You Make the Play – Keep or No?

At long last, another edition of You Make the Play!

This time it’s an easy one… Do you keep this hand or not? Why or why not?

This is a seven card hand. You lost the flip so there are 53 cards in your deck and you are playing second. The deck list is the one we have been bandying about the past week or two — Jund Mana Ramp. 

So… Keep or no?


Currently Reading: The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists (obviously a re-read), Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (actually I just lent it to @jonnymagic00)

PS Did you cats see that the great Luis Scott-Vargas (LSV) and long-lost RidiculousHat posted on Mis-assignment of Strategy = Options Amputation? Might want to check out the forums from the previous post!

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#1 RidiculousHat on 05.14.09 at 8:40 pm

am i long-lost? how odd!

hand: i’m assuming you don’t know who you’re playing against. either way, i’d have a lot of difficulty mulliganing this hand in the dark. it’s actually pretty weak against your average tokens draw, because you don’t do anything to mess with their plan (especially if they’re on the procession->liege plan or something), though your wayfinders can hold the ground against ajani.

if i knew i was playing against tokens i would think about it longer than i should, but i think the hand should be shipped– you just don’t do enough. against any other deck in the format i would keep and i would not think twice about it. in the dark… yeah, i would keep. you just need to draw one land in like three turns (or a rampant growth in two), and you have action every turn. like this hand would be quite good against lark or even 5cc or bg.

keep in mind: i am terrible.

way not to answer my question from the previous post btw. i’ll be at the scg 5k in boston and i’m looking for something to play… without your wisdom i won’t be able to succeed!


#2 Chewy on 05.14.09 at 8:48 pm

I think I would keep this on the draw. There are so many worse 6 card hands you can get.
You should draw a land in the next 3 draws and have double wayfinder (love that card!).
But as the above posts states, its dependant on what you are playing against. If this is Round 1 Game 1 of Regionals, I would keep.

#3 lemonayd on 05.14.09 at 8:49 pm

Knowing what deck your opponent is playing would be nice, but all it looks like is that this hand will do is fetch your lands to get enough for broodmate only to have it get pathed or commanded. :/

Mulligan fo sho.

#4 ReeceP on 05.14.09 at 9:48 pm

Ship it. Your build only plays 23 land, so that’s not enough for me to be confident keeping it.

#5 sheetylogik on 05.14.09 at 11:16 pm

100% yes keep, You have 3 turns to find your 3rd land. and when you do, its all good.

I’ve kept many hands like this while testing this deck.

#6 Chewy on 05.14.09 at 11:41 pm

ReeceP: are you confident that you will get a better 6 cards?

#7 GerryT on 05.14.09 at 11:54 pm

I think hands like this are part of the reason that midrange blows. It’s also kind of a problem with your deck, although I’m not sure what you could do to get around that other than cutting some two drops for crap like Fertile Ground or Trace of Abundance.

Liiiiiike, can you really design your deck how you have and then ask yourself if you can keep hands like that? You HAVE to keep. I don’t mean this in a negative way, it just seems like your plan is use your three drops like Civic and Gift to get more lands, and use lands to cast big spells. You’re not really ramping often, you’re just casting two for ones.

If you want to say stuff like “I really want a Fallout in my opener in case they’re Tokens,” then maybe you should have a fourth Fallout main. As is, you don’t have a lot of defensive cards in your maindeck anyway, so hands that this that look weak should probably happen more frequently than you want them to.

#8 GerryT on 05.14.09 at 11:54 pm

Cutting some three drops*

#9 ProdigalT on 05.15.09 at 1:48 am

Keep, except you might not really have three turns: what if you need to draw the land on the third turn and it’s Treetop or Savage Lands? That’s like a punch in the stomach. Of course, you could draw one of those on turn 1-2 and be fine, Drawing Rampant Growth by turn 2 is also fine. This hand is very much great or you just plain lose. My instinct is to keep because the prospect of a worse six seems more likely than mana screw, but overall, I wouldn’t be pumping the fist even if I drew the land. This hand does not excite me.

#10 zsievers on 05.15.09 at 2:37 am

Keep. Like GerryT said, if you are playing this deck you are keeping this hand.

