Set Boosters and Draft Boosters Slated to be Combined as Play Boosters
Earlier during the day, Mark Rosewater stated in an official WoTC blog post that a new type of booster is going to be introduced in Magic: The Gathering. Play Boosters, as they are named, will combine the old Set Booster and Draft Boosters. As to why is this happening, and its implications for the game, MaRo detailed within the same post, summarized as follows:
Set Boosters were originally conceptualized around 2018, as a response to the piece of data revealing that the majority of players who open MTG boosters do not play Limited format games with them. This led to the regular boosters being renamed Draft Boosters, separating the inherent value between them.
According to the report, this decision to split the two product categories was a wild success. However, this very success is now creating the reasons for making the new Play Boosters, enumerated into the next following list.
Why Play Boosters Were Needed
- Set Boosters eclipsed Draft Boosters - the popularity difference created stock issues. For instance, Draft events couldn't be held at certain smaller LGS because only Set Boosters were available. They were the more popular ones, after all, so it was the safer financial investment for these minor locations. Some tried to use Set Boosters for Draft, but naturally failed to do so.
- Inventory issues - unsold stock is a general problem for any type of store, even more so with the item disparity. Before, only one type was sold so inventory management is easy. Now, if you get too many Set Boosters, you can't do Limited events. Get too many Draft Boosters, and you might not even be able to sell most of them in the first place.
- Marketplace confusion - the distinction just isn't apparent all the time with all customers. How are you even supposed to differentiate between two boosters of the same expansion, but different types all the time anyway? This still happens to experienced players, by the way, so this is not just restricted to newer 'initiates'.
- Makes some boosters less desirable - causes friction with the priority of certain players. Participation would be split if some want to open Set Boosters as soon as possible, as opposed to those who want to keep the Draft Boosters to play more Draft games.
- Not all booster buyers gets the cool stuff - those who focus on one type of booster only get half the intended experience of the booster.
How Play Boosters Will Be Made
Technically, the main approach was to make the more popular booster, the Set Boosters, as playable as Draft Boosters, theoretically achieved by doing the following:
- Increase the number of cards in a booster - art cards and token cards were combined into one slot, and then two more cards were added
- Balance the colors - remove the thematic connection between commons and uncommons
- Shift ratio rarities - Ideally should still have 1-4 rares/mythic rares, and have more commons to compensate
- Set design change - more variance in slots, adding more "outside" cards, the structure of all cards in a set would also be different
The Ideal Play Booster?
Based on the objectives above, Mark Rosewater enumerates what they want a Play Booster should be:
- Definitely commons for the first six slots
- 7th slot is either another common or The List card
(87.5% generic common, 9.38% The List common, 1.56% The List rare/mythic, 1.56% Special Guests card)*
- 8th-10th slots are uncommon
- 11th slot is a rare/mythic rare
- 12th slot is a land
- 13th slot is a non-foil Wildcard
- 14th slot is a traditional foil Wildcard
- 15th slot is a Non-playable (65% token/play aide/ad card, 30% - art card, 5% - art card with signature)
(*As part of this update, The List will also be trimmed down from 300 cards to 40, with 30 commons/uncommons, and 10 rares/mythics)
Compared to Set Boosters, Play Boosters Have:
- +2 Playable cards
- No connected commons or uncommons
- -1 Non-foil wildcard
- -1 Nonplayable object (The token and art cards were different slots in the Set Booster.)
- Only a 1-in-3 opportunity of an art card (Set Boosters always had an art card.)
Compared to Draft Boosters, Play Boosters Have:
The potential to open up to 4 rare or mythic rare cards
- -1 Playable card
- -3 Commons
- +1 Non-foil wildcard
- +1 Traditional foil wildcard
- A 1-in-8 opportunity of getting a card from The List (The List didn't appear in Draft Boosters.)
- Roughly a 1-in-3 opportunity of an art card (Art cards didn't appear in Draft Boosters.)
A Refreshing Change, or Another Marketing Ploy?
Murders at Karlov Manor will be the very first MTG set to feature Play Boosters, so The Lost Caverns of Ixalan and Ravnica Remastered will still follow the old booster release format. Price will be similar to Set Boosters, and the number of boosters per box will be similar to Draft Boosters (36, so two boxes are exactly enough for three 8-player drafts).
While this is a significant boost for Set Boosters in terms of number of cards and technical variety, this actually feels like a downgrade from Draft Boosters; you now have to pay slightly higher to be able to draft the same way using Play Boosters. Players are generally also worried that pre-releases with Play Boosters are going to be much more of a hit-and-miss, demanding a higher minimum amount spent just to make your pulls "safer".
That being said, the blog post reassured players that the rare/mythic rare card ratio per dollar spent should remain the same. So there's that at least?
In any case, this doesn't change the fact that with the price increase and projected stabilization of sales by removing product confusion, WoTC simply aims for products moving forward to perform better in raw sales. All of the details mentioned here are just a way to make the newer version seem appealing. Which... in some ways, it really is kind of interesting. But for the same magnitude, we are also now headed in yet another different direction with regard to our basic enjoyment of the game.
.. And we won't exactly know how things will truly roll until after February next year.
A witness since the time the benevolent silver planeswalker first left Dominaria, ChrisCee has since went back and forth on a number of plane-shattering incidents to oversee the current state of the Multiverse.
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