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A mulligan is an optional process by which any player may attempt to draw a superior hand before starting the game. For sanctioned play, the mulligan process is exactly defined in the Comprehensive Rules.

Description[edit | edit source]

Any player dissatisfied with their hand, for any reason and without being required to reveal that hand, may return his or her hand to their library for an opportunity to draw a new one, after shuffling.[1][2][3][4] The choice to take a mulligan is made after the starting player is determined, but prior to any other action. Players may take multiple mulligans, until either they are satisfied with their new hand, or they draw a hand of zero cards.

In most cases, sanctioned play requires that players use the "Vancouver" mulligan process. In this process, the player draws one fewer card in each new hand, and if the player keeps a hand with fewer cards than their starting hand size, that player may scry 1 once all mulligans are completed.[5] Multiplayer games utilize a slightly different mulligan process.

One card, Serum Powder, interacts with mulligans.[6] Abilities that may be used while a card is in your opening hand, such as the first ability on Leyline of Anticipation, may only be used after all mulligans are completed.

Mulligan variations[edit | edit source]

Vancouver mulligan[edit | edit source]

The Vancouver mulligan replaced the older "Paris" mulligan in sanctioned play beginning with the Battle for Zendikar prerelease in September 2015.[7][8] To perform a Vancouver mulligan, the player returns his or her hand to his or her library, then draws a hand of one fewer card. Once all players keep their opening hands, each player with fewer cards than their starting hand size may scry 1.

Multiplayer bonus[edit | edit source]

In games with more than two players, the first mulligan for each player is "free". For the first mulligan only, players draw as many cards as their starting hand size. Subsequent mulligans consist of one fewer card each time, as usual.

Commander mulligan[edit | edit source]

Commander officially uses the Vancouver mulligan. However, the rules committee informally advises deviating from that process and allowing "free" mulligans (as in multiplayer games) even in games with only two players, and suggests that shuffling be reduced by setting aside unwanted hands, rather than shuffling in each one, until after a hand is kept.[9]

Rules[edit | edit source]

From the Comprehensive Rules (Rivals of Ixalan (January 19, 2018))

  • 103.4. Each player draws a number of cards equal to his or her starting hand size, which is normally seven. (Some effects can modify a player’s starting hand size.) A player who is dissatisfied with his or her initial hand may take a mulligan. First, the starting player declares whether or not he or she will take a mulligan. Then each other player in turn order does the same. Once each player has made a declaration, all players who decided to take mulligans do so at the same time. To take a mulligan, a player shuffles his or her hand back into his or her library, then draws a new hand of one fewer cards than he or she had before. If a player kept his or her hand of cards, those cards become the player’s opening hand, and that player may not take any further mulligans. This process is then repeated until no player takes a mulligan. (Note that if a player’s hand size reaches zero cards, that player must keep that hand.) After all players have kept an opening hand, each player in turn order whose hand contains fewer cards than that player’s starting hand size may look at the top card of his or her library. If a player does, that player may put that card on the bottom of his or her library.
    • 103.4a In a Vanguard game, each player’s starting hand size is seven plus or minus the hand modifier of his or her vanguard card.
    • 103.4b If an effect allows a player to perform an action “any time [that player] could mulligan,” the player may perform that action at a time he or she would declare whether or not he or she will take a mulligan. This need not be in the first round of mulligans. Other players may have already made their mulligan declarations by the time the player has the option to perform this action. If the player performs the action, he or she then declares whether or not he or she will take a mulligan.
    • 103.4c In a multiplayer game, the first time a player takes a mulligan, he or she draws a new hand of as many cards as he or she had before. Subsequent hands decrease by one card as normal.
    • 103.4d In a multiplayer game using the shared team turns option, first each player on the starting team declares whether or not he or she will take a mulligan, then the players on each other team in turn order do the same. Teammates may consult while making their decisions. Then all mulligans are taken at the same time. A player may take a mulligan even after his or her teammate has decided to keep his or her opening hand.

On Restarting the Game:

From the Comprehensive Rules (Rivals of Ixalan (January 19, 2018))

  • 714.3. Only control of the player changes. All objects are controlled by their normal controllers. A player who’s being controlled during his or her turn is still the active player.

On Subgames:

From the Comprehensive Rules (Rivals of Ixalan (January 19, 2018))

  • 715.3. Even though the turn ends, “at the beginning of the end step” triggered abilities don’t trigger because the end step is skipped.

History[edit | edit source]

Magic was originally published without a mulligan rule, because some of the original playtest group believed the concept would reward poor deck building. Various informal mulligan rules existed in the period following the game's release.

The first official mulligan rule was instated by the DCI in 1994. That rule allowed a player with an initial hand consisting either of all lands or no lands to reveal his or her hand, shuffle it back into their deck, and then draw a new, full hand of seven cards. This process was allowed only one time per player.

Dissatisfaction within R&D with that rule led to the testing of an alternate mulligan process, suggested by Pro Tour player and later Wizards of the Coast employee Matt Hyra. That mulligan rule, now known as the Paris mulligan, allowed mulligans for any reason, but stated that each new hand contain one fewer card. Though the rule was first tested at Pro Tour Los Angeles and a smaller gathering in Boston, it was also accidentally included in the tournament rules for the April 1997 Pro Tour Paris. From this, the name "Paris" stuck instead, for no very clear reason.[10]

The current default mulligan rule was first tested at Pro Tour Magic Origins in Vancouver, British Columbia.[11] Like the earlier Paris mulligan, it has adopted the name of the city in which it was demoed.[12] The process is also very similar to the Paris mulligan, with the addition that any player who keeps an opening hand with fewer cards than their starting hand size may scry 1. Like the previous mulligan rules, this mulligan is intended to reduce the frequency of "non-games", where the winner is effectively determined by the contents of the players's opening hands. It also fulfills a secondary goal of accelerating tournament play, because the scry option increases the likelihood that a player will keep an opening hand after fewer mulligans, and thus fewer shuffles.

Previously, the Commander format used a more complex mulligan process known as "Partial Paris". In response to the new Vancouver mulligan, that process came under renewed scrutiny. The Commander rules committee determined that both processes offered comparable results, and adopted the Vancouver mulligan with the release of Oath of the Gatewatch.[9]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Ted Knutson. (September 16, 2006.) “Mulligan’s Island”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Reid Duke. (January 26, 2015.) “Mulligans”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Reid Duke. (June 15, 2015.) “Mulligans Part II: Limited”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Reid Duke. (June 29, 2015.) “Mulligans Part III: Constructed”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Aaron Forsythe. (August 20, 2015.) “New Mulligan Rule Starting with Battle for Zendikar Prereleases”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Aaron Forsythe. (February 27, 2004.) “The Mulligan and the Mox”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Sam Stoddard. (August 7, 2015.) “Mulligans”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Marc Calderaro (July 31, 2015) "The Vancouver Mulligan Rule",, Wizards of the Coast.
  9. a b EDH Rules Committee. (January 18 2016) "BANNED LIST ANNOUNCEMENT: January 2016". MTG: Commander forums. Retrieved January 18 2016.
  10. Mark Rosewater. (February 23, 2004.) “Starting Over”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Helene Bergeot. (June 29, 2015.) “Changes Starting with Pro Tour Magic Origins”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Aaron Forsythe. (August 20, 2015.) “New Mulligan Rule Starting with Battle for Zendikar Prereleases”,, Wizards of the Coast.

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