Imperial Seal – Double Masters
Date Reviewed: July 8, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 4.38
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
For a set that a lot of people have probably not heard of any more, Portal Three Kingdoms has a lot of great cards in it. While a card like Imperial Seal is most associated with combo decks that want to do one specific thing as much and as often as they possibly can, it’s worth noting that that’s not the only application for it. For example, Rock decks in the turn-of-the-century Extended formats sometimes used Vampiric Tutor to search for narrow cards (whether sideboard or maindeck) that destroyed very specific decks but weren’t generally useful enough to warrant more than one or two copies. Even at a relatively slow speed, plays like that can be very dangerous (and indeed, Imperial Seal is still banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage). Plus, I hear there’s a format out there with really large decks where people like cards that cause them to shuffle.
Commander [EDH]: 4/5
Hopefully this card’s next printing will be in fewer than 23 years, but still, you might want to consider getting one or so while you can.
Going from one Portal Three Kingdoms reprint to another, we turn to a card that is both a worse Vampiric Tutor and, prior to its reprint, the most expensive single Magic card not on the Reserved List!
Indeed, Imperial Seal is a bad Vampiric Tutor, since you generally have to plan a bit further out to make the most of your digging. It’s not a bad spell, by any rate: one mana and 2 life is a fair deal to set up your next draw, even at sorcery speed, and it’s still strong enough to share Vampiric Tutor’s status on the Banned and Restricted list (banned in Legacy, restricted in Vintage). Turns out that the bad version of a good spell can still be good; who could have seen it coming?
While Imperial Seal is worse in a vacuum, the sole mass printing of it prior to Double Masters 2022 was the aforementioned Portal Three Kingdoms, a set sought after for both its scarcity and its uniquely-named cards that allow singleton formats to double-up where they can, leading to original printings costing over $1500 (and the judge promo still coming in at a hefty $700 or so). I do not believe Imperial Seal sees Vintage play, largely because of its sorcery speed being enough of a hindrance in a fast format, but it’s still extremely powerful on its own merits, and Commander players can more readily relish having a second Vampiric Tutor for themselves.
Constructed: 4 (too strong for Legacy, too weak for Vintage)
Limited: 3.75 (as always, tutors aren’t great in Limited, but costing 1 mana helps this a lot)
Commander [EDH]: 4.75
We would love more volunteers to help us with our Magic the Gathering Card of the Day reviews. If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email. We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc. 😉