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Mr. Mulligan

    You have practiced for hours.  You have traded your heart out to get the
cards you needed.  You have shuffled until your hands bled.  Now you are
ready to take on your opponent and smash him into the ground.  You draw your
opening hand and realize that you are faced with what could be your biggest
decision of the whole match ... mulligan or no?

    Knowing when to mulligan and when not to is very important.  People don't
really sit and take time to think about the implications this decision has on
each one of their matches.  Your opening hand can decide anything from game
tempo to game length.  Many times players don't care.  They just see a couple
of lands and accept it.  I am going to try and take this crazy concept and
make it a little clearer for you all.

    First of all, don't ever and I do mean EEEEEVER keep a one land hand on
your opening draw of seven.  Many times, I have seen a player with a singular
forest and a couple of Birds of Paradise and/or Llanowar Elves in their hand
and decide to keep.  I have seen the same thing with a Swamp and a Dark
Ritual.  I don't think keeping either one is a smart move.  Of course there
are exceptions to this rule, but let's deal with the basics for a second.  I
can't think of a single card that can have enough impact on the first couple
of turns that could merit you wanting to keep a one land hand.  In a Vintage
(Type 1) format I can think of a few hand situations that would be playable
with one land.  However, I am referencing Standard (Type 2) so this is a
generally bad idea.  If your opponent manages to draw anything to deal with
your "potential threat" then more than likely you are gone.  You have to
understand that keeping that one land hand is VERY risky.  It starts you out
in a "must topdeck" situation.  You don't ever want that.  Again, be aware
that this rule only generally applies to a seven card opening hand.  I would
even go as far to say that this same rule applies to six land hands.  Once
you have to mulligan below six, it is simply a judgment call.

    To give cards or not to give cards?  Is that truly the question? I don't
think so.  Many times I just ask myself.  Is this a hand that I would have
griped about not getting to keep/lose if I didn't have the option to
mulligan?  With the current mulligan rule, you get your best chance to make
the game interesting.  Personally, I think the current mulligan rule is
excellent.  As a matter of fact, I saw an all land hand played against me
today that my opponent wisely threw away to get six cards.  Under the old
mulligan rules he would have been stuck with that and we would have had a
very uninteresting match.  If the decision to throw the hand away is going
to benefit you, then what does it truly matter if you have to give up that
card?  The only time you should have to start worrying is when you get below
five cards.  I have won several games from six card hands.  I have also won
my fair share of games from a five card hand.  I have about ten four card
hand victories and I also have one or two wins from three cards (this one
came more when I was having fun at the store).  I have not had ANY victories
from two card and don't plan on trying to change that anytime soon.

    You can't always look at lands in hand to make your determination. 
Sometimes you get two lands in your opening hand.  You look at them and say
go.  You make a land drop on turn one.  You then make a land drop on turn
two.  When turn three rolls around, you then realize that you haven't drawn
any more lands since your opening draw.  You my friend have just been two
land teased.  That's probably about the worst feeling in the world (next to
losing of course). The moment you realize that you are not going to get the
necessary lands, you start double checking yourself: "Why did this go bad?" "
Did I make the right choice?" , etc., etc.  It just adds to your mental
anxiety during the course of your match.  Maybe one of the best ways to avoid
the two land tease (TLT) is to compare your mana to the casting cost of all
the cards in your hand.  Will you have enough to play your key spell on turn
four or turn five.  You also need to take into account, the other cards in
your deck.  You are more than likely going to be drawing other spells in
addition to land.  You might need various colors to cast certain other early
game spells that you might draw.  The worst part about TLT is that there is
no one true way to help you ask.

    Also, don't mess around with "fun choices" when deciding to mulligan or
not.  You need to get the job done.  If you are even halfway serious, or if
you are planning to play the deck in a tournament, you can't afford to make
bad mistakes just because you are playing with inexperienced players.  You
can't practice bad habits.  Yeah, sometimes it would be neat to double Dark
Ritual out a Thrashing Wumpus, but if they draw an Urza's Rage, or Ghitu Fire
or anything else for that matter, you lose like a three to one card ratio. 
That's definitely not a good thing. Since you are so early in the game having
to play catch up the rest of the way can be pretty scary.

    I guess the main thing to remember when deciding whether or not to
mulligan is to keep your mind open about potential.  What could you
potentially draw?  What potential does this hand have to get me to a secure
fourth or fifth turn.  I am by no means an expert in the field of
mulliganing, but I do feel confident in my ways of handling the situation. 
You have to remember the impact that a bad mulligan call can have on your
game.  You could throw your game (and maybe even your match) out the window
before you have said anything or laid a card.  Practice with your deck a lot.
 After some serious playing and testing, you should be able to make this
decision easier.  You have the knowledge.  Use it wisely.  I hope these tips
help you and I wish you the best of luck in your decision making.  Don't let
Mr. mulligan get you down.  Also, try to keep him from taking too many cards
away from you :)

I do apologize for this being so short, but I do have several things I am
working on currently in addition to the following:

This is my auction site for Magic: The Gathering where stuff gets added all
the time (most auctions start at $1):

The following link helps get you a rebate for everything you buy online (this
is a site worth checking out):

Until next time,

Hasta la bye bye,

DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn