The Forbidden Look

We have a new mulligan rule. It’s sweet!

There does come with it one downside, though. Historically, some players take a mulligan by pulling cards off the top of their library to “see what they would have drawn,” and that’s not compatible with the new mulligan system. I used to joke with players “Don’t take the Forbidden Look; if you were supposed to do that, they wouldn’t call it the Forbidden Look.” Now, that’s true.

It’s too easy for a player to look at their mulliganned hand, then look at the top card of their library without saying anything. If its what they need, keep. If not, well, I was mulliganning and just looking. So, how do we deal with this?

If someone looks at the top card of their library without previously announcing an intent to mulligan, they are committed to keeping their hand. This is how a lot of people are likely to signal their intent to keep, and we shouldn’t be worried about people who look technically a little earlier than they should (officially, both players need to finish mulligan decisions before anyone looks).

If they shuffle their hand into their library after looking, treat it as Improper Drawing at Start of Game. However, since we can’t directly remove cards from their hand, we do the next best thing and have them mulligan to one less than they were going to. Most of the time, that means their mulligan from 6 to 5 will be to 4 instead.

I think players will adapt pretty quickly to this situation, and most mulligan-plus-looks will be fairly obvious – verbal communication, clearly picking up multiple cards from the top – and judges can help encourage and teach good behavior. We obviously won’t be this strict at Regular REL, but it’s a great place to teach your local players how to mulligan the new way properly. And explain why it really is the Forbidden Look.

11 thoughts on “The Forbidden Look

  1. I Headjudged a PPTQ yesterday, and I added to my player meeting announcement that if a player, after mulliganing, peeked at their top deck before verbally confirming if they are keeping or not, I would rule that they were keeping every time. After that I did not have to repeat myself at all.

    I am glad that my intuition is in line with philosophy because I was making that up as I went. 🙂

    1. If they clearly pick up a bunch of cards, it’s probably OK. Why not just say something and be safe?

  2. What if a player draws their opening 7, then looks at the top card (their intent is to mulligan and they wanted to see what they would have drawn). Are we going to penalize this or just educate and let them know that it is a bad habit to have going forward?

  3. Why are we making them go to one less than they were going to if they jam the cards back into their deck (i.e. the mull to 5 becomes a mull to 4)? The player who is doing this is already taking a mulligan, and from what I’ve gathered, the philosophy of fixing Improper Draw is to simulate a mulligan.

    This seems to fit in line with “[A player] takes a mulligan after they are permitted to.” Which is pretty close to example D:
    “A player chooses to not take a mulligan then takes a mulligan seeing his opponent choose to take a
    While this isn’t something that comes up very often (I don’t think I’ve ever seen it), is this a thing that we also penalize by forcing them to mulligan to 5?
    I understand there is potential for advantage, but I’m not entirely sure where forcing them down an extra card fits into philosophy.

    1. Yes, it’s the same as example D. You start with where they’re currently at (so, mulliganning in both cases) and mulligan the mulligan.

  4. What would be your ruling if a player looked at the top two cards of their deck simultaneously? I think that would pretty clearly indicate a mulligan.

    1. Do you really want the judge deciding if the cards were simultaneous or sequential? Maybe just say something and not run the risk?

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