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Yet another experimental mulligan


The Tentacled One

For Mythic Championship II in London, we're going to be trying out a new mulligan rule that we have been playtesting internally for some time. We believe the new rule smooths out opening hand decisions even more, though it certainly has some implications for formats like Modern.
The rule we'll be testing in London is as such: When you mulligan for the Nth time, you draw seven cards, then put N cards on the bottom of your library in any order.
So, for example, let's say you're taking your second mulligan of a game, what we often call a mulligan to five. You would draw seven cards, select two, and place those two on the bottom of your library in any order. Then you would decide whether to keep or mulligan again.
While we have been testing this mulligan rule internally for a while, we are treating this tournament as a test. Once our game designers have reviewed the tournament, spoken to players, and looked at the data, we'll decide whether to implement the mulligan rule wider.
Maybe Blake Rasmussen should consult Sam Stoddard about this idea. :rolleyes:


7-7-7 (Shuffle x Back)
This was attempting to do something similar to the scry mulligan we used at Pro Tour Magic Origins, but in a way that was more powerful. Basically, each time you mulligan you draw up to seven, but get rid of cards that you can't use (down to the appropriate smaller hand size per mulligan), thereby increasing the chances that you will have a reasonable hand.
What we liked: This seemed pretty close to right power level for Limited, but had some problems. You generally ended up shuffling your most expensive card back, but if it wasn't obvious, then the decision on which to shuffle back was pretty hard—and made this take a lot longer than a regular mulligan.
What we didn't like: This mulligan was way too strong in Constructed, and encouraged big changes in deck building. Perhaps the most notable thing was in Modern and Eternal formats, where sideboard hate got a lot stronger since you could shuffle extra copies back into your decks. Similarly, combo decks got a huge advantage since they could mulligan away possibly useless cards. In one of our biggest rules violations for changing the mulligan rule, it clearly changed the parameters for deck building, and would have a profound impact on how older formats played out.


Nothing Special
I think one of the issues with the current mulligan rules is that the same rules are applied to all formats.
It would be nice if more lax rules were allowed in limited formats like sealed and draft, and put tight restrictions on the eternal formats. Maybe something in between for the typical rotations, like standard.
Of course, this would all be very confusing for someone who isn't really engaged with all the frequent rules changes, but it would bring more balance to the mulligan.

Chaos Turtle

I think reducing variance in games of Magic is a great idea. Having as few non-games as possible should be a goal.

That said, I don't play anything but Standard and occasionally limited. I do plan on playing whatever the new "eternal" Arena format is, but I doubt there'll be anything so degenerate that the new mulligan would be anything but great.


The Tentacled One
I wanted to let this sit for a few days before launching into some overblown tirade about it, which was, of course, my first inclination. Well, I think I've done so. And now, having had some time to let the idea stew, I'll say...

I suspect that this really does make Limited gameplay more consistent. I'd even go a step further and say that my intuition is that there's no way a mulligan rule like this wouldn't make gameplay more consistent overall. It's bound to lead to more close games with meaningful decisions and to fewer games that are lost by one side from the start due to a bad opening hand. It seems like everyone is pretty much in agreement on this point, so I'll leave that there as a given. It's a potential reason to want to make this the new mulligan rule. It's not necessarily the only reason, but it is a reason, surely. And I should admit that this aspect is, at least in some small way, a positive change. It's good.

Rather than beat around the bush anymore, I'll just come out and say it. I don't really care very much about improving the quality of Limited gameplay. So I'm biased on that, but let me clarify. It's not that I dislike Limited gameplay (I participate in it, on occasion) or want it to die. Having good Limited games is good. I'm for it. The problem is that there's this myth that Limited is the prime moneymaker for the game on the basis that it necessarily sells packs. It's not actually true. Game store owners/managers generally know that there aren't enough Limited grinders out there to support the game and that most sales come from the much larger population of casual players. But the myth is pervasive and it gives Limited grinders the excuse they need to push the narrative that Limited is the definitive way to play Magic. I think the overall effect is subtle, because the myth mixes in with other biases. Limited grinders also sometimes try to cast Limited as a superior test of skill. And I think I've noticed intelligent, longtime Constructed players resisting meaningless notion that Limited is more skill-testing than Constructed, only to ultimately defer to their Limited grinder overlords anyway because hey, Limited formats move booster packs so of course it's only natural that WotC favor them. I don't have anything concrete to support that, but it's what I've noticed.

