Innistrad: Double Feature Met with Mixed Reactions, MTG Head Designer Weighs In

In this article: The Innistrad: Double Feature product was announced as a draft box that would combine cards from the two Innistrad sets this fall into one sealed product meant for limited play. Now that the product has been revealed, the reaction from fans has been lackluster.

This fall has been the season of horror in the world of Magic: The Gathering, with two sets based on the gothic-themed plane of Innistrad. Each set has a smattering of creepy creatures ranging from zombies to spirits, but the first set, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, was primarily focused on the werewolves while the second, Innistrad: Crimson Vow, was based on a wedding between vampires.

Back when we were learning the first details about Crimson Vow in September, Wizards of the Coast announced Innistrad: Double Feature, a product that would mash up cards from both sets and give the art a black-and-white treatment as an homage to the classic horror movies of the past. When the product was first announced, reaction from the community was quite positive, with players looking forward to the two sets coming together in a way that was curated to support a fun draft environment.

In the Reddit post above, many commenters were excited and hopeful about the product. However, some also had less-favorable expectations that turned out to be closer to the truth.

The Product

Innistrad: Double Feature will be sold as 15-card booster packs and 24-booster displays. All of the cards from both Innistrad sets are included, other than the basic lands. The content of each pack are as follows:

  • 4x Innistrad: Midnight Hunt commons
  • 4x Innistrad: Crimson Vow commons
  • 2x Innistrad: Midnight Hunt uncommons
  • 2x Innistrad: Crimson Vow uncommons
  • 1x Innistrad: Midnight Hunt rare or mythic rare
  • 1x Innistrad: Crimson Vow rare or mythic rare
  • 1x Silver screen foil card

You can find the full card list with artwork, along with some additional details about the product, over at the Innistrad: Double Feature Product Overview on Wizards’ official site.

Expectations Vs. Reality

Earlier this month, Innistrad: Double Feature was fully revealed, but a number of perceived discrepancies between how it was advertised and the reality of the product have drawn the ire of some players. Shortly after the product was shown off through an official product overview from Wizards, influential members of the community shared their disappointment across social media.

The main problems that people have with the Innistrad: Double Feature product boil down to two specific elements that were presented in a somewhat misleading way in the original marketing materials. Both of these misconceptions stem from a particular line of text from the original announcement: “Innistrad: Double Feature combines select cards from two separate sets… into one unique draft experience featuring special art treatment on every card.”

Firstly, this wording in the original announcement seemed to imply that the product would contain a focused selection of cards (“select cards… unique draft experience”) from the two sets that were chosen to create a specific and distinctive sealed environment. In actuality, it turns out that the Double Feature product includes all of the cards from both sets combined together, taking away from the premise that Double Feature would create its own, somewhat-independent limited format.

A Reddit post from shortly after the full reveal calls the original wording out directly:

You can find this text in the article What Happened in Magic Showcase 2021? on Wizards’ official site.

The second aspect of Innistrad: Double Feature that has rubbed many the wrong way is the “special art treatment” that was meant to present all of the card arts in black-and-white to pay tribute to some of the classic movies that helped to inspire the Innistrad plane.

Back in that Reddit thread from September, players discussed these special art treatments, and whether Double Feature would include all-new arts created in black-and-white, or if they would just be the regular card art printed in black-and-white. As it turns out, there is no unique art in the entire product and the original card arts have indeed been presented in greyscale.

Some of the cards look pretty good with the Double Feature treatment, others not so much. The post embedded below, which earned over 1,600 upvotes on Reddit, uses the card Faithbound Judge to demonstrate how some of the art looks washed-out and uninspired.

u/IronGlorfindel used Faithbound Judge to demonstrate the sometimes washed-out colors of Double Feature.

Some of the art is dark and difficult to follow, while others have lost the meaning their original coloring provided.

Even in those early discussions of the product taking place back in September, not all players thought it was realistic to expect that all of the cards would be given new art specifically created in black-and-white media. Regardless, its understandable why some have been underwhelmed by cards like the Faithbound Judge, which in all honesty does lack contrast and certainly doesn’t look much like a classic black-and-white film or even comic book.

A Response from Wizards Head Designer Mark Rosewater

MTG’s head designer Mark Rosewater is well-known for regularly responding to questions and comments from players over on his Tumblr blog. On Tuesday, he directly addressed some of the criticisms from the community in a response to one player who shared their disappointment with Innistrad: Double Feature:

In his response, which does not address the coloring issue as it wasn’t included in the reader’s comment, Rosewater conceded that the messaging around the product was not entirely clear. It’s definitely not an apology though, with Rosewater’s statement in the second paragraph essentially boiling down to “players would have complained either way” rather than meaningfully addressing the idea that the set was expected to feature its own limited format – and no concern with would have created the superior product for players.

A “Parallel Universe” of Complaints

The Magic community has become known in recent years for some fiery criticisms and outrage on social media in response to some of Wizard’s product and management decisions. Some of these reactions have been more justified than others, but this instance feels a bit different. Rather than complaints about card design, prices, or product availability, the issue with Double Feature really comes down to Wizard’s marketing and the messaging around the product that many now feel was misleading.

Frankly, players who like the black-and-white cards and want to collect them will buy the product, and everybody else can just pass on it. However, Innistrad: Double Feature does leave behind the feeling of a missed opportunity with a much-hyped product deflating rapidly in the eyes of the community.

It’s also true that some of the Magic products that have been highly controversial have sold extremely well (perhaps most notably The Walking Dead Secret Lair drop) which might suggest that the opinions of influential figures in the MTG social media sphere don’t always correspond with the feelings of MTG players and collectors writ large.

So what would have saved the Double Feature product from so much criticism? While it probably isn’t realistic to expect all-new artwork for a product like this – especially when the two sets it’s based on are brand new themselves – perhaps a handful of alternate art treatments to highlight the theme would have gone a long way.

At the end of the day, Rosewater is probably right when he asserts that the messaging around the product was the it’s biggest issue. Innistrad: Double Feature doesn’t release to stores until January 28, so nobody in the general public will get the opportunity to go hands-on with the product until then. Wizards will certainly be monitoring the sales of Double Feature when it ships and we’ll be keeping our attention on the reactions within the community.

Paul

Dude from Vermont who likes to play Magic and Escape from Tarkov. Musician, writer, and gamer. Submit feedback or corrections to @Paul on the Discord.