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Budget Magic: $78 (18 tix) Golden Journey (Standard)

Mɔkɔm, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we're heading to Standard to play a deck I'm really excited about: Golden Journey. One thing we've learned since the release of Ixalan is that the flips-into-land cards are very powerful, but so far, most Standard decks have focused on Search for Azcanta. Well, today we're going a bit deeper, with a deck that's looking to use Golden Guardian to help us flip Journey to Eternity, potentially giving us two powerful flip lands in the same turn, along with the ability to grind out games by making endless 4/4 Golem tokens or by reanimating a creature every turn. The end result is a deck that's half flip-enchantment tribal and half grindy Abzan Midrange reanimator. Is Golden Guardian actually Standard playable, with Journey to Eternity for support? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Golden Journey (Standard)

The Deck

Golden Journey is actually a pretty difficult deck to describe. The foundation is a sort of Abzan Midrange build, but there are a lot of interesting synergies thrown in thanks to Golden Guardian and Journey to Eternity, both of which are powerful on their own but also work well together with some light self-sacrifice and reanimator synergies. As such, there isn't a super-linear and simple way to break down the deck, but we'll give it our best shot.

Golden Journey

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Golden Guardian is a strange card. At first glance, it looks like one of the least playable of the flip cards from Ixalan block. A 4/4 defender for four is fine but isn't especially exciting, especially since it can't attack. While being a reasonable blocker is nice, the real power of Golden Guardian is that it's one of the only flip cards from Ixalan block that isn't legendary, and the back side is quite powerful when the game goes long. Tapping for two mana helps us power out other big plays, and when we run out of cards, making a 4/4 each turn offers a good way of closing out the game. Plus, Golden Guardian works really well with our other namesake flip card.

Journey to Eternity is one of my favorite cards from Rivals of Ixalan. While it isn't fast and there's some amount of risk involved because it's easy to be blown out with Journey to Eternity on the stack, the card offers a ton of power when things go well, not just getting the enchanted creature back from the graveyard when it dies but also giving us a steady stream of creatures from the graveyard once it is flipped. 

While it might not be intuitive at first glance, both of our flip cards actually work really well together. Journey to Eternity is at its best when we have the ability to kill the creature it's enchanting so we don't have to worry about getting blown out by something like Cast Out or Vraska's Contempt, and the fight ability from Golden Guardian gets the job done. Then, once we flip around our Golden Guardian, we can sink the mana into reanimating creatures with Atzal, Cave of Eternity. Likewise, knowing that Journey to Eternity can get back our creatures when they die can turn the downside of having to fight our own creatures to flip Golden Guardian into an upside. 

Together, Golden Guardian and Journey to Eternity give us an extremely strong late game that can overwhelm most decks in the format. More importantly, since both of the cards flip into lands, they are actually pretty hard for opponents to interact with. While most decks have a plan for answering creatures, not everyone is playing Field of Ruin, and even decks that do have land destruction typically only have a small amount, which means the second or third flip land is likely to stick around and win the game.

Sac Outlets

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Behind Journey to Eternity and Golden Guardian, Hidden Stockpile is likely the most important card in our deck. While the enchantment does see play in Standard, it's typically to combo with Anointed Procession and make a ton of tokens, but we're using it in a very different way. In our deck, Hidden Stockpile it just a sacrifice outlet that leaves behind a chump blocker and allows us to scry through our deck. This is hugely important with both of our main combo pieces. With Journey to Eternity, Hidden Stockpile gives us another way to kill the enchanted creature and flip into land form, while with Golden Guardian, it allows us to do things like fight a relatively useless Servo token and then sacrifice the Golden Guardian itself to get a Gold-Forge Garrison. In the late game, we'll often end up with two or three copies of Hidden Stockpile on the battlefield, which leaves us with an ever-growing token army that is hard for some decks to get through. 

