I don't know where to begin with Double Masters. On one hand, the set has a higher number of expensive cards in it than any other set released. If WotC's goal was to lower the retail price of more than a hundred exciting cards by 30-50%, mission accomplished. Seriously—look at the visual spoiler of the original Modern Masters or Masters 25, then come back and peek at Double Masters again. The set is overflowing with expensive cards, and most of them are significantly cheaper now thanks to the reprint. Thanks, WotC!
On the other hand, the sheer number of good cards in Double Masters doesn't tell the full story. The set also contains some chaff, including a fair number of sub-$1 rares—not exactly a good sign for a set with $13 booster packs. A lot of people aren't happy with the set's prohibitive buy-in cost, feeling priced out of the Double Masters conversation from the start. Don't get me started about the optics of the $100 "VIP Boosters," either. It was a perfectly sound business decision on WotC's part, but it nonetheless felt somewhat elitist and alienating, especially during an economic crisis and global pandemic.
But instead of getting caught up in the discourse surrounding Double Masters, I'd like to spend today mucking about in the set's raw numbers. There are so many pressing questions we need to answer, and I'm hoping that some well-placed math can help us figure them out. Are you likely to get your value back if you open up a booster pack? What about a box? What about a VIP box? What singles should you pick up now, and what cards are going to continue dropping in price? Now that we know the full contents of the set, we can stop theorizing and start drawing some data-driven conclusions. Let's get to it!
Double Masters has forty different mythic rares, with a mean average price of $24.20. Since each booster pack is $13 and has two rare/mythic slots, you're going to double your money (on average) every time you open a pack with a mythic rare in it.
While the average mythic rare price matters, you ideally want a critical mass of elite mythics ($40 and up, say) as well as a low number of "bust" mythics (under $10). This ratio should help keep the box-to-box variant low while still giving you the chance to open that high-end lottery ticket you're shooting for.
In Double Masters, there are eight mythic rares currently selling for at least $40, and nine mythic rares currently selling for less than $10. That gives us a non-bust rate of 78%, and a "wow" rate of 20%. That seems in line with previous Masters sets, if not a tad high—especially because all of these prices are from earlier this week. Most of these cards have already lost quite a bit of value, and they aren't going to drop much further from here.
Speaking of lost value, I've cross-referenced the current price of each Double Masters mythic with its pre-reprint-announcement price back on June 1st. As of now, the mean average drop for a Double Masters mythic is 32.25%, while the median drop is 33%. This means that you can expect to pay roughly one-third less for a Double Masters mythic than you were paying back in June.
Of course, this figure varies wildly from card to card. A few mythics have dropped by nearly 80%, while one card actually gained value over the past two months despite being reprinted. You can trace most of the highest-percentage losers back to scarcity—if a card hadn't been printed since the Bush administration before showing up in Double Masters, it has thus far dropped a lot farther than high demand staples that have already weathered a few recent reprints. While a few of these steep droppers may have tumbled too far and are going to be worth picking up early, that steep drop might also indicate an overall lack of demand. Low demand likely means continued value loss, and I'd suggest waiting until mid-December before doing the majority of your Double Masters shopping.
On the other hand, the cards that only dropped a little have the highest chance of rebounding fast. This goes double for expensive and well-known cards, because that means that demand has remained strong despite additional copies hitting the market. These are the cards that you will want to consider picking up at some point this summer, while available supply is at an all-time high.
Let's get to the cards!
White Mythic Rares
I don't have much to say here. All three white mythics in Double Masters are welcome Commander reprints that should remain in high demand for years to come. Archangel of Thune is likely going to take a little longer to rebound than the others, since it started lower and dropped farther, but all three cards are quite solid. I'll be looking to pick them up this December, which is when Masters sets cards tend to hit their average yearly lows.
