Double Masters Limited Review

Published: 07/31/2020

I wanted to start this review on the Tuesday before the first 2XM PTQ but at that time only four colored commons had been spoiled. Thraben Inspector image, Brainstorm image, Bloodbriar image and Kozilek's Predator image. That along with Expedition map image, the tron lands, Chromatic Star image and Pyrite Spellbomb image. Already enough information to know the limited format was going to be sweet. Now that the full spoiler is out the sweetness is confirmed. In this review I'll go through the major themes of the set and the key cards in those themes. I'll also point out important cards to be aware of such as instants, wraths and combos. I'll mention more rares than usual for my limited reviews since they will be twice as important to the limited format. Note when I make lists which include rares and commons I'll generally but commons first and rares last. As usual I made a spreadsheet in which I ordered the commons by quality which you can see here. I think such rankings make particularly little sense in this synergy driven set though. I haven't done any as fan math because I'm still uncertain how foils and double rares will affect the math.

Let's begin. The major themes of the set are:

There are also a few minor themes:

The themes are beautifully curated to play nicely together. Big mana and Reanimator decks want the same top end creatures. Sacrifice decks get mileage from the go wide cards. Equipments reward you for making a bunch of medium creatures. The artifact value cards can trigger your sacrifice cards.

Some of my favorite card choices for cross archetype synergy are: Thraben Inspector image, Riddlesmith image, Ovalchase Daredevil image, Rapacious Dragon imageand Skullmulcher image. They check so many boxes.

Let's go into the archetypes in more detail.

Archetypes

Big Mana

The very first question to ask is how frequently should one be able to draft tron. Something interesting to note is that there are only 91 commons in the set. I can't find any official confirmation but I hypothesize this implies there will only be 9 commons in a given pack. So the EV of a given tron land remains \(0.1\) and so the EV of tron lands in a given draft is 3*8*0.1=2.4. The probability of a given tron land being in a pack is \(0.1\), so the probability of none of that tron land being opened in the draft at all (assuming independence of the packs. I'm not sure how reasonable an assumption that is.) \((1-0.1)^{24}\approx 0.08\). If we assume the probability that a given tron land is absent in independent for each tron then (this is a weak assumption because for instance knowing a tron land is not in a given pack should increase the odds that a different one is. Possibly by more than \(9/91\) to \(9/90\) because different categories of card are guaranteed to be represented. i.e. you never open a pack with no green cards.) the probability that a complete set of tron isn't opened is \((1-0.08)^3 \approx 0.78\). Right of the bad this doesn't make me feel that good about the archetype. A 20% chance of failure seems high. Even if you get two of the lands in the first pack you're odds of getting the last one are only \(1-0.9^{16} \approx 0.81\).

The situation is of course impossibly dire in sealed. If you make the same assumptions then you're only \( (1 - (1 - 0.1)^6)^3 \approx 0.1\) to have a complete set of tron.

And a minimal tron deck isn't even that good. Suppose you have one each of Mine, Plant, Factory and Expedition map image. What are the odds you have tron on turn 3? This is more or less the probability that 3 of the four are in your top 9 (This is an overestimate. You need the map in your hand for it to count) on the play and 10 on the draw. My hypergeometric calculator tells me this happens with probability 3% and 4% respectively. I should redo the math for when you have two of each but it's a bit too complicated to do in close form. Maybe I'll release a simulation in a follow up.

Lucky for the prospective tron drafter the tron lands are not just bad cards but stone blanks in any other archetype. Unfortunately I'm not sure the same will be true of Expedition Map image. At first I thought it'd be a little too clunky for other decks and certainly they'll want it less. But it is a cheap artifact and sacrifice trigger. Also twice as many rares might mean drafters want to splash twice as often. There's also Crop Rotation imagebut I'm not sure it's good enough to play.

There is some redundancy to the big mana plan though. Kozilek's Predator image, Whisperer of the Wilds image, Elvish Aberration image, Rapacious Dragon image, Apprentice Wizard image, Cathodion image, Everflowing Chalice image, Pentad Prism image, Basalt Monolith image, Grand Architect image, Awakening Zone image, Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle image, Heartbeat of Spring image and Veteran Explorer imagecan all support your expensive spells. I'd make sure I had close to the best top end possible before putting those last two in my deck though. The bombs get pretty big.

