Welcome back to What’s the Play! Last time, I laid out 10 play scenarios from across Draft, Modern, and Standard. You voted on your answers, and today I’ll show you the play I would make (along with the results of the polling!).

Scenario #1

You drafted this sweet Boros deck.

You’re on the play and your opening hand is:

What do you do with your opening hand?

The People’s Choice

Capture1

My Answer

Mulligan.

I know some people are opposed to mulliganing this kind of hand, but you really want early action with Boros. Mentor is a bit of a snowball-based mechanic, and if you fall too far behind then your mentor creatures suddenly can’t attack, your pump spells don’t work, and so on. This deck is capable of so many incredible draws, and the card quality is so high that I think you can do better than this opening hand.

Situation #2

You’re playing Modern Spirits and you’re on the play versus Humans. You mulligan and lead with Noble Hierarch, your opponent leads with Cavern of Souls naming Humans, and an Aether Vial.

You draw, play your second land, and this is your hand:

So your board is two lands (all colors) + Noble Hierarch, and their board is Cavern of Souls + Aether Vial.

What is your play?

The People’s Choice

Capture2

My Answer

Option 2.

Pass the turn with Spell Queller up. I think this is an interesting scenario. The right play is very dependent on how good your opponent is because of the Aether Vial versus Spell Queller dilemma. The “conventional wisdom” when playing with Spell Queller is that you want to develop your board first and then Spell Queller whatever they play after, and you’d rather Spell Queller a 3-drop than a 2-drop since it’s a more powerful card anyway, but the Aether Vial-Meddling Mage dynamic changes this. Once Aether Vial gets to two counters, if you pass with 3 open mana, most Humans opponents worth their salt will just activate Vial on two before doing anything else. At this point, you’re basically committed to playing Spell Queller as a Spirit with flash. Otherwise, they can vial in Meddling Mage, name Spell Queller, and you waste your entire turn. It’s important to note that this is a play that the Humans opponent can make even if they don’t have Meddling Mage. You simply can’t wait for them to show you because if they put it into play it’s too late.

Of course, you could start going “wine in front of me” and think “they know that I know they would name Spell Queller so if I didn’t respond with Spell Queller then they must think I don’t have it and will name something else,” but are you really willing to risk it? This deck doesn’t have anything else to do on 3 mana other than play Spell Queller (and sometimes one Rattlechains), so what can your hand be if you just pass the turn?

Because of this, I think the best play is to just play your Spell Queller here—there’s no need to risk a Meddling Mage. They will usually play something on turn 2 anyway, so you get to stifle their development, and on the rare occasions they play nothing, you should just go ahead and flash in your Spell Queller regardless. This will be a racing game, not a game where you’re trying to target a particular thing.

Situation #3

You’re playing Spirits, and you’re on the draw in game 1 versus U/W Control. Your opening hand is:

Do you keep your opening hand?

The People’s Choice

Capturemulligan

My Answer

Option 2: Mulligan.

I don’t think this hand is horrendous, and it’s certainly capable of winning, but you could have a much better hand than this, especially on the draw. Basically any hand with Vial is going to be better, and then you can also find a faster hand with Noble Hierarch or a Geist hand, potentially with Cavern of Souls. With this hand, you can play your first threat on turn 3, and it’s not even a good threat—they can just untap and Jace it (or Counter/Path it and play Jace), and then you’re in major trouble. I think you can do better on 6 cards.

Situation #4

You’re playing Spirits versus Burn. You’re on the play and your opening hand is:

You scry a Collected Company to the top and you lead with Misty Rainforest.

Do you crack your Misty Rainforest at the end of the turn?

The People’s Choice

Capture5

My Answer

Option 2: Don’t crack it.

Keeping it is a bit risky, since you’re playing against Burn and it represents damage that you take (since you’ll have to get an untapped dual land, you’ll take damage from that Horizon Canopy every time you want white mana, or potentially both), but I think it’s worth it. Your hand right now is really weak, and there aren’t many cards that are better than Collected Company here (arguably there are none). If you have Company, you have a pretty good curve, and if you need to take some damage for it, that’s unfortunate but you do what you have to.

Situation #5

Imagine the exact same scenario, except your opponent plays Goblin Guide instead of Monastery Swiftspear. Now you have the option of fetching before the Goblin Guide trigger resolves to potentially draw an extra card.

What’s the play?

The People’s Choice

Capturecompany

My Answer

Option 2: Keep the Collected Company on top.

In this scenario, it’s more tempting to fetch, since you’re potentially drawing an extra card off it, but I still think you should keep the Collected Company on top. If you do end up drawing an extra card, it’s guaranteed to be a land (the best case scenario here is that you shuffle a land on top and then draw Collected Company anyway), and I don’t think that changes the scenario enough that your answer should change.

