Hello! Welcome to another Keep or Mulligan, this time with rising star Ondřej Strátský as a guest. Ondřej has played all these decks before, and he recently Top 8’d a PT with RG Devotion, so his insight on those hands is particularly welcome, especially because I don’t have a ton of experience with the deck myself. Thanks Ondřej!

Hand #1

You’re playing Abzan Control against Mono-Red, on the draw. You mulligan your first three opening hands, and your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan to 3?

My Solution

Keep.

A far as 4-card hands go, this is actually very good. With this hand, you can see a way to win the game: you need to draw lands, and that’s it. That’s a lot less specific than having to draw lands, interaction, and threats. You’re by no means a favorite to get there, but this is a mulligan to four—the mere fact that it can get there is cause for celebration. If you mulligan to three, you’re basically hoping for the exact same card combination of those plus four lands, just in a different order, and it’ll be even harder to get.

This was a hand that Owen had in the Standard Super Series, and he also kept.

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Ondřej’s Solution

Keep.

You are probably losing this game, but I don’t think you give yourself a better chance to win with a mulligan against a normal Mono-Red draw. Here we can still peel 3 lands in a row and beat most Mono-Red draws that don’t include multiple Roasts.

It’s kind of unfortunate that you actually need to draw 3 lands and find one from Wayfinder, because Downfall is quite inefficient against Mono-Red so it doesn’t buy you that much time. I would probably mulligan if my opponent also mulled to 4 or fewer cards so that’s something to keep in mind.

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Hand #2

You’re playing Mono-Red Aggro against Abzan Control post-board. You’re on the play and you mulligan your opening hand into this:

Keep or Mulligan to 5?

My Solution

Keep.

But I hate this hand so much. This type of hand is the reason why I don’t even like cards like Roast very much—if I’m sideboarding a card in, I should be thrilled to have it my opening hand, not wishing it had cycling. I understand why it’s there, of course, and it likely replaces other burn that would be bad in this hand anyway, but I still hate it. Now that I think about it, this type of hand is the reason I don’t like this deck very much to begin with.

With this hand, you need creatures and you need them quickly. If you do not draw a creature in your first two draw steps, I’d say your chances of winning the game versus any reasonable hand are close to zero. In fact, I’d feel like a dog if I did not draw a creature in my very first draw step. But at least there’s the chance to draw a creature and have a good hand.

If you mulligan to 5, you’re extremely unlikely to get the combination of lands, removal spells, and multiple threats that you need to win against Abzan Control. So I’d keep and hope to topdeck two creatures in my first two turns—or a Rabblemaster against a hand without much removal, since I already have ways to clear blockers.

This was Tom Ross’s hand against Owen in the Standard Super Series. Tom also kept, drew three lands in a row, and lost horribly.

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Ondřej’s Solution

Keep.

It’s really hard to beat Abzan post-board, especially now that everyone is playing multiple copies of Arashin Cleric and Drown in Sorrow. With that in mind I think you need to risk more and keep this.

You have Swiftspear which is one of your better 1-drops because it doesn’t die to Wayfinder and it’s hard to remove with Drown. Also Roast, which is probably the most important card post-board. This is quite similar to the first hand because you need to get lucky in order to win, but mulliganing down to 5 is not a winning proposition.

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Hand #3

You’re playing Brian Braun Duin’s Legacy Miracles against OmniTell. This is your list:

It’s game three, and you’ve seen Boseiju from them, but you’re pretty sure they don’t have access to red and you haven’t seen any way for them to deal with Meddling Mage except for Cunning Wishing into an answer. They did not see Meddling Mage game two, despite you playing a very long game. You’re on the draw and this is your opening hand:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Mulligan.

Keeping this hand is just way too risky. There’s some payout to be had for sure—Meddling Mage is your best card against them, especially since they have Boseiju, and you only have 2 in your deck, so it’s nice to have 1 and ways to protect it already—but the cost is way too great.

With 21 lands in your deck, your chance of drawing a land on turn one is 40%. Your chance of drawing a land in the first two turns is 65%. That gives you a 35% chance to have zero lands in play to your opponent’s three.

