Last updated on September 8, 2021

Tin Street Market - Illustration by Noah Bradley

Tin Street Market | Illustration by Noah Bradley

With 88 sets spread across 25 years of Magic’s history, it can be daunting to figure out where to start when you’re looking to buy packs. There are lots of questions that you might have. What set should you draft with friends? Which set is best for collectors? What set makes the best gift for a newer Magic player? Which set should you never touch with a 10-foot pole (coughHomelandscough)?

As someone who has played Magic for nearly 9 years and devoted countless hours to this game, allow me to be your guide into the magical world of spending hundreds (thousands?) of dollars on cardboard. Everything that follows is just my opinion, but I at least did some Google searches for you first!

No One Size Fits All

Downsize - Illustration by Ryan Pancoast

Downsize | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast

When buying Magic products, you should ask yourself some key questions about what exactly you want from boosters. They don’t call this game “cardboard crack” for nothing; it’s easy to get sucked in and spend way too much money on cards you never really needed anyway.

The best way to avoid this temptation is to have a plan before you start buying stuff. I’ll detail some great sets for you to purchase for a variety of reasons to get you started!

If You Had to Just Pick One

Blossoming Calm - Illustration by Michael C. Hayes

Blossoming Calm | Illustration by Michael C. Hayes

Modern Horizons 2 is the best set of 2021 and my easy pick for what you should buy if you have to pick one set to rule them all. It’s exciting to draft, there’s good money to be opened, and many of the cards will retain their value for a very long time thanks to their strength in Modern.

Magic: The Gathering Modern Horizons 2 Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
  • 36 Modern Horizons 2 (MH2) Magic: The Gathering Draft Boosters
  • 1 New-to-Modern reprint in every pack
  • 1–2 Rares and/or Mythic Rares in every pack
  • Just add lands and draft with up to 12 players
  • Introduces powerful cards and beloved reprints to the Modern format

Lots of the weaker Modern cards in the set like Cabal Coffers happen to be Commander all-stars, which is another plus. If you can’t pony up the $200 price for a box and don’t care about Standard, I’d recommend Jumpstart instead.

Jumpstart Booster Box | Magic: The Gathering | 24 Booster Packs | 20 Cards Per Pack Including Basic Land Cards
  • Grab two boosters shuffle them together and you’re ready to go! Jumpstart is a unique way to play Magic The Gathering (MTG) that lets you assemble a 40-card deck and start battling in minutes
  • The Jumpstart booster box includes 24 booster packs each with 20 cards—enough for you and your friends to open your packs and get straight into the action again and again
  • Each booster pack has 20 cards and a theme Will you get Cats and Dragons vs Elves and Unicorns? Pirates and Angels vs Dogs and Dinosaurs? Open your boosters and find out
  • Each booster pack contains one of 121 possible card lists so there are over 14 000 possible 40-card decks!
  • Jumpstart booster packs are loaded with cards from throughout Magic The Gathering (MTG) history plus 37 cards that get their first-ever printing and dozens of cards from Core Set 2021 (M21)

Best Set for Standard 2022

Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients - Illustration by Anna Steinbauer

Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients | Illustration by Anna Steinbauer

Looking to play some games of Standard in a brand-new format when Innistrad: Midnight Hunt comes out this September? Then you’ll want to get a mix of packs from the sets that will still be Standard-legal post-rotation: Zendikar Rising, Kaldheim, Strixhaven, and Forgotten Realms.

You can then just crack packs or draft with friends. Buy set boosters if you just want cards and fun or draft boosters for, well, drafting.

Magic The Gathering Kaldheim Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic The Gathering Strixhaven Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Draft Booster Box | 36 Booster Packs (540 Cards) + 1 Box Topper | 36 Full Art Lands | Factory Sealed
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic: The Gathering Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic The Gathering Kaldheim Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic The Gathering Strixhaven Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Draft Booster Box | 36 Booster Packs (540 Cards) + 1 Box Topper | 36 Full Art Lands | Factory Sealed
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic: The Gathering Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
$103.45
$106.48
$103.95
$106.12
$110.95
Magic The Gathering Kaldheim Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic The Gathering Kaldheim Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
$103.45
Magic The Gathering Strixhaven Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic The Gathering Strixhaven Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
$106.48
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Draft Booster Box | 36 Booster Packs (540 Cards) + 1 Box Topper | 36 Full Art Lands | Factory Sealed
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Draft Booster Box | 36 Booster Packs (540 Cards) + 1 Box Topper | 36 Full Art Lands | Factory Sealed
$103.95
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
$106.12
Magic: The Gathering Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic: The Gathering Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
$110.95

