Keep or Mulligan? With Guest Pascal Maynard

For today’s Keep or Mulligan? I have the honor to present to you the man of the hour, Pascal Maynard! Thanks a lot for your help Pascal.

Hand #1

You’re playing the Esper mirror in game 1. You’re on the play and your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution:

Keep.

This hand is a bit awkward because it has your best cards—lands—and your worst cards, Bile Blights. I still think it’s a keep, though, because unless your opponent plays an unreasonable number of Ashioks, there’s nothing that’s going to be happening in the early game.

Having two Bile Blights in your opening hand is bad, but it’s not atrocious. The game goes very long, and you’ll end up drawing those cards anyway. Sometimes it’s better to have them early in your hand, if you end up having to discard—one of the worst things that can happen is that you have to discard good cards and then you draw your Bile Blights. It might seem silly to say “it’s good to have your bad cards because you can discard them,” but it does actually come up a decent number of times in the mirror match.

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Pascal’s Solution:

Keep.

This is what you want in this matchup, to make your land drops. Sure, the two Bile Blights are bad, but you might be able to use at least one in the match (targeting your own Ojutai alongside Silumgar, the Drifting Death). What is important to know is that besides Ashiok, there is nothing happening in the first five turns of the game. You don’t need action until then and don’t worry, you’ve got 4 draw steps and 2 scrys to find it when the time comes.

BONUS: If your opponent decides to cast a Thoughtseize in the early turns, they basically whiff.

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Hand #2

You’re playing Amulet Bloom versus Abzan, it’s game three and you’re on the draw. You mulligan to 6 and your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan to 5?

My Solution:

Keep.

I think this hand is quite good versus Junk—it’s not fast, but you don’t have to be fast against the BG decks. This hand has plenty of mana to cast whatever it topdecks, even through cards like Fulminator Mage, and it has a Titan that they can’t immediately Thoughtseize away. It also has Khalni Garden and two bouncelands, so you can stall the game for a while and even force a Titan through Liliana if it comes to that. If you mulligan looking for some early action, it’s likely that they will discard it from your hand in the early game anyway.

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Pascal’s solution:

Keep.

I’ve never played Amulet, only lost to it multiple times. I’m using common sense to say that this is a keep since your opponent will most likely try to attack you with land destruction and discard spells, and both are “bad” here. Tolaria West is essentially a Titan—I assume all you need is a Serum Visions, Azusa, or Summer Bloom to get something going.

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Hand #3

You’re playing stock Modern Jund against GW Summoning Trap. Post-board, you have 7 one-mana discard spells, 4 Bolts and 1 Grim Lavamancer for one-drops. Your opponent’s deck has Birds, Hierarchs, Lotus Cobras, Nest Invaders, Knight of the Reliquaries, Primeval Titans, Emrakuls, Lingering Souls, and Windbrisk Heights.

It’s game 3 and you’re on the draw. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution:

Mulligan.

I’ll admit I’m not very experienced with the GW Summoning Trap matchup, so I could be far off here, but I think against this deck you need some sort of early action or they will overpower you. Dark Confidant is good versus them, and on the play I would probably keep this hand, but I think you are not going to win with this unless you topdeck exactly a one-mana spell on turn 1. The fact that they can’t kill Dark Confidant also means there are better ways to recover from mulliganing, even to 5—if you get something like three lands, Confidant, discard/Bolt, then that’s probably better than this 7-card hand already, or at least as good.

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Pascal’s Solution:

Keep.

I assume they don’t have removal for Dark Confidant, Chandra must be great in this matchup and you will see 4 new cards by your third turn. If you don’t draw any interaction in those 4 new cards, you are probably dead, however if you do and stop them from casting something crazy, you should be in great shape for the rest of the game. Trying to mulligan into one of your 12 one-drops, meaning 1 of every 5 cards in a 60-card deck, is fine odds, but not good enough considering you could get a terrible hand that you have to mulligan again. I have obviously not played this matchup, if someone tells me you can almost never win with such a slow hand against GW Trap, then I would take the risk of finding a one-drop.

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Hand #4

You’re playing Modern Masters 2015 Draft, with an aggressive RW deck. You’re on the play and your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution:

Mulligan.

Tarmogoyf is a great card, but you can’t cast it here since you only have Mountains or Plains.

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Pascal’s Solution:

Keep.

I never ship the foil Tarmogoyf.

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Hand #5

You’re playing Abzan Aggro and you’re on the play against an unknown opponent. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution:

Keep.

This hand has the potential to flood very badly, since it has five lands and no Temples, but I think you can hope to draw something by turn three, which is when you’d really need it, since you have plays for turns one and two already. Abzan Aggro is a deck that often has mana problems that it can’t afford to have (since it’s an aggressive deck, so stumbling is very bad), so a hand that already has perfect mana and some plays to make is very appealing, even if there is a redundant Urborg. If they are playing a deck that can’t deal with Warden (which, admittedly is not very common in this format right now) you even have an outlet to win the game if you flood out.

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Pascal’s Solution:

Keep.

This is a reasonable hand, you have perfect mana, essentially a one and two drop AND Siege Rhino. This deck has such bad mana sometimes and makes it unable to curve, I dream about this kind of hand.

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