While Yahenni, Undying Partisan is just a one-of backup sacrifice outlet, having redundancy with the effect is important because even after we flip our namesake cards into lands, we still need to sacrifice our own creatures. When our deck is at its best, we are using all of our Gold-Forge Garrison mana to activate Atzal, Cave of Eternity every turn to get back cards like Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Noxious Gearhulk, and Ravenous Chupacabra. Being able to sacrifice these creatures to Yahenni and Hidden Stockpile makes sure we always have a copy in the graveyard so we can reuse their enters-the-battlefield triggers by reanimating them.


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Ravenous Chupacabra and Noxious Gearhulk are great because they kill something when they enter the battlefield, which means with the help of Journey to Eternity and a sacrifice outlet, we can almost completely lock creatures out of the game in the late game by reanimating one of these creatures every turn. Noxious Gearhulk can be a bit expensive, but our flip lands help us ramp into it, and gaining some life as we are destroying our opponent's board is helpful for staying out of burn range. Golden Journey isn't fast, so having strong stabilization cards is key to helping us catch back up after falling behind in the early game, which happens fairly often. 

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Gonti, Lord of Luxury and Arborback Stomper give us the same looping value as Ravenous Chupacabra and Noxious Gearhulk but for different matchups. Gonti, Lord of Luxury is especially good against control, where we can steal some of our opponent's best cards to generate card advantage while also offering a deathtouch blocker for things like Carnage Tyrant. Meanwhile, Arborback Stomper gains us a ton of life against aggro, where five life a turn can quickly put the game out of reach.

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Razaketh, the Foulblooded is just a one-of because it's so expensive, but it offers us a huge, flying finisher in the late game, when we can reanimate it (or cast it with the help of our flip land mana), while also being oddly synergistic with our deck. The sacrifice ability offers another way of flipping Golden Guardian and Journey to Eternity, and the tutor ability helps us find a Ravenous Chupacabra to lock out creature decks, an Arborback Stomper for aggro, or a Gonti, Lord of Luxury for control. While Razaketh is never a card we want to see in our opening hand because it's so expensive, it has enough power to make up for the occasional clunkiness it causes. 

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Rounding out our creatures are Merfolk Branchwalker and Seekers' Squire, which are hugely important to our deck for a bunch of reasons. First, they give us something to do in the early game, which is important because our deck tends to be slow. Second, the explore mechanic helps make sure we hit our land drops and curve into our Golden Guardians and other midrange plays while also stocking our graveyard with things like Noxious Gearhulk and Razaketh, the Foulblooded so we can eventually reanimate them once we flip Journey to Eternity. Third, both Merfolk Branchwalker and Seekers' Squire give us creatures to enchant with Journey to Eternity and fight with Golden Guardian, which is helpful in flipping our namesake cards into their more powerful land forms. While neither is exciting, Merfolk Branchwalker and Seekers' Squire are in many ways the glue that holds Golden Journey together.

Other Stuff

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Liliana, Death's Majesty is basically a backup Journey to Eternity, giving us an additional reanimation spell while also stocking our graveyard and making some chump-blocking Zombie tokens along the way. While it doesn't have a very specific purpose in the deck, it works well as a one-of in decks with any amount of reanimation synergies.

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Growing Rites of Itlimoc gives us another flip-into-land enchantment, and while it probably looks weird, it can be pretty powerful in the right situation. While our deck isn't very focused on getting the four creatures needed to flip Growing Rites of Itlimoc, it usually happens eventually thanks to Hidden Stockpile and the rest of our random dorks, and then we end up with a land that taps for four or five mana, which is often enough to make a 4/4 Golem with a flipped Golden Guardian all by itself. Plus, even if it doesn't flip, Growing Rites of Itlimoc gives us a way to dig through our deck and find our Ravenous Chupacabras, Gonti, Lord of Luxury, and Noxious Gearhulk

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Finally, we have some extra spell-based removal. Walk the Plank allows us to kill pretty much anything for just two mana, and while being sorcery speed is annoying, it's still a fine substitute for the not-budget-friendly Fatal Push (which would be great in the deck). Ixalan's Binding gives us an answer to things like Hazoret the Fervent and The Scarab God, which are naturally resilient to our Chupacabras and Gearhulk. Finally, Fumigate is just a one-of silver bullet for go-wide decks. While we'll probably blow up a bunch of our creatures when we cast it, thanks to Journey to Eternity and Liliana, Death's Majesty, having creatures in our graveyard isn't the worst thing, since we'll reanimate them eventually, and our deck would have a hard time beating Merfolk or Tokens without Fumigate as a reset button.