Blue Mythic Rares
Here we go. Force of Will and Jace, the Mind Sculptor are two of the set's elite pulls, and neither has lost all that much value so far. They might drop a bit farther once Double Masters packs hit shelves, but these very small initial loss percentages are a good sign that both cards aren't going to fall far and should rebound quickly. If you're in the market for either, consider making plans to pick them up at some point this month.
Want a closer look? Me too. Here's Force of Will:
And here's Jace, the Mind Sculptor:
Does either card look like it has just been reprinted? The evidence is there, but it's kind of hard to see, especially compared to most of the cards we'll be talking about today. For example, here's poor Arcum Dagsson:
Yeah. Arcum Dagsson has already lost almost 50% of that value, and the number is likely to increase as the marketplace continues to flood. Arcum Dagsson has only been printed once, way back in Coldsnap, and even a mythic printing in a Masters set is going to massively increase the number of these on the market. I bet you'll be able to snag these for $4 or less in a few months.
Black Mythic Rares
Dark Confidant hasn't even lost 30% of its value yet, so it might be due for a fairly quick rebound. Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon hasn't been reprinted before, though, so the splashy Commander staple might have a bit farther to fall before it reaches bottom. Geth, Lord of the Vault unfortunately has to wear the "worst mythic in the set" crown, and the only reason the card hasn't dropped in price is that it was already a bulk mythic.
Red Mythic Rares
Here's a surprising result. Mana Echoes hasn't been reprinted before, and I would have absolutely pegged it as a card that should lose between 50-60% of its price tag during this reprint window. Instead, Mana Echoes has lost less than 20% of its price tag since early June and seems to have already hit bottom and started to rebound. Check out its price chart:
Granted, that large bar on 7/31 does appear to be either a speculator or a store grabbing up a bunch of copies, but still—Mana Echoes is well worth keeping an eye on. The card is beyond powerful in Commander, and it's possible that Mana Echoes was simply underpriced prior to the reprint. If so, the card might not drop below $30 at all.
Green Mythic Rares
Doubling Season has only dropped 10%. This is partially because Doubling Season was teased several months ago, when we first learned about Double Masters, but that's not the whole story here. Doubling Season has proven quite resilient in the past, and it's one of the few cards that WotC can print over and over again without impacting its price tag all that much. If you want Doubling Season at a discount, you'll have to pick it up soon.
Multicolored Mythic Rares
This is a pretty disappointing list of multicolored cards, with Atraxa, Praetors' Voice leading the uninspiring pack. Atraxa, Praetors' Voice was also previewed a few months ago, remember, so that 47% drop doesn't even factor in the amount that was lost during the set's teaser season. It also makes Doubling Season's 10% drop look even more like an outlier. God, that card is so resilient.
The other thing I really want to say here is that three cards—Riku of Two Reflections, Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund, and Maelstrom Nexus—have each lost at least 70% of their price tag after being previewed in Double Masters. This would be normal for a non-mythic rare in a Masters set, but it's too big a drop for a set of mythic rares that are actually quite good in Commander.
This happens a lot during preview season, to be honest. People tend to underestimate how many rares will be hitting the market while simultaneously overestimating the number of mythics. If you're interested in any of these three cards, I'd grab them over the next week or so. I bet we'll see a slight rebound after that.
Colorless Mythic Rares (& Lands!)
There's a lot going on here, as you can see. Ensnaring Bridge, Karn Liberated, Mox Opal, Blightsteel Colossus, and Wurmcoil Engine, have all seen relatively minor drops, while Darksteel Forge has even gained a few dollars since early June. Most of these cards are very popular in either Modern or Commander, while Mox Opal continues to retain a pretty hefty price tag despite its Modern ban. I can't wait for Mox Opal to hit $100 again as people speculate on potential Modern unbans in 2022.
Meanwhile, Trinisphere and Chrome Mox have taken a walloping. Neither card is seeing much play right now, nor are they particularly great in Commander. If you're interested in either one, waiting until December is your best bet.
