Last updated on February 12, 2024

Booster Tutor - Illustration by Heather Hudson

Booster Tutor | Illustration by Heather Hudson

Set boosters debuted when Zendikar Rising was released in 2020 with the promise of players being able to pull higher-value, more sought-after cards compared to the lower-value cards in draft boosters. So for a few years, each set expansion was separated into set boosters and draft boosters. Not to mention Throne of Eldraine introduced the collector booster packs in 2019. These three types of packs on the market made it more difficult for players to choose which packs to start building their collections.  

Enter the play boosters! The play booster packs replace set and draft boosters while collector boosters will stick around. What are these play booster packs all about?

Read on to discover more!

What Are Play Boosters in MTG?

Blaster, Morale Booster - Illustration by Volta Creation

Blaster, Morale Booster | Illustration by Volta Creation

Play boosters combine the fun opening experience that comes with cracking a set booster pack while also offering the Limited experience that has been a play tradition for many years for Magic players. These are the new booster packs that replace set boosters and draft boosters to make it easier for players to choose which pack to buy and solve inventory issues for smaller stores.

What Comes in a Play Booster Pack?

Play booster contents with Murders at Karlov Manor preview cards

There are 15 total “slots” in a play booster, broken down as follows:

  • Slots 1-6 are commons.
  • Slot 7 is another common, with a 1/8 chance of being a card of any rarity from “The List.”
  • Slots 8-10 are uncommons.
  • Slot 11 is a rare/mythic, your “normal rare” from the pack.
  • Slot 12 is a basic land.
  • Slot 13 is a non-foil “wildcard,” which can be any card from the set.
  • Slot 14 is a foil “wildcard,” which means every pack includes a foil.
  • Slot 15 is an ad, token, art card, or helper card.

Why Do Play Boosters Only Have 14 Cards?

Play boosters only have 14 playable cards because that’s the number that Wizards figured would work best in maintaining the booster opening experience while still allowing players to draft with them.

The company reduced the number of commons when creating play boosters because of player feedback stating they didn’t use as many cards as they would have liked while drafting since many of the commons were undesirable.

Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: the Gathering, decided during the release of Alpha that booster packs would feature 15 cards. At least for the most part, that was how many cards had been in booster packs in Magic’s history, though some sets have experimented with smaller and larger pack sizes.

How Many Rares Are in a Play Booster?

There are four slots in the play booster that could contain a rare. When opening a play booster, you’re guaranteed to get at least one “normal rare,” with a 1-in-7 chance of pulling a mythic. Both wildcard and “The List” slots have a chance to be additional rares. Packs with two rares are somewhat frequent, packs with three rares are fairly infrequent, and packs with four rare cards do not come up often.

Thankfully there’s been an update from Mark Rosewater on this. 37% of boosters have two rares, 4% have three and less than 1% have the maximum four rares. This means that around 58% of boosters have a single rare in them. That gives us an average of about 1.5 rares per pack.

Do Play Boosters Have Cards From the List?

Yes, play boosters could have List cards. If there’s a List card in the play booster you open, it’ll be in the seventh slot. However, there’s a 7/8 chance that this slot is a common from the main set. There’s a 1/8 chance that slot is a card from The List, and 1.56% of all play boosters feature a rare or mythic card from The List or a Special Guest card. The Special Guests are highly sought-after cards that made their first appearance in the The Lost Caverns of Ixalan on November 17, 2023.

When Do Play Boosters Release?

Play boosters debuted with Murders at Karlov Manor on February 9. This is the third Magic set expansion to take place in the Omenpath Arc. Both Magic tabletop, Magic Online, and MTGA players can see some action with play boosters.

Play Boosters vs. Draft Boosters

Play boosters have a bit of a higher chance of a player pulling a mythic (1 in 7) versus a draft booster (1 in 8). However, draft boosters have 15 cards compared to a play booster’s 14 cards. Draft boosters have more commons (2-3 more depending on if you pull a specific List card in a play booster) versus a play booster that has a minimum of six common cards. Both play boosters and draft boosters feature three uncommons.

Play Boosters vs. Set Boosters

The play boosters have two more playable cards and less variance with one less wild card and potentially one less uncommon than set boosters. The extra card in play boosters beyond the 14 has a chance of being a token, marketing card, or art card.

Set boosters have at least one art card with a 5% chance of the art card featuring a golden signature. In the marketing or token slot section of a set booster, there’s a 1/4 chance that it could be a card from The List that you pull instead. Set boosters have a potential four uncommons while play boosters usually have six commons and three uncommons.

Instead of one wild card like in a play booster, you can get two wild cards in a set booster, which can be any rarity whether common, uncommon, rare, or mythic. Both play boosters and set boosters feature one foil card.

How Much Do Play Boosters Cost?

The play booster pricing is modeled after set boosters, and should be available for $5-$6 for a single pack.

Will Play Boosters Have Art Cards?

Art cards do have a chance at being in your play booster. They share a slot with ads and tokens as nonplayable cards in the pack.

How Many Rares Are in a Play Booster Box?

Since play booster boxes feature 36 packs, you’re guaranteed a minimum of 36 rares and can expect an average of about 54 rares. With each rare slot having a 1-in-7 chance of being a mythic rare, that means roughly 5-6 mythic rares per box from the normal rare slots.

Each play booster can contain up to four total rares, so the theoretical highest number of rares you could open is 144, though you should be playing both the lottery and lots of Sealed if you’re that lucky.

How Many Mythics Are in a Play Booster Box?

Since there’s only a 1-in-7 chance of pulling a mythic rare in the normal rare slot and there are 36 packs in one box, there’s potential for about 5-6 mythic rare cards in a box. The randomness that comes with opening packs might mean more or less depending on the box, and extra mythics can be pulled in The List and wildcard slots, though at a much lower rate. On the high end of variance, I wouldn’t expect more than 8-9 mythics in a single box.

How Many Packs Are in a Play Booster Box?

Play booster boxes feature 36 play booster packs much like draft booster boxes in the past. In contrast, set booster boxes have 30 booster packs. Play booster boxes are more expensive than set booster boxes, but you still get about the same price per pack.

How Many Play Booster Boxes Are in a Case?

One case of booster boxes contains six booster boxes. This is consistent with the 36-pack draft booster boxes that stores may still have on display.

Are Play Boosters a Limited Release?

No, play boosters, can be reprinted to meet demand.

Play On With Play Boosters

Play of the Game - Illustration by Jung Park

Play of the Game | Illustration by Jung Park

Are you excited to open play boosters and see how easy it is to select Magic products to purchase at your local game store? Play boosters combine the high-value card experience of opening set booster packs while still being a viable product for drafting.

Do you want to find out more information about the upcoming Magic expansion sets? Stay tuned for updates from the Draftsim blog. Stay connected with players nationally and internationally on the Draftsim Discord. Until next time, get ready to play on with play boosters!

See you next time!

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