The payoffs are pretty real too. At common you have Accomplished Automaton imageand Magnifying Glass image. They're not exciting but the nice thing about them is you can definitely get all of them. And they're objectively powerful if you ever get them going on turn 3. At uncommon you have Golem Artisan image, Sphinx of the Guildpact image, Clone Shell image, Cogwork Assembler image, Sandstone Oracle imageas exciting mana sinks. The real payoffs are at rare and mythic and there's enough of them that you can actually hope to get 1 or 2. You won't get passed Karn or Myr Battlesphere imagevery often but you might see Blightsteel Colossus imagelate.

Go Wide

The notable commons which allow you to go wide are: Glint-Sleeve Artisan image, Thopter Engineer image, Chatter of the Squirrel image, Thraben Inspector image.

Higher rarity cards of interest are: Myrsmith image, Hidden Stockpile image, Rhys the Redeemed image, Selesnya Guildmage image, Voice of Resurgence image, Blade Splicer image, and Master Splicer image.

In my mind the best rewards for going wide are likely in other archetypes: sacrifice outlets and equipment. There are a few go wide specific payoffs the most obvious of which are Valor in Akros image, Angel of the Dawn image, Crusader of Odric image, Fortify image, Battle-Rattle Shaman image, Weapon Surge image, Champion of Lambholt image, Skullmulcher image, Doubling Season image, Might of the Masses image, Shamanic Revelation image, Woodland Champion image, Adaptive Automaton imageand Chief of the Foundry image.

Also notable is Springleaf Drum image which ticks three boxes by being a reward for having spare creatures, a ramp spell and a cheap artifact.

Equipment

The common payoffs, Goblin Gaveleer image, and Kazuul's Toll Collector image have 6 common equipments to go with them (along with a bonus white equipment). Compare that to the Toll Collector's original home, Oath of the Gatewatch, which had 5 total equipment and only one was common. Even Scars of Mirrodin had fewer total and common equipments than 2XM with 15 total and 5 common. The equipment are also mostly living weapons which are more appealing to play a lot of. Golem-Skin Gauntlets image and Strength of Arms image are also good payoffs at common.

The next rarity up has Fencing ace image, Bloodshot Trainee imageand Weapons Trainer imageas notables.

This archetype has so much support at common but it is also jammed full of rares. As pay offs there are: Kemba, Kha Regent image, Puresteel Paladin image, Stoneforge Mystic image, Stonehewer Giant imageand Godo, Bandit Warlord image. And all five swords and Batterskull image are in the set. No one is going to pass the broken equipment but the equipment matters cards, besides maybe stone forge mystic, are all very passable.

I expect equipment to be one of the better archetypes.

Sacrifice

Sacrifice strategies have a huge prevalence with the word occurring on roughly 1 in 6 cards and many creatures which are practically begging to be sacrificed. I see it as more of a value strategy in this set. Notably there are no act of treasons so if you want to be the sacrifice deck you should prioritize your own sac for value creatures.

Some of the best cards to sacrifice are: Ovalchase Daredevil image, Driver of the Dead image, Vengevine image, Veteran Explorer image, Treasure Keeper image.

Some of the best payoffs for the sacrifice deck are: Deathreap Ritual image, Bloodbriar image, Ulvenwald Mysteries image, Bloodspore Thrinax image, Skullmulcher image, Bone Picker image, Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest image, Skirsdag High Priest image, Tuktuk the Explorer image and Magus of the Abyss image.

Notably Morkrut Banshee image, Fatal Push imageand Brimstone Volley imageall get a lot more efficient when you're in this archetype.

Depending on what you're sacrificing Disciple of the Vault image is also quite the payoff. It's also a good card for the various value artifact decks.

If you're focusing specifically on Bloodbriar image a lot of cards like Executioner's Capsule image, any spell bomb, or treasure or scion maker get marginally more appealing.

The best ways to sacrifice things include Defiant Salvager image, Silumgar Scavenger image, Hidden Stockpile image, Culling Dais image, Greater Good imageand Falkenrath Aristocrat image

If you're looking to sacrifice specifically artifacts Kuldotha Flamefiend image, Orcish Vandal image, Throne of Geth image and Kuldotha Forgemaster imagetop rate. Dread Return imageis also notable as sacrifice outlet with cross synergy reanimator play.

Value Artifacts

Sprinkled in every color besides green are cards that reward you for playing with artifacts. I picture controlling esper decks, WR decks which are mostly equipment aggro decks and UR decks with weird loops going on. It seems like basically every deck will have some artifact synergies though.