There are a hundred-and-twenty-one rares in Double Masters, which is more than double the size of the rare pool in most sets. Compared to the mythics, the rares in this set aren't great. There are only four Double Masters rares currently selling for at least $20, and a total of just sixteen Double Masters rares selling for $10 or more right now. By contrast, the set contains a whopping 31 bulk rares, and an additional 21 rares that sell for less than $2.
The rares look better than they add up to be in large part because there's a high number of cards that were exciting at some point. Cards like Maelstrom Pulse and Fulminator Mage would have been exciting opens once upon a time, but a combination of heavy reprinting and metagame shifts have rendered them pretty unexciting. As a result, the expected value of a rare in Double Masters is just $4.06. Granted, this figure comes stapled to an average price drop rate of 47%, so the value of this rare slot was around $8 in pre-reprint dollars. Still, this is less exciting than the mythics.
Regardless, let's get to the cards!
Unless you're a massive Austere Command fan, Stoneforge Mystic is the only white rare in Double Masters that you're going to be psyched to open. Because of that, I'm not shocked to see that the card has barely lost any value at all. In fact, its price chart is quite interesting. Take a look:
Turns out, a lot of people really, really like Stoneforge Mystic, especially around the $20 mark. Compare that to Council's Judgment, which lost 77% of its price tag over the same time frame, and the difference is pretty stark:
There was a demand spike here too—there always is for cards that are reprinted and thrust back into the public eye at a cheaper price—but there's no Council's Judgment rebound in sight. Instead, the card is still engaged in a race to the bottom.
This is pretty normal, to be honest. Stoneforge Mystic is the outlier here, and it looks like that card is going to finish rebounding by the time you read this. You can buy in if you want, but I'd at least wait to see if it starts dropping again at some point later this month. It's likely to at least lose some value once Double Masters cards actually hit shelves. It just might not be much. Stoneforge Mystic is incredibly good, and there are a lot of people who are very willing to spend $30+ for one.
Yikes. Let's take a closer look at Cyclonic Rift, the only exciting blue rare in the set. Cyclonic Rift has lost about a third of its value since being reprinted, but it seems pretty stable at its current price point:
Interesting, right? Cyclonic Rift dipped below $20 for a few hours last week, but it didn't stay down there for long. The card should kick around in the low twenties for a while before slowly rebounding again, which should happen early next year. Much like Stoneforge Mystic, Cyclonic Rift is an elite Commander staple that gains oodles of additional demand once it drops below a certain price threshold. If you want a copy, snag it this summer.
Black is unbelievably top-heavy in Double Masters. There are four pretty solid reprints here, followed by a single $3 rare and then eight(!) bulk rares. Wound Reflection and Ad Nauseam take the biggest hits because they haven't been reprinted before, while Toxic Deluge and Thoughtseize are no stranger to Masters sets.
While I'd normally advise waiting a bit longer before picking up a card like Ad Nauseam, there are signs it has already bottomed out. Take a look:
Hmmm—looks like it might be back on the upswing to me. I'd also snag Thoughtseize at $15 if you're in the market. That card always ends up back at or over the $20 mark eventually, so you might as well pull the trigger now.
Red cards usually disappoint in Masters sets. Red is the least popular color in Commander, and most good competitive red cards tend to be fairly cheap as well. If you're looking for a red card to pick up now, I recommend Blood Moon. It has survived roughly half a billion reprints already, and it'll always end up in the $25+ range sooner or later. You might as well snag a set now if you ever want to play with them.
As always, there are a few goodies hiding in the Green section. Mana Reflection has needed a reprint for more than a decade now, and I expect it to settle in around the $20-$25 mark. Ditto Exploration, which rebounded nicely after Conspiracy and should rebound again at some point next year.
If you want to buy in at Chord of Calling's bottom, you're probably out of luck already. Take a look:
Much like Stoneforge Mystic, demand simply got too high for Chord of Calling in the $3-$4 range. It probably won't be $9 again for a bit, but it looks like this card is simply too good to stay below $5.
