Hand #1

You are on the play with Blue-Black Control against an unknown opponent. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan ?

My Answer

Mulligan.

You have a couple of lands, a Fatal Push, which is the card you most want to see in your opening hand, but no blue mana or even a cycling card to help you hit land drops if you do draw one. I think that even if the Field of Ruins was a blue source, you should probably still mulligan.

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Follow-up Problem

You get the following six-card hand:

You keep and see an Island with your free scry. Do you top or bottom?.

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My Answer

Bottom.

I think this is close, and I’ve kept land on top in similar spots before, but I believe that is a mistake as the first few turns are crucial in most matchups. It is tempting to keep and maximize your chances of playing Gearhulk on turn 6, but it will usually not be good enough if you’ve only drawn one business spell in the meantime. You’re really hoping to draw something like a Glimmer, an Illumination, a Supreme Will, or a Search for Azcanta, and any counterspell you draw will usually buy you the turn toward casting Gearhulk you lose when you brick on land.

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Hand #2

You are on the play in game 1 and have a kind of trashy, midrangy W/B deck with 9 Plains and 8 Swamps. You open:

Keep or Mulligan ?

My Answer

Keep.

You shouldn’t always keep these kind of hands but I feel like it is quite strong if you draw a Swamp in the first two turns, and you also have good comeback cards in Settle the Wreckage and Vampire’s Zeal to make up for the loss of tempo. A 2/2 for 3 mana usually loses a lot of its value if it is not played on curve, but Tormentor and Bloodletter both stay relevant even if you don’t play them right away. Missing land drops might actually set you up for an even bigger blow out with Settle. I do feel like it is a close call though.

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Hand #3

You are on the play in game 1 with a very good red-black deck with 5 Dire Fleet Captain and Captivating Crew but no 6-drops and very few 5s, as well as very little card advantage. Your opening seven is:

Keep or Mulligan ?

My Answer

Mulligan.

It’s extremely close, as this is a decent hand if you draw a creature in the first two turns and it is still okay if you don’t, since Contract Killing can help you swing things a little bit. I think it’s correct to mulligan though, especially with no 6-drops in your deck and no real mana sinks besides Captivating Crew.

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Hand #4

You have a mediocre Red-Green Dinosaur deck and have very few answers to evasion creatures. You got rolled in game 1 by a good Merfolk draw of Shaper Apprentice into Shaper Apprentice into Jade Guardian, so you are on the play. Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan ?

My Answer

Keep.

I think your prospects aren’t exciting in the matchup and you have one of the few cards in your deck that can get rid of an early flyer even though you don’t have the two red sources to cast it yet. With Commune with Dinosaurs, you should be able to find them by turn 4 or 5 though, and if you don’t you should at least draw into some creatures. You also have the Avatar that can help you close out a close race. As I said, you should not expect to win this game that often if your opponent draws well, but sometimes you have to make the best of a bad situation.

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Hand #5

You are red-black splashing for a Hostage Taker and your mana base is 2 Island, 1 Unknown Shores, 1 Dragonskull Summit, 7 Mountains, and 6 Swamps (probably should have only played 1 Island, but that’s another topic). Your opening seven is:

Keep or Mulligan ?

My Answer

Keep.

If I’m not mistaken, you are 43% to draw one of your eight clean red sources by turn 2 and 63% to be able to cast Firebrand or Strike by turn 3. Lightning Strike not being a random 2cc critter, is also a big deal since you would much rather have a clean answer for an opposing creature if you’re a bit behind than having to just play a blocker and hope they don’t have a trick/removal. I think it is a fairly close decision and you’re probably not making a huge mistake if you decide to mulligan (which is a recurring theme in Keep or Mulligan).

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