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Better Mulligan Rules October 22, 2013

Posted by James in : all, random, game rules , trackback

Magic: the Gathering currently uses the Paris mulligan rules. I have never been a fan of the Paris mulligan. The odds of winning after a single mulligan is around 40% (and perhaps worse). There’s about a 20% swing just by missing a card. The odds of winning with only 5 cards is a bit lower (perhaps around 20%), and with 4 cards or less it’s pretty much impossible. The idea of the Paris mulligan was interesting for the first five years or so, but it’s kind of a joke. Going down to 4 or 3 cards is just stupid. And going down to 1 or 2 cards is a joke.

One obvious option is to have a free mulligan. I don’t expect Wizards of the Coast to want to give us a free mulligan for constructed events because a free mulligan might reward players for making inconsistent decks. Even so, it might not be bad for limited events. I don’t think players will be especially rewarded for making inconsistent decks in limited events, even if they get a free mulligan. (Limited events don’t need to have the same mulligan rules as constructed events.)

Moreoever, there are other options, such as the following:

  1. Allow players to draw all 7 cards after a mulligan, but one card must be put back on top for each mulligan taken so far. Know how badly you want to look at the top card of your library after taking a mulligan? This pretty much let you do that. Also, accidentally drawing an extra card after a mulligan has been a reason to be punished in tournaments, which is insult to injury.
  2. A second mulligan back to 6 cards. In other words you could take two mulligans and still draw 6 cards.
  3. A second mulligan back to 6, 5, 4 cards, etc. In other words, your first mulligan would only give you 6 cards, the second would also give you 6 cards, the third would give you 5 cards, the fourth would also give you five cards, etc.
  4. A mulligan back to 7, but the opponent can draw a card. This would be a one time thing, so that you couldn’t keep mulliganning until the opponent draws her entire deck.

A single mulligan down to 6 is painful, so I see no reason not to allow us one or more of the above options. A second “free” mulligan to 6 is not going to be an unfair advantage. It will still be somewhat painful.

Should we be allowed two mulligans at 6, 5, 4, etc.? Ideally I think we should, but I do understand that this might be inconvenient due to time constraints. It might even be a good idea to say players can only have 2 or 3 mulligans to try to move things along.

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