London Mulligan, Deck by Deck Analysis

Sebastian Pozzo

Sebastian Pozzo

Introduction of the New Mulligan Rule

Hello everyone! Today, I’m going to give my opinion about the new mulligan rule that it’s going to be tested in Mythic Championship London and how I think that it will impact the existing decks.

Just in case someone doesn’t know how this rule will work: When you take a mulligan now you draw 7 cards and then put X cards on the bottom of your library where X is the number of mulligans you took. This effect replaces the Scry in a much powerful way since you have additional information when you decide to keep or not (you can’t Scry and then mulligan again). And it also allows us to choose the least valuable cards of our hand.

In Limited and Standard almost everyone agrees that this will be positive for the game since it will mitigate the number of games where you can’t put up a fight. However, this will be tested in Modern because it’s where things can go wild and it will probably affect the metagame considerably. Some decks will definitely be more benefited than others, so let’s start pointing them out. To begin with I want to clear that all decks get benefits from the rule because it’s strictly more powerful, however if other decks exploit the rule more the deck will become worse.

Decks That Improve A Lot

Ad Nauseam

AngelAd NauseamLightning Storm

This is a clear example. The deck has cards in the deck like 《Lightning Storm》 and 《Laboratory Maniac》, also redundant combo pieces since it’s a 2 card combo that needs some acceleration in form of 《Lotus Bloom》 and 《Pentad Prism》. Nowadays the deck isn’t very popular but this change might put the deck back in the map unless some other faster combo decks become tier 1.

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Amulet Titan

Amulet of VigorAzusa, Lost but SeekingPrimeval Titan

This is another clear example. This deck is capable of super fast wins that don’t require many cards. It also has some redundancy in combo pieces (acceleration and extra karoos or lands that can be searched by 《Primeval Titan》) and having the 《Amulet of Vigor》 in the opener increases the win% a lot. It’s also very valuable for a combo deck with the new rule not to be targeted by hate, since your opponent can find it much easier now.

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Glistener ElfVines of VastwoodBecome Immense

This deck also usually mulligans a lot because it can’t operate without a creature with Infect. And it’s also capable of beating other good combo decks quite easily. If this is the way the metagame is going to look up, and decks like BGx, Mardu and Jeskai are going to lose terrain it might be the time for Infect to dominate. Also early disruption like 《Spell Pierce》 gain value in this dynamic.

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Faithless LootingGoryoGriselbrand

More of the same, a deck that can win on turn 2 with only 3 cards (Land, 《Faithless Looting》, 《Goryo’s Vengeance》 into Land and 《Griselbrand》) in the opener hand is a clear winner. However, in contrary to the other decks that I believe are going to be better because this one suffers from graveyard hate and post-board games might be a nightmare since our opponent also increases it’s chances to find their hate cards.

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《Hardened Scales》

Hardened ScalesArcbound RavagerInkmoth Nexus

This deck just like Amulet Titan, operates a lot better if it has the card that gives the name to the deck in the opener hand. So with this rule the odds naturally become much better. Not many decks have room for many hate cards in the sideboard like it usually happens with graveyard hate, so I wouldn’t be too afraid that their chances to find them increases too much post-sideboard.

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《Devoted Druid》 Combo

Devoted DruidVizier of RemediesChord of Calling

I’m not sold in this take but once again, if a deck can win by turn 3 and is not targeted by graveyard hate it’s worth taking a look at. Also sometimes this kind of deck flood in acceleration so we have a natural choice to put on the bottom. Having access to some silver bullets via 《Chord of Calling》 is tempting too in a combo-oriented metagame.

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Decks That Improve Medium

Whir Prision

Ensnaring BridgeWhir of InventionTormod

I’m not very familiarized with this deck that is putting good results lately. It sounds like it will be quite good since a big part of what it wants to be doing is to find a 《Ensnaring Bridge》 and empty your hand, both being a lot easier with the new rule. It’s also a deck that plays 《Whir of Invention》 with maindeck silver bullets like 《Tormod’s Crypt》 or 《Damping Sphere》.

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Stinkweed ImpCathartic ReunionCreeping Chill

This is an interesting one. I think this will be absurdly better in G1 but then post-sideboard it’s going to be even harder. Usually when you lose G1 it’s because you kept a slow hand or mulliganed too much. With the new rule you don’t need to keep slow speculative hands and there is always a 《Narcomoeba》, 《Creeping Chill》 or extra land that you don’t mind putting on the bottom.

However, I didn’t do the math, but I read that if an opponent has 4 《Leyline of the Void》 and wants to find them mulliganing aggressively they can almost certainly find it. I don’t think it’s a good strategy because if you keep with 4 cards or less and one is a 《Leyline》 you will give the Dredge player time to find an answer and eventually do what it does, but it’s real that you need to be more prepared to face hate, because your opponent will find it way more often and playing 《Leyline》 will be more appealing.

Maybe playing an alternative plan in the sideboard is a good idea to fight an opponent that goes all in with the hate plan.

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The only reason why this isn’t in the “decks that improve a lot” is because I think that the format will be dominated by decks that have a natural good matchup against Tron. If it wasn’t for that this will be certainly on top of the list since the deck can perfectly operate with 5 cards.

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Grixis Shadow

DeathGurmag AnglerThoughtseize

This deck is not higher in the list because it doesn’t mulligan much and doesn’t have any redundancy. However, I think that playing a turn one discard is much better now because it’s more likely that your opponent will start with 6 cards. Also it’s a good deck versus combo decks with a fast clock and a lot of disruption.