While there’s no 100% way to know which cards or decks will excel in the new format, a safe bet is on staples like Elite Spellbinder, Esika’s Chariot, and Werewolf Pack Leader. If you want to focus on one set, I’d recommend Kaldheim and Zendikar Rising, mostly because they feature the best rare dual lands in Standard. Pathways will surely be staples in whatever new decks dominate the new format.

Best Set for Modern

Rise and Shine - Illustration by Franz Vohwinkel

Rise and Shine | Illustration by Franz Vohwinkel

Modern Horizons 2 Booster Box

Modern Horizons 2, as I already mentioned, is a slam dunk. The set overflows with powerful staples that have dramatically reshaped the Modern metagame since their release. Particular highlights include Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Murktide Regent, Endurance and its elemental brothers in crime, fetch lands, and Urza’s Saga.

Magic: The Gathering Modern Horizons 2 Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
  • 36 Modern Horizons 2 (MH2) Magic: The Gathering Draft Boosters
  • 1 New-to-Modern reprint in every pack
  • 1–2 Rares and/or Mythic Rares in every pack
  • Just add lands and draft with up to 12 players
  • Introduces powerful cards and beloved reprints to the Modern format

You might also want to buy some of the recent Masters sets to fill the holes in your Modern collection since MH2 is missing some staples like Snapcaster Mage, Engineered Explosives, and Force of Vigor. And don’t forget that you can always just buy singles if you know exactly what you’re looking for!

Magic: The Gathering Double Masters Draft Booster Box | 24 Packs (360 Cards) | 1 Box Topper
Magic The Gathering Masters 25 Booster Box (24 Packs)
Magic: The Gathering Time Spiral Remastered Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic: The Gathering Modern Horizons 2 Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic: The Gathering Double Masters Draft Booster Box | 24 Packs (360 Cards) | 1 Box Topper
Magic The Gathering Masters 25 Booster Box (24 Packs)
Magic: The Gathering Time Spiral Remastered Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic: The Gathering Modern Horizons 2 Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
$570.99
$272.99
$294.93
$212.45
Magic: The Gathering Double Masters Draft Booster Box | 24 Packs (360 Cards) | 1 Box Topper
Magic: The Gathering Double Masters Draft Booster Box | 24 Packs (360 Cards) | 1 Box Topper
$570.99
Magic The Gathering Masters 25 Booster Box (24 Packs)
Magic The Gathering Masters 25 Booster Box (24 Packs)
$272.99
Magic: The Gathering Time Spiral Remastered Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic: The Gathering Time Spiral Remastered Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
$294.93
Magic: The Gathering Modern Horizons 2 Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
Magic: The Gathering Modern Horizons 2 Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
$212.45

Best Set for Commander

Obeka, Brute Chronologist - Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

Obeka, Brute Chronologist | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

Looking to stock up staples for future Commander brews? Well, if you aren’t just buying singles, my recommendation is easily last summer’s surprise hit: Commander Legends.

Commander Legends Booster Box

Commander Legends is a weird “peanut butter and jelly” set, where peanut butter (draft) and jelly (Commander, don’t ask) combine their forces for a Magic experience like no other. I drafted this one with friends quite a few times last year, which is why I have so many Arcane Signets, Three Visits, and Thought Vessels sitting on my desk, just waiting to be put into various decks.

A box of Commander Legends is roughly $100 right now. If you aren’t sure what you want out of Commander, you can’t really do better than drafting a box of this with some friends and then building a deck out of whatever you’ve opened that inspires you. I built a Nymris, Oona’s Trickster deck after seeing the card in action in a draft because it looked like a ton of fun.

