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Playing First Breaks Magic: The Gathering

When you play first in a competitive Magic match, you’re at a massive advantage, argues Martin Juza.

The last two big tournaments, which was the World Championship and the Regional Championships in the Pioneer format, sparked a lot of conversation about the growing advantage of being on the play in constructed Magic.

This has been an issue to some degree for as long as Magic has existed, but power creep and the way cards are being designed lately is making the disparity between playing first or second bigger and bigger.

Magic eventually came to realize that Mulligans don’t have to hurt players as much as they used to and we saw new rules implemented to try to mitigate the impact of having to start with less than 7 cards in your opening hand. We are now playing with the “London Mulligan Rule”, which means that you mulligan to 7 cards every time and when you decide to keep, you put on the bottom of your deck a number of cards equal to the number of mulligans taken.

There were initially some concerns that this might make combo or aggro decks too consistent, but all it did was reduce the number of non-games and make Magic games more fun and enjoyable for everyone, which was the desired effect. I think it’s safe to say that this rule is now universally loved by everyone.

I believe we reached a point where it is good to have a discussion about potentially nerfing the advantage of being on the play. Today I would like to discuss some ways to do it.

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6 thoughts on “Playing First Breaks Magic: The Gathering”

  1. Great article and glad someone is speaking to this. As far as printing better answers — I feel like there are no answers other than counters that can slow the value-oriented threats that have come to dominate the game, whose ascendancy I trace back to the advent of planeswalkers and has peaked as wizards has tried to keep creatures relevant in their shadow. As answers pertain to non -value generating threats, as general P/T stats jump up, having the right answer in hand almost immediately becomes essential, which demands very generically good answers, something we have seen more of. The side effect of that is that it tends to make deck building and metagaming less interesting.

  2. I’ve never played the deck but that doesn’t really seem worth missing a land drop… and if thats really an issue you could just make the rule if you get to draw 8 while on the draw that turn you just don’t discard for that turn if you have 8 cards on hand.

  3. I’ve never played the deck but that doesn’t really seem worth missing a land drop… and if thats really an issue you could just make the rule if you get to draw 8 while on the draw that turn you just don’t discard for that turn if you have 8 cards on hand.

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