Strategy and TheoryMulligan Rules?

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Mulligan Rules?

Post #1 by redthirst » Wed May 08, 2013 3:08 pm

So, does anyone think it's possible to create a set of more-or-less hard rules governing proper mulliganing?

For Example: The 7 card hand represents 11.67% of your starting 60 cards so it should - optimally - represent 11.67% of your total lands, creatures, and spells.

So, a deck that consists of 20 creatures, 20 spells, and 20 land should statistically have 2.33 creatures, 2.33 spells, and 2.33 land - or 2 creatures, 2 spells, 2 land and 1 mystery card (ohhhhhh...) in its opening hand.

Now, that was an easy example and only showed what an optimal hand looks like. My question is: how far can we deviate from that optimal hand and still have something that we should statistically keep?

:shrug:

Also, what are some rules we can establish to govern mulliganing?

Would it be fair to say that you'd want to auto
mulligan any hand with less than 5% or more than 20% of a deck's mana sources?

What about threats? When I play Aggro, I know I want so see at least 2 creatures - or roughly 10% of the deck's threats. Less than 10% is a mulligan, but I know that's not the case for something like Control that will keep hands without threats all day, but will toss any hand without enough control elements.

What about smaller hands? Once you've already thrown away 7 cards, what makes a keepable 6 card hand? Or 5? Or - God forbid - 4?

Thoughts?
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Post #2 by Khaospawn » Wed May 08, 2013 3:34 pm

When I draw my opening hand for any Red Deck on the play , I ask myself one question : is it explosive enough? Typically it will have 1-2 lands, a one drop and a two drop and maybe a burn spell. If it looks like I have 2-3 turns worth of options, it's good. Ultimately, I just want to come out of the gates with some pressure and establish a clock.

On the draw, I prefer to see more removal and land but depending on the MU, I'll stick with my "on the play" requirements - mucho explosivo!
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Post #3 by Khaospawn » Wed May 08, 2013 3:35 pm

I may be weird, but I generally rely on my initial gut feeling.
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Post #4 by redthirst » Wed May 08, 2013 4:06 pm

Well, I also know about how many lands I want to play without having to break out a calculator, but it's still nice to be able to know exactly what the mathmatically correct number of lands I should be playing is.

There is no guide like this concerning mulligans so I think it'd be helpful.
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Post #5 by Dodger » Wed May 08, 2013 7:46 pm

Yeah being able to see plays for 2-3 turns is what I'm looking for, and almost always a minimum of two lands. I try to condition myself to never keep the one land hand. When I play control it's harder since you're going long and plan on seeing a lot of cards and frequently don't "need" anything until t4 and later. Usually I want at least 3 early action cards though. A counter, a removal spell, a draw spell. Or something that sets up lines of play to get me to where I want to be. Like I'll keep a "suboptimal" hand if it say has 2 draw spells and a board wipe. I figure in the early turns I'll dig and draw enough to get to what I need plus I have the wipe in hand to stabilize.

But in general I want to see lines of play based on what that deck does. This all sounds good, but I'm notoriously risk adverse and generally only mulligan due to land screw/flood or just blatantly obvious unkeepable hands. I
really lack the subtle nuance to mulling and won't generally risk mulling "borderline" hands. Definitely a part of my game I need to get better at and improve.

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Post #6 by DerWille » Thu May 09, 2013 12:33 am

This is a good idea. I've sort of come a few mulligan rules for playing my specific deck, a :symw: :symr: aggro deck.

1. I must have a :symw: or :symr: sources in hand. I think this depends on the opening moves of your deck, but mine looks like this:
- All 1 drops are :symw:
- My 2 drops creature wise are x2 :1mana: :symr:title="Red" />, x2 :symr: :symw:, and x4 :symr: :symw:. The spells are x4 :1mana: :symr:, and x3 :symr: :symw:. If I don't have :symw: and alt=":symr:" title="Red" />, I lose out on 13/17 cards with :symw: :symw: and 11/17 cards with :symr: :symr:
2. I'll mulligan hands that don't have enough threats. My deck revolves around playing creatures to go punch my opponents.
3. Before I mulligan, usually going from 6 to 5, or even 5 to 4, I ask myself, "If I drew this hand after the mulligan, would I keep it?" If I would keep it, I play the hand.
4. If I don't have enough early plays. If I have a hand of 4 mana and 3 4 drops, I won't play it. It's too slow. I'd rather have a hand that lets me curve out.

