Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How Double Strike Works in Magic
In Magic, double strike offers an upgraded version of first strike, letting creatures hit at both first-strike and regular combat speeds. And like first strike, if the initial hit defeats the engaged enemy, they don't get to counterattack.
This means double-strikers effectively hit twice with each blow, offering tremendous damage output, especially when boosted by other effects. Double strike is most common in white and red; which of its spells reign supreme? These are the 30 best double strike cards in Magic: The Gathering!
30. Rayami, First of the Fallen
Rayami has impressive 5/4 stats and exiles any other creature that dies with a blood counter. And he'll gain the following traits from exiled creatures with blood counters: flying, first strike, double strike, deathtouch, haste, hexproof, indestructible, lifelink, menace, protection, reach, trample, and vigilance.
Rayami will exile both your and your opponent's creatures when they die, which might sound like a disadvantage, but it'll quickly empower him—give Rayami double strike and he hits for ten at base!
29. Odric, Lunarch Marshal
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Similarly to Rayami, Odric gives any of these traits at the start of combat to all your creatures (including himself) if another creature you control has it: first strike, double strike, flying, deathtouch, haste, hexproof, indestructible, lifelink, menace, reach, skulk, trample, and vigilance.
Admittedly, this depends on other creatures, but turns your entire army, Odric included, into monstrous powerhouses, and it's nice that it works on all combats, not just yours. His cost is flexible too, only needing one white mana.
28. Samut, the Tested
Samut provides a way to get double strike onto any creature, great for red/green aggro Gruul creatures (who rarely have it by default). She enters with a nice four loyalty, and her +1 gives up to one creature double strike for the turn.
-2 is a respectable removal, dealing two damage spread among one or two targets, and ultimate -7 plays up to two creatures/planeswalker from your deck for free, giving you a board state few decks can recover from.
27. Onward // Victory
This split spell has you play Onward from your hand, then later cast Victory from your graveyard into exile. Onward gives a creature +X/+0 for the turn, where X is its power, effectively doubling its strength. Victory simply provides double strike for the turn.
You can cast them separately if you don't have six mana, but they work well together; played on the same turn, they effectively quadruple a creature's damage output! Note that you can cast Onward as an instant, but Victory has to be played on your main phase.
26. Kathril, Aspect Warper
When Kathril enters the field, he checks whether creatures in your graveyard have flying, first strike, double strike, deathtouch, hexproof, indestructible, lifelink, menace, reach, trample, and vigilance, then places a corresponding counter for each on any creature you control (possibly himself). Then, he gets a +1/+1 counter for each counter he placed.
If you've been diligently milling your graveyard, Kathril's stats will quickly skyrocket, and you can blink him (exile, then return to the field) to continuously reactive the ability.
25. Twinblade Paladin
Paladin costs a pretty penny despite being just uncommon, likely because of his commander prowess. His stats are an average 3/3, but he gets a +1/+1 counter whenever you gain life. Plus, as long as you have at least 25 life, Paladin has double strike.
These abilities work well together and exploit the increased starting life—40—of EDH format, giving Paladin double strike by default as long as you haven't taken many hits.
24. Valiant Knight
Here's another cheat since Knight won't ever have double strike by default. But he only needs one white mana, gives your other knights +1/+1, and can spend five mana to instantly give all knights you control (including himself) double strike for the turn.
Knights gained several tribal supports in Throne of Eldraine, and if you're building around their deck, you definitely want this card. He's not legendary, either, so you can safely control multiple copies.
23. Silverblade Paladin
Whenever Silverblade or another unbonded creature enters the field, his soul bond trait lets you give both double strike while they both remain fielded. This makes Silverblade a respectable 2/2 double striker, but it's really useful for empowering other creatures, like giving your commander double strike in EDH.
Remember, even if Silverblade's first partner leaves the field, he can bond with another creature that enters.
22. Duelist's Heritage
Needing just one white mana, Heritage can easily fit multicolor themes, and whenever one or more creatures attack, it can give one double strike for the turn. Assuming you have an attacker, you can make immediate use of this the turn it arrives.
This also provides interesting tactical options in mutliplayer games. You can use it boost opposing creatures who attack other opponents—or, if you're especially nefarious, you can claim you'll boost them but decline when the time comes, trapping them in unwanted combat.
