Last updated on February 13, 2024
Gather the Pack | Illustration by Igor Kieryluk
MTG cards have always been sold in booster packs, which are sold inside booster boxes, with the customer having the option to buy a single booster or a whole box. People like to buy boxes to crack lots of packs, have higher chances of finding that special rare or mythic they need, or play Limited.
But how many booster packs are there in the boxes? Are all MTG boxes equal in pack numbers? Let's find out!
Werewolf Pack Leader | Illustration by Miranda Meeks
Most sets these days have 36 packs in a booster box, including boxes of play boosters. But different kinds of packs result in specialized boxes like set booster boxes and collector booster boxes. A set booster box has 30 packs, and a collector booster box has 12 packs.
The number of boosters in boxes varied with some expansions (between 1992 to 1995) while the core editions (Fourth Edition, Fifth Edition) and so on kept 36 boosters per box. From Mirage on, the standard for booster boxes became 36 booster packs per box.
Play Booster Boxes
Thirty-six play booster packs come in Murders at Karlov Manor boxes. Grab three play boosters and get to drafting. This is the first draft format where there are only 13 playable cards instead of the usual 14, four of which could be rare or better on your first pick. The idea is to keep the fun of opening set boosters and preserve the Limited environment.
Draft Booster Boxes
There are 36 packs in a draft booster box, usually with 10 commons, three uncommons, a rare or mythic rare, and a basic land, plus the merchandising/token card.
Draft boosters are balanced in terms of card colors and rarity for when we want to play Draft or Sealed.
Some supplemental products like Modern Masters and Conspiracy are collections of reprints that are balanced for drafting. These sets are released in boxes with 24 booster packs, which is exactly what’s needed for an 8-player Draft, three boosters per player.
These boosters usually have at least a rare and a foil in each pack and are slightly more expensive since the cards themselves are staples of Constructed decks across multiple formats.
There are 30 packs in a set booster box and each pack contains a different mix of cards:
- 1 art card (10% chance of having a gold signature)
- 1 basic land (30% chance of being a full-art showcase land, and 20% chance of being foil)
- 3 commons
- 3 uncommons
- At least one rare or mythic
- 2 “wild cards” (any rarity from common to mythic, with a chance at being from the Jurassic World Collection)
- 1 foil card “wild card” of any rarity
- 1 marketing card/token (could be a card from The List)
The set booster isn’t really balanced for Limited since there’s a guaranteed foil in each pack and a higher chance of having more than one rare. It’s more of an “I need cards for my Constructed decks” kind of booster. Set boosters are aimed at players who want to crack a pack to get the cards (more rares/foil). They’ve been around since Zendikar Rising.
Set Booster Box Exception: Supplemental Sets
Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate set booster box only has 12 packs instead of the usual 30 set boosters.
There are 12 packs in a collector booster box, each containing 15 cards, most of which have a premium treatment like foil, alternate frame, alternate art, or extended art. Each collector booster has its own particular rules with different configurations, cards, and treatments with each set.
These boosters are more expensive and aimed at players who want high-end stuff.
Collector Booster Box Exception
Commander Masters and Double Masters 2022 both have collector booster boxes with four 15-card collector booster packs. That is 60 total cards in the booster box, and while the cost of a deck is huge discussion of its own, Commander Masters and Double Masters 2022 are only for the high-rolling collectors.
Alliances was released in 1996 and its booster box came with 45 boosters of 12 cards each.
Pack Attack | Illustration by Andrea Radeck
That’s all there is to cover on packs in booster boxes across Magic’s history. Which of these booster boxes is your favorite? What was the last one you bought? Would you ever go wholesale and buy a case of booster boxes? Let me know in the comments below or in the Draftsim Discord.
I’m out to try and get some new rares and foils for my Cubes and EDH decks. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!
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