Mulligans Part 2

Hello again!

Last time I went over my theory of the mulligan and I left you with this hand to think about:

I asked you to consider:

1) What deck you might be playing;
2) Whether you are on the play or the draw; and
3) How does your opponent’s deck choice(if known) affect this keep?

First,let’s look at the content of this hand.It certainly is an interesting 7. Jace, the Mind Sculptor is so good it is banned in Standard and Modern thus getting to play it turn 1 is excellent. It’s basically a 6 land hand but your 7th card (assuming it resolves) sees 3 new cards this turn and 3 new ones next turn with the fetch land, essentially throwing the hand back and getting a new 6.

So what deck are we playing? Based on these 7, we could be playing any blue-based Control, Oath of Druids, Gush Storm, Non-Gush Storm, even a BUG Fish deck.[link to 3-1 or 4-0 decklists from MTGO daily events]. For this hand, I believe 2) and 3) are more important to our mulligan decision than 1). So let’s consider them first.

On the play, all this hand fears is Force of Willand as we calculated last time, players will have a little more than 1 in 4 times (26-27%).However 2 major forces of the metagame don’t even play Force of Will Dredge and Workshops.Against Dredge or Workshops on the play, I’d keep this hand in a heartbeat regardless of my deck choice. I get to see 6 new cards for sure, and I will have plenty of mana to cast anything useful I draw. If I were on the play against an unknown opponent or if I knew my opponent was playing Force of Will keeping my hand means accepting the 26% that my Jace doesn’t resolve and I’m in a lot of trouble. Keeping is more attractive if I am playing Draw 7’s like Timetwister or Memory Jar because I have more good cards to draw in the situation where I’m out of gas but have plenty of mana. Even without Draw 7’s in my deck, I would have a hard time throwing this one back on the play. On the draw, it is a different story.

On the draw against anything other than Dredge, I am probably better off with a new 6. I go from fearing just Force of Will to being way behind to Force of Will plus another dozen commonly played cards (Duress, Thoughtseize, Spell Pierce, Daze, Mana Drain, Chalice of the Void, Thorn of Amethyst, Sphere of Resistance, Lodestone Golem, Trinisphere). I am way behind if my opponent has 1 of 4 cards to 1 of 12-20 cards depending on what my opponent is playing. Even assuming he doesn’t see extra cards (like with Ponder or Brainstorm), the math of having 1 of 12 cards is really high (~70-80%).

Next hand:

Deck: Gush Storm ( or or
Opponent: Storm
Game 2 on the play; your opponent killed you on turn 1 with tendrils.

This hand has a lot of good cards: 2 Gush, Fastbond, Library of Alexandria and it also has a lot of problems. Talrand Sky Summoner is dead early and takes at least 1 turn to get going. There is no second Island to Gush, no Green mana for Fastbond, and while Mental Misstep is nice, there is no Force of Will to disrupt Storm. Finally,Library of Alexandria is a good card, but it’s not very good in this situation. On the play you have to wait a turn to activate it, and if I use Mental Misstep I have to wait another turn.Against Storm the game is likely to be decided within the first few turns meaning I won’t get to use Library of Alexandria full power.

I would mulligan this against Storm, but against an unknown opponent and especially against a control deck I would keep this hand

Hand 3:

Deck: Oath Control (
Opponent: Unknown
Game 1 – Play or Draw

This is a very controlling hand, but it has no business cards to speak of. Having 2 Forbidden Orchards is going to make casting spells painful but Mox Sapphire will at least let me cast Flusterstorm for free, or Mana Drain on turn 1. There are 12 good draws in my deck with this list (4 Oath of Druids, 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Vampiric Tutor, Ancestral Recall, Brainstorm, Ponder, Demonic Tutor, Mystical Tutor) or about 23% chance each draw step of hitting gas. There are also plenty of other decent draws.Anon Forbidden Orchard land, more countermagic, Time Valut/Voltaic Key, Time Walk, or even anotherAbrupt Decay are all fine draws depending on the matchup.

