Are Set Boosters Worth It? A Comparative Analysis of Draft and Set Boosters

Magic the Gathering is a much more complicated game now than it has ever been. Not only has it been proven it is the most complex game[1], but there is so much different product and different ways to buy new product than there has ever been. I am not the old man proclaiming that things are better back in my day, than they are now, I think change is a good thing. I was excited when Wizards announced a different booster back around a year ago with Throne of Eldraine, the infamous collector’s booster. Collector boosters are not my thing, but I do see the appeal to the gambler in all of us. You can spend about 5 times that of a normal booster but have the chance to hit a major value jackpot or completely waste your money. I was happy to continue with my “regular” booster buying ways. This all changed however, when Wizards announced the set booster, with Zendikar Rising. A “regular” booster pack contains 15 cards with 10 commons, 3 uncommons, 1 rare/mythic rare, 1 basic land, and 1 token, but set boosters contain 12 cards with 1 art card, 1 basic land, 6 thematically-related commons and uncommons, 1 showcase or alternate art card, 2 “wildcards” of any rarity, 1 rare/mythic rare, 1 token, or list card. List cards are cards from a list of cards not in the set. Set boosters were marketed for people who want to collect the entire set and are on average $1 more than a draft booster and advertise “guaranteed foil and up to 4 rares in each pack”.

I was very intrigued with this announcement. I usually buy at least one booster box a set, sometimes two. With every booster box I usually get a playset or almost a playset of each common, on average one to two of each uncommon, and then a crapshoot when it comes to rares. I like to play in local tournaments and Friday Night Magic, when available, so the chance of getting more rares and uncommons, usually the more playable cards, appealed to me. The price of $1 more did not seem that much more than a normal box and decided to give it a try. This is where the purpose of the article starts. I decided to buy a box of draft and set boosters and try to parse which would have the better value to me.

I bought both boxes at the LGS for LSG, Spanky’s card shop in Kansas City, Missouri. The draft booster box cost $94.99 for 36 packs and the set booster cost $149.99 for 30 packs. This comes out to set boosters being almost twice the cost of draft boosters, $5.00 vs $2.64. More than double than the wizard’s advertised $1 more a pack. Another thing to take in account is that the set booster box also does not come with a buy a box promo that the draft booster box does.

I first opened the draft booster box. In this box I opened, 365 commons, 111 uncommons, 33 rares, and 5 mythic rares. I also got a playset of 46 different commons and no fewer than three of each common. I also got at least one of each uncommon. I am not going to go over each card opened but it was not a stellar box in terms of value, but it was in terms of playable cards. In the current state of standard Omnath, Locus of Creation is dominating standard and is currently the most expensive card. I sadly did not get that card as one of my mythics.

Next, I opened in the set booster box. Int his box I opened, 190 commons, 101 uncommons, 35 rares, 4 mythic rares, and 8 list cards. Since there is a possibility of getting more than one rare a pack, I also counted that instance as well. I opened 2 rares in one pack three times, 3 rares in one pack twice, and 4 rares in one pack zero times. I found the fact that I did not get a single booster where I got 4 rares interesting. I did not figure it would be a common occurrence, I thought them advertising it on the box, meant it would happen at least once, but sadly it did not. The list cards I got were nothing two exciting the best cards being a Lotus Bloom and full are Terminate. I will not that the art cards that come in the packs are cool. I do not know what purpose they serve besides solely collecting but they are a nice touch. You can get cards that are not technically in the set, for example I got a Flooded Strand, as one of my cards but the rest were from the set. My promo card in each box was a Flooded Strand as well.

The numbers show us I got 175 more commons, 10 more uncommons, 2 fewer rares, and 1 more mythic rare in my draft booster box in comparison to my set booster box. I will have to say considering the cost of each booster is almost double with the set booster I was disappointed with the results. There were several boosters where I only received 2 uncommons in a booster pack, which I find very deceiving. In the end it worked out that I received more uncommons per booster in the set booster than I did in the draft booster, but that is over the course of opening an entire box. I can only imagine just buying one booster and receiving that value.

In conclusion, going forward if I am only going to buy one booster box of a set I am going to go with the draft boosters.The cost of the draft booster is significantly less, and you receive more cards.Granted the biggest difference is in commons but if your goal is to collect most of the set, you get closer to that by buying a draft booster box.You can take the money you save and easily buy the uncommons you are missing.I will say that if I decide to buy two boxes of a set I will go with a draft booster and a set booster.The reason for this is because you do end up with an excess of commons, sometimes 10 copies of the same card.I do not have the space to keep this many copies of a card and end up giving them to friends.The set booster box does give you fewer commons and more uncommons and rares per pack, so I see it as a compliment to the draft booster box.I am disappointed in wizards for falling short on set boosters.I believe there is a good opportunity to take advantage of the middle market


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