In a decision that is rocking the communities of both paper and online Magic: The Gathering games, Wizards of the Coast is making a significant change to how players mulligan their opening hands, which has been in effect since the game first launched in 1993.
Only recently, Wizards of the Coast tested a new mulligan rule called the London mulligan in both Magic Online and at the Mythic Championship II. The results must have been strong, as WOTC is going to implement this new form of mulligan into standard play in the Core Set 2020, and online in July.
The current form of a mulligan, which has been in effect since the release of the game, has been for each player to draw an initial seven-card hand from the top of their shuffled decks. Players may either keep their hand if they are satisfied with its contents, or they may choose to mulligan by shuffling the entire hand back into the deck and re-drawing, but with one less card, meaning that they would begin with six cards instead of seven.
Choosing to keep those cards also provides the player with the opportunity to look at the top card of their deck and then decide if it should remain there or be placed at the bottom. If the player is instead once again dissatisfied with their card, they can mulligan again at the cost of an additional card to their starting hand.
The new rule will now ask players to still draw seven cards from their deck after shuffling back their initial hand, and then they will select cards based on the number of times they have taken a mulligan to be placed at the bottom of the deck. This means that at the start of the game, the player would draw and keep all seven cards, and with one mulligan, place one card at the bottom of the deck, and so on.
This is sure to be a massive change to the game. While subtle to the casual observer, this allows for more precise decision-making strategies because players will have access to more options for their opening hands each game.
There is also the possibility that this was done not only to shake up the competitive scene in Magic: The Gathering, but to also appeal to more casual players. One of the most frustrating aspects of Magic: The Gathering is the occasional game where one does not draw or mulligan for an adequate amount of lands. This is sometimes simply referred to as being “Mana Screwed,” or the opposite, “Mana Flooded,” when one has an overabundance of lands and nothing to use with them. This change should drastically cut down on those incidents, which makes the game more friendly to new players.
Hearthstone addresses this issue by granting a set amount of resources to spend each turn. For that reason, among others, it is considered an easier game than Magic: The Gathering, but this new rule may shift things towards a friendlier new-player experience.
We will be keeping a close eye on how this shakes things up, but this is sure going to be a hot topic of discussion in the coming months.