With the full spoiler out now for Wizards of the Coast’s newest reprint set, Double Masters, we thought we’d take a look at the set as a whole and talk about its impact on constructed formats, including Commander, and how we feel about drafting it. We have our full crew of Magic: the Gathering authors covering this one. We’ll start with FromTheShire and TheChirurgeon’s more overview-style reviews, then dive deep on the set’s impacts on Commander and Modern and Pioneer with Pseudanonymous and Star Man.
Dan “FromTheShire” Gates started playing Magic during Revised with a “charitable” donation from a friend who had no idea how much money he had just cost him in the long run. He tapered off around the end of the Weatherlight Saga in Apocalypse in 2001, before eventually returning to the the game for Theros in 2013. Since then he’s amassed decks across Legacy, Modern, and Pioneer, as well as a truly upsetting number of EDH decks.
Sean “Star Man” Matoon has been playing Magic since the release of Shards of Alara in 2008. He developed a taste for competitive play while playing Pokémon TCG in middle school and Score’s Dragon Ball Z CCG in high school. He’s not sure if he’s a writer with a Magic problem or a Magic player with a writing problem, but he’s excited to be here.
B “Pseudanonymous” Phillip York got into Magic with the release of Alpha, successfully trading a Mint/Near Mint alpha Black Lotus for 4 Giant Growths and 2 Craw Wurms (those were Alpha too, at least), has been in and out of Magic 3 times, gone through a number of full dual land sets, is a former level 2 judge and Wizards of the Coast Employee, and formerly “serious” but actually pretty serious because sponsored by a game store, competitive player. Thought he’d kicked the habit for good but was lesser pressured (they were in no way peers) into picking up Commander, and ended up with a variety of decks and now covers Commander and Arena and Magic in General.
Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones is someone you may recognize from our Warhammer coverage. Robert has also been playing Magic since the release of Legends in 1994 and has been in and out of tournament play since. These days he still attends the occasional event but is more in the “buy a box to draft with friends” mode.
Double Masters is a unique, interesting, and powerful draft set. Players should pay particular attention to drafting towards Esper Artifacts, Jund Sacrifice, Boros Equipment, Izzet Artifacts, Simic Ramp, and Selesnya Tokens. There’s a ton of valuable reprints, and for once mono-Red isn’t going to be the color that makes you cringe when it’s your mythic. With the number of huge, splashy bombs in the set it’s worth remembering that Lightning Greaves is in the set at Uncommon, so don’t fire off your Path to Exile or Abrade at the first opportunity lest some Commander player living the dream smashes you with a hasty shrouded Blightsteel Colossus or Marit Lage token after playing Dark Depths and Vampire Hexmage or Thespian’s Stage. The presence of these and other combos such as Heat Shimmer and Dualcaster Mage or Time Sieve + Thopter Foundry + Sword of the Meek place a premium on instant speed removal, especially if it can deal with artifacts or exile creatures.
Despite the prevalence of big mana threats, it’s not safe to assume that your games will be slow and grindy. In addition to the many ways artifact decks have to cheat their threats into play such as Braids, Conjurer Adept, Sneak Attack, and Kuldotha Forgemaster, there are the fast mana rocks Chrome Mox, Mana Crypt, and Mox Opal AS WELL AS more traditional Green ramp like Awakening Zone, Mana Reflection, and Veteran Explorer, so expect massive threats to start dropping early and often.
All of this is without even mentioning that about half of a Modern Tron deck is in the format, which is great news for players looking to pick up the more expensive parts of that list. I don’t know that drafters will be able to assemble the deck even with the unique double rare packs, but if you open Karn Liberated or Wurmcoil Engine in pack one, keep an eye out for other pieces. All three of the lands are Commons, as are Expedition Map, Chromatic Star, and Ancient Stirrings. Crop Rotation is fantastic at Uncommon, and further traditional pieces Thragtusk, Oblivion Stone, Spellskite, and Walking Ballista are all available.
For Commander players, Double Masters contains a massive number of needed reprints, ranging from great Legendaries like Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice (still #9 on EDHrec’s most built deck for the week list, and #2 all-time,) to format icons such as Doubling Season, to the full cycle of mana fixing filter lands. Almost all of the mythics and rares that see very little Commander play DO see play in other formats, meaning you are unlikely to open a true dud pack.
