Singling Out Double Masters

Are you like me, interested in the massive array of attractive reprints in Double Masters, but scared off buying any packs because of all the bulk?

The double-mythic pull of Geth, Lord of the Vault and Geist of Saint Traft is possibly the biggest trap in the room, to say nothing of dozens of rares that are great cards, but not worth the price of admission.

Of course there will be plenty of folks with stories like ‘Double Wurmcoil and foil Jace’ and ‘Bob, Sword of Feast and Famine, and foil Ad Nauseum’ and ‘…the whole pack was foil Avacyn boxtoppers. Santa himself even whistled. This was right after he made me grand knight of Christmasland.’ I hope you pack openers get to tell some of those stories.

But for me, the variance is too high, and the price per pack is too high. It’s not like I really have disposable income to spend anyway. But if I did, there would definitely be a short list of singles I’d pull out of the Double Masters pile.

Let’s face it, this is a product for spenders and speculators, and a lot of boxes will probably be cracked. The prices of the less splashy cards will hopefully drop, and some cards that are expensive because of scarcity will also come down drastically. My collection has been built by buying cards ‘when they were cheap.’ It often means watching prices, looking for trades, and being less particular about quality. When it comes to splashy reprint sets like Double Masters, it can actually be pretty easy to come away with a good haul of cards for very little cash.

The conventional wisdom among MtG financiers is that you give the set some time to breathe and be opened and prices to settle before you buy in. It will allow the market to correct itself for the new supply, before too much demand starts to bring it up again. It is likely that most Double Masters’ singles prices will fall at a steady rate until new Zendikar or so. Conventional wisdom is not fact, however, and steady demand from a growing Commander community could keep prices consistent. Keep an eye on things yourself, and don’t rely on the voices of the internet to tell you when to buy in. Make sure you’re comfortable with your purchase.

While it has the most splash, I’m mostly going to ignore the Mythic Rare slot here. I would call many of these cards Commander Staples, but almost all of those command a pretty high price tag that the new supply probably won’t change much. I could be wrong, so if you are dead set on one particular Mythic in the set, keep an eye on it. If you want my recommendation on one card from the upper tier of the set that’s worth spending some Commander cash on, it’s Wurmcoil Engine. It shouldn’t be too expensive and is a shockingly effective card.

I will however mention Geth again, as well as powerful Commander options Riku of Two Reflections, Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice, Breya, Etherium Shaper, and even Kaalia of the Vast. Geth was expensive at one point, and now is easy to pick up for next to nothing. The rest haven’t had many printings, and even if they’re high demand, it’s rarely for more than a single copy at a time, unlike the Modern Staples also available at Mythic.

Academy Ruins is alphabetically the first of the rares, and probably the single card from the set that I want most. I play with similar cards like Volrath’s Stronghold, Hall of Heliod’s Generosity, and Unholy Grotto, and they’re great. They help you grind and eke out advantage, and make your powerful toys keep coming back for more play. I’m not sure what the price floor is for this card, but I’ll be watching carefully. Hopefully most of the rares come down below $10, and some straight to bulk. Love me some utility lands!

Basilisk Collar is something I have, but if I didn’t, I’d be excited about another printing to get the price down even further. Dog and cat decks will want this, of course, so there may never be a lapse in demand. The Collar is a terrific card you could jam in almost any deck, and with the low cost of use, is going to get play.

The Filter Lands, like Cascade Bluffs here, haven’t seen many printings. Graven Cairns, which was a future sight land, has a few extra, but on the whole, the cycle has suffered from a lack of supply. Commander’s presence as a format, and the quiet demand from the Kitchen Table means that mana fixing lands, ie. dual lands, will always have some demand. I doubt Wizards will print these into bulk oblivion, the way they did with the Scry Temples, but they’ll definitely get down into the reasonable range for a lot of people. Again, I’ll be watching carefully, as I only have Graven Cairns from this cycle and would love these in my collection.

Exploration is definitely going to come down in price, but the demand should be immediate. This card is insane, and kind of a shocker as a rare again. I find cards like this hard to play with sometimes. I don’t like playing with stuff that gets a groan from my friends every time I play it, and Exploration threatens to be one of those. It has crazy acceleration potential, but that often draws terrible enmity from the table. However, unlike a lot of accelerators, Exploration is still good late game, and can even be part of a nasty synergy engine with Landfall or something. If I can find a home for it where it’s a nice piece, but hardly oppressive, that’d be great. Sort of a reverse-breaking of a broken card.

