How Play Boosters will affect your Drafts

Scuffle D Lux walks us through how the new booster type, Play Boosters, will change the way we Draft and play Limited

Beginning with Murders at Karlov Manor in 2024, Set Boosters and Draft Boosters are merging into a single draftable Play Booster

In short:

  1. Collector Boosters aren’t changing
  2. Set Boosters are popular and make Wizards of the Coast a lot of money, However…
  3. Separating booster packs into Set and Draft boosters hurt the community, local game stores, and an individual player’s ability to play Magic.
  4. SO these are being combined into Play Boosters, a draftable for of Set Boosters.

Setting aside my issues with profitability and monetizing the solution to a self-created problem, I think this is going to be great for draft. Here’s why.

How will Drafting actually change?

The layout of these boosters is as follows:

(“Wildcard” here refers to a random card within the set, as opposed to an MTGA wildcard, despite using the MTGA wildcard symbol)

This might look like a lot, but it’s not too far off of what draft packs have looked like for the past decade. In March of the Machine, each pack had:

1 Basic/Dual Land – 7 Commons – 3 Uncommons – 1 Rare/Mythic – 1 Ad/Token/Helper/DFC Proxy – 1 Battle (Uncommon/Rare/Mythic) – 1 Bonus Sheet Legend with 8% chance of “Planar Booster Fun” Treatment(Uncommon/Rare/Mythic) –  1 slot 33% chance any rarity traditional foil/67% chance common

Yes that feels like a lot, but March of the Machine was an exceptional draft format with the same number of and rare slots as a Play Booster. Wilds of Eldraine is currently a fantastic format with only two fewer pack slots.

14 (draftable) Cards

Draft Booster packs have always contained 15 cards, but only because Richard Garfield arbitrarily chose that number at the very beginning. This ended up being a perfect number for draft pods of 8 players, with all but one player seeing a card from a given pack two times. Dropping the number of draftable cards in a pack results in each player opening three fewer total cards,24 fewer commons seen per draft, and one fewer card coming back around the table each pack.

This may have been an issue 10 years ago, but when was the last time you didn’t struggle to cut cards out of your draft deck? I’m looking forward to formats where more “weak” cards get played, because we haven’t had any actually weak or unplayable cards in modern drafts.

Too many rares?

EDIT: Mark Rosewater has announced the percentage chances of opening more than one rare card on his blog, making the rest of this section inaccurate. The chances of multiple rares in each Play Booster are:

2 Rares: 37%

3 Rares: 4%

4 Rares: Less than 1%

If we assume Murders at Karlov Manor will have a similar distribution of cards across rarities as Wilds of Eldraine/March of the Machine:

  • The chance your pack will have at least 1 rare/mythic is 100%
  • The chance your pack will have at least 2 rares/mythics  69% (1- (0.56*0.56))%
  • The chance your pack will have at least 3 rares/mythics is 2% (1- (0.56*0.56*0.968))% 
  • The chance your pack will have at least 4 rares/mythics is 0.6%

Yes, this means that there can be as many as 4 rare/mythic cards in a given draft pack. However, the card from “The List” has only a 3.12% chance to be rare/mythic, while wildcards have a 44% chance to be rare/mythic (Assuming a similar rarity distribution to WOE). This means the chance of having 4 rares in a pack to ~0.6%.

This is slightly higher than having 2 rares in a draft booster of WOE or MOM, but not enough to completely change the way you draft.

In conclusion

Yes, things are going to change a little. No, this isn’t a bad thing. Wizards will still make a great set and it will be fun to draft, or they won’t and it wouldn’t have been great in a draft booster. Whatever complaints I have about Wizards of the Coast, they’ve been consistently curating amazing draft experiences for the past 3 years, and I’m confident they can adjust the sets themselves to this new pack design. Mark Rosewater has already announced numerous changes at the design level that sound promising, with more interaction at common and uncommon and more “sideboard” cards at the uncommon level. Complain about prices if they bother you and hopefully something will change, but I’m going to trust R&D to keep these great draft experiences flowing.

  • Scuffle D. Lux

    Scuffle is a Demon Gambler Vtuber with 23 years of drafting experience. He’s been ranked Mythic in MTG Arena every season for the past two years, with three Mythic Rank 1 finishes, two MTG Arena Limited Open wins, five SCG Open Top 8 finishes, and two Grand Prix Top 8 finishes. He streams regular educational draft content and loves turning data into useful information to help your draft.

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