21. Mirran Crusader
A 2/2 with double strike and knight synergy already deserves notice, but Crusader also enjoys protection from both black and green, preventing him from being damaged, blocked, or targeted by those sources.
White and green are allied on the color chart, so it's rare to see a mono-white creature protected from green, making the trait all the more valuable.
20. True Conviction
Convictions requires several mana, but grants all your creatures double strike and lifelink. That's a great mix of offense and defense, hitting foes for double damage while regaining heaps of life.
Unlike some boosts, Conviction's abilities remain active on opposing turns as well, so you're just as powerful blocking as attacking.
19. Armed // Dangerous
As a fuse spell, you can cast either or both halves of this card, giving it some nice versatility. Armed is the real treat, giving a creature double strike and +1/+1 for the turn, a cheap way to inflict huge damage.
Dangerous isn't as tempting, spending four to simply force a creature to block that turn, but it's an appreciated add-on if you have leftover mana. My one complaint is they're both sorceries, so you have to cast them during your main phase.
18. Balan, Wandering Knight
Cat and knight subtypes give Balan several tribal options, and he's a respectable 3/3 with first strike. However, he gets double strike as long as he's equipped by at least two equipment spells; fortunately, that's easy since Balan can spend two mana to attach all your equipment to him.
17. Solemn Recruit
Here we've got a solid 2/2 with double strike, but Recruit's revolt ability gives her a +1/+1 counter at the end of your turn if any permanent left your field. The most obvious route is to lose a creature in battle, but revolt also triggers from bounced lands, sacrificed artifacts, blinked creatures, and more, so it's easier to gain that you might think.
16. Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas
Heck, Kalemne had at me at a 3/3 with double strike and vigilance, but also gives you an experience counter whenever you cast a creature with cost five or more, gaining +1/+1 for each experience counter you have.
Not only do +1/+1 counters work well with double strike, but experience counters remain on you even if Kalemne leaves the field. Use with proliferate abilities or other experience-counter creatures for a fierce combo.
15. Boros Charm
Boros Charm's biggest benefit is versatility: it triggers at instant speed and lets you pick one of three effects:
- Charm deals four damage to a player
- Your permanents gain indestructible until end of turn
- Target creature gains double strike until end of turn
Instant-speed double strike is nice, but field-wide indestructible is a great response to board wipes (assuming they don't exile). And it'll shield all your permanents, not just creatures, so don't overlook Charm's defensive potential.
14. Psychotic Fury
Fury gives an instant-speed double strike with a cantrip attached (giving a draw on resolution)—what's not to love? Well, it can only target a multi-color creature, so it balances its power with target restriction, but this can easily be mitigated by using a multi-color creature in commander format.
13. Rakdos Pit Dragon
Despite carrying the black/red Rakdos guild name, 3/3 Pit Dragon only requires red mana. Unlike most dragons, he doesn't have flying by default, but can get it for the turn by spending four two mana. He can also gain +1/+0 by spending one.
This effect works particularly well with Pit Dragon's hellbent effect, which gives him double strike as long as your hand is empty; use red's self-discarding prowess to quickly meet the condition and overwhelm foes in battle.
12. Warren Instigator
Warren Instigator only has puny 1/1 stats, and his lack of haste may dissuade red aggro players. That said, he has double strike, goblin synergy, and lets you play a goblin from your hand for free whenever he deals combat damage to a player!
Remember, thanks to double strike, this triggers twice, potentially swarming multiple goblins each round.
11. Sylvia Brightspear/Khorvath Brightflame
Sylvia and Khorvath partner with each other, meaning they can both be your commander, or when one enters the field, you can tutor the other from your deck. Sylvia is a solid 2/2 with double strike, and she grants dragons you control (like Khorvath) double strike!
Khorvath is weak for his cost at 3/4, but he has flying and haste and shares them with knights you control (like Sylvia). Both are good individually, but really shine when used in tangent, especially alongside other dragons and knights.
10. Savage Beating
CMC: 5 (7 with entwine)
You can only cast Beating during your own combat, but you pick between either gaining a second combat phase (with untapped creatures ready to attack again), or giving your units double strike for the turn.
But if you have the mana, you can get both with entwine, which essentially quadruples your entire army's damage that round, very possibly leading to a commander damage win.
