This past Thursday, Wizards of the Coast dropped a shocking announcement on the Magic: the Gathering world: the announcement of Double Masters. This set is the first Masters set release since Ultimate Masters came out at the tail end of 2018. At the time, it was stated that Ultimate Masters would be the last Masters set for the foreseeable future. As a sort of send-off, they scrapped the initial title of Immortal Masters - which was set to be largely graveyard focused - and instead pumped up the value and power of the set to eleven. The set still retained a lot of that original graveyard concept, but also became a bit of its own thing in the process.
Now comes Double Masters and with it comes a lot of speculation. A lot of talk has come about from the set's high price tag - comparable to Ultimate Masters - along with concerns about whether or not the contents will be worth it. After all, the whole reason the line ended is because Iconic Masters and Masters 25 were total flops. Everyone remembers how awful it felt when Tree of Redemption was previewed and many are somewhat leery of that happening again.
So what makes Double Masters so special? Well, it's going in hard on its double theme. As a result, they're including two rares and/or mythics in every pack, as well as two guaranteed foils. To compensate, they've juiced up the number of rares in the set with 121 rares and 40 mythics, way more than a normal release. WotC has also stated that they wanted to take the lessons of Ultimate Masters and utilize them here.
What made Ultimate Masters so successful? The incredible swath of crazy good reprints! Liliana of the Veil, Tarmogoyf, Snapcaster Mage, Noble Hierarch, Cavern of Souls, Dark Depths, Bitterblossom and so many more all in one set. It was a who's who of major reprints we desperately needed for a number of formats. Right off the bat, Double Masters is looking quite similar, with five cards having been previewed on day one:
WotC started the day by dropping two announcements on us to keep in theme of it being "double." In these announcements they showed sweet new art versions of Doubling Season and Blightsteel Colossus. Soon after, a tweet showed up asking players to choose what card they wanted to see previewed during the Weekly MTG stream later that day. The winner was a zero mana artifact that turned out to be another printing of Mana Crypt! But they didn't stop there. They thought it only fair to show the runner-up - a commander - which was Kaalia of the Vast, last seen in the first Commander Anthology set.
The craziness didn't stop there, though. As it happened, some players discovered that when the announcement articles dropped earlier in the day, a different card appeared in one of the Russian articles. This card was none other than Atraxa, Praetors' Voice. It was quickly fixed, leaving players to wonder if it was fake or not. But when the art showed up on the MTG Art Market Facebook group following the "preview," players realized how legitimate it actually was. As a result, Wizards acknowledged the slip-up and previewed the card properly on the Weekly MTG stream as well.
These sweet previews are already setting the bar tremendously high in reprint quality and value alike. In addition, they provide some interesting clues about what the set has to offer us. As such, I want to take today to do a bit of a deep dive into some things I think might be reasonable to expect when Double Masters hits stores in August.
Let's start with the obvious one first and foremost before I start going into what we can infer from the information given to us thus far. That is the poll that Wizards showed us to determine what cards they would preview for us on the Weekly MTG stream. In it, we were given four choices: a sorcery, a zero mana card, a commander, and a human.
Of these, we still haven't seen what the sorcery or the human were. So I decided to do a little speculating. Looking under both criteria, I went through rares and mythics to hunt down chase cards in each category. The reason for chase cards is because Mana Crypt and Kaalia of the Vast are both quite pricey, with Kaalia being in the $40 range and Crypt being around $140 for the Mystery Booster printing. This leads me to believe the sorcery and human would also have been a big sizable price tag, so I looked through everything to try finding some of the juicier morsels.
Here's what I came up with for the humans:
Each of these cards commands a price tag over $20 and is quite desirable. In addition, most of them - with the exception of Sanctum Prelate - fit some potential themes that might work in a set called Double Masters. Snapcaster Mage was one people talked about right away, with Flashback meaning a likely mechanic to show up in the set, since you can cast a spell twice this way. Dark Confidant works because it draws extra cards, Azusa works because she gives extra land drops, Monastery Mentor makes tokens, and Sakashima's Student is a clone - which is doubling creatures in a way.
Of these cards, I think that Dark Confidant is the most likely of cards that would've shown up here. Snapcaster Mage saw recent reprints in both Ultimate Masters and Modern Masters 2017 whereas Bob hasn't shown up since Modern Masters 2015 and has been creeping up in price by a lot. The others are all sweet, but I don't think command the same appeal that Bob does here.
Next is sorceries, and this time I had a lot more to go off of:
These cards are a lot more of a mixed bag and show a lot more possibilities than the humans. In addition, a lot of them don't really fit the given theme. Tutoring, mass land destruction, discard, and more don't seem to line up too well with the "doubling" theme.
Well, going back to Kaalia, she clearly doesn't fully fit the theme either aside from if you count her essentially giving you extra creatures for free. Mana Crypt is weird as well unless you consider it giving you two mana within the theme. This leads me to think that any of these are free game and it was likely one of these cards was going to be shown but it's hard to pinpoint what one.