Magic: The Gathering Commander Legends Draft Booster Box | 24 Booster Packs (480 Cards) | 2 Legends Per Pack | Factory Sealed
  • COMMANDER DRAFT IS HERE. Draft with the first ever booster packs designed for Commander—a Magic format all about battling your friends in epic multiplayer games.
  • 24 DRAFT BOOSTERS. Grab 3 packs, pick 2 cards at a time, and add in some lands for a 60-card Commander deck—then show it off in exciting free-for-all games with up to 8 friends.
  • 2 LEGENDS PER PACK. Every Commander Legends Draft Booster pack contains 2 legendary cards—enhance your deck with reprints of classic MTG commanders or 1 of the 71 commanders introduced in the set.
  • INTRODUCING FOIL ETCHED CARDS. Commander Legends debuts a special kind of foil—foil etched cards with beautiful metallic frames. In some Commander Legends Draft Boosters you can find a foil etched showcase legend or regular foil borderless planeswalker.
  • CONTENTS: 24 Commander Legends Draft Booster packs—20 Magic cards + 1 ad/token per pack, with 2 legends, at least 1 rare, and 1 foil each.

If drafting isn’t your thing, I’d avoid Commander Legends and just buy singles or any of the recent Commander precons. You may also want to check out the Innistrad: Midnight Hunt decks. Precons are always a fantastic and affordable way to dip your foot into EDH if you’re new to the format.

MTG Commander 2015 Edition Magic the Gathering – Call the Spirits White Black Deck New Sealed
Magic The Gathering Kaldheim Commander Deck – Phantom Premonition | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | Blue-White
Magic: The Gathering Commander 2019 Mystic Intellect Deck | 100-Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 3 Foil Commanders | Factory Sealed
Magic the Gathering Commander 2016 Deck – Breed Lethality (GWUB)
Magic The Gathering MTG Zendikar Rising Both 2020 New ZNC Commander Decks!
MTG Commander 2015 Edition Magic the Gathering - Call the Spirits White Black Deck New Sealed
Magic The Gathering Kaldheim Commander Deck – Phantom Premonition | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | Blue-White
Magic: The Gathering Commander 2019 Mystic Intellect Deck | 100-Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 3 Foil Commanders | Factory Sealed
Magic the Gathering Commander 2016 Deck - Breed Lethality (GWUB)
Magic The Gathering MTG Zendikar Rising Both 2020 New ZNC Commander Decks!
Best for New Players
Best Budget
Best Value
Best Competitive
Best Bundle
$187.97
$16.20
$79.95
$395.00
$34.45
MTG Commander 2015 Edition Magic the Gathering – Call the Spirits White Black Deck New Sealed
MTG Commander 2015 Edition Magic the Gathering - Call the Spirits White Black Deck New Sealed
Best for New Players
$187.97
Magic The Gathering Kaldheim Commander Deck – Phantom Premonition | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | Blue-White
Magic The Gathering Kaldheim Commander Deck – Phantom Premonition | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | Blue-White
Best Budget
$16.20
Magic: The Gathering Commander 2019 Mystic Intellect Deck | 100-Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 3 Foil Commanders | Factory Sealed
Magic: The Gathering Commander 2019 Mystic Intellect Deck | 100-Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 3 Foil Commanders | Factory Sealed
Best Value
$79.95
Magic the Gathering Commander 2016 Deck – Breed Lethality (GWUB)
Magic the Gathering Commander 2016 Deck - Breed Lethality (GWUB)
Best Competitive
$395.00
Magic The Gathering MTG Zendikar Rising Both 2020 New ZNC Commander Decks!
Magic The Gathering MTG Zendikar Rising Both 2020 New ZNC Commander Decks!
Best Bundle
$34.45

Best Sets for Draft

Best of the Best

Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar - Illustration by Ryan Pancoast

Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast

Modern Horizons 2 Booster Box

I’m biased, but I whole-heartedly endorse Modern Horizons 2 as an all-star draft set. I’ve personally played over 200+ drafts on Magic Online and will probably be doing more later tonight! MH2 is a very enjoyable draft experience with compelling archetypes, lots of options in draft, strong balance between aggro and control, and interesting gameplay with lots of room for skilled players to win games. There are also some money cards in the set that you can’t help but grin when you open.