9. God-Eternal Oketra
Oketra's double strike turns his 3/6 stats from average to deadly, and his zombie subtype opens up some tribal potential. Better yet, whenever you cast a creature, he creates a 4/4 zombie token with vigilance. These are unusually strong tokens, and you get them just by casting spells, making them nice checks to counterspell themes.
Like his other God-Eternal brethren, if Oketra dies or enters exile, you can instead place him into your deck's third position, meaning it's only a matter of time before he resurfaces.
8. Bonescythe Sliver
Bonescythe Sliver is basically a better version of "Fury Sliver", giving all slivers you control double strike, including himself! Slivers empower each other with their effects; try using Bonescythe alongside the deathtouch bonus from "Venom Sliver" for a lethal combo.
Bonescythe's cost is also conveniently just low enough to potentially cascade into from "The First Sliver", my preferred sliver commander.
7. Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt
CMC: 4 (5 with mutate)
Part dinosaur, cat, and nightmare, Snapdax has some interesting subtypes, and he's a great mid-game beatstick, being a 3/5 with double strike. He also a nice mutate option, letting you combine him with a non-human creature, which pools their abilities (and lets you choose which stats to use).
This also triggers Snapdax's mutate effect, hitting an opposing creature or planeswalker for four while giving you that much life.
6. Student of Warfare
Starting off, Student is a simple 1/1, but he's got the knight subtype. More than that, he can level up by spending one white mana; from levels 2-6, he becomes a 3/3 with first strike, but at seven and beyond, he's a brutal 4/4 with double strike.
This takes time, but it's a great outlet for leftover mana and can be accelerated by proliferating.
5. Samut, Voice of Dissent
Her 3/4 stats may be average, but Samut more than compensates with flash, double strike, vigilance, and haste! She also gives your other creatures haste and can tap and spend a white mana to untap another creature, letting you reuse green mana-tappers.
4. Cairn Wanderer
As a shapeshifter, Wandered has every creature subtype, fitting nicely in zombie, vampire, or any other tribal themes. Better yet, he's got solid 4/4 stats, and as long as a creature in any graveyard has the trait, he gains first strike, flying, double strike, fear, deathtouch, haste, landwalk, protection, reach, trample, shroud, and vigilance!
That's simply an amazing slew of boosts, especially since it counts opposing graveyards as well as your own. Black has several deathtouchers to use, and if you can get a double or first striker into a graveyard, Wanderer gets the first/double strike + deathtouch combo.
3. Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder
Technically, Bruse doesn't naturally have double strike, but he gives both it and lifelink to any creature (possibly himself) when he enters the field or attacks! That's a great reusable ability; target another creature with it while Bruse waits for summoning sickness to wear off, then boost himself (unless you have stronger attacks) on future turns.
Plus, you can have two commanders if both have partner, letting Bruse work alongside other creatures in EDH. You might consider "Akiri, Line-Slinger", who shares Bruse's colors and ally subtype.
2. Prophetic Flamespeaker
A 1/3 with both double strike and trample is already a good deal for three mana, but Flamespeaker goes above and beyond by exiling the top card of your deck whenever he deals combat damage to a player, letting you play that card that turn.
You still have to pay mana for it (unless it's a land), but this helps red decks maintain advantage, and since Flamespeaker hits twice, he'll exile two cards with each direct hit. Useful in both commander and modern, Flamespeaker is surprisingly cheap for such a competitive mythic, costing less than a single dollar!
CMC: 6 (3 to equip)
A staple of red aggro decks. Embercleave isn't nearly as expensive at it seems; its cost is reduced by one (minimum of two) per attacker you control, and on entry, it attaches to a creature for free. This means you can possibly have it on turn four if things go well, and since it has flash, you can wait until blocker are declared before springing it.
Embercleave gives it bearer +1/+1, double strike, and trample. Those are simply good bonuses that work well together, boosting power while hitting twice (likely avoiding counterattacks), and piercing excess damage through blockers.
Double Strike Mechanics in Magic
Double strike remains one of the best static traits in Magic, but keep in mind its properties. Unlike deathtouch and lifelink, it doesn't affect non-combat damage, including the fight mechanic. It's also redundant with first strike, so there's no extra benefit to having both. But combo it with deathtouch or damage-activated abilities (on cards like the "Sword of" series) to get two triggers with each hit.
Use power boosts for extra oomph with double strike, but for now, as we await more deadly twice-hitting cards, vote for your favorite and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2020 Jeremy Gill