Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Change to the Mulligan Rule?

Earlier this week, Wizards made a surprising announcement in an article by Helene Bergeot, Director of Organized Play and Trade Marketing. At Pro Tour Magic: Origins, they will be testing out a new rule for mulligans. While the current procedure remains the same (drawing successively one fewer card each time you mulligan until you decide you have an acceptable hand or draw zero cards), if you make the decision to mulligan at least once, you have the option of looking at the next card in your library and either putting it back or placing it at the bottom of your deck (in other words, to Scry 1).

For my fellow Standard Pauper players, it should come as no surprise that I am often frustrated with the random elements of Magic the Gathering in general, and in particular with how dependent your success in the game is on the balance of spells and lands in your opening hand. In fact, I would say that this was the biggest reason that I was drawn to Hearthstone, since that particular issue has been eliminated by its automatic mana system. What I find fascinating is that Wizards of the Coast acknowledges that this is a problem. Look at this quote from the article:

Whether it is at Friday Night Magic or the Pro Tour in a feature match, the number of games of Magic that had no interaction due to unfortunate mulligans was larger than acceptable. Magic R&D has looked at ways to reduce the frequency of such non-interactive games.

It should therefore also be no surprise that I am strongly in favor of this change. This small change not only helps decrease the amount of variance in your opening draw, but simultaneously increases the effect of skilled play, since the player must decide whether to keep the next card or place it on the bottom. And while I can't think of a particular scenario where you would decide not to Scry 1 after mulliganing, I do at least appreciate the fact that this is still a decision the player has to make (and in real life, could forget).

Thus far the opinion of the community seems to be very positive, and I am hopeful that this rule will be implemented across all of the various formats of Magic after its initial testing at Pro Tour Magic: Origins.

What do you think of the proposed change? Let me know in the comments below.

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