2020 Holiday Gift Guide

Discussion Information 
By: Kagros - 15 Dec 2020

Hello! Have no idea what to buy for your significant other/sibling/child/parent/friend? This guide will cover the different types of products that are available for you to buy this Holiday Season. This guide is geared towards who don't have much MTG knowledge.

I previously wrote a gift guide last year, which you can see here. I’m going to change up the guide this year and give two separate ratings per product: one for how playable it is and one for how good of a product it is. The reason I’ve decided to do it this way this year and that there are products that are fairly worthless, BUT are actually very good at having a decent play experience. With all that has gone on this year, The Gathering part of Magic: The Gathering is a very important aspect of the MTG experience.

Remember, I have no idea what your giftee actually wants. It's best to ask/probe them to get a better idea of what they want. This guide is here to provide a reference for you, but it's up to you to figure out what they actually want.

TL;DR

Okay, you don't want to read a wall of text. What should you buy? A box of Jumpstart would make a great gift, but it is in short supply. Commander Legends is also a great buy that is more widely available and it contains cards, both old and new, that players would want. A Draft Box is a good gift, but if you want to spoil your giftee, then a Collector Box is also an even better gift.

A gift card for their local game store or TCGplayer is always appreciated.

You can also watch this video by Tolarian Community College where he goes over most of the products that I listed here.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

DO NOT BUY THE MYSTERY BOXES YOU MAY SEE AT BIG BOX STORES OR GRAB BAG PRODUCTS AT ONLINE RETAILERS. THESE ARE WORTHLESS

WHO

There are a bunch of different types of Magic players, so it's really hard to figure out what each player wants.

If possible, find out what colors or color pairs your giftee likes to play and what formats they play. Popular formats are: Standard, Draft, EDH/Commander, Modern, and Pioneer. Another possible angle is figuring out what types of creatures they like (Angels, Dragons, Demons, Vampires, Zombies, Humans, and Elves are generally popular). There have recently been a lot of support for a more diverse cast of creature types like Pirates and Unicorns. It’s very likely your giftee has a favorite tribe that appeals to them.

Probe, probe, probe!

WHERE TO BUY

If your giftee plays at a local game store, I heavily recommend buying from there (in secret if you don't want your giftee to find out). One big thing about the Magic community is supporting local game stores since that is where we play. Thanks to all the events of the past year, stores are struggling to stay afloat. Another great thing is that if your giftee plays at a local game store often, you can ask the store for help about what they think your giftee would like. Game store communities are generally close-knit, which is why we play there.

A gift card to a local game store that your giftee may go to often is a GREAT idea.

If you don't have a local game store, you can find a lot of products at a big store (called big box stores) like Target or Wal-Mart. Alternatively, you can also buy products from Amazon or TCGPlayer. Amazon will have most of the sealed product, while TCGPlayer will sell individual cards.

SETS

You will see a lot of sets when you are at the game store. The current Standard sets (which I will refer to when I explain the MTG Products) that will be usable in most tournaments are as follows (in order from oldest to newest):

Throne of Eldraine - This is a fairy themed set crossed with Arthurian knights.

Theors: Beyond Death - This is a Greek mythology themed set with a sub theme of the Underworld.

Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths - This is the giant monster themed set and includes some Godzilla crossovers in several products.

Core Set 2021 - This is a Core Set which doesn’t really have any theme, but the face of the set is Teferi, a Planeswalker who uses time magic.

Zendikar Rising - This is an adventure themed set that revolves around the Party mechanic which represents an D&D like adventure party.

Some older sets you may see (in order from newest to oldest):

Core Set 2020 - This is a Core Set which doesn’t really have any theme, but the face of the set is Chandra, a Planeswalker who uses fire magic.

War of the Spark - This is a set that revolves around planeswalkers and is basically the MTG version of Avengers: Endgame.

Ravnica Allegiance / Guilds of Ravnica - These sets revolve a city of 10 guilds who vy for power.

