Exploring Magic: the Gathering Booster Fun with Mike Turain

What is MTG Booster Fun and what are the good and bad of it in 2023?

Exploring Magic: the Gathering Booster Fun with Mike Turain

Project Booster Fun – a term coined in mid 2019 to recreate the fun and joy of opening card packs – was designed to include a greater variety cards than what was available before. This could be in the form of surprise cards consisting of alternate art, extended art, or borderless art treatments of regular Magic: the Gathering cards.

However, over the past couple of years, Magic: the Gathering has seen a deluge of new art variants and card foils, not to mention different product classes. While this has undoubtedly increased the level of “booster fun” that one gets from opening packs, it doesn’t come with some drawbacks. 

For example, the introduction of Set Booster packs in 2020 has seen such a huge surge of popularity that the original Draft boosters have gone down the pecking order. Set Boosters contain a higher average number of Rare cards, not to mention special bonuses like a guaranteed foil and the possibility of a special List card from Magic’s past. 

“It has been exciting to see how players love the Set Booster,” said Mike Turain, Game Architect at Wizards of the Coast. “For players who are looking to just open boosters without playing draft or sealed, we design the Set Booster for that type of player.”

But that doesn’t mean Draft players can’t have more than a slice of pie. Turain assures Draft players that they won’t be missing out on booster fun. “We are always looking on way to innovate and places to offer exciting cards within the Draft Booster, and at the same time, ensure that we are offering the gameplay our players have and continue to love.”

Set Booster packs first appeared in 2020

And while the Set Booster has a lot of good things going for it, not everything is perfect. The List, which is continually adjusted with each new set release, often contains a high number of Common and Uncommon cards that either aren’t that good in game, or aren’t actually worth anything as a collectible. Considering The List cards are hard to pull, fans are not exactly having ‘fun’ in this regard. 

“For each set, we look to bring in new cards to The List and rotate out others,” said Turain. “We typically look to add cards to The List which have a connection to the current set. So for Phyrexia, we brought in a selection of cards from the past that highlight the Phyrexians. For the cards we look to remove, they are typically cards that have either been on The List for an extended period of time or that don’t match the current set’s aesthetic.”

It doesn’t look like Commons and Uncommons are going away from The List anytime soon, but there is some comfort knowing that a considerable amount of thought goes into planning The List. Having the specific set’s cards tie in with the overall aesthetic will improve Booster Fun in some sense, though if players are brutally honest, they’d rather open a playable or valuable card rather than one that creates more question marks. 

And speaking of value, there have been concerns about how fast Wizards are releasing new types of card and foil variants. It can be fun opening the shiniest chase card in a booster pack, but the surplus can also erode the value of cards in the long run. 

“We are always looking for ways to make Magic cards beautiful and collectible,” says Turain. “As we get feedback from our players, we are incorporating that feedback to innovate on how we build out our card sets. We definitely have more innovation and treatments on the horizon, and I always love how excited fan reactions are when we reveal these sweet new treatments.”

One thing’s for sure – players still love cracking packs, whether for the thrill or “booster fun” of it, or if they’re just eager to get the latest power cards to add to their top tier decks. Continue evolving the game and card collectibility, and players will come. 

After playing from Tempest to Urza's Saga block, Ted took a 20 year break from the game before returning to the classic Plane of Dominaria in 2018. His favourite formats are Commander, Draft, and, grudgingly, Standard.

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