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Post #7 by windstrider » Thu May 09, 2013 4:49 am

I base most of my mulligan decisions on land. Ideally, I want to see at least 2 lands, 2-3 early creatures, and at least 1 removal spell for my [mana]rb[/mana] deck.

For me, one-land hands are auto-mulligans. The risk of not drawing enough lands to remain in the game is too great at that point. Similarly, a hand of 5 or more lands is an auto-mulligan. I will sometimes keep 4-land hands because then I know I can cast the majority of the creatures in my deck with an excellent chance of drawing that 5th land when I need it. I also have a decent chance of drawing creatures or spells in the first few turns.

Complicating factors include the types of lands in that opening hand. If I open a hand full of Dragonskull Summits or Godless Shrines, then I'll mulligan since that throws me off curve. If I see one red and one black
source, then I'll usually keep that hand depending on the creatures. If I see a Blood Crypt and a Dragonskull Summit, then I'll keep since I can cast any combination of early creatures and spells I happen to have.
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Post #8 by redthirst » Thu May 09, 2013 1:09 pm

So I think we can safely say that a good rule of thumb would be that you want at least 10% of the mana sources in the deck in your opening hand.

So 2-3 depending on how mana intensive the deck is.

Think we can add that you want no more than 15-20% in the opening hand? I know I pretty much throw away any hand with 5+ lands in it unless I'm running something with a very high curve (in which case I'd be running 25+ mana sources and 5 land would fit in the 10-20% range).
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Post #9 by Checkbox » Thu May 09, 2013 1:33 pm

Playtesting is your most powerful tool.
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Post #10 by redthirst » Thu May 09, 2013 1:52 pm

Decide to drop some fortune-cookie wisdom on us?
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Originally posted by Dechs Kaison on MTGS
redthirst is redthirst, fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse. He was the leader of the Fires of Salvation, the only clan I'm aware of to get modded off the forums so hard they made their own forums.

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Post #11 by DerWille » Thu May 09, 2013 1:57 pm

redthirst » Thu May 09, 2013 5:09 am wrote:So I think we can safely say that a good rule of thumb would be that you want at least 10% of the mana sources in the deck in your opening hand.

So 2-3 depending on how mana intensive the deck is.

Think we can add that you want no more than 15-20% in the opening hand? I know I pretty much throw away any hand with 5+ lands in it unless I'm running something with a very high curve (in which case I'd be running 25+ mana sources and 5 land would fit in the 10-20% range).


Yeah, that seems about right. The only thing I could think of to add is make sure you have the right colors for the cards in hand and what you might draw. Having only one color in a multicolor deck can screw you over just as hard as having no lands.

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Post #12 by redthirst » Thu May 09, 2013 2:11 pm

So you want a solid representation of all the colors in your deck, but how do you express that?

5-10% of the total # of sources of every color represented?

For example, my Dos Rakis deck has 20 [mana]R[/mana] sources and 12 [mana]B[/mana], so I want at least 1-2 [mana]R[/mana] source and 0.6-1.2 (or 0-1) [mana]B[/mana] sources in my opening hand - which sounds about right.

I don't think we should have to account for how "weighted" the colors are in the deck though, because, assuming you made your deck correctly, the mana base will already reflect the "weight" of the colors.
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Originally posted by Dechs Kaison on MTGS
redthirst is redthirst, fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse. He was the leader of the Fires of Salvation, the only clan I'm aware of to get modded off the forums so hard they made their own forums.

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Post #13 by Checkbox » Thu May 09, 2013 2:37 pm

All I mean is that there is no "mathematically correct" number of lands; this varies for each deck, and you should just playtest extensively to get a feel for which hands you should keep against which decks, etc.
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Post #14 by redthirst » Thu May 09, 2013 2:46 pm

I disagree - there absolutely is a "mathmatically correct" amount and type of mana sources to run based on your deck's curve and color weight. Ham covers that in the HGD thread.

This is a game of probabilities and the more you can stack probability in your favor the better your deck will run.