MAGIC PRODUCTS

I'll give a brief rundown of the products, their functions, and the maximum price you should expect to pay for the products. You should not pay more than what I list and it’s very easy to find products that are well below what I list. Prices are also assuming you are in the United States; other countries will have higher prices thanks to other factors, so I cannot speak about those. Each product may also be tied to a certain set, so please see the SET section for more details.

I will also assign each product two ratings: one for playability and one for utility. Playability ratings are included so that gifters determine if they can use a certain product to play and/or learn MTG with their giftee. Here are the criteria:

1: For playability, a 1 means the product is not possible to play with at all. For value, a 1 means the product is not very good value for your buck and will have a product that is strictly superior to it AND will likely not have cards inside that come close to matching the value of the product.

2: For playability, a 2 means the product is possible to play with, but you will either need additional product to play with AND/OR players will need some working knowledge of MTG to make it a decent experience. For value, a 2 means that the product will have decent value for your buck AND will have relevant cards for players. A 1.5 means that it will be missing one of the two criteria for a 2.

3: For playability, a 3 means that the product is completely playable right out of the box OR players will not really need working knowledge of MTG to make it a decent experience. I am saving 3s for products that you, someone who doesn’t really have any knowledge of MTG, can actually play with your giftee. For value, the product is the best in value of it’s class and either has a good chance for the value inside to exceed the amount paid OR the value you can expect in the product is guaranteed to be very close to the amount paid.

Welcome Decks (Free; Playability: 3; Value: 1) - You can walk into any game store and pick up two of these. These decks are free and are used to teach new players how to play. If you want to learn the game with your giftee, this is a great tool and costs nothing. There are better products to pick up if your goal is to play MTG with your giftee. Value is a 1 despite being free because the cards inside aren’t worth anything to begin with.

Arena Starter Set ($11; Playability: 3; Value: 1) - This is another product designed to teach players how to play, but it costs money. The only benefit that this does have is that it comes with a Code that lets you get all the cards on MTG Arena, an online way to play MTG. Given that is difficult to meet in person to play, if your giftee wants to play MTG, but does not currently play MTGA, this is a way to get a jumpstart on their MTGA collection. The code is the main selling point of this product as the cards within do not have much value.

Standard Draft Booster Packs ($4; Playability: 2; Value: 1 or 2 dependent on set) / Standard Draft Booster Box ($120; Playability: 3*; Value: 2) - These are for Standard sets. See the SET section for which sets are included here. Booster packs are great stocking stuffers and they are probably the cheapest thing you can buy. A booster pack contains an assortment of random cards and MTG players always get a thrill whenever they open a pack to see if they hit a valuable card. No Magic player will be sad to receive booster packs. A booster box contains 36 booster packs in it and is generally better bang for your buck, but it does cost $100. Booster packs are the backbone of MTG, so there isn’t much to explain here.

*The booster box playability of 3 will require you to have some knowledge of the game, but cracking packs with your giftee is still a pretty good experience which is why I will give it a 3.

Double Masters Draft Booster Packs ($13; Playability: 2; Value: 1 or 2 dependent on set) / Double Masters Draft Booster Box ($300; Playability: 3*; Value: 2)

Commander Legends Draft Booster Packs ($7; Playability: 2; Value: 2) / Commander Legends Draft Booster Box ($140; Playability: 3*; Value: 2)

Jumpstart Booster Pack ($6; Playability: 2.5; Value: 2) / Jumpstart Booster Box ($140; Playability: 3; Value: 2) - Jumpstart is a unique experience. Each booster pack comes with 1 of 121 random 20-card half decks. Players grab two booster packs, shuffle them together to create 1 40-card deck and battle against each other. A booster box is probably one of the best ways to play MTG with someone since you will have a Cube of different themes and you and your giftee can continuously mix and match the different packs to create new gameplay experiences without having to go buy more packs. The only downside with Jumpstart is that Wizards had issues with printing this set and it will be difficult to find it at a reasonable price.