Of them, I feel Capture of Jingzhou, Glimpse of Nature, Imperial Seal, Rise of the Dark Realms, and Time Stretch are the most likely. Capture is an extra turn, Time Stretch is double that, and Glimpse of Nature gives extra cards just for playing creatures. Rise of the Dark Realms fits what I think will be a minor reanimation theme, as well as being a big money chase card. Lastly, Imperial Seal is just one of those highly playable cards for Commander and Cube that's very expensive and in dire need of a reprint.
Lastly there was one other small thing mentioned during the Weekly MTG stream: Mana Crypt is not the only zero mana spell in the set. So I got to work and compiled another small list of ideas for you all:
Because it was hinted that they "had multiple cards to choose from" when they previewed Mana Crypt, I do think this means it's another big card. However, that wording didn't necessarily indicate that this spell would be another chase rare, though they did say it would be an artifact. Most of the likely zero drop spells do fall into that range, but there's a handful of possibilities like Everflowing Chalice and Zuran Orb that I could see showing up but aren't huge powerhouses. I didn't feel cards like Memnite or Tormod's Crypt were likely to make it here because of either recent reprints or being too weak for a Limited focused set, so I opted to leave them off.
Of these cards, I feel like Chrome Mox is the most likely, as it's a card that's very much been creeping up in price lately and wants another printing. Mox Opal might be possible because the set was likely finalized before that card was banned in Modern (see Splinter Twin in Modern Masters 2015). That said, I do also feel that one could have been an easy swap to another Mox card, unlike Twin. Mox Amber is a possibility but unlikely due to a need to a mass of legendaries. Instead, I think we'll see it in something like Commander Legends later in the year if at all.
The Mechanics and Themes
So next up is the mechanics and themes, as we take a look at things we can deduce from what we've seen so far. On the five cards previewed so far we have seen the following things mentioned:
- Doubling Effects
- Coin Flips
Now, one of these things is not like the others, and I think coin flips is just unlikely. The reality is that Mana Crypt was just inserted here as a chase rare with a cute element of providing two mana. If anything, I'd imagine coin flips are almost never going to appear as an actual Limited mechanic and instead would likely appear as something more in a Commander precon. The other aspects all have some solid legs to go off of, but there's a little more beyond that as well. Let me explain:
Kaalia of the Vast is in this set. A much needed reprint that has only shown up in Commander 2011, Commander's Arsenal, and the first Commander Anthology. But what's she doing in a set called Double Masters? You would think that they'd instead be showing off this cool dude:
Copy creatures and copy spells while also having two characters in the art itself? Check, check, and check. Oh, and did I mention he's only ever been printed in Commander 2011 and once as a Judge Promo? He's also sitting pretty at around the $20 mark for his non-foil printing.
This got me thinking: what if all the main face legendaries from Commander 2011 were in this set? Think about it. The Mimeoplasm works well because it not only basically copies a creature and in a way reanimates, but it also takes attributes from two creatures and not just one. Ghave also plays well into the likely theme of tokens, as I can't imagine a card with a doubling theme not having a bunch of tokens in it. This leaves Zedruu. A weird choice, but I can totally imagine her working well in more control-oriented limited decks. What's more, both Ghave and Zedruu don't have foil printings, and thus this would be a great opportunity to give it to them.
Tokens and counters being themes could lead to anything. I imagine we'll see a few obvious ones like Kalonian Hydra, Raise the Alarm, and Vorel of the Hull Clade, but this is one of the areas that's likely anything goes and hard to predict specifics. I'd like to see Helm of the Host, but the very recent printing leads me to think it's left out in this set. Proliferate is similarly difficult as we've only seen the mechanic a few times, but I'd imagine we're sure to see a few notables like Contagion Engine and Inexorable Tide, as well as some of the commons and uncommons from War of the Spark.
Infect is a lot harder to gauge, especially when the card previewed here was Blightsteel Colossus. The reason being that Blightsteel is meant to be a game ender on its own, so it might be a false positive for Infect reappearing. In addition, Mark Rosewater has stated in the past that one of the failures of Scars Block Limited was that you would often end up splitting your damage between poison and normal damage, which caused problems for gameplay. Despite that, I think there's room for a few cards to show up all the same, especially with Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon being big money mythic these days.
The last category is doubling effects and this one is a lot more interesting, because there's a lot of ways you can look at this. The most obvious example that I'm sure comes to a lot of people's minds is mana doublers. After all, it's a term we've heard quite a lot lately, and there's no shortage of them in Magic. There's some great ones we could easily see here, like cards that need serious reprints such as Extraplanar Lens or Gauntlet of Power, or else Mana Flare, its colorshifted version Heartbeat of Spring, or Mirari's Wake. Also, if Doubling Cube isn't in this set, then someone missed out on one of the most obvious choices possible here.
