Keep or Mulligan? With Special Guest Mike Sigrist

Welcome to today’s Keep or Mulligan, where I show you an opening hand and then offer my explanation for whether I’d keep it or mulligan it. Today we have Player of the Year Mike Sigrist as special guest!

As always, submissions for next week are welcome in the comments.

Hand #1

You’re playing the UR Artifacts deck from the last PT. You’re on the draw against Bant Heroic, and it’s game 2. Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Keep.

It might seem weird to keep a hand that doesn’t have either color of mana, but you have a play already (Hangarback) and it’s a pretty good one against Heroic, since they can’t reliably get through a lot of colorless tokens (can’t Gods Willing past them). Your spells are also very good, and you can play a real game by drawing either color. If you draw both, then the hand is quite good.

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Siggy’s Answer

Keep.

It has most of the tools needed to win, it’s just lacking colored mana. Having the ability to play a turn-2 Hangarback Walker gives you the additional out of drawing a Springleaf Drum to enable a pretty solid draw. Being on the draw gives you 3 draw steps to find a colored source, which I think makes this hand a keep.

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Hand #2

You’re playing Modern Splinter Twin against an unknown opponent. You’re on the play and your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Mulligan, but I think it’s close.

With this hand, you have a lot of live draws—any combo creature is good, because you can combo, and any spell is good because you can flash it back with Snapcaster. Your bad draws are basically more Twins, more Snapcasters, Cliques, and cards that would be bad (e.g. Lightning Bolt versus Scapeshift, or something). That said, Modern is not a forgiving format, and I think you’ll lose more games because you don’t draw what you need than you will win because you immediately draw a guy or a Serum Visions. I think that, with the old rules, I probably keep this hand, but I would mulligan it under the new rules.

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Siggy’s Answer

Mulligan.

You have no way to interact early or dig to find the 2nd half of your combo. If a land or a Twin were any piece of interaction, Serum Visions, or a Deceiver/Pestermite I think it’s an easy keep.

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Hand #3

You’re playing an RW aggressive deck in Origins draft. You’re on the play and this is your hand:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Mulligan, but I again think it’s close.

This hand is super awkward because the benefit of having cheap spells is mostly that you can cast them and something else in the same turn, but with this hand you can’t do that. Your spells are certainly good, and fit your game plan (play one-two guys and then kill everything they play), so it’s not a huge deal that you can’t cast two Fiery Impulses in the same turn, but I think the brick potential here is too high. If we’re going to be generous and give you nine Mountains, you have roughly a 30% chance to draw Mountain turn 2, and about 50% chance to get there turn 3.

If you do not draw a land there, I think you’re in a very bad spot, but if you draw Plains (70% chance of that happening at least), then I think you’re fine until turn 4. Turn 4 is your breaking point, the point where if you don’t draw Mountain you’re likely to lose the game even if you have cast Knight of the Pilgrim’s Road already, and you’re about 63% to have one by then. So, about 30% of the time, this hand just loses the game on turn 3, and the 2/3rds of the time it does get there (with a Plains) it then has to topdeck Mountain to be able to play Magic, and I think that’s too much considering the hand is only actively great the 30% of the time you draw Mountain immediately.

If I was on the draw, or if my deck was very bad and I felt like I had to get lucky anyway, then I would keep this hand.

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Siggy’s Answer

Mulligan.

An aggro deck in Limited needs to make sure it keeps tempo by playing its creatures on curve. Risking not casting the Bully on turn 2 with only one draw step significantly decreases your chances of winning. If you miss Mountain on turn 2 and play it on turn 3, you still can’t play 2 spells in a turn to gain back the tempo lost from the first miss. I would certainly consider keeping this hand on the draw, however.

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Hand #4

You’re playing Abzan Control in Standard. You’re on the draw against a Jeskai deck. Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Mulligan.

This hand is just incredibly slow, and you can’t afford to have it on the draw against Jeskai, which is not Mono-Red but is can nonetheless pressure you with stuff like Mantis Rider. Siege Rhino is good against them, but it’s not enough by itself, and Elspeth is probably at its worst here.

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Siggy’s Answer

Mulligan.

Without a piece of interaction for their 2- or 3-drop this hand is just going to fall too far behind on the draw. In this matchup Elspeth doesn’t have the ability to catch you back up very well like it could against an Abzan opponent.

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Hand #5

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

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Keep, but it’s close.

The fact that you’re on the play, you have three Temples, and that your one card is Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy makes me want to keep this hand. More importantly, I think Jeskai is a deck that can be aggressive but doesn’t have to be aggressive, and it has uses for extra mana in the late game. In some matchups, such as RG Devotion, you need to be aggressive, but those are the decks that aren’t going to kill Jace. Most decks that play Thoughtseize won’t cast it reliably turn 1, and you can still get a Jace use before Hero’s Downfall comes online, so I think this is worth a try. If they ‘Seize your Jace or kill it with Ultimate Price, Bile Blight, or Wild Slash, then the hand becomes bad, but you still have three Temples to mitigate flooding, and you have the ability to win the game without early pressure in a lot of matchups.

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Siggy’s Answer

Mulligan.

Turn-2 Jace on the play is very tempting, but ultimately this hand is just too weak. This hand lacks a true threat and a way to interact with the opponent. The risk of flooding out is just too high, especially if Jace gets killed early. Let’s see if we can do better on six.

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