How to Approach London Mulligans

Here’s the new rules, if the test in London is successful: Scry is out. Instead, you always draw your full seven and after that you put as many cards on the bottom of your library as you’ve taken mulligans. For example, when you’re going to five, you still draw the seven, but now you put two of those cards on the bottom of your library.

This does give you a new kind of flexibility that will make games in which mulligans take place more competitive. There is a risk of making combodecks too consistent, but we’ll see. Gladly, they’ve decided to have the test in a Modern Mythic Championship, which means that the best minds in the game are going to try to find ways to break it. There isn’t even going to be a new set to take into account (it’s the prerelease weekend, so they decided not to make it legal), so the pros can emphasize this rule more than they usually could.

One thing I especially like with this change is that understanding your deck is going to more important than before. I think we can find some rules based on that.

Scenario 1

Let’s start with something popular in Standard, Sultai Midrange. This is the best performing list from the most recent Mythic Championship (I) by Noah Ma (27 points or 9-1 record, which is something that doesn’t even happen every MC).

You are on the play in the first game. You don’t know what your opponent is playing.

[deck]
[lands]
4 Breeding Pool
2 Drowned Catacomb
4 Forest
1 Hinterland Harbor
1 Memorial to Folly
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Watery Grave
4 Woodland Cemetery
[/lands]
[creatures]
1 Carnage Tyrant
3 Hostage Taker
4 Hydroid Krasis
1 Incubation Druid
4 Jadelight Ranger
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Merfolk Branchwalker
4 Wildgrowth Walker
[/creatures]
[spells]
3 Cast Down
3 Find / Finality
2 Vraska’s Contempt
3 Vivien Reid
[/spells]
[/deck]

Suppose we are mulliganing to five and here are some sample hands (produced with the ‘Sample hands’ option on the Mothership):

[deck]
[hand 1]
Hinterland Harbor
Memorial to Folly
Vraska’s Contempt
Breeding Pool
Overgrown Tomb
Breeding Pool
Merfolk Branchwalker
[/hand 1]
[hand 2]
Wildgrowth Walker
Forest
Carnage Tyrant
Llanowar Elves
Overgrown Tomb
Find // FInality
Overgrown Tomb
[/hand 2]
[hand 3]
Carnage Tyrant
Vivien Reid
Vraska’s Contempt
Woodland Cemetery
Wildgrowth Walker
Merfolk Branchwalker
Woodland Cemetery
[/hand 3]
[hand 4]
Hydroid Krasis
Wildgrowth Walker
Merfolk Branchwalker
Overgrown Tomb
Jadelight Ranger
Vraska’s Contempt
Wildgrowth Walker
[/hand 4]
[/deck]

Hand 1: Not a good hand, but you do have [card]Merfolk Branchwalker[/card] in there, and it’s going to help you a lot. Here, the decision is fairly easy, as you only have two spells, so in this case you want to keep the two spells and get rid of two lands. But which lands? Not as easy any more, but I would put the two [card]Breeding Pool[/card]s on the bottom. The Memorial can serve as a sort of card advantage later on in the game and [card]Overgrown Tomb[/card] gives us the double black we need for the Contempt at some point.

Hand 2: This hand is missing blue mana, but since we don’t have any blue cards either, I guess that’s fine. Otherwise, this is a difficult one. In order to be able to cast anything, mana is quite important, so keeping all the lands is quite important. That leaves us with four spells to choose from. The question is, how do we want to approach this. The [card]Wildgrowth Walker[/card] is missing important synergy pieces, which makes it 1/3 vanilla creature. We could maybe justify keeping it if we knew opponent was on monored for example, but otherwise, not really. Having early plays would be nice though. What I would do here is keep [card]Llanowar Elves[/card] and [card]Find // Finality[/card], because the Elves enable explosive starts and it can help us get to Finality, which can reset the board and get us back from that card disadvantage we’ve incurred.

Hand 3: An interesting choice here. With double [card]Woodland Cemetery[/card] this is keepable at five, but a slow hand. Now, with that slowness, do you want to keep the [card]Wildgrowth Walker[/card] even if you have a [card]Merfolk Branchwalker[/card]? I would say no. I would put away the Walker and [card]Carnage Tyrant[/card], leaving us some interaction and way to catch up.

Hand 4: Probably to four… but you could risk it here. Just keep the Explore package and hope for the best, probably. Your chances of seeing a land on your next turn are 23/53. Not good, but good enough. Sadly.

Scenario 2

Another deck with a nice performance (8-1-1) from the MC by Alex Majlaton.

[deck]
[lands]
13 Mountain
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground
[/lands]
[creatures]
4 Fanatical Firebrand
4 Ghitu Lavarunner
3 Goblin Chainwhirler
4 Runaway Steam-Kin
4 Viashino Pyromancer
[/creatures]
[spells]
4 Light Up the Stage
4 Lightning Strike
4 Shock
4 Wizard’s Lightning
4 Experimental Frenzy
[/spells]
[/deck]

We are on the play again and we have mulliganed to five against an unknown opponent.

[deck]
[hand 1]
Mountain
Stomping Ground
Mountain
Rootbound Crag
Fanatical Firebrand
Viashino Pyromancer
Wizard’s Lightning
[/hand 1]
[hand 2]
Mountain
Stomping Ground
Fanatical Firebrand
Mountain
Rootbound Crag
Experimental Frenzy
Experimental Frenzy
[/hand 2]
[hand 3]
Mountain
Shock
Experimental Frenzy
Wizard’s Lightning
Mountain
Runaway Steam-Kin
Ghitu Lavarunner
[/hand 3]
[hand 4]
Ghitu Lavarunner
Experimental Frenzy
Mountain
Goblin Chainwhirler
Wizard’s Lightning
Wizard’s Lightning
Fanatical Firebrand
[/hand 4]
[/deck]

Hand 1: Okay, this is too easy. [card]Fanatical Firebrand[/card] doesn’t do much on it’s own, but in this case you really want to put the two duals on the bottom (you don’t have any green cards in the main).

Hand 2: Harder. [card]Experimental Frenzy[/card] really needs lands, but keeping four of them and no interaction is horrible. Still, I would say keep the lands and one of the Frenzies. Risky, but at five you need to take some risks.

Hand 3: Interesting one, because there’s several ways you could go here. You could take the risk with the [card]Experimental Frenzy[/card] / [card]Runaway Steam-Kin[/card] combo, but with no other spells, that is very fragile. So, what I would do instead is put those on the bottom and keep the cheaper spells. I mean, the problem is that in order to get the Frenzy + Steam-Kin combo to work, you would need both more red spells and lands, and you can’t draw both. Therefore, keep the other three spells and hope to draw a [card]Light Up the Stage[/card].

Hand 4: Probably keepable despite the one-lander. Just keep the spells you can cast with that one-land and hope for the best.

Conclusions

You need to identify synergies within your hand. What will work together? The rest can go. In general you want to keep plenty of lands, because they enable the rest of your deck, unless you really have many of them and a low curve.

Does this new system help? Yes. Just look at the hands above and take the last two cards out. How much worse would they be? Going to four seems much more reasonable in many cases.

It does also help better players. Being able to plan ahead and calculate odds is going to help a lot.

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