Sandman is the sickest :P

#11 bzander on 05.15.09 at 2:56 am

I’m with GerryT, judging by the way the decks is built, you kinda have to keep that hand. Against a random opponent, the average hand is only getting better if you have Rampant Growth. But it seems kinda of weak/lame to mulligan to 6 because you don’t have a Rampant Growth in your hand. My two cents.

#12 madmanquail on 05.15.09 at 4:34 am

This is exactly why the deck can’t afford to run another clunky 3 drop in Gift of the Gargantuan. It does nothing in this hand, or any other hand with wayfinders, for that matter. Yet, we have to cast it anyway in order to cash it in for a 2for1 that isn’t even guaranteed! I honestly think you need a decent, reliable, 2 mana, ‘stage 1′ card in this slot.

Consider: Mind stone, or guys that survive fallout like putrid leech, elvish warrior / juvenile gloomwidow, anti bb and procession tech in groundling pouncer… even a poor man’s sensei’s top, cream of the crop, there’s tonnes of 2 drops that would be good in the deck.

#13 rpitcher on 05.15.09 at 4:41 am


That’s nearly as good a hand as you can get with this deck. Sure, a perfect mix of land, RampG, and removal would be nice, but if you mulligan for perfect hands you’ll be playing short all too often.

Doubting this hand is really doubting the deck. If you beleive in the deck, you should love this hand.

Worrying that you might not hit a land or RampG in the next two cards is the same as worrying about your next six after a mulligan. I say “next two cards”, cuz hitting on those two makes this a GREAT hand for this deck. Not hitting til the 3rd card will put you in a hole, but no worse than if you drew dull after a mulligan.

I just don’t beleive that throwing away a hand that is GREAT for the deck is something you should do out of fear for your future luck. If you play with RDW and draw a nuts opening hand, do you mulligan out of fear of top decking 4 lands?

GREAT hand? Ya. Not because of the Wayfinders. Not because of the Dragon. It’s a great hand because of the BLUE card – “Sorcery Speed Impulse for the Removal Some People Wanted to Mulligan For”. Yes, search for removal: Shriekmaw or Thresher. Both of which this hand will be able to play shortly.

It’s what this deck does.

#14 double_g on 05.15.09 at 6:22 am

“This is exactly why the deck can’t afford to run another clunky 3 drop in Gift of the Gargantuan. It does nothing in this hand, or any other hand with wayfinders, for that matter. Yet, we have to cast it anyway in order to cash it in for a 2for1 that isn’t even guaranteed! I honestly think you need a decent, reliable, 2 mana, ’stage 1′ card in this slot.”

Completely agree, as I’ve stated my opinion before in the last topic. Gift of the Gargantuan really does nothing and this deck can’t afford to play it imho.

#15 ReAnimator on 05.15.09 at 7:40 am

I’d keep that hand, no problem.

As has been brought up before, why not farhaven elf over wayfinder, is the +1/+1 really that much more important than actually accelerating you? There really aren’t that many things that a 2/2 goes into battle profitably with.

Also I agree with gift being lame.

#16 d_fresh on 05.15.09 at 9:15 am

Assuming you do not know what you’re playing, I would mulligan this hand at Regionals. Matchup analysis:

B/W Tokens: This hand seems really bad here. While you will probably (roughly 1-(31/52)^3= 79%) draw your third land by your third turn, you will be forced for search for a Cloudthresher via Gift of the Gargantuan (Shriekmaw seems somewhat irrelevant). if you have not already drawn one or a fallout. In such a situation you would have given them four turns of unchecked board development in which they may also cast sculler (snagging your fallout or your thresher after you reveal it with gifts. If you play the wayfinder turn 3, you’ve still given them 4 turns of unchecked board development and have to rely purely on your draws to find some sweeper.

WG Tokens: This hand seems just as bad here. Here you’re still likely giving them 4 turns of unchecked development. With a faster kill condition in Overrun, you’d seem to be in bad shape (unless you draw a fallout). If they play a bunch of ground guys, you would likely play wayfinder (maybe finks?), and chump block. They could easily have the Wilt-Leif Leige turn 3-4, which I think mandates you casting gifts in an attempt to find a shriekmaw (there you would also have to find a swamp). If they cast spectral procession turn 3, you would probably gifts to try to find a thresher (if you hadn’t drawn the fallout).

