Last updated on October 20, 2023
Alms Collector | Illustration by Bram Sels
With Wizards seemingly constantly announcing price increases, it’s more important than ever for you to have a comprehensive guide on how to get the most out of your Magic packs.
Today I’m going to be tackling collector boosters, comparing the differences between them and draft boosters, and letting you know which you should pick up based on your personal Magic preferences. While you may have had a bad experience with collector boosters in the past, I urge you to check out this guide. You may be surprised at how they stack up to draft boosters in more recent sets.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Riku of Two Reflections | Illustrated by Izzy
Draft boosters are designed for use in Sealed and Draft formats while collector boosters are designed for those of you who prioritize collecting cards with foil or alternate treatments. Draft boosters are just what some of us might consider “normal” booster packs.
Since draft boosters are designed for Limited play experiences like Sealed and Draft, these packs have the least variability in the pack. Each pack has 15 cards plus one ad/token card with the following distribution:
- 1 basic land
- 10 commons (1 has a chance to be a foil card of any rarity)
- 3 uncommons
- 1 rare (1/8 chance of being a mythic rare)
As you can see, the only real variability in the pack is the possibility of a foil card. This does change slightly from set to set. For example, Midnight Hunt draft boosters included one slot specifically for common double-faced cards. These exceptions are usually made to promote a specific theme or mechanic in a set.
Another notable exception are the two Commander Legends sets, each of which feature 20-card draft boosters with their own special inclusions for the Commander Draft format. But I’ll talk a little more about Commander Legends later when we get to our comparison.
Collector boosters are a completely different beast than draft boosters when it comes to their content. They’re completely different from one another based on which set we’re discussing.
When they were originally announced for Throne of Eldraine, collector boosters only had two guaranteed rare/mythic cards in each pack, with a chance at more. Streets of New Capenna collector boosters, on the other hand, guarantee five rare/mythic rare cards in each pack.
There are some consistent aspects across all collector boosters that you can count on. Each collector booster comes with 15 cards and guarantees a certain number of foil cards, as well as a certain number of cards in whatever alternate treatments are being used for a given set. These are things like the art deco cards in New Capenna, the fairy tale showcases in Eldraine, or extended art cards.
One more important note about collector boosters is they’re sometimes the only place to get certain high value cards. Zendikar Rising collector boosters were the only packs where you could hope to find Expeditions cards, and New Capenna restricted the etched foil versions of art deco cards to collector boosters. If you’re a player that likes to have these very specific versions of cards and you prefer to pull them from the pack yourself, collector boosters are aimed at you.
Which is Better? Draft or Collector Boosters?
Better Than One | Illustration by Alex Konstad
Right off the bat I think it’s important to note that draft boosters are essentially the only choice if you’re looking for a Limited experience like Draft or Sealed. While it may be tempting to see what happens drafting with collector boosters, the truth is they just aren’t balanced for the format.
Anyone who drafts knows that common and uncommon cards are what Limited decks are largely built around since relying on one powerful rare or mythic rare card makes for an inconsistent deck. Since collector boosters don’t include as many slots for commons and uncommons, they make for a less optimal Draft experience. But that doesn’t mean there’s never a time to choose collector boosters over draft boosters.
By offering five rare slots in any given pack and making several of those slots guaranteed alternate treatments, collector boosters are probably the way to go if you’re mainly interested in card value. There are less slots in each pack taken up by common and uncommon cards, and even those that are present are all foil. This means fewer extra cards that you aren’t interested in, and you’re going to have a chance at a premium version of that card for your collection if there’s another explosive uncommon.
But it might be difficult for you to decide whether they are the way to go for a given set with the variability of collector boosters. There are some instances in which collector boosters are just the wrong choice.
It’s clear that figuring out what to include in collector boosters has been a learning process for Wizards. I’d advise even the most committed collectors to stay away from early collector boosters like Throne of Eldraine to avoid falling prey to their mistakes. Collector boosters carry a high price tag, and it isn’t worth it if the main difference between them and a draft booster is one extra rare/mythic slot. When you can buy five draft packs for the price of one collector boosters, you need to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for.
Draft packs are still the best option for you if you’re looking to enjoy a well-crafted Limited environment. But if you’re looking for value and some fun alternate card styles, collector boosters might be more your speed. Just keep the set-to-set differences I mentioned above in mind.
