Growing with Gardner – Mulligans

Mulligans and What to Keep:

Hey everyone! Its been quite a while since my first article, but a whole lot of life has been happening! Today I would like to talk about the subject of mulligans in Final Fantasy TCG.

How many times have you thought to yourself or heard someone say something along the lines of “I should have mulligan that hand!” or “If only I had drawn (x) I would have had you!” A very important decision is made every game before you even discard your first card for CP; Should I keep this hand, or should I mulligan? I am going to discuss some things I think about and I’m sure other players you have heard of think about before the game begins and even some things that come up during the course of the game.

Pre-Game thoughts

You find your pairings and navigate to your table and sit down. You and your opponent shuffle your decks and offer the cut and roll to see who is going first. You draw your initial five cards. Is it a good hand? Are there backups? Do you have any early game forwards? Are you first or second? Is this best of three or best of one? Should you throw this one on the bottom and get another five? What if you draw worse than this hand? Lots of things to think about and make decisions on. This can be stressful, especially when you’re playing for top cuts and it’s still single elimination.

First few turns

When I draw my initial hand of five the first thing I do is see how many 2 CP backups I have in hand. If I have none, it’s normally an easy mulligan with only a few exceptions. 2CP backups are very important to start building the foundation for your game. Ideally, I like to have two 2CP backups or at least one 2CP backup and a 3CP backup (preferably a searcher to offset costs if I have to play this turn 1). Something else I consider is if am I going first or second, aka do I get one extra card or two. When playing first, you have less CP available and it is important to have cards that replace themselves or straight up 2CP backups. When going second, I admit that I am a tad more lenient on 1 backup hands as I hope to draw another in the next 2 turns. Another possible opener is 3+ backups. This can be risky if your opponent comes out aggressive but at the same time you should be able to curve out well and set up the rest of your turns easily. Some decks rely on backups more than others. if you are playing one of those decks a heavy backup opener can be a welcome sight.

Threats!

The next thing we should talk about are threats, which would be a forward or monster that can become a forward, something that can threaten to deal damage. If your deck is not meant to go all out turn 1 with forwards, seeing more than 2 is probably not a good start for you. Granted, there are decks that want an opener of all forwards to chain them out with free play abilities, such as Vanille into Yang into Ursula. A hand that has 2 cheap backups and one or two neutral forwards, cards that can stand on their own and don’t lose value being played without certain circumstances being met, is generally a decent keeping hand. If your opener only consists of forwards that have enter the field effects which interact with opponents characters, that can be a bad feeling waiting for them to make the first move. These forwards do work well for producing CP in the early turns but it is a delicate balance in finding out when you should discard and when you should hold them.

That is forwards and backups, but what about summons? Generally, summons are answers and in the early turns there are few questions that need answers. Having 2 or more summons in your opener could leave you without any board presence. These cards are great for early CP generation, just be sure you don’t use them all! You should have a running tally going in your head of the number of summons and/or answer cards left in your deck so you are always aware what your outs to situations are. Sometimes summons help you draw cards which is an extremely valuable ability. If I had an opener with 1 backup and something like Pupu or Moogle, I would be more inclined to keep that hand.

Light / Dark cards in your opener

The last basic thing to consider when deciding to mulligan or not is the presence of light and dark cards. These cards can not be used for CP and if your opener has 2 or more of these you could have a rough couple of beginning turns. High risk high reward!

Combo Pieces

In decks that have a combo piece or extra powerful card against a majority of matches it could be important to mulligan to find this card. Cards such as light Fusoya are great to find early, but as you take damage he becomes less and less desirable. If your deck needs a card to operate well it is important to try and find it as soon as possible. Searching abilities and cards that let you draw are pivotal for these kind of decks.

Silver Bullets!

In best of one, you should be trying to get your deck to operate to the best of its ability every game. Best of three you have a little bit more leeway. Once you know what you are playing against you can then mulligan for the tech answers you have against that match-up. This also leads to holding certain important “silver bullet” cards where as before you might have used them for early CP since you didn’t know if they would be needed yet. Holding a Diabolos all game long to finally hit that 5 CP forward and un-tap all backups feels pretty great. Another thing would be to mulligan to find Minwu against a ping based damage deck and essentially shut them out of the game. You play those cards in your deck with an educated guess of playing against those matches. Sometimes it pays off, other times you have free cards for CP with no worries.

In Closing

These are only basic ideas for when to mulligan and what cards you are looking for in your opening hand. As you become a better player you will develop a greater understanding for how to mulligan with your deck and what feels right. It can be a strange concept for new players to grasp but a worth while skill to learn.

That’s all for this subject at the moment. Remember these are only basic suggestions on the subject of mulligans. I can’t take the blame for you losing games if you follow this advice and fall victim to RNG 😉 It’s important to remember you already know what is in your opening hand, you do not know what you could mulligan into! It could be better, it could be worse, or it could even end up being the same or very similar. Good luck in your games and remember the first decision you make could be the difference between a win and a loss.

- Josh Gardner


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