Hello spellslingers, and curious game fans along for the ride. This is quite a year for Magic the Gathering (MtG) fans. Wizards of the Coast (WotC) are dropping new products with increasing regularity, offering something, they hope, for everyone. This is great for players and collectors, but less so for our wallets!
Core Set 2021 (M21) dropped in early July, which I was very excited for. I'm still enjoying deck building, and playing with M21! Roughly a month on, and we already have two new products to check out. Jumpstart landed on 17 July, bringing with it a new way to play magic, and some great reprints. Now we have Double Masters, the latest in the 'Masters' product series.
Before I move on to the new set, here is a brief overview of MtG, for the uninitiated:
MtG is a collectable card game for two or more players. Each game represents a battle between powerful wizards, known as Planeswalkers, who have the ability to travel a multi-verse. You’ll discover countless worlds inhabited by species as varied as the fantastic lands they live in.
Players will cast spells, summon creatures, and deploy artifacts to overcome their opponents. Typically, a player will win by reducing their opponent’s starting life points to zero. However, there are other paths to victory! Expansion sets are released regularly. Each expansion adds cards to the available pool. Players now have thousands of cards from which to collect and play within customised decks.
Double Masters is a compilation set, made up largely of reprinted cards, released on 7 August 2020. 332 cards make up this set: 91 commons, 80 uncommons, 121 rares, 40 mythic rares.
A lack of fetch lands in his product is a disappointment, given it's cost; but it does include the full set of filter lands. These cards were originally printed in Shadowmoor and Eventide. At the cost of tapping the land and paying one mana, each generates two mana, in three variations.
The Filter Lands:
Mystic Gate, Sunken Ruins, Graven Cairns, Fire-Lit Thicket, Wooded Bastion, Fetid Heath, Cascade Bluffs, Twilight Mire, Rugged Prairie, and Flooded Grove.
This set is sold in Draft Booster packs, boxes (containing 24 packs), and a special 'VIP Edition'.
The VIP Edition contains 35 (mostly foil) cards, that will appeal to the collectors amongst us. This includes 2 foil showcase, borderless cards, randomly selected from a pool of 40 cards. Of that 40, 32 are Mythic Rare or Rare. Included are cards like: Blightsteel Colossus, Kaalia of the Vast, and Atraxa, Paetors' Voice.
It also includes two other foil rares (or one rare, and one mythic rare); and 10 full art basic lands (Reprints from Battle of Zendikar). Full art lands are understandably popular amongst the MtG community, they look great.
Theme and Strategy
'Double' is the key word for the set in terms of them, each booster back has two rare slots. Double the standard! When drafting this set, you take two cards as your first pick from a booster. Also, a number of cards have doubling effects/mechanics.
In regards to deckbuilding strategies in limited formats, Double Masters leans into a number of archetypes. These include: Reanimator (Blue/Red), Artifacts (White/Blue), Morbid (Black/Green), and Go Wide (Green/White). Briefly, for new players: An archetype is a recurring deck/strategy that have been (or are) prevalent in tournaments.
Signpost cards for drafting:
|Hanna, Ship's Navigator||Baleful Strix||Falkenrath Aristocrat||Savageborn Hydra||Rhys the Redeemed|
|Meddling Mage||Time Sieve||Fulminator Mage||Vexing Shusher||Voice of Resurgence|
|Glassdust Hulk||Sphinx Summoner||Unlicensed Disintegration||Ghor-Clan Rampager||Selesnya Guildmage|
|Merciless Eviction||Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer||Maelstrom Pulse||Sunforger||Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle|
|Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter||Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain||Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest||Swiftblade Vindicator||Progenitor Mimic|
|Hidden Stockpile||Izzet Charm||Deathreap Ritual||Weapons Trainer||Yavimaya's Embrace|
Overall, I like the set. It's an enjoyable set to draft and play in isolation, and is packed with some great cards. The reprints will increase the availability of sought after cards, whilst also lowering the prices on the secondary singles market. That's always a good thing for players.
The would-be collector in me appreciates the alternate artwork and showcase cases. Since the inclusion of showcase cards in Throne of Eldraine, I've seriously considered collecting again. However, I have so far held back. In all honesty, I will very likely hold back from buying into Double Masters in a big way.
Double Masters is an expensive product. It's one of the most expensive MtG products in recent years, if not ever. It does pack a lot of value, and it does make some highly sought after cards available again, via reprints. However, the price tag is off putting. Collectors and competitive players will get value from Double Masters. To those I would suggest picking up a booster box to draft, for post-pandemic play!
However, if you're a new and/or casual player I would suggest you consider Core Set 2021 or JumpStart products. Both sets will give you better value, and help you establish, or expand your collection. Also, with Jumpstart, you will have an easier, quicker way to deckbuild in limited formats.