Situation #6

You’re playing Guilds of Ravnica Draft and you have a Golgari deck that is splashing blue for two copies of Artful Takedown. You don’t have a lot of late game or expensive cards, but there’s a copy of Affectionate Indrik on top of your deck that you’ve already seen (the Giant, the Siege Wurm, and the Bounty of Might that you milled).

You play a turn 3 Glowspore Shaman and mill those 3 cards.

Do you put the Island back on top of your Library?

The People’s Choice

Captureisland

My Answer

No.

I think this question is very close. My first inclination is to say yes because you already have an expensive card to play (the Lotleth Giant) and to a lesser extent the Siege Wurm, since your opponent could just kill your creatures, and it seems greedy to not keep it, but then I started thinking more about it and changed my answer.

In this spot, you’re already guaranteed four lands (since you have District Guide), and you’re already guaranteed a healthy mix of colors (it can just grab a Guildgate). If you put another land on top, then you risk flooding out a little bit if you naturally draw more lands over the course of the game. You can play the Giant, but the Giant is more of a finisher to me rather than a play in itself, and I don’t mind waiting a couple of turns to draw the extra lands.

What tips the scales for me most is that the deck overall is not full of expensive cards, so there aren’t going to be any dead draws. If you draw lands, then you can work your way up to Lotleth Giant. If you don’t draw lands, then that means you’re drawing spells, and you’ll be able to cast most of those spells, so you’re happy too.

In the end, I think you’re more likely to lose this game because you don’t have enough action than because you fail to cast Lotleth Giant on time, so I don’t like keeping the land.

Situation #7

You’re playing the same B/G/u deck. This is your hand:

Barrier of Bones is your only surveil card.

Do you play it on turn 2?

The People’s Choice

Capture7

My Answer

No.

I think it’s a pretty clear “no” here—you’re not under any pressure, your opponent played the land that signifies a slow archetype, and you’re not looking for anything specific. There’s no reason to waste your only surveil at this point. It’s your only way of getting Blood Operative back in your entire deck and the card is already in your hand. Wait for it to die (and it basically has to die) and then use the Barrier of Bones to bring it back.

Situation #8

You’re playing the same deck (remember that you have a Blood Operative in your deck). You mulligan, and your opponent leads with Selesnya Guildgate. This is your hand:

Do you play Barrier of Bones on turn 1?

The People’s Choice

Capture7

My Answer

No.

Your opponent isn’t pressuring you, so there’s no need to play the Wall here, and you’ll have a pretty easy opportunity to play it on turn 3 if you want, given that you have two 3-drops. Waiting until turn 3 gives you the opportunity to hit Blood Operative with the three cards you’re milling from Glowspore Shaman, and then you can immediately bring it back, which is huge.

You do have Siege Wurm in hand, so you want creatures in play to convoke it, but having the Barrier of Bones in play on turn 1 is not going to change anything, since you still get to play it on turn 4 (because you can just play it on turn 3 alongside a 2-drop). I think playing the Barrier of Bones on turn 1 here would be a pretty big mistake.

Situation #9

You’re playing a Boros deck in Guilds of Ravnica Draft. Your deck has eight 2-drops. You’re on the play, you mulligan to 6, and this is your opening hand.

You keep and scry to see Sworn Companions.

Do you keep it on top?

The People’s Choice

Capture9

My Answer

Keep it on top.

I think it’s tempting to bottom this, because finding a 2-drop is so important with this hand since it means Wojek Bodyguard can start attacking on turn 4. If you keep Sworn Companions on top, then you’ve given up any chance of hitting the “dream curve,” so to speak.

But I think sending it to the bottom would be way too greedy. You’ve already mulliganed and you don’t have a ton of material to work with—one of your cards is a pump spell and the other is a creature that can’t do anything by itself. If you bottom this, you might even find a 2-drop, but what if your opponent deals with it? Then you’re working with essentially nothing. It’s better to make the safe play here, and keep the card that provides two creatures and gives you more insurance that you’ll actually be able to play the other cards you have, even if it locks you for a slower game.

Situation #10

You’re playing B/G in Standard, and you’re on the play against an unknown opponent. Your opening hand is:

Do you keep your opening hand?

The People’s Choice

Capture10

My Answer

Mulligan.

I’m more liberal than most with my mulliganing, and I don’t like keeping hands that absolutely need to draw a colored source in the first couple of turns to work.

When you’re considering a hand like this, you know you’re taking a risk—you basically lose the game if you don’t draw a black source early on. So for you to keep, the hand has to be exceptional—it has to be worth the risk because the reward is so big. If you draw a black source, then this becomes a good hand. You can use Seekers’ Squire to maybe find another black source and you get to play Ravenous Chupacabra, but it’s still not an exceptional hand, just a good one. Since the reward isn’t that great, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.