Other Constructed formats get an infusion of iconic and playable reprints as well. Notable Legacy inclusions are Ethersworn Canonist, Imperial Recruiter, the first reprint of Council’s Judgement, and format-defining Force of Will. Modern gets Dark Confidant (good old Bob,) Death’s Shadow, Goblin Guide, and Noble Hierarch. Both benefit from Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Stoneforge Mystic, Thoughtseize…..too many cards to list.
As someone whose primary interest is “buying a box to draft with friends,” the core conceit of Double Masters – double the rares – is very appealing. One of the cool things about drafting Cube is the first time you see each pack and how much power is left in it after someone has already taken its best card, causing you to say “whoa I can’t believe this got passed” and Double Masters seems primed to do that, creating a novel draft format that, because of its higher variance at the double rare slot.
That said, the part that I’m not in love with is the notion of picking two cards per pack on the first pick. It removes the need to make tough decisions and makes it more likely that if you open two powerful rares, that’s an easy pair of picks, pushing you toward two colors right away. It may be that this isn’t a huge issue because the power level of the set’s commons and uncommons seems so high, but it’s something that gives me pause. However even with that, the worst-case is that we try it once with double first pick and then if we like it enough but don’t like that aspect, consider a second box with a regular first pick.
I think what we all realize is that Double Masters has morphed into a Commander-focused set. While the original intent was some sort of artifact theme, that’s been pushed into the background by Wizards’ desire to appeal to Commander players, especially Commander players at a more casual level. It makes perfect sense; Commander is the only format that really lets you identify with your commander, but in truth I think most players think of the commander as themselves, which certainly seems like the intent of the format. Unlike the short cycle times of Modern, commander decks can be kept together for years, slowly changing as new pieces are added and removed. The focus on beautiful art and reprints of core big splashy haymaker type spells is pretty clear. There’s also a number of really core utility type cards returning.
Some haymakers that really stood out to me for commander:
- Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon this is a creature that can easily take a player out of the game from nowhere, while infect is not a popular mechanic, being a veritable salt mine on it’s own, it is a simple way to take a player out of the game, especially if they’ve gained an arbitrarily large amount of life. Given Skythiryx shows up with evasion, and can pop off with haste, and in addition has Regeneration, he can be a powerful surprise threat.
- Blasphemous Act lets you reset a board state that’s gotten out of control, or end a stalemate, and that can be valuable in games, and it will kill virtually everything, and also penalizes your opponents for overextending on creatures.
- Rolling Earthquake is like Earthquake, but better for the most part, and in my pod we refer to this card as horsequake. Given that I’m not aware of a single playable card with horsemanship, this is probably the best X spell that deals damage to every creature. (FTS note: Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed, Sun Quan, Lord of Wu, and Lu Xun, Scholar General see very occasional play, with the latter being printed in two Commander precon decks, but that has no impact on how good the card is.)
- Toxic Deluge is a really common board wipe for any deck including black, and it’s cheap, powerful, and versatile, and also gets around things like regeneration or creatures that are immune to damage or have protection.
- Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice is one of the most commonly built-around commanders, and her keyword soup, color identity, and triggered ability mean that you never quite know what an Atraxa deck is doing.
- Kaalia of the Vast is another commander that has a low cost and can have an incredibly powerful effect, simply placing attacking angels, demons, and dragons into play. These can range from the powerful to the absurd, an early Razaketh can let a combo deck near instantly go off, or angels like Aurelia can start generating additional attack steps, and more angels, and the snowball can get intense
- Time Sieve is an innocuous artifact at a CMC of two that can easily lead to a deck taking infinite turns.
- The Swords are all long time popular commander cards, and have powerful effects that are resistant to removal since they can be switched to another creature quite easily.
- Blightsteel Colossus is and should be a favorite of commander players, at 11/11 trample, infect, indestructible it’s an engine of destruction and player removal, and its enter graveyard return to deck ability means it can also be used as a combo piece or insurance, or the sole creature in your deck.
- Mana Echoes is a combo piece that fits well into tribal decks, it can easily end the game in a Sliver deck, lead to a crazy haymaker in Elf tribal, or something of that ilk.
