London Hasn’t Fallen
The “London Mulligan” rule by now has been written about as well as talked about, whether in podcasts, livestreams, Youtube videos, or in your local game store, to the point there isn’t even a carcass of where the dead horse used to be. That said, little focus, outside small groups on Facebook, has been on how this rule would/does impact Vintage.
First, a recap of the rule: When a player is choosing to Mulligan, they will shuffle their hand into their library, and then draw a new hand – the difference being instead of drawing 7-X, where X is the number of times the player has chosen to mulligan previously in the game, that player will instead draw 7, and then determine whether or not to keep their hand. At this point, they will place X cards to the bottom of their Library, again where x is the number of times a mulligan has been chosen.
Immediately the implications are obvious. Others have already ran the math on how this impacts the percentage of Dredge opening a hand with Bazaar of Baghdad, and more so with Serum Powder in the mix – this number is greater than 99%. There have been questions on how this rule will impact MUD strategies, since opening with a Mishra’s Workshop is almost always better than opening without one.
The London Mulligan rule WILL Impact Vintage, and it WILL make the average opening hand much stronger. This rule will significantly alter mulligan decisions for players, and will significantly increase the odds of players opening with Bazaar of Baghdad, Mishra’s Workshop, a very fast Outcome start, or a very disruptive Xerox open. This rule drastically increases the average power level of opening hands post-mulligan, and will make decisions to mulligan original 7 card hands much less obvious.
This is not a bad thing, overall. Forced mulligans are exceptionally bad for Magic as a whole, and are bad for Vintage as well. This mulligan rule, if it becomes part of the game as a whole after Magic Fest London, will increase the number of times players mulligan decent 7 card hands in hopes of a more powerful 6 card hand, but there is an opportunity cost to that strategy.
For every Workshop player that mulligans to 6 in hopes of finding a Workshop, there will be a Xerox pilot in the same situation that gets to put their useless Game 1 Mental Missteps to the bottom. The blue player gets the same +1 card to their decision process the Workshop player does in this scenario, and in reality, the Xerox player has a large amount of ways to interact, be it keeping additional lands to beat Sphere effects, or keeping Force of Will + a Lightning Bolt/Swords to Plowshares, that the Xerox Player and Workshop Player both having to mulligan to 6, the odds might actually be better for the Xerox Player (of course, this depends on Play/Draw) in the game.
For every Dredge Player that mulligans to 6 or less to find bazaar, the opponent gets to mulligan to find 1 or more disruption effects. The Dredge Player in game 2 realistically has to have a Bazaar of Baghdad of which they only have 4, and either a colored mana source or a disruptive spell, while the opponent has greater odds of hitting one of their 6+ graveyard specific disruption elements, with a good chance at hitting 2, or hitting a hand that is fast while disruptive. Naturally, everyone is thinking right now “but their Game 1 percentage is greater than 99%!”, and to that the defense is where you really planning to win a game 1 against Dredge anyway?
Overall, regardless the Paris, Vancouver, or London mulligan rule, Magic: The Gathering will thrive both digitally and physically, and Vintage will follow suit. There are a lot of reasons for people to have an opinion either positive or negative about Vintage as a format, but the London mulligan rule, if (or when) it becomes official to the rules of Magic will not break, ruin, destroy, or even hinder Vintage as a format.