Double Cards in The Elder Scrolls Legends
Double Cards are debuting as a new mechanic in Legends in the story expansion Isle of Madness. Bethesda has explained these in an FAQ on Reddit with further clarifications in a longer thread. To save you some detective work, this article attempts to explain the mechanic on a basic level with a few examples. Disclaimer: since Double Cards have not yet been released, please use this write-up with a caveat. Some info might be a little off, but I’ll update and correct the information described in here quickly, as required.
Double Cards are a new way to gain card advantage. Basically, card advantage means that you have more cards to choose from than your opponent. Why should you care about this? Because more cards provide more options. Options to play creatures, options to remove your opponent’s creatures, options to use your magicka more efficiently, options to gain board control, options to win. Options are good! Please find a more detailed look at this concept our article about Card Advantage in Legends. Now, let’s look at Double Cards.
How do Double Cards work?
When you are building your deck, a single Double Card like Tavyar & Rayvat takes up exactly one slot of the 50 slots you can use in a normal two-color deck. At some point during your game, you will draw Tavyar & Rayvat from your deck. At this very moment, the Double Card will split into two separate cards, one will be Tavyar the Knight, and the other one will be Rayvat the Mage. At this point, the Double Card has disappeared.
And this mechanism of splitting a Double Card into two individual cards is providing you card advantage. Because you basically get two cards for a single draw to your hand.
As a short-form we will call these two separate cards Tavyar and Rayvat. Thus, when referring to the individual Double Card we use the “&” (i.e. Tavyar & Rayvat), and when referring to each separate card individually, we will call them Tavyar or Rayvat. You can see the two separate cards below with further details about the keyword and other special abilities.
Important Things to Know about Double Cards
Different Card Types
In the example above, the Double Card consists of two creatures. However, not all Double Cards have to be of the same type. For example, it is possible, for a Double Card to provide you with one creature and one action.
Different Attributes/ Colors
The two cards also do not have to have the same color or Attribute. Some do, some don’t. To illustrate this: Tavyar & Rayvat are a multi-attribute Dual Card for Sorcerer (blue/ purple). You can also use them in decks for House Telvanni (green/ blue/ purple) or Tribunal Temple (yellow/ blue/ purple), but not in Warrior (red/ purple), nor in Battlemage (red/ blue), nor in House Redoran (red/ yellow/purple).
A Double Card Counts as a Single Draw
When you draw one Double Card from your deck, this counts as a single card draw. For example, Cornerclub Gambler allows you to draw two cards. Let’s assume you get lucky and draw two Double Cards from Cornerclub Gambler. You will then have four additional cards in your hand. – Note: I know this only happens to your opponent, it’s the very same for me 🙁
In this exceptional case the draw of the Double Card extends the hand limit of 10 cards. Let’s assume you have nine cards in hand and draw a double card: You will get two additional cards to hand, for a total of 11 cards in your hand.
Advanced Things to Know about Double Cards
Once you understand the basic mechanic, Double Cards can be used in a pretty intuitive way. Still, some of the more granular details of the Double Card mechanic might seem peculiar to some. Let’s dive into those.
Splitting a Double Card
The Double Card, as one single entity, exists as one single Double Card only in your draw deck and while you are drawing it. If another card allows you to look at the two or three top cards from your deck, the Double Card stays a single card while you are taking your decision about which card to draw.
Generally speaking, the split occurs after the Double Card is drawn or discarded (e.g. you don’t pick the double card with your Merchant’s Camel) or summoned (e.g. by a tutor card). From this moment, there are now two separate cards, and that particular instance of the Double Card has been dissolved.
Note, with a tutor card summoning a Double Card, you can gain a totally crazy amount of card advantage, because you also save the magicka cost needed to play the cards.
Double Cards and Random Effects
Cards that create a random card (out of nowhere), cannot find Double Cards. For example, Mudcrab Merchant will not present you with a Double Card. Equally, neither Haafingar Marauder nor Merric Aswala will be able to equip a Cloak & Dagger. They also cannot equip a Cloak, nor a Dagger (as individual cards).
Buffing a Double Card
Legends has several cards that allow you to apply modifiers (=buffs) to the cards in your deck. Praetorian Commander is a good example. When summoned, he adds +1/+1 to all creatures in your deck. A Double Card still in your draw deck applies this +1/+1 modifier. When the Dual Card later splits, both component-cards each get the +1/+1 as well. As a result, you will get a buffed 4/6 Tavyar, as well as a 3/3 Rayvat when the Double Card splits up. Isn’t this great value?!!
Equally, when a card like Eclipse Baroness reduces the cost of a card in your draw deck by 2, that magicka cost reduction is also inherited to the two component-cards.
Another example: if a Treasure Map is played onto a Relic Hunter, to find Cloak & Dagger, this will buff both the Cloak, as well as the Dagger. You will draw a +1/+3 Cloak and a +3/+1 Dagger.
The same is true for keywords. When Apex Wolf gives the top creature of your deck Breakthrough and Drain, this is first applied to the Double Card and later split out to both individual cards. Another great example of how Double Cards can create value.
The Stats of Double Cards inside the Draw Deck
Prior to the split, a Double Card has the combined types, attributes, names, cost, power and health of the two component cards combined. Thus, any card looking for a card in your deck with a particular property will see the combined properties of the Double Card. As a consequence, Tavyar & Rayvat is a multi-color blue/ purple, with Ward and Guard, costs 9 magicka and comes with stats of 5/7.
Thus, the creature tutors Altar of Despair and Genius Pathmage will see Tavyar & Rayvat as a creature with a cost of 9 magicka. That does not necessarily make it easier to tutor them, but this is most definitely by design.
Another example for buffs from Double Cards still in your draw deck is Illusory Mimic. The Spirit will gain both Ward and Guard from Tavyar & Rayvat if the Double Card is among the top three of your draw deck. The Mimic will also gain the keywords from the other two cards still on top of your draw deck.
Double Cards with Components of Different Card Types
Things get a little bit weird when a Double Card has multiple types, e.g. consists of an action and a creature or of an item and a creature. In this scenario:
- Buffs hit a Double Card where either component has a matching type. For example, Praetorian Commander buffs a Double Card that is split into an action and a creature. This is interesting, when a Double Card is an item and a creature, because both components will now benefit from the buff. If you had a creature and an item separately in your deck, the Commander would only buff the creature.
- Drawing from deck/ tutoring: Apex Wolf and Sun-in-Shadow are hitting a Double Card, when either component-card is the appropriate type. In other words, Sun-in-Shadow will allow you to draw a Double Card that is an Action & Creature.
- Summoning a creature from deck: Altar of Despair or Sails-through-Storms hit cards where BOTH components are creatures. This is in contrast to buffs and draws. Thus you cannot summon a Double Card with Altar of Despair if one of it’s component-cards is an item and the other a creature.
- Other cards, like Siege of Stros M’Kai or Mecinar simply skip double cards.
I hope this provided a first overview of how Double Cards will likely be functioning. I expect that we will learn more about this cool new mechanism as we play our way through the single-player experience of the story expansion. There may be some subtleties I might have gotten wrong and I will make an effort to update this article as soon as more can be understood about the mechanic. Please do leave a comment if something is not clear or wrong.
Double Cards are definitely a mechanism worth revisiting in more depth and breadth after we have all been able to play with the new cards. It’s such an exciting time for Legends. Let’s get the creative deck building juices flowing…