Engaging with the social media discourse about Double Masters is a little bit like diving head-first into a pool of LEGO bricks. Some of the individual comments are reasonable enough, and you could construct a sound narrative with some of them if you wanted to, but all jumbled up together? It's a rough, sharp, and incoherent mess.
This happens every time there's a reprint set, and it's because players desperately want Wizards of the Coast to reprint all the expensive cards they don't own yet, but they also don't want Wizards to reprint any of the expensive cards they've already paid good money for. Thus, whenever a high-profile reprint is spoiled, one chunk of the community is excited while the other half is upset. Or, as Nick Prince tweeted on Monday, "Magic players want the cards they buy to be dirt cheap but the cards they own to be worth enough to retire on."
On a macro scale, these financial complaints end up driving the entire conversation about the set. This is because with most Magic sets, people can dream about sweet new brews and combos. Masters sets don't have any new cards at all, though. They don't even introduce any new format legalities, save for the occasional card that's downshifted to common and suddenly becomes relevant in Pauper. Instead, Masters sets exist because WotC wants to make money off cards with a high secondary market value while also making sure that older cards remain somewhat accessible. With most sets, the Magic finance talk is an afterthought. With Masters sets, however, it's the main course.
That's why it's important to tease out the signal from the noise as we look at the expected value of Double Masters. So many of the loudest voices in the conversation are talking about things that are irrelevant—disappointment over the fact that some of the box toppers are elite uncommons instead of low-end rares, for example. If you're just trying to figure out whether or not it makes sense to buy a box of Double Masters, these sorts of hot takes can be actively harmful to your ability to figure out what to do. Read enough angry stories about people being upset that there aren't any fetch lands or about how reprinting Glimmervoid after banning Mox Opal was like salting a wound, and you might start to think that Double Masters is just a shameless money-grab full of cards that nobody wants.
Now, I'm not telling you that being disappointed in Double Masters is wrong. If you don't like the set for whatever reason, that's totally valid. I've definitely been angry at expansions that other people seem to love for a wide variety of reasons, some of which are petty and personal. I'm still mad at Dark Ascension because I was way better at drafting triple-Innistrad. But for our purposes today, excitement doesn't really matter. The set is what it is, and it's up to us to figure out how to react to it in the best possible way. Are boxes undervalued or overvalued right now? Which reprints are going to crash, and which should rebound? When should you be buying singles, and what do we make of the VIP boosters? Let's grab some LEGO bricks out of that pool and see what we can build.
Right now, the cheapest Double Masters booster boxes on eBay are $280 with free shipping. There are 24 packs in each box of Double Masters, which makes it one of the more expensive booster boxes out there in terms of price-per-pack. Not great for a set where you can open financial duds like Terastodon and Sharuum the Hegemon.
But that's before we factor in the doubling. Every booster pack of Double Masters contains two rares, two mythic rares, and even two foil slots. From a Magic finance perspective, that means we can essentially just count each pack twice. Do that, and suddenly each booster box of Double Masters has 48 "booster packs." Do some simple division, and that that translates into a price tag of $5.83 per "pack."
This makes Double Masters significantly cheaper than every other Masters set on the market right now. Using that same method (taking the cheapest eBay price for a booster box and dividing by the number of booster packs), a "pack" of Double Masters is selling for at least $2 less than every other Masters pack I can find. Even the least exciting Masters sets, Iconic Masters and Masters 25, sell for around $9/pack right now—and those boxes don't even come with box toppers, while Double Masters has two. Heck, Mystery Booster packs still sell for more than $7, which is a dollar more per pack than Double Masters. That's absurd, considering how much better the EV (Estimated Value) of Double Masters is likely to be.
Why is Double Masters so cheap? I honestly just don't think people have caught on yet. Most folks see that each box contains just 24 packs and think, yeah, $280 for that seems about right. If WotC had doubled the number of packs in each box instead of doubling the rare, mythic rare, and foil contents of each pack, however, my guess is that boxes would be at least $350 right now, if not more.
So yeah. Based on the current and historical pricing trends of all the other Masters packs we've seen, Double Masters booster boxes are almost certainly undervalued right now. I wouldn't be surprised if you could flip sealed boxes for a modest profit as long as you're willing to wait a couple of months. It's possible that the rest of the previews will reveal enough duds to make this prediction look foolish, but I doubt it. I've already seen enough to feel like buying boxes is a solid call if you've got the means.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WotC has struggled with supply chain and print run issues all year long. Ikoria, Commander 2020 and Jumpstart were all hit pretty hard, resulting in WotC pushing several major release dates by weeks at a time. WotC still hasn't come close to meeting demand for Commander 2020 and Jumpstart, which has created massive price spikes for the most sought-after cards from those sets.
