Last updated on May 14, 2024

Pack Leader - Illustration by Rudy Siswanto

Pack Leader | Illustration by Rudy Siswanto

Big changes are coming to Magic: the Gathering’s booster packs, with both Draft and Set Boosters being replaced by the new Play Boosters when Murders at Karlov Manor releases in February 2024.

Whilst there’s much discussion over whether this is a good or a bad thing, and I’ve already covered how this will impact Limited play in a separate article, today we’re going to look over what, exactly, the difference between Draft Boosters and Play Boosters are.

Let’s check it out!

The Difference Between Play and Draft Boosters

Play of the Game - Illustration by Jung Park

Play of the Game | Illustration by Jung Park

In short, Play Boosters are like Draft Boosters, but contain one fewer playable card, and have the potential of containing up to four rares, rather than the one rare that most Draft Boosters currently contain.

Play Boosters are a combination of Draft and Set Boosters, bringing the enhanced ‘Booster Fun’ experience of Set Boosters to a type of booster pack you can use in Limited MTG formats like Draft and Sealed.

Play Booster Contents

Play Boosters have a guaranteed one land, six commons, three uncommons and one rare/mythic in each booster. This makes up 11 of the 14 cards in the pack. The remaining three slots are more variable, and each have the potential of being an extra rare. First of all, there’s a slot that will normally be a common, but 1-in-8 boosters will replace this common with a card from “The List,” which can be of any rarity. The final two slots are “Wildcard slots” (not Arena wildcards), and can be any card from the main set, with one of them being a guaranteed foil. As far as we know right now, these Wildcard slots will not be from supplementary products, such as Commander decks.

But who are Play Boosters for? Well, they’re for pretty much everyone. If you’re not wanting to splurge out on a Collector Booster, but still want to open some MTG product, Play Boosters are going to be for you. Similarly, if you’re wanting to play Limited (because you have amazing taste in your Magic formats!), Play Boosters are also for you. We no longer have this split in the playerbase of whether you’re a Set Booster or Draft Booster person.

Draft Booster Contents

Draft Boosters are the type of booster that you’ll have played with if you’ve ever drafted, with 10 commons, three uncommons, a rare and a land card. Sometimes (around 1-in-3 packs) you get a foil instead of a common.

These boosters were the primary packs that existed since the advent of Magic, until Collector Boosters appeared in 2019 and started expanding the types of boosters you could buy.

Which Is Better? Play or Draft Boosters?

Wizards clearly think that Play Boosters are better, and there’s a lot of reasons why. Firstly, there’s more opportunity for booster fun style alt-arts and foils. There’s also the chance to open more rares, with the average pack containing around 1.4 rares instead of only 1.

One downside to Play Boosters, though, is the price. Previously, Set Boosters were around $1 more per pack than Draft Boosters. Play Boosters are roughly the same price per pack as Set Boosters, making them more expensive than Draft Boosters. This also affects the price of playing Limited formats, and it’s the biggest downside to Play Boosters overall.

Best Play Boosters

Outlaws of Thunder Junction

Outlaws of Thunder Junction Play Booster Box

The drafts are wild with Outlaws of Thunder Junction play boosters. The strong rares and the slight increase in the number of them, make pack openings more difficult to navigate. Then, the games are a noticeable notch higher in power level, not just at the power creep level either. Expect to play against a few of those busted rares at every Limited event.

Sale
Magic: The Gathering Outlaws of Thunder Junction Play Booster Box - 36 Packs (504 Magic Cards)
  • SADDLE UP FOR A WILD RIDE—Join Oko’s crew of deadly desperados as they plot a brazen heist in the frontier world of Thunder Junction, Magic’s first western-themed setting
  • FUN TO OPEN. FUN TO PLAY—Get the best of Draft and Set Boosters, combined into one! Play Boosters are great for Limited play and fun to open, with a possibility of Art cards, Showcase cards, additional Rares, and a foil card in every pack
  • THE BEST OF THE WEST—Each Play Booster contains 1–5 cards of rarity Rare or higher, including the possibility of a Borderless Mythic Rare card from Magic’s history
  • BREAKING NEWS CARD IN EVERY PACK—Every Play Booster contains at least 1 Breaking News card, a reprint featuring new art and a front page news-style frame reporting the spell as a crime; do you dare become that spell-casting outlaw?
  • SHINING FOIL IN EVERY PACK—Every booster also includes at least 1 shining Traditional Foil card of any rarity; in 20% of packs you’ll also find a Traditional Foil Land card (which may even feature a Full-Art Western Landscape)

Murders at Karlov Manor

Murders at Karlov Manor Play Booster

Murders at Karlov Manor drafts end up surprisingly aggressive for a set with a mystery theme. The Murders at Karlov Manor play boosters make it a regular thing to have two rare options as your pack 1 pick 1. Even though a few duplicate commons showed up. The draft with play boosters is not as bad as some speculated, and personally, it's exciting to see Wizards do something completely new.

