PV's Playhouse - Mulligans 2
Today I’ll talk about the hands I left at the end of last week’s article. For that I sent questions to a bunch of Pro Players and they replied with their answers as to keep/mulligan and some explanation on each. Since Mulligan is not an exact science it’s understandable that they disagree between themselves sometimes as well as with me – that is actually the point of this article. If I had all the ultimate answers for all those hands I’d have no need to call anyone else – so even though I might not agree with someone’s decision I still respect it because after all I did ask them to talk about it and I’d not do that if I at least didn’t respect what they had to say. I tried to get players to talk about decks I knew they had played in competitive events (which is why I chose hands from decks that I have played so I can talk about them) but some of them just went ahead and answered everything.
That said a big thanks for Martin Ben Sam Olivier and Manuel without whom this article would not exist!
Let’s go over the hands:
1 - Playing this:
4 Spellstutter Sprite
4 Vendilion Clique
2 Sower of Temptation
3 Venser Shaper Savant
4 Ancestral Vision
4 Mana Leak
4 Spell Snare
2 Thirst for Knowledge
2 Vedalken Shackles
3 Engineered Explosives
3 Umezawa’s Jitte
2 Chrome Mox
3 Riptide Laboratory
1 Breeding Pool
1 Steam Vents
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Flooded Strand
On the play:
I know that most people in the forums said they would mulligan this but I like the hand. Depending on what you play against you can cash in the spell you draw on turn 2 47% of the time to accelerate and significantly change the hand with Chrome Mox into Thirst expecting to discard Mutavault and Island or you can wait a turn to Thirst discarding Mox. Your lands give you a lot of action and make all the wizards in your deck much better. This hand is pretty good against every slower deck where the lands are really good (B/G the mirror TEPS) and generally has a reasonable chance to turn into something very different within the first few turns.
Mulligan. It’s far too slow. No counterspells or spells that will let you back in the game after falling behind.
I would keep this hand on the play. If you draw any colored spell you are able to play a second turn Thirst for Knowledge if they don’t hit you with a disruption spell on turn 1 and you are not hurt by discarding two cards as you can easily discard an Island and Mutavault number two. For the mirror match and any midrange or control-based deck your hand is very good as both Mutavault and Riptide Laboratory are very useful cards. Any non-land non-Vedalken Shackles and non-Chrome Mox draw is very good. The hand is a bit weak against Naya and Storm so if I have a read or the information that my opponent is one of those archetypes a mulligan is fine.
This hand happened to me in the first round of Grand Prix: Hanover and I mulliganed it. I believe this hand is a keep against some decks and a mulligan against others but against the decks it’s good it’s not “OMG I WIN” good and against the decks it’s bad… it’s pretty bad. You have the problem that if you decide not to imprint something on turn 2 to play Thirst you’ll have no action in the first three turns and if you decide to play Thirst turn 2 that means you just got rid of the only spell you actually drew to get yourself another land of which you have plenty. Though the lands are good lands I don’t think this hand is worth it as there is so much that can actually go wrong. I also disagree with Sam about this hand being good against TEPS – I’d not keep it if I knew that’s what they were playing though I’d keep it if I knew it was the mirror or BG. In the forums Adam Prosak said he’d keep the hand if you exchanged an Island for a Sway of the Stars – I’m of a similar mind.
On the play:
Sower of Temptation
Again I just love Riptide lab so it's hard for me to turn down that with two wizards. I feel like if you're not going to keep hands like this you should probably be playing the Cryptic/Tarmogoyf Blue deck rather than the wizard Blue deck as you're more willing to live without Riptide Lab than I am. I don't like the hand as much as the other one but I think I'd keep it. You can't expect to do too much better against Elves or Bant and you have Riptide Lab and Sower for the mirror…
I think I keep this one. It’s far from good but you can’t expect to have a perfect hand every time. That’s the downside of playing a deck with answers; sometimes you just get all the cards against creatures and Minds Desire runs you over.
Keep. This looks like a good hand to me and you shouldn't expect a better one after a mulligan.
I would mulligan this hand unless I am sure my opponent is Bant. In the mirror you have to be the aggressor and if he can deal with Umezawa’s Jitte and Sower of Temptation you almost always lose. The hand is very slow against Naya and Storm and there are not many cards to improve it. Usually you need two good draw steps to make the hand good (Spell Snare or Mana Leak into Thirst for Knowledge Vendilion Clique or Mutavault). The hand’s first disruption is a turn 4 Sower of Temptation most of the time – which is usually too slow and fragile.
