Hello!

For today’s Keep or Mulligan, I’m going to have Hall-of-Famer Zvi Mowshowitz helping me. Thanks Zvi! Like last week, we’re going to be using the new mulligan rule.

Hand #1

You’re playing Abzan Megamorph against Esper Dragons. It’s game 1, and you’re on the draw. Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Mulligan.

This hand is incredibly awkward because you have five lands, but they all come into play tapped. You want to draw a land to play a turn-three Deathmist, but you also don’t want another land ever, so if you scry into an untapped land you are incentivized to bottom it. You do not have to be extremely fast to beat an Esper deck—in fact, Raptor lets you play the longer game and you already have two—but a hand where my first spell is a 3/3 on turn four is where I draw the line. If one of the Sandsteppe Citadels was a Forest, I would keep this hand, but as it is, I mulligan. The fact that you get an extra scry is nice but I would mulligan this regardless of whether I’m under the new or the old rule. If you do keep, however, you should probably not lead with Temple, because you want to bottom land but you will not be devastated if you draw it now (as opposed to any turn after the third where you really don’t want it).

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Zvi’s Solution

Mulligan.

With better lands, this type of hand would be reasonable to keep. You have two copies of the card you most want to draw, and will eventually have good uses for all five lands. The issue is that this land configuration gives you no untapped lands, so your first Raptor will come on turn 4, while you only get two Temples to dig with and likely have little followup. Even under the old rules, I would throw this back. Under the new rules, it’s easy.

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Hand #2

You’re playing this 4-color Collected Company deck against Amulet Bloom. It’s game 3, and you’re on the play. Your deck is:

You sided in Fulminators, Spellskite, Qasali Pridemage, and I assume Negates/Path.

Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Keep.

This hand is hard for me to evaluate because I’ve never played this deck before (and hopefully I never will because it looks awful). This hand is extremely slow and doesn’t do anything, but if you look at the deck list, what are you hoping for? Outside of a fantastic Birds-into-Fulminator-into-Collected Company-for-more-Fulminators start, I don’t think you stand much of a chance regardless of what you do if their draw is remotely functional. There are a number of bullets that you could play—Mindcensor, Magus of the Moon—that would make me think you have a chance, but right now you have all those Chords and Fauna Shamans and not much to get with them.

I think this hand is bad, but I would keep it because I think you need them to have a slow start for you to have a chance, and this hand has the tools to beat a slow start—you have Fauna Shaman for Pridemage at some point, and then Collected Company—you just need to draw more creatures and your deck is all creatures. You also have Path for Azusa or Titan, though that is unlikely to save you. There is the downside of not having colored mana for Fulminator, but if you look at the deck, there aren’t a lot of red or black sources for them anyway.

It’s possible I’m approaching this the wrong way—that instead of thinking “the matchup is so bad that I need a busted draw to win, and this draw isn’t busted, so I might as well mulligan,” that I should say “the matchup is so bad that I need them to brick anyway, and if they brick, this hand could be reasonable.” I honestly don’t know what the right approach is and would be interested in feedback from people who have actually played the deck, but right now if I had this choice in front of me I would keep.

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Zvi’s Solution

Mulligan.

This is an automatic mulligan. You have no mana creatures, and don’t even have a second creature to discard to Fauna Shaman! If you draw no creatures in the next two turns, which is quite likely, you are effectively saying “go” with a Path to Exile up for three turns against an Amulet deck. Best-case scenario is that you tap out on your second turn (and quite possibly die or fall hopelessly behind by doing so) in order to play an annoying creature on turn three but not pull ahead? No way.

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Hand #3

You’re playing Jund against Grixis Control and it’s game 2. You’re on the play. Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Keep.

This hand is not optimal by any means (but then again if it was optimal, everyone would keep it and it would be pointless to include it in the article), but I think it’s closer than it looks at first glance. The Grixis deck relies a lot on its graveyard because of Snapcaster Mage, delve cards, and Kolaghan’s Command. If you lead with Leyline, then it’s not very easy for them to win the game and it should at least buy you a lot of time to recover. I don’t know if I would actually board in Leyline against them, because it’s horrible outside of your opening hand, but, since you did bring it in and you did draw it on your opening hand, it’s going to be good.

