The Show #1 – Mulligans

Mashi, Paul and Matt discuss which is better: Mulligans….too often or not enough?

44 thoughts on “The Show #1 – Mulligans”

  1. That dot on the screen by Sperling’s head tilted me for the whole video after I noticed it. Thought it was something on my monitor at first.

  2. “You’re really in a coin flip situation. It’s a straight coin flip. You don’t know what the right answer is. Why would you not choose to err on the side of an extra card?”

  3. @Brendan Haha, I think Mashi had a little trouble understanding that you are factoring the extra card into the mulligan decision along with everything else.

  4. If this is going to be a consistant addition, Mashi, we need a so-cal Humphry alternative. May I suggest Herbert the mini palm tree? You can even feed it dirty la water.

  5. @Brendan: If your hand is marginal/bad enough that it becomes a coin flip wheather to mulligan, then you are implying to yourself that this 7 card hand has a greater than 50% chance of losing to a 6 card hand. The reason it is greater is because you must take into account that you may have to mull even more. That is why I would mulligan, and err on the side of resuffling my deck.

  6. Sperling mentioned this classic phrase “Is this x card hand better than the average x-1 card hand?” That’s the same as asking “Does this hand expect to win more games than the average x-1 card hand expects to win?”

    What you really want to be asking is “Does this hand expect to win more games than a RANDOM x-1 card hand expects to win?”

    If you wanted to write this down in math, let’s say we have a measure of hand quality Q, as a random variable. And we have a function f that takes each card quality to a probability of winning. Then the “classic question” asks to compare f ( our hand ) to f ( E ( Q) ). But what we really want to be comparing f(our hand) to is E ( f ( Q ) ), the expected win percentage of a random hand. E ( f ( Q )) and f (E (Q)) are only the same if f is linear, and that’s most definitely not the case with Leyline against dredge, for example.

  7. Yeah, Mashi didn’t seem to get the scenario entirely.

    But great stuff on mulliganing – it’s one of the most interesting parts of the game. Generally, you can set a few rules on whether or not to mulligan the 7 card hand depending on how the deck is constructed – for instance, I’ll mulligan any 7 without a cantrip or a business spell in legacy storm – but when making decisions about 6 or less card hands, these rules tend to fall apart and it becomes much more of an judgment call. Knowing the numbers in your deck, such as sources of each color, mana sources in general, and business spells helps a lot in justifying your mulligan decisions.

    Another thing that I think is important to know is how well a given deck mulligans. Some decks really hate to give up that extra card (such as storm), while others don’t really care as much (such as dredge). Vintage dredge has one of the most unique mulligan decisions of any deck, since a 1 card hand with Bazaar is better than a lot of 7 card hands. You can’t quite ship every hand without Bazaar, but it’s close. Additionally, the decision of whether or not to Serum Powder a hand can be difficult, especially if doing so would give your opponent some information.

  8. love the show. love matt sperling, love mashi, and especially love paul rietzl. i really love where channelfireball is going with programs like this and with magictv where the website feels like a television station with different shows on at different times and i think its great that rietzl and sperling offer a different (but equally entertaining) take on things than lsv and tsg.

    i also think the fact or fiction segments are great. one thing question though. at the end of one of those segments, a question was posed “fact or fiction: brad nelson top eights a pro level event this year.” sperling and rietzl both snap-answered no and was curious as to their reasoning.

    again, great work.

  9. One of you guys needs to get a catch phrase. I’m still feeling anxious with out LSV wrapping it up.

  10. I remember back when I was just starting to play magic at the local shop, and our first round of play I faced my best friend. We shuffled up, and rolled to see who got to choose who went first,or second. I got the choice, and the play we opened our grips to see what we had. I was playing an Elf deck, and my friend was playing his slide deck. My hand was a keeper with two lands, and some elves. My buddy looked at his hand Mulliganed to 6. He opened his hand again, and said well I’m Mulling to an old yugioh size hand. That was the game we played before switching over to Magic. He opens the 5, and is like wow nothing this time but lands, and mulled to 4. Opening that hand he told me after the match he had opened on that 4 card hand forest, the green cycling land, slide, and Eternal Dragon. We played, and out of no where with his 4 card hand just got what he needed when he needed it. To this day we still remember this match because every time he has mulled to 4 he has won the game.

    Great Show, and hope to see more videos, because these tips will help a lot.

  11. So you guys got the seat set from the lady on the corner that had her white persian cat put down since she was redoing her interior black gold and bronze with an orange persian?

    Good show, good discussion. without audio you look a bit like a gay trio talking about awards ceremony fashion but hey nothing wrong with that lol.

  12. Holy shit, please don’t put mashi on anymore, he seems like the most arrogant prick that doesn’t know what hes talkin about, in every video i watch, go back and watch magic tv. He thinks he knows more than lsv and continually cuts him off. please get him out of here.

  13. We love Mashi! He’s the only guy who can keep lsv at bay. Considering he problably makes like 500 an hr, we should be honored to have his time.