Bundles ($45; Playability: 2; Value: 2) - A Bundle contains 10 Booster Packs as well as some extra goodies like basic lands and a spindown dice. With regards to bang for your buck, a booster box is still better, but this is a good intermediate level where you want to give something more than loose packs, but not a booster box. The bundle also doubles as a storage box. If you are interested in playing with your giftee, I recommend getting one bundle for your giftee and one for yourself. This way you both can crack packs and then use the cards you opened to build your own decks and play against each other. You will have enough cards such that even if you mess up building your deck the first time, you can completely change your deck to a different one. Bundles are only available for Standard sets and each set has its own Bundle.

Deck Builder's Toolkit ($30; Playability: 3; Value: 1) - A deck builder's toolkit has a variety of semi-random cards and 4 booster packs. This product is only generally good for new players as a lot of cards in this will be generally useless. Even if a player is new, I think the Bundle would be a better purchase since the both of these will fulfill a similar purpose. This is a cheaper version of it, however, so if you want to play with your giftee, but you don’t want to shell out for two Bundles, this is a great alternative. Deck Builder’s Toolkits are only available every other set, but Core Set 2021 did not have one, and the most current one is Theros: Beyond Death.

Planeswalker Decks ($20; Playability: 2; Value: 1) - A Planeswalker deck is basically a preconstructed introduction deck for new players. It has a nice shiny card on the front of it and does come with two booster packs. This is geared towards newer players and if your giftee just started out, this may be a good purchase because the deck is playable out of the box. Like the previous products, if you want to play with your giftee, you can buy two different Planeswalker decks, have your giftee choose one, you get the other one, open them up, and play them against each other! Planeswalker decks have been discontinued outside of Core Sets and have been replaced with a new product, which I recommend over these. The last non-Core set to have Planeswalker decks is Theros: Beyond Death, but Core Set 2021 has Planeswalker decks.

Commander Series Decks ($50; Playability: 2; Value: 2 for most, 3 for Timeless Wisdom or Mystic Intellect) - A commander deck is a 100-card deck. You'll notice it right away by the large oversized card on the front. This is a great purchase for any player as the decks can be played out of the box and the cards inside are generally useful. This is also a multiplayer format, so they can play with more than one friend at the same time. Commander 2020 is the latest in the series and you can’t really go wrong with it. This is a great gift for players who play regularly with their friends as it is a stepping stone into the most popular format of Magic, Commander. More experienced players can take the decks and break them down to get single cards they need for their Commander decks. If you see Timeless Wisdom or Mystic Intellect on the shelves for the same price as the other decks, I recommend picking those over the rest as they have some expensive cards in them. If you wish to play with your giftee, I don’t recommend this as these decks can be overwhelming for a new player. There are other Commander decks that are released with sets which are slightly different, which I will go over next.

Set Commander Decks ($30; Playability: 2; Value: 2) - These are pretty similar to the Commander Series, but the decks are weaker since these are supposed to be like an intro Commander deck. These are the products that have replaced Planeswalker decks and are pretty superior to them. Notably, you can tell a Commander deck is not part of the Commander Series since it will not have an oversized card on the front. There are currently only two sets that have Commander decks associated with them: Zendikar Rising and Commander Legends. These are a bit easier to play with your giftee than the Commander Series decks so you can pick up two of these (from the same set), open them up, and play together.

Brawl Deck ($30; Playability: 2; Value: 2) - This is a 60-card preconstructed deck for the Brawl format. Just like the Planeswalker and Commander Decks, these decks are made to be played out of the box. If you want to play with your giftee, this is the best product to pick up as not only are the cards in these decks valuable, they are also simple enough so that a newer player can play with it. These are similar to the Set Commander decks, but the Set Commander decks have more relevant cards.

