For today’s Keep or Mulligan, I’m getting some help from Czech Pro Martin Juza. Martin has about 50 Limited GP Top 8s, including multiple wins, so his input in Limited hands is particularly valuable. Thanks Martin!

Hand #1

You’re playing Modern Masters 2015 Sealed. Your deck is a BW Spirits build with some very good cards (Ghost Council, 2 Restless Apparition) but some very bad cards as well (Flayer Husk, Taj-Nar Swordsmith with only the Husk to find, Alloy Myr with no splash). You’re on the play against an unknown opponent, and your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution:

Keep.

There aren’t many cards that would make me keep a 6-land hand, but Bitterblossom on the play is one of them, because it’s easily worth multiple cards by itself. Bitterblossom is the kind of card that is capable of winning the game on its own if played early, and I think there are games in which you might draw no other spells and still win. It’s a little bit like a less powerful Pack Rat in this regard, and I think that deserves a keep.

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Martin’s Solution:

Mulligan.

I think this hand is pretty close and very similar to 6 lands + Stony Silence against Affinity in Modern. But while Stony Silence is pretty much a guaranteed win most of the time (especially when combined with cards like Lingering Souls and Spectral Procession that are already super strong against Affinity on their own), I don’t think Bitterblossom alone will win you the game in this Limited format. It’s obviously very strong against some decks, but also not quite as good against decks like BR Bloodthirst, so I would mulligan.

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Hand #2

You’re playing Modern Masters 2015 Sealed. Your deck is BGr—the only red card is Vengeful Rebirth, and the only fixing is Gruul Turf and Alloy Myr. You have some good cards, like Midnight Banshee and multiple Nameless Inversions, but your deck is overall not great. You’re on the play against an unknown opponent and your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution:

Mulligan.

I strongly dislike this hand because I think you need to draw both lands and spells for it to work. If you draw three straight lands of the right color, awesome, you can play your spells, but you might just be dead before you get there. If you draw spells to play, however, then you can’t play the cards you already have. For this hand to win, you have to hope to draw both spells and lands in the right ratio (and lands of the right kind at that), and I think it’s better to just mulligan to 6. The fact that Mortarpod is just not a good card in this Sealed format is not doing this hand any favors.

When I asked other pros at the tournament about this hand, they almost universally would have kept, which was very surprising to me because I think this hand is just bad. Players like Finkel, Shahar, and Josh Mcclain said they didn’t like it but would keep, and players like Reid and Sam Pardee said they thought it was insane to even consider mulliganing. Andrew Cuneo went as far as to say that if you substitute Mortarpod for Blades of Velis Vel, he would still keep the hand, and I don’t think he was joking. No one was able to convince me that I was wrong, though, and if I had this exact hand in a tournament, I would mulligan it. Just know that if you do decide to keep it, then you are in very good company.

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Martin’s Solution:

Mulligan.

My first reaction was “why am I playing first with a deck with almost no fixing and multiple cheap removal?” But let’s assume our opponent put us on the play. I would mulligan this hand, because it doesn’t really have anything going for it. Mortarpod will save 2-3 damage by chump-blocking and that’s pretty much it before turn 5. We even need to draw two more black sources to cast Banshee and it gets even worse if you have other double-black cards in your deck like Sign in Blood or Vampire Outcasts.

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Hand #3

You’re playing Modern Masters 2015 Sealed and this is your deck:

You’re on the draw against an unknown opponent, and you mulligan your first hand into this:

Keep or Mulligan to 5?

My Solution:

Keep.

You have a 47% chance to draw a land immediately, in which case the hand is very good, and a 72% chance to draw a land in the first two turns, by which point you could still recover, since you have a Lightning Bolt and some other early plays. If you brick twice, you’re likely dead. To decide whether this is enough, you have to take into account how strong your deck is. If my deck is very strong, with multiple cards that have the power to take over a game (such as Bitterblossom or other rare bombs), then I would mulligan this hand. If my deck is weak or it does not have this type of card, I would keep this hand.

