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Predicting What’s To Come In Double Masters

Double Masters: what does it mean? In her farewell article for Star City Games, Cassie LaBelle breaks down the latest Masters set announcement.

Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice, illustrated by Kev Walker

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When I saw the headline scroll across my social media feed, I thought it was a joke.

Double Masters? Seriously? What was this — some sort of goof about Wizards of the Coast (WotC) churning out an ever-increasing number of supplementary products? Only it wasn’t April 1st, and the link pointed directly to WotC’s website.

So yeah. Double Masters is real, and it’ll be here on August 7th. When WotC announced that Ultimate Masters would be the last Masters series set “for the foreseeable future,” I expected the hiatus would be somewhere in the two- to three-year range. In the end, there will be exactly twenty months between the release dates of Ultimate and Double Masters. Not quite two years, but close.

We won’t know the full contents of Double Masters until preview season in late July, but I don’t want to wait that long before diving into the deep end of this metaphorical swimming pool. Masters sets are significant financial events — they move markets, cause buyout spikes, and can unlock eternal formats for new players. Some of the cards reprinted in a Masters set can lose 90% of their pre-reprint value, while others actually increase in value upon being reprinted. And even though I won’t be able to make a lot of card-by-card predictions until the set is previewed, you can actually learn a lot about a Masters set from things that WotC has already told us about Double Masters.

My goal today is to peer into my crystal ball and see what we can predict about Double Masters. Is it worth pre-ordering a box or five? What sorts of cards might be included? Who is the set for? And where the heck is our fetchland reprint?

It’s time to…double our fun.

(Sorry.)

What Has Been Doubled in Double Masters?

The set is called Double Masters, but not everything in the set has been doubled.

The overall size of each newly printed set is somewhat variable, but it usually falls somewhere in the 250-275 range. Theros Beyond Death contained 254 unique cards, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths had 274, and Throne of Eldraine was right in the middle at 269. But even though those set sizes were variable, the numbers of rares and mythics were not: each of those three sets contained exactly 53 unique rares and fifteen unique mythic rares.

Double Masters will have 332 cards, 112 of which will be rares and 40 of which will be mythic rares. A true “doubling” of the rares and mythics would be 106 and 30 respectively, but this is pretty close.

Normally, this would make each rare and mythic rare twice as scarce as usual, but that won’t be the case with Double Masters. Since each booster pack of Double Masters will contain two rare slots and two foil slots, each rare and mythic rare will be roughly as pervasive as it would be in a normal Masters set — only there will be twice as many to open.

From a reprint equity perspective, this is a significant development. When WotC released Mystery Boosters, they reprinted a bunch of cards without causing the prices to crash. They pulled this off by ensuring that every card in the set essentially would be reprinted as a mythic rare. That allowed WotC to preserve a lot of reprint equity, but it didn’t do much for anyone who was hoping that the key staples from Mystery Boosters would see a significant price drop.

Double Masters won’t really have that problem. Essentially, this set is going to be two Masters sets printed on top of each other. That’s great news for those of you who are hoping to snag some cheap staples, and maybe less so for folks concerned about their collection equity.

Specific Mythic Rares Should Be Rarer Than Usual in Double Masters

Every time you open a pack of Double Masters, you are more than twice as likely to open a mythic rare as you are in a normal booster. In most sets, the odds are roughly 1 in 8 (12.3%, to be exact) to open a mythic rare. In Double Masters, the higher concentration of mythic rares relative to rares means that every rare/mythic slot has roughly a 15% chance to deliver a mythic. With two slots, every booster pack roughly a 28% chance of having at least one mythic — and that’s before we’ve counted the foil slot.

But what about the odds of opening any one specific mythic rare? In a normal set, those odds are 1 in 121.  In Double Masters, those odds have been lowered to 1 in 132. Will this end up mattering much? Probably not, but it’s worth noting that each specific mythic in this set will be slightly scarcer than any card WotC has printed in any recent set — including all the cards in Mystery Boosters.

This line of thinking won’t tell us all that much about Double Masters’s bottom line until we get a sense of how limited and scarce the print run is, but if it’s closer to Ultimate Masters than, say, Iconic Masters? Many of the mythics in Double Masters should be able to hang onto most or all of their current value. That’s worth thinking about before you panic-sell all your Mana Crypts, like I’ve seen some people doing. Remember: even in more heavily printed Masters sets, mythic rares tend to hold their value surprisingly well while non-mythic rares usually drop fast.

Will Pack Prices Ruin All Our Fun?

