17, Mar, 24

Wizards Reveals the Fate of Limited Going Forward

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Article at a Glance

Along with the release of Murders at Karlov Manor came a massive change to booster packs that would affect all premier sets moving forward. This, of course, was the introduction of play boosters. Play boosters effectively replaced both set boosters and draft boosters and were designed to give players the best of both worlds.

See, set boosters, while typically sold for about $1 or so more than their draft counterparts, gave players additional opportunities to open cool cards. Featuring cards from The List, set boosters were mostly created for players that enjoyed cracking packs. On the other hand, draft boosters were specifically designed for Limited play.

Play boosters essentially combine aspects from both boosters, giving players additional chances to open rares, even in a Limited environment. Unsurprisingly, some players were quick to complain about the added variance these extra rares added to the Limited environment. Additionally, this meant that players had even more opportunities to open bombs. Still, R&D made it clear that these packs were largely created to SAVE Limited, and just recently, MTG head designer Mark Rosewater doubled down.

The Fate of Limited

Murders at Karlov Manor Play Boosters

For players that enjoy drafting, unfortunately, Limited hasn’t been in the best position. In response to a recent Blogatog post talking about Limited’s “precarious position,” Mark Rosewater confirmed that draft boosters were quickly going to become a thing of the past. He stated that the market was simply not supporting draft boosters as a whole.

In some ways, this makes sense. After all, stores would typically need to stock up on both draft and set boosters to appeal to different members of the MTG community. The reality is, most players that weren’t routinely participating in drafts enjoyed opening set boosters more.

“LGSes were having trouble juggling two product lines, managing demand, dealing with prizes (there was a tension between people who wanted Draft Booster prizes to draft more and everyone else who wanted Set Boosters)”

reginakasteen

As reginakasteen pointed out, this put pressure on local game stores to correctly balance different products, even for prize support. So why would draft boosters in particular be faltering more than set boosters?

According to Mark Rosewater, the answer is simple: Limited as a whole was in rough shape. He mentioned that the majority of MTG players don’t play Limited. While this likely isn’t a huge surprise given how important casual play and the Commander format are to the ecosystem of MTG, it showcases why stepping away from draft boosters made sense.

Mark Rosewater also stated that play boosters highlight the importance of Limited play as a whole. Even if Limited isn’t super popular, it plays a major role in the distribution of packs in the first place. As a result, using one pack type to satisfy consumers with different goals is important.

Read More: MTG Karlov Manor Bear Commander Sees Extensive Eternal Play!

Going Back in Time

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Set Boosters

“I mean, makes sense. The logic is sound – make one product that serves a broad audience instead of two products that serve subsections of that audience. The common critique, which I still agree with, is: Of course this is the right approach, it’s how it worked for decades!”

RedArrogantKnight

What’s rather interesting, though, is that draft boosters weren’t necessarily being pushed out of the market until set boosters became a thing. Many players vocalized that the approach of using one pack to appeal to different audiences should have never been messed with in the first place. Set boosters first emerged in 2020 with the release of Zendikar Rising. The main goal with their release was to benefit the wide range of players that opened draft boosters not for the sake of drafting, but simply for the sake of enjoyment and collecting.

Collector boosters were introduced only a bit beforehand with the release of Ravnica Allegiance in 2019. They were given an experimental print run, then became a common feature with the release of Throne of Eldraine later that year. It was clear that plenty of players enjoyed opening packs outside of a Limited environment, so these collector boosters offered players chances to open cards with unique booster fun treatments.

In the case of set boosters, though, they were quite similar in a lot of ways to draft boosters. As such, they directly competed with each other within local game stores. Given that set boosters were generally more popular, some local game stores ended up stocking set boosters at the expense of draft boosters. As a result, Limited play diminished.

These were pretty major consequences, especially considering the fact that draft boosters up to the creation of set boosters were very successful. As a result, some players have concluded that, beyond being a failed experiment, the creation of set boosters wasn’t worth the risk from the get-go. There’s certainly an argument that things would simply be better if the typical draft booster was never supplemented in the first place.

Read More: MTG Designer Discusses Potentially Returning Blocks Feature

Price Issues Moving Forward

“Regular packs turned into 3 booster types and now we’ve essentially reverted back with a tiny extra chance of something cool. Doesn’t justify the huge price increase for them though.”

aDemonicTutor

Unfortunately, while the switch to play boosters does help solve the issue of competing products, it does raise further problems for Limited at local game stores. Play boosters are cool in the sense that they can be used for Limited while simultaneously providing players with the chance to open some intriguing cards and extra rares.

The concern, though, lies with the price. This is not a new complaint when it comes to play boosters, but it does highlight an issue with their design. R&D recognizes the importance of Limited and that these boosters are, in part, designed to save Limited as a whole. Ironically, the price increase of these packs may have led to a decrease in attendance at some stores for Limited events.

There are plenty of players that are frustrated by the general price increase of Limited events near them. Hopefully, play boosters do help mitigate some of the problems that were associated with set and draft boosters over time. It’ll be interesting to see how boosters are handled in the coming years and if any changes are made, but for now, play boosters are here to stay.

Read More: The Most Expensive Set Booster Exclusive MTG Cards

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