The only drawback of the set is its price point. As a premium set with a higher MSRP than normal, a box will cost you over $200. This is a bit more than two times as much as a normal Standard-legal set, so don’t buy anything you can’t afford!

Magic: The Gathering Modern Horizons 2 Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
  • 36 Modern Horizons 2 (MH2) Magic: The Gathering Draft Boosters
  • 1 New-to-Modern reprint in every pack
  • 1–2 Rares and/or Mythic Rares in every pack
  • Just add lands and draft with up to 12 players
  • Introduces powerful cards and beloved reprints to the Modern format

Standard 2022

Firja, Judge of Valor - Illustration by Livia Prima

Firja, Judge of Valor | Illustration by Livia Prima

Of the recent Standard sets, I’d rank the draft formats:

  1. Kaldheim
  2. Strixhaven
  3. Zendikar Rising
  4. Forgotten Realms
Kaldheim Draft Booster Box

Kaldheim is an easy pick because it has great mechanics, good archetype balance, and snow plays very well. Certain archetypes, like elves, are definitely a bit weaker than others but they could still come together with the right payoff cards.

Magic The Gathering Kaldheim Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
  • 36 Kaldheim (KHM) Magic: The Gathering Draft Booster Packs
  • 36 assorted rare and mythic rare cards per box
  • 15 Magic cards per pack
  • MTG set inspired by Norse Mythology, Vikings, and metal! m/
Strixhaven Draft Booster Box

Strixhaven definitely grew on me. Learn/lessons plays well and makes the format much less one-dimensional than I expected. The worst part about the set was Lorehold largely failing to deliver on its “Boros control” pitch.

Magic The Gathering Strixhaven Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
  • 36 Strixhaven (STX) Magic: The Gathering Draft Boosters
  • 1 Mystical Archive card in every pack
  • 1 Lesson card in every pack
  • Total of 15 MTG cards in each Draft Booster
  • Just add lands and draft with up to 12 players
Zendikar Rising Draft Booster Box

Zendikar Rising’s best feature is the double-face land/spell cards which lead to less non-games than a normal Limited format. I also liked the party mechanic. But the archetype balance was so-so. Landfall felt a bit underpowered to me barring certain rares like Phylath, World Sculptor.

Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Draft Booster Box | 36 Booster Packs (540 Cards) + 1 Box Topper | 36 Full Art Lands | Factory Sealed
  • 36 PACKS + 1 BOX TOPPER. Get 36 Zendikar Rising Booster Packs plus 1 “Expedition Land” box topper—a celebrated land card with alternate art and a special frame inspired by the sky dungeons of Zendikar.
  • THE BEST BOOSTER FOR DRAFTING. Open a box and draft with up to 12 friends for an unforgettable game night. (Note: Booster Drafts require more land cards than are included in a booster box.)
  • FULL-ART LANDS AND DOUBLE-FACED CARDS IN EVERY PACK. Zendikar Rising brings a special kind of double-faced card to MTG: play the spell on one side or flip it over and play it as a land instead.
  • INTRODUCING “PARTY.” Assemble a party from four adventuring classes (Cleric, Rogue, Warrior, Wizard) and become stronger together with rewards for each class joining you on the battlefield.
  • LANDFALL AND KICKER RETURN. Two of Magic’s most popular mechanics are back! Landfall rewards you for playing land cards, and Kicker makes your spells more powerful—if you have enough mana.
Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Draft Booster Box

Forgotten Realms isn’t a terrible draft set, but it’s definitely the weakest of the four. A major problem with AFR is the poor color and archetype balance. Rakdos Treasure is just flat out better than everything else, and this is without even mentioning that it’s the best archetype in the format for splashing bomb rares. Still, you might want to do some drafts if there are cards you want for Standard. Or if you’re just a big D&D fan.

Sale
Magic: The Gathering Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
  • 36 Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) Magic: The Gathering Draft Boosters
  • 15 MTG cards per Draft Booster
  • Rare or Mythic Rare in every pack
  • Just add lands and draft with up to 12 players
  • Beloved Dungeons & Dragons heroes and monsters have ventured into Magic for the ultimate crossover!