But even past those there are tons of great ways doubling can be used. Rings of Brighthearth doubles abilities and hasn't seen a meaningful reprint (so not the Kaladesh Masterpiece one) since its first printing in Lorwyn. It's especially ripe for a reprint and seems like a total slam dunk here. In a similar vein, I could also see Panharmonicon or even another printing of Strionic Resonator if they really felt like it.
There's not just ways to "double" your mana, but also double damage, double card draw, double turns, double combat phases, double land drops, and so on. Really they're all "extras," barring damage which usually is properly doubled, but they still work here. Let's run down three possible cards for each of those spots:
Double card draw:
Double combat phases:
Double land drops:
"Copy target spell" effects:
Now, obviously, these aren't guarantees, but it's obvious that there's a number of excellent choices for a number of areas here. Oracle of Mul Daya in particular has been dying for a reprint for a long time and could easily fit in here. Similarly, Nexus of Fate still sees some play in Modern thanks to the Sultai Reclamation decks and as such this might be a good opportunity to give it a non-foil printing. I'd like to think we also get a normal Time Warp kind of effect if only to go with one other card I'd love to see show up: Soulfire Grand Master. Can you imagine how cool it would be to assemble this combo in Limited? It'd be wild to see in action!
Clones also feel like something we could see a number of. There's tons of them throughout Magic's long history and many options to choose from. While some of these could certainly show up in the Blue slot, we could also see things like Green's rare token copy cards like Bramble Sovereign and Dual Nature or Red's temporary tokens like Masters favorite Kiki-Jiki. There's also a few odd pricey cards out there like Copy Enchantment and Vesuva that would make for a great reprint as well.
Even things like reanimator spells make sense because they bring the creature back for more. I'd expect less of these since that was kinda Ultimate Masters' focus, but they definitely missed a few cards like Necromancy and Animate Dead. Dance of the Dead is getting up there in price, but the super awkward text makes it incredibly unlikely it'll get included. I wouldn't be surprised to see something like Masters staple Eternal Witness make another appearance though!
There's also three cycles that quickly come to mind when I think "double" or "two."
The first is the Shadowmoor Reflection cycle. Of these cards, three have yet to see a real meaningful reprint. It seems like a tremendously easy cycle to show up here, especially with the surplus of rares in the mix.
The second cycle is the "-ling" cycle. This was one that started with Morphling back in Urza's Saga and spawned a colorshifted version in Torchling and inspired later versions for the other colors. Since Morphling is on the reserved list, we also got Aetherling in Dragon's Maze to give us a reprintable Blue one. These cards aren't very expensive, but they're somewhat iconic, fun, and would be great for a Limited setting like this. And even if we don't get any "-ling" cards, a throwback to Morphling in Pemmin's Aura (an anagram of "I am Superman" - the nickname of Morphling) would be great to see.
Last but not least, I think it's possible we see the Liege cycle from Shadowmoor and Eventide. Many of these, particularly the allied color ones from Shadowmoor, are pretty unexciting. However, providing buffs and to two colors, as well as often giving extra abilities, seems right on. Some of these have gone up quite a bit in price too, so they seem like great possible options for the multicolored slots.
Before I go further, here's a small list of other mechanics that might be relevant in this set, along with a small list of cool cards from those mechanics that could show up here:
- Double Strike
- Split Cards
A Few Random Card Ideas and Finals Thoughts
Here's a few other oddballs that I feel might be relevant, either to the themes - if a little loosely at times - or being a good reprint that's more possible here than, say, Commander Legends. Do note this certainly isn't comprehensive, but is more meant to give a good look at a number of potentials the set may have to offer that didn't quite work in any previous category.
Now, I know what you might be saying. "But Kendra, what about Planeswalkers? Lands? Downshifts?!" Planeswalkers are kind of a toss-up, really. Only two strike me as real possibilities based on the double theme, and that's Kiora, the Crashing Wave and Narset Transcendent. Kiora gives extra land drops while Narset gives something rebound.
As for lands, I see two possibilities since we know we won't be getting fetch lands. Those are either the Shadowmoor filter lands or the Scars of Mirrodin fast lands. If WotC really feels like taking the extra step with their extra rare slots, maybe we could see the full cycles of each reprinted instead of just the allied colors. Since both saw printings of the enemy sides just a few years ago, the allied ones make more sense so I imagine they're more likely for the time being.
As for downshifts, I think it's impossible to speculate. What I do think, however, is that we'll see some fantastic cards that have an impact on the Pauper format as a whole. I never would've thought we'd see cards like Burning-Tree Emissary, Foil, or Seeker of the Way down to common, after all. It'll be interesting to see what ends up making the cut!
All in all, I think Double Masters is going to be nothing short of incredible once it finally lands. Yes, the price has been a point of hot contention in the past few days, but it's still likely to bring with it a ton of fantastic cards. Even if you can't go too in on these boosters, one would hope that you might at the very least be able to go in on some cheap singles thanks to the set driving prices down, as Masters sets tend to do. July can't come soon enough, because I'm chomping at the bit to see more previews! What do you think Double Masters has in store for us?
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