Taking a mulligan refers to drawing a full or partial new hand of cards to help players have a good start to the game. Mulligans are taken in turn order.
Current Mulligan Rule
The current official Commander mulligan follows the standard-practice mulligan for all formats, which is currently the London Mulligan. In addition, multiplayer formats of Magic always allow each player one free mulligan, where all players may draw another full hand of seven cards with no penalty.
The London Mulligan says that a player may draw a full hand equal to their starting hand size (usually seven cards), then put a card on the bottom on their library for each time they have taken a mulligan. For example, after the first free mulligan, the next mulligan will have a player draw seven, and choose one to put on the bottom of the library. The next mulligan will have a player draw seven, and choose two to put on the bottom, and so on.
Previous Mulligan Rules
- Vancouver Mulligan: The Vancouver Mulligan was implemented in 2015 to replace the Paris Mulligan. Each time a player takes a mulligan (after the free one) they draw one less card, then they scry 1. They do not scry for each additional mulligan. For example, a player who takes their free mulligan, and then two more mulligans, would draw five cards and scry 1.
- Paris Mulligan: The Paris Mulligan was implemented in 1997, and there were previously no official mulligans in tournament Magic. With this rule, each time a player takes a mulligan (after the free one), they draw one less card than they had before.
- Partial Paris: A common Commander variant to the Paris Mulligan was the Partial Paris Mulligan, which allowed a player to keep any number of cards from their first hand, set aside any cards they did not wish to keep, and draw to replace those cards. The first time a player did this, they would draw the same number of cards that they set aside, as part of their free multiplayer mulligan. After this, if they wish to continue to mulligan, they would set aside any other cards they did not wish to keep, and draw one fewer than that number. Once a player has finished with this style of mulligan, they would shuffle all set-aside cards into their library.
Alternative Mulligan Rules
It is common in Commander (especially in an established playgroup) to have alternative mulligan rules. Often, players will allow free mulligans for all players until they draw a playable hand. This can ensures all players have a good start to the game and is often a form of social contract. However, this type of rule can be easily abused (for example, players may continue to mulligan until they find specific cards in their opening hand), so it may not be used when playing in local game stores or against strangers.
Additionally, some groups may elect to follow the unofficial Magic tournament house rules from before 1997, where players may have only been allowed to mulligan if they revealed any of the following hands:
- Mulligan if you have no land
- Mulligan if you have one land or no land
- Mulligan if you have no land or all land
- Mulligan if your opponent mulligans
- Every combination of any of the above
Members of the Commander Rules Committee have also stated that they use the "Gis" mulligan variant, named after former level 5 judge Gis Hoogendijk. This mulligan allows players to take free mulligans as many times as they like, but must keep the first hand they draw that contains at least three lands.