The Best Way to Open Packs Just for the Fun of Opening Them
Mark Heggen, Product Architect
Hello! I'm Mark Heggen and I work on product strategy for Magic’s tabletop studio. Today I'm excited to talk to our partners in the Wizards Play Network about Set Boosters.
For most of Magic’s twenty-six year history, the atomic unit of Magic has been the booster pack. The vast majority of all the Magic cards that have ever been opened or owned came from a booster pack. For most of our customers over the years, that's what it’s meant to purchase Magic—to open booster packs.
Today we call these "Draft Boosters," but up until recently, they didn't need a name. They were just booster packs.
We've always known our fans do a lot of different kinds of things with boosters. There are a lot of different kinds of players and different use cases for a booster. But, to be honest, we've never really asked fans, what are you going to do with your booster? We've just made the booster and assumed they'll do as they like.
The use case we've always optimized for is Booster Draft. Because we had this one product that had to serve everyone, we looked to our most engaged fans and our carefully balanced draft environments and tuned the product to work for them.
But most people don't draft when they open a booster. About two-thirds of boosters that get opened are not drafted. In most cases, opening a booster is a roughly ten second experience—most people just open the booster to see what they get or to take a look at the set.
Two-thirds of all boosters are used this way, and yet we've always tuned booster packs for the other third. A couple years ago, we started to look into this, and some of that thinking resulted in a few new types of booster experiences.
First, we had the Theme Booster—built to deliver higher quantities of useful cards of a specific color for players interested in building out the size of their collections. Next it brought the Collector Booster—an over-the-top collectable experience.
And then we starting looking into a product for a different and very large group of players, which resulted in the creation of the Set Booster.
Set Boosters began with imagining a fan who's not going to draft and creating an experience that's simply the most enjoyable way for them to open cards. If we want to work backwards from that use case—just opening the pack—we'll want something different than what you find in a Draft Booster.
In this new world, we've got four different kinds of boosters, each with a very specific goal.
Draft Boosters. They're for drafting, and for Sealed, things like Prerelease, etc. If you want to actually play a match with the cards inside, you want a Draft Booster.
Theme Boosters. This is the best way for new fans to grow their collections efficiently. They have a lot of cards in the specific colors they want.
Collector Boosters. These give fans direct access to the hottest cards in the set.
And now, Set Boosters represent the best way to open cards just to open them. We came up with a variety of ways to make these fun, and here are five of the ways we're accomplishing that.
1. Extra Bling. There's at least one foil in every pack. We've done sets with a foil in every pack before, like Double Masters. This is the first time we've done it with a Standard-legal set. In fact, you'll sometimes get two foils—the land can be foil, too.
2. Highlighting the World. Some fans open boosters to dive into the art, the story, and the characters of our latest set. For them, each Set Booster starts off with an art card, which we introduced with Modern Horizons. They're not playable; there's no text—just beautiful full-bleed art.
These can be a lot of fun to collect, so with our collectors in mind each one will occasionally drop with a foil-stamped artist signature printed right across the front.
3. Rethinking Collation. Since we aren't optimizing for draft, we can do new things with the commons and uncommons. In Set Boosters, you’ll open strings of commons and uncommons connected in some way. Maybe they’ll highlight a synergy between cards, or show you three different goblins from the world, or give you an idea for a new deck.
4. Bigger Wins. Some slots in the set booster can be any rarity. It's possible to open a Set Booster with four different rares from the set. It won't happen often, but it will happen.
5. Curveballs. Finally, one of the greatest things about Magic is the scale and scope of the game. So, without having to worry about creating balanced draft experiences, we thought it’d be fun to give fans little glimpses (or reminders) of all the wild stuff the game has done over the years.
So, in some Set Boosters, instead of a token, we drop in a card from "The List." The List is 300 cards from throughout Magic history, hand-picked by Magic’s design studio to show off different pieces of the game's past. We're reprinting them in their original form, but with a planeswalker symbol in the lower left corner.
Some are super powerful cards, while others showcase some of the fun corners of Magic’s past—slivers or samurai or even an unusual frame from a long-ago set.
We pulled all those things together, sequenced them together carefully, and we ended up with a twelve-card, fourteen-object opening experience.
Again, the question is, what's the most enjoyable way to fan through cards? Not to skip to the back of the pack to see the rare, or if you got a foil, or a good first pick. What can we do, throughout your experience, to build a rhythm, and create a good unboxing experience every time you open a pack?
You and your community will find out at Zendikar Rising Prerelease on September 18. While supplies last, every Prerelease participant will get a Set Booster. We can't wait for your players to dive in and see what they're all about.
Zendikar Rising Prerelease is available for scheduling now in Wizards EventLink.