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Every Magic: The Gathering Pack Type Explained

magic the gathering booster pack types

The world’s first collectible card game (or CCG), Magic: The Gathering (MTG) was first released in 1993. Back then, it was very straightforward to get involved with the game; all that you could buy for the first ever MTG set was a 60 card starter deck and a single type of booster pack.

Yet, as the game evolved over the next thirty plus years, so too did the types of product available; many different types of deck and booster pack have come and gone over the decades. With MTG having brought in so many new players and an awful lot of mainstream attention, thanks to sets such as Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who and Fallout, amongst others, in the last year or so, publishers Wizards of the Coast have made it easier than it’s been for a long time to actually pick up a single type of booster pack and play, or collect, the way you want to.

With the booster pack being the primary way that players and collectors interact with MTG, it’s definitely worth knowing exactly what each one is, and what it’s for.

So let’s take a look at each MTG pack, and explain them in a way that won’t drain your mana!

What Booster Pack Types Are There For MTG?

Listed below are all of the booster types that you’re likely to find at retail; note that, over the last thirty years, many different booster pack types have been released, but these are the ones you’re likely to be able to find in any mainstream, national store.

Pack TypeBest ForAre These Packs Still Being Produced?
Play BoosterPlaying Standard and Draft MTGYes
Collector BoosterCollecting special, premium cardsYes
Set BoosterBuilding up a collection of standard cardsNo
Draft BoosterPlaying Draft MTGNo
Epilogue BoosterFinishing the March of the Machine Story ArcNo
Jumpstart BoosterFor beginners or casual playersYes
Beyond BoosterFor fans of Assassin’s Creed Not yet; available from July 2024

So with that summary in mind, let’s take a more in-depth look at each type of booster pack.

1. Play Boosters

MTG Play Booster Pack

Introduced as part of the Murders At Karlov Manor set in 2024, Play Boosters simplified what had, for new players at least, become a bit of a convoluted situation for new or even returning MTG players.

So, here’s what you’ll find in a Play Booster and what they’re for.

In a Play Booster, you’ll find 14 playable cards, plus 1 non-playable card. There are 6 Common cards, 1 Common or ‘The List’ card (The List being special cards, usually reprints, the selection of which can change between sets), three Uncommon cards, 1 non-foil Wild Card (this can be anything from the main set that the booster is a part of), 1 Rare or Mythic Rare from the booster’s set, 1 Foil card of any rarity, 1 Basic Land card and, finally, 1 non-playable card, which can be a token, play aide, ad card or art card.

So that’s what you get, but what is the function of a Play Booster in MTG? Well, the Play Booster is cleverly designed to perform multiple functions.

If you just want to rip open a pack and get a taste for what the set’s cards hold, a Play Booster is perfect. If you’re intending to play draft or sealed games of MTG, again the Play Booster is designed for that purpose too.

If you to collect MTG cards, you’ll find a Rare and a Foil card in each Play Booster, but if you’re really serious about collecting a set’s rarest and most special card treatments, you’ll need the other type of booster pack that’s currently available!

2. Collector Boosters

MTG Collector Booster Pack

The only other type of booster that’s being produced for new sets (again, as of Murders At Karlov Manor, which was released in early 2024) is the Collector Booster.

Unlike Play Boosters, Collector Boosters weren’t introduced with Murders At Karlov Manor; instead, they’ve been around for a long time and survived the process that saw Draft and Set Boosters (more on those shortly!) combined, in a way, to be replaced by Play Boosters.

What’s interesting about Collector Boosters is that they don’t contain cards that are intended to be played with at all; though of course there’s generally nothing stopping you from using these cards in your deck, you wouldn’t expect to see cards from these boosters in the wild, as they’re generally just variants of existing cards that are much cheaper to acquire, and intended for repeated handling. So what do these boosters contain?

Each card in a Collector Booster is special in some way; most, though not all, are foil treated, and if they aren’t, they’ll have extended, full or an alternate art illustration, in comparison to the standard version of the card that can be found in Play Boosters.

Collector Boosters are much more expensive than Play Boosters; the contents can vary depending on the set they belong to, but in general you’ll be looking at 4 Rare or Mythic Rare cards, then 11 cards of Common or Uncommon rarity. Finally, and just as is the case with Play Boosters, you’ll find 1 Token or non-playable card, though this will be foil treated. Though that doesn’t necessarily sound all that special (aside from the increased number of Rare or Mythic Rare cards), in a Collector Booster, all cards will be foil, extended art, full art or alternative art. Perhaps even a combination of those, with foil treatment extended art cards a possibility, for example.

Are There Other Booster Pack Types Available?

Play Boosters and Collector Boosters are currently the only booster pack types being released, so now that those have been explained, surely that’s everything you need to know, right? Actually, no. Older sets had different types of booster packs, and you’ll still find these in stores. So it’s well worth explaining those to you too!

Not only that, but the Universes Beyond: Assassin’s Creed set is also launching with an entirely new type of booster; the Beyond Booster is going to be the main way into that expansion aside from Collector Boosters.