- Ad Nauseum commonly ends the game with powerful card draw and the low cmc of most cEDH decks.
- Godo, Bandit Warlord is arguably one of, if not the best, mono color commanders allowing you to search for equipment cards, allowing him to generate infinite combat steps and tutor out equipment based solutions if a player is immune to combat damage somehow.
- Crop Rotation is a combo enabler par excellence and also can stymie an opponent’s win con, with the ability to search for any land and put it into play at instant speed.
- Dread Return is a powerful reanimator in it’s own right and because it can be cast from the graveyard nets you additional value. It can be a piece of a win con in a mill deck, or simple a strong value piece.
- Trash for Treasure lets you exchange an artifact in play for one in the graveyard, and this kind of artifact reanimation can be the start of something truly wondrous, this combos well with several cards which let you search and place cards in your graveyard.
- Isochron Scepter is well known for it’s powerful combo with Dramatic Reversal, but it can also be used simply as a value card, dropping a counterspell or a tutor, or card draw (Vampiric Tutor or Brainstorm for example) to put you in a powerful position.
- Myr Battlesphere creates 4 creatures when it enters play, for a total of 5 creatures. That’s 5 enters the battlefield effects, 5 saccable permanents, and is a part of any number of combos.
- Walking Ballista is a powerful utility and combo card. It’s a game winner when comboed with infinite mana or Heliod, and is also an artifact and a creature, and can be used to remove opposing threats.
- Cogwork Assembler, while expensive, can easily be a piece of a win con, if you combine it with Ashnod’s Altar and Myr Battlesphere you’ve now got infinite mana, and infinite Battlespheres with haste each with infinite power. You do need 7 mana at least to start the cycle though, but it’s colorless mana, which is often much easier to obtain.
Jhoira’s Familiar isn’t a combo piece in and of itself but it is frequently a combo enabler, making spells of a certain type cheaper can lead to infinite recasts, and since it’s a 4 CMC 2/2 flyer it’s easy to search for and cast as well.
- Pyrite Spellbomb is well-known for being part of the Bomberman Combo, with Lion’s Eye Diamond and Auriok Salvagers (which is helpfully also in this set)
Value and Utility Cards
Double Masters is rife with value cards and utility cards for Commander, but here are some top picks to be aware of:
Dark Confidant, Force of Will, Imperial Recruiter, Sneak Attack, Land Tax, Cyclonic Rift, Dualcaster Mage, Chord of Calling, Doomed Necromancer, Noble Hierarch, Auriok Salvagers, Path to Exile, Brainstorm, Frogify, Chrome Mox, Mox Opal, Mana Crypt, Duplicant, Basalt Monolith, Mishra’s Bauble, Everflowing Chalice, Ichor Wellspring, The mana fixing cycle of dual lands, Maze of Ith, High Market, Blinkmoth Nexus, Buried Ruin, Ash Barrens.
Star Man’s Review
Reprint sets are my favorite food. Whenever a new Commander set or draft innovation set like Conspiracy or Battlebond drops, I’m always excited for the reprints–even the tokens. Even the little things like updated Oracle text on cards interest me. I’ve even bought new editions of cards I already owned, such as Lava Spike, so I can avoid a rules argument and so I won’t forget that it can still be pointed at a planeswalker since the rules change made to targeting planeswalkers for damage spells in April 2018. 2020 has seen several sets that are totally reprint sets or heavy in them. So far there’s been Mystery Booster, Commander 2020, Jumpstart, Core Set 2021, and Double Masters. Commander Legends is set to release later this year. In spite of the premium pricing for booster packs and the ridiculous price for VIP boosters, they cut the price of entry into eternal formats down considerably for a while. Many of the cards reprinted in Double Masters are their first reprint ever or in years that are non-foil or promotional. Get ‘em while they’re fresh if you’ve ever wanted to explore Pioneer, Modern, or even Legacy.
Double Masters is focused heavily on reprints for Modern and Commander, but Wizards did throw Pioneer players a few bones. Thoughtseize is the most valuable reprint in Double Masters that is legal in Pioneer and is a staple in every constructed format it’s legal in. The Scarab God is a powerful card in blue-black control decks and this is its first reprint. Fatal Push has been in abundant supply, but it’s a difficult card to reprint because of its revolt ability, a mechanic that is unlikely to be revisited in a Standard-legal set.
