Opening Moves: Mulligans
Now that we’ve identified our win condition and filled in our deck around it, we’re finally ready to take on an opponent. To do that, we need to learn the ins and outs of how to correctly mulligan cards for our opening hand.
If you've played Hearthstone, you already know that how many cards you are offered in your mulligan is determined by whether you’re going first or second. Players going first get three cards in their opening hand (and draw a fourth as their first turn starts), while the player going second gets four cards (plus The Coin). Before play begins, each player can shuffle any number of the cards they were initially dealt back into their deck for a chance at something different. What you keep or throw back depends on multiple variables, but there are some general rules of thumb worth keeping in mind.
Take your time, and think through the matchup carefully. What cards set you up for the best early game, and which cards are such a huge swing that keeping them in the opening hand is right—even though you may not play them in the first few turns?
Throwing back your entire hand is always risky, so until you’re comfortable with the ins and outs of piloting your deck after many games, holding on to at least one card that you’re offered can be a good idea. This becomes less of an issue in aggressive decks, where you really want to get early game plays, but it can be practical to use as a starting point if you’re playing a combo-style or control deck, where you could accidentally end up with a starting hand of all late-game cards.
You’ll also want to mulligan differently based on what you’re up against. If you are playing a Zoo Warlock deck (that runs a lot of low-cost minions, looking to end games quickly), your mulligan strategy against a Druid opponent might vary based on whether you think they’re playing an Aggro Druid or a late game Druid style. Against the former, you need to make sure you can contest the board and get efficient early game trades; against the latter, you’d rather have cards that can snowball and get more value over multiple turns, like Darkshire Councilman.
The best advice you’ll ever get regarding mulligans is just to keep practicing. The more games you play, the better you’ll become at navigating your own deck, as well as knowing what types of decks you’re up against when you face the different classes! Hang in there for Day 4, when it’s time for us to decide on our early game strategy.