At Pro Tour Magic Origins, Wizards decided to implement a new rule, dubbed the Scry Rule. This rule stated that after mulligans (if any) had been taken, any player with fewer cards than the original amount of cards in hand is allowed to scry 1 before the game starts. This rule seemed to be widely praised by many MTG players, and is to be added to the Comprehensive Rulebook come Battle for Zendikar Pre-release.

My questions are, does this make the game more fair for players who take mulligans? Does this somehow give an advantage to a player who decides to mulligan an iffy hand and draws a better, but not stellar, hand?

Most importantly, does this new rule change the general mulligan strategy of MTG?

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In general, the mulligan strategy is unchanged: you should mulligan when the expected outcome for a mulligan is better than the expected outcome otherwise. The effect of the new rule is in giving a boost to the expected outcome for a mulligan.

As the rules currently stand (the new scry after mulligan rule will not be implemented until the Battle for Zendikar prerelease), one should mulligan a 7-card hand when the probability of winning is lower than that the expected probability of winning with a random 6-card hand.

Having the option to scry can only improve the probability of winning with a random 6-card hand, because you have the option of leaving the top card on top (yielding the same sequence of draws as if you didn't scry) or putting the top card on the bottom of library (presumably because it is worse than the average card in the deck). Since the expected probability of winning with a random 6-card hand under the new mulligan rule cannot be lower than under the old rule, one would expect more mulligans to take place, because the "cost" of a mulligan is decreased. That is, the threshold for a "bad" 7-card hand is higher than it was before.

Exactly how much better a random 6-card hand gets would depend on the particulars of the deck being played. I would guess that very redundant decks (e.g., burn) would benefit little from the new rule because card advantage is more important, whereas decks the rely on strong synergies (e.g., combo) would benefit more from the improved card selection.

  • 1
    It might actually favor aggro/burn too - LSV seemed to think so in the Top Decks column after the pro tour. Combo/synergy decks and redundant aggressive decks have something in common: they're looking for a fairly specific set of cards. With combo it's the actual combo, and with aggro (and burn) it's the right number of lands and spells. The decks that don't benefit as much are value-heavy midrange/control decks that don't really know exactly what they need on the first turn. – Cascabel Aug 24 '15 at 2:23
  • That's true, I only really addressed the issue of mulliganing a 7-card hand into 6-cards + scry. Further mulligans are less incentivized, because you only get 1 scry regardless of how many mulligans you take. Certain 6-card hands are more keep-able because of the extra scry. – Hao Ye Aug 24 '15 at 2:35
  • To be clear, what I was saying is definitely relevant for going 7 to 6. You're comparing your known 7-card hand to the average 6-card hand + scry, and if that scry is more valuable to your deck then the balance is pushed more toward mulligans. But your point about subsequent mulligans is true, of course. – Cascabel Aug 24 '15 at 2:46
  • Pretty sure it DOES in fact help burn. Control is really the only deck type that it's most questionable for, but even that's not true game 2 and 3. – Waterseas Aug 24 '15 at 13:41

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