It is a not-so-secret secret that most of the equity in any booster pack is found in the rare and foil slots. For our purposes, then, we can essentially count each booster pack of Double Masters as two separate boosters stapled together. That might discount the value of a few key uncommons here and there, but it’s true enough that I feel comfortable using it as a heuristic for the rest of this article.

This brings us to our first potential sticking point: if each Double Masters booster pack costs us twice as much as a normal Masters set booster pack, then nothing has really changed, has it? We’d essentially be paying the same amount for each rare and mythic.

This calculus would be easy if WotC still used MSRP, but they do not. Double Masters booster boxes aren’t available for pre-order on StarCityGames.com yet, either, so I don’t have a lot of hard data to go on. The best available information I’ve found says that Double Masters will be priced the same as Ultimate Masters, which was $336 per box, or $14 per pack. It might end up stabilizing a bit higher, or a bit lower, but that’s a good figure to work with for now.

How does this stack up against previous Masters sets? Well, like I said, Ultimate Masters originally sold for that same $14/pack. That’s on the low end of what those booster packs are worth right now, and pre-ordering boxes of Ultimate Masters would have likely netted you a pretty decent win. Granted, Ultimate Masters has been the best Masters set so far, but it only had one rare and one foil slot per pack. Double Masters has twice that.

Earlier Masters set packs have sold between $6-$12 per pack. So far, the Masters sets with packs closer to $6 have either had an incredibly limited supply (Modern Masters 2013) or have caused singles prices to crash (Iconic Masters). We don’t have a large enough sample size across multiple price points to say how much of this was due to pack prices versus, say, Iconic Masters’s underwhelming contents, but it does seem true in a common sense sort of way that cheaper packs would lead to singles prices also being cheaper, especially when supply isn’t really an issue.

At first glance, the pack price for Double Masters looks too high to cause a major price drop, but that might not actually be true. Remember: each Double Masters pack is essentially two packs. Assuming the additional commons and uncommons we’re not getting from our second pack are worth roughly a dollar, you’re paying about $6.50 for each rare/mythic + foil slot with Double Masters. That’s roughly in line with the cheapest-ever Masters sets. I’m sure we’ll see plenty of social media hand-wringing about Double Masters’s price point, but keep this figure in mind. If you think of every pack as having twice the value of a normal booster, this is one of the cheapest Masters sets ever.

What will that mean for singles prices? We won’t know that until we get a sense of product allocation. If Double Masters is as scarce as Ultimate Masters was, prices shouldn’t drop all that much. If it has an Iconic Masters style print run, we could be looking at some major, major price drops — especially among the non-mythic rares. My expectation is that buying boxes will be fine, but probably not as lucrative as Ultimate Masters, and I’d treat the singles like I always do with Masters sets — pick them up during their yearly mid-December lull.

What Sorts of Cards Can We Expect to Find in Double Masters?

Right now, we know the identity of five Double Masters cards: Doubling Season; Blightsteel Colossus; Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice; Kaalia of the Vast; and Mana Crypt.

These are not cheap cards. Doubling Season is $60, Blightsteel Colossus is sold out at $55, Atraxa is sold out at $30, Kaalia is sold out at $28, and Mana Crypt is still a whopping $150 despite the Mystery Booster reprinting.

WotC isn’t going to tease us with the set’s duds, of course, so it’s hard to say much about the overall quality of Double Masters based on this reveal. But these five cards might reveal something else about Double Masters: its target audience.

All five of these cards primarily see play in Commander. Most of them aren’t even legal in Modern, much less Pioneer, and the ones that are don’t really see much play in those formats. If Double Masters were going to be a Modern-focused set, I think we’d have seen at least one Modern staple teased last week. Ditto for Legacy, or Pioneer, or any other competitive format. And since 2020 was originally billed as “The Year of Commander,” this makes sense.

Why not just call Double Masters “Commander Masters?” Ask WotC’s marketing team. My guess is that it had something to do with the double rare slot being added later in the development cycle and making more sense as a marketing push. Or, perhaps, WotC doesn’t want to make a niche product even more niche by alienating non-Commander players in the set’s title. I would also be shocked if WotC doesn’t throw in a few cards that have competitive overlap. But in terms of what cards are most likely to be reprinted in Double Masters? It has to be Commander staples.

I could spend the rest of this article listing expensive Commander staples that you might want to sell before Double Masters preview season begins, but I don’t think that would be a very useful exercise. There are hundreds of Commander cards due for a reprint, and you can make a reasonable case for nearly all of them to appear in Double Masters. The ones that aren’t in Double Masters could show up in Commander Legends later in the year, too, which means that you should probably not be sitting on a sea of Commander specs right now no matter what. The market is high, and a flood of reprints is coming. If you’re not using these cards, sell them.

