PV’s Playhouse – More on Mulligans, Part 2


Hello again!

Today I will talk about the hands I mentioned on Wednesday. Joining me in some hands are Brad Nelson, Luis Scott-Vargas, Josh Utter-Leyton, Conley Woods and David Ochoa (as well as a small participation from Tomoharu Saito) – thanks a lot the six of you!

Before I start, I want to make clear that, though I will not always agree with those people (and they will not always agree between themselves either), but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect their opinion – If I did not, I’d not have asked for their help. The difficult thing about mulliganing is that most of the time there is no definite answer, so I think it’s interesting to see the points of view of the people who would keep and of those who would mulligan. Besides, if we were all going to say the same thing, I could have just written this all myself. Anyway:

Playing Conley Wood’s Bant deck from GP Oakland:

Main Deck

On the draw, 6 cards:


Brad Nelson: This hand is for sure a mulligan. Going to 5 is a hard thing to do in this format with a deck like this, but a hand with Squire+Jitte is not going to do it. Sometimes you can argue that making land drops is enough to not go to 5, but in Extended the clocks are just to fast. I don’t see this doing anything.

Josh: Easy mull

Conley: While this hand is far from ideal, even resulting in a blank Stoneforge Mystic, I don’t think many 5 card cards are going to be worth mulliganing this. You have all of your mana and a 2 drop with a Jitte to dig you out of some lost tempo. Plus, being on the draw means you have a shot at drawing some better guy or removal. Too many 5 card hads end up bad for you here, like not enough lands or all lands, that make me want to keep this.

PV: I was surprised that most people didn’t keep this hand on the forums – it looks like to me a hand that should not be kept but most people would; perhaps they didn’t see that this is 6 and they’d be going down to 5?

Anyway, I think this hand is a bad keep because, well, it doesn’t actually do anything. It is really slow, cannot deal with a spell-based deck, cannot deal with creatures and is just cold to any of the combos – if you keep you really have to hope your opponent is playing a creature based deck but draws only small guys and you manage to get your Jitte online – basically the only hand this beats is a terrible keep. If you are counting on getting super lucky, then you might as well mulligan to 5 and get super lucky there.

The reason I say I think most people would have kept is that, as I say in the article, most people have an uncanny aversion to going to five, and this hand has lands, creatures (well”¦) and a spell, so it might be appealing to some, but in my opinion it is definitely a mulligan.

On the play, against Zoo:


Josh: Easy mull

Conley: I think on the play, knowing nothing about what 1-drops your opponent has or his reaction to his opening hand, you have to mulligan this, but it is very close. If anything is able to tilt you a bit into that direction, I definitely could not fault you for it. Path will provide a ton of time against Zoo, without much drawback as they are not ramping into anything. Basically if you draw a land in the next 2 turns, you should have no problem winning, and even 3 turns from now gives you a shot, making this very tough. If this were a 6 card hand, say minus the Leak, I would keep, and obviously if the land produced Green, I would keep, but at 7 cards, I think you need to give yourself a chance to outplay the opponent and mulligan to 6 here. On the draw I snap keep this, for what its worth. As then you have 3 draw steps to hit a land which will almost certainly lead to your winning.

PV: This hand is completely unkeepable to me; Sure, it has two Paths, and it has a Hierarch if you draw a Green, but in the end it is just asking for too much, because it is not like you automatically win if you draw a Green source (but you very likely automatically lose if you don’t draw it soon, even with two Paths). It should also be taken into account that if you use your Paths for early defense (which you will have to with this hand), then your [card]Mana Leak[/card] gets much worse. It is interesting, though, that even if they kill your Noble Hierarch you can always Path it to get your “land back”, but I still wouldn’t keep it.

On the draw, against Zoo:


Brad Nelson: Both of these hands have the same problem. They are to short on land to keep. The 2nd hand could be close depending on if my opponent mulliganed and if he was running Big Zoo. The other problem with both of these draws is that they not only need land, but more spells to fight zoo. Mulligan!

