Last updated on September 20, 2021
Magister of Worth | Illustration by John Stanko
So, you want to buy a booster box? Well, fear not, mes amis! Today I’ll be going through the best of the best booster boxes.
I suppose that most of you know this, but in Magic, boosters are boxes full of packs. You can usually pay a lump sum to your local game store to buy around 36 or 24 boosters in a small, sealed display box. It’s cheaper than buying them individually. This means that you can use them to open for value, to play Limited, or to keep sealed for future use!
There’s so many reasons to buy your packs in a box. Some of them are better than others. It can often be daunting to figure out where to start. Should you find the oldest box for the most authentic experience? Should you play the newest booster for the optimal Standard pulls? Should you play Avacyn Restored Limited?
No. Nobody should ever play Avacyn Restored Limited. What do you even mean, Ays?You, probably
Anyway. Let’s begin!
Journey of Discovery | Illustration by John Matson
Should You Buy Booster Boxes?
So, there’s one massive thing you need to consider. You shouldn’t.
Thanks for joining me, and have a good—
- 36 Time Spiral Remastered (TSR) Magic: The Gathering Draft Booster Packs
- 1 card with a retro Magic frame in every pack
- Reprints of the most memorable cards from Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, and Future Sight
- 36 assorted rare and mythic rare cards per box
- 15 Magic cards per pack
But if you want to, then you really need to consider why you want to. Let’s go over some reasons!
If you’re in a hurry and want to cut to the chase, here are my picks for the very best:
Cracking Packs for Value
This is going to sound preachy, but it needs to be said. Do not buy packs to try to open value.
They’re lottery tickets, essentially, and gambling is a serious issue. As someone who’s been down this hole many-a-times, there’s no reason to just open them to try to get any value out of them. You’ll get burned. Just buy singles. It’s so much better.
Buy an actual deck, save it, put it into a long-term project, just don’t gamble it away. It’s definitely not worth it. You could make a Cube by buying singles if you wanted to. Hell, you could even just open packs online with our draft simulator for the same experience without spending your money.
I’ll say it again: buy singles. Packs and booster boxes probably won’t give you any value.
Waste Not | Illustration by Matt Stewart
It’s Not a Pandemic and You’re Drafting with Friends
Sure! Go wild! I’ll be going through the best booster box to buy for drafting and playing Sealed a bit further down, since this is what “Draft Boosters,” as WotC now calls them, are made for.
It’s a Pandemic and You Want to Draft with Friends
This is the situation that we’re currently in. Please, keep safe and stay inside. Of course, I’m not against buying boxes and keeping them for when the world is a better place. I’m considering doing this for Time Spiral Remastered, since I love old borders. You could also play safely with those you’re able to see like family or roommates. Just be responsible, yeah?
So, we’ve worked out whether you need to buy a booster box. Let’s talk about the best boosters to buy for your needs!
Wait, what’s this? Project Booster Fun? What does this mean?Also you
Recently, there’s been a push from Wizards to make different types of booster packs to open for value. Namely collectors/VIP and set boosters. All different ways to incentivize gambling, folks!
These fall under the same mantra. You’re rarely going to make any profit on these boosters. The house always wins, as the going says, or whatever. But it may be worth it to explain this whole “booster fun” thing. It’s a bit complex in comparison to the system we had before.
Life from the Loam | Illustration by Dan Mumford
These are the 15 card boosters we’re used to. They cost around $4 and they come with 15 cards:
- 10 common
- 3 uncommon
- 1 rare/mythic
This is what you want to be drafting with.