Collector Booster Packs ($25 / $30 for Commander Legends; Playability: 1; Value: 1) or Collector Booster Box ($280 / $300 for Commander Legends; Playability: 1; Value 1.5) - This is a special unique premium booster pack filled with shiny cards and cards that have alternate frames that cannot be found anywhere else. This is a straight up lottery ticket product. If you buy this product, understand it can be akin to setting your money on fire because the chance for your giftee to pull a card more expensive than the booster is very slim. This is literally a lottery ticket. And just like a lottery ticket, opening it will give a real adrenaline rush. I’ve given this a low Value score because this is a very high variance product. Some boxes and packs will be real hits, but some or most of them will just have you opening nothing of any value. With the warnings out of the way, I can definitely recommend this product solely as a gift because it really is an exciting, albeit short-lived, product to open. Each Standard set starting with Throne of Eldraine has these available. Commander Legends also has these available as well. If you want to pick this up, I heavily suggest going either with the Zendikar Rising or Commander Legends ones.

Bundle Gift Edition ($60; Playability: 2; Value: 2) - This is a special edition of the Bundle product that I described above. It is exactly the same as a Bundle except it has a Collector’s Booster, and a shiny box. The Collector’s Booster is basically the reason for the increased price. If you’d like to splurge a bit and upgrade from a Bundle, this is a reasonable upgrade, but because the upgrade is basically just the Collector’s Booster, double check to see whether or not it’d be cheaper to buy a regular Bundle and a Collector’s Booster separately before buying this. If you’d like to play with your giftee and have a bit of money to spend, you can also use this product in the same way as you would the Bundle.

Signature Spellbook ($25; Playability: 1; Value: 2) - This is a collection of cards centered around a certain character in Magic. There are currently three types of Spellbooks out: Jace, who is Blue, Gideon, who is White, and Chandra, who is Red. If your giftee likes one of these colors, this will make for a nice gift. The Jace one has more valuable cards in it, but it is older so it will be harder to find at a decent price.

Magic Game Night ($40; Playability: 3; Value: 1.5) - This is a multiplayer product that comes with 5 preconstructed decks. If there is a board game version of Magic, this is it. This is perfect for a game night where multiple people just want to sit down and play some simple Magic games. If your giftee hosts board game nights often and has friends that kind of know how to play, this is a great pickup. I recommend picking up the 2019 edition over the 2018 edition as the 2019 edition has more expensive cards.

Unsanctioned ($50; Playability: 3; Value: 1.5) - This is a multiplayer product that comes with 5 preconstructed half decks. Players will select 2 half decks each to build one deck and will put them up against each other, making it a bit like the Magic Game Night. However, what’s unique about this product is that it is silver-bordered, meaning that the cards inside are not normal cards, but are essentially parody cards. If you think your giftee would enjoy gag and joke cards, this would be a good gift for them.

 

DO NOT BUY THE MYSTERY BOXES YOU MAY SEE AT BIG BOX STORES. THESE ARE WORTHLESS

SUPPLIES

Okay, a lot of Magic products are geared towards newer players, so let's also cover supplies. I'll go over this very briefly, but supplies are generally good for most players of any level. Figuring out if your giftee needs these should be obvious. Look at what they're missing when they play and buy accordingly. Prices for supplies are generally all over the place, so I'll just give a range. When it comes to supplies, the more expensive a product is, generally, the better quality it is.

I recommend buying these from a local game store. Not only can the store help you figure out your needs, you can also save the receipt and have your giftee exchange your gift for a brand they may like. Certain people like different things and while they may appreciate the effort you put in, having the option to exchange it for something they prefer is great too.

If your giftee doesn't have any of these, buying them one would be a safe bet.

Sleeves ($3-$13) - Card sleeves protect your cards. If your giftee plays Magic without sleeves, BUY THEM SLEEVES. You can buy your giftee Ultra Pro Eclipse or Dragon Shield Matte sleeves. These are all durable sleeves that should hold up for quite a while. I personally use Dragon Shield sleeves and they have some high quality sleeves that have artwork on the back of them. Even if your giftee has sleeves, extra sleeves are ALWAYS useful.