Yikes. The multicolored section is generally a bleak spot for value in Masters sets, but I still expected more from Double Masters here. Vexing Shusher and Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle were both much-needed reprints, but the rest of the cards are somewhat disappointing.
As for Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle, I'd say the time has come to pick that one up. A 71% drop is quite a lot for a Commander staple, and its price chart is already showing signs of rebound. Take a look:
Most of the rest of these cards are just…not all that exciting. Former Modern staples like Meddling Mage and Fulminator Mage might be solid buys if they can find their way back into the metagame, but I'd wait to spec on those until we've reached peak supply later this year. There's no rush unless you think Humans is going to be the next big thing in Modern, again.
There are a few good rare artifacts in Double Masters, though the best of the bunch was just banned in Pioneer. Walking Ballista was rebounding quite nicely before WotC dropped that bomb on us earlier this week, but it stands to reason that getting the axe in a major format is going to hurt the card's bottom line. Expect a bigger drop over the coming weeks, even though it's still a solid role-player in Modern and Commander.
Engineered Explosives is a good case study for how volatile these charts are. When I compiled this list of cards and percentages on Monday evening, Engineered Explosives was sitting at $8, which was just an 11% drop from the $9 it was selling for back in early June. The card had dropped all the way down to $3, demand picked up, and it had rebounded back to $8. I was going to show you a neat little picture of that chart and tell you that the card might end up being stable at $8-$9, against all odds.
Then I went back yesterday morning and checked the price chart again:
Where will this card settle? I don't know yet. It seems clear that $3 was too low, but $8 was too high. The demand is definitely there, though, so if you can buy in at or around the $4 mark, you're unlikely to be disappointed going forward.
The market seems to think that there's a hard $5 floor on all ten of the filter lands, which has caused some pretty interesting disparities in price movement. The enemy-colored filter lands were already a lot cheaper than their allied neighbors, because the five Eventide lands had already been reprinted once while the four (non-Graven Cairns) Shadowmoor lands had not. Because of that, the Shadowmoor lands are down about 70% while the Eventide lands are down between 0-30%. Even Graven Cairns, which has had several additional printings, didn't stay below $5 for long:
One of these things probably has to give. Either the floor on the enemy lands is lower than $5, or the allied lands dropped a little too low. My guess is the former, and I suspect you won't regret picking up most of these lands in the $4-$5 range over the next few weeks.
This is a total digression, but I also picked up on a weird spike in Thespian's Stage's price chart while working on this part of the article. A massive number of copies were bought by a single buyer on 6/29. Based on that price dip, it looks like someone listed a ton of copies of Thespian's Stage for twenty cents each. Someone else noticed the error and pounced. The aftermath is…well, this:
Now that we've looked at every single rare and mythic, we can crunch the EV (expected value) of a Double Masters booster pack. Based on current sales figures, each rare/mythic slot is worth approximately $9.08. That wouldn't be very good if each booster pack had just one rare/mythic slot, but they don't—they've each got two. That puts the EV of each box at $436—and that's before we get to the foil slots, the commons and uncommons, and the box-toppers.
The EV of the rare slots in a given box often add up to a higher total than the price of that box, in large part because opening booster boxes and selling singles is a labor-intensive and fee-heavy practice. You should generally open cards that are "worth" a bit more than the cost of that box. The fact that a box of Double Masters should net you between $400-$500 in cards after the rares have lost about 50% of their value and the mythics have dropped by about a third tells me that boxes of this set are going to be a pretty solid long-term hold. Despite the relatively poor showing from the rare slot, Double Masters is easily the best or second-best Masters set out there.
Short-term, a lot is going to depend on how many packs of Double Masters are available. If boxes prove fairly easy to get, expect to see singles prices drop a bit farther—another 10-20%, say. If not, the EV might never drop below $16-$17/pack and singles prices could start to stabilize and even rebound later this month. As always, I recommend buying the set's chase cards early—mid to late August would be my pick here—and hold off on everything else until late December, when the overall market tends to hit rock bottom.
