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This Week in Legacy: The London Mulligan is Back


The London Mulligan is back on Magic Online for the second time and this time for good. The London Mulligan is a new way of resolving mulligans where players continue to mulligan to 7 cards and put 1 card of their choice from their hand on the bottom of the library per mulligan they take. Starting July 2nd on Magic Online and July 5th for all of Magic the Gathering this is how mulligans will be resolved. This new mulligan rule is to help reduce the number of non-games players experience in limited and standard due to mana flood and screw. However, it has a slightly different effect on Legacy.

From April 10th to May 1st Magic Online had a test run of the London Mulligan where we got to experience first hand how games played out and how it would affect different formats. During the test run of the rule we saw a lot more decks that want to play a combination of 3-4 spells on turn 1 that win the game and decks that want to play a single lock piece on turn one that effectively beats most decks. This is when Karn the Great Creator started to shine as an all-star stompy deck that wants to start the game with a Chalice of the Void on turn one. It was also a time in which BR Reanimator started to see a lot more play. Another interesting note is that during this test run Delver decks were at an all-time low. It was before people really caught on to the powerhouse that Dreadhorde Arcanist is in the Delver strategies. That means, although we have already tested the mulligan rule, things should be quite different since there have been many changes in the format since the test run. I am going to use most of this article to discuss how decks and strategies are negatively or positively effected by the new rule.

 

Combo Decks: BR Reanimator, Sneak and Show, Oops all Spells, Neoform

BR Reanimator benefits more than any deck in the format from this rule because it can present a nearly unbeatable threat on turn one with a combination of 4 cards and can do this with protection in the form of discard spells or Chancellor of the Annex with only 5 cards. Being able to bottom 2 unneeded cards from your hand and do something virtually unbeatable on turn 1 at a much higher consistency is good news for Griselbrand and Reanimate fans out there. That being said, with an uptick in consistency for this deck we can also expect an uptick in consistency of graveyard hate cards such as Leyline of the Void, Surgical Extraction and Tormod's Crypt. Dare I say, people might even play these cards in the main deck.

Here is an example of a four card hand that could get Griselbrand into play on turn 1. Add a Chancellor of the Annex or Thoughtseize for a five cardhand with some protection.

Swamp <240> [M10]Dark Ritual [MI]Entomb [PRM]Reanimate [TE]

Sneak and Show is another deck that wants to get Griselbrand into play ahead of schedule, however, unlike BR Reanimator, Sneak and Show plays between 8 and 12 cantrips in the form of Ponder, Brainstorm, and Preordain which gives the deck some built-in consistency. Any combo deck running lots of blue cantrips like this, or ANT Storm, will benefit less than combo decks without cantrips because the deck is built to use those cantrips to find their combo and protection rather than brute force the combo out turn 1 before other decks get a chance to do something. That being said, Sneak and Show will be able to use the new mulligan rule effectively by putting redundant creatures on the bottom of their library and sometimes mulliganing into hands that look like this..

 

Lotus Petal [TE]Ancient Tomb [PRM-UMA]Show and Tell [CN2]Griselbrand [AVR]

 

Oops all Spells is the most degenerate of legacy combos and the most fragile. The deck wants to use rituals, artifacts and spirit guides to make 4 mana and resolve a Balustrade Spy or Undercity Informer which put your entire deck into the graveyard. Once your deck is in the graveyard your Narcomoebas will come into play and you can sacrifice them to cast Dread Return targeting Lotleth Giant which will deal more than 20 damage to your opponent. The London mulligan adds another level of consistency to the deck since there are certain cards like Narcomoeba and Dread Return that you do not want in your hand anyway. Despite added consistency to the deck, it will still be extremely easy to interrupt with graveyard hate or counter magic.

Here is a sample 4 card hand that uninterrupted will win the game before your opponent even gets to untap.