  14. I once kept a 6 card hand that consisted of kuldotha rebirth,(2) memnite, chimeric mass, goblin bushwhacker, lightning bolt, on the draw.

    I had no land in hand, obviously and this was game 3 so since i was on the draw i decided to keep the hand because I felt like it was a really strong deck and all my deck really needs to go off is 1 or 2 lands. In addition, I felt like going to 5 was going to lower my chances of winning that game because my hand of 6 was great (IMO) and that I would be down another card. I ended up getting there and winning the game and match but my opponent was appalled at the fact that I kept that hand with no land and pulled through, saying that my deck takes no skill, etc. etc. He was playing a control deck, and knowingly kept a hand with 0 removal spells and heavy land and only a single tumble magnet (which is bad against kuldotha anyway).

    I’m just wondering what to do when players always tell you that your deck takes no skill because its aggro, rdw, etc. and I’m not playing Jace, the Mind Sculptor. If I could afford Jace I would never think twice about playing a Jace deck and play caw blade all the time, or whatever the best jace deck is.

  15. The best is when people tank for a long time, mull, then look at the top card – and they were gonna get there. Instant tilt

  16. One of the most difficult parts of competitive Magic to master. I will need to re-read PV’s article, just to make sure I understood everything.

  17. @Chris D Implying i give a shit what his profession is, saying that you like him fighting lsv is like saying that your brother making fun of your girlfriend is awesome because shes a bitch. You have made a mistake somewhere in your reasoning.

  18. Great crew, good discussion. The sound wasn’t so good though. I’m not an expert but I felt like you didn’t pick up enough of the treble, so the result sounded rather muffled.

  19. Moar of this please. I like this format where you get multiple pros debating an issue. There is an awful lot to be gained from looking at things like this with a critical eye.

  20. I hope people dont miss all of the videos. Fact or fiction is pretty interesting

  21. I don’t know if this has already been stated, but it would seem that the more you mulligan looking for a specific card(Leyline), the smaller the percentage of chance you have of actually drawing that card. Personally, that is one of the reasons I have always feared running leylines in a deck that can’t hard cast them as well. Additionally, though, great insight into the art of mulliganing. I would definitely like to see more of these discussions with the pros, maybe with the following topics: going rogue, who’s the beatdown, when to hate draft, etc. Thanks!

  22. rdwins: I have people tell me I’m an immature player using something that takes no skill sometimes because I play RDW a LOT. What I do when they tell me that is… beat them. Most people don’t understand why RDW takes so much skill to play, and that’s why they lose with it. If they want to throw a fit after you beat them and whine about how little skill your deck takes to make themselves feel better, there’s not anything wrong with letting them. That doesn’t make what they’re saying right, though.

  23. @Matt Menard: excellent point. That “the average of a function isn’t the function of an average” is a nice mathematical encapsulation of why somebody might aggressively mulligan in order to get certain cards. However, the logic seems difficult to apply away from extreme cases (since it’s tough to get even an approximate numerical feel for f and Q in most cases).

  24. going of Matt D… sometimes it’s necessary to mulligan till you get you’re leyline though… such as when you’re going against something like pyromancer’s accension that just folds to the white leyline 😉

  25. distinguishing “the average 6 card hand,” from a “random six card hand,” which I agree is truly what you need to be considering, is bad practical advice. How can a player envision a “random” hand of six cards? Chances are they can’t, but if they can think of say, an average hand, a above expectation hand, and a below expectation hand, it might not give them the perfect “wins expected” when theyre playing with leyline, but elsewhere it will be a tremendous help in determining whether to mulligan the 7 card hand theyre looking at.

    You need to factor in the odds of drawing a super important card like Leyline when those issues are in present, and there’s nothing stopping you from doing so in those particular instances.

  26. Great idea, great video. One of the great things about MTGO videos on this site is hearing the decision-making that the CF guys go through when they see their opening hands.

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  28. @ Matt Menard and Matt Sperling.

    Just let your measure of hand quality be the probability of the hand winning, so that f(Q) = Q. Then there is no difference between considering an “average hand” and a “random hand”.

    f ( E ( Q) ) = E(Q) = E ( f ( Q ) )

    The important question to ask is therefore, “Which is higher: the probability of this x card hand winning, or the probability of a random x-1 card hand winning?” That’s pretty much what they said in the video.

  29. Good video idea, but I really think there should have been some discussion about the decision to mulligan depending on what deck you’re playing. If I’m playing an aggressive deck with a lot of reach, I’m less likely to mulligan a land-light hand, because my aggro deck is going to need every card it can get, the reach cards are going to be fine even if I don’t cast them on curve, and being down a card is critical. On the other hand, if I’m playing a control deck with a bunch of card draw and Wrath effects, I’m more likely to mulligan because I can rely on my draw and sweepers to keep me in the game even if I start down a card.

  30. Wow, this was good stuff. Paul Rietzl and Matt Sperling should be in there more often! You guys rule!

  31. Heh, sorry for starting trouble; I should really know better. Video was free content, and I think I was just hoping for something more structured. The Fact or Fictions were structured, and I really liked those ones.

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