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Steel OverseerMox OpalCranial Plating

As an aggro and synergistic deck I think it will naturally improve. However, I don’t think the metagame is evolving in favor of Affinity and cards like 《Stony Silence》 and 《Ancient Grudge》 will always be there. I think the artifact devotes should be inclined towards 《Hardened Scales》 even more now.

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Baral, Chief of ComplianceSerum VisionsGifts Ungiven

This deck probably adds up some consistency to it’s turn 3 kills. I’m not ranking it very high in terms of improvement because when you play a deck with many 《Serum Visions》 and 《Sleight of Hand》 you naturally don’t mulligan much. Also Storm needs spells, right? You don’t want to put one on the bottom. To finish, it’s a deck that even though it’s not cold against graveyard hate, it suffers from it, and there will be plenty.

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Slippery BogleEthereal ArmorDaybreak Coronet

Here I see the exact same situation as Tron but the problem is more crucial for this deck. The deck gets a lot of benefits in terms of functionality, being a deck that mulligans a lot and can operate with 5 cards. But the big drawback is that a metagame full of bad matchups might emerge. I could be wrong since Bogles also has some of the best sideboard cards in Modern.

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5C Humans

Champion of the ParishThaliaAEther Vial

As an aggro deck with disruption I think the rule suits the deck pretty well. Also extra 《AEther Vial》s are sometimes awkward. Where it doesn’t improve much is post-sideboard, because Humans doesn’t play hate cards besides 《Grafdigger’s Cage》.

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Supreme PhantomDrogskol CaptainSpell Queller

Similar to Humans, but this deck mulligans a fair amount and sometimes doesn’t have time for 《Vial》. However, the 《Vial》 is the only card that I can think of as something in some scenarios you don’t mind putting in the bottom (besides hands with 4+ lands). It’s not as fast as Humans, but the sideboard is a lot more potent, and having more incentives to find 《Rest in Peace》 or 《Stony Silence》 post-board is interesting.

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Hollow One

Hollow OneBurning InquiryGoblin Lore

This deck lost a lot of popularity lately in hands of Izzet Phoenix and Dredge. I don’t think that this rule can bring it back to the top, but it might help since it’s capable of very explosive starts, and even though it’s affected by graveyard hate, it’s far from blanked by it.

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Decks That Don’t Improve Much

Izzet Phoenix

Thing in the IceArclight PhoenixManamorphose

This comes as one of the best decks of the format right now. Even though it’s capable of having very powerful draws I think it won’t improve much. This deck has 《Faithless Looting》, that means you usually don’t have irrelevant cards in hand. Also the spell count is really important for 《Thing in the Ice》 and 《Arclight Phoenix》, so the cost of putting a card on the bottom is real. I think this is the deck where the eyes will be most focused in MC London to see how the rule really affects the metagame, it comes as a clear predator, if it’s not well represented we have a clear evidence of the weight of the rule. Maybe the deck is just so superior that it will dominate regardless.

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Goblin GuideEidolon of the Great RevelLightning Bolt

Many will think that this gets a lot of benefits from the rule, but I think that the number of games where Burn needs every single spell is way too high. Also it doesn’t mulligan too much because basically all the cards do the same, damage. I could see a point where with the current rule you don’t mulligan one landers but with the new one you would to try to find 7 cards with 2 or 3 lands and then start with 2 lands and 4 spells. It still is dangerous in my opinion. Burn is a very consistent deck as it is now.

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Azorius / Jeskai Control

Snapcaster MagePath to ExileCryptic Command

These decks really need to hit their landrops so they don’t mulligan much. At the same time when you are playing maindeck you don’t really know what of your answers you will need (because you don’t know the matchup) so putting a card on the bottom might be a gamble. However, playing 《Terminus》 becomes much better since if you mulligan, you are almost guaranteed to have them all in the deck.

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TarmogoyfInquisition of KozilekLiliana of the Veil

Another deck that doesn’t want to mulligan much. Its biggest strength is consistency. The bright side of the situation for midrange fans is that same as in Grixis Shadow, playing a discard on turn one might be even better now. It’s also an archetype that can be adapted to the metagame, so if this rule pushes the format in a direction where there aren’t as many viable decks like we have today, then The Rock strategies might become better.

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Primeval TitanValakut, the Molten PinnacleScapeshift

I’m sorry if you are a 《Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle》 fan (a few come to my mind) but I think this deck gets worse in every possible aspect. This deck is very consistent and usually doesn’t mulligan because it needs every single landrop in time to operate. As if this wasn’t enough, all the fast combos will be a lot more consistent in killing by turn 3 or 4, so the metagame will be more hostile for TitanShift.

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Arclight PhoenixBloodghast

There are always more decks to cover in Modern but this is all I’ve got for today. The Recent GPs in Bilbao and Tampa Bay have showed that Izzet Phoenix is the big dominator of the format followed by Dredge, it will be very interesting to see how this evolves.

All that being said, I think we have a very exciting MC ahead that will feature a new Limited format and a Mulligan Rule debut.

I hope you enjoyed the read and please comment if you liked or disagreed with some of my takes, or if you have doubts regarding a specific deck and how this rule might affect it. Thanks for reading!

Sebastian Pozzo @sebastianpozzo on Twitter

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Sebastian Pozzo

Sebastian Pozzo Picking up the title of Standard Master this season, he has reached the Gold Level Pro. He also is being the first player from Argentina to qualify for the 2017 World Championship Holding the title Standard Master, his strength is in the constructed format, and is outstanding when picking decks for the format. At Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, he has chosen the most favored deck, Ramunap Red, leading him into the title Standard Master. He is joining Hareruya Hopes with his teammate from the same country of Argentina, Luis Salvatto. Read more articles by Sebastian Pozzo