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By: Cheater Hater, Vincent Borchardt
Jun 07 2022 1:10pm
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Double Masters 2022 arrives at a weird place for the role of Masters sets in general. Back when Ultimate Masters was set to put the series on hiatus, we were about to get a lot of outlets for reprints: Commander decks with every set, new booster products like Commander Legends and Modern Horizons, Mystery Boosters and The List, and Secret Lairs. However, when the line came back with Double Masters, it became another premium-priced product with a ton of expensive stuff in it, and it was very polarizing. But like everything else in the current era of Magic, it sold like hotcakes, and thus we have another one less than two years later.  

That focus on the premium side isn’t where I want to focus most of my efforts though, as instead I want to design a set first and sprinkle in money later. The original Double Masters was artifact-focused and doubling-focused, and while the new set is mostly a mystery, we recently got a bunch of teasers. The originalannouncement page said the set would have a “multicolored draft focus,” and the recent announcement day proved it, with over 100 gold cards between Bring to Light and Wrenn and Six (and more, as Aminatou the Fateshifter is all but confirmed and there could be more after ‘W,’ though note that hybrid cards aren’t stuck at the end anymore). I started compensating for the original teaser late in the process, and the recent previews happened after I had most the commons and uncommons filled, so while I added in more gold cards than I normally would, my design is a normal set with ten two-color archetypes. The other “late in the process” update was the preview of Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, as Eldrazi can be a very set-warping elements. While I can’t fully redesign my set to support Eldrazi (or precisely match the number crunch for that matter), Ultimate Masters didn’t really do that either, so I should be fine. Other than that we don’t know much about the set, so I went a little nuts with some of these ideas (including my craziest design for an archetype ever), so let’s get to the archetypes!

 

Archetypes:

White/Blue: Blink

We’re kicking things off with a fairly boring choice that we’ve seen before, most recently in the last gold-focused Masters set (Modern Masters 2017). The one minor twist is that there’s a bit more “bounce to hand” than an average blink set with cards like Saving Grasp and Shepherd of the Flock, which works well with the minor Adventure theme. Otherwise I’m worried that my payoffs aren’t great, and it’s more tricky than good. I don’t like this, but there’s a lot of tweaking that could be done that I don’t have time for.

 

Blue/Black: Faeries

Conversely, I really don’t like where this archetype ended up. The goal was “not the instant-speed archetype from Modern Masters,” so there isn’t much of that, but instead we mostly got a bad Dimir Fliers deck with a bit of tribal synergy and a ton of downgrades (though the Lorwyn-era ones like Wasp Lancer to common and Wydwen, the Biting Gale to uncommon don’t feel out of place in modern FIRE design terms). There’s also a surprising bit of mill, so that could combine with counters like a downshifted Hypnotic Sprite to make more of a control deck. Mostly this archetype exists to reprint Brazen Borrower, Bitterblossom, and Scion of Oona, so it accomplishes that well enough.

 

Black/Red: Spectacle/Bloodthirst

Finally we have something interesting, even if Rakdos Bloodthirst was a theme in Modern Masters 2015. The Spectacle cards from Ravnica Alliance add a lot of power to this deck, as Blade Juggler and Light Up the Stage join Blood Ogre and a downshifted Vampire Outcasts. That latter point might have been a bit aggressive, but there aren’t any easy Goblin Fireslinger-style enablers other than Spiteflame Witch (which doesn’t work with Bloodthirst). Instead, you have to attack with cards like Eye Collector or spend more mana on something like Spitfire Lagac, so that makes it a bit more midrange than aggro.

 

Red/Green: Trample Warriors

Another midrange archetype, as Bramblewood Paragon combines with Proud Wildbonder and more efficient creatures like ahn_Crop_Crasher<_Span>Ahn-Crop Crasherahn_Crop_Crasher<_Span> and Nettle Sentinel. It’s fairly simple, though maybe you’ll get the Bramblewood Paragon/Scuzzback Marauders combo—which might be a little too easy to get, especially when there are ETB triggers like Healer of the Pride in the format.

