For the literal thousands of you who still play on Magic Online (MTGO), yesterday marked the kickoff of Double Masters 2022 (2X2) Draft, a unique and fascinating set dropped into the middle of summer like a greased watermelon in a kiddie pool. If you haven’t had a chance to get in yet, what are you waiting for? The water is warm and there’s only a slight film on the surface.
I’m still chasing my elusive first trophy, but I’ve been picking up some packs and having a blast doing it. Decks that I’m seeing are trying everything from focused aggressive beatdown to durdling five-color piles to hyper-synergistic two-color midrange decks. It turns out that Magic players can get creative as hell when you give them every color combination to play with.
Here are some initial thoughts on the format, what seems to be working early on, and a couple of words of warning. Unlike that watermelon, it’s a straightforward set to grasp, but that doesn’t mean you should go in totally blind.
With the higher power level of 2X2 comes a lot of tough decisions to make, so Cube lovers will rejoice when cracking these packs. You tend to see the best results with cards that talk to each other, instead of a more Core Set vibe where you’re jamming in whatever has great stats.
Rares tend to be the exception, as “Reprint Masters 2022,” as some are calling it, was an excuse to get some older cards a little fresh art. These cards broadly don’t fit in a strategy, so when they do happen to fit with your plan, you’re playing with house money. Cube rules apply, though: tend to draft the less expensive card when you have a toss-up, and don’t be afraid to take lands highly.
In-Spired Multicolor Decks
I’ve been having a blast, feeling emboldened to play with as many colors as I’d like thanks to the overwhelming number of Cryptic Spires in each pod. If we were playing in person, I’d be curious if people thought they were tokens or just suffered from trypophobia.
Cryptic Spires is a tremendous design because, unlike traditional duals we see in Limited, colors do not constrain you until it’s time to shuffle up. Opening a bomb in Pack 2 leaves you free to splash it or shift directions entirely. Characteristically for a Masters set, you rarely have to worry about having enough playables. I find myself taking them over most commons and a decent number of uncommons. Yes, they’re that good.
Build for Speed
When everyone is playing tapped lands, I’m happy to race with a Boros core. Rarity shifts really helped out aggressive starts, with Monastery Swiftspear, Tenth District Legionnaire, Lava Coil, and Relief Captain all coming in at common.
You also have a plethora of tricks that most decks simply ignore, making it easy to back up hot starts while giving up little to no Draft equity to do so. Then, simply fill them out with blue (Jeskai prowess has been ripping for me) or black (Mardu, less so), preferably, because I think the best +1/+1 counter payoffs in green are a bit pricey for me.
Build for Pivoting
Part of the reason I love Boros is that it offers you the flexibility to change lanes, but you need to know which pivots work best to do this effectively. Dimir is a fine place to start because both Grixis and Sultai can make your graveyard work for you, depending on what exactly you’d like it to be doing. Extract from Darkness is going into either without a second thought.
Conversely, I haven’t been enamored with Azorius because its core competency of flickering creatures seems out of place in your garden-variety Jeskai or, to a lesser extent, Bant decks. These are highly specialized tools that can feel like you’ve accidentally welded yourself to the color pair when you weren’t paying attention.
Blue Is Down
The more I look at the blue commons in 2X2, the bigger it feels like they missed here. Your interaction beyond Aethersnipe — Capture Sphere, Kasmina’s Transmutation — are two Magic cards I don’t think people should play with. I forgot Aven Initiate had ever been printed, but it’s the ultimate “Who asked for this?” kind of creature. Mana Leak is still absolute gas, but everything else feels too archetype-specific (Advanced Stitchwing) or out of place entirely (Eel Umbra).
If you open a Consecrated Sphinx, you’re going to find a way to make it work, but I’m not eager to move into Islands as a base for any of my decks unless I’m trying to get Kede-wrecked.
It’s a Good Time to Be a Noncreature Permanent
My first draft was a 2-1, thanks almost entirely to Divine Visitation. Once it hit the battlefield, my opponent was entirely helpless in two of the matches, once I looked at what removal existed and saw that it’s sparse at best.
At common, we have Qasali Pridemage to deal with artifacts and enchantments. That’s it. That’s the full list. At uncommon, we’re looking at Bant Charm.
Rares give us a few options, but that shouldn’t be the takeaway. If I see an early Hardened Scales, Jeskai Ascendancy, or another Visitation, I’m not hesitating to go all-in on it, considering most decks will simply be stuck waving at them from a distance. If it wasn’t for all the blink and sacrifice running around, Capture Sphere might actually be playable here.
Over the last week, I was having a bit of buyer’s remorse for preordering more 2X2 Draft Booster boxes than Collector Booster boxes, based on what I’ve been seeing people open on the old YouTube. Now? I’m pretty excited that I’ll be getting in quite a few drafts in what could shape up to be an S-tier format. Have fun out there, and don’t forget to draft two cards whenever possible, but never three.