Some cards seem like no-brainer inclusions for Double Masters, though. For example, we already know that Blightsteel Colossus is in Double Masters, which means that the set is already going to have at least one card with infect. There’s another card with infect from the same era that could really use a reprint — Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon. I’ll be somewhat shocked if that one isn’t included as one of our 40 mythic rares.

This also seems to be the set where they’re finally reprinting the most expensive cards from the early Commander sets, like Kaalia and Atraxa. I wouldn’t be shocked to see any of the following show up:

If you haven’t checked out the prices of some of these cards recently, you might be surprised. Thrasios, Triton Hero is sold out at $50 and is really hard to find for less than $70. Primal Vigor is sold out at $23 with a current market value closer to $30. Commander is kind of a big deal right now, and I’m always shocked when I look up cards like this and find they’re worth as much as or more than most Modern staples.

Karador, Ghost Chieftain; Riku of Two Reflections; and Skullbriar, the Walking Grave seem like Double Masters locks to me. If Kaalia of the Vast is in the set, I don’t see why they won’t also be including the other expensive legends from the original Commander set. I’d also be utterly gobsmacked if Primal Vigor isn’t included, likely at rare — WotC has said that they’re leaning into the “doubling” theme of the set, and this one badly needs a reprint.

The partner commanders are a little less likely to show up in Double Masters since we don’t know if partner will be in the set yet, but I expect they’ll be back at some point soon regardless. Cards from these Commander sets are at greater risk for massive price drops because the current supply is incredibly low — there’s no way that cards like Thrasios and Tymna would be nearly this expensive if they got a second printing, even in a Masters set. Again, if you’re holding onto expensive Commander cards like this right now, I’d sell into the current bull market. The risks are too great for me to recommend continuing to hold onto these long-term.

The VIP Treatment

Instead of Collector Boosters, Ultimate Masters will have a premium variant called Double Masters VIP Edition. It’s exclusive to this product (for now), and WotC’s announcement did not contain any real details about what the VIP Edition might include.

Luckily, we’ve had a little bit of information trickle in from the distributors. We know that the wholesale price is $75, meaning they will likely sell between $120 and $150 per box. We know that VIP Edition “packs” come with 35 cards: 21 premium cards, ten Full-Art basic lands, two Full-Art premium lands, and two tokens. It is unclear as of yet whether your VIP Edition purchase comes with four of these “packs” or just one, though — there is currently some confusion about what counts as a pack versus a box or a case.

Regardless, we don’t really know what the VIP Edition cards will look like yet, or what will be included. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Full-Art basic lands end up being from Zendikar Rising, a set that will almost certainly contain some sort of cool new basic land treatment, and letting folks get their hands on them early in the VIP Edition seems like something WotC might do. Otherwise, it’s anyone’s guess. Will the 21 premium cards be random, or will they be a set? Will box toppers be included? What will the foil treatment look like? We’re going to have to put a pin in this until we have more information.

Where the Heck Are All the Fetchlands?

It says a lot that WotC felt the need to pre-empt the rumors and disappointment by announcing that Double Masters would not have any fetchlands at all. They knew the truth: if they had kept their mouth shut about this, we’d have psyched ourselves up for a fetchland reprint and been disappointed when they weren’t included. By cutting that rumor off at its knees now, we can focus our hype energy on the cards that may actually end up being included in the set.

But if the fetchlands aren’t going to be reprinted in Double Masters, when are they showing up? WotC used a line in the Double Masters teaser article to remind us that another fetchland printing is indeed coming later this year, so we know this hasn’t been a forgotten promise.

Now, to quell one rumor before it begins, there are no fetch land [sic] reprints in this set. We know we told you there was another printing of fetch lands coming this year, and we promise there is, but Double Masters is not that reprint.

So far, we know about the following upcoming sets and products other than Double Masters: Jumpstart, Core Set 2021, Zendikar Rising, Commander Legends, and Commander Collection Green. I would be shocked if the fetchlands are in a set like Jumpstart, and there’s no way they can be in Commander Collection Green. That leaves Zendikar Rising, Core Set 2021, Commander Legends, or another product that has yet to be announced.

If WotC is going to reprint the fetchlands in a Standard-legal set, it’ll be in Zendikar Rising. After all, the original Zendikar is when the enemy-colored fetchlands made their debut. I still doubt that WotC wants fetchlands back in Standard again, but this is where they’ll be if I’m wrong about this.

