man enjoys sacrificing creatures and comboing, so it’s only natural we go to him for this Rivals of Ixalan haymaker!

New year, new cards, same old tricks, but hey, new deck!

It should come as no surprise that Journey to Eternity caught my eye the
moment I saw it.

Unless we see a surprise reprint of Viscera Seer, maybe alongside some kind
of bloodthirsty pirate that wants to eat all its friends, we won’t likely
find a home for this card in Standard, but with the right support, Journey
to Eternity could be powerful enough to create any entirely new Modern

Journey to Eternity is extremely easy to trigger, if you build your deck
around it. In fact, if your opponent can ever kill your Journey to
Eternity, I’d say you’re doing it wrong. This card is like Recurring
Nightmare, an enchantment that your opponent should almost never be able to
interact with using enchantment removal because you should always be ready
to sacrifice the creature in response. All you need to find Atzal, Cave of
Eternity is to resolve Journey to Eternity on a creature you can
immediately sacrifice. Bonus points for additional effects you can generate
from sacrificing your creature or from it returning to the battlefield.

There are creatures you can sacrifice in Standard, but nothing that makes
it easy to get Atzal, Cave of Eternity onto the battlefield on turn 3. In
Modern, however, there are a wealth of options, from reliable ways to
sacrifice any creature to creatures that are excellent at sacrificing

What we’re looking for is a sequence that can let us flip Journey to
Eternity on turn 3, and we’d like to avoid simply throwing away another
card to do it. Casting Viscera Seer and then casting Journey to Eternity on
Viscera Seer and sacrificing the Viscera Seer is pretty bad. Casting
Viscera Seer, then Voice of Resurgence, then Journey to Eternity on Voice
of Resurgence and sacrificing the Voice of Resurgence is quite a bit
better, because we’re up a 3/3 (for the moment) token. Sakura-Tribe Elder
is another great creature to send on a Journey, since the extra land it
finds will help activate Atzal, Cave of Eternity, but it’s not really clear
what the rest of that deck would look like. Another interesting direction
is using Insolent Neonate to discard some huge Griselbrand style creature
to return with Atzal, Cave of Eternity, but again, you’d need to find a way
to make the rest of the deck support this when you don’t have all the right

Okay, so, it might start to sound like we’re looking at a deck that’s
fundamentally trying to pull off Splinter Twin – sticking an enchantment on
the right kind of creature, except instead of winning the game on the spot,
we get a pretty sweet land. Is that really worth all the trouble? Well,
despite bringing it up myself, I don’t really think that’s a great
comparison. First of all, a really wide variety of reasonably costed,
independently useful creatures will do, and second, three mana is a lot
less than four.

Atzal, Cave of Eternity doesn’t exactly win the game itself for you, but it
asks so much less – Viscera Seer, and even Cartel Aristocrat, are more
playable cards on their own than Pestermite. The idea here is to build a
deck that doesn’t rely on Journey to Eternity to win the game, it’s just
another powerful thing your G/B/x value deck can do.

In a way, this card is competing with Collected Company – any noncreature
spell that works well in a deck with a lot of cheap creatures is
fundamentally competing with Collected Company in Modern, because that card
allows you to play so few other noncreatures. Compared to a Collected
Company deck, a Journey to Eternity deck should have more interaction and a
lower curve; there’s a strong incentive to play creatures that cost less
than three rather than exactly three, and you’ll want interactive spells to
prolong the game to give you time to get as much value out of Atzal, Cave
of Eternity as possible.

Given that we want value creatures and sacrifice outlets, I figure there’s
a very good chance that we’re looking at a Melira combo deck, but that’s
not required.

So, the baseline I’m looking at is a relatively high interaction Abzan
value deck. The interactive instants and sorceries will be some combination
of Inquisition of Kozilek, Thoughtseize, Fatal Push, Path to Exile, Abrupt
Decay, and Maelstrom Pulse, with sideboard options like Dromoka’s Command.
Our remaining noncreature spells will be Journey to Eternity and likely
Chord of Calling. As for creatures, we have a lot of options:

One Mana:

Two Mana:

Three Mana:

This isn’t a comprehensive list of creatures to consider. Some metagames
might call for a Spellskite or something if we’re playing a lot copies of
Chord of Calling, and there are a wide range of three+ mana creatures we
might want for specific purposes, especially in small numbers, but these
are the kinds of creatures I’m imagining – fairly standard Abzan Value
creatures fare.

