Deck Rarity Breakdown
13 Basic Lands
3 Uncommon Lands
8 Rare Lands
4 Common Non-Lands
24 Uncommon Non-Lands
4 Rare Non-Lands
4 Mythic Non-lands
Today’s deck is a little less out-there than most of the decks I write about, but is certainly surprising and off-meta regardless. This is a deck designed to squeeze as much value from the graveyard as humanly possible. The spotlight card that we’re using to do that is: Journey to Eternity!
Journey is simple enough. We put it on a creature, we get that creature killed, and we bring stuff back. It even comes with a bonus! The creature we attached it to comes back to the battlefield immediately after dying!
The Big Stuff
In order to effectively use Journey to Eternity we have to have a lot of creatures in the graveyard to choose from. The reanimator strategy naturally favors two types of creatures: creatures with abilities that trigger when entering the battlefield and huge creatures. This is the list I came up with:
4 Carnage Tyrants. These are an obvious auto-include that give us game against control. They’re great threats when played from our hand and even better when brought back from the grave.
4 Molderhulk. These are the surprise all-star of the deck. They get cheaper as the graveyard fills up, they ramp us, they’re big enough to block and kill almost everything in the format, and it was easy to build in a secondary recursion plan. Because of Molderhulk’s enter the battlefield ability you can continuously recur Molderhulks using Memorial to Folly, of which there are 3 copies in the deck.
4 copies of Ravenous Chupacabra make up the deck’s only targeted removal. Recurring these will just grind midrange or aggro opponents out since each Chupacabra kills something then potentially trades with something else.
4 Rhizome Lurchers. This card makes a good 4-mana play from the hand when the graveyard is full as well as a fantastic reanimator target in the late game. It is not uncommon for these to be 10/10 or larger and not a whole lot of decks have a way to deal with more than one creature that large. I wish I could have two more of these.
Oh wait, I can! 2 copies of Golgari Raiders serve as Rhizome Lurchers 5 and 6. You trade 2 power/toughness for Haste. In my experience the Lurcher is better, but these are still nice to have.
So we have our reanimation engines, we have our targets, but how do we get a graveyard full of good creatures to bring back? The next two cards accomplish that for us while slowing down aggressive decks and putting a little pressure on slower opponents. It’s not uncommon to have 6-10 creatures in the grave by turn 4, allowing powerful Lurchers and cheap Molderhulks.
The Rest of the Deck
There are 6 slots left in the deck not taken up by the core components. There was a lot of playing around to figure out what should take up these slots. Here’s what I ended up going with:
4 copies of Thrashing Brontodon.
This card is fantastic. It’s a 3 mana card that doesn’t die to Deafening Clarion, Lightning Strike or Moment of Craving. It trades profitably with every creature in Mono-R Aggro except Rekindling Phoenix and fully-powered Steam-Kin, keeps Adanto Vanguard from attacking and acts as enchantment hate for control matchups. On top of all of that utility it has a special synergy with Journey to Eternity. If you attach the aura to Brontodon you can target it with Brontodon’s sacrifice ability, triggering the flip of the aura and bringing the Brontodon back. This card is a must-include.
The last 2 slots went to Plaguecrafter. It gives us a way to kill Carnage Tyrants besides trading and is a way to sacrifice our own Stitcher’s Supplier, as well as killing a creature equipped with Journey.
The Stuff that Didn’t Quite Make It
I normally don’t talk about the versions of the deck I didn’t end up going with but this deck had a lot of flex spots. Golgari Raiders, Rhizome Lurcher, and Plaguecrafter could all feasibly come out of the deck. At one point I even considered cutting Carnage Tyrant. While I found that this list is my favorite, here’s what didn’t make the cut and why:
Vraska’s Contempt. The deck could really use a little more removal, an exile effect and a way to deal with planeswalkers and Vraska’s Contempt really fits the bill. It didn’t quite make it simply because I wanted the density of creatures to be as high as possible to keep the Lurchers huge and the Molderhulks cheap.
Lotleth Giant also just barely didn’t make the cut. It seems like an obvious inclusion, but a 7 mana card with no cost reduction is too hard to naturally cast. When casting from the hand it’s worse than Carnage Tyrant. When Atzal is active it always felt like I had something better to be doing, and while it occasionally would be able to close out a game a little early, if I’m in a position to use it I’m probably winning anyway. In short: It was a little bit “win-more”.
Charnel Troll is the last big card I wanted to put in. The deck almost included Charnel Troll just to have an alternate win condition but the problem was that I basically had to choose between the troll and the Molderhulk/Rhizome/Raider package, since there is so much anti-synergy between the troll and Undergrowth. I still intend to make a Charnel Troll deck, it’s just not this deck.
So that’s the deck. Here’s the decklist:
Or you can find it by clicking this link.
So that’s the deck, and a surprisingly budget one at that! But how’d it do? Before we can talk about how the deck did we have to talk about what it was up against. Deck-strength matchmaking means that the field varies deck to deck.
This deck saw a mix of T1/1.5 and jank. Rather than the usual upgraded starter decks that my brews face, this one seemed to be considered a little more powerful. I attribute this to be due to the Carnage Tyrants, Chupacabras and the G/B manabase that’s often used in Tier 1 Golgari Midrange. Because of this, our deck faced against fully-completed versions of Jeskai Control, Grixis Control, Selesnya Tokens, Mono-R Aggro and Izzet Phoenix. These matches accounted for 6 of the 20 games played, of which the deck won 2. This means that the deck likely isn’t suited for ranked play, though we already knew that. The other 14 matches were a mix of partly finished Tier 1 decks and jank, with a couple of Merfolk decks thrown in. With all that said, here’s the data dump:
The deck went 11-9, and two of the games were so close that it could have definitely swung our way. That’s pretty good for such a budget deck!
The control matchup really just comes down to how many big threats you can stick. The deck was usually able to force the enemy to sweep before ever actually playing a major threat just by applying pressure with Stitcher’s Supplier and Glowspore Shaman. After that the key is to just keep playing threats. A flipped Journey pretty much means game over against control, as you just keep reanimating big things until they run out of answers.
The aggro matchup is also pretty okay. Our early drops slow down their game plan and they’ll naturally kill the Stitcher’s Suppliers for us. Flipping Journey is easy to do since they’re not going to stop attacking, so you can even put it on a 1/1 and just block something with it. The major problem here is that the Journey plan is a little too slow a lot of the time and dedicating all of the resources to getting it flipped will sometimes set you back so far that you lose just before you start winning. This matchup often hinges on whether you draw Thrashing Brontodon or not, as it slows down aggro quite a bit and destroys Divine Visitation, Experimental Frenzy, or other problematic cards.
So how janky is it?
Not half as janky as I expected. Very few matchups felt unwinnable, and it won more than it lost. For a deck as easy to craft as this one it pleasantly surprised me. One thing to note is that almost every game it felt like the deck was losing only for it to turn the corner and win just when it seemed hopeless. This made the games intense and the victories really satisfying. All in all it’s a decision-heavy deck that is shockingly consistent and really fun. I usually don’t play a lot of green, but I’ll be keeping this one around for some occasional casual play.