The Best Doubling Cards in MTG

Tom Anderson Commander, Design

Double Masters 2022 is almost here, which has doubling on our brain! Tom takes a look at the 20 Best Doubling cards in MTG!

Double Masters 2022 looks like an excellent opportunity for collectors and Commander players especially. With such a loosely-defined theme for this product, WotC have seized the chance to jam in all sorts of cards which have struggled to find the right home for a reprint. From P3K to Alara mythics, it’s a great move for the ongoing health of the game

But if you were expecting to see more… actual doubling effects in the spoiler list, don’t panic! I’ve stepped into the breach to provide a quick guide to some of the most devastating and infamous spells to ever invoke the concept of replication. In fact, I’ve doubled down – it’s not just a Top 10, it’s a Top 20 of the most mathematically marvelous multipliers to make their mark in Magic history! Brace yourselves.

20. GILDER BAIRN (EVENTIDE)

Let’s start out with something simple. In terms of metagame impact, Gilder Bairn wasn’t the biggest ouphe to come out of the Shadowmoor/Eventide block. But it was a noticeable advance in terms of doubling technology! The cost and toughness are just within Constructed playability, and while paying for the ability stings, the combo potential inherent to the untap symbol means the adorable Bairn still keeps up with newer doubling effects.

19. DOUBLING CUBE (FIFTH DAWN)

Speaking of doubling technology. The low casting cost and seductive wording of that ability has tempted many players to try this out, only to realize the brutal mathematics involved. You need at least 7 mana from other sources to net a single extra mana from the Cube, and it’s usually easier to find an infinite mana combo using ordinary mana rocks than it is to turn this into a reliable engine. Still, there is one proven (and awesome) use for this: since no special properties of the mana are doubled, it gives you a way to combo off with Jeweled Lotus in non-Commander formats!

18. BODY DOUBLE (PLANAR CHAOS)

This card is one you might actually open in Double Masters 2022, and while it’s not one of the big money reprints for the set, it leads the way in terms of historically masterful doubling. The famously intricate combo with Reveillark won plenty of Standard events in its day, but this card is far more than just a combo piece! While significantly more expensive than the best Clone variants, putting good clone targets into your graveyard is usually significantly cheaper than getting them onto the battlefield, and it’s far less likely to be stuck without targets.

17. DUNGEON DELVER (COMMANDER LEGENDS: BALDUR’S GATE)

The dungeon mechanic introduced in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms was something of a disappointment to me, with both the rooms and cards which venture into them far too weak and generic to justify the added complexity. But subsequent Commander printings have made them a lot more viable, and Dungeon Delver is the most impactful of the new support. Having it in the command zone is nice, but to me most of these Background enchantments feel best in a deck led by two creature partners so they can both apply the effect. You know what they say – double the doubling is quadruple the fun! 

16. DEVILISH VALET (STREETS OF NEW CAPENNA)

The position of “best doubling card for Timmy players” is a hotly-contested one, with Kalonian Hydra, Chameleon Colossus and Electrostatic Pummeler all making powerful arguments. But for sheer potential to overflow variables on digital platforms, there’s nothing quite as good as this fresh printing from New Capenna! Even setting the memes aside, having haste and trample on a cheap-ish body holds the door open for Valet to become a future Constructed menace.

15. WILD PAIR (PLANAR CHAOS)

There are plenty of cards which double up the creatures you’re adding to the board, but Wild Pair earned tournament success through extra flexibility. The wording allows you to either generate a second copy of the same creature from your deck, or grab a completely unrelated creature which happens to share the same total stats! This also allows for plenty of exploitation – whether with lopsided statlines or turning evoke creatures into Natural Order

14. FIENDISH DUO (GAME NIGHT 2019)

On raw power considerations, this spot would go to Commander staple Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. But since she’s as much of a halver as she is a doubler, I figured I’d use the chance to instead highlight this little-known rare from the Game Night 2019 intro product. Hopefully it’ll get a reprint soon (I half-expected it to be part of Double Masters 2022) because even in Boros decks, one-sided damage doublers are too much fun to leave any out – especially ones with solid stats and cute art!

13. MANA REFLECTION (SHADOWMOOR)

Like Doubling Cube, the relatively late stage of the game at which Mana Reflection shows up relegates it to an unexpectedly minor place in the Great Mana Generation Tier List. Here though, we appreciate the spirit of the effort as much as its outcome, so this majestic (and one-sided) mana multiplier gets #13. The unique wording does make comboing easier, both with non-land sources and single explosive lands.

12. TEYSA KARLOV (GUILDS OF RAVNICA)

Teysa’s death trigger doubling eats up the lion’s share of her design budget, but thousands of Orzhov players have decided that value is worth the sacrifice – literally. Her appearance on the battlefield can push already-dangerous triggers such as Blood Artist or Pitiless Plunderer over the edge into game-winning territory. Her presence also improves both of her younger incarnations, rewarding those who truly double down on their love for their immortal Matriarch.

11. BRUVAC THE GRANDILOQUENT (JUMPSTART)

The story-light nature of Jumpstart makes it hard to say more about Bruvac than what the card itself gives us: the be-all-end-all option for mono-blue mill decks in Commander, and guaranteed combo kills with a handful of different cards. But to be fair, doubling effects aren’t known for their subtlety or nuance.