As for a specific decklist:

This is a very conservative approach to building a deck around Journey to
Eternity. We’re playing a bunch of cards that have been successful in
Modern. This is a disruptive aggro/combo deck that’s built to play a fair
game with outs to win the game out of nowhere. The combos should be
familiar, but just to cover what’s going on here, we have:

Viscera Seer or Cartel Aristocrat with Melira, Sylvok Outcast or Anafenza,
Kin-Tree Spirit and Kitchen Finks or Murderous Redcap: one from each of
those pairs allows us to infinitely sacrifice a persist creature, which
will either gain infinite life or deal infinite damage, possibly while
scrying infinitely.

Saffi Eriksdotter with Renegade Rallier and Viscera Seer or Cartel
Aristocrat: This will allow us to sacrifice Saffi to itself targeting
Renegade Rallier, then Sacrifice Renegade Rallier, which will be brought
back to the battlefield by Saffi’s ability, which will allow the Renegade
Rallier to return Saffi, which allows you to do it all again. This will
either let you scry 1 each time or give your Cartel Aristocrat protection
from a color. If you add Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit to the mix, you actually
accomplish something, in that you can stack infinite bolster triggers and
then resolve them all when you’ve finished your loop to make all of your
creatures infinitely large.

Chord of Calling allows you to find the missing pieces of these combos, and
Eternal Witness, Renegade Rallier, Liliana, the Last Hope, and Atzal, Cave
of Eternity allow you to consistently threaten to reassemble your combos
despite your opponent killing your creatures.

One of the more exciting things going on here is actually the Fulminator
Mage sideboard plan, particularly if you can pull off putting Journey to
Eternity on Fulminator Mage, which will allow you to kill two of your
opponent’s lands and then you can start using Atzal, Cave of Eternity to
return Fulminator Mage every turn to lock them out of the game. It’s
actually possible that that should be a maindeck plan in another kind of
Journey to Eternity deck.

Abzan Value decks like this are pretty well explored, so what if we go
another direction. How does Jund Reanimator sound?

Sakura-Tribe Elder into Journey to Eternity allows you to hardcast a titan
on turn 4 even if you don’t play a fourth land, and Insolent Neonate into
turn 3 Journey to Eternity gets you to five mana on turn 4 from Atzal,
allowing you to cast Liliana, Death’s Majesty to return whatever you
discarded. In this way, it’s really helpful that the titans are huge
threats to reanimate that can also be realistically cast, which is why I’m
leaning toward them rather than Griselbrand, who may slightly underperform
in this deck that can’t immediately convert the cards to winning on the

This is an interactive deck with a reanimator backup plan and a versatile
sideboard. You have a lot of the core Jund elements like Thoughtseize and
Liliana of the Veil, but instead of Tarmogoyf you have Sakura-Tribe Elder
and big finishers, with Journey to Eternity to allow you to go over other
midrange decks, and Fulminator Mage maindeck is like presideboarding
against big mana decks. Your clock is slower, so it’s easier for small
creatures to go under you, but the sideboard offers cards like Anger of the
Gods to address that and you potentially enjoy a large edge in the midrange

The real question is whether Insolent Neonate is too large a cost when you
don’t draw Journey to Eternity, and I’d suggest that one thing to be
careful with is considering holding it to discard to Liliana of the Veil if
you have one and you don’t have Journey to Eternity, because outside of
that, it really isn’t good in this deck. It’s possible that it’s not worth
playing or that we want a smaller number, since we can afford to not have
many discard outlets because our creatures can just be cast from our hand,
but I’d still want to experiment with the reanimation strategy.

Journey to Eternity is definitely powerful, the question is whether it has
the right kind of power for Modern; the slow value engine of Atzal, Cave of
Eternity is definitely not the kind of game I’m generally looking to play,
but if you can create the right kind of game, it’s a great finisher. I
think a big part of using this card is going to be making sure that Journey
to Eternity does something immediately, by going on a creature that offers
an immediate payoff for dying to coming back. The other trick is just going
to be figuring out how many ways you need to sacrifice the creature you
enchant to be able to support Atzal, Cave of Eternity. Another issue with
it is that it’s the kind of card you’d like to play in small numbers
because it can get stuck in your hand and doesn’t really do anything you’re
interested in in multiples, but once you go through the deck building hoops
of being able to use it, you probably want to be sure you draw it most

In the end, I think a lot more exploration is needed, and while it’s very
hard for a new deck (even just a new card) to break through in Modern, this
one is worth giving a serious try.