Josh: This one is very interesting. My guess is you constructed this example such that you would keep if the land were Hallowed Fountain but as Plains you are shipping, and also that the popular opinion will be to mulligan this hand. I disagree:

If you hit a green source in the first two draws, this is basically the perfect hand, and you can probably even whiff on any lands for two turns and be fine if you then hit a Green source. Your odds of hitting one of your 15 green sources (note that Flooded Grove doesn’t count) in two draws is roughly 50%, plus you have the backdoor draw at five additional blue sources plus Flooded Grove. So you have a roughly 50% shot at having a very strong draw, then another 30% shot at having a reasonable draw, leaving you with a 35% chance of just being stone dead.

You are an underdog to win this game if you keep this hand, that is for sure. But that’s irrelevant. What matters is whether or not a mulligan increases your odds of winning the game, and you are also an underdog to win the game with a mulligan on the draw. My very crudeguesses put you at 75% to win if you hit in your first two draws, and 50% if you hit on your third draw, making you roughly 45% to win the game. There’s quite a lot of wiggle room in these numbers, but I don’t see even a highly conservative estimate putting you at less than 40% with this hand. So what are your odds of beating Zoo with a mulligan to six on the draw? I’m reasonably sure it is significantly less than 40%. If this were a very good matchup and you were a favorite even mulliganing to six on the draw, then I would certainly mulligan this hand, but I don’t think that is even close to being true. Keep.

Conley: Well, as I noted I have to keep a hand like this on the draw. You get a full extra draw step to hit a land. No [card]Mana Leak[/card] hurts a little bit, but its not that good on the draw anyway. Clique and Goyf give you further protection from guys once your paths wear out, and a green mana off the top gives you turn 1 Hierarch or Path, which is pretty big. If the curve on this hand were slightly worse, like a Jace instead of Goyf, or slightly less explosive, like a second Hierarch instead of Goyf, I would mulligan it, but hands like this provide you so much power if you do hit your land and also buy you the time you need to get to that point.

PV: I would not keep this hand either. It is not as clear-cut to me as the first hand, since you’re on the draw, but it has all the same problems the previous hand has – even with two Pathes, you need to get a pretty good sequence of draws here to beat them, and if you’re going to gamble just gamble with a new six. I agree with josh on the “it doesn’t have to be favorable just better than the mulligan”, but I think your chances of winning the game with this hand if you draw a land are not that high AND your chances of winning with a mulligan on the draw are not that low, so I mulligan.

Playing Saito’s Hypergenesis list:

On the play:


Josh: – Hypergenesis: Let’s call it 9 outs in 3 draws to hit a cascade spell in time, so 43%. You also have Thirst into cascade spell not counted there, and you still have to hope your opponent isn’t interacting at all. You can do better with a mulligan.

Tomoharu Saito: Mulligan on the play and on the draw – only 12 cards you want to draw.

Conley: Gotta mulligan this. You have nothing to turn on the Demonic Dread, so you are drawing into 8 outs with no draw spells, removal, or acceleration. Especially without knowing what the opponent is on, if they have counterspells or Ethersworn Canonist than this hand can never get there. No reason not to try it at 6 here.

PV: This is the hardest hand for me to have an opinion on. Originally, I had written half a page on why I thought this should be kept, but then I got Saito’s response and felt kinda tempted to just erase everything and write “ez mull” instead. To be honest, after reflecting a lot on it, I think you should just mulligan this, but I think the point I had is interesting (though it might not be applicable for this particular hand, it is definitely applicable in some scenarios), so I’ll post it anyway:

Craig Wescoe posted in the forums saying “hands like those are the reason I hate those decks”. While I do not agree with him in all the hands, I certainly agree in this case – a hand like this is why I hate Hypergenesis. The way I see it, though, once you commit yourself to playing Hypergenesis, you just have to keep this hand – if you mulligan, what do you expect to get? You cannot possibly mulligan every hand that does not have both a Cascade and a giant monster (or two small monsters) – you will have to keep some of those hands sometimes. At least with this hand you know that, if you get lucky and draw one of the cards you need, you are certainly winning. Mulliganing this to me would be a case of trying to get something your deck cannot provide – most hands with this deck will be like this, and if you mulligan them all, I think you should just not play this deck. Basically I think the hand is bad, but I don’t think the deck can consistently do better, which is why I don’t play the deck but keep the hand.