Simian Spirit Guide [A25]Lotus Petal [MS2]Dark Ritual [2ED]Balustrade Spy [GTC]

Neoform combo is another Oops all Spells style deck that can end the game on turn one with the right combination of cards. This one is a port from a popular modern deck that uses Neoform and Allosaurus Rider to get a turn 1 Griselbrand which along with Nourishing Shoal and big green creatures you can usually draw your entire deck and win with Laboratory Maniac. This deck requires a few more resources and can be stopped with countermagic but, unlike BR Reanimator and Oops all Spells, it does not use the graveyard.

Here is what a perfect 5 card hand would look like.

Chancellor of the Tangle [NPH]Chancellor of the Tangle [NPH]Neoform [WAR]Allosaurus Rider [CSP]Manamorphose [MMA]

 

 

Fair blue decks and how to fight back?

Fair blue decks use blue cantrips to have a more consistent game plan over the course of a match that lasts for more than 2-3 turns. With these combo decks winning the game on turn 1 with as few as 4 cards the cantrips lose a lot of value if you never get to cast them. This means that fair blue decks are going to have to mulligan more in order to find the cards they need to fight fast combo decks. The London Mulligan will allow the fair blue decks to more effectively find the needed hate spells on turn 1 and have a playable hand for the rest of the game. For example, the following 4 card hand can fight against the turn 1 decks very effectively and have a cantrip to help smooth out the rest of the game.

 

Flusterstorm [IMA]Polluted Delta [EXP]Surgical Extraction [NPH]Ponder [LRW] 

 

When playing vs a deck like BR reanimator or Oops all Spells, a Surgical Extraction cast on the right target can make it so that the combo player cannot effectively win the game. Flusterstorm is another tool to help protect your hand from discard or opposing counter magic.

Some other cards that you may see fair blue decks actively mulliganing to in order to fight against fast combo decks would be Force of Will, Tormod's Crypt, Force of Negation, Spell Pierce, [Daze]] and Thoughtseize. Each copy of one of these hate cards will help prolong the game to the point that the combo player will not be able to leverage the explosiveness of the deck.

If the fair blue player is willing to mulligan as aggresively for hate spells as the combo player is willing to mulligan for their combo, then the London Mulligan should provide a relatively balanced change for these match ups.

 

Stompy or Prison Decks: Another way to Turn-1 in Legacy

Stompy or Prison decks often have the goal of putting Chalice of the Void, or Trinisphere into play turn one to effectively stop the opponent from resolving any spells at a meaningful point in the game. The following two card hand can reasonably expect to stop many decks from doing anything meaningful for a large portion of a game.

 

Chalice of the Void [MRD]Ancient Tomb [TE]

 

This means these decks can abuse the London Mulligan rule even more than the combo decks. But, this strategy does not line up well vs other decks running Chalice of the Void and often loses to a counterspell teamed up with a Wasteland. However, this strategy, along with a powerful sideboard card in Leyline of the Void, lines up extremely well vs the combo decks discussed at the beginning of the article.

Leyline of the Void [GPT]

Leyline of the void is played in the sideboard of almost every Chalice of the Void prison and stompy deck. It is often a one card combo against decks like Oops all Spell and BR Reanimator by making those decks not able to function with it in play.

In the test run for the London Mulligan, before Delver was the powerhouse it is today, Chalice of the void and Leyline of the Void effectively kept fast combo decks in check. However, now that Delver strategies are on top again we should see an even more balanced format due to the effectiveness of Force of Will and Wasteland against decks like this.

To conclude, I think Chalice-Prison decks, Fair-blue decks and Fast-combo decks will be the majority of the Legacy metagame for a while as they are the ones that either gain the most from the new mulligan rule or effectively and efficiently fight against decks that benefit from the new mulligan rule. I'm writing this before the Sunday challenge so check the results of the Top 8 and Top 16 this week to see how my prediction plays out in reality.

 


Eric Landon, or “ewlandon,” is a long time Magic and Legacy enthusiast who has spent nearly two years as the Legacy Trophy Leader by a substantial margin. He is also a full-time Magic streamer and Mythic Championship hopeful (hopeful to qualify someday). 

You can find his schedule on https://twitter.com/Ewlandon1 or catch him live on Twitch at twitch.tv/ewlandon.

 


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