Modern Horizons has only been out for two weeks now and it already feels like we've been spending most our lives living in a Hogaak
paradise. It's clear that Modern Horizons has changed modern quite a bit, but there is an even bigger change coming very soon.
The London Mulligan.
For those of you who haven't heard of the London Mulligan or don't know exactly how it works yet, here's a quick explanation. The current mulligan rule is called the Vancouver Mulligan and it allows players to Scry 1 (look at the top card of your library and choose to put it on the top or bottom of their library) after choosing to keep on a mulligan. Whether you choose to mulligan to 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, or even 0, you Scry 1 after choosing to keep. The London Mulligan replaces the scry rule and lets you draw a 7 card opening hand each time you mulligan. You can do this up to 7 times, but once you find a 7 card hand that you want to keep, you have to put a number of cards from that hand to the bottom of your library equal to the number of times you mulligan. If you mulligan 1 time, you put 1 card from your hand on the bottom of your library to effectively start the game with 6 cards in your hand. If you have any additional questions about the London Mulligan, ask a judge or feel free to tweet your questions to me @Alby_MTG.
Now that we understand what the London Mulligan is, we can talk about its impact on Modern. The biggest change that you will see in Modern is an increased number of mulligans.
Modern is a format where needing to mulligan for silver bullets is very common and taking a mulligan to improve card quality is also very common. Let's look at a few examples. Some examples of silver bullet mulligans would be mulliganing to
Leyline of the Void,
Grafdigger's Cage, or
Rest in Peace against graveyard strategies or
Collector Ouphe, or
Shatterstorm against artifact strategies. If you draw one of these cards against those strategies, you'll find that your win percentage is significantly higher and worth taking a mulligan or two to try having that card in your opening hand. Let's say I'm against a Dredge deck and really want a Leyline in my opening hand. Under the old mulligan rule, I have a maximum of 28 chances to end up with that Leyline in my opening hand. With the new mulligan rule, I have 49 chances to see that Leyline!
Another common reason for mulligans in Modern are quality mulligans. These are the mulligans that we take when our hand is good, but could be better. A great example of a deck that mulligans a lot due to quality is Burn. If my opening 7 for Burn is
Monastery Swiftspear, and 4 lands, I would mulligan. Is the hand ok? Yes. Can it get better? Definitely. These quality mulligans are also going to be more common after the implementation of the London Mulligan because the risk that you take of going for a better hand is reduced. I can't give an exact figure as to how much the risk is reduced because there are way too many factors that would have to be considered, but overall you'll find that the risk is reduced for nmost situations as compared with the previous mulligan rule.
I wasn't sure where to put combo mulligans, so I'm making them their own category. Combo mulligans happen due to a mixture of the two previously discussed mulligans. Instead of searching for silver bullets, combo players use mulligans to search for combo pieces and quality mulligans are based on how early they can win the game. Does your hand have 2 combo pieces, but you need 3 to win? Does your hand win on turn 5, but your deck averages wins on turn 3 or 4?
In either of those situations, a mulligan could be the right decision for you. Previously, the reason to not play combo decks was due to their lack of consistency, but with an increase in consistency, you'll also see an increase in meta percentage of decks like Neobrand, Tron, Infect, Amulet Titan, and Goryo's Vengeance.
The last thing I want to do in this article is give you a quick deck tech. We've gone over the serious stuff like what decks got better with the introduction of the London Mulligan and what you should be looking for when making your own mulligan decisions, but there is a deck that is very close to my heart that gets better with the implementation of the London Mulligan.
Going into October of 2017, I had won a few Game Day playmats and was crowned Prerelease champion several times, but I didn't have any acomplishments from tournaments at a competitive rules enforcement level. However, this lack of competitive REL results changed after attending my first Modern 1k with my favorite Modern deck. That deck was 8 Rack.
2 Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage 4 Liliana of the Veil 2 Ensnaring Bridge 4 The Rack 4 Shrieking Affliction 2 Fatal Push 1 Liliana's Triumph 1 Funeral Charm 4 Smallpox 4 Inquisition of Kozilek 2 Thoughtseize 3 Wrench Mind 4 Raven's Crime 2 Silent Clearing 2 Nurturing Peatland 12 Swamp 4 Mutavault 3 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 1 Bontu's Last Reckoning 2 Dismember 1 Ensnaring Bridge 1 Fatal Push 2 Gifted Aetherborn 4 Leyline of the Void 2 Mind Rake 2 Surgical Extraction
There is no deck in the format that loves to watch their opponent mulligan as much 8 Rack does. 8 Rack is also great against combo decks because we have the much needed interaction to disrupt them. It also makes up such a low percentage of the current meta that not many people will be expecting it or will know how to properly play against it. The only thing holding 8 Rack back is
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, but Hogaak is also currently holding back literally every other Modern deck right now too.