There are forty unique borderless foil showcase cards that can only be found in the $100 Double Masters VIP Boosters. You get two of these cards in each VIP Booster, and rares show up twice as often as mythic rares. WotC also attempted to collate these to prevent duds, so approximately two-thirds of VIP boosters will have one showcase mythic but zero VIP boosters will have two showcase mythics.
As of now, the average value of a borderless foil showcase rare is $35, and the average value of a borderless foil showcase mythic is $88. That puts the value of each slot at roughly $53. Since you get two of these slots per $100 box, you're basically breaking even on promos and hoping to make a profit on the other foil rares, lands, etc. That's not a great place to be overall, but it's not a bad baseline if you're looking to gamble on a few packs in hopes of getting a Force of Will or Mana Crypt. These aren't the sorts of gambles I like, and buying a single VIP booster could lead to a Phyrexian Metamorph/Meddling Mage pull that won't even come close to getting you your money back, but they're not a bad deal assuming current prices hold.
Will current prices hold? As with the regular, plebian cards in Double Masters, I expect the VIP showcase cards will drop at least a little bit more over the coming weeks. I'm also hesitant to drop hundreds of dollars on premium versions of cards like Mana Crypt, when it seems possible that WotC will continue to slot the dang thing into all of their premium foil sets from now until the end of time.
At any rate, here's what each VIP showcase card is currently selling for:
Batterskull seems a bit low compared to the rest of these cards, so it might be worth picking up soon. It does speak to a sub-$20 floor for some of the lesser mythics, but some of these cards are probably a tad undervalued right now. People haven't fully factored in the additional scarcity of mythics yet, and Batterskull shouldn't be cheaper than most rares.
If you're looking to pick any of these up, I'd go with the popular Commanders—Atraxa, Praetors' Voice, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, and Kaalia of the Vast. These are always going to have an additional market from people who want the coolest possible version of their Commander, even if the rest of their deck hasn't been foiled out. They also seem slightly less likely to get another immediate premium reprint than something like Karn Liberated.
Hey, remember how everyone flipped their lid over the inclusion of commons and uncommons instead of being all rares? Well, what rares in Double Masters would you have rather seen here than Brainstorm and the Urzatron lands? Exactly. It's also worth noting that the Tron lands have already bottomed out and are on the rise again, because the people who want these are going to want full playsets. They aren't going to be below $50 for long.
I'm going to be brief here, because we've already blown past the 5,000-word mark and I'm sure most of you have work that you need to get back to. In normal times I'd have written a full article on Monday's B&R announcement, which was utterly massive, and I'll probably get into it in more detail next week regardless. But since we're not playing much competitive paper Magic right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the type of massive price movement you'd usually see from the pillars of two formats getting the axe are just not happening. The Standard market is practically stagnant right now, and for good reason—rotation was coming anyway, and nobody's building decks for FNM right now. Teferi, Time Raveler is down about a dollar, but demand was up a bit after the announcement. It's not like we didn't know that the powerful planeswalker would be rotating in a couple of months anyway.
As for Pioneer, the format has been financially dormant for a while now. The lack of paper tournaments, the rise of Historic, and the oppressive, combo-centric metagame have all wreaked havoc on Pioneer's popularity. That's how we've ended up with sad price charts like this one for Inverter of Truth. You can kind of see the format dying in real time:
Pioneer will be back, though. WotC finally flipped the table on the metagame, and it'll have plenty of time to shine once the pandemic is over and we can all start playing in person again. Investing in Pioneer right now seems great, because virtually nobody is paying attention to the format right now. That's always the best time to buy. This is a larger topic that deserves its own article, though, so I'll end this piece by giving you a blanket "buy" recommendation on whatever post-ban Pioneer staples you want.