*Both matchups (which I think will make 50%+ of the Regionals meta) suffer from having a clogged three drop slot and no turn 1-2 acceleration. Neither have the sweepers you want. A quick offense forces you to play Gifts to find a thresher (or perhaps shriekmaw for WLL), which gives them 4 turn of unchecked board development in which they can cast sculler. You seem way too dependent on drawing a fallout/thresher. I think mulliganing to 6 gives you a better chance at hitting a thresher/fallout hand.

Bant Aggro: The situations seems even worse for you here. You’re giving them at least 3 turns of unchecked board development. With acceleration, they could easily cast Rafiq before you do anything and hit with a mimic for 14 (worse case scenario, but not terribly uncommon). Here all your three-drop creatures may be irrelevant due Infiltrator(unblockable)/Mimic(trample)/Treetop Village (trample). Casting gifts to find a Shriekmaw seems bad because they will play another creature and you won’t have developed your board. Bant Charm prevents the persist on Finks. A Dauntless Escort mitigates the value on Fallout. This seems like a bad-matchup regardless of the hand so I’m not sure if a 6 card hand would be better (maybe you’d want to mull into Shriekmaw/ Fallout?).

B/W Kithin: I could be wrong, but this hand seems fine. You’d likely play the Finks turn 3 if you hadn’t already drawn a Fallout. If they have the path for Finks, you’ll probably lose, but they only have 4. Fallout’s value is mitigated by BFT (if MD) and Zealous Persecution (if MD). I don’t see a 6 card hand being better (it would require fallout/maw) so I’d keep.

RB aggro: seems rough to me. You give them 2 turns to attack without blockers. Turn 3 Finks would be the play (maybe Fallout, but they usually build around it). If they drop a turn 2 Outlander, Finks cannot block. Turn 3/4 Ram-Gang is annoying for you. God forbid they’re playing MD magma spray. Here, a 6 card is probably not better. I think you keep.

I don’t know about the other matchups (5 Color/ Lark) so I’ll defer to others. When I’m sitting down at Regionals (esp. in the later round), I will assume my opponent is playing Tokens. With this being a poor opening 7 vs. Token/Bant, I would mulligan as the average six card hand would give me a better chance at winning.

#17 PlatypusPlatoon on 05.15.09 at 11:07 am

I’m gonna add to the chorus and hate on the choice of Gift of the Gargantuan for this deck. I like the card in a vacuum, but packing 19 creatures and 23 lands maindeck, I don’t like it here.

Before sideboard, there’s about a 20.8% chance to whiff on creatures, 13.5% chance to whiff on land, and 0.6% chance to whiff on both. All told, it only nets a two-for-one 65% of the time. (Sometime tell me if I messed up my admittedly rusty math!) That does not seem reliable enough for a 3 mana sorcery.

#18 Five With Flores » He’s Lost The Touch on 05.15.09 at 5:40 pm

[...] was going to write a follow up post to the already popular You Make the Play – Keep or No? but Luis sent this to me via Twitter and I felt compelled to say something, especially given my [...]

#19 thepedestrian on 05.18.09 at 1:33 pm

So after a few years of playing tourneys at a competitive level this is my general rules of thumb for mulligans.

For 7 card hands: In order of how you should be thinking.
1) Can you cast any of the spells in your hand with the lands you already have? If no mulligan, if yes keep
2) Do the cards you have have any relevance to the matchup you’re playing? If no mulligan, if yes keep.

For 6 cards:
1) Is your 6 carder better then what you mulliganed?
2) Now follow rules for 7 card hand.

For 5 cards:
1) Do you have a mix of lands and spells? (Example 2 spells 3 land or vice versa) 4:1′s are keepable but 5:0′s are not.

For 4 or fewer:
Do you have a good mix of spells and lands 2:2 3:1 and even 0 spells and 4 lands is keepable.

So for your You Make the Play I would mulligan your hand! Even on the draw

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