Nearly a year later and it’s still hard to beat the Modern Horizons 2 draft packs. Not only does it offer a fantastic Draft experience, it’s also packed with great inclusions for Modern and Commander.
Not to mention the possibility of opening one of five enemy fetch lands in a pack that comes in at half the price of a standard collector booster. Even value chasers will have a hard time passing up these draft packs.
- 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
Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate
While the cards inside Battle for Baldur’s Gate draft boosters aren’t as valuable as its predecessor, the second Commander Legends set does offer an incredible Draft environment. The addition of the background mechanic allows this set’s mono-colored commanders to splash any of the other four colors. Not to mention that a slew of new legendary creatures makes for some very unique Commander Draft decks.
Give it some time and I’d bet we’ll see this set’s ancient metallic dragons become auto-includes in a lot of mono-colored decks.
- 3 Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate MTG Draft Boosters
- 20 Magic cards per CLB Draft Booster
- 1–4 cards of rarity Rare or higher in every pack
- At least 2 Legendary cards and 1 Traditional Foil card in every pack
- Grab 3 boosters, pick 2 cards at a time, and build a 60-card Commander deck
While I stand by this set having the worst collector boosters, Throne of Eldraine draft boosters are still one of the better options when it comes to draft packs. This set absolutely reshaped Standard when it came out, and a lot of its cards still see play in Pioneer and Modern.
If collector packs are all about value, then Modern Horizons 2 collector boosters are the way to go. While it doesn’t match the highest value of the original Commander Legends with any one card, it does have more consistent value all the way down.
With 10 cards over $20 in value and four guaranteed rares or mythics per pack, these collector packs are a pretty safe bet when it comes to getting high value cards.
- 15 Modern Horizons 2 (MH2) Magic: The Gathering cards + 1 foil token
- 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
While not as consistent in value, Commander Legends collector boosters do have some very sought-after cards with hefty price tags. Notable reprints include Mana Drain and Vampiric Tutor, but the real star here is the set-exclusive Jeweled Lotus.
The fact that it’s never been reprinted combined with its usefulness in any Commander deck, has made even the most basic Lotus worth $70, with extended foil versions going for nearly ten times as much. With the potential for a single card worth as much as a booster box, Commander Legends is hard to ignore when it comes to valuable collector packs.
- 15 CARDS, NOTHING BUT THE BEST. Collector Boosters are a shortcut to the coolest cards in Commander Legends—rares, foils, alternate art, special card styles, and more.
- THE FIRST FULL SET SPECIFICALLY FOR COMMANDER.
- Open the first ever booster packs designed for Commander—a Magic format all about battling your friends in epic multiplayer games.
- CONTENTS: 15 Magic cards + 1 foil token
If you play Standard, Neon Dynasty may be where you want to direct your attention. The Phyrexian language version of Jin-Gitaxias is the most valuable of the newly printed praetors. And with The Wandering Emperor and Boseiju, Who Endures to back it up, the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty collector boosters have some pretty good value for a Standard set.
Of course, I can’t talk about the value without mentioning the astronomical price of this set’s lottery card. Exclusive to this set’s collector booster, the neon ink treatment of Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos is one of the most valuable cards in recent memory. The cheapest of the four versions (the blue ink) is listed for around $94, and the most expensive (the red ink) is at an insane $1,800.
- 15 Magic: The Gathering cards + 1 foil token
- Shortcut to the coolest cards in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty
- Only NEO packs that may contain a Neon Ink Foil or Foil-Etched card
- Only MTG boosters with Extended-Art cards—get 1–3 in every pack
- 9–10 traditional foil cards and 5 cards of rarity Rare or higher in every pack
Tidy Conclusion | Illustrated by Bastien L. Deharme
So what is there to take away from this comparison? As we’ve seen time and again with these comparisons, draft boosters continue to be the best way to engage in Limited formats. But if you’re looking for value in your packs above all else then collector boosters are most likely the right choice for you.
Again, I urge you to pay attention to what’s included in a collector booster of a given set and to keep your eye on future changes Wizards might make to the product. If we keep getting products along the lines of the last few sets then collector boosters seem to be the right option for building your collection of rare cards.
I’d love to know your experience with collector boosters. Have you had any amazing pulls? Do you have a favorite older set that you wish had collector boosters existed for? Let me know in the comments or on the Draftsim's X.
I hope this has helped you when it comes to picking up packs, and I look forward to discussing future topics with you!
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