Keep or Mulligan: London Mulligan Edition

In today’s edition of Keep or Mulligan, we’re going to explore the London mulligan rule. For those who don’t know, the London mulligan rule is an experiment that will take place during PT London, and if it’s successful, then it’s going to be widely adopted. Instead of drawing 7-X cards, you draw 7 cards and then send X back. So, for example, if you mulligan to 5, you draw 7 cards and then choose 2 cards to put back in your library.

Today, I’m going to focus on what cards to put back from your mulligan, so assume you’ve already mulliganed however many times I say and that you’re keeping the hand. In the future we can do some mixing and matching (would you keep, and if so, what would you send back?) but for today I want to focus on the new rules.

Hand #1

You’re playing Standard Sultai in best-of-3 against an unknown opponent. You’re on the play. You’ve mulliganed to 6. Your opening hand is:

Wildgrowth WalkerRavenous ChupacabraJadelight RangerLlanowar ElvesOvergrown TombWoodland CemeteryForest (347)

Which card do you send back?

My Answer

 Llanowar Elves.

Having turn-1 Llanowar Elves is generally pretty good, but this hand doesn’t really need it, as it has a curve that doesn’t need the Elf at all (since you can go turn-2 Wildgrowth Walker, turn-3 Jadelight Ranger, turn-4 Ravenous Chupacabra). I prefer having a land over having Elf since the Elf doesn’t accelerate you into anything and the land cannot be killed by an incidental Goblin Chainwhirler or Kaya’s Wrath. Plus, if you send back a land, you risk either not having double black or taking 2 damage from your Overgrown Tomb turn 1, neither of which is great.


Hand #2

You’re playing Modern Tron and you’re on the draw against an unknown opponent. You mulligan to 5 and this is your hand:

Urza's TowerUrza's MineForest (347)Chromatic StarAncient StirringsWurmcoil EngineKarn Liberated

Which two cards do you send back?

My Answer

 Forest and Karn Liberated.

Tron’s game plan is very simple: you want to achieve Tron and then play a payoff or two. Depending on which matchup you’re playing against, one payoff is usually enough as long as it’s the right one.

I think getting rid of the Forest is pretty automatic—you’d much rather have Chromatic Star for your green source because it lets you get turn-3 Tron and draws a card. It’s bad if you draw something like Sylvan Scrying or another Ancient Stirrings, but I think that’s an acceptable risk. You do need one of the green sources though, and I think you need Stirrings to find the third Tron piece.

Then, you have to figure out which payoff card you want: Karn or Wurmcoil. Right now, graveyard-based decks are the most popular, and I think when you’re on the draw you would actually rather have Wurmcoil than Karn, since Karn can just be randomly attacked. Obviously, if I know I’m playing against Path to Exile or a combo deck this is different, but in a vacuum, in this spot, I’d prefer casting a Wurmcoil on turn 3 versus most of the field, so that’s what I’d choose to keep.


Hand #3

You’re playing Mono-Blue in best-of-3 Standard. You’re on the play against an unknown opponent. You mulligan once and this is your hand:

Island (335)Island (335)Island (335)Tempest DjinnTempest DjinnCurious ObsessionMerfolk Trickster

What do you send back?

My Answer

 Curious Obsession

Mono-Blue is a deck with two different plans: Curious Obsession and Tempest Djinn. You can certainly make the two plans work together some of the time, but you don’t need both—you need one. With this hand and the fact that you lack both a 1-drop and a way to protect it, I think you should just abandon the Obsession part of the deck and embrace the Djinn half. I don’t love it, as Obsession is a very good card, but I think it’s what’s right to do here.


Hand #4

You’re playing Temur Nexus against Esper. It’s game 2, you’re sideboarded (they have Thief of Sanity so you brought in Kraul Harpooner), and you’re on the draw. You mulligan and this is your hand.

Breeding PoolMemorial to GeniusHinterland HarborWilderness ReclamationNegateKraul HarpoonerSearch for Azcanta // Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin

What do you send back?