Playmat ($10-$20) - A playmat provides a clean playing surface and makes it easier to pick up cards. I see a lot of draft players without playmats, so it could be likely that your giftee does not have a playmat. Ultra Pro makes decent playmats and they have Magic art on them, so you can buy one you think your giftee will like. You can also get a custom playmat made as well. Inked Gaming makes quality custom playmats. If your giftee already has a playmat, I would not get them another one.

Binders ($10-$30) - A binder is how Magic cards can be stored and shown off to others . Ultra Pro makes serviceable binders that are affordable, but there may be other brands at your local game store. Binders come in various sizes, so that should be considered a well. An extra binder won't hurt, so if your giftee has one, a second one could have it's uses.

Dice ($3-$10) - Dice are dice. Chessex sells bundles of dice in mini-towers and these are always useful for any Magic player. You can never have enough dice, so it's okay to grab one of these if you are unsure about whether or not your giftee has some.

Deckboxes ($5-$25) - Deckboxes are how decks are stored. I personally recommend Ultra Pro Satin Towers, which cost about $10 and have room for 100 cards and a dice compartment and these can be found in most local game stores. For a more compact deckbox, the Ultimate Guard Boulder is also a very popular and durable deckbox. I'd try to stay away from any plastic deck boxes made from Ultra Pro, but I use them to store loose cards. Like dice, you can never have too many deckboxes, but it should be obvious whether or not your giftee needs one of these.

Boogie Board (Varies) - Boogie Boards are a great way for players to track life totals and, best of all, they are completely reusable. If your giftee does not have one of these, these are very useful and easy to carry around in their bag.

MISC

Here are some items that are different from the others, but are definitely not for everyone

Art Prints ($10+) - Getting your giftee some art of their favorite magic card to hang on a wall is definitely a great idea. These come in a large variety of sizes and you help support the artist. However, if you don't know what your giftee likes, here is where knowing what their favorite creature type could come in handy. You can use Google for the purpose of finding prints, but not every card will have an art print. Original Magic Art has a large collection of prints for sale.

Altered Cards - You can also get cards altered by artists. There are a lot of artists that will alter cards and they frequently post their work on this subreddit. Use the search bar to search for them so you can see what their work looks like and you can DM them directly to see if they will do commissions.

Custom Cards - If you have some decent MTG knowledge, you can create a custom MTG card for your giftee. MTG.Design is a custom editor that you can use in your browser, or you can use Magic Set Editor if you prefer to use custom software. Create your card, print it out, and then put it in a sleeve with a real card behind it. If you want feedback on your card, /r/custommagic can help you, but please follow all of their subreddit rules when posting.

SINGLES

I mentioned at the very top about singles. I heavily recommend buying singles if your giftee plays a lot. Buying singles is a lot more personal, but, like personal gifts, you might miss on what your giftee actually wants, so keep that in mind. Hence, as a non-magic playing gifter, I'd stick to buying sealed product listed above.

Because you likely don't know much about the game, it's going to be hard to buy exactly what your giftee needs. Hence, it's especially important to ask them what they want if you are considering singles. However, if you know their favorite card, you should consider buying them a Foil version of the card. Personally, I already have multiple copies of my favorite card, but if someone gifted me a foil version of my favorite card, I know that I would cherish that gift.

For buying singles, as I mentioned at the beginning, use TCGPlayer. Each card has its own page on TCGPlayer. On its page, it shows you the card and lists the Market Price. The Market Price is the current price of the card, so you can use this as a benchmark for buying the card. Then, the page will list all the sellers with that card listed. They also have Filters. I would filter by card condition to be only Near Mint and Lightly Played. Then, you can select which vendor you want to buy from. To protect yourself, I'd only buy from either TCGplayer Direct or a Gold Star seller.

If you need help deciding what singles your giftee would like, feel free to comment below and one of our many helpful community members will help you.

You can also buy a TCGPlayer gift card here.

If you are in Europe, use Cardmarket instead.

 

About Kagros:

Aether Hub News Team member. Writing thoughts on Magic news and fun gameplay!

Comments

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2 comments

The_Magician
Great Article thx :)
Intrepid_Tautog
Great article, dude. Very cohesive!
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