Tyler Robinson - January 1st, 2024
Magic: The Gathering Play Boosters?
Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro and the mastermind behind popular trading card games, has recently announced a significant shift in their product line-up. The company has decided to discontinue the production of "set and draft" booster packs, pivoting to exclusively offer the original type packs now rebranded as "play boosters." This move has been perceived as a response to the financial pressures faced by Hasbro, which has seen a notable dip in its stock price and has undergone recent layoffs. However, Wizards of the Coast is framing this change as a strategy to better serve the game piece community, particularly addressing the concerns of players who have been vocal about the high costs associated with acquiring essential cards for their decks.
The decision has stirred up considerable debate within the gaming community. On one hand, the shift to "play boosters" is seen as a way to simplify the buying process and potentially reduce the cost of entry for players looking to build competitive decks. This could be a boon for players who have long complained about the escalating prices of crucial cards, often running into hundreds of dollars. On the other hand, critics argue that this move is primarily financially motivated, driven by the need to stabilize Hasbro's faltering financial position rather than a genuine effort to assist players. This latest development in the gaming world has opened up a new chapter in the ongoing conversation about the balance between corporate profitability and community support in the world of trading card games.
When did Set Boosters come out?
Set booster packs for Magic: The Gathering were introduced with the Zendikar Rising set in 2018 as part of an initiative to diversify the types of booster packs available to players. These packs were designed to enhance the experience of opening boosters by including a range of cards from commons to mythic rares, along with other elements like art cards, foil cards, and cards from "The List" - a curated selection of cards from the game's history. The set boosters were tailored more towards players who enjoyed the experience of opening packs rather than drafting, offering a different assortment of cards compared to traditional draft boosters.
The first Set Booster release
Card Ratios: Set Vs. Draft Vs. Play
The card ratio in Magic: The Gathering booster packs has evolved over time, especially with the introduction of set and draft boosters in 2018. To understand the differences, let's compare the composition of these booster packs to earlier, vintage MTG booster packs.
Vintage MTG Booster Packs (Pre-2018)
Commons: The number varied depending on the set, but early sets like "Alpha," "Beta," and "Unlimited" had 11 commons in a 15-card booster.
Uncommons: These sets typically contained 3 uncommons per pack.
Rares: Each pack had 1 rare card.
Basic Lands: Some sets included 1 basic land in place of a common card. These ratios were fairly standard for many years, with slight variations in some sets. The primary focus was on a straightforward distribution of commons, uncommons, and a single rare or mythic rare card.
Set Boosters (Post-2018)
Introduced with Zendikar Rising, set boosters were designed to enhance the experience of opening packs.
Commons and Uncommons: These boosters have a section dedicated to commons and uncommons, with the potential for each common to be upgraded to an uncommon. The exact distribution is variable, but the focus is on showcasing connections between cards, like creature types or story elements.
Wildcards: Set boosters include wildcard slots that can be any rarity, adding a chance for additional rares or mythic rares.
Rare/Mythic Rare: There is a dedicated slot for a rare or mythic rare, similar to traditional boosters.
Additional Elements: These boosters include art cards, foil cards, and cards from "The List" for added variety.
Above is one of the first Wild, Foil, Art, and Mythic cards that came out of the new "Set Booster" Packs.
Draft Boosters (Post-2018)
Draft boosters are similar to traditional boosters but tailored for drafting gameplay.
Commons: They typically include a larger number of commons compared to set boosters.
Uncommons: The number of uncommons is consistent with traditional boosters.
Rare/Mythic Rare: There is one slot for a rare or mythic rare.
Basic Lands: These packs often include a basic land card.
Are Play Boosters cool then?
The introduction of set and draft boosters aimed to cater to different player preferences: set boosters for those who enjoy the pack-opening experience and draft boosters for players focused on drafting and gameplay balance, but came with its issue including LCS/LGS’s having heavy Rudy bags of draft boxes.
Each Play Booster is structured to enhance the probability and excitement of obtaining rare cards. The statistical breakdown of the pack contents indicates that each Play Booster will contain one rare or mythic rare card 58% of the time, two rares or mythic rares 37% of the time, three rares or mythic rares 4% of the time, and on rare occasions (less than 1% of the time), players might find four rares or mythic rares. This less than 1% "God Pack" chance includes one regular rare/mythic, two wildcards, and a card from The List or Special Guest. These packs will also maintain the traditional booster box format, with each Play Booster box containing 36 packs, similar to the draft boxes. This design aims to balance the thrill of pack opening with the practicality of deck building, offering a diverse and potentially valuable range of cards for players. I personally, think it'll be fun.
Editor note: Collector Packs will still be a thing.
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