On the Play: Double Masters
Welcome to the first installment of On the Play! With each new Magic set, I'll be releasing a limited primer for sealed/drafting. My first entry in this series is on Double Masters (2XM), the latest Magic expansion from Wizards of the Coast, and with its release comes a new set to draft and master! After getting a handful of Double Masters drafts under my belt, I am excited to share my experiences and discuss what I have learned about playing and finding success with the set.
What is Double Masters?
Double Masters is the newest "Masters" set, a series of sets built with the intention of reprinting powerful cards from Magic's history to make them more accessible for players. Like other Magic sets 2XM packs consist of 15 cards. Unlike other Magic boosters however, 2XM packs include 2 rare/mythic rare cards as well as 2 foil cards. In addition to the packs being different, drafting the set is also done differently with two cards being taken in the first pick of each pack. The powerful cards, extra rares and extra early picks allow for much stronger decks than a typical draft with standard packs. So which decks are good?
Double Masters was given its moniker to reflect the double rares and foils in the packs, but if the set were to be named something else to reflect the draft vibe, it would likely be named Artifact Masters due to the heavy artifact feeling the set has. The artifacts of the set do it all; draw cards, fix mana, destroy creatures, bring other artifacts back from the graveyard, and more!
Many cards in the set care about artifacts, and there are several artifacts at each rarity that are versatile enough for any deck. Due to this heavy artifact theme, Artifact focused decks are quite strong. Some of the most successful decks I played focused on getting repeated value from my artifacts through artifact recursion. One of my favorite things to do was drafting multiple copies of Myr Retriever and Sanctum Gargoyle in my deck to repeatedly return other copies of Myr Retriever or Sanctum Gargoyle from the graveyard to my hand to be played again. Doing this provided me with near endless blockers, and comboing these effects with other cards like Master Transmuter or Hidden Stockpile put the deck over the top. Abusive combos like this, in addition to the variety and availability of playable artifacts has decks like Esper (White/Blue/Black) Artifacts at the top of my list.
There aren't many formats where Red Aggro is a bad option, and DXM Draft is no exception. From direct damage spells and abilities to bulky equipment clad Warriors, Red decks have many tricks to choose from.
Finding creatures that care about equipment early on and then scooping up the necessary equipment later in the draft is easy enough, and your opponent won't know what to do when that turn 1 Goblin Gaveleer is swinging for lethal on turn 5. Splashing white or black can also add some extra buffs or player damage as well as removal.
It took me a while to notice how many cards in the set shared a sacrifice theme, but it quickly stood out as a powerful archetype. Without hard removal, several creatures can grow too large to deal with. Alternatively, it is possible to build token generating engines that can swarm the opponent, or hang back and provide extra mana when needed.
Yes, Tron is very real in 2XM draft, and you don't need 4 copies of each piece to make it worthwhile. Thanks to land-fixing cards like Expedition Map and Crop Rotation in the set, digging getting those Urza's lands into play is easier than you may think, and the payoffs can be monstrous. While more is good, one copy of Urza's Mine, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Tower is all you need to cast huge spells. Land destruction is absent from the set (but beware the Moon!), so as long as they can get into play, the Tron lands can end games early.
Honorable Mention: Combo
There are many other great decks to keep an eye out for while drafting including combo pieces. Wizards of the Coast was kind enough to put several popular combinations of cards from other formats in the set for those "once in a blue moon" draft experiences. While it can be a great feeling to get that perfect combo off, some are better than others, and that Marit Lage token may not be as durable as it looks, so play with caution! Dark Depths can be copied without the counters thanks to Thespian's Stage, or it can have all of its counters removed at instant speed by sacrificing Vampire Hexmage, creating an indestructible, flying 20/20 token as early as turn 3!
Thopter/Sword combo is popular in Modern as a fast way to build a swarm of thopters while gaining life. Use that extra mana to sacrifice Sword of the Meek with Thopter Foundry's ability, gaining a life and creating a thopter token that instantly gets equipped with Sword of the Meek from the graveyard, and repeat the cycle as many times as your mana pool allows!
What's Your Favorite Flavor?
After all the events I've played in, almost half of them were some combination of Blue, Black, and White and were artifact focused. Usually a combination of strong rares, premium removal spells, and evasive creatures pushed me in that direction, but the recursion abilities of the creatures and reanimation spells like Dread Return and Argivian Restoration really help stretch the most value out of the decks. I have had the most success with these decks, and I try to draft these kinds of decks when I can.
On two occasions I was lucky enough to draft The Scarab God, and won every game that it came into play. Unless it gets removed from play by Oubliette or an exile effect, The Scarab God can't be stopped and will gradually turn filled graveyards into undead hordes.
The format is a blast. Most decks I've come across have been either very aggressive or very grinding with not much mid-range. Currently the majority of the local game store scene is unable to accommodate drafts due to the pandemic, but if your LGS is planning to host Double Masters drafts when it is safe to do so, I highly recommend attending. In the meantime, MTG Online has Double Masters Draft Leagues available. Thank you for reading, and good luck drafting! Thank you to The Lotus Council for the opportunity to create MTG content! Stay tuned for more Deck Techs and be sure to follow The Lotus Council as well as my Twitter and Twitch accounts for future content!