Keep or Mulligan? Vancouver Edition with Special Guest Josh McClain

For today’s Keep or Mulligan, I’m going to revisit some controversial hands from past Keep or Mulligan articles to see if the answer changes with the new Vancouver mulligan rule (if you mulliganed, you can scry 1 before the game begins). This week I’m getting help from Platinum Pro Josh McClain, and we’re both going to tell you what our answer would have been under the previous rule (though you already know mine if you follow the series), and whether the new rule changes our opinion or not.

From next week on, I’m going to present fresh hands with the same method (what I would do with the old rule versus what I’d do with the new rule).

Hand #1

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.

In the original solution, I mulliganed this hand. My argument was that too many things needed to go right for it to win the game. A lot of Pros were very vocal in disagreeing, though.

With the new mulligan rule, you are even more incentivized to mulligan. Sure, you get a scry, but this is the exact hand I talked about where I think you need quantity and not quality. With this hand, you don’t even know what you want—you only know you don’t want land. If you see a random 2- or 3-drop, do you want that? You probably do, but it’s not great anyway. If you see a 5-drop, do you want it? You probably need it to win the game, but it’s so slow. I think the scry will likely benefit you more on a mulligan to 5 than it will on this hand.

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Josh’s Solution

Mulligan.

This one is kind of tricky. I would mulligan, but I know a lot of people like to keep a wide range on 6. The new rule probably puts this closer to a keep, as you’re less likely to draw a land on turn two, but I still think this is a mulligan. Not only is the hand full of land, Bone Splinters isn’t very good unless you draw basically two specific cards (a cheap Spirit and a soulshifter).

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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 mulliganed the original hand, so clearly I’ll also mulligan this. I included this hand because I know Josh Mcclain would have kept the original hand, so I wanted to know if the new rule would change his decision.

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Josh’s Solution

Keep.

This hand is certainly not great, but you have something to play early and a great bomb if you happen to draw two Swamps. With the new added benefit of scry 1 with a mulligan, I would still keep.

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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.

I kept this before, but I think this is exactly the kind of hand that is much improved with the new rule—you only need to find a land, and scry 1 is the best way to do that. This hand gets much better with the new rule, to the point where I think it’s actively a good hand now.

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Josh’s Solution

Keep.

This is the first hand I’ve seen where I think the new mulligan rule affects my decision. Obviously, if you draw a land on turn 1, this hand is fantastic, but the risk of missing for a turn or two and just losing the game is pretty high. Under the old rules, I think the risk of falling too far behind by missing for a turn or two makes this hand a mulligan. Being able to scry 1 doesn’t magically make the hand great, but I think it pushes the risk/reward EV just enough to make me want to keep.

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Hand #4

You’re playing Grixis Twin against Burn in Modern. It’s game 2 and you’re on the play. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Mulligan.

Originally, I kept this hand. I’m not a fan of keeping it, but I think the combination of being awesome if you hit plus giving you time to hit is better than mulliganing to 6.

With the new rule, however, things get a little more complicated. My instinct is that now that you have an extra scry, that’s probably enough extra incentive to mulligan this hand.

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Josh’s Solution

Mulligan.

I would mulligan this hand under either rule. If Burn didn’t have a lot of draws that don’t rely on creatures, I would strongly consider keeping, but the number of times they just start with Lava Spike makes me mulligan this.

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Hand #5

You’re playing Esper Dragons You are on the play against GW Devotion, it’s game 1, and your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Keep.

I kept this hand before, on the grounds that it had all you needed against a devotion strategy—early interaction, Ojutai, and Crux—and the only thing you’re missing is a blue land. I wouldn’t have kept in the dark or against another opponent, but against Devotion specifically, I think it’s a keep. A lot of people disagreed with me, though—including people who play this deck a lot.

I don’t think the new rule does much to change that. I think it’s a convincing keep, a hand that is actively good. One extra scry is not enough to sway me.

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Josh’s Solution

Mulligan.

This is another one where the new rule changes my opinion. You basically have to hit a blue source in your top 3 cards to have a competitive game, and even then they might just have a turn-3 Whisperwood that you can’t kill because your blue source was a tapland. That being said, I would keep under the old rules. Your deck does play a lot of land and there’s a risk that your six is unplayable, but it’s so close that, given a free scry, it pushes my decision to mulligan.

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As always, if you have suggestions for future Keep or Mulligan, leave them in the comments!

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