It might be, though, that I am simply underestimating the deck’s opening hand abilities. To be honest, the fact that I would consider keeping this might be a factor in me thinking the deck is bad. I am still not sure on the hand, and it is still borderline either way, but I think I just have to go with the flow here, because those people have played this deck more than me and if everyone says mull when I am not really sure they are probably right and I wrong. if I was going to play this deck (not happening) and I drew this opening hand in a tournament, I would keep, but I still think my point has some merit and I would not fault you for mulliganing.

Playing Mori’s DD List:

On the play:


Josh: Close keep. It’s not great, but consider how much you would like this hand if you were to mulligan into it (minus one irrelevant land). You certainly keep at that point, not close, and I would be content seeing
that hand at six. Going a bit more in-depth, here is whether or not you would want to
keep this by matchup:

Mirror: You would want to mulligan. You are basically just cold to a Depths, Thoughtseize, or Repeal (or other bounce spell, which usually takes a Repeal slot), and they will have one of these about 80% of the time. Note that against other blue decks, the hand is better as they have far fewer answers to such a fast Marit Lage, and you would probably want to keep, depending on their deck.

Zoo: Not great, but you want to keep. Unless they have turn one Hierarch, they are only beating this hand with Path, which they are just under 50% to have. Factoring in Hierarch + Bant Charm, if they are even playing these, gives them an extra 10% or so. Then even if they have the answer, you are still drawing live and have a non-negligible shot at winning. I’d put you at a very slight favorite to win with this hand and would keep.

Non-interactive combo (Living End, Hypergenesis, Dredge, Elves, Burn, etc.): Your nut draw, and you are almost certainly winning.

Against half of the format the hand is borderline, but the against the other half it is just insane. In the dark, you have to put yourself as the favorite keeping this hand and the underdog with a mulligan, so you keep.

LSV: I would keep this hand if I didn’t know what my opponent was playing. It probably loses to Thoughtseize, Path to Exile, Repeal, or opposing Legendary Lands (not to mention some less-played cards like Spell Snare or MD Ghost Quarter), but if they don’t have one of those specific cards immediately, they just die. Bant Charm does nothing unless they lead with Hierarch, which reduces Zoo’s outs considerably. It is pretty close, since all Extended decks are designed with Depths in mind at this point, but making a monster on turn 2 is pretty fast. Plus, if they DO have the answer, they won’t be able to apply too much pressure, since they can’t really do much besides attack with their 1-drop and leave mana up.

Conley: I think you have to keep this. On the play the possibility of a turn 3 win is too much to pass up. If you figure out that your opponent has the possible Path, you can always wait longer to go off as well. Still, there are too many matchups and hands where this just wins, which is too hard to pass up.

PV: I think the three people above me said this perfectly – this hand is good or bad depending on what they are playing, and knowing that would make it an easy keep or an easy mulligan, but in the dark you just have to keep it, since it is either awesome or average against everything but the mirror. Even when it is not a good hand, it has the potential to just kill them, since it is very fast and requires specific cards to deal with, and there are hands they would keep that do not have those cards (such as t1 Bob, or Sword + Foundry). Also important that, if you don’t know what they are playing, they might not know what you are playing, and again might not look for those specific cards.

On the play, against the mirror:


Josh: Mulligan, see above.

LSV: In the mirror, this is a mulligan. Most Depths list have 2 Repeal, plus the 4 Thoughtseize, and if they have a Depths or even an Urborg it gets pretty awkward

Conley: The mirror basically has 8 outs to your combo, 5 of which need to be cast on turn 1. Beyond that, they can set you back with an Urborg or Dark Depths, making your hand much worse. Because of this and having no way to interact with the opponent, I think you have to mulligan. Its close, and if we somehow knew our opponent was mulliganing, than I would lean towards keeping this, but as is, there are much better 6 card hands.

PV: The mirror just has too many outs to this hand for you to bank everything on it, I also mulligan, though I have to say this is the only deck against which I do so (well, Faeries too).

On the play:


Josh: Keep. Thoughtseize into Bob gives you a very high chance of Bob sticking, and Bob sticking is more or less game over. Yes, this hand is already a double mulligan, but Thoughtseize into Bob is exactly the hand you hope to mulligan into.