So, there should be a way to determine general guidlines for what is a "statistically correct" keepable hand and what isn't based on those probabilities.
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Originally posted by Dechs Kaison on MTGS
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Post #15 by DerWille » Thu May 09, 2013 2:57 pm

redthirst » Thu May 09, 2013 6:11 am wrote:So you want a solid representation of all the colors in your deck, but how do you express that?

5-10% of the total # of sources of every color represented?

For example, my Dos Rakis deck has 20 [mana]R[/mana] sources and 12 [mana]B[/mana], so I want at least 1-2 [mana]R[/mana] source and 0.6-1.2 (or 0-1) [mana]B[/mana] sources in my opening hand - which sounds about right.

I don't think we should have to account for how "weighted" the colors are in the deck though, because, assuming you made your deck correctly, the mana base will already reflect the "weight" of the colors.


That's about right.

I agree with not accounting for weighting. Your deck
should already be set up for that.

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Post #16 by redthirst » Thu May 09, 2013 3:09 pm

Okay, so first guideline:

Mana Source - Your opening 7 should have:
    1. No less than 10% of the total number of mana sources.
    2. No more than 15-20% of the total number of mana sources.
    3. 5-10% minimum of each color of mana represented.
    4. The correct amount/color mana to cast X% of the spells in your opening hand.

I threw number 4 out there because it seemed common sense, but what would you think is a good value for X? 50%?
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Originally posted by Dechs Kaison on MTGS
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Post #17 by Checkbox » Thu May 09, 2013 3:21 pm

These guidelines you are looking to build change greatly depending on the type of deck you are running, how many colors you are running, and what deck you are playing against. Which is why, in any specific case of "crunching these numbers", you should simply playtest your deck and adjust accordingly.
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Post #18 by redthirst » Thu May 09, 2013 3:31 pm

Not really.

Grull Sligh runs 18 lands and they want to see between 10% and 15-20% of those in their opening hand (or 2-3 lands).

Jund Midrange runs 24-ish land and 4 Farseek for 28 sources and they want to see between 10 and 15-20% of those in their opening hand (or 3-5 sources).

Two completely different decks that rules 1 and 2 are relevant for.

If you don't find any value in what we're doing, that's fine, you don't have to contribute - but there's no reason for you to continue to detract from what we're trying to do for no reason.
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Originally posted by Dechs Kaison on MTGS
redthirst is redthirst, fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse. He was the leader of the Fires of Salvation, the only clan I'm aware of to get modded off the forums so hard they made their own forums.

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Post #19 by windstrider » Thu May 09, 2013 4:46 pm

Or we can simplify that further because deck types (aggro, midrange, control, combo, etc.) usually determine how many mana sources they want to run.

Decks with 24 or less mana sources typically want 2-3 mana sources in their opening hands. They can then cast the majority of their spells and creatures and draw into the sources that they need. These decks usually focus their gameplans on the first 4-6 turns.

Decks with more than 24 mana sources typically want 3-5 mana sources in their opening hands. They can then be assured of hitting their land drops to either let them cast their bigger creatures on or before curve or to give them maximum flexibility in casting their spells later on. These decks focus their gameplans on turns 4+.

Yes, no, maybe?
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Post #20 by redthirst » Thu May 09, 2013 4:52 pm

I think every deck - regardless of type - wants to see a certain % of their mana sources in their opening 7 - that's why they play that many lands.

Can you think of any specific deck that's not true for? Like, do you know of a single deck that plays X mana sources and doesn't want roughly 11% of those in their opening hand?
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Originally posted by Dechs Kaison on MTGS
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Post #21 by windstrider » Thu May 09, 2013 5:05 pm

redthirst » Thu May 09, 2013 9:52 am wrote:I think every deck - regardless of type - wants to see a certain % of their mana sources in their opening 7 - that's why they play that many lands.

Can you think of any specific deck that's not true for? Like, do you know of a single deck that plays X mana sources and doesn't want roughly 11% of those in their opening hand?


No, not really. I was trying to write out an explanation that would make sense to more mathematically-challenged individuals like me. :)
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Post #22 by redthirst » Thu May 09, 2013 5:25 pm

The 15-20% top end is a little open ended. I don't think a lot of decks want to see 20% of their land in their opening hand, but I'm not sure if that's an auto-mulligan for most.

