Keep or Mulligan?

Hello!

For today’s edition of Keep or Mulligan, I’m not going to have a guest. I will, however, try to have a guest again next week! As always, please post your submissions for next week here in the comments!

Hand #1

You’re playing GW Devotion against Esper Dragons. It’s game 3 and you’re on the play. Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Mulligan.

Mastery is your best card against them by a significant margin, and it can, against some draws, singlehandedly win the game, so this hand is appealing, but I don’t think this is necessarily a risk you have to take because you don’t need a turn-two Mastery to win. The main problem with this hand is that it’s particularly weak against the cards that beat you: Ashiok and Ojutai. If they don’t have those cards (or a turn-one Thoughtseize), then the hand is all right, but if they don’t have those cards they are probably in a bad spot regardless. If they do have those cards, then they’re in a good spot regardless, but this hand amplifies that advantage. In the end, I think Mastery is not good enough to justify keeping. If I were playing against a true control deck that did not have any tempo aspect to it (i.e. some UB version without Ashioks) then I would consider keeping, but Esper can and will punish stumbles.

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Hand #2

You’re playing Grixis Twin against Burn in Modern. It’s game two and you’re on the play. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Keep.

The fact that I’d keep this hand might surprise a couple of people, but I think you should. Having early removal is excellent against Burn, and often prolongs the game by a long time—and this hand has two Lightning Bolts. Then it has Serum Visions, which it can cast as soon as it draws another land, Snapcaster Mage, which is another removal spell, and Tasigur to try to close out the game before they have enough burn to kill you. I don’t love the hand by any means, but I think it gives you a better chance of winning than mulliganing to 6, since it has everything you want except for one extra land, and with two Bolts it’s possible that you win the game even if you brick twice.

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Hand #3

You’re playing Abzan Megamorph against RG Aggro (Elves/Rabblemasters/Dragons). You’re on the draw, and your opponent mulliganed to 6. Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Mulligan.

This hand is way too slow on the draw, and doesn’t do much of anything. It does have three Temples, which helps, but RG Aggro is still a very punishing deck, even on a mulligan to 6. I think people kind of overestimate the effect that Temples can have. Sure, you’re not going to draw a land on turns two and three, but you already have six lands—even if you draw four spells in a row, that’s still not a good ratio. It’s also not like every spell here is good. If you scry into something like Deathmist Raptor or another Courser, would you even want to keep it? Probably not—so you can just draw another land after putting one of those on the bottom, and that would be disastrous.

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Hand #4

You’re playing Modern Abzan against Burn. It’s game two, but you don’t have a lot of sideboard—two Scavenging Oozes and one copy of Feed the Clan are your only life gain effects. You’re on the draw. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Mulligan.

I think this hand is close because your sideboard is not good for this matchup and you have the single most powerful card you’re bringing in, but it’s still too risky and Burn is still too punishing of a deck for you to afford to keep this. You also have duplicated Scavenging Oozes that, while eventually gaining life, are going to be very clunky, and Feed the Clan here is also not going to have ferocious a lot of the time since it will take work (and green mana) for your Oozes to get there and you might just not have the time. If a Scavenging Ooze is a Tarmogoyf instead, then this hand is much better and I would consider keeping, but right now I don’t think the payoff is high enough to make up for the risks.

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Hand #5

You’re playing RG Devotion against Jeskai Tokens. It’s post-board, and you’re on the play. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Mulligan.

I’ve said plenty of times before that I think you should keep “bad” hands with RG Devotion because the deck needs all of its resources and mulliganing is very punishing, but a hand that does nothing until turn 4 is where I draw the line. Jeskai Tokens has two potential draws: an aggro one and a control one, and this hand is bad against both. If they have a hand with tokens, Ascendancy, and something like a Valorous Stance or a Disdainful Stroke (or even Mentor/Rabblemaster + Stance/double burn), then you’ll be dead before you can do much. If they have a hand of Strokes/removal/Ojutai/Elspeth, then this hand gives them all the time in the world to play those powerful cards. If they have a very bad hand, you might win, but if they have a very bad hand then you’ll probably win on 6 cards anyway. I think you need to mulligan and try to find some action for at least turn three—turn four is too slow.

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See you next time,

PV

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