My Answer

 Wilderness Reclamation

Wilderness Reclamation is the best card in your deck, so it’s weird to get rid of it, but I think in this hand everything else is more important. Having an early Search is pretty good, Negate can stop them from going turn-5 Teferi (which is one of the ways they beat you), and Kraul Harpooner can kill Thief of Sanity, which is the other way they beat you. Overall, even though Reclamation is super important, you don’t mind playing the slightly longer game here, and you’ll draw more Reclamations as the game goes on.


Hand #5

You’re playing an Esper deck in best-of-1 Standard. You’re on the draw versus an unknown deck, and you mulligan to 6. Your hand is:

Hallowed FountainIsolated ChapelDrowned CatacombTeferi, Hero of DominariaMoment of CravingCry of the CarnariumAbsorb

What do you send back?

My Answer

 Cry of the Carnarium.

In some matchups, Cry is your best card. It’s incredible against WW and very good versus some specific Mono-Blue draws (as well as Phoenix but that’s not common in best-of-1). But it’s the card that’s most likely to be bad, and the rest of your hand is overall very solid. You’re on the draw, so you could in theory be overrun, but I think being able to curve Moment of Craving into Absorb should be pretty good versus a lot of decks, so you don’t need the hit-or-miss effect of Cry to bail you out. I would send Cry back and then if my opponent turned out to be playing White Weenie I’d accept that I made a potentially game-losing play, but I think percentage wise it’s the best thing to do.


Hand #6

You’re playing White Weenie in best-of-1 Standard against an unknown opponent. You are on the play and you mulligan to 6. Your hand is:

Plains (331)Plains (331)Plains (331)Benalish MarshalVenerated LoxodonHistory of BenaliaDauntless Bodyguard

What do you send back?

My Answer

 Benalish Marshal

With this hand, I don’t think you can send back a Plains, because if you don’t draw another you’re in deep trouble, and you only have two draws to find it. You also ideally don’t send back Dauntless Bodyguard since it’s the only card you can actually play early on. This leaves one of the other three.

I think that, of the expensive cards, History of Benalia is the best. You seem like you might need a card that does a lot to win with this hand, and it does the most by itself while also fueling whichever of the two other cards you keep. Both Loxodon and Marshal will work with History of Benalia but are pretty bad together.

Between Loxodon and Marshal, I think it’s close. Either of them will likely be played in the same turn, so here’s how I envision the game will go:

Turn 1: Bodyguard

Turn 2: Play a cheap creature if you draw it.

Turn 3: History

Turn 4: CARD

If it’s Benalish Marshal, you’ll attack for 6 on turn 4 and for 20 on turn 5. If they remove your Benalish Marshal, then you’ll attack for 4 + 12 + 6.

If it’s Loxodon, you’ll attack for 2 on turn 4 and for 19 on turn 5. If they remove a Knight, you’ll attack for 0 + 14 + 10.

One upside of having Loxodon is that, if you draw more things, they can be played on the Loxodon turn. For example, if you draw a 1-drop on turns 3 and 4, they are both free to play on turn 4 (and will enter play pumped), whereas with Benalish Marshal you can’t play any of them. One downside is that if they kill two of your creatures, you can’t play the Loxodon if you don’t draw a creature to play on turn 2.

Overall, I think having Benalish Marshal is the best “spike” play—it attacks for the most damage early on, and it might let you push through damage that the Loxodon won’t (for example, if they have a 2/2, you can’t attack turn 4 in the Loxodon scenario but you can in the Marshal scenario), but Loxodon is better if something goes wrong because it leaves you with more stuff. The Marshal hand suffers a lot if the Marshal gets removed, whereas the Loxodon hand can continue to play if one creature is removed (either a Knight or the Loxodon). I think that’s generally more important. If I knew I was playing against a deck with no removal (e.g., Nexus of Fate, though that’s not even possible in best-of-1) then I’d keep Marshal, but if I’m going in blind I like keeping Loxodon.



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