Double Masters 2022 revisits some of Magic: The Gathering’s greatest cards at an unjustifiable cost
Double Masters 2022 is upon us and boy, oh boy is it a set. Rather than bringing in a roster of new Magic: The Gathering cards into the world, or moving cards into different formats, Double Masters 2022 is all about reprinting cards and in order to make a new draft format. It’s Wizards of the Coast’s way of impacting MTG’s secondary market and helping to level out some overpriced format staples to make them more accessible. At least, that’s the premise.
In reality, this set is roughly 50% more expensive than your standard Magic: The Gathering release. It feels as though the company has learned very little from the backlash to the price point of the original Double Masters set, which sat at around £260 ($310) for a booster box versus the standard MTG price of around £100 ($119). It begs the question - what is the point of reprints if they barely make a dent in the price of the cards?
There’s always been a feeling amongst the MTG community that the price of singles is something that Wizards simply doesn’t care about. If it did care, it’d be easy to make competitive MTG affordable by simply printing staples like fetch lands regularly into Standard, but that’s not what happens.
Instead, even eternal sets are having their average deck prices increased by the constant power creep plaguing MTG and unique sets like Modern Horizons. When you combine that problem with the sheer volume of sets and products released each year now, it’s hard not to be constantly reminded of the fact that Magic is a business - and a good business at that.
So far, this might feel more like a review of MTG’s business practices than Double Masters 2022 but, frankly, this latest set is the epitome of the capitalistic vein that runs through the centre of the game today. That being said, it’s also worth discussing the new set as a separate entity to everything else.
Double Masters packs are technically worth more than normal, which is nice - but that worth should be for the players alone.
Double Masters 2022 once again promises more than other sets by adding an extra rare or mythic rare to each booster pack, along with two foil cards. Given that nearly all of the value in MTG lies in rares and mythic rares, it means that Double Masters packs are technically worth more than normal, which is nice - but that worth should be for the players alone and not for Wizards of the Coast.
It does make the Draft format more explosive, though - and that’s where Double Masters 2022 undoubtedly shines. Because the set is filled with so many fantastic and nostalgic cards, long-time players will struggle to open a single pack without being filled with warm and fuzzy memories of games of the past. In a rule specific to drafting Double Masters, you also get to pick two cards whenever you open a pack, which means you can end up with a lot of powerful cards and a slightly stronger archetype as a result.
That’s a good thing too, because there’s enough mana-fixing in the set to allow players to comfortably build three-colour draft decks - although sticking to two colours will obviously make for a more consistent deck. It means that you always feel like there are options and, because you’ll likely be familiar with the cards already, building different archetypes based on the cards you’ve drafted is slightly easier.
Cryptic Spires does feel antithetical to the rest of the set but it’s hard not to love mana fixing.
Despite the set being almost entirely reprints, there is actually one brand-new card here in the form of Cryptic Spires. Cryptic Spires is a land card that has all five mana symbols printed on it; when you build your deck, you circle two of them and can then add one colour of either mana to your mana pool. It’s the kind of card you’d usually see in a Conspiracy set or an Un-set, but here it is in Double Masters 2022 - just hanging out. It does feel a bit antithetical to the rest of the set because it’s not a reprint and has no use outside of drafts, but it’s nice to have access to it when drafting. It’s also hard not to love mana fixing.
With so many tantalising options in the set, there’s often a temptation to play around with the cards that mean something to you, rather than ones that are necessarily good. Of course, the two can overlap, but it makes it far more likely that you’ll try and build an aura-based draft deck around Uril, the Miststalker, even if there are better things to try and do. But hey, it’s all about fun, and in that aspect at least, Double Masters 2022 excels.
It’s like a hug from a friend you’ve not seen in years, but you’ve been chatting with online throughout that absence.
There are just so many all-stars from MTG history here. Commander players and Modern players, in particular, will find themselves in familiar territory with cards like Alesha, Who Smiles at Death and Bedlam Reveler in the mix. It’s like a hug from a friend you’ve not seen in years, but you’ve been chatting with online throughout that absence.
It’s that feeling that really exemplifies the best aspects of Double Masters 2022. It’s exciting to revisit old cards in new ways and draft with cards that have been in standalone products before, or ones that simply haven’t been seen in a long time. It’s this aspect that feels like a love letter to Magic: The Gathering.
Yet access to this love letter is inherently restricted by the price of the product. How is your average player meant to justify ponying up the expected asking price for cards they might already own? A standalone Draft format is often hard to justify, but that’s becoming increasingly true amidst some of the worst global economic circumstances since MTG’s inception. Obviously, the cost of essential items isn’t down to Wizards’ business decisions, but releasing a set that asks so much from players does feel like a slap in the face.
This set's premium price marrs a game we all love deeply by reminding us that, at its core, it is just business.
This price point also means that the reprints in here that are meant to bring down the cost of some cards simply won’t work. How can our first reprint of Dockside Extortionist possibly impact the price of the card when it’s been changed from a rare to a mythic rare, then printed in a premium set that’s out of some players’ price range? It feels as though there’s a chain reaction of odd decisions when it comes to Double Masters 2022, and it’s another slap in the face to those who believe the game should be more affordable.
Double Masters 2022 is a wonderful selection of cards and a genuinely entertaining Draft format tarnished by failed objectives. If this set was about lowering the price of cards in the secondary market and/or If it was intended as a way to celebrate the history of the game, it would be cheaper. This premium marrs a game we all love deeply by reminding us that, at its core, it is just business. This is a complaint Magic fans have made countless times in the last few years, but nowhere is it more abrasive than in Double Masters 2022.