A new piece of Magic: The Gathering news is out, concerning a brand new mulligan rule: the London mulligan. Currently, we are using the Vancouver mulligan where, if you don’t like your first seven cards, you can shuffle them back into your deck and draw six. You can do this, drawing 1 less card each time, until you draw zero cards if you like. After you decide to keep the cards you draw, you may scry 1. This is the mulligan style used in MTG Arena, Magic Online, and in paper play. This mulligan style does well at preventing non-games, or games where one player can’t really play because their hand sucks so bad.
The London mulligan
When using the London mulligan, a player that decides that they don’t want their first seven cards will shuffle them back into his or her library. Then that player will draw seven cards and choose one of those seven to put on the bottom of their deck, leaving them with six cards. If they don’t like those six, then they will shuffle them back, draw seven again, and choose two to put on the bottom of their deck.
Basically, you can shuffle your hand back in and draw seven each time you mulligan, except that you have to put X cards onto the bottom of your library where X is the number of times you’ve had to mulligan. If you mulligan three times, you have to put three of the cards you have in the hand to the bottom of your deck before choosing to keep the hand.
This will be tried out at Mythic Championship London on April 26-28. After the Mythic Championship and some more testing, it’s possible that the London mulligan will become the default mulligan strategy for all of constructed Magic, including MTG Arena.
The goal of a mulligan is to make sure that both players are able to play their decks and have a fair game of Magic. However, the news of the London mulligan has many people skeptical because they’re afraid that having such control over the cards could lead to Combo decks being very strong in Modern, Legacy, and future Standards.
For example, in Legacy, I play Turbo Depths where I try to get a big 20/20 indestructible flier by abusing the card Dark Depths. One of the basic combos is as follows:
- Play Dark Depths on turn 1
- Play Urborg (which makes Dark Depths act like a Swamp)
- Still, on turn 2, play Vampire Hexmage
- Sacrifice Vampire Hexmage to remove all of Dark Depth’s counters, summoning a 20/20 that can attack in the air for lethal on turn 3.
That entire combo takes three cards.
So, under the London mulligan, I could draw 7 cards four times to try and make sure I have Dark Depths, Urborg, and Vampire Hexmage in my hand. It wouldn’t matter that I only have three cards in hand if those three cards are the combo.
That’s just one case though. Storm in Modern could do this until it definitely had Baral, Chief of Compliance in hand. In post-sideboard matchups, you could do this until you had your sideboard pieces in hand as well. So if you’re playing a graveyard deck that gets shut down by Rest in Piece, I could have six instances where I draw seven cards from my full library looking for that one card that definitely wins the game.
It should be noted that in all of these cases, going down that low on cards in your hand can easily be punished. If the Vampire Hexmage gets countered, then I have basically no relevant cards in hand and I can’t combo off until I draw another Hexmage or until later in the game when I can use Thespian’s Stage to combo. Or if Baral gets killed, Storm is now very low on cards. I could go down to one card trying to find Rest in Peace but then draw no lands to play it.
Ultimately, we won’t know until Mythic Championship London is underway whether or not the London mulligan will be healthy for the game. It’s possible that decks become too consistent under this rule, but we really can’t know for sure until we see it in action. Until then, thank you for reading, and I’ll see you all in the arena.