Welcome to this week’s Keep or Mulligan, with Magic Online sensation Jan Van der Vegt (or Dzy as he is known, or @DasDzy on Twitter). This week we have a little twist, as both Dzy and I will talk about how confident we are in our decision. Dzy uses percentage points, whereas I’ll use a scale going from very low to very high (i.e., if it’s very low, then I am really unsure of what the decision is and I think it could go either way, if it’s very high it means I don’t think it’s a close decision at all. I could still be wrong even it’s “very high,” of course, but it means I believe strongly that my opinion is correct).

Thanks a lot Dzy!

Hand #1

You’re playing Modern Splinter Twin versus Affinity, it’s game 2 and you’re on the draw. You mulligan your first hand, and your 6-card hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Keep.

I think this hand can easily win the game, which is more than can be said for a lot of 5-card hands. You have a scry and two draw steps to try to find a land, and you have Spell Snare and Engineered Explosives to survive until you try to find your third and fourth lands. Once you hit three, Pestermite and Electrolyze slow your opponent down enough for you to get to Shatterstorm. This hand has a ton of answers, and if you draw lands it can win the game even through some piece of disruption (Galvanic Blast/Spell Pierce/Thoughtseize/Spellskite), so I’d keep it.

Confidence level: Very high.

[collapse]
Dzy’s Answer

Keep.

I would keep this hand in a heartbeat. With the new scry rule we get to see another card which increases our chances of finding more lands, Spell Snare is effective against Affinity, Electrolyze and Shatterstorm are trump cards we can work toward and Engineered Explosives is great against certain draws even on just 2 lands. Even outside of all these great reasons to keep this hand, we are already on 6 and what are we really hoping for if we go down to 5?

Confidence level: 100%

[collapse]

Hand #2

You’re playing Modern Naya Burn/Zoo (with Wild Nacatls) and you’re on the draw against an unknown deck. Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Keep.

If I were playing straight Burn, I think you’d be almost forced to keep this, but the fact that you’re playing the 12 1-drop version gives me pause, because if you’re playing 12 it’s because you think they’re good and you really want one. That said, I think this is a keep, because you realistically only need to draw two more burn spells to win most games, and Burn relies on card quantity much more than card quality, so mulliganing is not good. I think having a 1-drop is important, but it’s not worth two cards, especially on the draw when they are less likely to hit more than once. I could be wrong on this, though.

Confidence level: Low.

[collapse]
Dzy’s Answer

Keep.

I’m not an avid Burn player but I would keep this hand. We don’t have any repetitive sources of damage like Wild Nacatl or Goblin Guide but these are worse on the draw anyway. We are a Burn deck and we have 12 points of damage already, including a Skullcrack effect to counter some life gain. This, combined with the fact that the average Modern deck takes 2-3 damage, we are already at 65-70% while on the draw.

Confidence level: 90%

[collapse]

Hand #3

You’re playing Standard Atarka Red against 4-Color Rally. It’s game 1, and you’re on the draw. You mulligan your first hand, and your 6-card hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Keep.

The Rally decks are super soft to the combo in game 1, and you have everything you need (the combo + plenty of fetchlands to fuel delve) except for a creature, and your deck is mostly creatures. With this hand, there are multiple draws that become turn-4 kills, and almost any combination of spells will result in a turn-5 kill, so I doubt you’re going to do much better on 5. Even if you stall for a bit, they just can’t kill you quickly, and eventually you’re going to be able to kill them with the combo.

Confidence level: Very high.

[collapse]
Dzy’s Answer

Mulligan.

I don’t have any experience with either side of this matchup but I imagine the Become Immense/Temur Battle Rage combo is the most powerful tool to beat 4-Color Rally. However this is only around 14 added damage. Without any early damage that is just not going to cut it. The alternative, mulliganing to 5, is not very appealing either, but I think mulliganing to a hand with 2 lands and 3 creatures is more likely to win you the game, so I would hesitantly mulligan.

Confidence level: 70%

[collapse]

Hand #4

You’re playing Esper Dragons against an unknown opponent. It’s game 1 and you’re on the draw. Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Keep.

I don’t love this hand, but I’d keep it. You’re on the draw, and drawing an untapped land between turns 1 and 2 so that you can Scorn their first or second play is usually going to be enough for you to get your cards online. Your hand is a bit clunky, but Foul-Tongue and Crux (and eventually Dragonlord Silumgar) have some catch-up potential, and I think many Esper opening hands aren’t great, especially if you don’t know what you’re playing against (if you mulligan into, say, lands and Ultimate Price, is that hand any good? It could be great or awful). At least with this hand you can have game against almost everybody by just drawing a couple lands (though you could also not draw an untapped land and lose horribly). If I knew what I was playing against, I’d mulligan this hand against Red and against the mirror, but I’d keep it against all the mid-sized decks.

Confidence level: Low.

[collapse]
Dzy’s Answer

Mulligan.

Esper Dragons is more my style. This hand has a lot of issues. Not enough lands, no untapped lands, and a Silumgar we want to dig into later—not have in our opener. On the other hand we do have a counterspell and an edict that gains us 4 life. If we draw some lands this hand is acceptable. The biggest problem is that there are no decks we are really happy to face with this hand. Against red decks we are likely too slow unless we draw 2 untapped lands while against other control decks we lack a lot of lands and we have no card draw. I think it is a little close but I would mulligan after thinking about it for a while, while my first inclination was to keep it.

Confidence level: 70%

[collapse]

Hand #5

You’re playing Abzan Aggro in Standard. You’re on the play against an unknown opponent. Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Mulligan.

Siege Rhino is good, but it’s not that good, and making your first play of the game on turn 4 is not good enough against any deck in Standard. Of course you can draw into 2- and 3-drops, but at this point I’d rather just mulligan, even if this hand does have perfect mana, which is a big plus with Abzan.

Confidence level: High.

[collapse]
Dzy’s Answer

Mulligan.

Even though we are on the play, turn-4 Rhino as the first play in Abzan Aggro is just not going to cut it in most games. You don’t pressure control or Rally at all, if the red decks have a decent draw they still beat this and you are likely just dead in the mirror. If we were on 6 cards with 1 fewer land I would keep it but I think our win percentage is higher on a mulligan.

Confidence level: 90%

[collapse]

I hope you’ve enjoyed this! If you have any hand suggestions, please leave them in the comments.