But against an unknown opponent, Abrupt Decay is somewhere between 0 and ½ a card, making this effectively a 6 card hand some of the time.If I have to Force of Will I am getting rid of one of my other two counterspells meaning it is basically just a 2 counterspell hand.

Looking at this hand I think most people would snap keep it on the play or the draw, but I would mulligan this hand on the play and keep on the draw. Turn 1 kills are rare enough and there are only a few cards I need to use Force of Will on.This hand needs help in the form of a business spell, so getting the first crack at drawing a good spell is more important to this hand than being on the play.The deck mulligans very well and I think I would rather have a random 6 on the play.

Hand 4:

Deck: RU Delver (
Opponent: Unknown
Game 1 – on the play

I can’t keep this hand because it doesn’t do anything. Lightning Bolt is ok in this deck. It kills creatures orburns out opponents who get too low, and having Snapcaster Mage to flash it back is nice. Unfortunately, it is often just a dead card either because I won without it or I lost even though I had it.

Gush is fine fuel for the late game, but it doesn’t interact well with Snapcaster Mage.It is terrible to have early because the deck has no way to play extra lands, and this hand has no Young Pyromancer to get extra advantage out of Gush. This hand really needs a cheap blue cantrip to leverage with Snapcaster Mage and dig into either countermagic or a threat.But with no countermagic in my opening 7, I can’t just sit there doing nothing waiting to draw better cards while hoping my opponent doesn’t have any good cards.

Hand 5:
Polluted Delta, Mana Crypt, Mox Jet, Mox Sapphire, Mox Pearl, Demonic Tutor, Tinker

Deck: Storm (
Opponent: Unknown
Game 1 – play or draw

This hand is amazing. It can win on turn 1. Do you see it?
On the play: Polluted Delta, crack for Underground Sea, Mana Crypt, Tinker sacrificing Mana Crypt (Storm 2).

At this point, if he has Force of Will, he will use it, and I can Demonic Tutor for my choice of Ancestral Recall, a Draw 7, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Necropotence, Yawgmoth’s Bargain, Yawgmoth’s Will.

If he doesn’t Force of Will, I would get Black Lotus, Play my 3 Moxes (Storm 5), Sacrifice Black Lotus for BBB, Demonic Tutor for Yawgmoth’s Will (Storm 6), Cast Yawgmoth’s Will tapping my moxes with B floating (Storm 7), Recast Black Lotus (Storm 8), Recast Mana Crypt float all my mana BBBB2 (Storm 9), Demonic Tutor for Tendrils of Agony BBB1 floating (Storm 10), Tendrils of Agony for 22.

The key is using Tinker to generate a ton of mana and storm with Yawgmoth’s Will to win on the first turn. If I were on the draw, I would still keep, and my plan would be fluid based on what my opponent did. I certainly can just go for the kill if my opponent doesn’t do anything relevant.

Hand 6:

Deck: OathControl (
Opponent: Unknown
Game 1 – play

Classic 1 land Brainstorm hand. There are 23 other mana sources left in the deck, and 2 ways to play this hand.
Option 1: I cast Brainstormduring my opponents first turn looking for a second land (either at the end or in response to a spell I want Force of Will to decide about what blue card to pitch). This hand doesn’t have any way to take advantage if I find a Mox with my Brainstorm, so I would rather wait. I get to see 3 new cards and I have an82.7% chance of finding at least one mana source, but if I miss I don’t see a new card until turn 4 and I would be behind.
Option 2: I wait until the end of my second turn to cast Brainstorm so I can see a 4th card.First, I get a draw step (43.4% chance of drawing a mana source).Then, if I don’t find another mana source with my draw step I have an 83.4% chance of finding at least one mana source with my Brainstorm and I have an overall chance of finding at least one mana source with my 4 cards of 90.6%

If we were on the draw the chances on option 1 improve to 90.6% and the chances on option 2 improve to 95%! Either way these are odds I can live with. This hand is a keep for me because it has things to do with 2 and 3 mana if I find another source.

