Knowing when to take a mulligan is a crucial part of Marvel Champions that a lot of newer players don’t fully understand. If you’re one of them (or your friends are), then chances are you might even end up skipping mulligans altogether. After all – isn’t discarding cards a bad thing?
In this guide I’m going to explain how mulligans work, why you should take them, and what exactly a keepable hand of cards looks like.
How do you mulligan in Marvel Champions?
Mulligans in Marvel Champions are resolved right after you draw your initial hands, which is one of the last stages of setup. If you’re not sure when that is, I recommend checking out our setup guide before we get into the details, as when you draw your hand and start mulliganing is actually pretty important, because villain setup rules might discard cards from your deck before you even draw your starting hand!
The actual act of taking a mulligan is simple. After drawing your initial starting hand of cards according to your hero’s alter ego (typically 6), you can choose to discard any number of cards and draw back up to your hand size. Let’s clarify a few questions I’ve seen about this online:
- Cards you discard are not reshuffled, they stay discarded until your hero deck runs out.
- You can only take one mulligan, the hand you’re left with is the hand you keep. You stop after one mulligan.
So let’s get into why you do it – what’s the strategy behind a good mulligan?
How do you mulligan for a good hand in Marvel Champions?
If my starting hand does not have any of the cards that I need, I will immediately discard my entire hand to speed up getting the cards that I need. Not only does this increase your odds of drawing the card you actually need, but if you’re throwing away cards that are more useful late-game than early (such as cards that thwart the main scheme, or do massive damage to minions without the targets those cards need being in play on turn 1), by going through your deck sooner you get those cards back earlier. The only cards I’ll typically keep in a hand like this are double resource cards, such as Genius.
If I have one piece I need in hand, I’ll keep enough resources I know I don’t want to play in order to play that one card, and mulligan the rest, even if it’s just one card I can’t do anything with. In the worst case scenario, this will mean that I’ll discard something I don’t need right now, draw something else I don’t need, and get to discard it at the end of my first turn to maybe hit the good stuff next turn.
If I have two pieces in hand that I need and the resources to play one or both of them, I’ll keep the hand rather than risking drawing more, because at that point my hand is pretty much locked up. I have the cards that I need, and I don’t want to draw more cards – my chances of being able to play more than 2 good cards are extremely low for most heroes.
If I have three or more things I need, I’ll probably cry, but mulligan away any worse cards if there’s a chance that I can draw into resources that’ll let me get those cards out faster. The odds of getting even more things I want to play are low.
Why should you mulligan?
It’s easy to discount the importance of mulliganing, but it’s actually vital for playing against some of the most brutal villains in the game. A successful game of Marvel Champions almost always follows the same broad pattern:
- You initially struggle to set up your needed upgrades and support cards, while trying to keep the threat down and minions clear.
- You stabilise the board, and your heroes come online. You coast through the rest of the villain’s current stage.
- The villain advances to their next stage, and does something awful that forces you to use the pieces you have in play to re-stabilise the board again, as well as getting much harder to defeat.
- You rush to finish off the villain before it goes out of control or someone dies.
There’s obviously outliers, and mini highs and lows throughout that, but generally we’re interested in that first step – setting up. Mulligans give you the opportunity to actually dramatically accelerate the speed at which you can get your most important upgrades online.
This means that there is only actually one reason to ever keep your exact starting hand – because it already contains the exact cards you need, as well as some cards that you do not care about in order to pay for the ones you do.
To put it another way, let’s say you draw Supersonic Punch on turn 1 as Iron Man. This is one of Iron Man’s best cards, but early on, it’s completely useless to you, because you want to get your upgrades online. Most heroes aren’t as reliant on their upgrades as Iron Man, but almost every hero has something that they desperately want to get into play early, whether it’s resource generators, or a card like Asgard. These cards can get you rolling exponentially faster, because the sooner Thor has +1 hand size, the more turns he’ll have that hand size for, allowing him to draw into more cards.
Wolverine is one of my favourite heroes, and I just so happen to have written an article that features my favourite Wolverine deck. So we’re going to use that deck as an example. I’m going to show you some sample hands, and I’ll tell you what I would keep and mulligan from each. You may not agree with me 100% of the time, and I’m not always right, but by thinking about this, you’re going to get a better idea of how to make your decisions.
For those who haven’t read about my deck, the card we’re looking for above all else is Adamantium Skeleton. Berserker Frenzy, Helicarrier (or X-Jet, but let’s assume Ina’s got that so I don’t have it), Avengers Mansion, are all important, but of secondary importance, with cards like Endurance and Dauntless coming after those. So let’s give it a shot. I’m using the MarvelCDB hand draw simulator for these, so I don’t have any idea what we’re drawing here either!
Click to see the answer
A pretty strong start – Avengers Mansion and Berserker Frenzy are both cards I want. They’re not perfect, but they’re definitely keepable. I’d mulligan away every other card in my hand. If I draw the resources, I can get both of these down on turn 1 and that could be huge. Worst case scenario, I can put down the Avenger Mansion, and save Berserker Frenzy for turn 2. It’s fine to hold a priority card in hand for a turn sometimes.
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This is a hand where we absolutely throw away every single card. None of them are a priority to play on turn 1, none of them make me meaningfully stronger for the rest of the game or advance my game plan. Into the bin they go! I actually quite like this kind of hand because it means I have maximum odds of hitting resource cards and upgrades to spend on them.
Click to see the asnwer
Another not terrible hand, but it’s a shame we’re not hitting Adamantium Skeleton. As we’ve got two fairly high priority cards here, I’d be inclined to keep the Helicarrier and Dauntless, and pitch the other 4 cards to the discard pile. Dauntless isn’t a super high priority, but our Helicarrier will be guaranteed to help out either our own turn or that of our ally (if we’re not playing completely solo), so it’s going to pay dividends for future turns. If we do draw our Adamantium Skeleton, it’s fine – we can play the Helicarrier and use it along with Dauntless to pay for the Adamantium Skeleton, which is a close to ideal first turn. If we don’t, then in the worst case scenario we still get two reasonable priority cards in play. When mulliganing a hand that has multiple “fine” pieces in it, it’s always worth considering “what will I do if I actually draw something I want more?”.
This is a game you can absolutely play by yourself if you still need the practice. Look at your deck, consider which cards you want to play ASAP, which cards will offer you value over time, and which cards would be just nice to have. If it’s not a card that you would absolutely want to slam down the moment you draw it no matter what, then it’s probably safe to mulligan.
Knowing when and how to mulligan is one of the best ways to power up your play, and hopefully now you can see it’s really not that tricky or scary to do! If you found this guide useful, please consider donating or subscribing to us over on Ko-Fi! We’re not a big professional company, we’re just a couple who love card games, and every donation makes our day and helps us to justify spending money on our hosting costs. Happy mulliganing!