Lower rarity rewards for playing a lot of artifacts include: Myrsmith image, Esperzoa image, Faerie Mechanist image, Auriok Salvagers image, Relic Runner image, Riddlesmith image, Painsmith image, Glaze Fiend image, Orcish Vandal image, Ravenous Intruder image, Salivating Gremlins image, Thopter Foundry image, and Glassdust Hulk image. One thing I'm particularly looking to do is curve Salivating Gremlins image into Voracious Dragon image. A real lunch special. Higher rarity incentives are: Hanna, Ship's Navigator image, Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain image, Sphinx Summoner image, Time Sieve image, Jhoira's Familiar image

Some of the notable small artifacts are: Expedition Map image, Chromatic Star image, Expedition Map image, Mishra's Bauble image, Myr Retriever image, Pyrite Spellbomb image, Throne of Geth image, Welding Jar image. But really there's just a ton of artifacts. A full third of the set are artifacts!

Counters

This might be less a deck than two cards which seem fun together but Everflowing Chalice imageinto Vedalken Infuser imagejust seems very exciting and is perhaps a more consistent alternative to tron. There are a number of other cards which care about counters or want to have their counters increased. Most notably Tumble Magnet imagebut also: Surge Node image, Throne of Geth image, Coretapper image, Pentad Prism image, Culling Dais image, Deepglow Skate image, Ion Storm image, Lux Cannon image, and Deepglow Skate image.

Cheating Creatures into Play

A lot of this is reanimator which is facilitated by a lot of premium self discard: Cathartic Reunion image, Riddlesmith image, Lightning Axe image, Sanctum Spirit image, Sift image, Thirst for Knowledge image, Izzet Charm image. But I also include other cards which let you get a creature into play without paying its mana cost. For reanimation we have: Argivian Restoration image, Dread Return image, Trash for Treasure image, Beacon of Unrest image and Doomed Necromancer image.

Other ways to cheat your broken cards into play are: Braids, Conjurer Adept image, Arcum Dagsson image, Master Transmuter imageand Sneak Attack image. Though again I'd caution you against playing Braids unless you really mean it.

Fixing

For colorless common fixing we only have Expedition Map image. And I expect it to go relatively early because not only splashes but also tron and value artifact decks will want it. And anyone who drafted Dark depths+thespian stage. At uncommon we have Ash Barrens image which will also be in high demand by Brainstormers. There's also Pentad Prism imageand Springleaf drum imageat uncommon which depending on if you're doing anything synergistic are either very good or very bad fixing.

In green there's surprisingly nothing unless you count Ancient Stirrings image, Crop Rotation imageor Noble Hierarch image.

It's probably good that the fixing isn't good in the set. Twice as many rares means people will want to splash twice about twice as often so it makes sense that the set would discourage that.

Instants

Commons

Uncommon

Rare/Mythic

This is a relatively short list actually. For reference there are 39 cards listed above and in Ikoria there were 58, THB 43 and ELD 48. I suppose it makes sense. This set is much more complicated than a normal set and they had to tone down the complexity somewhere.

Miscellaneous Other Limited Notes

I think its cute that there's almost a cycle of premium efficiency removal spells which two for one you: Crib Swap image, Frogify image, Pongify image, Lightning Axe image.

While we're on that subject a complete list of common removal is:

It's actually the normal amount both in terms of power and number. Except for Cast Down image which in a normal set would probably be uncommon. One more note about removal: It is my recommendation to play all your artifact removal main deck. In number the set is a third artifacts. And many of the best bombs, such as the Swords and Wurmcoil Engine image, which is cleanly answered by Revoke Existence image, are artifacts.

Fierce Empath imagemakes good friends with Elvish Aberration imageand Twisted Abomination image.

There are an amazing number of wraths: Oblivion Stone image, Ratchet Bomb image, Drown in Sorrow image, Toxic Deluge image, Austere Command image, Wrath of God image, Cyclonic Rift image, Blasphemous Act image, Rolling Earthquake image, Merciless Eviction image, Engineered Explosives imageand Ensnaring Bridge image. So be careful out there!

There are a lot of combos to look out for: Vampire Hexmage imageor Thespian's Stage imageand Dark depths image, Sword of the Meek image and Thopter Foundry imageand Sneak attack imageplus Blightsteel colossus image

The set looks sweet. The mechanics are all interwoven in interesting ways. I'm really excited to play with the new cards this Sunday in the PTQ. Wish me luck!