Maybe that's something that should be deck type specific? Like 10-15% for Aggro/Tempo and 10-20% for Midrange/Control.

For example, I run 24 land Aggro and I consider 5 to be a mulligan situation, but I've also played Control decks with 25 land that can easily keep 5 lands.
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Originally posted by Dechs Kaison on MTGS
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Post #23 by windstrider » Thu May 09, 2013 5:42 pm

So the breakdown would be closer to 2-3 and then 3-4?

I was trying to get at that same point by discussing mana counts by deck type. That's probably not specific enough since we're not necessarily discussing just lands. Creatures like Arbor Elf and Avacyn's Pilgrim or spells like Farseek and even Heartless Summoning count as mana sources/acceleration for the decks that run them.
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Post #24 by redthirst » Thu May 09, 2013 5:54 pm

Yeah, if you want to go with a non-mathmatical guide:

Super low mana decks (like 10 land green) - 1-2
Low mana decks (like Sligh) - 2-3
Med mana decks (like Dos Rakis) - 2-4
High mana decks (like Midrange/Control) - 3-5
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Originally posted by Dechs Kaison on MTGS
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Post #25 by DerWille » Fri May 10, 2013 12:46 am

redthirst » Thu May 09, 2013 7:09 am wrote:Okay, so first guideline:

Mana Source - Your opening 7 should have:
    1. No less than 10% of the total number of mana sources.
    2. No more than 15-20% of the total number of mana sources.
    3. 5-10% minimum of each color of mana represented.
    4. The correct amount/color mana to cast X% of the spells in your opening hand.

I threw number 4 out there because it seemed common sense, but what would you think is a good value for X? 50%?


That sounds about right. The only thing I would say about 4 is that those spells need to fit your game plan. I didn't use threat because some decks don't really have those early. 3 land, arbor elf, farseek, and a [card:
1r5hxlu5]Thragtusk[/card] sounds legit even though Thrag is the only real threat. Likewise for my deck, x2 plains, mountain, x2 boros charm, x2 oblivion ring is probably a straight mull even though I can play 100% of the cards in my hand.

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Post #26 by Mcdonalds » Mon May 13, 2013 7:02 am

redthirst » Thu May 09, 2013 8:31 am wrote:If you don't find any value in what we're doing, that's fine, you don't have to contribute - but there's no reason for you to continue to detract from what we're trying to do for no reason.


Although I don't think what you guys are doing is per se a bad thing, checkbox does raise a point, you could try and figure out what is the most objectively good hand all day, but sometimes objectively good (or acceptable hands) are going to be bad at times, take this instance

Your playing a legacy event and your on Esper Stoneblade (Stoneforge Mystic based control), somehow you find out your opponent is on Storm (combo)

Tundra, Underground Sea, [card]Flooded Strand[/card:
10u693nd], Swords to Plowshares, Snapcaster Mage, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Ponder

Do you keep this? In a lot of cases, this isn't a terrible hand, you have swords to deal with an early threat, snap to get it back, ponder to find something you need, and a Jace to fateseal your opponent out or draw you cards, not the best of hands, but perfectly keepable.

No, you don't, swords is dead in this matchup, so your already on six cards, you don't have discard in hand to interact and no countermagic if they try and go for it, your may as well mulligan.

(Admittedly, this is an assumption that you know what your opponent is playing given, this is legacy so it's not completely uncommon, but still an assumption.)

Ultimately, what your keep/mulligan should be decided by what your playing against, or what your role/plan is in that matchup, which is much harder to determine.
n
That all being said, having some general guidelines defined for Aggro/Control/Combo to be used and broken down further for various archetypes is something that is certainly valuble, control decks always tend to have similar mindsets, but what they want varies in different formats, same with aggro, and same with combo

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Alex
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Post #27 by Alex » Tue May 14, 2013 3:49 am

I have a mental checklist that I automatically fill out every time I judge an opening hand. A lot of my Magic plays stem from similar checklists.

● Am I going to get color screwed based on the mana cost of my cards versus the mana in the opener?
● Does the hand have a bad curve?
● Will I likely lose if I don't draw more lands in my first few turns?
● Did I draw relevant sideboard cards?


There's more to it, but this is more or less what I think. If the "nos" outweigh the "yes" then I'm good to go.


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