New to Zendikar Rising, these boosters are… well, weird. At $5-ish they have a structure that I don’t quite understand, so I’m just going to info barf:
1 art card (5% chance on a ‘signature’ variant)
1 land (15% chance of a foil land)
6 ”connected” (commons and uncommons with a common type/theme):
- 35% chance of 5 commons, 1 uncommons
- 40% chance of 4 commons, 2 uncommon
- 12.5% chance of 3 commons, 3 uncommons
- 7% chance of 2 commons, 4 uncommons
- 3.5% chance of 1 common, 5 uncommons
- 2% chance of 6 uncommons
1 head turning (alternate common or uncommon card, such as “showcase” variants)
2 wild cards of any card/rarity:
- 49% chance of 2 commons
- 24.5% chance of 1 common, 1 uncommon
- 17.5% chance of 1 common, 1 rare/mythic
- 3.1% chance of 2 uncommon
- 4.3% chance of 1 uncommon, 1 rare/mythic
- 2.6% chance of 2 rare/mythics
The rare and mythics may be “showcase” variants
1 rare/mythic (13% chance on mythic, 1/7.4)
1 foil of any card/rarity
1 token/ad card:
- 70% chance of token/advertisement
- 25% chance of a card from “the list”
- 5% chance of a ‘minigame’ card
That’s a lot of probability math, so I really don’t know what Wizards was thinking. Maybe they—you know what? Let’s just move on.
City in a Bottle | Illustration by Daniel Ljunggren
These boosters, coming in at around $15. Sometimes. Maybe? I actually have no clue since MSRP doesn’t exist and they fluctuate in value a hell of a lot.
They’re a contentious topic in the community right now. Made for “whales,” this product is where a lot of the “bling” comes from. Showcase foils, foil expeditions, the whole lot of them.
- 9 foil commons/uncommons
- 3 special frame cards (showcase or extended art)
- 1 foil rare/mythic
- 1 extended art rare/mythic
- 1 ancillary card (cards not in draft/set boosters such as “Planeswalker Deck cards,” “Buy a Box,” etc.)
- 1 foil token
They’re really controversial thanks to their gambling high “risk/reward” type of style. They’re usually really expensive lottery tickets.
Masters (Double Masters, Modern Masters, etc.) boosters are the same as standard “draft boosters,” but they contain a foil in every pack.
Double Masters VIP Edition
The most controversial booster in Magic history clocking in somewhere around $100, the VIP Edition of Double Masters is gambling at its finest.
- Double Masters VIP Edition contains a combination of 4 rare or mythic rare foils (see below for contents) —2 featuring beautiful borderless art, printed here for the first time.
- Play with some of the most dominating Magic cards ever, whether you’re into Commander, Pioneer, Legacy, or all of the above.
- As beautiful as they are powerful, most of the cards in Double Masters VIP Edition are foil— 23 foils in all.
- Take in the scenery with 12 basic lands with special full art—2 in foil and 10 non-foil.
- Contents: 33 Magic cards plus 2 double-sided tokens. 2 foil borderless cards (either 2 rare foil borderless cards or 1 rare and 1 mythic rare foil borderless card), 2 foil rares or mythics (2 rare foil regular frame cards or 1 rare and 1 mythic rare foil regular frame card), 8 foil uncommons, 9 foil commons, and 12 full-art basic lands (2 foil and 10 non-foil).
Each booster includes:
- 2 foil borderless cards (not available in foil in any other Double Masters product, aka “Foil Box Toppers”)
- 2 foil rares or mythics
- 8 foil uncommons
- 9 foil commons
- 12 full-art basic lands (2 are foil)
- 2 foil double-sided tokens
All of the value lies within the “Foil Box Toppers” of the pack and, well. I have nothing else to say about this. Just… Sigh.
The Best Booster Boxes
So, we’re onto the main event now that we’re through all that! I want to preface this by reminding you that this is somewhat subjective. Even though this is an attempt at trying to condense the opinions of the general Magic community and stay objective, I love some draft formats that others maybe wouldn’t.
If you have a draft format that you and your playgroup love, it’s always worth it to have a good time drafting it. Drafting Magic is more about experiences than value. Sure, you want to keep the value of your booster box somewhat, but you also get a day’s experience of playing Magic out of the box. Priceless, in a sense.
