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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]

In most cases, sanctioned play nowadays 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.[1] Multiplayer games utilize a slightly different mulligan process.

One card, Serum Powder, interacts with mulligans.[2] 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.

Paris mulligan[edit | edit source]

Any player dissatisfied with their hand, for any reason and without being required to reveal that hand, may return their hand to their library for an opportunity to draw a new one with one fewer card, after shuffling.[3][4][5][6] 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.

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 their hand to their 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.

London mulligan[edit | edit source]

For Mythic Championship London 2019, a new mulligan rule will be tested. It is believed that the new rule smooths out opening hand decisions even more, though it certainly has some implications for eternal formats such as Modern, Legacy, and Vintage. The rule is "When you mulligan for the Nth time, you draw seven cards, then put N cards on the bottom of your library in any order."[9]

In other words:

  • Draw seven cards every time you mulligan.
  • When you are satisfied, you put cards back on the bottom of your library for each time you have mulliganed
  • No scrying

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.[10]

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 their 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.[11]

The current default mulligan rule was first tested at Pro Tour Magic Origins in Vancouver, British Columbia.[12] Like the earlier Paris mulligan, it has adopted the name of the city in which it was demoed.[1] 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.[10]

The London mulligan was first tested at the War of the Spark prerelease.[9]

Rules[edit | edit source]

From the Comprehensive Rules (War of the Spark (May 3, 2019))

  • 103.4. Each player draws a number of cards equal to their starting hand size, which is normally seven. (Some effects can modify a player’s starting hand size.) A player who is dissatisfied with their initial hand may take a mulligan. First, the starting player declares whether they 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 their hand back into their library, then draws a new hand of one fewer cards than they had before. If a player kept their 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 their library. If a player does, that player may put that card on the bottom of their library.
    • 103.4a In a Vanguard game, each player’s starting hand size is seven plus or minus the hand modifier of their 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 they would declare whether they 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, they then declare whether they will take a mulligan.
    • 103.4c In a multiplayer game and in any Brawl game, the first time a player takes a mulligan, they draw a new hand of as many cards as they 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 that player 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 a teammate has decided to keep their opening hand.

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (War of the Spark (May 3, 2019))

To take a “mulligan” is to reject a prospective opening hand and draw a new one (usually with one fewer card). See rule 103.4.

On Restarting the Game:

From the Comprehensive Rules (War of the Spark (May 3, 2019))

  • 718.3. Because each player draws seven cards when the new game begins, any player with fewer than seven cards in their library will lose the game when state-based actions are checked during the upkeep step of the first turn, regardless of any mulligans that player takes. (See rule 704, “State-Based Actions.”)

On Subgames:

From the Comprehensive Rules (War of the Spark (May 3, 2019))

  • 719.3. Because each player draws seven cards when a game begins, any player with fewer than seven cards in their deck will lose the subgame when state-based actions are checked during the upkeep step of the first turn, regardless of any mulligans that player takes. (See rule 704, “State-Based Actions.”)

References[edit | edit source]

  1. a b Aaron Forsythe (August 20, 2015). "New Mulligan Rule Starting with Battle for Zendikar Prereleases". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Aaron Forsythe (February 27, 2004). "The Mulligan and the Mox". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Ted Knutson (September 16, 2006). "Mulligan’s Island". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Reid Duke (January 26, 2015). "Mulligans". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Reid Duke (June 15, 2015). "Mulligans Part II: Limited". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Reid Duke (June 29, 2015). "Mulligans Part III: Constructed". 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 Blake Rasmusen (February 21, 2019). "Mythic Championship II Format and the London Test". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. a b EDH Rules Committee. (January 18, 2016) "BANNED LIST ANNOUNCEMENT: January 2016". MTG: Commander forums. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  11. Mark Rosewater (February 23, 2004). "Starting Over". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Helene Bergeot (June 29, 2015). "Changes Starting with Pro Tour Magic Origins". Wizards of the Coast.

External links[edit | edit source]