Before 2019, buying Magic: The Gathering Boosters was blissfully easy. All you had to do was walk into your local game store, ask for a Booster, pay, and the deal is done. That’s all it took, no confusion, no faff, but ask, pay, get, and play. For better or worse, however, once Throne of Eldraine came along, that all changed.
Changing the course of MTG forever, Throne of Eldraine introduced a brand new Booster Pack to MTG; the Collector Booster. Designed, as the name suggests, to appeal to Collectors, players now had a choice to make with every purchase. For better or worse, this was just the tip of the iceberg, as in 2020, Zendikar Rising debuted yet another Booster Pack.
With Draft, Set, and Collector Boosters now available, buying an MTG pack was no longer a simple process. Sure, for veteran players the choice is clear, but new players could easily be hit with decision paralysis. Throw Commander decks, Jumpstart, and Starter Kits into the mix, and it’s unsurprisingly easy to get overwhelmed.
Thankfully, Wizards of the Coast is well aware of this issue and has set their sights on fixing it. To do this, Wizards is doing away with Draft and Set Boosters entirely, replacing them instead with a brand new MTG product: Play Boosters. Launching with Murders at Karlov Manor in 2024, this brand-new product is set to change how you play, collect, and purchase Magic: the Gathering.
Meet MTG’s New Play Boosters
As the name somewhat gives away, Play Boosters are, first and foremost, designed to be played with. This means, that following the release of Murders at Karlov Manor, Play Boosters will be used in Limited events. Alongside being used for Limited, Play Boosters are also great to open, containing value galore, just like Set Boosters.
To get into the nitty-gritty of what that means, Play Boosters are a fourteen-card MTG Booster Pack priced around the cost of a Set Booster. Each pack has the potential to contain four rare or mythic cards, thanks to guaranteed slots, The List, and Wildcard slots. Many of the pack’s slots are also able to be Booster Fun treatments, providing players with plenty of gorgeous art.
If you’re after even more nit and grit, worry not, as we’ve got you covered. Below is a comprehensive breakdown of everything included within the new MTG Play Boosters. As a note, to keep things confusing, this pack content breakdown is only for Murders at Karlov Manor. Other sets will tweak this formula slightly due to factors like double-faced cards, bonus sheets, and other promotions.
Considering Play Boosters are rather revolutionary, replacing two existing MTG packs, there’s understandably a lot to cover. Subsequently, we expect you’ve probably got quite a lot of questions floating through your mind right now. Thankfully, after speaking to Wizards, we’re here to answer as many of them as possible.
How Will Draft Be Affected?
For many players, the most pressing question will be about Limited and the quality of Draft events going forward. With new packs, how are they going to play, and how much are they going to cost? According to Wizards, Limited should still be a ton of fun, potentially even more so, however, it will cost a little bit more.
Considering Play Boosters can now contain up to four rare or mythic cards, there’s a lot of potential value in packs. This, obviously, changes how players will have to Draft sets, although, not quite as much as you think. Thanks to Bonus Sheets being plentiful recently, players have already seen a lot of high rare card density sets.
Alongside the increased rare density, Play Boosters also have one less card. Since the missing card is a common, however, this really shouldn’t affect things too much. If anything, this missing common will just mitigate the amount of Draft chaff pulling up on tables.
According to Wizards, the Limited environments which have included Draft environments have been better off for it. Providing players with not just more fun cards, but more compelling options, it’s not hard to see why this is the case. Thanks to this, hopefully, Play Boosters should be a ton of fun to play with once they are released.
Ultimately, while we’re hopeful about the impact and fun Play Boosters should provide, we’ve not touched them yet. Wizards may have tested them extensively, but there’s no telling how players will feel about this monumental change. For that, we’re just going to have to wait until early 2024.
What’s Happening to MTG Arena?
For better or worse, MTG Arena is implementing Play Boosters into the game in a somewhat unusual way. Rather than replacing the game’s boosters outright, they will only be used for Limited events. Staying at the same cost as they are now, this should provide the closest experience to paper Limited as possible.
Unfortunately, while the aim is being one-to-one with paper, that’s unfortunately not always going to be possible. This is thanks to The List and the changes that Wizards is making there. Potentially found within any Play Booster, unfortunately, not every card on The List will be on MTG Arena at a set’s release. Due to this, MTG Arena will occasionally have to make substitutes for these cards, changing the experience slightly.
As alluded to earlier, Play Boosters will only be used for Limited events. Subsequently, when purchasing packs from the MTG Arena store, everything will be the same.
What About The List?
As mentioned mere moments ago, Wizards of the Coast is also dramatically changing The List for Play Boosters. Now, rather than being a massive list of 300 cards, The List will only contain 40 cards. Each of these will still be themed to the set while ideally being a more enticing reprint to discover.
Similarly to cards from Bonus Sheets, The List cards within Play Boosters are legal in Limited events. For clarity’s sake, this legality extends to all the pack’s cards, outside of the ad card/art card. On another note, The List can also contain the new Special Guest cards, so expect to see some seriously powerful cards… Some of the time, at least… And maybe not on Arena.
Despite these caveats, the changes to The List are still incredibly exciting and well worth raving about. So much so, that we wrote an entire article all about them here.
What’s Happening to the Set Booster Cards?
Thankfully, this section is one we can answer very quickly, however, it’s not exactly good news. Due to Set Boosters being eradicated in 2024, the Commander-exclusive cards within Set Boosters are just going away. This means the new Commander decks will all have a little bit less support going forward.
Unfortunately, right now, it’s unclear how much of a problem this will actually be. On the one hand, there are only a handful of these cards released every set, minimizing the potential impact. On the other hand, however, Urtet, Remnant of Memnarch was one of these cards, and they’re a fan-favorite!
Why Did Wizards Do This?
Last but not least, you might understandably be wondering why Wizards decided to do this. To answer exactly this, Wizards has released their own article all about the changes and why they happened. Highlighting a number of issues with the current product roster, Wizards has made the change look surprisingly necessary, despite practically coming out of the blue.
To give a quick rundown of Wizards’ explanation, the problems largely stem from the “abandonment of Draft Boosters.” Despite having their purpose, Draft, these packs are surprisingly not very popular at all among players. Instead, most people who walk into a store will purchase Set or Collector boosters for that premium pack opening experience.
With Draft Boosters falling by the wayside, they started to become more of a problem than they’re potentially worth. After all, with three core packs releasing with every set, it was unclear which one players should purchase. Alongside this, the different packs also caused frustration with rewards, as many players felt there was a right and wrong back to give.
As if the change wasn’t seeming sensible enough already, Draft Boosters were also snubbed when it came to content. In order to make room for Set Boosters, and keep them desirable, Draft Boosters didn’t always have every art treatment. While this wasn’t always a bad thing, it nevertheless left many players feeling disappointed.
Through all these issues and problems combined, it’s a wonder Wizards didn’t decide to make this change earlier. No matter when or why it happened, however, the Play Boosters are here to stay once they arrive in 2024. Hopefully, like most of MTG’s recent innovations, Play Boosters will be a change for the better that can be celebrated.