While being super expensive, Ultimate Masters is a fun draft format. Sure, it’s not as fun as the ones on my top five, but I have a soft spot for this one. It was the first Masters set I’d ever drafted, and I had tons of fun.
It has a decent pool of archetypes and some awesome cards. With that being said, it also has very limited complexity in comparison to other Magic sets when it comes to deckbuilding. The box toppers are also awesome!
I (and the community) love both Conspiracy sets. This may be a spoiler for the top five list but I didn’t want to put both Conspiracy sets on there, so I decided to omit the first Conspiracy because Conspiracy: Take the Crown is my personal favorite out of the two. Even though this set contains some of my favorite cards in all of Magic: Marchesa, The Black Rose, Altar of Dementia, and Dack Fayden.
An absolute classic, Invasion is omitted from my top five because it’s the blueprint multicolored draft environment, as well as not being as accessible. I wanted to give it a shoutout because it’s the original Limited environment to love, but I feel like other sets have just built on what it started.
#5: Modern Horizons
This is one that I was apprehensive about placing onto this list. It’s very divisive in the community. Some people hate the set because of its effects on other formats. However, with that being said, I feel like it deserves a place on here.
But, before I go into what makes this draft format so great, I have to shout out Time Spiral (which, again, is getting a remaster set). It was omitted for reasons similar to Invasion. If Modern Horizons didn’t exist, Time Spiral would be here because they draft very similarly. And I bet that Time Spiral Remastered would take this spot.
Modern Horizons has a lot of things going for it. Nouveau-nostalgia (referencing old cards), explosive gameplay, and a wide draft format. It’s a format that I also have personal history with. It was the draft for my first ever PPTQ (I came 8-7th), so I have fond memories for it.
Sure, it’s not the best ever. If it were, it would be first on the list. It’s a fair bit behind the rest, but the draft honestly feels really solid and fun. It has the cards to build complex decks while also allowing for simpler archetypes for newer drafters. I’m a personal fan of playing ninjas because of cards like Arcum’s Astrolabe and the Horizon lands. Being able to splash colors is an interesting decision process.
My favorite deck in this format was a WUBR “Snow-Ninja” that I tried, where cards like Watcher for Tomorrow and a single Ice-Fang Coatl worked well with both ninjas like Fallen Shinobi and Ephemerate. The set had issues with power creep, of course, but they didn’t seem to really translate into draft as much as they did in other formats.
#4: Rise of the Eldrazi
Rise of the Eldrazi is a set with a great Limited environment for draft, and honestly one of the best. The reason why it’s not in the top three is due to it not having much in terms of value?
“Wait. Kozilek, Butcher of Truth is almost $90?”
So, it has some value. Of course, not all of the value is in staples unlike Masters sets, but that’s honestly not even why it’s on the list. That’s just a bonus! The real reason is because of its Limited environment! Sure, it’s a bit (a lot) slower than other formats, but the number of cool decks you could build kind of made up for it! When researching this set more, this Reddit comment stood out as a great metaphor:
Drafting ROE was like eating a buffet.
You walk up to the line and notice that someone else has walked up on the other side of the table and picks up their plate at the exact same time. You pick up a piece of Roast Beef with Horseradish sauce and add it to your plate. Then you see a piece of finely cooked Grilled Chicken and feel like it will go perfectly with the Roast Beef you picked up earlier. And further down the line there are these sausages on flatbread that you know are going to be amazing when you combine it with the other meats you picked up. At the end of the line, you pick up a couple rolls and debate the merits of making a sandwich or two with the contents of your plate.
As you look up before walking to your chair, you see the other person has a plate filled with Kiwi Tarts, Grilled Pineapple, a Strawberry Arugula Salad. You turn to the person behind you, and their plate is filled with Mashed Potatoes and Lamb Chops. You did not notice any of those dishes as you were walking down the line.
The point being that there was an amalgamation of things to pick from. Some of it did not appeal to you, or maybe you did not understand what it was at first. Maybe you just wanted to focus on the foods you knew you liked. But there was someone else who wanted something different, and they got it. Their plate is not bad or inferior, but unique and wonderful in its own way.
And on your next trip to the buffet line, you tried those new foods in different combinations. Put the Strawberry Arugula salad with the Lamb Chops and maybe you have something amazing. Perhaps over time you came to appreciate each selection and what it had to offer when combined with all the other foods available. And you may even prefer it to those combinations that you started out with.
But sometimes you were the idiot who put Chocolate Cake on the Grilled Chicken and ruined everything.u/thekidd142
I wish I could reach this level of craftsmanship in my writing, honestly.
But, seriously, the number of awesome decks that were allowed to shine thanks to the format being a whole lot slower is impressive. There wasn’t ever really a “bad” deck unless you actively drafted poorly. Also, the iconic cards in the set are insane. In fact, the whole Zendikar block. More of my favorites: Splinter Twin, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and Stoneforge Mystic.
What can I say? I like powerful Magic.
I don’t even think I’m touching the tip of the iceberg here. This set is so packed that I don’t think it can ever get boring. If I could, I’d put all of the Zendikar sets here. Never draft Zendikar and Worldwake with Rise of the Eldrazi, though. Rise of the Eldrazi is really the cream of the crop, though.
#3: Conspiracy: Take the Crown
This is a very unique draft format. For those who don’t know how Conspiracy works, you play in games of four and have cards made specifically for multiplayer and draft. It’s really fun and unique and is a bit less competitive than other formats. It allows for tons of gameplay variance from each draft.
There’s quite a bit of value in the set, too. Nothing major like other sets. The most expensive card is around $25 (Berserk), which means that the box price is a lot more accessible than some others on this list. The archetypes are pretty loose too, with the ability to play on multiple axises.
Axes? How do you pluralize an axis?
You can play more or less politically. Your strategy can be more linear or more reactive. You can draft a pile of chaos if you’d like. The possibilities are really endless. It’s a multiplayer sandbox!
#2: Modern Masters
The original Modern Masters set has an insane draft environment. There’s so many synergies, bombs, answers. The set has it all for a high-octane format. From a soft tribal theme in goblins, faeries, and rebels to a spellslinger/storm pool of cards. It really is a format of variety when it comes to drafting.
Value wise, the booster box has a lot. The thing is, picking up a sealed booster box of this set is pricey. As it is with most of these boxes, but the most expensive card in the set is above $50 and the highest rare is $45! Of course, never try to open packs for value. If you want a good number of staples to build a Cube with, though, or to line your binder with, this is a great way to go if you can stomach the prices!
The monarch of all Limited formats, original Innistrad is the best draft you’ll ever play in your life. There’s nothing quite like it. With strong draft archetypes, bomb mythics which you actually have to think about to use, and killer flavor, this is the set of all sets. Honestly, the tribal 2-color archetypes were all so unique, intriguing, and spicy while also having a unique enough identity to play repetitively without making your draft experience boring and repetitive for your pod!
Plus, the format is a fan-favorite, with so many iconic cards. Just in Innistrad, you have Jund all-star (and my favorite planeswalker card, sorry Jace) Liliana of the Veil. Then there’s Snapcaster Mage, a card so efficient in recasting spells that it’ll knock your socks off for ten in Modern, Legacy, and Vintage. There’s Delver of Secrets, still one of the best creatures in all of Legacy. You have werewolves, vampires, zombies, and its sister set Dark Ascension is also filled with powerhouses.
But not Avacyn Restored. We don’t talk about Avacyn Restored.
To be honest, Avacyn Restored has some great cards too, it just isn’t a great Limited format. But the set is home to Cavern of Souls and Craterhoof Behemoth, as well as Sneak and Show’s best demon Griselbrand. Anyway. Back to Innistrad.
