The Mulligan Show: Episode Five
We’ve got only a couple of days left until Arcane goes live and everybody's feeling the hype. We’ve seen partial leaks for Jayce as well as a few of the other cards and the speculation is rampant on whether we will see titanic metagame shifts or simply a nudge or two in new directions. There are some things though that never change, and that’s the Mulligans.
We’re going to look into some of the top ladder performers of the last week or so and train ourselves on how to mulligan with and against them. If you already know what’s up then go ahead and skip ahead down to Stage One and I’ll meet you there. For everyone else join me in the spoiler tag for a moment and we’ll talk this through.
Here’s how this is going to work. For each stage I’ll be the one setting it. I’ll describe our deck, our opponent’s deck, our opening hand, and any other factors that I find relevant to the decision making process. Then you try to decide what you would mulligan, and more importantly why you would do so.
After you’ve got that answer, or if you just want to watch instead of participating, go ahead and pop open the spoiler tag underneath and see if we agree. At the end hit me up in the comments or drop by my stream later if we have conflicting opinions and you think I got it wrong. I am always down to learn new things.
Also take note that these scenarios will often intentionally be designed to be at least a little bit tricky. Don’t just go with your gut reaction but take at least a few seconds to think through the ramifications before you decide. Ready? Let’s jump into it.
The streamlined power of Plunder has caught back on in a huge way the last week or so and we’ve decided to pick it up for ourselves along with the attack token. Against us is one of our few rough matchups in the form of Lee Sin. Our first four cards are Warning Shot Warning Shot Crackshot Corsair and Zap Sprayfin. Which of these stay and which are confined to depths by the will of Gangplank.
As usual I’m going to key in on the question of what our win conditions are in this matchup. Against Lee Sin you’ve got two worthwhile ways things can go. Number one is that they miss Eye of the Dragon completely or stumble in their draw and you can just aggro all over them. Number two is that leveled Sejuani shuts them down hard.
We don’t have that much control over number one. We could try to mulligan to hit one of our most aggressive starts, but an average anti aggro draw from our opponent will still shut us down pretty hard by turn four or five. If we already had an extremely aggressive start we might keep it, but as our hand is middling in that regard my advice is to take agency in the other game plan.
It’s scary to keep two cards that mostly do nothing, but perhaps controversially I think I would keep this entire hand. If you do the math with the attack tokens this opening four card hand gives us all five plunder triggers we want all ready to go, while having the trigger pre-combat on turn five for an attacking leveled Gangplank or to full freeze with Sejuani later.
Our opponent will give us a short window, generally between turns five and seven to hit our champions, and if we can thread that needle there’s a reasonable chance we can find victory even in this tough matchup.
What if the pirates have turned against us though? Let’s jump into the spot of a new fan favorite Teemo/ Swain and give our opponent’s plunder deck the attack token. We’re offered Teemo Conchologist Arachnoid Sentry and Scorched Earth. Who gets sacrificed to the mushroom gods this time?
On the surface this looks to be a pretty made hand already. We’ve got one through three drops ready to go. Maybe we throw back the scorch for a bit since it’ll take a while to come online but we’re feeling pretty happy here, eh? Yeah, you know me, if it was that simple I wouldn’t have put it here.
See, we’re missing the attack token. And without that grace the odds that Teemo makes it all the way to our opponent’s nexus without getting Parrrley or Make it Rain pointed at both him and us are pretty low. And if you think about the entire rest of our deck, those spells don’t have many good targets now do they?
In this spot I would actually recommend throwing back our one drop champion out of our opening hand. And worse, I like keeping Scorched Earth. Our conchologist can already potentially find a ping and our deck is chock full of them. Having a solid answer to the first champion our opponent plays is a really big deal. We need to hold the line till at least turn eight or nine for Leviathan to save us after all.
Last but not least let’s get some aggro games in. Aggro mirrors even. We’re playing Poppy/ Ziggs. Our opponent has dusted off their favorite copy of Spider aggro and is feeling ready to burninate some fools. They’ve got the attack token and our deck supplies Poppy Conchologist Ziggs and Legion Rearguard. Who stays and who gets burned?
Again, we’ve got a straight powerful curve out of one-two-three-four. What more could you ask for when playing an aggressive deck right? Well in most cases sure. But in this one that kind of thinking will get you in trouble. See aggressive or not, in this matchup we have more value, and in some sense that makes us the control deck.
Worse, they've got the attack token, and our current one drop isn’t particularly impressive if we ask him to go on blocking duty. We’re going to win most games here as long as we manage to trade down and go wider than our opponent, who will be coming at us from turn one.
With that in mind I would actually mulligan Poppy and Legion Rearguard looking for more blockers and interaction. Ziggs can stay because the beefy body and the ability to block Fearsome are a big deal, but cool affects or not the rest need to get out of here so we can survive long enough to use our more powerful tools later in the game.
Just because it says “aggro” on our label, doesn’t mean we should always be locked into one way of thinking.
So how did your decisions match up against mine through it all? You with me, learned something, maybe think I am crazier than Bandle City’s own mayor? I’m always interested to hear feedback in comments so hit me up here, or on my stream or twitter at twitch.tv/xxwhatamixx or @xxwhatamixx respectively. And as always, I’ll see you out there on the ladder.