Could the fetchlands be in Commander Legends? That also doesn’t feel right to me. The fetchlands are going to pull the focus off anything else in whatever set they’re in, so I doubt they show up in a set that’s designed to test out the concept of a Commander draft set. I wouldn’t be completely shocked, but it also doesn’t seem like the most likely home for these cards.

That leaves us with two options that strike me as somewhat more likely.

First, the fetchlands show up in a product that we don’t know about yet. There’s not much I can say about this, other than the fact that WotC has been churning out new products like they’re going out of style for a while now. I will never be shocked to hear about some new reprint product, be it an additional Masters set this holiday season or a box set or something else.

Second, the fetchlands will be reprinted in Zendikar Rising, but as some sort of premium addition that is not Standard-legal. Remember: the original Zendikar was home to the Priceless Treasures promotion, while Battle for Zendikar kicked off the Masterpiece Series. This is our third return to the plane of Zendikar, and I wouldn’t put it past WotC to find a way to get the fetchlands involved one way or another. Perhaps they’ll be box toppers, or a Masterpiece-style inclusion, or they’ll simply have a random drop rate in the Collector Boosters. One way or another, this is where I expect to see the fetchlands — in far greater numbers than the Secret Lair, I suspect, but probably not enough to cause more than a 25-30% drop in price.

This Week’s Trends

It was another big week for price spikes across the board, especially for Reserved List cards and Commander staples. Cards like Sliver Queen and Lion’s Eye Diamond that have been surging in price for weeks now have continued their upward trend, and they’ve been joined by dozens more. The list is too numerous to count, but it includes the Revised dual lands, Drop of Honey, Verdant Catacombs, Counterbalance, Vedalken Orrery, and Worldly Tutor.

Now that we’re about five weeks past those government stimulus checks hitting some of our bank accounts, it’s a lot harder to claim that they’re the cause of these spikes. They definitely jolted the market out of its slumber, but supply chain issues still seem like the most likely cause of these spikes to me. And I’m not sure those issues will end soon — with no large Magic events on the calendar for a long time to come, bigger stores will continue to have difficulty keeping cards in stock, which means that the available supply of Reserved List staples and other old scarce cards will continue to be low. As I’ve been saying for the past few weeks, this is a great market to enter as a seller, so if you’ve got any of these cards kicking around that you’re not using, now is the time to put them up for sale or send them into a buylist.

The other thing driving buyouts right now? Commander 2020. Complicate saw a price spike this week due to its play in Gavi, Nest Warden decks, while Primordial Hydra is a necessary card for all Zaxara, the Exemplary brewers. Both of these spikes were likely caused by individual or organized group buyouts, so sell high on your copies if you can.

What might spike next thanks to Commander 2020? A quick spin over to EDHREC tells me that there are a few potential targets for us. Finale of Revelation is one of the better cards in Zaxara, and it’s a reasonably affordable mythic rare that has been slowly creeping up for weeks now, so the potential for a spike seems fairly high to me.

I’ve also got my eye on Molten Psyche from Scars of Mirrodin. Every other Wheel of Fortune-ish card has seen a spike due to Xyris, the Writhing Storm, and Molten Psyche is among the most-played variant among actual Xyris builders. It’s has only been printed once, back in Scars, and it has steadily risen in price for years without an actual spike. They are currently available for $1.99 on StarCityGames.com, and my guess is that someone will buy these out at some point and they’ll end up being $10+ for quite some time.

Lastly, I have some bittersweet news to announce — this will be my final article for StarCityGames.com.

It has been a heck of a run. By my count, I’ve written 424 articles for Star City Games. That’s more than eight full years of weekly content, well over a million words, and dozens of set reviews. In fact, my first Star City Games set review was Avacyn Restored, where I wrote prescient and memorable lines like, “When the dust has settled, I would not be shocked if little Tibalt is the standout planeswalker of the set.”

In the years since, I’ve written apocalyptic fiction about the death of Magic, written satirical articles that some people didn’t recognize as parody, invented psychographics for Magic traders, attacked the Reserved List, attempted to defend the Reserved List, talked about what might happen if Martin Shkreli bought up all the Black Lotuses in the world like he said he was going to do, and tried to figure out what would happen if I bought up every basic Island in existence.

Just to quell any potential rumors, moving on from Star City Games right now was my decision. Star City Games has treated me with kindness, respect, and professionalism on every step of my journey, and I would not be surprised if I end up back here again at some point in the future. But since I am quite literally in a period of transition right now, it feels like time for a new adventure. I will still be writing about Magic Finance, and you can learn out about the next step in my journey on Twitter @CassieCeleste.

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