Cards that have potential in Pioneer include Cyclonic Rift, Chord of Calling, and Voice of Resurgence. Cards that have already been cheap to pick up but you might not have gotten around to getting yet are Thraben Inspector, Abrade, Reclamation Sage, Izzet Charm, Phyrexian Revoker, and Ratchet Bomb.
Double Masters began its life as an artifact-focused reprint set, similar to how Ultimate Masters was originally envisioned as a graveyard-focused reprint set. A lot of cards reprinted in Double Masters are artifacts and cards that support them.
The most powerful standouts among the artifacts in Double Masters are the equipment. At the apex are the Mirran swords. These swords all grant the equipped creature protection from an enemy pair of colors and two abilities that trigger when the equipped creature deals combat damage to a player that are in the wheelhouse of the colors the sword provides protection against. Sword of Feast and Famine, Sword of Fire and Ice, and Sword of Light and Shadow are the most powerful of the cycle. Batterskull is frequently a creature in and of itself thanks to its living weapon ability, but it’s a powerful piece of equipment should it ever become attached to another creature.Basilisk Collar is a great piece of equipment for your creatures that have abilities that ping your opponent for damage to score some life, but it’s at its most powerful if the ping can go to your opponent’s creatures. Basilisk Collar attached to a creature that can ping other creatures will erase them. It’s also amusing to equip a creature with first strike or double strike, such as Mirran Crusader. Sword of the Meek is one half of a combo with Thopter Foundry that can be sacrificed to Thopter Foundry’s ability and recurred for as much mana as you’re willing to spend. Cranial Plating is a staple in Affinity decks that may be surviving since the ban of Mox Opal.
Finally, to support these cards is the first-ever non-promo reprint of Stoneforge Mystic, a card recently freed from Modern’s banlist since the format’s inception in 2011. Untapping with a Stoneforge Mystic after digging your Batterskull out of your library is the combo that finally got it banned from Standard in 2011 and placed it on Modern’s starting banlist. Even if your Stoneforge Mystic eats a removal spell before it can put the equipment onto the battlefield, it is still a useful tutor spell for your equipment.
Among the reprinted artifacts, Mishra’s Bauble returns after its last reprint in Iconic Masters. This trinket rose in popularity as a means to help support creatures with prowess like Monastery Swiftspear, but it is also useful in adding to the card types in your graveyard to grow your Tarmogoyf and enable delirium on spells like Traverse the Ulvenwald. Its ability to peek at the top card of either player’s library and draw a card helps you dig and provide information.Trinisphere gets its first printing since Darksteel in 2004. This artifact is a key component in prison strategies that lock out your opponent from being able to cast cheap spells. When combined with Blood Moon or other spell taxing cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Lodestone Golem, your opponent will be trapped and unable to play the game. Ensnaring Bridge also returns as another set piece for prison decks that protect you from being attacked. Trinisphere and Ensnaring Bridge are regularly seen as options for decks playing with Karn, the Great Creator in their sideboards to be retrieved.
Many pieces critical to Tron decks have also been reprinted. The Urza lands–Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Power Plant, and Urza’s Tower have been reprinted. When all three lands are on the battlefield under your control, you will have formed the Urzatron and gain access to seven colorless mana in only three lands. Expedition Map is a colorless card that can find any of the Urza lands that you are missing to form the Urzatron on turn three. Chromatic Star is a colorless artifact that can convert mana into any color for you to be able to cast spells like Sylvan Scrying, Ancient Stirrings, or your green sideboard cards to have a retort to your opponent’s own sideboard cards. Oblivion Stone, also reprinted in Double Masters, sweeps the board of not just creatures, but of all problematic permanents your opponent may have that delays or cuts you off of your accelerated mana. The reprinted artifact creatures Walking Ballista and Wurmcoil Engine are staples in all variants of Tron decks and are powerful finishers in their own right. Karn Liberated also returns in Double Masters to provide a game-winning set of abilities that lock your opponent out of the game and is paired with Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, a card reprinted in Core Set 2021. You might also consider Sundering Titan, also reprinted, for your sideboard or your maindeck as an option to attack your opponent’s mana.