So let’s take a look at other pack types you may well find on store shelves too!

3. Set Boosters

MTG Set Booster Pack

The Set Booster, now retired and replaced by Play Boosters, was a great way to get a taster for a new expansion’s cards if you weren’t intending to play draft games, or maybe just wanted a few extra cards to build into a deck.

These would contain a mix of Common, Uncommon and Rare cards, with the ratio not being too different to what you’ll now find in a Play Booster; you’d also find a Land or art card in these packs too.

Generally, though it could vary slightly depending on the expansion, the Set Booster would contain twelve cards, comprised of 1 to 5 cards at Rare or higher, then a selection of Commons, Uncommons and a bonus 2 non-playable cards too. The varying number of Rare or Mythic Rare cards provided quite an exciting experience when opening packs, especially if you were lucky enough to find the maximum number of cards at the Rare or Mythic Rare level!

4. Draft Boosters

MTG Draft Booster Pack

Though Play Boosters simplify the purchasing experience, making one pack suitable for players looking for a fun, casual pack opening experience as well as being able to play games of Draft format MTG, previously you’d need Draft Boosters to play Draft games.

To play games of Draft format MTG, each player would need three Draft Boosters. These are then opened, one at a time, by each player, who chooses a card and then passes the rest of the cards opened to the player on their left. This repeats until all cards from the first packs have been chosen, then players open their second packs, choose one and pass to the right until all cards are chosen. With the last pack, the process is repeated but the cards are once again passed to the left.

Players will have 42 cards in total at the end of the process, plus the few Land cards they’ll have gathered from each pack.

There will need to be a personal or communal selection of land cards, so that players can build a 40 card deck from the 42 card selection, including extra Land cards to ensure they can power their spells.

You can check out a more detailed breakdown in our guide covering how to draft in MTG.

5. Epilogue Boosters

MTG Epilogue Booster Pack

These were a bit of a strange and, it has to be said, failed experiment by MTG publisher Wizards of the Coast.

Epilogue Boosters only accompanied the release of the March of the Machine: The Aftermath set, which wrapped up some loose ends from the epic March of the Machine story arc. These boosters only contained 5 cards; up to 3 could be Rare or Mythic Rare, along with 2 to 4 Uncommon cards in the pack. Up to 2 cards could also be foil treated, with a guaranteed foil and Showcase art card in each pack.

The disappointing size of the packs, the overall number of cards in the March of the Machine: The Aftermath set and the fact that they were no cheaper than standard boosters, meant that they didn’t sell well, and consequently, these ‘story-based’ booster packs won’t be revisited.

Except, they’re almost making a comeback, albeit slightly rejigged, as the next booster pack type we’ll look at: Beyond Boosters.

6. Jumpstart Boosters

MTG Jumpstart Booster Pack

One of the joys of MTG, which keeps players invested and involved even when they’re not directly playing the game against an opponent, is deck building. With MTG, you’re free, depending on what format of the game you’re looking to play and with certain limitations, to build your deck from whatever cards you want to.

Though it’s incredibly fun to do so, not to mention satisfying when you play with a deck that you’ve put together yourself (especially if it performs well!), it can be very time consuming. Not to mention the fact that often, when new sets emerge, you’ll often see similar decks being used when certain cards, combos or strategies prove successful.

In short, newer players may feel out of their depth, or more experienced players may want to just have a more unpredictable, casual game where neither player knows what cards they’ll get in advance!

Jumpstart Boosters take care of that; they’re an impressively clever creation; you can open any two Jumpstart Booster packs, regardless of what set they’re from, then shuffle the cards from each pack together and you have a deck ready to go.

You may find that decks composed of cards from the same set may work better together, but the important thing is that if each player has two packs, they can just open, shuffle and play. It’s as easy as that.

Each pack contains 20 cards, within which are at least 1 Rare or higher card (up to 2 of these may be found per pack), plus commons, uncommons and enough Land to ensure that these cards are playable. Packs have a ‘theme’ which is named, with a special card to show which one you’ve found; this will allow you to mix and match card themes at will when you’ve opened multiple Jumpstart packs, to experiment with different combinations.

Playing Jumpstart is the fastest way to get playing with MTG once you already know how to play, in a way that levels the playing field and ensures that players can’t just buy their way to victory!

7. Beyond Boosters

MTG Beyond Booster Pack
IMAGE CREDIT: WIZARDS OF THE COAST

Arriving in July 2024, the Universes Beyond: Assassin’s Creed set will be bringing a new type of booster pack to store shelves: the Beyond Booster.

These will contain just seven cards, but they’ll have 1 to 4 cards of rarity Rare or Mythic Rare, at least 1 foil card, and at least 1 full, borderless art card. So these almost feel as if they’re a more financially viable way for Assassin’s Creed fans to get their hands on some of the fancier cards without having to splash out on the Collector Boosters, which are, of course, much more expensive!

Which brings us to the end of the list; we will of course update this list if any new types of booster packs are released, or if current boosters are retired!


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