Last updated on July 25, 2022
Riku of Two Reflections | Illustration by Izzy
There’s plenty of product to buy when getting yourself some new cards, and plenty of different ways to buy that product. You might want to buy singles if you’re looking for specific cards, but if you’re like me and just love to crack open some packs for that sweet feeling of opening something rare, then you probably want to know what kind of booster packs you need to open to get the biggest bang for your buck.
Lucky for you, that’s our discussion for the day! I’ll be going over the differences between set boosters and theme boosters as well as the best picks when buying them. So let’s get on with it and start browsing the stock!
Twins of Maurer Estate | Illustration by Darek Zabrocki
Let’s start off with a few of the big differences. Set boosters are meant for the players who like to open packs for a chance at a rare card. They’ll have a couple cards less than a draft booster, but they’ll be more packed with bling and sometimes have more rares than a draft booster.
But theme boosters are generally for newer players looking to explore the Standard format or the world of Magic. They have tons of cards in them, but mostly commons and uncommons. They’re always themed around a color or mechanic and are made to slot in some lands and be ready to play the game right out of the gate.
Time to take a closer look at set booster contents! When you open a set booster you’ll be greeted by 14 total cards, with 12 of them being Magic cards and the other two are a little different.
Everything starts off with the full-art card. On rare occasions it can have a golden stamped signature of the artist on it as well. Your second card will always be a land card from the set, usually a basic land, with a chance of it being foil. Sometimes this changes if the set calls for it, but expect basic lands before anything else.
Once you’re through the opening visuals it’s on to cards 3 through 8, which are all commons and uncommons with a connected theme of some sort. Things ramp up and start looking cooler in the next three slots. Card 9 will always be a card with a showcase frame or some other visually interesting decoration. Cards 10 and 11 can be showcase versions as well. They’re “wild cards” in the pack, meant to be entirely random and provide an element of surprise.
Finally you get to your big reveal. Card 12 is always a rare or mythic rare, and card 13 is always a foil of any rarity. Yes, totaling everything up so far means you can potentially open four rares in a set booster pack.
Now you come to card 14 to wrap it all up, and it’s usually a token or advertisement. Usually. In some cases you’ll end up finding a card from The List. It can be a seriously cool thing to open a pack and just find an Aether Vial sitting in the back.
Something of interest to note is that set boosters also include cards unique to those packs. These cards change from set to set, but they’re usually based on the set that the pack is from.
Theme boosters are wildly different from set boosters. They’re a lot less complicated, even if they’re bigger.
You’ll find 14 cards and lots of very specific slots for specific types of cards in a set booster, but in theme boosters you get 35 cards total, 33 of which are all common and uncommon with two cards being rare or mythic rare.
Theme boosters are based on a theme to make it easier to know what you’re buying, usually a color or color combo but sometimes you’ll find a mechanically-themed pack. Wizards built these packs in mind for players that crack packs to find playable cards. It’s great for new players and those looking for a few support pieces.
It should be noted that theme boosters get to draw from an extended card pool that uses cards unique to these special booster types. That means you could open a rare card in these packs that you couldn’t find in a normal draft booster. The lists of cards that are unique to theme boosters shifts from set to set just as it would for set boosters.
Better Than One | Illustration by Alex Konstad
Set versus theme boosters a question with a fluctuating answer depending on who’s asking.
If you’re new to the game and are looking for a place to start and to build up a playable deck for yourself so you can hop in on the fun, I recommend theme boosters. Just one of them should get you to a spot where you could throw in some lands and shuffle up to play some games. This is also a great product to buy if you’re looking to get a friend into the game and show them the ropes.
Set boosters will be better for you if you’re more experienced and are looking to crack open some stylish cardboard to make your existing deck look even cooler. These packs are for the players that just like to crack packs for the sake of cracking packs. And the chances of finding multiple rares in these packs isn’t too low if you’re hunting rares, so you can often find some joy in a double or triple rare out of it.
If you’re hunting for the best possible set boosters to open, you’re mostly going to be looking towards newer sets. They’ll be the most exciting and filled with the most extravagant content to date. Sets like Neon Dynasty, Kaldheim, both of the newest Innistrad sets, and Streets of New Capenna come to mind as some of the best to pick up since they all have important cards across several formats.
Modern Horizons 2
The undisputed king of set boosters has to be Modern Horizons 2 set boosters. A format-warping set that sold like crazy with cards that are still powerful and relevant today and will for the foreseeable future, this is where you’re looking if you want the best of the best.
- Includes 1 Magic: The Gathering Modern Horizons 2 Set Booster (12 Magic Cards total).
- 1 Sketch or Retro-Frame card in every pack.
- 1 New-to-Modern reprint in every pack.
- 1 foil and possibility of multiple Rares in every pack.
- Set Boosters are the go-to if you are looking to crack open booster packs and experience the flavour of a new set..Modern Horizons 2 introduces powerful cards and beloved reprints to the Modern format..Modern format games use cards from Core Set Eighth Edition and Mirrodin through to today..A set full of classic Magic charm, delightful throwback characters, and stunning special treatments.
Let’s say you’re in the market for a theme booster to teach a friend how to play the game without needing them to learn one of your super complicated decks to get a hands-on experience. Look no further than theme boosters from sets like Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance, Strixhaven, or Midnight Hunt.
These rank as some of the best to buy thanks to their multicolored nature. You’ll usually see theme boosters as mono-colored, but you’ll find dual-colored boosters that are fantastic for letting new players get something simple to play with in the Ravnica sets and Strixhaven. They truly help to ease players in.
Innistrad: Midnight Hunt
Midnight Hunt theme boosters boast a solid lineup of cards to grab. You’ll be wanting the multicolored pack from this set since it’s going to be a lot of werewolves. It’s super easy to build around a powerful theme while still branching out and exploring other colors with this pack.
- Theme Boosters help new and casual expand their collection with colors that they're already invested in.
- Enhance your MTG deck with 35 cards from Innistrad Midnight Hunt, including at least one rare or mythic rare card.
- Add 25 lands to start building a 60-card your colored deck.
Streets of New Capenna
Not only will new players be able to explore the tone and setting of the plane in these packs while learning the game with a simple collection of cards to play with, they’ll get to feel what it’s like to cast powerful spells with several colors. I can’t think of a better set to buy to get new players into the flow of it all!
- Each of the five families that vie for strength and profits in New Capenna take more than just one or two colors. This listing is for one of each theme booster pack: blue, purple, red, white, green. Each pack has 35 cards.
- English (Publication Language)
Finale of Glory | Illustration by Stanton Feng
And so we reach the end. How about it? You have a good idea on what types of packs you’re looking to buy? At the very least I hope this helped you learn what not to buy. Or maybe you just have a few more questions to ask before making a decision. In that case, feel free to comment below and or join the discussion in the Draftsim Discord.
Thank you all for stopping by today, it’s been a blast. Stay safe, and I’ll see you next time!
Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to make a purchase, you’ll help Draftsim continue to provide awesome free articles and apps.Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: