Doomed Artisan | Commander 2019
17, Oct, 23

MTG Designer Reveals Draft Was Doomed Without Play Boosters

Article at a Glance

Throughout recent years, there have been a lot of complaints about MTG’s product calendar. Not only is it too fast-paced for many players, but it’s also too dense with a multitude of products to keep up with. Thankfully, next year, Wizards of the Coast is taking a small step to mitigate this growing problem. 

Yesterday, Wizards of the Coast announced a major change to the MTG product lineup; Play Boosters. Launching alongside Murders at Karlov Manor, this brand new MTG pack replaces and combines Set Boosters and Draft Boosters. Unsurprisingly, following this announcement, many MTG players have been sharing their two cents, with many players outraged at the change. 

Drafts Are Getting Dearer

Curse of Opulence | Commander 2017
Curse of Opulence | Commander 2017

Within Wizards’ recent announcement, there was an awful lot of information to unpack. For instance, The List is being dramatically overhauled and shrunk down to just 40 cards which offer more flavor and value. Alongside this, MTG Arena is always moving a step away from paper thanks to the aforementioned List. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Set Booster Commander cards are simply going away! 

While all these details are well worth talking about, one aspect of the recent announcement definitely caught players’ attention. Hiding as a variable footnote at the end of the article, Wizards confirmed the price of Limited events was going up. Thanks to Play Boosters being priced around Set Boosters, Draft and Sealed-loving MTG players are in for a non-insignificant cost increase. 

Currently, a Wilds of Eldraine Draft Booster, on TCGplayer, will cost you around $3.40. Before administrative fees, this means a Draft will cost around $10.20. Should you do the same Draft with Set Boosters, however, you’ll be paying almost $16! Priced at $5.29 a piece at the moment, there’s no denying that Set Boosters are quite the price jump. 

While Set Boosters, and Draft Boosters, may have the potential to contain more rare and mythic cards, the cost increase is undeniable. Unsurprisingly, many MTG players weren’t happy about this impending change as a result. Voicing their concerns across social media, Reddit users such as u/Magwikk stated “This is gonna be a MASSIVE price increase for draft and limited formats. Fuck.” 

With players fearing the jump to $20, $25, or even $30 Drafts, it seems the fan-favorite format is becoming significantly less accessible. Despite how it may seem, however, remarkably, the opposite may be true for this bizarre situation.

Better Than Nothing

Better Offer
Better Offer | Alchemy: Kamigawa

Due to the price increase in Draft events and essentially pack prices, the reason for this change seems very obvious. Hasbro is a business and this decision should make a lot of money in the long run. While we wouldn’t at all be surprised if this is a factor, however, it doesn’t appear to be the guiding force behind this change. That, instead, appears to be Draft, and saving it rather than condemning it. 

Speaking about the change following the announcement, Mark Rosewater attempted to clear up some of the confusion behind Wizards’ reasoning. Responding to a question on Twitter wondering how increased costs would save Draft, Rosewater revealed this was the only option. “If we didn’t do anything, Draft boosters were going away. This whole change was to save drafting (and other limited formats).” 

Later clarifying this statement, Rosewater went on to tweet that the death of Draft wasn’t an immediate problem, but was nevertheless a concern. Identified by future forecasting, the writing was supposedly on the wall for Draft Boosters, and by extension, Limited. Despite this foresight, however, Rosewater stressed that Wizards wasn’t trying to get rid of Draft, or anything like that. 

“To clarify something I said earlier today. We do a lot of future forecasting. Had trends continued the way they were going, we believed the draft booster were in danger of going away due to market forces. No one in Wizards/Hasbro was trying to get rid of limited play.”

Mark Rosewater

While many MTG players may not be happy about the impending cost increase, it nevertheless seems baffling positive. After all, the alternative seems to be that, in the future, Draft wouldn’t exist at all. Even if MTG Arena could pick up the slack for Draft, prerelease packs and events would sadly go the way of the dodo. 

Ultimately, despite potentially having a few problems, the new Play Boosters should solve this issue. By unifying Set and Draft Boosters, this new MTG product should sell well, while also being playable. Ideally, this should keep Draft around for many years to come. 

Drafting, But at What Cost?

Umezawa's Jitte

While Draft may survive thanks to Play Boosters, the upcoming change isn’t totally delighting Limited fanatics. As we mentioned earlier, one of the major reasons for this is the inclusion of The List cards within packs. While this should provide some nice reprints and flavor, these cards also have the potential to completely warp events.

Playing into this fear, u/MazrimReddit mused that they hope “someone wins a worlds event with a random Jitte list pack.” While humorous, this possibility is a very real one that could warp major events in Magic’s near future. Sure, it might not happen with Umezawa’s Jitte, but there are powerful cards on The List like Mana Crypt. 

Thankfully, with The List cards only appearing within 12.5% of packs, it’s very unlikely a major event will be completely warped by these cards. A more pressing concern for many players, however, is the prevalence of foil cards. Now guaranteed within Play Boosters, there’s no escape from foils in MTG anymore. 

In the eyes of many players, this is a rather annoying detail of Play Boosters, are foils aren’t exactly faultless. Often prone to pringling, some MTG players actively avoid collecting these cards, despite how they may look. Since they’re not guaranteed, however, many players will have no choice but to use these cards. This could cause real problems within competitive play, as curled foils have caused problems before.

At the end of the day, while the new Play Boosters certainly have plenty of pros and cons, they’re not out quite yet. Subsequently, it’s incredibly hard to truly gauge player reaction and how successful these new packs will be. Considering they’re going to be the only option outside of Collector Boosters, it’s hard to imagine a world in which they don’t succeed for one reason or another. 

Read More: Top Five MTG Cards that are Most Likely to be Unbanned

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