Last updated on June 28, 2022
Pit Fight | Illustration by Matt Stewart
There are so many different ways to enjoy Magic that it’s no surprise we have a growing selection of products to choose from. But choosing which booster to buy isn’t as simple as it once was thanks to this.
There are lots of options to choose from these days. It can be hard to decide which product is right for you. Today I’m taking a look at two different options, theme and draft boosters, to see who each product is aimed at and whether that person is you.
Ready to jump in? Let’s get started!
The Difference Between Draft and Theme Boosters
Splinter Twin | Illustration by Goran Josic
First of all, what are these boosters? Draft boosters are designed for Limited play with 15 cards in them, while theme boosters contain 35 cards following a specific theme.
Draft Booster Contents
Draft boosters contain 15 cards plus a token/ad card. These cards typically 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)
There’s sometimes a special seeded slot in these boosters for certain sets. This could be a guaranteed legendary card like in Dominaria, or a double-sided saga card like in Neon Dynasty. Whatever helps out the Draft format most and matches the flavor of the set best.
As the name suggests, these boosters are aimed at players who want to play Draft or Sealed. They mostly have the same structure from set to set, and players usually know what to expect when opening one. They’re structured to provide the best Draft experience, and each slot in the booster can contain almost any card in the set at that rarity (Kaldheim, as I’ll get into in bit, is a notable exception to this).
Theme Booster Contents
Theme boosters aren’t designed to be played with out of the box. Although you could just add some basic lands, shuffle up, and play.
Each one has a specific “theme” (shocking, I know!) that all the cards fit into. Sometimes this will just be a color, but it could be something that’s set specific like werewolves in Midnight Hunt, which was a set themed around that creature type.
Each theme booster contains 35 cards instead of 15. They have a guaranteed on-theme rare or mythic, with a chance to get an extra rare or mythic replacing one of the other cards. The rest of the pack is made up of commons and uncommons. It’s quite difficult to find the exact distribution of the lower rarity cards in the pack because it generally changes with each pack.
Theme boosters are intended for players who want to open cards following the pack’s theme. If you’re a die-hard white mage, then a white theme booster is aimed at you.
Which is Better? Draft or Theme Boosters?
This question comes down to what kind of player you are and what you’re looking for in a booster. Draft boosters are clearly the best choice if you want to play Limited. But if you’re not interested in Limited play at all (no matter how much I recommend you give it a try!), theme boosters still might not be the right choice for you. WotC recently acknowledged some problems with theme boosters and are planning on replacing them with Jumpstart boosters starting with Dominaria United.
These Jumpstart boosters are just better for newer players and established players alike. You can play with them out of the box, use them as the starting point of a new deck, and you can open some really cool and valuable cards. While you don’t really know what you’ll be opening ahead of time with Jumpstart packs, theme boosters just didn’t really serve any group particularly well.
Best Draft Boosters
Modern Horizons 2
There’s one clear winner right now if you’re looking for a draft booster to buy, and that’s Modern Horizons 2.
The MH2 Draft format is generally regarded as one of the best in recent times, and the number of fantastic cards for your Commander and Modern decks is absolutely incredible. They are significantly more expensive than a Standard draft boosters, but the cards you can open in MH2 draft packs can be worth so much more. Who doesn’t want to crack a foil Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer?
- The Modern Horizons 2 Draft Booster Pack includes 15 cards.
Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty
If you want to stick to Standard sets, the best set still currently in rotation is Neon Dynasty. It’s also a highly regarded Limited format. And it’s got some good value in there with a nice pricey card like Boseiju, Who Endures in the rare slot (not even mythic!).
- The Kamigawa Neon Dynasty Draft Booster Pack includes 15 cards.
Best Theme Boosters
If you’re still interested in picking up a theme booster or two to improve your collection or deck, the best booster really depends on what you want to pick it up for. Think about the color or theme you’re interested in and buy that theme booster. It really is that simple!
Kaldheim White Theme Booster
But there’s one theme booster in particular that I need to point out. There was a bit of an experiment in how the theme boosters were compiled in Kaldheim.
There were some Standard-legal cards that weren’t included in draft boosters that you could only get in set and theme boosters. These include Youthful Valkyrie, Starnheim Aspirant, and Rampage of the Valkyries. Notice a theme with these cards?
That’s right, they’re all white! At least partially. This means they can all be found in the white Kaldheim theme boosters. They also all have significant price tags on them despite all being uncommon. This is at least partly because of the glut of players who want them for their angel decks in a variety of formats.
But keep in mind that the contents of theme boosters are randomized so you’re not guaranteed to get any of these cards in your booster. Just before you go buying up a whole bunch of them.
Angel of Finality | Illustration by Howard Lyon
After all of this analysis, what have we learned? Clearly draft boosters are what you’re looking for if you want to play Limited. But if you don’t want to play Limited? Well, theme boosters might be the right choice, but not necessarily. You might be better off picking up Jumpstart packs come September. Unless you’re looking for some spice for your pet angel deck, of course!
Are there any other particularly interesting theme boosters that might be worth picking up? Or do you have a favorite Draft format that you could buy draft packs of from now until the end of time? Let me know in the comments below or over on the Draftsim Twitter.
I hope you’ve found this useful. I’ll catch you in the next one!
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