Hello!

For today’s edition of Keep or Mulligan we have the illustrious Reid Duke helping us—thanks Reid!

Hand #1

You’re playing Esper Dragons in Standard and you’re on the play against an unknown opponent. Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Keep.

This hand has a lot of lands, but Esper is a land-heavy deck that has a lot of ways to use its lands, so it’s not that big a deal. You’re on the play, so Silumgar’s Scorn is almost guaranteed to counter something meaningful, and Ultimate Price is not even bad against a lot of the control decks nowadays because of Jace. This hand has early reactive spells and then can hope to draw into the late game, which is a comfortable spot to be in (as opposed to having the late game and needing to draw the early interaction). I think this is a relatively easy keep.

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Reid’s Answer

Keep.

Esper Dragons needs its resources, and specifically needs its lands, so it’s tough to mulligan any reasonable hand with smooth mana. You have Silumgar’s Scorn with no Dragon, but even as a Force Spike it should still be useful, and will prevent your opponent from curving out on you. For a control deck, having your mana is your first priority, having your early defense is your second priority, and the rest will fall into place as the game progresses. This hand does great on both counts, and it would be a big mistake to mulligan.

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Hand #2

You’re playing UB Faeries in Modern and you’re on the draw against an unknown opponent. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Mulligan.

Bitterblossom was enough to carry the game in Standard, but that’s not true in Modern, and, being on the draw, it’s likely that turn-2 Bitterblossom is not enough versus any aggressive deck or any combo deck, and that’s just too big of a spectrum that you’re bad against, even with Vaults. If I were on the play, however, then I would keep, because a) it’s more punishing to mulligan and b) you’re way more likely to be able to go aggressive.

The fact that I think this hand is a mulligan speaks volumes as to why I think Faeries is not a good Modern deck. Before, you had this all-powerful card that bailed you out of any spot, and nowadays it’s just not true, so where is your reward for playing all those suboptimal Faeries cards?

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Reid’s Answer

Mulligan.

When Faeries was in Standard, this is a hand that I would’ve strongly considered keeping. The time when Bitterblossom was capable of winning games singlehandedly has long passed. Any Modern deck with any reasonable draw will beat a Bitterblossom and some Mutavaults, and that’s not even to mention the risk of being paired against a combo deck, or the opponent having an Abrupt Decay. I would mulligan looking for a better mix of lands and spells.

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Hand #3

You’re playing a Wr Allies-based deck in Battle for Zendikar Draft. Your deck is base-white and your mana is 10 Plains, 7 Mountain, 1 Evolving Wilds. 15 of your cards are white, with two of those being double-white. Your deck is above average (a 2-1 deck). You’re on the play against an unknown opponent.

Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Keep.

Let me start by saying that I think there is a lot that can go wrong with this hand, and it’s not just about the mana. Since you have two creatures that you can play and 11 Plains in your deck, it’s unlikely you’ll lose because you draw a bunch of white cards and no white mana, but what worries me is that you might lose even if you do draw white. If you draw two Plains in a row and your opponent kills your first guy, then you aren’t doing very much and you’re put in an awfully controlling position for an aggressive deck. If you draw Mountain and Plains, then you are flooded but also can’t cast a spell.

Ultimately, though, I think I’d keep this because the card quality is too high. If you draw “normally” (some creatures and some Plains) then your hand is quite good, and mulliganing this is focusing too much on the worst-case scenario rather than the average scenario. Your double-white cards are also capable of bailing you out of a bad spot, so you can take a while to draw Plains and still win.

This is, for me, the hardest hand this week. I think I would have mulliganed it before I started doing this series, but I’ve since been convinced that I mulligan a little bit too much, and I’m trying to correct this. Sometimes I feel confident in my decision and I would mulligan even if everyone told me I was wrong, but this is not one of those times, and it’s a hand that I know the majority of Pro players would keep, so I am accepting that this majority is likely right, since I don’t feel confident at all.

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Reid’s Answer

Keep.

There are ways for this hand to turn out badly, like if you only draw Mountains and white cards. However, you already have a good first three turns lined up, and you have the best card in the entire format in your hand. Quarantine Field is a card that will often win you the game immediately, no matter how long you have to wait to cast it, so even if it takes you a long time to draw out of your color screw, you might still be okay. It would be a big mistake to mulligan.

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Hand #4

You’re playing Legacy and you’re on the play against an unknown opponent. You’re playing Michael Derczo’s Death and Taxes list from GP Seattle:

Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Keep.

Take this with a grain of salt, because I haven’t played this deck much (why would you when this is the kind of hand you get?), but I think this is a keep. Against any fair deck you have two Mother of Runes, and against any unfair deck you have Wasteland and Port to slow them down and hopefully draw another piece of disruption (which you can then protect with your Mother of Runes). There’s no pressure in this hand, but few draws are not going to pressure them one way or another, and once you do draw your pressure, you know it’s going to stay there. You also have a Karakas for good measure.

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Reid’s Answer

Mulligan.

I would keep this hand if I knew that I was playing against a deck that needed to fight me using spot removal. However, this hand is just too slow and bad against something like combo or Miracles. Against fair decks, it’s decent, but certainly not among the best hands you could have. Against Delver decks, where this hand is at its best, you might just lose to a turn-1 Delver of Secrets that flips. It’s not crazy to keep, but I would err on the side of mulligan until I knew what deck my opponent was playing.

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Hand #5

You’re playing Modern and you’re on the draw against an unknown opponent. You’re playing Corey Burkhart’s Grixis Control deck:

Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Mulligan.

I think this hand is simply too slow on the draw against an unknown opponent. Kolaghan’s Command is a powerful card, but it will not catch you back up if you fall behind unless you manage to kill two creatures with it, and the only deck against which this is likely is Affinity. If you’re playing against anything else, then Command is not a good card to have as your first piece of interaction. Add that to the fact that you have zero fetchlands for Tasigur and I think you have to ship this.

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Reid’s Answer

Keep.

I agonized over this hand. If I had this hand playing Jund (a similar deck, but one I’m more familiar with), I would mulligan. However, I believe that winning with Jund relies slightly more on having a good start, while Grixis Control has a bit more card advantage, and a slightly stronger ability to claw back from behind. It also seems to me that if you’ve entered a tournament with the full 4 copies of Kolaghan’s Command in your main deck, you’ve sort of signed up to keep hands like this one.

I usually err on the side of keeping in game 1 in Modern, since you really have no idea what cards you’re looking for until you know what deck your opponent is playing (should you mulligan looking for a Lightning Bolt? What if it turns out you’re playing against Amulet?). All things considered, I would keep this hand, but for me, this is by far the closest decision of the week.

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That’s it for today! As always, if you have any hand suggestions that you’d like to see featured please leave them in the comments.