Heart of the Storm – The “Vancouver” Mulligan

It’s been two weeks since Bryant has dropped his article on the matter and I delayed mine until I made up my mind and listened to some arguments. To be honest with you, I had a very bad feeling about this change in the first place and it still has not vanished. Here is the change we’re talking about:

103.4. Each player draws a number of cards equal to his or her starting hand size, which is normally seven. (Some effects can modify a player’s starting hand size.) A player who is dissatisfied with his or her initial hand may take a mulligan. First, the starting player declares whether or not he or she will take a mulligan. Then each other player in turn order does the same. Once each player has made a declaration, all players who decided to take mulligans do so at the same time. To take a mulligan, a player shuffles his or her hand back into his or her library, then draws a new hand of one fewer cards than he or she had before. If a player kept his or her hand of cards, those cards become the player’s opening hand, and that player may not take any further mulligans. This process is then repeated until no player takes a mulligan. (Note that if a player’s hand size reaches zero cards, that player must keep that hand.) Then, beginning with the starting player and proceeding in turn order, any player whose opening hand has fewer cards than his or her starting hand size may scry 1.

The obvious goal of this change is to reduce the feeling of having already lost the game, if you suffer from a reduced starting hand size as a result of a classic mulligan, which is however a two-edged sword, as the reduction of hand size, which is part of the established “Paris Mulligan”, is a mechanic intended for punishing greedy or suboptimal deck building. What’s happening here is dulling the deck building sword of justice, with dramatic results for players of combination decks which are indentured to deal with fragile hands all the time, while most opponents are fine with getting hands on a single piece of hate or disruption. Here the problem roots for us in regards to the new mulligan rule: We rarely keep hands which shine or fall depending on our sole scry 1 before starting the actual game, but our opponents care a lot about that pre-game card selection when trying to access early interaction tools like Chalice of the Void, Spell Pierce, Daze, Stifle, Thoughtseize, Flusterstorm, Force of Will and many others to either stop Storm or delay its combo.

This new rule feel totally artificial and needlessly complicated for new players and its outright iffy to fit a regular game-mechanic into pre-game preparations undermining the clear concept of mulligan penalties. Why do the pre-game scry in case of several mulligans remain at 1 instead of scaling? Doesn’t that mean that we value the first mulligan a lot different than the second? Why do both players get to scry 1 if they both start with a single mulligan and 6 cards and neither player basically suffers the targeted problem of a potential blowout as a result of starting with less cards than their opponent?

Is that really the right step to make the game more accessible for all kinds of new and old players after Wizards was so eager to make the game easier to understand by removing Manaburn and Combat-Damage-On-Stack? Let me know in the comments.

Greatness awaits!