People love Innistrad as a top-down set. Each card is packed with flavor and the setting is oozing with it. There’s nothing quite like it. The horror, the dread, how the set’s mechanics signify these themes. Flashback returning is quintessential to this, and it lets the set function like butter too. Being able to reuse spells in archetypes like Ancient Grudge.
The multicolored cards for the set like the aforementioned Grudge and Desperate Ravings, all help smooth out the set too. Everything just works really well. You don’t ever feel like you can’t do something in the format. Honestly, I wish I could constantly draft this. I’ve only ever drafted it three times other than the Innistrad super draft from Magic Online a few months ago. I’ve been itching to do it again. Seriously.
So, here’s hoping that Wizards adds it again as a flashback.
These are all expensive formats from the golden age of Magic. But they’re all really expensive! So, what sets are the best to draft for cheaper?
#3: Core Set 2020
Core Set 2020 is a really fun set to draft with people who are newer to draft. It’s a recent set and boxes aren’t that expensive at around $100, but it’s still an amazing draft to do with many options and colors. You could honestly have a solid experience with any of the recent Core sets, but 2020 is the best of them.
With an easy legendary theme, cards that are both flavorful and powerful, Dominaria is easily a fan favorite. Boxes aren’t too expensive and the drafts are great and varied. This set is also fairly good for newer players who have drafted a few times but want a bit more of an intermediate experience.
#1: Khans of Tarkir
The best standard set since Innistrad, Khans of Tarkir is probably the best 3-colored set ever made. If I wasn’t making the budget list, I’d smack it in the honorable mentions of the last list. It has a lot going for it.
With morph as an awesome mechanic, amazing mana consistency, and the ability to basically draft whatever you want, this set is great for those who want to feel like they’re drafting a premium set without the premium budget. Plus, with fetch lands in the box, the set has a decent amount of long-term value in it too!
I’ve drafted Khans of Tarkir quite a bit. I usually try to force Sultai because I love midrange. The format is slower, a lot like Rise of the Eldrazi, so the Sultai decks can do quite a bit. Especially with delve being consistently fueled.
Opened Booster Boxes
So, you’ve drafted or opened your booster box and taken out the chase cards. What now? Well, there are a few options.
You could make a booster cube! To do so, shuffle your commons and uncommons (and rares, if you’d like) and separate them into packs of 10/3/1, just like a normal booster! Then, draft as usual.
You could also make an actual cube of commons using other commons to fill in the gaps! There’s a bunch of cubes on CubeCobra.com that you can take inspiration from, and easily customize! Cubing is great and a really good way to make use of cards you otherwise wouldn’t use.
If nothing else, you could donate the bulk to newer Magic players! When I first started playing, a person at my LGS donated the remains of two Core set booster boxes to me and my friend so we could brew and build our own decks I feel like it helped boost me into playing the game more than if I was left to fend for myself.
Using Booster Boxes to Play Remotely
So, we’re in the midst of a pandemic. Tea and crumpet land (where I’m from) has just gone into our third national lockdown and things don’t seem to be slowing down. So, if you really wanted to, how would you play Limited remotely using your new booster box? You can’t feasibly draft over the internet with real cards!
A lot of people, especially during Commander Legends’ release, started to play Sealed over webcam since it’s very easy to do. You open the packs and build your deck yourself. Just like a prerelease, open twice the number of packs (usually six) and throw together a deck! You can then play with anyone using your newly built Sealed deck!
Second Sunrise | Illustration by Greg Staples
So, that’s it from me today! I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into which booster boxes and draft formats I and the community loves! Do you agree? Did I miss anything? Do you enjoy Avacyn Restored?
Are you looking for hot singles in– (Wrong site, Sushi…)
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That’s all from me today! Thanks for joining me and have a good one.
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