LSV: I would keep this. Even though having three Depths is pretty bad, Thoughtseize into Bob is just about the best opening possible. If they have two answers to Bob, you are in trouble, but that isn’t going to be the case most of the time, and if one of the answers is Bant Charm, you still get some value. This hand is at its weakest against Zoo, but you have Depths and the lands to cast Hexmage, so if you Thoughtseize their Lightning Bolt and play Bob, you are drawing to plenty of outs (and one Sunken Ruins fixes your mana perfectly). Don’t get me wrong; the hand is pretty borderline, but the possibility of a protected Confidant more than makes up for the redundant Legendary lands.

Conley: This hand is tough because it has a Bob and Thoughtseize to protect it, but has no Blue mana or gas beyond that. Because you basically have a 5 card hand already though, and there are so many better hands at 6, I would still throw this back. Bob is good but hardly consistent, meaning even a resolved and protected Bob will not automatically dig you out of the hole you created for yourself.

PV: This is a very easy keep for me. As was said, Seize into Bob is your most powerful opener (in general), and I would keep almost any hand that can do it. Even if they somehow deal with your Bob, you can still draw a Hexmage and just kill them, and you’ll probably have some time to do that since they’ll probably not have a lot of resources left if they’re being Seized and dealing with your creature.

I see some people wrote that they would mulligan because the hand is already a double mulligan, but if you mulligan, you’ll very rarely get a hand as good as this one – you might just look at this hand as the perfect mulligan, since when you mulligan this is what you hope to hit. Overall, the power of your cards make up for the 2 redundant lands.

It should also be taken into account that this deck has a lot of dead cards – multiple Urborgs, Depths, Hexmage without Depths, Sword without Foundry, Foundry without Sword – it is not like you just got very unlucky and drew your two Pendelhavens – and there is nothing preventing you from simply mulliganing this hand into another hand that has a bunch of dead cards anyway.

On the draw:


Josh: Assuming it’s supposed to be 2 Island, and that you don’t know the top of your deck is an Island: Keep. Sure, this hand with no help does stone nothing after Thoughtseize, but you have infinite live draws that make the hand solid: any black source, Bob, Muddle, Thopter Foundry, draw spells, etc. Over half of the draws in your deck in your first three turns make the hand quite good.

LSV: I don’t like this hand much. Even if you hit a Black source, unless it’s Urborg, you aren’t combo’ing until turn 3, and on the draw that is pretty slow. The Thoughtseize helps, but this hand doesn’t really do anything. It needs to draw into the missing pieces, and if you draw something like Muddle (to get Thopter Foundry) that will probably still be too slow.

Conley: Gotta keep this on the draw, Any Black land gets you a turn 3 20/20 and you have a Thoughtseize to open the door up. On top of that, half of your other combo is there meaning any Muddle the Mixture or Thopter Foundry should also win you the game. Add to the fact that a Bob or Thirst gives you gas and you don’t actually have many bad top decks. Even a Ghost Quarter or Tolaria West gets you black mana. I definitely keep this.

Brad: SNAP KEEP. Never mulligan 8 card hands!

PV: This hand has 8 cards on purpose, because I wanted to see who was paying attention (or whoever just draws 8 cards routinely and so doesn’t notice something is wrong *cough* LSV *cough*)

We can assume, though, for the sake of the exercise, that there is one extra Island that should not be there. In this case I keep this hand – I don’t think it is awesome or anything, but I agree with Josh that many cards in your deck make the hand very good – [card]Thoughtseize[/card] into either Bob, or Hexmage/Depths, or Foundry/Sword are all very strong starts, and all you need is to draw any of those pieces.

On the play:


Josh: – On the play, keep, not close. On the draw, this hand is close, but I would still keep.

LSV: Turn two Sword, turn three Muddle for Foundry isn’t the fastest, but against Zoo it might be enough. Against non-Zoo, the double Thirst for Knowledge is a good alternative route, and the option to combo is still there. I would keep this hand (and hope to peel a Mox!).

Conley: I don’t even think this one is close, I claim it to be a snap keep. You have draw power, the ability to tutor up 2 different combos, and all of your mana. I would be ecstatic to open this hand up against just about everyone.

PV: I disagree here (and this time I was not convinced) – I think this hand is much too slow. Sure, you have t4 Sword/Foundry, but that is simply not enough against many of the decks, and if they have any way of dealing with the foundry at all, be it Bant Charm, Qasali Pridemage, Spell Snare, Mana Leak, or Thoughtseize, you are going to be dead before you get to play all your Thirsts. This hand also has a lot of trouble dealing with Dark Confidant – I mulligan.

Playing Emanuele Giusti’s Jund deck:

On the play:


Josh: Keep

Conley: Keep. You have removal to buy you time and 2 mana intensice things to sink mana into late. Combo this with the fact that in Jund just about every spell you draw is gas and I can’t see throwing this back.

David Ochoa: What deck is this hand good against? It’s certainly not against any of the Blue/White control decks. There’s no Putrid Leech to pressure them. Lightning Bolt and Terminate are virtual mulligans until late in the game if playing against Baneslayer Angels.

Against Jund you don’t have Thrinax, Bloodbraid Elf, or Blightning which means you’re really vulnerable to the deck’s two-for-one spells. Having Broodmate Dragon in your opening hand isn’t ideal either because it’s likely to get discarded to Blightning unless you keep it over a land and draw well. You’d rather draw Broodmate Dragon on turn eight or nine when both your hand and the opponent’s have been exhausted.

This hand is better against Naya and Mythic than the other two matchups because the Lightning Bolt and Terminate are live. Granted, you still don’t have a creature to pressure them which doesn’t allow you to get as much value from the removal spells as you could. Naya may be able to grind this hand out with its full compliment of Ranger of Eos and Bloodbraid Elf, but Mythic would have a much harder time because it just has a bunch of big creatures. The game is largely dependant on what you draw in the first two turns and could go either way.

Sitting down against an unknown opponent, I would put them on Jund. If you went by the numbers on day two at Grand Prix Brussels, the top four decks were: Jund (75), Blue/White Control (31), Mythic (24), and Naya (21). Against the two most popular decks, this hand isn’t that great which means that you should probably mulligan.

PV: I think this is a mulligan too. The main point here is that the hand is pretty bad against Jund and UW, and not that good against the other decks – it is not like it beats one kind and loses to the other and you have to gamble with the matchup (though if that was the case it’d still be a mulligan based on the numbers Web got). This hand is not a win/lose, it is a tie/lose, with lose being more than twice as likely as tie, which is simply not good to me.

It might be tempting to see this hand as a hand that has “early defense so you survive to play your six-drop”, but this is not Limited – Broodmate Dragon is not going to dominate the game, even if you survive to play him, and in this format threats are not always killable with what you’ve got – Thrinax, Blightning, Jace, Ranger of Eos, Mind Spring, Bloodbraid, those are all cards that your removal will not deal with and that will, if not kill you before you get to play your Dragon, make it so that he is not nearly as good (and definitely won’t win the game by himself).

On the draw, against UW with all the X spells:


Josh: Mull

Brad: This hand is pretty bad against them. You might think that hand disruption is good and of course it can be, but the only problem with this is that they run Mind Spring. If you do not pressure them enough to get the Spring with the Blightning then your whole hand is useless. The only time Ravine or Blightning are good in this matchup is when early pressure lets them sneak wins. Mulligan!

Conley: I keep this as well. While you are mana heavy, you have 2 manlands which are quite good against U/W control, as well as 2 [card]Blightning[/card]s which are insane if they resolve. On the draw the chances of drawing a Thrinax, Leech, or BBE on curve is also high especially with so many lands in hand. Against aggro this is obviously bad, but in a control matchup it is perfectly reasonable.

Assuming that this is the UW list we are facing:

I wouldn’t mulligan against the Blue/White Tapout control deck on the draw. There are the reasons why. Five lands may seem like too many, but realize that you’re probably playing against four Spreading Seas which makes having multiple sources of each color important. Additionally, two manlands makes the five lands more tolerable because you’ll still be able to make plays if you draw a few more lands in a row. While the hand doesn’t have any real creatures to put pressure on the opponent, it does have two Blightning which are important because it makes the opponent less likely to build a manabase large enough to where they can play well off the top of their deck.

Being on the draw, this hand is vulnerable to a turn three Planeswalker. Jace and Elspeth can both have their loyalty pumped out of range from both Blightnings. The mana acceleration via Everflowing Chalice and Fieldmist Borderpost/Knight of the White Orchid is what will be the most problematic because your hand is slow and on the draw.

