"In general, talented aspiring players should learn not to take conventional wisdom too seriously. Some players compile pick-orders or ingest the opinions of the pros and flaunt them as justification for remaining within the status quo. This method sets a ceiling on potential success - waiting around for someone else to make the next innovation instead of capitalizing oneself. Instead, players should question established wisdom, and seek to nurture their own preferences, even ones that are sometimes outrageous." -Jeff Cunningham

In an unknown metagame, conventional wisdom more or less says to play something proactive until the format is solved. This is not to say that there are no wrong threats – Chimney Imp is absolutely a Wrong Threat – it's just that building a control deck without knowing what you need to deal with can leave you with some of the wrong answers. A deck full of one-for-one removal spells isn't going to do very well against a deck full of Hordeling Outbursts and Dragon Fodders.

I always hear this as "in every Standard's inaugural weekend, you should play monored unless you have a really compelling reason not to, because people are going to try and durdle, and week one is your best chance to get 'em." I haven't played a week one event in years, but I've always felt comfortable with the logic behind the maxim. When I learned what the restrictions on Magic Duels decks were going to be, this is the deck I brewed up, completely in the dark:


There's a weird, pervasive stigma about players that play monored: the deck takes no skill to play, it's high-variance, the type of person that plays the archetype all the time, no matter what, is a "noob" – the list goes on and on.

This is one of those times when conventional wisdom is wrong. Being able to identify these situations – when conventional wisdom becomes too broad or absolute to possibly be true more often than it is false – is an important skill to develop in Magic life. Trusting your intuition isn't always as bad as it's made out to be by mathematicians.

Your gut lies, but numbers can lie, too; a man can win the New York State Lottery twice. That would give him a 100% win rate. At the lottery. Even if he plays two more times and loses, he'd still be left with a 50% winrate. At the lottery.

Obviously, that's super unlikely. It is squarely in the realm of "Jennifer Lawrence picks up competitive Magic, starts reading articles, enjoys my writing style, falls in love with me, and scours the country in an effort to meet me" in terms of its likelihood, just to offer a frame of reference. I'm just trying to make a point.

In Magic, like any other game of chance, you can do all the right things and just lose anyway. The tricky part is determining when those times are. Being able to do so takes a combination of analytical thinking and intuition. Making the right play even when/if didn't work out the last time requires both.

I decided to take the deck for a spin in some ranked games:

A 3-1 record ain't half bad for my first spin with the deck. I made some slight mistakes, but as long as I didn't draw too many lands, the deck was very forgiving.

Here's what I'm thinking going forward:


Drawing more than one Titan's Strength was a bummer. I should never need more than one Lava Spike per game. Also, I realize that the one game I resolved Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh in, I won, but it didn't feel like a very good card and wasn't super-synergistic with my plan. It was just a good card jammed into a deck with a lot of one and two-drops. I'm open to revisiting the deck, but for now I'm going to give the pair of Fiery Impulse a shot. I was also thinking of a pair of Bonded Construct, but that seemed much worse, as it effectively turns any removal my opponent has into a two-for-one – they Remove the other creature, rendering Bonded Construct unable to attack. Pretty bad!

If you're tempted to roll with a deck like this in an FNM, I'd start here:


This is based on Brandon Burton's Goblins deck, which you can find here. Any excuse to play Goblin Piledriver in a 60-card deck again (I personally haven't done this since they had JSS qualifiers) is one I can get behind.

Unfortunately, there just aren't enough decent Goblins in Magic Duels yet to go all-in on the Goblins archetype. For example, Goblin Arsonist is a fine card in Magic Duels, but you'd never even consider playing it in Standard. As a result, your monored Duels deck is more of an honest, straightforward Sligh deck than an explosive, synergistic Goblins deck. I can say this with absolute certainty, though: both are great.

Jon Corpora
pronounced Ca-pora