If you have 24 lands in your deck and 4 of them come into play tapped, that leaves you with roughly a 36% chance to play Dark Confidant turn 2. By turn 3, your chances increase to about 64%. If you play it on turn 2, then I think you’re a favorite to win the game—you’ve stripped them of their Bolt/Spell Snare (and they might board out some Bolts anyway) and they can’t Snapcaster anything back. If you play it on turn three, then it’s more complicated, because they can just Kolaghan’s Command it, for example, but you have a second Dark Confidant anyway, and it’s unlikely that they will be able to kill both. Even if they do, you can always draw a third land and Kolaghan’s Command it back. I think you’re still a favorite to win if you play it on turn 3. On turn 4, you’re probably not a favorite anymore, but you can still win because Leyline might slow them down so much.

The worst-case scenario for this hand when you do draw a land is that they just jam their Snapcasters/Vendilion Cliques (which they will do, since they can’t flashback anything anyway). In this case, they will threaten your life total and your Bobs won’t be that good, even if they come out late. Besides those two creatures, though (and you have Command for one, eventually at least), you’re unlikely to be pressured since Tasigur is going to cost 6 mana.

You might argue that double-Leyline is already a mulligan, but that’s not necessarily true—first, now you guarantee you’re not drawing them (I assume you did not board in 4, because that doesn’t seem that great, and I can imagine mulliganing and then drawing Leyline on turn 2 and that would be bad). Second, they have Kolaghan’s Command in their deck—since you don’t have any artifacts and they can’t reanimate anything, they’re going to use the discard mode for sure and that extra Leyline is likely to be useful at some point in the game.

I think that, overall, this hand amounts to a keep. The new rules make it more tempting to mulligan, but not tempting enough in my opinion.

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Zvi’s Solution

Mulligan.

This is very all-or-nothing. If you draw a second land, you probably win, and at a minimum you are doing what you want to be doing, even if you are effectively on six cards. If you miss your second land drop, it isn’t all over, but it is bad, and you might not play Magic. Depending on your view of the matchup, that might be worth the gamble. I have never tested anything that close to this situation, so it is hard to say. But the new rule pushes me toward throwing this hand away even if I think the matchup is somewhat bad. If I think it’s very very bad, I would keep anyway.

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Hand #4

You’re playing Legacy with Petr Sochurek’s 4-color Delver list:

You are on the play against an unknown opponent. You mulligan your first hand, and your second hand is:

Keep or Mulligan to 5?

My Solution

Mulligan.

You might be tempted to keep this hand because of the new rules (since you’re more likely to flip Delver), but even if you guarantee drawing a spell, this hand is just not good enough. Delver is a deck that has a lot of 1-for-1, early-game spells that become worse as the game goes on, and you can’t keep a hand that has no action other than just one creature. Most 5-card hands that have between one and three lands are going to be better than this.

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Zvi’s Solution

Keep under new rules.

Mulligan under the old rules.

None of those lands are Wasteland. Other than spending the cards on a Brainstorm, what are those extra three lands at the end good for? Casting Dig Through Time a little early? Under the old rules, this is an automatic move to five cards. Under the new rules, you get to scry so you both flip the Delver more often and avoid drawing a land more often (and draw Brainstorm somewhat more often), so this hand got better, and got better relative to a 5-card hand. You do have the fetchland in case you draw a Brainstorm.

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Hand #5

You’re playing DTK Sealed. Your deck is WB with a blue splash for Torrent Elemental—you have 18 lands, three of which are Islands, and only one BW dual for fixing. You’re on the draw and the opponent has shown you an average, aggressive red/black deck. Cards seen prior include Marang River Skeleton, Ukud Cobra, Goblin Heelcutter, Blood-Chin Rager, and Kolaghan Forerunners.

Your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Solution

Keep.

I would not keep in the dark, but if I know that they have an aggressive deck, I think this hand offers enough early-game stalling to make sure you can get back into the game. You have two 1-mana plays, so you’re less likely to have to discard, and those will buy time for your later plays. If you do hit your land drops in reasonable time, then the hand is very good, and I think that justifies a keep. Under the new rules it’s closer, but I think it’s still a keep.

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Zvi’s Solution

Keep under old rules.
Maybe mulligan under new rules.

I think it is clear that under the old rules you would keep this hand. You have multiple 1-mana plays that are good at stopping what your opponent is trying to do, and one more at 2 mana, so stalling on one land for a turn, or at two for two turns, is probably survivable, and the hand only has one white card so if you draw the wrong lands it probably is not that bad. There are 17 lands left in your deck.

Under the new rules, a mulligan is a lot less likely to take you out of the game, so you can consider shooting for a higher power level. At that point, I would mulligan against weak opponents and keep against strong ones. If my opponent is good, I feel the need to gamble that the mana will work out, and to collect the upside of a good defense and full hand. If I think my opponent is a weak player, I want to make sure I can play, and this hand carries too much risk for me.

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