 

Green/White: Planeswalkers

And here is my craziest choice in any of these designs by far, and it fundamentally warps my design, starting with the downshift of Huatli, the Sun’s Heart to common—yes, a common planeswalker. It fits perfectly: it’s the weakest uncommon planeswalker by far (especially since I’m not really designing for the static ability), and all the commons are hybrid cards regardless. Otherwise, I have two uncommon planeswalkers (both WAR uncommons), five rare planeswalkers (a mix of Planeswalker deck planeswalkers and WAR rares), and three mythic planeswalkers in these colors, alongside ten Planeswalkers in other colors. Combined with a lot of downshifted support like Call the Gatewatch and Oath of Nissa and a healthy dose of Proliferate, this could be going too far, but combined with other solutions like Dreadbore, Cast Out, and Bramblecrush, it shouldn’t be too difficult to deal with them—though I’m not sure how the Planeswalker deck planeswalkers will turn out in this environment.

 

White/Black: Lifegain

Back to traditional archetypes; this take on Orzhov Lifegain is back to single instances mattering, though it’s more difficult to get consistent triggers than a cheap Soul Warden. The lifegain itself might actually matter here with giant lifelinkers like Vampire Outcasts and Voracious Hatchling, or even just a Silverquill Pledgemage regularly getting in. This is another deck that feels like it needs a lot of tuning to work, that I normally would have time to do but don’t.

 

Blue/Red: Landfall

We’re back to crazy stuff, as “Noggle Bridgebreaker as the common hybrid plus a needed Roil Elemental reprint” inspires a weird deck, considering blue doesn’t have much Landfall (or land mechanics in general) to build off. Guardian of Tazeem is an extremely pushed downshift, and Hedron Crab can do a lot with Terramorphic Expanse and Wayfarer's Bauble, and that points towards a more controlling Landfall deck—yes, Akoum Hellhound is in (mostly for other archetypes), but cards like Nesting Dragon and a downshifted Akoum Firebird are more representative. This is another deck I’m not sure works, but more that there might not be enough good cards to make it work without even more downgrades.

 

Black/Green: -1/-1 Counters

Here’s another deck that seems obvious: Shadowmoor and Amonkhet both care about putting -1/-1 counters on your stuff, and even though the Amonkhet stuff is much more powerful (even pre-FIRE design), cards like Noxious Hatchling and other random Wither cards are important, and that doesn’t even count adding Devoted Druid/Quillspike (though at uncommon/rare this time). It might be a little too cute, though the other decks aren’t running at full speed either, so this could work well enough.

 

Red/White: Spells

Here’s a familiar deck in an unfamiliar color combination, and the third of my weird archetypes. Obviously both the Jeskai Prowess cards and the Strixhaven Magecraft cards work well together (along with other random cards like Firesong and Sunspeaker), and the latter mean cards like Astral Steel are an interesting way to use Storm in a set not enabled for Grapeshot kills (even if Grapeshot is in the set). I’m not sure how aggro the archetype should be (notably I have both Monastery Swiftspear and Curious Lumimancer in the set, which feels like major overkill), but it would be something I could tune, unlike the other “weird” archetypes.

 

Green/Blue: +1/+1 Counters Merfolk

The final archetype is fairly boring, as it’s trying to split the middle between fully +1/+1 counters and Merfolk tribal, and I think it ended fairly weak (mostly as the Ixalan block deck with a few powerful older Merfolk cards). Notably there isn’t much explicit synergy that isn’t Merfolk creatures, mostly because I ran out of space.

 

 

Conclusion:

I’m starting to wonder if these articles are worth it, especially since they’ve delved less into prediction and more into speculation as we get less information and more releases for things to get reprinted (and I have less time to do a good job on them). However, I hope it’s still interesting for people (and if you’re really interested my full design is here), and if I get a couple things right (even if a given archetype doesn’t appear for a dozen sets) that’s still a win. However, what’s not a win is what’s going on with Pioneer Masters. While Explorer is officially on Arena (and a really fun format; perfect at a time where Streets of New Capenna Limited is a mess), Pioneer Masters is on indefinite hold, if not outright canceled. That makes no sense; one Pioneer Masters set would be enough to make a long stride towards Pioneer equivalency, and two of them would make it near-equal (especially since Jumpstart Historic Horizons made giant strides, especially in categories that would be difficult to introduce like Slivers). Meanwhile Wizards is making an Alchemy-exclusive variant of Baldur’s Gate that seems pointless, since no one is playing Alchemy (and not many more are playing Historic). We’ll see what the long-term future of Arena is—ideally it would be moving towards Pioneer (and maybe even Modern in the super-long-term), but instead we’re getting digital-only designs. As for me, I’m not sure on the exact timing of things—obviously I’ll cover the actual Double Masters set, but I’m not sure what I’ll do with Alchemy Horizons—it depends on what that set ends up looking like. Until then.

 

Vincent

@VincentSIFTD on Twitter