Will the same thing happen to Double Masters? Almost certainly. Multiple dealers that I follow on Twitter and Reddit have already talked about having their allotments cut due to supply issues, which is exactly what happened with Jumpstart and Commander 2020. It's quite likely that we're only going to have about half as much Double Masters as we were expecting, at least for the next few months.
This means that Double Masters prices shouldn't drop as much as you'd expect over the short term. Long term, price rebounds will probably depend on whether or not WotC decides to release a second wave of product. Mark Rosewater has come out and said that they're going to continue printing Commander 2020 and Jumpstart product until demand has been satiated, but that's in part because those sets have "unlimited" print runs that generally last about a year. That isn't true for Masters sets, which are billed as having small, limited print runs.
This is worth keeping a close eye on. It's quite possible that WotC will simply decide to use their limited printer capacity for Zendikar Rising or Commander Legends instead, and that this truncated print run of Double Masters is all we're going to get. If this happens, then Double Masters prices should end up being more robust than most of us are expecting.
Even if Double Masters has a small print run, it'll still probably end up being a higher printed set than Ultimate Masters. That set had a deliberately tiny print run and wasn't sold in big box stores at all. We don't know now many Double Masters packs will actually make it to shelves in Target and Wal-Mart, but the number will not be zero.
Since quite a few cards from Ultimate Masters haven't rebounded yet, similar cards from Double Masters will likely remain cheap for years to come as well. Consider a card like Lord of Extinction, which was a solid $12-$15 staple until Ultimate Masters hit in December of 2018:
There's still plenty of demand for Lord of Extinction—it's a solid Commander staple—but it was expensive almost entirely because it had only been printed once, in a small set, prior to Ultimate Masters. Lord of Extinction should creep up again at some point if it isn't reprinted in the interim, but it hasn't happened in the 18 months since Ultimate Masters was released.
For another example, here's a look at Gaddock Teeg over the same time frame. Modern has certainly moved on from the Gaddock Teeg era, but the ebbs and flows of the metagame are pretty irrelevant compared to the glut of additional copies that hit the market in late December of 2018. Teeg's price tag still hasn't recovered, and it shows no signs of a rebound.
What Double Masters cards might fit this bill? I'm looking at you, Commander exclusives. Cards like Atraxa, Praetors' Voice have only been printed once, in an expensive box set that was always sold out, and some of these cards will struggle to rebound with heavier print runs. You can buy personal copies of these once they hit peak supply, but I'm probably not going to speculate on them because the recovery timeline is likely to be too long.
On the other hand, let's take a look at some Ultimate Masters cards that were mostly expensive because of high demand instead of low supply. Here's Snapcaster Mage:
Liliana of the Veil:
And Demonic Tutor:
All three of these cards had already seen multiple reprintings, and they saw a price drop, but not a big one. Demonic Tutor was hit the hardest, but that's likely because it was printed at rare, not mythic. Double Masters will have some of these cards as well, and they'll be a lot more resilient.
Don't just think of competitive cards, either. Wurmcoil Engine was reprinted in Iconic Masters, but I dare you to tell me where you think that set falls on this chart. It's hard to see because the card is so popular in Commander that the reprint was just a drop in the bucket. The same thing is probably going to happen to Wurmcoil Engine this time around, and if you can get any kind of short-term discount on the card, you should.
Back when I wrote for StarCityGames, I did a deep dive look at the best time to buy Masters set singles. What I determined was that you generally wanted to wait until late December of whatever year the set came out, which is when that years' releases tended to hit their historic lows.
Of course, I didn't have access to real pricing data back when I wrote that article. I was using a combination of SCG retail pricing at MTGGoldfish charting at the time, and neither of those sources is terribly precise. I had a good picture of the overall trends, but I couldn't really burrow down into a single day of historical sales data like I can now.
Looking at those charts I used in the last section, you can see an interesting price dip right at the start of Ultimate Masters' release cycle. It happened for all five of those cards, regardless of where its eventual price ended up. Interesting, right? I figured it deserved a second look.
Here's what I discovered:
Liliana of the Veil had an average price of $52 on December 6th, 2018, the day before Ultimate Masters' scheduled release date. Two days before, it was selling for $67. Two days later, it would be selling for $70. The next time it dropped as low as $52 was December of 2019, almost a full year later.
Snapcaster Mage had an average price of $42 on December 6th, 2018, compared to $49 a few days before and after. The next time it dropped below that figure was also in December of the following year.
Lord of Extinction actually bottomed out at $4.70 on December 9th, 2018. A few days earlier, it was selling for around $8. A few days later, the average was up to about $5.20—not meaningfully higher but higher nonetheless.
In the case of Ultimate Masters, then, it appears as if buying in during that initial supply glut was the right call. But was that also true for key cards from other Masters sets?
