Home » A Quick Guide to Magic: The Gathering Boosters

A Quick Guide to Magic: The Gathering Boosters

Magic has a somewhat dizzying array of boosters that you can pick up in your local game store, and while that number’s going down, it’s good to know what’s available and what you should and shouldn’t pick up. Without further ado, here are the most common types you’ll find:

Play Boosters

Play Boosters are the most recent form of Magic Booster, and they’ll only be available for sets released after February 2024. Play Boosters simplify the booster selection process – if your goal is to simply play Magic, no matter what format, if a Play booster is available, then that’s the one you should buy.

Graphic of the play booster content created by Wizards
© Wizards of the Coast

Play boosters contain 15 cards:

  • 6-7 Common cards
  • 0-1 “List” cards – a 12.5% chance of a card from a special list of reprints from older sets that will not be playable in the Standard format (but can be played in Draft). Where a list card appears, it’ll replace one of your commons.
  • 3 Uncommons
  • 1 rare or mythic rare. Every pack will always have a rare, but it has a 1 in 7 chance (~14%) chance of being replaced by a mythic card instead.
  • 1 land. This can be a common land, or a basic land, depending on the set, and has a 20% chance of being foil.
  • 1 non-foil wildcard. This can be of any rarity, but it’s always non-foil
  • 1 foil wildcard. This can be of any rarity but it’s always foil.
  • 1 non-playable card. This can be an ad, a token, a rules card… regardless, it doesn’t go in your deck.

This is a big list, and it can feel complex, but essentially what you should know is that you’ve got a chance of getting up to 3 rares or mythics. The best Play Booster possible (with astronomically bad odds) would contain:

  • 6 common cards
  • 1 high-value card from the list
  • 3 uncommon cards
  • 3 mythic cards (1 is always foil, 1 is always non-foil)
  • 1 land
  • The unplayable card you want the most (probably your favourite token or art card)

Meanwhile the worst possible Pay Booster (which has higher odds than the best pack) would contain:

  • 9 common cards (1 is always foil)
  • 3 uncommon cards
  • 1 rare
  • 1 land
  • An ad card

There’s clearly a big difference between these two packs, so there’s likely to be quite a bit of variance in Play Boosters.

It’s always worth noting that all packs are always the least efficient way to get specific cards, and that buying singles is always a better approach, unless you don’t know what you want, you’re drafting, or you just want the fun of cracking packs.

Who should buy Play Boosters?

  • Anyone who plays Magic
  • Gift-givers on a limited budget

Collector Boosters

Collector boosters* are, as the name suggests, intended for card collectors and high-value traders. They are extremely expensive, and make honestly a fantastic gift for your favourite Magic player if you have no idea what to get them, but they typically contain things like:

  • Extremely rare numbered (“serialised”) cards worth hundreds of dollars
  • Special artwork that can be found nowhere else
  • Extremely high rarity, sought-after cards

But it’s important to not fall into the trap of thinking that these boosters are worth buying for regular play, or in some way the “best” boosters. Opening boosters is effectively gambling, and Collector boosters take that to the extreme, with a high cost of purchase, and a high risk of potential loss or gain in value.

The exact contents of a Collector booster can vary between sets, but generally they contain:

  • 1 rare/mythic rare with extended art
  • 1 foil rare/mythic rare
  • 9 foil commons/uncommons
  • 3 special-frame cards (showcase cards or borderless planeswalkers)
  • 1 ancillary card (a new card that is connected to the set but doesn’t appear in Draft Boosters. E.g. cards from Planeswalker decks)
  • 1 foil token

Who should buy Collector Boosters?

  • Collectors
  • Card traders
  • Gift-givers with a higher budget

Jumpstart Boosters

Jumpstart boosters* are the way you play the Jumpstart Magic format, and they’re periodically printed. Unlike other booster types, these aren’t designed for cracking and adding to your collection, but instead form a fantastic way for people to quickly get into playing Magic. You simply take two Jumpstart boosters, mash them together, and you’ve got a 40-card deck to play against another Jumpstart deck.

Jumpstart decks are themed, and typically only contain cards of a single colour, but you never know what theme you’re going to get. In our opinion, it’s only worth getting these packs if you actually want to play Jumpstart, but also you should absolutely try Jumpstart! It’s a great format, particularly for quick games and introducing new players, and provided you don’t break down your packs and split them up again afterwards, you can keep using the same Jumpstart packs to play whenever you want.

Who should buy Jumpstart Boosters?

  • Players who want to play Jumpstart
  • Players who want to try out Magic: The Gathering but are not sure which format to play

Set Boosters

Set boosters* were introduced a while ago for players who didn’t necessarily want to play Standard, but wanted better cards than you’ll find in Draft boosters. This had the unfortunate effect of almost everyone not buying Draft boosters (which we’ll discuss in a minute), which is why Play boosters were introduced to replace them.

The exact contents of a Set booster vary between sets, but the general theme is that Set boosters were great for players of eternal and non-rotating formats, such as Modern, Pioneer, and Commander, with a higher amount of more playable and powerful cards. The only downside of this is that Set boosters (unlike Play and Draft boosters) cannot be drafted.

Who should buy Set Boosters?

  • Players of non-rotating and eternal constructed formats such as Commander, Pioneer, or Modern who want cards from a set where those boosters were printed (between 2020 and 2024)
  • Collectors on a budget who want higher-rarity cards from those sets

Draft Boosters

Draft boosters* are what was once the only type of Magic booster, renamed for clarity with the introduction of Set boosters. Draft boosters are intended for limited formats such as Draft and Sealed, and contain a balance of low-powered cards that are designed to be played in 40-card decks.

Your odds of getting anything good are pretty low, with 10 commons in every pack (with a few set-based exceptions). As such, the only times you should really buy draft boosters is if you actually want to draft or play sealed. They’re just not worth it for collectors or players of formats like Commander, where very few commons see play.

The one upside of draft boosters is that they are typically extremely cheap compared to other boosters. But if your goal is to play in a constructed format on a budget, you should absolutely just be buying singles on sites like Cardmarket or TCGPlayer. Boosters in general are absolutely not the correct product for cash-strapped Magic players.

Who should buy Draft Boosters?

  • Players who love drafting and playing sealed
  • Players who want to collect a bunch of low-rarity cards from very old sets where neither Set boosters nor Play boosters exist
  • Kitchen table magic players, who just want a bundle of cheap bad cards to play with

Other Boosters

It’s possible that Wizards will put out other types of booster over time, but those are the main types you’ll see on shelves. Some other booster types you might see are:

  • Aftermath boosters* are only good for players who want to collect those cards, as each booster only contains 4 cards. Constructed players should buy the singles they want, as they are almost all relatively cheap (and the more expensive ones will still cost less than the packs to acquire them unless you get extremely lucky). We do not believe these boosters are worth buying.
  • Theme boosters* are only worth buying for new players who love a specific theme, and kitchen table players who don’t care about card quality, as they contain a high number of common cards that are tied to a specific theme. Generally these make the great base for a new player’s first kitchen table deck, but honestly you could use Jumpstart boosters for this instead, and have more fun in the process.
  • Beyond Boosters are boosters that will be used for Universes Beyond products starting with Assassin’s Creed in 2024. Not much is known about these at the time of writing, but the assumption is that they’ll only be good for collecting those products, and may actually be similar to Aftermath boosters, as they will not be draftable.

As we’ve tried to stress, you shouldn’t buy any type of booster if you’re after only a few specific cards, you’re on a budget, or you generally don’t enjoy gambling, but hopefully knowing what you’re looking at will help you to make an informed decision!

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