The London mulligan test has come and gone both on Magic Online and in paper. It ran from April 10th to May 1st on Magic Online and was tested across all formats. The only paper event that occurred during the test was Mythic Championship II London. Wizards of the Coast said they would use the data they collected from every format to help influence their decision on the rule going forward.  Over the course of the test I played a lot of Legacy to prepare for GP Niagara; Modern and Limited in preparation for MC London; and finally some Standard to get ready for the string of upcoming MCQs.

The trial was met with mixed feelings. Some players thought that this would be the end of competitive Magic as we know it, ushering in an unending Combo Winter. Others thought it would be a healthy change to ensure more games of Magic feel competitive. I personally spent as much time as I could during the available test on Magic Online acclimating to the new rule so I could form my own opinion. I believe the rule change would be a net positive for Magic, but implementation may cause some hiccups in older formats. So let’s dive in!


I was always a huge fan of this rule in Limited. A single Vancouver mulligan feels bad, and multiple mulligans is usually fatal. Under the Vancouver rule I would begrudgingly keep something like Forest, Forest, Forest, red two drop, red two drop, red three drop, green five drop. With the London mulligan, such a hand is much easier to mulligan.

I am much more willing to throw back a sketchy seven in Limited when I know I get to look at seven new cards and pick the best six. The best six of seven cards will lead to more functional games, which is crucial for Limited. My vote for the London mulligan in Limited is an easy yes.


The analysis gets more interesting as we move into constructed formats. I’ve seen people concerned about the ability to abuse the London Mulligan,  but that seems unlikely in a healthy Standard format. When combo decks do exist in Standard, they tend to be rather clunky, much like we see with Simic Nexus. When that deck takes a mulligan under the Vancouver rule, having two copies of Nexus of Fate in your hand is effectively another mulligan.  Under the London mulligan rule however, they effectively get to exchange that for the another card in their top seven should they choose, which makes it more likely that a real game will occur.

We see a similar effect for fair decks as well. For instance, if Mono Red is taking a mulligan and they see a hand with three lands and three spells, they are priced into keeping the hand. Chances are if that player draws a couple more lands over the first few turns of the game, they simply won’t have the gas to keep up. The London mulligan gives them a shot for that seventh card to be another spell and the ability to ship the third land, which leaves them with a much more functional hand.

All in all, I think the London mulligan only increases the number of interesting and competitive games in Standard. My vote for the London mulligan in standard is an easy yes.


This is where things start to get dicey. As the format progressed toward MC London, Tron and Dredge proliferated as people found that the new rule was more beneficial for strategies looking for specific cards. Over the course of my testing for London, I played against Tron in just about one third of my total matches, which was an alarming number going into the event.

Fortunately the London mulligan benefits fair, interactive decks quite a bit as well. Sending back a hand full of situational cards to find your combo hate is quite a boon—and combo decks leaning on opening hand consistency tend to be fragile. Leading up to London I expected this to hold true, and to some degree it did. Humans and Grixis Death’s Shadow were among the most-played decks, and Humans won it all.

The Modern metagame looked to be stabilizing after London, until War of the Spark joined the format. The Neoform, Allosaurus Rider, Griselbrand deck was running rampant and killing people before turn three with surprising consistency thanks to the mulligan rule. When all is said and done I believe Modern is the format with the highest risk associated with this mulligan rule, but the answer may be as simple as printing higher quality fair cards in Modern Horizons or banning a few cards.

That leaves me as a hesitant yes for the London mulligan rule in Modern. It has decreased the number of variance-related non-games, but has increased the number of non-games where a player dies before turn three.


Legacy is where people I think were the most worried about this rule. Would Reanimator and Sneak and Show run the streets? While those decks were far over-represented on Magic Online, they always are because they are cheap and easy to learn. They have been successful, but the metagame has not really reacted yet. Yes, Surgical Extraction is a powerful card against Reanimator due to its flexibility, but Reanimator excels at using discard spells to clear disruption. A more realistic plan to beat them under the London mulligan would include cards like Leyline of the Void.

And yet we did not see much of an uptick in Leyline of the Void. Instead we got players complaining that Reanimator was too good. The nice thing about Legacy is it is infinitely adaptable to certain decks being powerful or popular. If the London mulligan sticks I can see something along the lines of Griselbrand or Show and Tell getting the axe just to return the format to balance, but in general I think the format can handle the change reasonably well.

My vote for the London mulligan rule in Legacy is a yes, but with a rider that a couple cards may need to be trimmed. Fortunately, those cards were already offenders of the format.

As you may have gathered, I think the London mulligan is good for Magic as a whole. While there may be some hiccups, the rule should be adopted across all formats. I actually didn’t realize the magnitude of improvement until returning to the Vancouver mulligan.

As always, thanks for reading!

Michael Rapp is a Boston-area grinder who started playing competitively in 2014. Loves Modern but plays everything. His favorite card is Thoughtseize has a soft spot for Tarmogoyf. GP Toronto 2019 Champion. Always happy to answer questions or just chat on Twitter or Facebook.

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