Blue combo decks in Legacy aren’t that clunky—they run a lot of card draw and a lot of permission of their own, so if you let them get ahead too much, they will eventually power through your Force of Wills. If I were playing against a really all-in deck, like Goblin Charbelcher, I would keep this hand, but not against a blue combo deck.

Andrea Mengucci had this opening hand in a MODO tournament, and he chose to keep it. Then he found out his opponent had for some reason elected to draw first—so his turn one happened to be “go.”

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Ondřej’s Solution

Mulligan.

If there were no possibility to remove a resolved Meddling Mage I think this hand would be closer. I would still mulligan though. The matchup isn’t terrible so you don’t need to take risks like in the previous 2 examples.

Also, giving time to a combo deck in Legacy is not a wise decision. They can just play couple of cantrips and then start chaining Dig Through Time and you are not going to beat that if you’re stuck on zero lands. I know that there is the dream scenario in which you draw the first land immediately, in which case you are probably winning the game, but you have only 21 lands so you need to take that into consideration.

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Hand #4

You’re playing Standard Red/Green Devotion against an unknown opponent. You’re on the draw and your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Keep.

This is the toughest hand for me to evaluate and I included it because I knew Ondrej was going to be helping, and I wanted the opinion of someone who had played this deck a lot. This is basically the best hand without an Elf that you can ever have. The question is: is that enough? Can you keep any hand without mana producers on the draw?

I think you can, because you have specifically a good 3-drop, a good 4-drop, and a good 5-drop, and because this deck doesn’t mulligan very well.

If you’re playing a deck like Esper, you can freely mulligan due to cards like Ojutai, Crux of Fate, and Dig Through Time that will make up for your card disadvantage. With Devotion, you operate on critical mass rather than individual power—you need a bunch of lands, and then you need spells to use those lands on. Playing a bunch of mana producers and then Whisperwood Elemental on turn four is not going to win you the game, you most likely need more than one threat.

In this type of strategy, there are very few wasted cards. If you draw one too few, it’s likely to be an important part of the puzzle and you will miss it, be it acceleration, threat, or simply land. On 6, the only hand that is better than this is a hand that includes three lands, one accelerator, and at least one threat. This 6-card hand likely has to draw another land and another threat soon or it’s not going to win. I think it’s better to hope your opponent doesn’t have a fast start, or that you draw an accelerator in two draw steps, than to mulligan and hope for the perfect 6.

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Ondřej’s Solution

Keep.

I think this hand actually came up at the PT and I kept there as well. First of all, this deck doesn’t mulligan well. Usually you need to get to 5+ mana and then have a lot of threats so your opponent runs out of answers. That’s hard to do when you start at fewer than 7 cards. This hand also has the potential to draw one of the ramp guys, which makes it pretty ridiculous.

Most of the lists play 12-14 of them so there is a real chance of that happening. Also it’s important to note that it’s still fine to draw ramp guy on turn 3 because that means you are still playing Whisperwood turn 4.

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Hand #5

You’re playing Standard Red/Green Devotion against an unknown opponent. You are on the play and you mulligan your opening hand. Your 6-card hand is:

Keep or Mulligan to 5?

My Solution

Keep.

As I mentioned before, RG is a deck in which there are very few wasted cards. You have six mana sources, but you would need those six mana sources anyway at some point. If you mulligan to 5, you have to hope to hit enough lands, acceleration, and the spells to cast—it seems easier to hope to topdeck threats with this hand, considering you even have a Temple. Over half of your deck is mana, which can definitely be a problem, but I think it’s better to hope to topdeck a bit with this hand than to try your luck with five cards if you’re playing this particular deck.

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Ondřej’s Solution

Keep.

Same deck, same philosophy. Here you are on the opposite side of spectrum where you need some action. Luckily your deck is packed with it, so drawing some business isn’t that hard. You even have the added bonuses of scryland and Nykthos. If this were a 7-card hand (with 1 extra land) I would mulligan, but going to down to 5 is just not what you want to do with this deck. Overall this is a pretty easy keep even though it might not like look it.

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