Hello!

This is the new edition of Keep or Mulligan, this time with guest Paul Cheon. Thanks a lot Paul!

Since the new mulligan rule just became official, this will likely be the last Keep or Mulligan in which both mulligan rules are included. As always, if you have any Keep or Mulligan hands you’d like analyzed, just post them in the comments.

Hand #1

You’re playing an aggressive GW deck in Origins Team Sealed, with a decent number of renown creatures and some ways to push them through. Your opponent is playing a BG Elves deck, and every card you saw from him game 1 was a creature. You’re on the play and your mana base is 9 Plains, 8 Forests. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Keep under the old rules, mulligan under the new rules.

I don’t love this hand, but I think it’s good enough that you can consider keeping, since you have a 2-drop, and if you draw a Forest it can be quite good depending on what your opponent is presenting. You have about a 40% chance to draw Forest in time to play a turn-3 Valeron Wardens, which is quite low if you consider that the card really is much better if you play it early, but at the same time the hand is not so all-in that you absolutely need to play it on turn three. Perhaps this should be a mulligan under the old rules regardless, though I’d lean toward keeping.

Under the new rules, I think you have more incentive to mulligan, enough that it pushes me toward doing so. In any case, I think it’s close.

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Cheon’s Solution

An unexciting keep.

You won’t be missing a land drop for the first few turns and should eventually get the opportunity to play out the rest of your creatures. You have a 2-drop that you can play and if you do happen to draw a Forest by turn 3, you still likely have to draw some ways to push the Valeron Wardens through. Despite all of this, drawing a Forest will allow you to play out all of your creatures and once you eventually do find a way to connect on a renowned creature, we enter a pretty nice place known as valuetown.

Mulligan under the new rules. Basically, when I find myself in a situation where a mulligan decision would be very close under the old rules, I mulligan under the new ones. The hand above still requires you to draw both a Forest and some combat tricks to be able to trigger the renown on the Valeron Wardens. A mulligan to 6 has a pretty strong chance of yielding a similar hand but with potentially better mana and a combat trick to trigger your renown creatures.

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Hand #2

You’re playing Goblins against an unknown deck in Modern. You’re on the play. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

Bonus: If you do keep, what’s your turn 1 play?

My Solution

Keep under both rules.

I think this hand is actually quite good, even if I don’t exactly understand this deck. You might suffer in the long run if you don’t draw lands and start drawing either spells or creatures whose cost is smaller than the number of counters on your Aether Vial (e.g. you draw a 1-drop after pumping it to 2, so you can’t play it), but with this hand you’re trying to end the game quickly anyway.

The more interesting question to me is what you do on turn 1. I think you have two clear choices: Vial + Guide, or just Vial. Just Vial lets you play t2 Piledriver if you draw a land, or it lets you Bolt something if you do not. T1 Vial + Guide, on the other hand, ends up hitting for 4 extra damage if you do not draw land (since you get an extra Guide attack turn one and an extra Guide attack turn two), and it could be more in the long run because you’ll have to either delay your Piledriver an extra turn or run the risk of not being able to play your other Goblin Guide. My inclination is that you miss out on too much damage, and the better play is to just jam turn 1 Vial + Goblin Guide. At some point you will draw an extra land, then you can just Bolt them, but this play is better if you do not draw the land immediately.

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Cheon’s Solution

If mulliganing deck choice is not an option, I would probably keep this hand.

You have the very strong play of turn 1 Goblin Guide + Aether Vial. This then sets you up to play a turn 2 Goblin Guide off the Aether Vial followed by a turn 3 Piledriver. If at any point you draw a land, you still get to cast Lightning Bolt. Presumably the reason Simian Spirit Guides are in the deck are to allow for explosive starts and a turn 1 Vial + Goblin Guide seems to be exactly what you want to be doing. That being said, it’s still a bit risky as you could end up just not drawing any lands. Still, you’re attacking for 2 on turn 1 and then 4 on turn 2.