Of course, WotC employees are only human and are not, by any means, insulated from the broader Magic community. I suspect that the myth has become so deeply rooted that it's bled into the mothership and caused some irrational behavior. It seems like WotC is always willing to bend over backwards to maintain their vision for what Limited gameplay should look like. And so many things that could be good in other formats are sacrificed on the altar of crafting some idealized booster draft experience. Again, if I sound bitter or defensive, it's not that I dislike drafting or want Limited gameplay to suffer. In fact, I've probably participated in more booster drafts in the past year than in the previous 15 years. I don't mind Limited gameplay and look forward to doing more of it. But I bring all this up because I have always felt that 60-card Constructed Magic (in whatever format you like) is the heart and soul of the game. My worry, and I hope I'm wrong, is that WotC will go too far making concessions toward some unreachable ideal of what they want Limited to be like that they'll do damage to the type of Magic I consider to be more important.

I've got to admit, I was mildly skeptical about the Vancouver Mulligan (I expressed that briefly, but the thread got overwhelmed with some silly argument between me and Spiderman), and it seems like its effect was kind of a wash. Some decks in Eternal formats got a little bit better or a little bit worse, but it didn't ruin anything. I don't think I was that worried about it anyway, but I do recall thinking that it was a bad idea and it doesn't seem to have hurt the game in any way I can think of. I'd even say I think it made the game a bit better. So that's tempered my critical inclinations somewhat.

But dammit, this is a much bigger change! The strongest immediate reaction I noticed seemed to be zeroing in on Vintage Dredge decks, which could find a first-turn Bazaar of Baghdad with unprecedented consistency under the London Mulligan. In most games, Dredge decks don't care very much how low they have to mulligan (in some games, it would substantially hurt them) as long as they land that first-turn Bazaar of Baghdad and at least one dredge card to get going. So they're an extreme case, but they do illustrate the problem. Still, it's very early and I'm seeing all sorts of different claims about which decks would benefit most from this change, and not all of those claims can be right. In Legacy, some people claim it boosts combo decks, while others claim it boosts tempo. Some are focused on more consistent Chalice of the Void plays and others think the biggest impact would be on sideboarding. If the cumulative effect pulls in enough different directions, then those influences kind of cancel each other out. That does give me some hope that the severity of the change is more hype than one might think. But still, it's a big deal, much bigger than the Vancouver Mulligan. I think Sam Stoddard was right when he said that this rule would encourage big changes in deckbuilding.

If this goes through and it does result in bans/restrictions for Vintage and Legacy, man, I just don't know anymore...

I've been following Legacy for so long and just when I think I'm going to be fed up and abandon the whole format, I get reeled back in. But the Gitaxian Probe ban really hurt my interest. It seems like so many cards could be unbanned and WotC just sits there axing more innocuous cards for incoherent reasons. Similarly with Vintage, I was really getting into the format again, and the restriction of Gitaxian Probe was a real downer for me. Subsequent developments have been a mixed bag, but I really believe that the Eternal formats are going the wrong direction. If this mulligan change goes through and throws a wrecking ball at deckbuilding in those formats, I don't know. Not saying I'll lose interest entirely. Who knows? But it seems a gloomy prospect. And the people I play with are so much more into EDH than the 60-card formats. Last year I played more Canadian Highlander than I played any other format. I'm already working enthusiastically on more EDH decks. I don't want to be one of those players who effectively quits the rest of Magic and focuses entirely on EDH. But it feels like I'm being pulled in that direction...

I hope this doesn't go through. And if it does, I hope I'm wrong about the impact.


Well-known member
I think a lot of people's first impressions were similar, in the eternal constructed formats, it favors combo decks in game one and silver bullets out of the sideboard in games 2-3. Allowing combo decks to go off more reliably earlier, and then allowing cards that come in and just nuke the other side's strategy both seem to go against the general theory that WotC seems to be advancing for changing the Mulligan, which is that they want people to be able to play Magic and not have unplayable draws. If I'm playing a graveyard strategy, and the opponent can basically always get Leyline of the Void or Rest in Peace after sideboarding, how is that not the same thing as being mana-screwed/flooded? I can't play Magic. And the same is true of any number of other cards and decks. I can also see how this would help smooth out draws in Limited, but as I don't play Limited, and agree with Oversoul that 60 card Constructed should be the primary means of Magic, its tough to support this change.

However, I'm also fine with experimentation. If WotC wants to test things out on a limited basis in the real world, I think that's a good thing. Of course, we're always concerned that these things aren't actually experiments, that the decision is already made, they're just slow-rolling the full implementation. But those suspicions aside, I think WotC should do these sorts of tests from time to time, because you never know how things will actually work until you put them out there.


Well-known member
With regards to their response to concerns about Eternal formats, I wasn't exactly convinced by the "It's fine don't worry about it" position. At the same time, the smart money on these things is usually that it won't have as big an impact as we all fear.