Other artifacts of interest in Double Masters are Mesmeric Orb for the popular blue-black mill deck, Isochron Scepter for attaching cheap spells to repeat, and Spellskite to absorb targeted spells at critical creatures or to steal combat tricks your opponent might use on their own creatures. Welding Jar receives its first reprinting, providing a means to regenerate important artifacts from destruction. Blightsteel Colossus is in this set as well, but it might be better for your Commander deck. Tinker-like cards such as Reshape and Shape Anew are in Modern if you are interested in an artifact creature-based combo finisher.
A reprint of Path to Exile is always welcome. This card can never seem to drop in its secondhand price, and the gobs of reprints it’s gotten in the last four years have slowly pushed it down to five dollars. Blade Splicer is a popular target for decks with blink tricks, and Flickerwisp joins Blade Splicer in Double Masters. Puresteel Paladin is seen alongside many cheap or free equipment spells that enable metalcraft and can be equipped to the Paladin for free. It works well with Colossus Hammer. The ur-mass sweeper spell Wrath of God also returns. It’s been on the sideline since white-blue control decks prefer Supreme Verdict because it cannot be countered, but if your deck needs a sweeper and can’t reach into blue mana, Wrath of God gets you there.
BlueJace, the Mind Sculptor is the most noteworthy blue card in Double Masters. Its last reprint was in Masters 25, a set that released shortly after its unbanning from Modern’s initial 2011 banlist. Master of Etherium was once a common piece in Affinity decks, but the banning of Mox Opal has put the archetype mostly to rest, but it may see a resurgence in the future if any cheap or free artifacts with useful abilities get printed in a future expansion. Phyrexian Metamorph hasn’t been in the Modern scene in quite some time, especially since the change to the legend rule in 2014 that no longer allows it to erase your opponent’s legendary creatures or artifacts. It’s probably better off in your Commander deck, but it’s not a bad card to have around. Reshape is a Tinker-like spell that has been critical to artifact-based combos in the past and may be once again.
BlackThoughtseize is the premier hand disruption card in Modern. The creation of the Pioneer format put a hard demand on this card and the reprint was sorely needed. Try to get a playset of Thoughtseizes before the end of the summer if you don’t have one already. Ad Nauseam receives its first ever reprint, being a part of a combo with Lightning Storm to discard a mess of land cards to make the storm big enough to kill your opponent in a single shot. Dark Confidant is a staple in Jund and other black-green midrange decks that provides card advantage and can attack and block in a pinch. Death’s Shadow has become one of the pillars of Modern in the last four years. Fatal Push is universally played in any deck that can use black mana and reprints for it are difficult to include because of its revolt ability. The reprint will make it cheap for a while, but it will end up like Path to Exile and creep up to being worth ten dollars or more in the future when reprints finally dry up.
RedBlood Moon is one of Modern’s most common answers to greedy manabases. This card was forty dollars when I returned to Magic in 2016, and while it’s been reprinted twice since then, it creeps back up in secondhand value quickly. Goblin Guide is one of the best one-mana creatures around. It’s a 2/2 creature with haste for a single red mana and its drawback always provides you with information about your opponent’s next draw. Even if they get a land card out of it, it so rarely matters while the low investment in mana frequently gets in four or six damage. Cragganwick Cremator is an interesting inclusion in Double Masters, likely informed by the run on it in 2018 where it would combo with creatures with very steep converted mana costs in order to deal a killing blow of as much as fifteen damage with Autochthon Wurn.
GreenDoubling Season is certainly meant for the Commander crowd, but some people have had success running it in decks full of planeswalkers to get a boost on their starting loyalty to get to their ultimate abilities the turn they enter the battlefield. Noble Hierarch is one of the best mana dorks in the game, and every reprint pulls down its secondhand value. Get a set of these as soon as you can. Vengevine is a powerful creature in decks that can recur it from the graveyard cheaply. Its price also yo-yos whenever a deck featuring it manages to get some screentime or when it just happens to be in the strongest deck in the format.
