You have to weigh risk versus reward. How likely are you going to win on a mulligan to four and what are the odds your hand will do something meaningful? I am somewhat of an aggressive “mulligan-er”, especially after the London Mulligan (and for what it’s worth, I tend to shuffle way more off [[Ponder]] than most people I know). These things said, I think this hand is actually very close to being good or at least getting you back into the game. Let’s start off by recognizing how you win the game with a hand like this. Ideally, you need to resolve this [[Echo of Eons]]. The easiest way of doing that is [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] which are 4-of-53 cards (I’m not factoring in the bottom two known cards) at 7.5 percent. The other way of finding [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] is via [[Wishclaw Talisman]]. In order to play and activate this [[Wishclaw Talisman]] we need to draw a black source and cast [[Dark Ritual]]. We have four copies of [[Lotus Petal]] and twelve possible land draws (this excludes [[Volcanic Island]] which could cast [[Brainstorm]] into a possible win) which puts us at a combined 20-of-55 at about roughly 38 percent to hit on turn one. I don’t think we also even need to necessarily need to hit on the first two turns due to the match-up. That said, it’s certainly possible [[Echo of Eons]] fails with no mana floating and an untapped non-Metalcraft [[Mox Opal]], but I’d personally risk it.
The EPIC Storm
Hand No. 1: (on the draw)
[[Ponder|]] [[Ponder|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Echo of Eons|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Bayou|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]]
This hand is a trap! While these seven cards are great in most matchups, they don’t do enough when facing an opponent also on The EPIC Storm (Also known as, a “Mirror Match” or “The Mirror”). If you’ve been playing The EPIC Storm (TES), you’ll know that it can win very quickly. Our current hand is actually fairly slow unless we draw into exactly [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to discard our [[Echo of Eons]] and then cast it. You could [[Ponder]] on the first turn to search for it, but then you’re unable to cast [[Dark Ritual]] and zero mana floating off of an [[Echo of Eons]] isn’t incredibly probable to win the game. Typically [[Veil of Summer]] is very good in combo matchups, that said, TES has an emphasis on not caring about [[Veil of Summer]] due to not playing any discard spells in the entire deck. This means the copy in your hand is essentially a dead card. In general, I would expect the average TES draw to kill on turn two while undisrupted. I don’t think you can afford to keep a lazy seven-card hand if you expect to die on the opponent’s second turn.
Hand No. 2: (on the play)
[[Burning Wish|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Polluted Delta|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Lotus Petal|]]
It’s pretty clear that this is a keep, but how do you play it? You could cast [[Empty the Warrens]], [[Echo of Eons]], or select [[Infernal Tutor]]. In the past, if you were on the play, you could pressure the opponent’s life total with [[Goblin Tokens]] which shut off [[Ad Nauseam]]. That is no longer the case due to the printing of [[Echo of Eons]]. You are able to cast the front half of [[Echo of Eons]] here with two mana floating, which means you’re also likely to be able to flashback Echo of Eons if you need to. That said, there’s certainly some risk here. The least risky line here is [[Infernal Tutor]] into [[Ad Nauseam]] in my opinion, the first step is to count to nine mana. The pair of [[Rite of Flame]] generates and [[Lotus Petal]] casting [[Dark Ritual]] adds this is a total of seven with [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] giving us a total of 10 mana. Even without the extra mana floating, the likelihood of [[Ad Nauseam]] failing from 19 life in TES is incredibly low. I’d take those odds over the [[Echo of Eons]] line any day!
While this hands looks below average, it’s actually deceptively great! A philosophy that I believe in is keeping hands that have potential to win, and this is one of those hands. You’re a [[Dark Ritual]] or [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] away from killing our opponent with [[Ad Nauseam]], if you draw a lesser mana source, you can also [[Echo of Eons]] with one mana available. In general, I think [[Echo of Eons]] is very dangerous in the “mirror match” and I try not to use it if I don’t have to. That said, this seems like a hand where if you don’t hit one of the seven cards off of the top of the library, I’d take my chances on [[Echo of Eons]]. This is because you’ll be “starting the game” with an artifact in play for Metalcraft and an available land drop. An interesting decision to me is what do you do if you draw a land for turn? Do you cast [[Wishclaw Talisman]] on the first turn and pray to untap? or do you cast [[Echo of Eons]] with two open mana?
You just can’t keep hands that don’t do anything, especially under the London Mulligan. I think if you kept this, it’s on the back of playing out your artifact mana and then praying your opponent casts [[Echo of Eons]] before passing the turn, which isn’t really where I’d like to be.
Don’t be afraid to mulligan low! As I’ve mentioned, the London Mulligan is a strength for us. I’ve won a fair share of games off of four cards, especially when we have the “combo” of [[Echo of Eons]] and [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]].
[[Hope of Ghirapur|]] [[Hope of Ghirapur|]] [[Crash|]]
[[Defense Grid|]] [[Defense Grid|]] [[Chain of Vapor|]]
This is almost an ideal hand for something that isn’t a turn-one kill. The beauty here is that [[Hope of Ghirapur]] on the play is typically a [[Time Walk]] since we don’t play any other creatures. This means you can keep a hand that then bridges a turn-two setup into a turn-three kill. Fortunately, with this hand, we don’t really need the time. We’re actually going to empty our entire hand. Next turn, we’ll already have the resources to win the game even without our draw step! I think the only way we actually lose is if we draw [[Ad Nauseam]] for turn. Because of this, I would sacrifice [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] in the upkeep, tap [[Mox Opal]], use [[Wishclaw Talisman]], and cast [[Ad Nauseam]]. Against ANT here, I’d actually risk drawing the [[Ad Nauseam]] in order to protect ourselves from [[Flusterstorm]] by using the [[Hope of Ghirapur]].
While [[Crash]] can lead to some potential blowouts, as can [[Veil of Summer]], this hand is very risky while being slow. I personally would just feel more comfortable not banking a post-board game on having one of the best [[Brainstorm]]s of my life.
Hand No. 8: (on the play)
[[Rite of Flame|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Burning Wish|]][[Burning Wish|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Badlands|]]
This hand is actually very similar to hand number two, but did you remember what I said about [[Empty the Warrens]] not being effective enough due to [[Echo of Eons]]? Even worse, you’re fueling opposing copies of [[Rite of Flame]] making the probability much higher.
Hand No. 9: (on the draw — Mulliganed Twice)
[[Chrome Mox|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Ponder|]] [[Hope of Ghirapur|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Rite of Flame|]]
What does this hand do well? You have to give yourself a fighting shot. As I mentioned in hand No. 5, when we have the “combo” of [[Echo of Eons]] and [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] you need to aggressively mulligan.
I’ll provide my answer in the next article, but for now, make sure to post your thoughts!
Bryant Cook has one Grand Prix Top 8 as well as nine Star City Games Top 8s (two wins). Bryant recently won a Legacy PTQ and a Legacy Challenge in the same weekend with v10.8! You can most likely find him teaching others how to cast Rite of Flame or creating Legacy & Vintage content. Bryant is also a host of The Eternal Glory Podcast, as well as a Web Designer, New York Mets fan, and all-around nerd.
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