The London Mulligan Will Replace Vancouver in MTGA

When Core Set 2020 will be released, Vancouver mulligan will be replaced with London, with following official rulings:

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 the cards in their hand back into their library, draws a new hand of cards equal to their starting hand size, then puts a number of those cards equal to the number of times that player has taken a mulligan on the bottom of their library in any order. Once a player chooses not to take a mulligan, the remaining cards become that player’s opening hand, and that player may not take any further mulligans. This process is then repeated until no player takes a mulligan. A player can take mulligans until their opening hand would be zero cards.

Essentially, each time you take a mulligan, you draw up to seven cards, then put a number of cards from your hand equal to the number of times you have mulliganed this game on the bottom of your library in an order of your choice. Your starting hand will still be down a card for each time you mulligan, but you’ll always get to select that starting hand from a choice among seven cards. Unlike the current (“Vancouver”) mulligan, there’s no scry after you decide your starting hand.

The goal of this new “London” mulligan is to make games where one or more players mulligan more competitive, especially in cases where players mulligan an unequal number of times. In particular, greater selection of the starting hand will reduce the number of “non-games” where a player’s deck is unable to function due to not having a reasonable mix of lands and spells.

WHY CHANGE?

Magic‘s mulligan system has changed several times throughout the game’s history. From the early “no land/all land” mulligan, to the “Paris” mulligan, and more recently to the “Vancouver” mulligan, the goal of each change has been to give players a better chance of having a reasonable opening draw leading to a competitive game where either player might win.

As more and more games of Magic are being played these days across both tabletop and digital platforms, devs gathered data that shows that even the current Vancouver mulligan isn’t doing as good of a job as it could be in providing a competitive starting point for both players. A player who mulligans once against an opponent who keeps seven cards, in general, is at more of a disadvantage than devs are comfortable with. The situation gets even worse for a player who mulligans two or more times more than their opponent. Devs also dislike that some of those games play out in uninteresting ways where it’s clear that the game was nearly over before it began based on starting hands alone.

Over the past year, R&D has been actively discussing and testing ways to improve how games begin. Devs tested the new London mulligan internally for more than six months and are pleased with how it closes the gap between a player who mulligans and an opponent who doesn’t, and also how it greatly reduces the number of games where a player’s deck and strategy simply don’t function at all. In this sense, devs think of the London mulligan as being a “stronger” mulligan in the player’s favor as compared to the Vancouver mulligan.

WHEN CAN I USE IT?

It will be rolling out the London mulligan in all tabletop and digital expressions of Magic with the release of Core Set 2020. Starting with tabletop Core Set 2020 Preleases on July 5, the new mulligan will be used for all play. It will become officially reflected in the comprehensive rules with the M20 rules updates on July 12.

MTG Arena will test functionality of the London mulligan in a special event starting June 7 and will fully adopt it for all play formats with the release of M20 card content starting on July 2.

Magic Online will begin using the London mulligan on July 2 after servers come up from scheduled downtime.

That change can be hard to digest, especially for a community as deeply invested as Magic‘s. But in the end, the goal of this change is to make Magic more fun, and WOTC have confidence that it will!

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