I have been thinking on mulligans lately and how to best define when to do so and when to keep. Keyforge allows you to freely toss away your hand and grab a new one, minus one card of course, in hopes of a better hand. So why don’t I see that many people using their free mulligan? Why do I often play my one card out first turn and pass to have my opponent play one or two mediocre cards after they’ve kept their full mitt of 6?
Today I am going to teach you all you need to know about mulligans and when to do them (spoiler answer is almost always).
This game is so tempo orientated. Think of all the games you have played. Now think of all your loses that you’ve had. How many of those losses did you find yourself thinking you could have won the game on next turn or the turn after? If only you could have another turn! This is tempo my friends. The balance of card games. The back and forth of being ahead (in the lead) and behind (losing) on board and in cards. One turn you may be way ahead on board with 5 Brobnar creatures in play and a Warchest
Keyforge does an amazing job of the tempo game with constant swings happening in each player’s favour throughout every match. It is the style of cards I love to play and I’ve spent a good amount of time thinking about tempo decks and what wins the tempo game. A great way to buy yourself that extra turn that you need to win is right from the start of the game, in your opening hand, and deciding to mulligan. I’ll break down my thought process when looking at my opening hand starting from most basic rules you can do with even a new fresh deck up to your most loved deck that you have the most reps with. Here we go!
The first thing to consider is whether or not you are playing second or first. The types of cards that are good when playing first vs second isn’t too different but some cards are more attractive when playing first. Take, for example, that you playing an Mars deck. Your opening hand consists of a Commpod
Artifacts aren’t the only great turn 1 plays. The card advantage engines in cards like Mother
This one continues to baffle me. I’m often sat across from an opponent who hasn’t mulliganed and after I play first they play one or two weak cards and say pass. Uhhh…. What? Why did you keep your hand? There is almost zero downside to mulliganing your mediocre opening hand. If you draw your first 6 and don’t see several of the same house or a few hay makers you send that mitt back, shuffle, and draw 5 new cards.
I typically send back my hand if the houses are evenly distributed (ie: two of each house). You want to take advantage of being on the second turn by playing out as many cards as possible and swinging your opponent’s first turn tempo back your way. If you’re only playing one or two cards that tempo meter isn’t moving much. Dig deeper and try for more of one house.
Another thing to look at is how playable each card is on your first, second, third turn. Are you getting full value from the cards in your hand if you play them within the next couple of turns? Take Nerve Blast
Analyze the playability of the cards in your hand. If 2 or more late game cards are staring at you in your opening hand I say ship it back! These cards will end up rotting in your hand (and effectively chaining you up) for several turns, or be played for minimum effect.
It helps to have a few reps with your deck for this last point as you need to understand what you deck wants to do. Is your deck a race deck? Then you want to keep a hand full of creatures. Is one particular card in your deck a complete bomb such that it wins you games on its own? Keep any hand with that card in it (yes, consider ignoring the rules above).
Also, if you know your opponent’s deck and understand what it is trying to do you may be able to make more informed decision about what to keep from your own deck. If they have super powerful Logos combo then keeping based on the Restringuntus in your hand can be a great successful call.
I hope with these few insights about when to mulligan you can get more wins. If you end up with a worst hand, which is rare, you can always blame your loss on variance.