What's The Heck Is A Play Booster?!

Starting with Murders at Karlov Manor. Wizards is basically combining both Set Boosters and Draft Booster into just one product which is a PLAY BOOSTER. Here is a brief rundown from Mark Rosewater himself. (Collectors Boxes will remain the same.)

Slots #1–6: Commons

These are all common cards from the main set. In Set Boosters, you had the potential to get up to 6 commons, but that came at the cost of not getting additional uncommons, rares, and mythic rares. Note that these cards will not be connected like we did in certain Set Boosters. There will, however, be an opportunity to get Booster Fun commons in this slot.

Slot #7: Common/The List Card

Most of the time (7 out of 8, or 87.5%), this slot will be a seventh common, but an eighth of the time (12.5%), you will get a card from The List. Philosophically, the idea behind The List is that it's a group of cards chosen to make boosters more exciting to open without having to be entered into Standard.

In the past, The List has mostly been reprints of older cards. Play Boosters are going to tinker with what exactly can be on The List. For example, when Play Boosters premier, The List will include what we call Special Guests, 10 cards that are exciting reprints that we can give new art and will thematically tie into whatever set they are in. What we do with the Special Guests will change set to set. (Though The Lost Caverns of Ixalan will not have Play Boosters, Special Guests is debuting with that set, so you should already have some idea of what those will look like.)

In addition to the Special Guests, there will be 40 cards that are reprints without new art. Of those, 30 will be common or uncommon and 10 will be rare or mythic rare. This is down from the 300 cards that previous iterations of The List had.

Here's your likelihood of getting items from this slot in the first Play Booster:

  • 87.5% – A common from the main set
  • 9.38% – A common or uncommon normal reprint from The List
  • 1.56% – A rare or mythic rare normal reprint from The List
  • 1.56% – A Special Guests card from The List

Slot #8–10: Uncommon Cards

These dedicated uncommon slots are exactly as they were in the Set Booster. They will always be uncommons from the main set. There are other opportunities in other slots to get uncommons, but these three slots will always deliver them. Note that these cards, like the commons, will not be connected like we did in certain Set Boosters. Also like the commons, there will be an opportunity to get Booster Fun versions in this slot.

Slot #11: Rare/Mythic Rare

This slot appeared in both Set and Draft Boosters. This is your guaranteed rare or mythic rare from the main set. It will be a rare 6 out of 7 times and a mythic rare 1 out of 7. It can also be a Booster Fun rare or mythic rare variant.

Slot #12: Land

This slot will always hold a basic or common land from the main set. (Murders at Karlov Manor will have basic lands.) It will be traditional foil 20% of the time and non-foil 80% of the time.

Slot #13: Non-Foil Wildcard Slot

This card can be almost anything from the main set. It can be any rarity, and it has the possibility of being a Booster Fun variant. Whatever it is, it will be non-foil. Note that the Set Booster had two non-foil wildcard slots and the Play Booster has one.

Slot #14: Traditional Foil Wildcard

This is just like the last slot except that the card is guaranteed to be traditional foil.

Slot #15: Non-Playable Slot

This slot can have a variety of possibilities. It can be a token, a play aide, an ad card, or an art card. If it's a token or play aide, it will often have an ad on the back (assuming the play aide isn't double faced). MTG Arena ad cards are usually an ad on both faces. The art card can be a variant art card with a gold-stamped artist signature or Planeswalker symbol.

Here's your likelihood of getting each in the slot:

  • 65% – Token/play aide/ad card
  • 30% – Art card
  • 5% – Art card with signature

Now that I've walked through the Play Booster, I want to compare it to the Set Booster and Draft Booster to show you the differences.

Differences from Set Boosters

  • +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.)

Differences from Draft Boosters (Based on the default without a traditional foil card. Previously, Draft Boosters had a traditional foil approximately a third of the time.)

  • 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.)

When can we expect Play Boosters?

Play Boosters will premiere with Murders at Karlov Manor. This means The Lost Caverns of Ixalan and Ravnica Remastered will not have them. We're telling the world early as it will impact how stores order the product. Play Boosters will sell for the same price as Set Boosters. Play Booster display boxes, however, will have 36 boosters like Draft Booster displays did (as two boxes are exactly enough for three 8-player drafts). Because that is six more boosters than Set Booster displays have right now, be aware the price of a Play Booster display box will be higher than that of a Set Booster display box.

As with any new announcement, it raises some questions, so I thought I would take a moment to answer some of the questions I expect to get.

Will the Play Booster make Draft less fun?

R&D believes it will not. We've been working very hard for years to understand the impacts the Play Booster will have on Draft, and we've adapted how we're building the sets to accommodate. Murders at Karlov Manor was designed and balanced with Play Boosters in mind. Will there be lessons to learn as we adapt to a new system? Of course, but Magic constantly evolves, so we're pretty good at adapting.

If the Play Boosters have more rares/mythic rares on average, will that mean more bombs in Limited formats?

There will be more cards of a rare and mythic rare power level, but adapting to that (making sure players have more answers at lower rarities) is part of how R&D is adjusting our set designs. All our playtests have been done with this in mind, and they've been very enjoyable.

Why are there only 14 playable cards?

The change to the Play Booster gave us the ability to rethink how we put together a booster. Boosters have always had 15 cards (well, most of them, anyway) because that's what Richard Garfield chose to do with Alpha, years before designing for Draft was even a thing. We experimented with different amounts of playable cards per booster and found that 14 did the best job of giving us the play experience we wanted. One of the reasons we went down in commons in Set Boosters was addressing a common complaint from players that there were too many cards that didn't get used. Part of adapting to Play Boosters included making less unusable commons in Draft, which made the fifteenth card less necessary.

Will playing in Limited events cost more?

Likely, yes, Play Boosters match the cost of a Set Booster, not a Draft Booster, which will result in Limited environments going up in cost slightly. However, the expected value of the booster went up as well because there are opportunities to pull additional rares and mythic rares. So yes, you will be paying slightly more, but you'll likely be getting more value out of the boosters. Your rare/mythic rare card ratio per dollar spent will be staying the same.

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