High Market is something I have, like Basilisk Collar, and like the Collar, can go in a lot of decks. The big difference for me here is that I’d like an actual, physical copy of High Market for almost every deck I build. If it bulks out, I’m going to grab a few. Instant speed sacrifice on demand is always big game. Due to things like indestructibility, a lot of Commander removal employs exile, and High Market stops that easily. You still lose the creature, but it’s no longer forever. Once you get into things like death triggers and recursion engines, High Market starts to really loom large. I love it as an anti-theft device, because I play a lot of black and red decks that have no answer for that other than to just kill the thing they stole anyway.

Mesmeric Orb comes with a crazy load of caution. Yes, you might be the mill deck, or the self mill deck that loves this thing, but there are decks out there that love it more than you, even when you play it. The danger of playing mill (and discard) strategies is you risk enabling the recursion strategies to the point where you’re handing them the win. Either way, this was very expensive, and in short supply. It is undeniably powerful, and if it gets really cheap, I’m going to get one. It is definitely helped a lot by new mill all-star, Bruvac the Grandiloquent, which doubles mill effects for your opponents only.

Oblivion Stone is not the most efficient sweeper effect, but since it is colourless, it’s a great thing to have in the arsenal. Decks that are light on blanket removal, like blue, green and colourless decks, might get a lot of work out of this card, and when a fate counter commander appears, this thing will probably pop.

Rhys the Redeemed is an interesting card, and one of the few 1-mana Commanders kicking around. While I don’t intend to build around the card, it’s one I would like for the collection, and was very expensive previously. I think it was a supply issue, as Rhys isn’t breaking any formats, and hopefully this will fall all the way to bulk.

Rolling Earthquake is another card I do have already, but wouldn’t say no to another copy or two. Horsemanship could make a big comeback at some point, but in the meantime, damage-based sweepers that can hit almost all the creatures and the players have a ton of game to them. If you’re on dragons, Earthquake is probably better, but now strategic choices between cards like that, or just playing both, should be easier and cheaper.

Sculpting Steel should be pretty self-explanatory. Why wouldn’t you want a copy of this card in your collection? Especially if it wasn’t expensive?

Spellskite, that old Phyrexian Flagbearer, could be another big score for almost nothing. At one time it was a big player in Modern, but the ‘skite has been mostly outclassed and can now hang out with the Commander crowd. Some cards have an obvious purpose, and some tease at a huge range of techy potential. Spellskite teases potential like crazy. I just want to put it in play!

Sword of the Meek has combo potential with Thopter Foundry, but unless you’re abusing the various ETB and death triggers, or you can make savage amounts of mana, it’s not so bad. I’d like to see if I can find a useful home for it that isn’t all about the combos. It might be too small of an impact, but it’d be nice to have it be cheap enough to experiment with in a deck full of small creatures or tokens.

Toxic Deluge is probably the one must-have from the set. It has almost unparalleled power as a black sweeper, and leaves only the tallest creatures standing. You may be unwilling or unable to pay the life, but a sweeper is often a matter of life and death. Getting rid of the 20/20 only costs half your starting life anyway. Totally affordable, right? As with any of these cards that also have a box topper, the tiny impact on demand from those premium copies is still great for the frugal player.

With that, we’ve reached the end of the rares I’m looking at. There are plenty more awesome cards in the set, and the only reason I didn’t mention them was because I’ve got a copy already. Double check the list. There’s probably something for you!

There are tons of great uncommons and commons to look at in Double Masters too. So many that I’m going to cover them in a separate post.

One final thing I should mention is that as much as I wouldn’t buy a Double Masters pack for myself, I’d be delighted to get one as a gift, or even better, as a prize for winning games of Magic. Know a Magic player and want to get them something and don’t know what? Having a draft night with friends and want a sweet grand prize? This set might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Double Masters packs are exciting, and while they might not be a great return on money spent, are full of great cards and big potential. Even if you never buy a pack, you can benefit from the effect it will have on key singles. Double bonus. Thanks for reading!

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