PV: This hand is very borderline to me; When I wrote the hand, I thought it was going to be a keep, but then I start reading replies and thinking and I actually changed my mind, though I think Web has a very good point in Spreading Seas – if you mulligan, you are much more likely to have problems with this card. In the end, though, the main problem I see is that you have to draw the right cards to combat what they drew, and they can draw anything – kind of like “there are no wrong threats, only wrong answers”. If they draw Baneslayer, for example, you need to draw Terminate/Pulse or you’re dead, but those cards are not very good if they have Mind Spring instead. In this case, I think their answers can be counted as threats and your threats as answers, reversing the process and putting the pressure on you – for example, if their hand is Path, Ring and Martial Coup, you’ll need to draw a completely different set of cards than if their hand is Jace, Mind Spring, Everflowing Chalice. I Mulligan.

On the draw:


Josh: Mull

Conley: This is one of the tougher hands. If Jund did not have 13 lands that came into play tapped form this scenario, I would be more inclined to keep, as it is possible to hit our curve. As is, I am torn. We have a ton of powerful spells and the best single land we could have, which makes this very tempting. I would probably take the risk on the draw and keep this, but definitely throw it back on the play. 26 lands means we have a 50/50 chance to draw a land, so the numbers are with us to hit a 2nd land in time. Once we do, we can easily miss for another 2 turns while we play Leeches and attack. It is greedy for sure, but I lean towards keep.

Web: This hand is quite a gamble. You’re on the draw with twenty-six lands and twenty-seven spells left in your deck; so fifty-fifty. This hand needs a land in its next two draws so it can start casting Putrid Leeches. Swamp, Verdant Catacombs, or Forest (11 cards) is the best draw because it will allow you to summon a Leech whereas Dragonskull Summit, Lavaclaw Reaches, Raging Ravine, Rootbound Crag, and Savage Lands (12 cards) will delay you by a turn; a Mountain will not help at all (initially).

This hand is going to win by getting in some quick Leech beats, applying additional pressure with [card]Blightning[/card], and then finishing the opponent off with Bloodbraid Elf and Lightning Bolt when they go to deal with the Leeches. Each turn that goes by where you don’t play a land that allows you to play out the game as described above makes the plan much weaker. While you do have a 75% chance to play a land on turn two, you’re really only interested in eleven possible cards, not twenty-six. Suddenly the odds drop significantly, and you’re looking at a hand that doesn’t do much except cast Lightning Bolt.

Against an unknown opponent, it’s safe to assume they’re either Jund or Blue/White control. I would mulligan against Blue/White. Even though Putrid Leech is an important creature to summon on turn two, it’s even more important to not falter and hit your land drops. Additionally, the presence of Spreading Seas makes the Savage Lands not as reliable. You could easily be locked out of the game. I would keep the hand against Jund. The mirror has a lot more interaction on the board than Blue/White simply because there are lots of creatures attacking and blocking. It’s more likely that this hand will be able to defend itself if it falters against a Sprouting Thrinax than against a Mind Spring. You don’t have to worry about nonsense like Spreading Seas and should be able to have enough draw steps for the Blightning and Bloodbraid Elf to matter. If you get hit by a Blightning, then it’s fine to discard the unnecessary copies of Lightning Bolt/Putrid Leech.

I would mulligan this hand. It’s always a gamble to keep one-landers. Even though the hand is “okay” for the mirror, re-rolling for a hand of six plus your draw step seems like it will allow for more options rather than being put into a situation of having a few draw steps to draw one of a few specific lands. Gauge how necessary it is to have flexibility. For whatever reason, if you feel that you need to get lucky and that this specific type of hand is what you need, then you should keep it. Otherwise, you should mulligan. (I’d like to add that Web wrote all that and then sent me an e-mail “let me know if this isn’t enough” – PV)


Well, at least in this format. This format is not about card density as much as powerful starts. You are giving up your chance of this by keeping land light hands. Even 2 lands is a hard sell when I’m playing these decks. The Naya hand doesn’t even have Knight of the Reliquary. The Jund hand isn’t even that good unless you draw at least 1 land in the next 2 draw steps that is untapped and hit your 4th land drop by turn 5.

