Keep or Mulligan with Guest Thiago Saporito

Hello! Welcome to this week’s Keep or Mulligan. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, this is an article series where I present you with a series of opening hands and you have to decide whether you’d keep the hand or mulligan. I try to have a guest player with me every week so that you can have more than one opinion—this week’s guest is Brazilian pro player Thiago Saporito. Thanks, Thiago!

Hand #1

You’re playing a BW aggro deck in Team Sealed, on the draw against a UB control deck.

Your hand:

Keep or Mulligan?

Thiago’s Answer

Mulligan. You have more lands than you’d like, no creatures, and no pressure against a control deck when you’re the aggressive deck. I think you’re unlikely to get close to winning the game with this hand.

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My Answer

Mulligan. This was a hand that Josh Mcclain had at the GP and he wanted to mulligan, but his teammates told him to keep—then everyone we talked to said keeping was correct except for me, so I expect this to be a controversial decision (though it seems that Thiago and I share the same view).

I think this is a hand I would keep without any context, but one I would mulligan in this one. Against a UB control deck, you’re supposed to apply pressure, and this hand doesn’t have a single creature—you can kill their first creature, but it just plays to their strength and not yours, and you’re already kind of flooded. What’s going to happen if you draw 1 creature and they kill it? What if you draw 1 creature and they just play a random blocker… are you then going to use your removal spells on random 3-drops to get 3 damage through? It doesn’t seem like you’re going to win in either of those scenarios, so I’d rather mulligan for a draw with more substance.

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Hand #2

You’re playing Lantern in Modern. You’re on the play versus an unknown opponent.

Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

Thiago’s Answer

Mulligan. Even though this hand has the potential to be one of the best draws in the deck, if you don’t find an artifact or a land, you have no play for turn 2. If I were on the draw, I’d keep it.

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My Answer

Keep. I had this hand at the GP, and I actually thought it was a relatively easy keep. It is concerning that if you don’t draw a 1-drop artifact or a colored land you just pass turn 2 with no play, but I don’t think that’s a very big issue because this hand is very good at catching up since you have two Moxes and an Ensnaring Bridge. If you do draw a land or a 1-mana artifact, then it’s close to the best hand you can have, and I think you can afford to brick for a turn or 2 and still be fine. If you brick for 3+ turns you’re likely to lose, but there are about 30 “hits” in the average Lantern deck so I think those are fine odds, and even then, you can still win.

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Hand #3

You’re playing UWr Miracles in Legacy. It’s game 1 and you’re on the play against an unknown opponent.

Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

Thiago’s Answer

Keep. Even though you have no blue source and no Brainstorm to put back your Miracle cards, you have Sensei’s Divining Top to find them. You also have Force of Will and a blue card, which I consider to be very important against an unknown opponent. It might not be the best hand, but I’d keep.

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My Answer

Keep. I tend to keep almost any hand with Sensei’s Divining Top in it as it’s very important for this deck, and if you hit a fetchland in your top cards, you’re home. Your cards aren’t good (Terminus and Entreat are cards you don’t want in your opening hand), but having Force of Will and a blue card already goes a long way towards beating a lot of the archetypes, and it can make sure that your Top is going to resolve. This hand is basically asking “are Top, FoW, and blue card worth keeping an otherwise horrible hand?” The answer is “yes.”

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Hand #4

You’re playing GW Hardened Scales in Standard. It’s game 2, and you’re on the play against a BGRW deck full of removal.

Your hand:

Keep or Mulligan?

Thiago’s Answer

Keep. You have 2 draws to find a land, since skipping your second land drop is not that bad because you have 2 Hardened Scales. Even if you don’t find a land in 2 draws, you can still cast a lot of the spells in your hand. If you find 2 lands, you can play your creatures as 4/4s, which lets them dodge removal spells such as Fiery Impulse and Radiant Flames, and if you find 2 lands, you probably win.

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My Answer

Keep. I don’t like keeping 1-landers on the play, but I think this is good enough for 2 reasons—first, the potential is enormous. Second, the fail scenario is not nearly as bad as most 1-landers. If you go turn 1 Scales, turn 2 Scales, you can still play two 3/3s or a 4/4 the following turn if you draw a land. If you don’t, then you can play a 3/3. The fact that your opponent is playing a control deck full of removal also makes this hand better, since it’s often about getting one threat to stick rather than just being fast, and you have 2 Hardened Scales to make sure every creature you draw is a threat.

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Hand #5

You’re Playing Living End in Modern, on the draw against an unknown opponent. Your deck contains 19 lands, 12 that can find or produce black mana.

Your hand:

Keep or Mulligan?

Thiago’s Answer

Mulligan. You need to draw 3 lands to get the deck’s ideal hand. If you’re playing against an aggro deck, you can be punished by taking 4 damage to draw 2 cards and you need to hit your first, second, and third land drops to be able to play a Living End—if you miss any of them, you lose the game.

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My Answer

Mulligan. When I looked at this hand, my initial reaction was to keep it since you get 3 draws to hit a black land, but 12 is not a whole lot so I decided to do the math. It turns out you have a roughly 55% chance to draw a black land in 3 draws, which is a much lower number than I anticipated. You can still win if you draw another land, of course—the percentage for that is roughly 75%—but it’s going to be harder, and on turn 2 you need a black land. Modern is a far more punishing format than Standard, and I don’t think you can afford to keep this hand when there is such a big chance you do absolutely nothing, so I’d mulligan.

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As always, if you have any hand suggestions for next week, let me know in the comments!

 

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