Last updated on October 14, 2023
Fight as One | Illustration by Bryan Sola
There was only one type of booster pack for players to crack for most of Magic’s history. Wizards would try some new products as the years went on, but none of them were as big of a push as the release of set boosters.
Today I’m going to go over the differences between draft and set boosters, and maybe show you why one might be better than the other.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Twins of Maurer Estate | Illustration by Darek Zabrocki
Draft boosters are the original booster pack format, and are what most players are used to. These were the only way to crack packs until set boosters debuted. They’re primarily designed to best support a Draft or Sealed event, as the name implies.
How Many Cards Are in a Draft Booster?
Draft boosters contain 15 cards total with an additional promotional marketing card or a token. The typical contents include:
- 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)
- 1 marketing card or token
This distribution sometimes changes to include special cards like dual-faced cards depending on the set.
Wizards created a new type of pack with Zendikar Rising, one that didn’t need to be stuck to Draft balance rules. These are made for players who just want to crack packs and aren’t trying to play Limited.
How Many Cards Are in a Set Booster?
Set boosters contain 12 cards — fewer cards than a draft booster — but the distribution is much more complex:
- 1 art card (5% chance of having a gold signature)
- 1 basic land (15% chance of being foil)
- 6 commons/uncommons (different combinations possible, the most common is a 4 commons and 2 uncommons)
- 1 unique common/uncommon
- 2 “wild cards” (any rarity from common to mythic)
- 1 rare (13.5% chance of being a mythic)
- 1 foil card
- 1 marketing card/token (25% chance of being a card from The List)
Which is Better? Draft or Set Boosters?
Set boosters are a stellar product and are much better than draft boosters for the vast majority of players who want just to crack packs, open value, and have a good time. They're more random for sure, but the randomness is why we buy packs to crack in the first place. Heck, even players cracking packs for money cards have better chances with set boosters over draft packs.
Limited players are stuck with draft boosters, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sets are designed around the Draft environment, which means the card distribution is necessary for a healthy Draft experience.
For those who want to craft some great Draft games or even just a fun Chaos Draft, here are my top picks for the best draft boosters.
Khans of Tarkir
Khans of Tarkir offers one of the best Draft environments ever and has some iconic cards.
- Conatins 15 cards per pack
Throne of Eldraine
Throne of Eldraine is one of the most powerful sets to come out in recent years and has a boatload of powerful cards to enjoy.
While there aren’t as many set boosters available, there are a few solid picks for those who want to have a good time cracking packs.
Streets of New Capenna
- 12 Magic: The Gathering cards per booster
- Best MTG booster to open just for fun
- 1–4 cards of rarity Rare or higher in every SNC Set Booster
- Traditional or Gilded Foil card in every pack
- At least 1 Showcase card in every pack
Strixhaven: School of Mages
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty
- The Kamigawa Neon Dynasty Set Booster Pack includes 12 cards.
- 1 in 4 Set Boosters includes a card from "The List"—a pool of reprints.
Can You Draft Using Set Boosters?
Not really — I wouldn't do it. Yes, while you technically could still do a booster draft, the pack sizes are different (12 draftable cards vs 14), and the distribution of cards and rarities in these packs is funny. Plus you have all the weird cards from The List that can pop up. Just use the real thing instead!
Cracking the Pack
Finale of Eternity | Illustration by Daarken
There’s a lot to digest between set and draft boosters. Each one was designed for a specific purpose, and each one executed them perfectly. I highly prefer set boosters over draft, mostly because I don’t play a lot of Limited.
What do you think about these two types of booster packs? Is there a reason you prefer one over the other? Let me know in the Draftsim Discord or in the comments below.
As for me, I’m off to crack some New Capenna packs for Commander!
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