10. OBOSH, THE PREYPIERCER (IKORIA: LAIR OF BEHEMOTHS)

Maybe my favorite design of all the ill-fated Ikoria companions, Obosh hits the very narrow sweet spot of “good enough to want, restrictive enough to leave out” which the others miss. Plus, one-sided damage-doubling is exactly the kind of late game force multiplier you’re probably looking for by the time you want to invest eight mana putting this into play from your sideboard. It suffers from anti-synergy with tokens (and is locked out of mono-black Commander decks due to egregious color ID rules), but on the whole it does more good than ill – a remarkable achievement for its cursed cycle.

9. INALLA, ARCHMAGE RITUALIST (COMMANDER 2017)

The exceptional added consistency of the Command Zone ensures nearly every mechanic that uses it is immediately busted. Despite this track record, Commander 2017 touched the hot stove with a slew of new tribal Commanders, all of which turned out surprisingly balanced and not overly disruptive to the existing metagame. Ahem. Anyway, Wizards are among the more interesting tribes to build around given their focus on abilities over stats, so if your table can stomach Eminence, Inalla is the most dynamic and cool enabler you’ll never cast. 

8. STRIONIC RESONATOR (MAGIC 2014)

Reusable ways to double a triggered ability are exceedingly rare in Magic; for the simple reason that they are incredibly easy to break. But over time the loose phenomenon I’ll call “Commander creep” led R&D to relent and furnish us with this little gem. With the focus on multiplicative value engines and overlapping combos in Commander only deepening, you can bet the impact of this doubler will continue to resonate for years to come.

7. EMBERCLEAVE (THRONE OF ELDRAINE)

Defining its era of Standard as few cards ever do, Embercleave is also the definitive choice for “#1 double strike card” and as such a lock for the upper end of this list. I genuinely love this card even if its presence as a tentpole gave WotC cover to completely cut off red’s supply of new burn spells for a few years. The memes, the big plays, the nuanced synergies with both wide and tall boards – it’s an absolute all-timer of a Magic card.

6. BONUS ROUND (BATTLEBOND)

I don’t know if red is the first color most players associate with doubling, but let me tell you – I could have easily made this an all-red top 20 and not even doubled up too much on similar spells! Bonus Round is the most unique and explosive of red’s offerings, confirming the obvious potential of a doubling effect which can also double itself. When one card turns a pile of previously unplayed red spells into a competitive Legacy deck, you have to place it pretty high up the list!

5. THE CHAIN VEIL (MAGIC 2015)

While not really seen that often in Constructed to this point in history, both Cube and Commander players can attest to the terrifying power of doubling when applied to Planeswalkers. The Chain Veil isn’t even the most broken method of doing that, but it’s nutty enough to get Teferi, Temporal Archmage soft-banned at many Commander tables. Maybe they should start calling the deck Super-No-Friends! 

4. PANHARMONICON (KALADESH)

If Strionic Resonator felt like a step forward in how easily and directly players could be allowed to multiply their trigger value, the day they spoiled Panharmonicon was some kind of crazy rocket-jump. This kind of powerful enabler has become significantly more common since, but Panharmonicon remains prominent – reflective both of its raw power and milestone status in the genre!

3. LITHOFORM ENGINE (ZENDIKAR RISING)

The popular phenomenon of a card like Panharmonicon is hard to copy, but Lithoform Engine can at least copy everything else. I feel like the significant mana costs and overall less value-happy orientation of activated abilities have kept this artifact from becoming a popular darling, but the power is undeniable. Plus, it’s one of still just a few cards to reliably copy permanent spells – and for most colors it will probably remain their only way.

2. RIKU OF TWO REFLECTIONS (COMMANDER 2011)

The absolute OG of doubling stuff in the Commander format, Riku is among the more memorable alumni of those first 2011 precon decks. Even today he feels like a reasonably balanced choice to lead your deck. The costs associated with his triggers are light enough to be enticing, but his low stats and moderate mana value stop him dominating Temur Commander choices – for now…

1. DOUBLING SEASON (RAVNICA: CITY OF GUILDS)

As often happens with these sorts of lists, one card immediately stood apart as the clear #1 – and as usual I decided not to even try and fight the clearly correct verdict. Doubling Season’s effect is often imitated but ironically, never duplicated by later doubling enchantments – the open-ended wording which allows for instant Planeswalker ultimates will probably never appear on another spell. At least WotC seems committed to reprinting it every couple of years – they kept it off the list for Double Masters 2022, but judging by how the prices keep multiplying, I’d say this evergreen staple will be back in season again soon!

BIG NUMBERS = FUN

The brute force appeal of multiplication in a game where you otherwise only add is something raw and universal – it’s not surprising that many of these cards are iconic spells of their deck or format. Cards like Doubling Cube also demonstrate how this deviation from usual Magic arithmetic allows for unique and interesting build-arounds – it’s not all just brute force and big numbers getting bigger. Given all this, I expect WotC to continue exploring doubling spells in supplemental products where Standard balance is no concern. Perhaps in a few more years we’ll have enough to release a set of Actually Double Masters 20XX!