Matchup Mulligan: Gruul Initiative

Final Cephalid Breakfast Hand Answer

Hand No. 10: (on the draw)

[[Lotus Petal|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Mishra’s Bauble|]] [[Mishra’s Bauble|]] [[Badlands|]] [[Mox Opal|]]


While the pair of [[Mishra’s Bauble]] represents a pair of redraws, we need a hand with more of a plan against a powerhouse deck such as Cephalid Breakfast. They’re capable of a turn-two win while also having [[Daze]], [[Force of Will]], [[Force of Negation]], [[Flusterstorm]], and [[Cabal Therapy]]. This hand exists without a purpose, and we can’t rely on drawing both an action spell and a tutor effect within our first two draw steps plus the redraws to do something meaningful in the early stages of this game.

Gruul Initiative


Hand No. 1: (on the draw)

[[Burning Wish|]] [[Taiga|]] [[Scalding Tarn|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Mishra’s Bauble|]]


While this hand may be slow, you need to play to the position that you’re in while also adjusting for the matchup. In this instance, we’re on the draw against the [[Chalice of the Void]] deck. While [[Veil of Summer]] is often a dead card, it has some application in this situation since you can use it to play zero mana value spells through a [[Chalice of the Void]] on zero. Not only that, you have access to [[Pulverize]] via [[Burning Wish]]!

If [[Burning Wish]] is going to be your answer, you need another payoff — enter [[Wishclaw Talisman]] with most of the mana to search out a payoff such as [[Ad Nauseam]]. While this hand isn’t blazing fast, it has the necessary tools to win while on the draw against a prison strategy. Ideally, we would draw into the third land to not have to worry about [[Trinisphere]] but you can’t expect your hands to be perfect.

Hand No. 2: (on the play)

[[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Badlands|]] [[Chrome Mox|]]


Its important to know that Gruul Initiative doesn’t have access to any free interaction in game one scenarios. This means that we can go all-in on the first turn while on the play. Unfortunately for us, we’re a single mana short of [[Peer into the Abyss]]. We have to decide between [[Echo of Eons]] or [[Empty the Warrens]] for 14 [[Goblin Token]]s. For me, this is a fairly easy decision as Gruul Initiative struggles to beat decks that go wide.

Hand No. 3: (on the draw)

[[Mishra’s Bauble|]] [[Mishra’s Bauble|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Brainstorm|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Chrome Mox|]]


While being fast is great, that’s usually better when you’re on the play. Here, we have a hand where we simply lose to a [[Chalice of the Void]] on zero and can’t do anything about it. On top of that, even if our opponent only plays a first turn [[The Initiative]] creature, our hand doesn’t actually do anything! Now, we’d be asking for a second undisrupted turn while also needing the pair of [[Mishra’s Bauble]] to draw into mana. We’re expecting a lot of things to go our way by keeping this hand, and I don’t know how realistic that actually is.

Hand No. 4: (on the play)

[[Dark Ritual|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Echo of Eons|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Mishra’s Bauble|]] [[Underground Sea|]] [[Verdant Catacombs|]]


Play [[Underground Sea]] and then cast [[Mishra’s Bauble]], a pair of [[Dark Ritual]], [[Wishclaw Talisman]], and then activate to search for [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]. Play [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], sacrifice it to create by discarding your hand, and then Flashback [[Echo of Eons]] floating .

You have to be willing to take calculated risks if you want to beat these prison decks and beginning the game with two mana floating, a Storm count of six, and an artifact in play for Metalcraft isn’t good enough for you… I don’t know. This deck may not be for you!

Hand No. 5: (on the draw)

[[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Ad Nauseam|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Burning Wish|]]


A common new player trap is to see [[Ad Nauseam]] in an opening hand and then over-evaluate it. What does this hand actually do? For starters it makes and mana, specifically, it doesn’t make without using [[Chrome Mox]] to Imprint the [[Ad Nauseam]]. Without the ability to cast [[Ad Nauseam]], it’s going to rot in your hand while you don’t do much of anything, please leverage the London Mulligan — it’s very powerful.


Recommended sideboarding:


[[Thoughtseize|]] [[Thoughtseize|]] [[Thoughtseize|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]]


[[Galvanic Relay|]] [[Galvanic Relay|]] [[Galvanic Relay|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]]

Hand No. 6: (on the play)

[[Thoughtseize|]] [[Thoughtseize|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Taiga|]] [[Scalding Tarn|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Mishra’s Bauble|]]


Too much of a good thing! We can disrupt their plan with [[Thoughtseize]] or [[Abrupt Decay]], but we’re not going anywhere. These types of hands eventually peter out as the game progresses, we can do better.

Hand No. 7: (on the draw)

[[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]]


This hand is missing a second land for the pair of [[Abrupt Decay]], assuming your opponent plays [[Chalice of the Void]] on zero. If they play [[Chalice of the Void]] on one, you’re golden! You could answer the [[Chalice of the Void]] with [[Abrupt Decay]] or simply make a horde of [[Goblin Token]]s with [[Empty the Warrens]] again. I’d like to drive home the point that you can’t expect every opening hand to have all of the necessary resources, asking to draw another land is a reasonable ask.

Hand No. 8: (on the play)

[[Echo of Eons|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Brainstorm|]] [[Thoughtseize|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Taiga|]]


We do have to worry about [[Leyline of the Void]], but even if the opponent does have it, we can still cast [[Brainstorm]] off of [[Chrome Mox]] and then hit them with [[Thoughtseize]] or [[Abrupt Decay]]. This hand has things going for it. For example, if your opponents don’t have [[Leyline of the Void]], you’re going to be very far ahead much like in Hand No. 4.

Hand No. 9: (on the draw)

[[Burning Wish|]] [[Badlands|]] [[Scalding Tarn|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Chrome Mox|]]


This hand just doesn’t do anything. As good as [[Burning Wish]] into [[Pulverize]] is, we need a plan like in Hand No. 1 for post-[[Pulverize]].

Hand No. 10: (on the play)

[[Ad Nauseam|]] [[Brainstorm|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Mishra’s Bauble|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]]

Stay tuned for the next article!

I’ll provide my answer in the next article.