Which Magic The Gathering Booster Packs Should I Buy?
Back in the day, Magic: The Gathering booster packs were mostly all the same. Sure, the specific set mattered—Future Sight had more valuable and exciting cards than Saviors of Kamigawa—but they all had around 15 cards and one rare, maybe a foil, or since 2008, a mythic rare.
Now you can choose between four different types booster packs for each new set, with different ratios of common to rare cards in them. How do you know which booster pack is best for you? Read on and find out!
The original Magic: The Gathering booster pack. If you bought a booster box of an expansion set any time from the late 90s until the mid-10s or so, you got a sealed box of 36 draft boosters. Ten commons, three uncommons, one rare (that could be mythic rare), a basic land, a token or advertising insert—and if you were lucky, one of the cards would come in foil. These are the packs tuned for drafting, for sealed deck tournaments, and for balanced play right out of the box.
You can still buy these for most sets, the ones still designed for drafting. They tend to cost around $4 per pack. But if you are sick of paying for a bunch of common cards you already own, or you aren’t planning to draft the cards immediately, the newer booster pack options may be more your style.
You’ve got money to spend and new cardboard to crack open and savor. You want foils, promos, rares, mythics, and alternate art. You don’t want to draft a bunch of commons and build mediocre decks; you want excitement now! The collector booster could be for you. The exact contents of collector boosters vary between sets to match the special versions offered with those sets; the infographic below shows the contents for Strixhaven collector boosters.
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These packs contain many foils and multiple promo or rare cards, but they cost a lot more per pack than a draft booster. You can pay $15 or $20 for a single collector booster, but you can shop around for better deals online. As you can tell, these are packs for committed Magic collectors. What if you’re looking for less commitment?
You don’t care what cards are worth—they are game pieces you need to play your favorite game! The casual theme booster is more your style. New Magic sets tend to be built around factions or archetypes that divide among the five colors—everything from Ravnica Guilds to Ixalan tribes to Strixhaven schools. Casual theme boosters offer focused groups of cards from the specific faction of your choice.
Theme boosters offer around 30 commons and uncommons that work well together along with one or two rares/mythics to lead them. You get all those cards, enough to play a game once you add some basic lands, all for roughly $7. Nice deal for some casual fun playing Magic!
What if you want a little of everything? What if you can’t make up your mind? What if you just want to see what the new Magic set is all about. Set boosters are for you! These are the newest addition to the Magic: The Gathering booster pack lineup, making their debut with Zendikar Rising.
Set boosters include a smaller suite of thematically-linked commons and uncommons, multiple slots for rares and mythics to show up with some randomness, a guaranteed foil and alternate art card of some form, and potentially multiple special versions if you get lucky. Unlike with draft boosters, where you can rip the pack open and flip back to check your “rare slot” for value, the set booster could range from one good rare to three or four amazing cards that leave you pumping fists in the air and showing your friends. All for roughly the same price as a draft booster, around $4.