Choosing between option 1 and option 2 is harder. The extra 7% chance to hit a land is especially significant because not hitting a land is devastatingand doing nothingon turn 1 and turn 2 is not ideal. On the draw I think it would be perfectly reasonable to choose option 1, but on the play seeing an extra card is worth going more slowly unless I need to Brainstorm in response to something my opponent does on turn 1.

Hand 7:

Deck: BUG Fish
Opponent: Dredge
Game 3–draw, opponent has mulliganed to 6

Ok, zero land hands are not keepable, and except in rare cases,so are hands with just a Wasteland or Strip Mine. This is one of those edge cases. I would keep this hand even if Wastelandwere another spell and if Dredge would have kept its opening 7. Why? Because Dredge turns everything on its ear. I get to start the game with a Leyline of the Void and Dredge can’t win the game without dealing with it. The most common cards Dredge plays to deal with Leyline are Chain of Vapor and Nature’s Claim, both of which cost 1 mana. In addition to Force of Will I have a Mental Misstep to counter the first 2 answers of my opponentwhich means I can afford to wait several turns if necessary to hit my first few land drops. I was lucky enough to have even a Wasteland to either disrupt his mana producing lands or his Bazaar of Baghdad, whichever I chose. I also have a backup hate card in Yixlid Jailer and a card advantage with Dark Confidant(when I do find some mana sources of my own).

Hand 8:

Deck: BUG Fish
Opponent: Dredge
Game 3 – draw, opponent has mulliganed to 6

This hand looks similar to the last one, but I can’t keep this hand. This hand is jam packed with powerful cards instead of disruption.If I had a single blue producing land this hand would be even better than the first one, but it doesn’t. This hand can’t afford to do anything for 5 or more turns whereas the other hand could buy itself 5 or 10 turns of draw go with its Force of Will and Mental Misstep. BUG Fish typically plays Black Lotus and 3 Moxen, plus 18 or 19 lands (including 4 Wasteland, 1 Strip Mine, and 1 Bayou) meaning there are only 14 blue mana sources remaining in the deck. The chances of drawing a blue source on the first draw step is 26.4%, on the first or second draw step is 46.2%, in the first three draw steps is 61.0%, 71.9% for the first 4, and 80% for the first 5. One in 5 games, this hand won’t see a blue mana source until after turn 5 and this hand just can’t stall for 5 turns.

Hand 9:

Deck: UBR Control with Dack Fayden
Opponent: Unknown
Game 1 – draw, opponent mulliganed to 6

This hand has one good business card in Dark Confidant and some role players in Steel Sabotage and Lightning Bolt. Vintage Decks that aren’t storm decks typically use Yawgmoth’s Will as a value card, using it several turns in to generate a ton of advantage and maybe win the game.However, having it in the opener is basically like having a dead card. Since Flusterstorm, Spell Pierce, Mental Misstep, and Duress can’t get Dark Confidant, all I have to worry about is Force of Will and Thoughtseize. Fortunately Thoughtseize isn’t seeing much play right now, making this a safer keep. If Thoughtseize were to make aresurgence, or if I knew I were playing against BUG Fish then this would be a risky hand. It’s a weak 7, but between my opponent’s mulligan and not knowing what my opponent is playing, I would keep it.

Because the overall power level of the cards being played in Vintage is so high, it often feels right to players to keep most hands with mana sources and spells. There is more to it than that. There are a lot of hands that are fine keeps without knowing your opponents deck.When you move on to games 2 and 3, think about how their handsare likely to interact with yours, especially when you are on the draw. I would absolutely throw Hand 9 back Game 2 against BUG Fish, especially on the draw. There is no reason to keep this hand that is relying on Dark Confidant to carry it to victory when BUG Fish is packing Force of Will, Thoughtseize, and Abrupt Decay, plus often Dismember out of the sideboard. Both Steel Sabotage and Yawgmoth’s Will are virtual mulligans against BUG Fish, so an average 6 card hand is definitely going to have a better chance of winning than Hand 9.

Vintage may be like no other format in existence, but fortunately many of the same rules and lessons still apply. So next time you play Magic, think “Is this really better than a random 6?”

Until next time,
MuseofAnger on MTGO

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