I think this hand is pretty close much closer than the other and I have mixed feelings about it – it’s the one I’m the least sure about. When I wrote the other article my opinion was to mulligan it but then I read the responses from the players and it makes some sense that you can’t have a perfect hand every time. This hand seems to be good against aggro but I think this is misleading – this hand is not actually good versus Zoo - turn 1 Mogg Fanatic and you are staring at a hand full of blanks. It does however have elements against all the kind of decks – Spellstutter (and to a less extent Jitte) against the fast ones and Sower and Jitte against the midrange ones which means you don’t need much more for the hand to work and at the same time you aren’t powerless if you find out they are playing something like combo. In the end my conclusion is that I’d keep it though I’m not happy about it and I certainly understand shipping it back like Manuel does – this is to me the hardest hand.
Mulligan: 1 2 - Playing this:
4 Mistbind Clique
4 Scion Of Oona
2 Sower Of Temptation
3 Spellstutter Sprite
1 Agony Warp
4 Broken Ambitions
4 Cryptic Command
1 Remove Soul
2 Jace Beleren
4 Secluded Glen
4 Sunken Ruins
4 Underground River
On the play:
Mulligan. I don't think Faeries is as much all about Bitterblossom as many people seem to. This will lose to almost everyone and every land you draw from here on is basically blank. This hand is just terrible. I would much rather have a two- or three-land six-card hand or a four-land six-card hand if it had Bitterblossom and another spells. Between those possibilities I'm pretty sure the six will look better on average.
I like to mulligan a lot in Constructed especially with the Faerie deck. I have won a lot of games with mulligans to five with this deck and I think it mulligans very well. That said the first hand is pretty close because I consider Mutavault a spell in this hand and being on the play lets you be aggressive. I think this hand is good against Five-Color Control and if it's possible to get any kind of read on what your opponent is playing by their intelligence level I would base it on that. It seems risky against most other decks though and I would mulligan it unless I was playing one of the people that is known to play Five-Color Control like Chapin or the Ruels.
I actually like this hand a lot and I’d keep it in this situation every time. I agree with Ben that the deck mulligans very well and you find yourself going to five a lot and you still win – but this happens because you have cards such as Bitterblossom. If you can win with a five-cards hand because you have Bitterblossom why wouldn’t the same apply to this hand?
I think it’s not an absurd thing to say that on the play against an unknown opponent I’d keep any hand that is able to produce Black Blue and a Bitterblossom no matter what the other cards are. The deck needs its mana especially since you have a Mutavault there and the Blossom on turn 2 is going to buy you enough time to draw into more relevant spells – though against some matches you don’t need a lot more than that.
I had this hand at Worlds (though I’m not sure the six lands are the same) and I mulliganed it but it was game 2 on the draw against Elves a deck I knew had Thoughtseizes. In the dark and especially on the play where they are almost always powerless to stop you from playing your Bitterblossom I’d keep it every time. If you keep and they go turn 1 Thoughtseize and then you draw more lands sure you lose but not many decks are able to play turn 1 Thoughtseize nowadays and if they do play it you’re probably not much better with a six-card hand anyway.
Playing against the Mirror on the play:
On the draw I'd think about it but on the play it's just too much of a gamble. I have a 28% chance to hit Black on turn 2 and about a 37% chance to still have missed on turn 4. I'm about 50/50 to play the Bitterblossom by turn 3 but if it comes any later than that my odds of resolving it are very low. I think you have to mulligan on the play but again on the draw you're at ~50% to turn 2 Bitterblossom and ~63% to turn 3 it so that's more reasonable but I certainly wouldn't fault someone for shipping it either way.
This hand isn't even close in my opinion. You can't do anything with this hand and Mistbind Clique isn't even that good once you get to four mana. You don't have a Black source to cast Bitterblossom or a way to stop their turn 2 Bitterblossom. Trading the Clique for something like Broken Ambitions would be more tempting but I think even then it would be a mulligan.
I agree with Ben here too. The hand is too much of a gamble and not really close. I’d not keep this on the draw and I’d not keep it if there was a Broken Ambitions – there is nothing that will make me keep this short of a Black-producing land.
3 - Playing this:
4 Broken Ambitions
4 Cryptic Command
4 Esper Charm
2 Remove Soul
3 Volcanic Fallout
3 Ajani Vengeant
2 Cruel Ultimatum
3 Wrath Of God
2 Cascade Bluffs
2 Exotic Orchard
2 Flooded Grove
1 Mystic Gate
4 Reflecting Pool
3 Sunken Ruins
4 Vivid Creek
3 Vivid Marsh
3 Vivid Meadow
On the play:
Mulligan - This is exactly why I haven't played with Vivid lands since I tested for last Block Constructed season. These hands always frustrate me and you can count on seeing them. You won't find me playing this deck.
That one is a close one. It does have lands and spells but the tempo advantage you get when playing first will be canceled by all the Vivid lands if you don't draw any other land. However you have good odds to draw it and even though your hand is not very good a mulligan probably won't make it better. If I saw someone mulliganing this I wouldn't be shocked but I keep.
I would keep it and unless your opponent is Faeries you have a very good chance of winning. If you draw one of the sixteen untapped lands in the first two draw steps the hand gets very good. If not Cryptic Command and Ajani should give you time to draw into a Wrath of God which should help against most decks. In the mirror the hand is fine as well as you can build a lot of pressure with Ajani if you draw an untapped land in the first three draw steps.
I mulligan this hand. Even if you do draw an untapped land you have to play Mulldrifter on turn 3 and then hope to draw into another one so you can play your four-mana spells – and even then you aren’t doing much unless you happened to also draw something like Wrath of God. If you exchange one of the Vivids for one that comes into play untapped I keep this hand but as it is you need two untapped lands and some action if they had a fast draw and this is just too much for me.
On the draw:
Mulligan - again nice deck… Do you actually want to play Magic or flip a coin and decide if you get to play?
Your hand would be perfect if it had a third land. You are running 26 and 22 of the next 53 are good for you. Meaning you have 40% chance to find one immediately and about 80% chance to have it on turn 3. I think Broken + Mulldrifter should be enough to reach the 4 lands and 5 different mana colors. Being on the draw you will probably not have better chance to take the game. When you're on the draw with Toast you lose about 60% of the games. Even though there is a 20% chance I pretty much don't play that game I keep as I think I definitely have 40% chance to win versus anything with these seven cards which are odds that mulligans would only make lower.
I would keep it every time. Twenty out of the 24 Lands in the deck improve your hand. If you draw one of those lands in your first draw step or one of the 10 untapped colored lands in the second (not counting Exotic Orchard) the hand is unreal. If you draw a tapped land on the second or third turn your first disruption is on their turn 3 (the best you could do under draw anyway).
This hand is tough because it’s pretty much perfect if you draw any land by turn 3. Even if your land is a Vivid land by turn 3 you can still cast Terror and Broken Ambitions that turn and the fact that they’re two Pools means you can cast Fallout as soon as you draw a Red source. If you count that you can draw an Exotic Orchard your chances of drawing a color-producing land by turn 3 on the draw are a little bigger than 80% as Olivier said and even if you don’t count that you can draw Orchard it’s still around 77% - the hand is good enough when you draw one of those to take the risk of it when you don’t and it has the necessary cards for a comeback if you happen to draw them later or ones that come into play tapped so I keep it.
On the play against Five-Color Control (Nassif’s Version):
Keep - one of the best hands for the matchup pretty much the only matchup I want to play with this deck. (One would think reading from those answers that Ben doesn’t like Five-Color Control heh)
I keep if I know he is playing this and if this is game 1 (as he has Scepter of Fugue on game 2). Even though I mulligan 95% of my six-landers I keep that one as in the Toast mirror drawing lots of lands is extremely useful.
Not even close one of the best hands you can get. Not missing land drops is crucial in the matchup – and Mulldrifter and Esper Charm are only there to help you not miss them. You usually don’t need early disruption as all they do is playing some card draw spells in the early game (which you don’t counter anyway) and prepare for a big fight about Cruel Ultimatum. Usually your opponent should be afraid to tap out turn 6 for a Broodmate Dragon as you can follow it up with an end of turn Cryptic Command into Cruel Ultimatum (so he can’t Ultimatum you back).
It seems I wasn’t very fortunate in my choice of example with this hand – maybe I should have made it seven Lands to make it more tempting? Anyway yes this hand is pretty good in this matchup. In any other matchup I’ll instantly mulligan it but in the Mirror it’s about as good as it gets.
4 – You’re playing this:
2 Wild Nacatl
3 Wild Leotau
2 Resounding Thunder
On the play:
100% ship. Not close.