Modern Masters 2017 muddles the picture somewhat. That set was released on March 17th, 2017, and Damnation's price tag was $23 on the 16th of March, down from $30+ a few days earlier. The price didn't bottom out until June 25th of that year, however, when the card hit its recent historic low of $14.60.
Tarmogoyf, which was actually kind of good back then if you can believe it, definitely had a dip on the 17th of March. It hit $79 that day, compared to $87 a few days earlier and $86 a few days later. But the price ultimately kept dropping, and the card eventually dropped below the $48 mark in late November of that year.
And then there's Misty Rainforest. This venerable fetch land absolutely follows the Ultimate Masters pattern, dipping all the way down to $26 on March 17th of that year, compared to $32 a few days earlier and $30 a few days later. The card hasn't been that cheap ever since.
What seems to be happening here is this: as soon as a Masters set is finally released, the dealers and speculators who bought dozens of boxes list all their cards in a mad race to the bottom. If there isn't a lot of demand, the price will stabilize or just keep dropping. If there is a lot of demand, however, the price will rebound somewhat after that initial dip. This means that you should still probably wait a few months before buying low-demand singles from Masters sets, but you should consider buying anything super popular on day one. I'm looking at you, Cyclonic Rift.
A lot of the Double Masters hand-wringing over the past few days has been about the fact that a VIP Booster of Double Masters only has two showcase cards in it, and one or both of them can be Expedition Map or one of the Urzatron lands instead of a powerful rare or mythic. I understand why people are upset—of course you're hoping to get a pack with Mana Crypt and Jace, the Mind Sculptor every time—but these cards are going to be worth quite a bit, and they'll hold their value quite well. The set foil Urzatron lands sell for $70-$100 right now—not just because they're scarce, but because folks who want to foil out their Tron lands need four copies of each. The same thing's going to happen with these showcase cards, and there is going to be a ton of demand for them for as long as they're legal in Modern.
The VIP packs also have Unhinged and Battle for Zendikar full-art lands—two of each, plus two foils. While the Battle for Zendikar lands aren't likely to be worth much, the Unhinged lands are a real gem. Assuming each pack has five regular Unhinged lands and one foil Unhinged land, that's $30+ in current retail value right there. Even if we factor in some expected price drops, you're getting $20 off your VIP pack price in lands alone.
Assuming the foil commons, uncommons and tokens are worthless (and sometimes they won't be), that means you're paying roughly $80 for two showcase cards and two foil rares. Is this good? Well, we don't have the full Showcase list yet, but I'd wager that the initial EV calculations will show each of those two slots has an average value of more than $40, and that's before you're factoring in the other foil rares. This doesn't mean every VIP pack will be good—many will not be—and I'd be shocked if these prices don't drop hard (at least temporarily) when the glut of VIP boosters hits the market. But if you have a bunch of spare cash and you want to crack some VIP boosters with the plan of holding on to the best cards for a couple of years, you'll still have a decent chance of coming out slightly ahead in the end. The high price point makes this a frustrating product for a lot of people, myself included, but it's still likely to pay off a little for those who can afford it.
Is your collection full of cards that were just reprinted in Double Masters? Are you kicking yourself for not selling them earlier? I'd still consider selling them. But if you're going to do this, you have to do it right now, ASAP, do not pass go, do not wait around to finish reading this article.
As we learned in the piece I wrote about what to do when a card you own gets reprinted, there's always a short window in between a reprint being announced and the reprint hitting shelves where the price is dropping, but it hasn't reached its new bottom yet. Selling cards during this window always feels bad—you could have gotten so much more if you'd only sold your card last week instead of during this race to the bottom—but it's still worth thinking about. Last week's price isn't coming back, and nearly every card in Double Masters will be worth less in a month than it is right now. If you need the money, you should sell.
Not all cards are trending down right now, though. Most of the foil Japanese alternate-art planeswalkers are heading toward the moon right now, which is wild considering how expensive they already were. These cards are incredibly scarce, though, and the few people who really want them and have the means to get them are willing to pay the price.
Here's how foil alt-art copies of Liliana, Dreadhorde General are looking right now:
And here's Narset, Parter of Veils:
As you can see, sales volume hasn't really increased—there are still only a few sales per month on the platform for each card—but prices sure as heck have. This is partially because buylists have gotten super aggressive for these foil anime planeswalkers, and as a result, the whole market is taking off. A lot of the cheaper Japanese booster boxes of War of the Spark have already disappeared from the net, but there are still some out there—the cheapest I can find on eBay are in the $120-$130 range. And, yes, that's still a great deal. You should be able to sit on these for a few years and double your money at worst, because folks are going to want to play the lottery on packs that have a shot of containing multiple thousand-dollar foils. If you're looking to park some money somewhere right now, this is one of the easiest, safest calls you can make.