Sale
Magic: The Gathering Murders at Karlov Manor Play Booster Box - 36 Packs (504 Magic Cards)
  • INTRODUCING PLAY BOOSTERS—Get the best of Draft and Set Boosters, combined into one! Play Boosters are great for Limited play and fun to open, with a possibility of multiple Rares and at least 1 shining foil card in every pack
  • TRACK THE CLUES. CRACK THE CASE—Play detective as you collect evidence, don disguises, and identify suspects to decipher the deadly murder mystery at the heart of Ravnica
  • PACKS MAY CONTAIN MULTIPLE RARES—Each MKM Play Booster contains 1–4 cards of rarity Rare or higher, including the possibility of a special Borderless Mythic Rare card from Magic’s history
  • SHINING FOIL CARD IN EVERY PACK—Every Play Booster contains 1 shining Traditional Foil card of any rarity; in 20% of packs you’ll also find a Traditional Foil Land card (which may even be Full-Art!)
  • MAY CONTAIN ART CARDS, A PLAY BOOSTER EXCLUSIVE—Now found only in Play Boosters, some packs also contain an Art Card showcasing a piece of art from the Murders at Karlov Manor set, sometimes with a foil signature from the artist

Best Draft Boosters

Whilst the best Draft Boosters are pretty closely linked to the Limited formats they’re from, and therefore fairly subjective, here are a selection of the best ones that are still generally available at reasonable prices.

Dominaria United

Dominaria United

Dominaria United was one of the most popular Limited formats in recent years. A super well-balanced set, with plenty of nostalgia of Magic’s original plane thrown in to boot, this is in many players’ all time favourite sets.

Magic: The Gathering Dominaria United Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs + Box Topper Card (541 Magic Cards)
  • 36 Dominaria United MTG Draft Boosters + 1 foil Box Topper card
  • Best boosters for drafting Dominaria United
  • 15 Magic cards per booster
  • 1 Legendary Creature in every pack
  • 1 Traditional Foil card in 33% of packs

March of the Machine

March of the Machine

This is a bit of a cheeky one. If you look at the makeup of a March of the Machine booster, it’s very similar to the proposed make-up of a Play Booster. It’s clear that MOM was used as a trial for Play Boosters in Limited.

Magic: The Gathering March of the Machine Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
  • 36 March of the Machine MTG Draft Boosters—the best boosters for drafting March of the Machine
  • 15 Magic: The Gathering cards per booster
  • At least 1 Multiverse Legend card in every pack
  • 1–2 cards of rarity Rare or higher in every pack
  • 1 Traditional Foil card in 33% of packs

Time Spiral Remastered

Time Spiral Remastered

The first paper release of a Remastered Magic set (MTGO had some previously), Timespiral Remastered was an extremely fun draft set. Since then we’ve also had Dominaria Remastered, which was another great set, and we’re also due to get Ravnica Remastered in January 2024 (which, coincidently, will be the last set with Draft boosters). Clearly these remastered sets are popular!

Sale
Magic: The Gathering Time Spiral Remastered Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
  • 36 Time Spiral Remastered (TSR) Magic: The Gathering Draft Booster Packs
  • 1 card with a retro Magic frame in every pack
  • Reprints of the most memorable cards from Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, and Future Sight
  • 36 assorted rare and mythic rare cards per box
  • 15 Magic cards per pack

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

Another recent set that’s loved by both Limited players and fans of flavourful Magic sets, this return toKamigawa 2000 years after the first visit was exactly what some players were looking for.

Sale
Magic: The Gathering Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
  • 36 Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty MTG Draft Boosters
  • 15 Magic cards per booster
  • Ukiyo-e Land in 33% of Draft Boosters
  • Just draft, add lands, and play
  • With cyberpunk cards full of color and chrome—the future is bright in Kamigawa

Modern Horizons 2

Modern Horizons 2

Although Modern Horizons sets have had a mixed reception (and Modern Horizons 3 is sure to have one too) for Constructed formats, they’ve been incredibly popular Limited formats. Given the opportunity to open some spice such as a fetch land, or an Evoke Elemental, Modern Horizons 2 packs are still surprisingly cheap and available.

Magic: The Gathering Modern Horizons 2 Draft Booster Box | 36 Packs (540 Magic Cards)
  • 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

Final Thoughts

Play with Fire - Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

Play with Fire | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

For better or worse, Draft Boosters are going away and we’re getting Play Boosters in their place. Play Boosters do have a lot of advantages over Draft Boosters, but the increase in price is going to be a bitter pill for some people to swallow. How they affect drafts is also going to be something we’re going to have to judge once we’ve got them in our hands and have played with them a bit.

What do you think, though? Do you like them? Are you intrigued to see how it affects Limited formats? Or is the price increase enough to stop you playing prerelease (I honestly hope not)? Whatever your thoughts, let me know down below. And until next time, may all your boosters, no matter which one you’re opening, be fun!

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