If you are in the mirror which is a good chance this hand isn’t even good if you hit your lands. Both are mulligans. I mulligan a lot

PV: I echo Brad’s sentiment of DON’T KEEP ONE LANDERS. I also agree with Web that this hand is bad because you don’t really want any land in your deck, but you want any land that comes into play untapped and adds Black or Green, and every turn that you pass because you couldn’t play Putrid Leech makes your entire strategy (and hand) weaker. Sure enough, you do have two Bolts to stall them if they’re playing creatures, but what are you stalling for? This hand is not a defensive hand, it is an aggressive one, and it is not much use to Bolt their first two drops so that you can then play a turn four Putrid Leech.

I disagree with Web, though, that this hand is keepable against Jund – I would mulligan even if I knew my opponent was Jund, as I don’t think it has what it takes – Bolt is a pretty bad card in the mirror, and Leech is decent because you are able to go aggressive with it, which in this case is probably not happening.

Playing Nicolas Lambach’s Naya deck:

On the play:


Brad: Read Above

Josh: Mull

Conley: This hand requires 2 lands in the next 3 draws to really have a shot at winning and that is assuming the opponent doesn’t have removal for your Hierarch. The odds are heavily against you, so a definite mulligan.

PV: Well, this is a pretty bad hand, it is no wonder nobody in the forums kept – I should maybe have made it a little bit more appealing. As Conley put it, this hand needs the Hierarch to survive AND THEN it needs to draw two lands, one of which has to be Red, so that it can do anything, and that thing is not even something very powerful, it is just an average play – you can do much much better with six. You also have a Scute Mob in there, which means it’s pretty much on six already (and with this deck you are not very likely to draw Mulligans in your opening hand).

Well, this is it! I hope this was enjoyable and useful to you – I know it was certainly useful to me, and I learned quite a few things myself!

Again, thanks a lot for the people who helped me with their thoughts.

See you next week,


36 thoughts on “PV’s Playhouse – More on Mulligans, Part 2”

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention PV’s Playhouse - More on Mulligans, Part 2 | ChannelFireball.com -- Topsy.com

  2. Great article, thanks! I would like to see more articles of tough situations, where many pros are consulted for opinions.

  3. Also an excellent article. Love seeing the pros’ thoughts, especially the scenarios in which they disagree. Very beneficial.

    Man, you writers are KILLING it this week! Raises, all around!

  4. I love the fact that several very talented pros can disagree about mulligans. What a great game we play 😀

  5. PV-
    You mulligan a lot of hands because you will lose to their nut draws. For example, you might say something like “if they deal with my combo I will be dead before I can do anything else with this hand”. You mulligan a hand because they might have a Qasali Pridemage AND kill you turn 4 AND you don’t draw any way to interact with them? But would would that hand do against an average draw? Zoo doesn’t always kill turn 4. Not even close.

    I think when keeping hands you need to consider an average draw from your opponent, not a superb draw. You don’t have the luxury to mulligan average hands to play around nut hands.

    Take the turn 3 kill draw with DDT on the play. I’d say with that draw (and this might be a low estimate) that you kill your opponent 50% of the time on turn 3. How could you possibly think about mulliganning this hand? It has a HUGE potential for free wins. In the other 50% if they have a Path or a Thoughtseize then play magic! It’s not like you’re not going to be drawing cards off the top of your deck in the meantime.

    Travis W

  6. PV,

    I think many more ppl would have kept the hand if the Stoneforge wasn’t a total blank. But then I saw that there was no other equipment and I quickly shipped.

  7. PV-

    I think this article’s cool and all, but frankly I would’ve enjoyed it more if you’d pre-drafted your responses. Your comments didn’t really work for me, as they were all filtered through the benefit of hindsight. Everyone who responded to your article put their butts on the line a little, but you really didn’t, which seems a little cheap.

    What would’ve been truly awesome (although unnecessary to merit a positive critique, you’re not a mind-reader after all) would have been if you’d pre-drafted responses for a “before reading the reviews to my own article” opinion, and then also included the thoughts above as an “after considering forum responses” opinion. Then we, the reader, could’ve experienced all of the growth a player that occurred during this process, which would’ve helped all of us become better at Magic. This also would’ve helped you own the article more, as it would be in some part your own story. Instead, it kind of reads like the story of others that you cherry picked (the good and the bad, it’s worthy to note), which is a shame because it’s a brilliant idea for an article.