All-Time Greats

Manamorphose - Illustration by Adam Paquette

Manamorphose | Illustration by Adam Paquette

If you want a classic draft experience with some of the all-time best sets in Magic history, well, you’ll be paying for it! Original Innistrad and Modern Masters are widely considered to be some of the best draft formats of all time, and they both have money staples like Liliana of the Veil, Snapcaster Mage, and Tarmogoyf too.

The catch though is that a box of Innistrad will cost you (gulp) over $800. Modern Masters is surprisingly slightly cheaper at over $700, though that’s still the price of over three boxes of Modern Horizons 2! Given this terrible value, I can’t really recommend going classic unless you’re a true high roller. Recent draft formats have been decent to great quality, and I’d suggest you play those three to six times instead.

Best Gift Set

Dinrova Horror - Illustration by Johann Bodin

Dinrova Horror | Illustration by Johann Bodin

The best set to give as a gift is going to vary depending on the giftee, because only you know what your friend really wants and what they play. If they’re an FNM Standard- or Draft-focused player, a gift bundle from a recent set would be a great buy. If they’re an older, more experienced player, then you could consider going all-out with an MH2 collector box.

Magic: The Gathering Modern Horizons 2 Collector Booster Box | 12 Packs (180 Magic Cards)
  • 12 Modern Horizons 2 (MH2) Magic: The Gathering Collector Boosters
  • Shortcut to the coolest cards in Modern Horizons 2
  • Only Modern Horizons 2 boosters with Foil Etched cards and Extended-Art
  • 4 Rares and/or Mythic Rares per pack (max. of 3 Mythics)
  • Introduces powerful cards and beloved reprints to the Modern format

A solid in-between with some great casual cards to open would be Jumpstart, a unique product that mixes Sealed and Draft together for fun, fast-paced gameplay. Jumpstart is my recommendation if you’re unsure, but keep in mind that the cards don’t have much value for a Standard-focused player.

Jumpstart Booster Box | Magic: The Gathering | 24 Booster Packs | 20 Cards Per Pack Including Basic Land Cards
  • Grab two boosters shuffle them together and you’re ready to go! Jumpstart is a unique way to play Magic The Gathering (MTG) that lets you assemble a 40-card deck and start battling in minutes
  • The Jumpstart booster box includes 24 booster packs each with 20 cards—enough for you and your friends to open your packs and get straight into the action again and again
  • Each booster pack has 20 cards and a theme Will you get Cats and Dragons vs Elves and Unicorns? Pirates and Angels vs Dogs and Dinosaurs? Open your boosters and find out
  • Each booster pack contains one of 121 possible card lists so there are over 14 000 possible 40-card decks!
  • Jumpstart booster packs are loaded with cards from throughout Magic The Gathering (MTG) history plus 37 cards that get their first-ever printing and dozens of cards from Core Set 2021 (M21)

Best Set for Casual Play

Jumpstart is my recommendation for casual players, both as a gift or just as something to buy for yourself and play with friends. Useful kitchen table and Commander cards plus a board game style gameplay model that comes right out of the box can’t be beat, and the price point isn’t exceptionally high either.

Best EV Set

Deflecting Palm - Illustration by Eric Deschamps

Deflecting Palm | Illustration by Eric Deschamps

This isn’t really my personal ballpark, honestly (#mtgfinance). There’s certainly money to be made in Magic by stockpiling away Sealed product and selling it later. Beloved sets like Khans of Tarkir sell for double what they used to, and Innistrad is eight times the price it was back when it was released.

If you just want to crack packs with an eye towards value, Modern Horizons 2 is the best option because of how many powerful and expensive cards it contains, but you could get burned by opening too many junk rares. If you’re interested in learning more about this, I highly recommend checking out this community.

Wrap Up

Aven of Enduring Hope - Illustration by James Ryman

Aven of Enduring Hope | Illustration by James Ryman

Even after nearly 9 years of playing this game, I still can’t help but smile when I hear the familiar sound of a pack opening. There’s something about opening boosters that just can’t be matched buying singles, so I hope that my advice helps you make some sound purchases!

What’s your all-time favorite set to open? Do you have any other suggestions on what to buy and what to avoid? Let us know in the comments below, or head over to Twitter if that’s more your style. And don’t forget to check out our blog if you’re looking for more content like this.

Until next time, may your packs always contain Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer.

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