I would likely mulligan this hand under the new mulligan rule as you can likely do better. Aggressive decks are very good at mulliganing as they can keep one-land hands and still have a very good shot at finding a second land due to the ability to scry for the land. You can probably mulligan to a similar hand containing lands (or scry for a land).

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Hand #3

You’re playing MTG Origins Sealed Deck with this aggressive GW deck:

You’re on the draw against an unknown opponent. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Keep under both rules.

I think this hand is good enough that it’s worth the risk. Obviously if you draw Plains then the hand is great, but if you draw Forest then the hand is good as well, as the Elvish Visionary will likely draw you into another land to play a 3-drop. Normally being slow with your renown guys is very punishing, but the fact that you have Kytheon’s Tactics in hand mitigates this situation a lot, because now they don’t have to be played on turn two. Imagine you draw Forest, play Visionary, and then draw Plains—you can still play a turn-3 Consul’s Lieutenant, a turn-4 Lieutenant (or Castellan, your choice), and then on turn 5 you can play Tactics and push both of them through regardless. Even if you can’t immediately attack, you’ll have two 2/1 first strikers on defense, which is quite hard to get through. This type of hand is worth the 25% of the time you miss your second land drop, I think.

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Cheon’s Solution

Mulligan under both rules.

This deck is awesome minus the Kytheon’s Tactics. The deck is good enough that you simply do not need to take the risk of keeping this hand. If you manage to draw exactly Plains in the first two draws, then sure the hand is great but the likelihood of that happening is under 50% and not worth the risk. You also have a Kytheon’s Tactics in your hand which is effectively a mulligan anyways.

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Hand #4

You’re on the play, game 2 against Burn splashing for Atarka’s Command and Lightning Helix. You’re playing Pat Chapin’s Grixis Control list from GP Charlotte.

Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Mulligan under both rules.

This hand is just too “do nothing” for me, too reactive against such an aggressive deck. You have good cards in the matchup, and with a second land I’d definitely think it’s a good hand, but I think you have to draw it immediately to be able to win and I don’t like those odds. With this hand, if you fall behind, then it’s going to be very hard to recover, as if you spend a turn casting Terminate that means you can’t counter anything and now your hand is a bunch of counterspells and no answers so you’re just going to die to any creature. The fact that you don’t have red mana makes it even worse, because now you can draw your theoretical best card (Lightning Bolt) and still not be able to cast it for several turns.

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Cheon’s Solution

Mulligan under both rules.

If you maybe replaced the Mana Leak with a Thought Scour or some other cantrip effect I would consider keeping but there are too many things that need to happen to be able to win with this hand. This hand is quite bad against any combination of Goblin Guide/Monastery Swiftspears. You absolutely have to draw a red source by turn 2 to likely have a chance to win the game. It will also just take too long before the Gurmag Angler does anything relevant in the game. The key to this matchup is to either just turbo out a Gurmag Angler or Tasigur early or have the ability to cast your cheap removal spells and counter all of their burn. This hand can’t do either. I may consider it for a little longer if the land were a Steam Vents, as you could still draw Lightning Bolt and have it be a relevant nonland draw.

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Hand #5

You’re playing RW Aggro in MTG Origins Team Sealed. Your opponent is playing a GB control deck with multiple Wild Instincts, Eyeblight Massacre, and Languish. You’re on the draw and your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Mulligan under both rules.

I actually had this hand versus Eric Froehlich in Team Sealed, and we all agreed it was a mulligan. It just doesn’t do enough, and you need to draw several good cards in a row to be able to win that game. If I’m banking on that, then I might as well mulligan and draw a new six—I think it’s worth the risk of mulliganing into oblivion to try to have a more aggressive start.

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Cheon’s Solution

Mulligan under both rules.

This hand simply just does not apply enough pressure. Without knowing what late game cards you have in the RW deck, an opening hand with 5 lands and Dragon Fodder as your only creature will not get the job done. A GB deck with Eyeblight Massacre will likely be packing some combination of Elvish Visionaries, Yeva’s Forcemages, and Eyeblight Assassins, all of which will blank the Goblin tokens.

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