Ask just about any Magic player, and they’ll tell you that buying booster packs is an addictive aspect to MTG.
There are quite a few other reasons why it’s addictive, which we’ve written about here. But booster packs certainly contribute an air of mystery and thrill to the game, since you never know for sure what you’ll get from one.
Although the cards in them are random, there’s still a structure to them. So what does an MTG booster pack contain?
In this guide, we’ll answer that question and give you some background on booster packs. Here’s what we’ll examine:
- The different ways to buy MTG cards
- Types of booster packs
- What’s in a standard MTG booster pack
- Guidance on whether or not you should buy one
Let’s get started.
Different Ways to Buy MTG Cards
When you want to grow your Magic collection, there’s a few main ways you can go about it:
- Booster packs
- Booster boxes
Depending on how many cards you want, buying them as singles is usually the most economical. This is when you buy each card individually, rather than in bulk.
You would buy singles typically when there are a few specific cards you want for your collection or deck.
The next option, booster packs, is a step up in terms of how much you’re getting. Instead of a single card, you’re getting sixteen cards.
All of these cards are generally from the same set. You would consider buying a booster pack when you want a small sample of what the set has to offer, or just want to enjoy the thrill of opening one.
Booster boxes are a common way of buying in bulk. In a booster box, you’re getting 36 booster packs, with the exception of Masters set booster boxes which have only 24 booster packs and collector boxes which have 12.
They’re one of the more expensive ways of getting Magic cards. You’d consider buying a booster box if you wanted a bunch of cards to draft with, you are a collector, or you just wanted to buy cards in bulk from a set.
Pictured above is a Theros Beyond Death collector booster pack. Collector booster packs are similar to normal ones, except that you have a much higher chance of getting valuable cards in it, such as foils and extended art cards.
For that reason, collector booster packs are also more expensive.
Types of Booster Packs
Not all booster packs are equal. Throughout Magic’s history and even currently, there are different kinds that you can buy.
A standard booster pack is what you’ll see most commonly. These have a random sampling of cards from the set.
Next, there are collector booster packs. Unlike your standard boosters, these have a much higher chance of holding more valuable cards, because they have an assortment of foils and one card with extended art.
Theme boosters come with 35 cards in them. In the latest set, Theros Beyond Death, these boosters focus on one particular color.
Seeded boosters are packs you can get at some Magic prerelease events at local game stores. These are packs designed to have more cards that work together, so you can make a deck more easily for use in the event at the store.
What’s in a Standard MTG Booster Pack?
You might be wondering what exactly you’re getting when you buy an MTG booster pack.
The answer to that question has changed over the years of Magic: the Gathering’s life. In some of the earliest sets, booster packs were actually quite small, with only several cards in them.
As time has gone on, though, they’ve grown in both price and the number of cards they contain. Currently, the number of cards in booster packs tends to be similar from set to set – around 15 – but the exact construction of a booster pack can still vary.
As an illustration, we’ll look at what was the most recent set at the time of this guide (February 2020), which was Theros Beyond Death. This set was sold in booster packs of 16 cards.
One of those cards is a land. In Theros Beyond Death, this is a full-art land, but in other sets, it’s usually just a basic land.
There’s also one kind of token card. Token cards are cards that represent a permanent without a casting cost, which usually comes from another card’s ability.
Then there’s at least one rare card. There’s a small chance that this could be a Mythic rare, or even two rares rather than one.
Last, there’s a number of uncommon and common cards from throughout the set. These are typically random, although there are some booster packs with a theme, such as focusing on a specific color.
Should you Buy Booster Packs?
Whether or not you should get a booster pack really varies. You’ll need to determine your underlying reason for buying cards first.
For instance, if you just want a few particular cards, it’s almost always cheaper to just buy them individually. Buying multiple booster packs with the hope of getting one card isn’t necessarily wise, since you can never be sure you’ll get it.
On the other hand, if you want to just have fun seeing what random cards you’ll get, booster packs are a great option.
Additionally, booster packs work well for those looking to kind of sample a new set. They’ll give a taste of what the set is like and several cards to add to your collection.
If you’re a collector, you may also want to buy booster packs. Some collectors buy packs or boxes from each set, and then keep them unopened over time.
Ultimately, it’s your decision. If you’re interested in taking it a step further and buying a booster box but don’t know where to start, check out our guide on the best ones for the money.