All in all, we finished our matches with a 3-2 record, although there was another match that I had to stop recording halfway through that we probably would have lost, which makes Golden Journey far from insane but reasonably competitive. The biggest challenge with the deck is surviving to the late game. We have the power to grind with just about any deck in the format once we get to Turn 6 or 7 thanks to the absurd amount of value we can generate from flipped Golden Guardians and Journey to Eternity, but we sometimes get run over by aggro decks that can take advantage of the fact that Golden Journey is pretty slow in general and even slower thanks to the budget-friendly enters-the-battlefield-tapped dual lands and the lack of Fatal Push

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As far as changes I'd make to the deck now that we've played some games, the biggest is cutting Razaketh, the Foulblooded for something else that's good in the early game, whether that be another Walk the Plank or a Baffling End-style removal spell, or maybe another two-mana creature. While Razaketh, the Foulblooded is really fun in the deck, considering our biggest problem is being too slow, it's hard to justify playing an eight-drop that's only helpful in the very late game. Otherwise, one of the nice aspects of Golden Journey is that you have a lot of flexibility with your creatures, so if you have a favorite creature in the Abzan colors, it would be pretty easy to slot it in as a one-of and trust that you'll find it eventually thanks to the explore creatures and reanimation in the deck.

All in all, Golden Journey was a blast to play but probably middling in terms of just how competitive it is in the Standard format. Golden Guardian was very high variance, either being very good or very much too slow, while Journey to Eternity is still high risk, even when built around. This leaves us with a deck that's super fun and has the potential to be super powerful when things go well but occasionally gets blown out by aggro or the opponent having the right removal at the right time. The good news is that the games where you hard lock the opponent with Noxious Gearhulk being reanimated every turn with Journey to Eternity and mana from Golden Guardian more than make up for the clunky games against aggro.

To get Golden Journey down into the ultra-budget range, we mostly just trim back on expensive one- and two-ofs like Liliana, Death's Majesty and Growing Rites of Itlimoc, along with cutting the Sunpetal Groves for Tranquil Expanse. The upside of these changes is we get the full playset of Walk the Plank, which should help in the aggro matchups, although the overall power level of the deck does drop a bit. Maybe the bigger concern is adding even more tapped lands to the mana base, but there isn't much you can do about it with a $50 budget. All in all, this build actually doesn't look too bad, but the number of tapped lands would certainly cause some problems if played at a tournament level. As such, it's fine for messing around on the kitchen table, but if you're planning on taking Golden Journey to an FNM, at least try to upgrade the mana a bit first.

The non-budget build of Golden Journey gets a handful of big additions. First, we upgrade the mana with Blooming Marsh to cut down on the number of tapped lands in the deck. Second, we turn Walk the Plank and a few of the random one-ofs into a playset of Fatal Push, which is a huge upgrade against aggro and especially good in our deck, since we can trigger revolt at will with Hidden Stockpile. Third, we get Jadelight Ranger in place of Yahenni, Undying Partisan and a couple copies of Seekers' Squire, and Jadelight Ranger is perfect for the theme of our deck by stocking the graveyard and filtering our draws with its double-explore enters-the-battlefield trigger. Finally, we get a handful of upgrades to the sideboard, with Vraska's Contempt for planeswalkers and Carnage Tyrant for control. In sum, these changes add a lot of power to the deck, but if you're looking for a middle-of-the-road upgrade plan, playing the deck from the videos with a playset of Fatal Push and Blooming Marsh in the mana base would go a long way toward fixing the deck's biggest issue, which is getting run over against aggro.


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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