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Keep or Mulligan?

Welcome to Keep or Mulligan. The exercise is simple: I show you an opening hand, and then you can click on the spoiler to see whether I’d keep it or throw it back. Post your choices in the comments before reading my answers if you’re feeling extra brave.

Hand #1:

Ramunap Red Mirror

It’s game 1 and you’re on the draw. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Mulligan.

In the dark, I would keep this hand—you have early plays, creatures, removal, and flooding insurance. In the mirror on the draw, however, I would not. Shock is very valuable in the mirror, since it’s one of the ways to trade up on mana (especially game 1 when there are Crashers involved), but Crasher is your worst card on the draw, and the fact that this hand has no Mountains can punish you. In many matchups, starting the game at around 16 life isn’t a concern, but in the mirror it is, and this hand doesn’t have good enough cards to make up for that. Mulliganing in the mirror on the draw is also not the end of the world since it might let you attack with a Hazoret that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

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Hand #2:

Standard – U/B Control vs. Ramunap Red

It’s game 2 and you’re on the draw. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Keep.

I don’t love this hand (and I don’t like Disallow much versus Ramunap Red in post-sideboarded games, for whatever that’s worth), but I think you kind of have to keep. If you draw a Swamp immediately it’s a great hand, but it’s still going to be very good if you draw a land by turn 2, and the chance of that is 70%. You might be able to afford missing once since you have 2 Fatal Pushes anyway, so at this point you’re at 85% to hit (though then, depending on what you draw, you might have to risk tapping out for Search on a turn where they can play Hazoret).

It’s possible you’re better off with a mulligan and scry, but my inclination is to keep.

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Hand #3:

Standard – Ramunap Red vs. Shota Yasooka’s Grixis Control Deck, Full of Removal

You’re on the draw and your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Mulligan.

This is another hand I might keep in the dark, but would not keep in this matchup. Abrade is as dead as a dead card can be (there are 2 Gearhulks in the deck), and the burn from Shock + Ruins is not going to be enough to win the game if you don’t apply some early pressure. Shota’s deck has many ways of killing a Bomat Courier (Magma Spray, Harnessed Lightning, Abrade, Fatal Push), so I think you should mulligan to try to find more threats.

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Hand #4:

Draft – B/W Vampires

You have six 2-drops, one of which is a Pirate. You’re on the draw, and your opening hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Mulligan.

I think this hand is just too slow on the draw, and it doesn’t have enough going for it to make up for the fact that it’s slow. Even if you do manage to draw a 2-drop, it’s probably going to be a Vampire, not a Pirate, which means that your turn 3 is going to be pretty bad (you’ll play an equipment that you probably won’t equip until turn 6). If all of your potential 2-3 drops are Pirates, then the hand gets a lot better, but in a Vampire deck I’d mulligan.

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Hand #5:

Standard – Temur Energy vs. U/W Approach

It’s game 2 and you’re on the draw. Your hand is:

Keep or Mulligan?

My Answer

Mulligan.

Negates are great in this matchup, but the way you beat U/W Approach is by pressuring them and then having countermagic backup since a lot of their removal is bad. You can maneuver the game into positions where they have to react to what you’re doing, and then you can either deploy another threat or counter their reaction. A game where both players are playing a land and passing the turn over and over only favors them, so with a hand like this, you’re basically all-in on drawing red mana (or 2 of them) and them not being able to deal with Virtuoso. I think you can do better on six.

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Discussion

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