When we left Make the Play Monday the deck we were playing was chihoi's 4-0 MTGO Azorius Control:

DECKID=1188852

And we were challenged with a couple of different opening hand scenarios.

Given this hand...

1 Elixir of Immortality
1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
2 Quicken
1 Azorius Charm
1 Divination
1 Island

Would you keep the hand on the play?
What about on the draw?

Further:

1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
2 Quicken
1 Azorius Charm
1 Divination
2 Mutavault

Again, would you keep on the play?
And on the draw?

This week I decided to let our Celebrity Guest go first.

William "Baby Huey" Jensen finished second at Grand Prix Dallas / Fort Worth with the pre-Born of the Gods precursor to chihoi's deck: the Andrew Cuneo variant of UW Control (much the same, but lacking Temple of Enlightenment; probably Azorius's best addition from Born of the Gods).

"First hand I would mulligan. You only have one land and you want to spend your mana cantripping early, if your Elixir gets Thoughtseized it can be really annoying. This is not a major factor but it is relevant.

"On both play and draw.

"The second hand is way too weak since it has no colored mana. I would mulligan on both the play and the draw. Having the Divination is nice but not enough to keep a hand with only two Mutavaults."

Huey's Solution:

Paris
Paris
Paris
Paris

I ultimately agree with all four conclusions but want to spend a bit more time talking about what drove my processes on these.

Let's look at hand / hypothetical #1:

1 Elixir of Immortality
1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
2 Quicken
1 Azorius Charm
1 Divination
1 Island

So obvious thing first: This hand has only one land. A UW Control deck with Supreme Verdict and Sphinx's Revelation has to get to at least four lands to put up any kind of a reasonable game and we are not there yet. The question on this hand is to evaluate how far our one Island hand is from a respectable position.

The chihoi deck we started with plays 26 lands. We have seven cards in hand including one land. That means that there are 53 remaining cards, 25 of which are lands. You don't have to be super adept at probabilities to know that 25/53 is less than a 50% chance of drawing a land naturally.

What makes this hand a little bit more interesting is that it has not one but two Quickens (all the Quickens in chihoi's deck in fact), which can be cast off of the one Island we started with.

So on the play we can play the Island, burn a Quicken to draw a card (which might be a land); draw for our turn; and even if that is not a land, still have a shot to draw a land on our second turn. So on the play we would have at least three shots to drawing a second land by our second turn, which is pretty cool (these are all basically coin flips).

The hand is further strengthened by the presence of that Azorius Charm. One of the reasons Azorius Charm is an attractive card is that not only can it deal with many kinds of attackers effectively, but you can burn it as card drawing to help smooth out hands like these.

Now you would have to draw a white-producing land (of which there are a very respectable sixteen waiting in this deck), but at that point you would have still more cantrip action which would potentially put you at the three mana position where you could pop that Divination.

We can do the math to figure out just how likely we would be to hit second land on the play, then third, and how long it would take, but I already said I was going to side with Huey and toss this one back on the play.

You see there is something even more important about this hand than the fact that it is full of cantrips...and that is that it has all its win conditions!

No one considers Jace, Architect of Thought a legitimate win condition in the sense of actually killing the opponent. Both of the main ways chihoi's deck would do that -- Elixir of Immortality and Elspeth, Sun's Champion -- are in our hands.

But that isn't particularly good!

Elixir of Immortality isn't really a card that affects the game state. It gives you five life which can keep you alive sometimes, but the real juice is against another long game or control deck, so you can Recycle your Sphinx's Revelations and Dissolves, primarily. But here -- even if you are up against another control deck -- Elixir of Immortality is kind of bad. If your opposing UW opponent is using his hand to make sure he is going to keep hitting lands on turn seven and nine and beyond while you are clamoring for your second land, that is not a good spot to be in, Elixir or no.

We are nowhere near casting Elspeth, Sun's Champion (which is a WW card and our hand has no white access at all right now); and Elspeth's efficacy in a particular game outside the basic capability of winning it might be thin.

In other words: this hand, from some dimensions, is already a five-card hand.

This is the kind of hand that Brian Kibler might shake his head at because it doesn't really do anything. So you draw some lands...now what? This hand doesn't have Supreme Verdict and Last Breath to fight creatures; it doesn't have Syncopate or Dissolve to fight over position or key threats. Its best credit is having some Quickens...which are usually cool, but whose purpose here is largely compromised.

In some cases we will keep a hand on the draw when we wouldn't have kept it on the play. Players tend to be more willing to keep land-light hands on the draw because the extra draw step increases their likelihood of hitting, you know, just that second land. I think that is decent logic in many cases but wouldn't be persuasive for me here. While we do have a better shot of hitting especially our second land, we can't defend ourselves beyond the Azorius Charm. The one Azorius Charm that might just get burned looking for land drops.

You know how when given the option to play or draw you typically choose to play? That is because if you draw in some spots -- like when under pressure from a beatdown deck -- you are in a much worse position than if you had gone first. So sure, if you are going second this hand is more apt to give you your second land...but how good do you think this hand would be at defending itself against a first turn Rakdos Cackler followed by a Pain Seer or Thrill-Kill Assassin?

Exactly.

This first hand was missing something we usually like to see (especially in our control decks) but gave us some enticing reasons why we might alter our usual criteria of what to keep or not. And sometimes you will be right to keep a one-land hand! But...

What exactly is this hand good against?

For instance a seven-land hand is almost as bad as a no-land hand but would be considered a strong hand in some format's control-on-control matchups. But this one?

● No serious resistance to a fast beatdown draw (in addition to being land-light).
● Low likelihood of sustaining land drops against another control deck.
● Per Huey's comment it may be even weaker against a black midrange deck. Thoughtseize is potentially problematic for this hand. Two Thoughtseizes would substantially impact our chances of winning, whether or not we drew lots of lands.

How about the other hand?

1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
2 Quicken
1 Azorius Charm
1 Divination
2 Mutavault

This hand Diverts in two substantial ways from the first one.

1. It has two lands instead of just one.
2. The second land comes in exchange of arguably the weakest card in the first hand ( Elixir of Immortality). This is much less a "double mulligan" (even conceptually) than the first.

Having two lands is a big deal.

I am sure that at least some of you have heard the old adage that "you can't mulligan a two-land hand." (In fact, it turns out that you can.)

This hand has some interesting play. In fact, you can lead on a Mutavault like I suggested you might want to in Flores Rewards Friday - Burn Baby Burn (Maybe).

I would guess that few players would put you on UW Control with a Mutavault start! ... And probably with good reason.

Much of what we didn't like about the first hand holds here... It really doesn't do much and will be clamoring for basic resources early. If you get a blue mana in the first three turns you can land the Divination...but then what?

Most notably the Quickens that might have given you pause in the first half can't even get cast in the Mutavault hand. Ergo there is no way to positively impact our mana flow, especially on the play. Azorius Charm? Azorius Charm is essentially a dream here.

Mike's Solution:

Paris
Paris
Paris
Paris

TCGplayer's crack editor Frank Lepore selected the following players -- with their correctly corresponding quadruple mulligans -- as this week's $25 recipients:

● $25 to Dan Grant for agreeing with YT.
● $25 to Christopher Lates for agreeing with Huey.

Congrats to Dan Grant and Christopher Lates!

Make sure you send a message to our Facebook page - MTGatTCGplayer - to claim your prizes!

Thanks to all of you for reading and participating, and big thanks to Huey, our Celebrity Guest.

William "Baby Huey" Jensen is one of the greatest Limited players and Team Drafters of all time, counting a win at Pro Tour Boston among his four PT Top 8s; he is widely considered one of the two greatest active drafters in the world. Huey boasts over a dozen Grand Prix Top 8s, with his most recent addition just two weeks ago with Peach Garden Oath in Barcelona. He is a member of the 2013 Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame, and generally unstoppable.

LOVE
MIKE