I think this deck falls into the second category. It’s a multicolored deck without great mana, without megabombs, and without a lot of early game—and with two Bone Splinters! If someone would overwhelm you because you brick for one turn, then they would likely overwhelm you on a mulligan to 5 anyway, since there are not that many ways to interact early on. If you go to 5, it becomes much harder to find mana to play everything and even harder to find something to sacrifice to the Bone Splinters.

When the person showed me this hand at the tournament, I said I thought I’d mulligan it, but then they sent me the deck list and, after running the math, I changed my mind. I think your deck is not good enough that you can expect to win on a mulligan to 5 very often, so I’d take my chances with having to draw a land here.

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Martin’s Solution:

Keep.

My initial reaction was to snap-mulligan this hand without thinking about it too much, but after a close look at the deck list, we might actually have to take the risk and keep this. We are almost 50/50 to draw the land we need in our first draw step, which would let us play a perfectly fair game of Magic and those odds are probably higher than winning with a random 5-card hand with a deck containing 2 Bone Splinters and a bunch of expensive cards spread across five colors and almost no fixing. That said, if we brick even for one turn, we are probably going to be too far behind.

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Hand #4

You’re playing Modern Masters 2015 Sealed. Your deck is an aggressive mono-white build with creatures and equipment, and you’re splashing for two Burst Lightnings. Your deck has 10 Plains in it, the only use for blue mana is Gust-Skimmer. You’re playing against a GW tokens deck, and you’re on the play. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution:

Keep.

I don’t love this hand because you have a ton of dead draws (every card in your deck that is not a Plains is a dead draw in the beginning of the game, since you’re basically mono-white), but I think you have enough ways to stall with Burst Lightning and Sickleslicer, and enough reward for keeping with Mirran Crusader plus Sickleslicer. Green/white is notoriously bad at dealing with creatures, and a 4/4 double striker is very strong.

If they play a tapper or a bigger creature, then you have Arrest, and if they play their own Arrest you have Oblivion Ring. To me, the combination of enough early game + enough reward for drawing Plains Plains is enough to keep this hand. If it didn’t contain either Burst Lightning or Sickleslicer, it would have been an easy mulligan. This was a hand that Luis had with his Sealed deck in the tournament, and he also kept.

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Martin’s Solution:

Keep.

You have Burst Lightning and Sickleslicer to play in the first three turns and by then I would expect to draw a Plains, which lets us play Oblivion Ring and Arrest, which should answer just about everything. After that, Mirran Crusader with equipment is going to take care of our opponent.

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Hand #5

You’re playing a BW Spirits deck in Modern Masters 2015 draft:

You’re on the play, you mulligan your opening hand, and your 6-card hand is:

Keep or Mulligan to 5?

My Solution:

Mulligan.

Some people like to keep any hand that has a decent number of lands in Limited rather than going to 5, but this is about the worst spell you can keep (alongside Devouring Greed, I guess). I’d much rather take my chances with 5 cards than a hand that can’t cast any spells.

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Martin’s Solution:

Snap-mulligan.

Bone Splinters as the only non-land card is about the worst possible card we can have in our opening hand. Also, our deck seems pretty good, so we should still have a reasonable chance of winning with 5 cards.

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Hand #6

You’re playing a UW Affinity deck in Modern Masters 2015 Sealed:

You’re on the play against an unknown opponent, and your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution:

Keep.

I think this hand is keepable because this deck actually has a lot of late-game power with Battlegrace Angel, Qumulox, Faerie Mechanists and equipment. If I were playing a very aggressive draft deck, then I would mulligan this hand because it’s not aggressive at all, but this is Sealed and this deck is slower. I don’t think you need a super fast start to compete with this particular build, so I don’t mind that this hand is slow.

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Martin’s Solution:

Keep.

This is not a hand you want to start with in an aggressive affinity deck, but our deck seems to have a lot of expensive cards like Qumulox, Battlegrace Angel, and double-Faerie Mechanist, so I would keep. Narcolepsy is normally a card I don’t like to play in my affinity decks because it doesn’t help you get a blocker out of the way immediately, but since it looks like we are going to be on defense for some time, I think it’s a fine hand to keep.

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