    I do look forward to reading your future articles, because I know you do have it. I’m guessing from a dearth of information, but I’m getting the feeling that you’re still a bit afraid to really put it all out there. Don’t be.

  8. I don’t think it’s just about expecting the opponent to win by turn 4, so much as the fact that if you’ve done little or nothing to pressure or disrupt them by turn 4 in such a fast format, they may be in too advantageous a position by then for you to have much chance of catching up.

  9. great work. very helpful seeing how different pros look at these hands, and your analysis of their responses was even more helpful on top of that.

  10. @Alfred: well, that is not really relevant, what I said applies regardless of who that person is, though I don’t see why it would not be him – I don’t really think that comment was trolling as much as an honest opinion.

    @Travis: I think you misread something, I do keep the dark depths hand that kills turn 3 (unless I know its the mirror), and so does everyone else!

    I don’t like the 2 thirst hand because it takes very little from them to beat you, not perfection; Zoo for example just has to draw Qasali Pridemage or a very good draw without it, it doesn’t have to draw qasali AND nut cards. All it takes from a dark depths opponent is probably a dark confidant (or a hand such as the one that kills t3) – etc.

    @Mward: I don’t really see how you can accuse me of “filtering” through my responses – there were two times where I changed my mind, and in both times I do exactly what you say (write what my earlier response would have been, and then my new response after reading and thinking more), and there is another time where everyone says something and I go and disagree with them all anyway. I suppose I could have written my responses first, but it would not have changed much and it would just have been repetitive I think – this way I know I don’t have to say the exact same thing that someone else already said, or at least I don’t use the same words. I assure you that I have exactly zero fear of putting my magic opinions in my articles, dont worry! (Though I admit I have grown afraid to put my non magic opinions in them – tipping, spain, etc).

  11. Awesome article. Lots of different inputs and some very close calls; definitely gave me a better insight into the dilemma of keeping or shipping opening hands.

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  13. I liked this article quite a bit better then part one. Good use of layout and I liked everyone’s ideas on hands. Great job PV!

  14. I thought this was a great article. I’m glad I felt pretty on key with the mulligan decisions except the last one. I guess I’m a bit greedy.

  15. dowjonzechemical

    good concept for an article.I like it.

    It would be more interesting to see videos that demonstrate the examples IRL.

  16. Anyone else find it interesting that Conley Woods kept a much higher percentage of the hands then everyone else?

  17. @ JodoYodo: I was actually thinking just that while reading. I’d be interested in hearing his mulligan philosophy summarized.

  18. I was glad to see that most of you kept the 4th DD hand, and that–despite the almost universal keep on the 5th in the forums–a mull from PV there. I see why most people kept, but after testing the format for a while I agree that it’s just too slow. I lost with a similar hand with UW thopter at a recent PTQ against Adrian Sullivan casting multiple Goblin Guides–only that hand could’ve handled a 20/20 and a Bob, while this hand can do neither. My mistake there was keeping the combo and not mulling for Path+combo. Likewise, if the second thirst here was a Smother, the hand would be pretty keepable. By itself, a T3 Foundry usually gets there, but at T4 it’s pretty weak, even on the play. This deck can do better.

  19. A great artical

    I particularly like your way of approaching the game on a more theoretical level than other writters. It produces in my opinion articles that give greater insight into the game rather than the meta.

    I did wonder if Mike Flores was a writter you read a lot as your peices tend to have a touch of the Dojo about them?


  20. Conley Woods, AKA Topdeck Hero; ever the darkhorse, even when it comes to mulligan decisions. Excellent article. I look forward to reading more in the future.

  21. “but I think your chances of winning the game with this hand if you draw a land are not that high” (concerning the third hand)

    Maybe I misunderstand how the deck is supposed to function, but how do you beat zoo if that hand + green source doesn’t do it?

  22. Merlin Catterall-Davis

    Wheres the Facebook “like it” button on the page? I can’t find it.

  23. great article series! not only insightful to see how pros think, but your original article has me thinking every time i play standard now. thanks!!

  24. Great article, thanks so much. IMO you should do this once a month or so! 😎

    ps – Great comment about the math / physics at Princeton… makes me nostalgic…

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