Mulligan - This might as well be a joke. Those "spells" are some of the worst in the deck and cycling when you are flooded is pretty terrible. I would mulligan to five before keeping this hand.
Mulligan without thinking for a second. You know you're going to cycle both guys so your hand is actually five lands plus two random cards knowing you'll have to cycle if you want to see them. I just don't see how that hand could possibly win a game.
Mulligan – I posted this hand to see how much the random draw thing tempted people but apparently not too much. This hand has the problem that you have all your lands and your expensive cards but then you’ll cycle those in search for early action and by the time you get to late game all your expensive cards will be gone and you’ll be left with all those lands and nothing to do with them. I agree with Ben – cycling is good for when you’re short on lands so that you’d trade a spell in your hand for a random card in your deck – when you are full of lands and need spells the prospect of trading a certain spell for “64% of a spell” is not good.
5 – You’re playing this:
2 Druid of the Anima
2 Corpse Connoisseur
2 Ridge Rannet
Yoke of the Damned
Obelisk of Jund
Gift of the Gargantuan
On the draw:
I don’t like to keep hands where if you don’t draw a land you almost certainly lose but this hand has such a good potential that I think I wouldn’t blame anyone for keeping it. I wouldn’t have the guts to keep a one-lander in a deciding game for a Pro Tour Top 8 though.
Mulligan - There is nothing I hate more about Magic than not getting to play it when I sit down to do so. The Infest is dead Drake looks pretty bad in this deck (and hand) and you have to rip more than just a couple of lands.
Mulligan the deck is so good that I don't want to lose to mana screw. Also I add in another land for game two… hehe.
Mulligan - Originally this hand was in the article as “on the play” but I meant it to be on the draw which was how it happened. I don’t think you can really consider keeping a one-lander on the play so I asked Craig to change it to draw in the article so it becomes more interesting. I still think this hand should not be kept – sure it’s exciting that you have two bombs and you might play turn 4 Broodmate Dragon if you draw 3 lands but there is also the chance you’ll not draw them. If you have to Infest and have the two Black sources required you’ll end up killing your Druid with it and that’s going to set you back even more. I also like Olivier’s point of “this deck is good I don’t want to lose to mana problems” – sometimes when your deck is just bad it pays off to gamble with 0/10 hands but in a good deck you should be happier with an average hand that with a hand that could go either way.
On the play:
Mulligan - This one is a little closer because the decks curve is so high and you can play anything when you draw it but waiting for turn 5 or 6 to make a relevant play (even this bomb) is not going to be good enough most of the time. There are too many bad cards that you can draw in this hand and any kind of aggressive draw or decent hand with tempo spells (like Resounding Wave on a land Excommunicate or actual removal spells) is going to single-handedly win them the game.
Considering I have all the right lands chances are I’m going to draw one or two cards that I can play before the Dragon and that plus a turn 6 Broodmate should be enough – Keep.
Keep the card wins game by itself. Just draw two spells in the first four draws and you'll be just great.
I keep this – it’s not the best draw ever but it’s also not a 0/10 like the previous example. You don’t need to draw a lot of efficient cards early on – obviously one of the mass removal spells would be great but you can do with Druids Obelisk Drag Down and I believe you should survive even if you get to play turn 5 3/3 turn 6 Broodmate. With this hand you shouldn’t be troubled by cycling one of the big guys if you draw them since you have plenty in the deck and you already have a late game plan in hand… you just need early action.
This hand is not like the Triskelavus one from the Wizards website – Triskelavus costs one more and isn’t nearly as powerful as Broodmate. With Triskelavus they just kill it and you lose; with Broodmate even if they manage to kill one (which isn’t very easy in this format) the other should still be enough to block any of their guys at that point and survive. If the Broodmate Dragon was any other big creature though such as a Flameblast Dragon I would instantly mulligan this hand.
I guess this is it… I think it’s interesting that you can look at each person’s answers and see how that changes the ways and the decks they play. If you look at Ben for example he doesn’t like gambling at all – kinda like me except even stronger – so he just doesn’t play a deck like Five-Color Control instead playing a deck like Faeries. Manuel and Olivier who are more tolerant to this kind of hand you can get often with Five-Color Control don’t mind playing the deck.
It was nice for me to see different points of view on something like that – I even got convinced to change my mind about an answer by reading the replies I got - and it only serves to show me that there are no ultimate answers to this kind of thing which probably makes it one of the hardest aspects in the game. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and see you next week!