In July we get Core Set 2020, and along with that – the London Mulligan.
The rules on Mulligans have changed greatly over the years. Back in the day, the way it worked was that if you had all lands, or no lands in your opening hand, you could reveal it, shuffle and draw 7 again. Now, not only did this not allow you to dump poor hands that still had a land or two, in formats like Legacy and Vintage, there were Combo decks which could abuse this. When you have a deck called “Oops All Spells”, it’s pretty easy to hit a hand with no Lands, LOL.
The longest running Mulligan rule we had was the Paris rule, where you’d Mulligan down one card each turn. This was accidentally adopted at PT Paris in 1997, because Wizards neglected to take it out of the player’s information for the event. In 2015 we adopted the Vancouver Mulligan, where you got to Scry after you kept.
Now, we have a new system coming, and the wording of the rules can be a little confusing, but it basically works this way. Each time you Mulligan, you draw 7 new cards. Then after you decide to keep, you no longer get to Scry, but you put cards from your hand onto the bottom of your library (in any order), so you actually start with the same number of cards you’d have with the old Paris and Vancouver systems.
So if you –
- Mulligan once, you put one card on the bottom, and start with six.
- Mulligan twice, you put two cards on the bottom, and start with five.
- Mulligan thrice, you put three cards on the bottom, and start with four.
So what does all this mean for Arena players?
Basically, all good stuff. By digging one card deeper each time you Mulligan, you’re getting more card selection. You’re increasing your odds of getting a playable starting hand. This will mean fewer non-games from having to keep a mediocre Mulligan.
I have some concerns about how the London Mulligan may impact formats like Legacy, Vintage, and maybe Commander. It seems possible that it will favor Combo decks, which rely much more heavily on getting a good opening hand, and in some cases, can even pull off a turn 1 win with the right combination of just a few cards. But, Wizards has been testing it extensively on MTGO (Magic the Gathering Online), and so far the data doesn’t seem to indicate any major problems.
One pitfall you should watch out for – just because Mulligans are going to be a little more forgiving, that doesn’t mean you should Mulligan more aggressively, or Mulligan hands you might have kept under the old system. The card disadvantage from tossing your first opening hand is still a huge detriment.
I believe that the London Mulligan is a welcome improvement to Magic, and especially to Arena. It’s going to allow us all to just play more Magic, and that is always a good thing.