MulticolorMeddling Mage has been in need of a reprint for some time since the five-color humans deck emerged in 2018, and this is its second reprint after Mystery Booster released earlier this year. It might be a little too late since that deck has been on the decline, but Meddling Mage is still a useful card in sideboards to disrupt combos. Fulminator Mage is a powerful answer to powerful lands and greedy manabases while being a creature. Geist of Saint Traft is a good finisher in the white-blue spirits deck and can cause some havoc in the Bant variant of the deck with Noble Hierarch. Manamorphose seems to always find a home, even after the banning of Faithless Looting took the Arclight Phoenix decks with it. It remains a staple in blue-red Storm decks and in blue-red blitz decks that need to cast as many spells as possible in one turn. Voice of Resurgence is always a welcome sight and is strong in green-white decks to punish spell-heavy decks your opponents are playing. It’s been on the decline, but it’s still a strong card.
This is the first time since Ninth Edition in 2005 that the Urza lands have been reprinted. I was hoping they would have the same illustrations from the MTGO promos that came out in 2017, but they feature the same artwork as the editions from Ninth Edition. All ten filterlands, the rare land cycles from Shadowmoor and Eventide, were reprinted to play into the double theme of the set. The enemy-colored lands were reprinting in Masters 25 in 2018, but this is the first reprinting of the allied set. Academy Ruins returns to recur artifacts. Blinkmoth Nexus is not uncommon inclusion in decks heavy on artifact creatures and it can boost your Inkmoth Nexus in your infect deck. Glimmervoid grants you access to any color of mana in your artifact deck.
The most standout and valuable card in Double Masters is without question Force of Will. This card can’t seem to stay below one hundred dollars and every reprinting of it helps.Council’s Judgment gets its first reprint since it was first seen in 2013’s Consipiracy. This spell gets around evasion abilities like protection, indestructible, and hexproof. Its will of the council mechanic will likely never return unless Wizards revisits the Conspiracy format again, so this reprint is of great value. Land Tax was reprinted in Battlebond in 2018, but the enchantment is great for tax decks in Legacy. Toxic Deluge gets its first reprint since 2016 in Eternal Masters. This sweeper spell is cheaper than spells like Wrath of God and Supreme Verdict. Putting -X/-X on creatures means that you might be able to save your own creatures from being removed from the board while getting at your opponent’s smaller creatures. Imperial Recruiter returns after being reprinted in Masters 25. This card is usually used to find Painter’s Servant to paint all cards the same color and allow for Grindstone to mill your opponent for an infinite number of cards. Sneak Attack is ever present in Show and Tell decks as an alternative means to cheat Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play. The reprinting of Rolling Earthquake is amusing and it’s the first time a card referencing horsemanship has been reprinted in a booster pack set since Portal: Three Kingdoms was released in 1999. This card is certainly a plant for Commander and it’s not completely unheard of for it to have been played in Legacy, but don’t count on it to make some kind of presence. Exploration and Crop Rotation are important pieces of the Lands deck. You can tutor for any land that you need at instant speed to address any threats and play additional lands every turn. Baleful Strix is always a great reprint and fits into virtually every blue-black deck in Legacy for being able to answer almost any attacking creature and to draw a card. Chrome Mox and Mox Opal received reprints. Both will accelerate your mana for prison and other artifact-based decks. Dark Depths and Thespian’s Stage form a combo (along with Vampire Hexmage) to rush the thawing of Dark Depths for the Marit Lage token. Maze of Ith allows you to dictate which creatures will attack you and can save your own attacking creature in case an unfavorable blocker is used against it.
PauperOubliette was finally reprinted after Wizards found a way to condense its rules text into an allowable limit. It now phases out the creature and any cards attached to it. It still does the same thing that it did before in spirit, but the new rules for it means that any cards that interact with cards in exile can no longer be used on a card under the effect of Oubliette. A couple of cards were also downshifted to common for Double Masters: Abrade, Myr Retriever, and Cast Down. Abrade is likely to be a powerful inclusion in the format, and Cast Down shoots to at or near the top of the removal list in a format with effectively no legal Legendary creatures.
Hopefully you can tell we’re pretty excited for the set! Whether you’re a casual player or playing competitive, chances are Double Masters will affect you in some way. If you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.