Mark Rosewater: Project Booster Fun

July 22, 2019 | 6 min to read

The below is an abridged version of Mark's deep dive into "Project Booster Fun." See the original, complete article here.

Mark Rosewater, Head Designer for Magic: The Gathering

Last year, Wizards of the Coast went through a reorganization. We shifted to what is known as a studio model, where teams are built around supporting a particular product. The team you all know of as R&D, along with a few other sections of the company, were combined into the studio for tabletop Magic.

One of the first things we did when our studio got created was ask the following question: how can we make tabletop Magic even better?

After much brainstorming and discussion, we came up with the following goal: let's improve the experience of opening a Magic booster pack. Yes, it's currently pretty fun to do. That doesn't mean, though, that we can't improve upon it.

After a lot of thinking and talking and meetings, we decided that there were two main ways to accomplish our goal: surprise and agency.

Surprise

How do we make opening booster packs more exciting? Put more cool and beautiful versions of cards in them. We formed a project team to figure out what amazing things we could do with card treatments. This investigation was called "Project Booster Fun."

Beginning with Throne of Eldraine, there are going to be three new treatments of cards in booster packs. Let me walk you through them.

Borderless Planeswalkers

 

This is a planeswalker card where the art goes all the way to the border. We used this treatment in the three Mythic Editions. Starting with Throne of Eldraine, certain booster packs will include borderless planeswalkers.

The set will still have the normal planeswalkers, as you're used to them, at the same frequency they've always been, but there are also these cool borderless versions.

Extended Art Frames

This is where we take the art on a card and run it all the way to the edge of the card on the left and right side. This was the treatment we used on the box toppers for Ultimate Masters.

Starting with Throne of Eldraine, some rares and mythic rares in certain boosters will have the extended art frame.

Showcase Frames

For each set, we're going to come up with one or more cool treatments that embody the spirit of the set. The art and frame will be a new stylized version that plays into the set's theme.

For example, let's discuss Throne of Eldraine. The set has a new mechanic in it that I can't reveal yet, but here's the new frame that will accompany the mechanic:

This the normal frame. Then for every card in the set that has this mechanic, there will exist a showcase version of the card that appears less frequently:

It's our goal that fans will get at least a handful of showcase cards in every box. All three treatments I mention above will exist in foil versions as well.

 

Agency

 

Since Limited Edition (Alpha), Magic has centered around one type of booster pack. While that booster pack might serve many players' needs, it doesn't necessarily serve them all. What if we gave players an option for the kind of booster pack they could choose?

How do we do that? By taking a step back and rethinking our booster packs.

Starting with Throne of Eldraine, players are going to have three choices:

Draft Booster

This is the booster you know, the one Magic has had for 26 years. The only change we're making to it is giving it a name. We're now referring to it as the Draft Booster. The card make-up for it is not changing (although it will have the borderless planeswalkers and showcase cards).

Theme Booster

These debuted with Guilds of Ravnica. They're aimed at players who either prioritize getting lots of cards or prefer to have more control on the kind of cards they're opening. Each Theme Booster comes with 35 cards, all focused on a theme, so the buyer has a better sense of what they're going to get.

Number of Cards: 35 cards and 1 reference card

Number of Versions: Varies (Throne of Eldraine has 5, one of each color)

Contents:

  • 1.1 rares/mythic rares
  • 33–34 commons/uncommons
  • 1 reference card

Collector Booster

The Collector Booster is aimed at the player who values collecting the cards. It's designed to be the best value if you're prioritizing collecting hard-to-find cards.

To celebrate the introduction of Collector Boosters, the Throne of Eldraine Buy-a-Box promotion will include a Collector Booster in addition to the normal mechanically unique promo card. (Supplies are limited and stores will have fewer Collector Boosters than Buy-a-Box promos for this promotion. Quantities vary by region.)

Number of Cards: 15 cards and 1 foil token card

Number of Versions: 1

Contents:

  • 1 rare/mythic rare with extended art
  • 1 foil rare/mythic rare
  • 9 foil commons/uncommons
  • 3 special frame cards (showcase or borderless planeswalkers)
  • 1 ancillary card
  • 1 foil token

This booster is a little more complex, so I'm going to walk through each slot:

1 Rare/Mythic Rare with Extended Art

This slot is a rare or mythic rare with extended art. Every rare or mythic rare from the set that doesn't already have a variant frame will be available as extended art cards.

1 Foil Rare/Mythic Rare

This slot is a foil of any rare or mythic rare from the set, including variant versions such as borderless planeswalker, extended art, or showcase cards. 9 Foil Commons/Uncommons

These slots are for foils of any common or uncommon from the set, including variant versions such as showcase cards.

3 Special Frame Cards (Borderless Planeswalkers or Showcase Cards)

These three slots will be non-foil variant cards, but not extended art. They'll be borderless planeswalker or showcase cards. These cards will all be non-foil. 1 Ancillary Card (Non-foil)

This slot is for new cards that are connected to the set but don't appear in Draft Boosters. For Throne of Eldraine, this will be the Buy-a-Box card, the new cards from the Planeswalker Decks, and the new cards from the Brawl Decks.

1 Foil Token

This slot is a foil version of a token card found in the Draft Booster. The Collector Booster is the only place these token cards will appear in foil in boosters.

I hope today's column has demonstrated that we've taken our goal of making opening booster packs more fun quite seriously.

Not only is Throne of Eldraine an awesome set (I can't wait until you see what we do with "Camelot meets Grimms' Fairy Tales"), but it's going to allow fans to interact with it in a number of new ways from opening exciting variant cards in packs to having more options to choose from when purchasing it.

Until then, may you share my excitement of things to come.