Play Boosters

MTG Play Booster Q&A Recap

Full transcript of the Play Booster Q&A session on the Magic: The Gathering Discord.

Table of Contents

A new type of Boosters have been announced called the Play Boosters, which replaces the Draft and Set Boosters starting from the expansion Murders at Karlov Manor (the one after The Lost Caverns of Ixalan). There has been a lot of talk among the community regarding this change, so the Magic: The Gathering team at Wizards of the Coast held a Q&A session on the official Magic: The Gathering Discord server. Below is the full transcript with all the questions and answers.

Answering questions from the community today will be Magic Head Designer Mark Rosewater (MaRo), Product Architect Mike Turian (Mike), VP of Game Design Aaron Forsythe (Aaron), and Principal Design Economist Chris D’Andrea (Chris)

We start with an introduction from MaRo, Mike, Aaron, and Chris, with a little bit of background on each of their times at WOTC before jumping right into the Q&A. These questions were all submitted over the last few days to the official Magic Discord.

Q: With the play boosters decreasing the number of commons in a pack, is there any concern with the increased amount of complexity facing the players?

A: (Aaron): Not any more than usual. Drafting is a high-cognitive-load experience regardless of the specific numbers of commons, and tweaking that by one or two does not move that needle. We have been rethinking our “complexity tolerance” over the past few years and have found that most players, including new players, want cards that “do things” rather than ones that are necessarily super-simple (although when we create elegant cards that check both boxes, that’s a real win). I’d say the words-per-card will stay about the same in Play Booster world compared to Draft Booster world.

Q: How much does the list dropping so drastically change what’s included on it?

A: (Aaron): It changes quite a bit. I’ll reveal a secret: I was the person that chose all the cards to be included on The List in Magic sets from its inception through Lost Caverns of Ixalan. I loved doing the deep dive into the entire back catalogue and picking stuff that was famous, goofy, and everything in between to play up the “you’ll never know what you’re going to get” experience. But that isn’t going to fly for a smaller List that is meant to be playable content, so I’ve handed the task of selection over to Reggie Valk primarily, a designer that is much more in touch with the on-the-ground playtesting of every set. There will still be sweet cards that matter in limited on the List, but in general if the team finds a card to be more disruptive than cool, they’ll swap it out.

Follow-up: Doesn’t The List then have overlap with bonus sheets?

A: (Aaron): Bonus sheets will still appear 1-per-pack, like WOE Enchanting Tales, and they’ll get new art usually. List cards are way less frequent and look like old cards.

Follow-Up: Is The List as we know it stopping with MKM? There was a moment during yesterday’s Twitch Q&A that seemed to imply we’ll be getting something different in future sets.

A: (Chris) The exact contents of The List and Special Guests will vary from set to set. We will also be changing the number and types of cards that will appear.

Follow-Up: Can battles show up on the list or as special guests?

A: (Mike) Battles are double-sided. We historically have tried to only include single-face cards as part of the reprint cards that are part of The List.

Follow-Up A: (MaRo) All the battles we’ve done so far are double-faced. : )

Q: Will the cards from the list be playable in Draft?

A: (Aaron): Yep, any Magic cards you open in Play Boosters will be draftable and playable in limited. We see it as added content and depth, and communicating that certain cards aren’t playable would be difficult and a pretty bad narrative for a lot of players. Pick cool stuff and play it!

Follow Up: But just like with bonus sheets the list cards are not standard legal just because they’re in packs, iirc.

A: (Mike): Correct

Follow Up: With the gears working to revive Standard play, are there any attempts to distinguish for newer players which cards from the List or Bonus sheets from Play Boosters are able to be used in Standard? Or will they still just be at the whims of having to use a search database as usual?

A: (Mike): The reprint cards from The List have the Planeswalker symbol in the corner (and a different expansion symbol). Bonus sheet cards typically have a different expansion symbol (and set code) as well.

Follow-Up: Did I hear correctly on the Q&A stream that “The List” will only be a Play Booster concern for Murders at Karlov Manor (forgive misspellings or technically incorrect parts of the name), so this is likely a one-and-done in the new Play Booster era?

A: (Mike) The List will continue on past Murders at Karlov Manor. We are moving away doing the pickup reprints (same art, card, expansion symbol) as part of The List

Follow-Up: So all those cards will be present in MTGA?

A (Mike): Not all of The List cards will be available on MTG Arena but the vast majority

(copying from my answer on another thread) As it says in this article, because MTG Arena’s older formats are different from those of tabletop Magic, MTG Arena worked with the Magic Play Design team on a few card swaps on The List to mesh better with MTG Arena’s formats.You can rest assured that when you draft using Play Boosters on MTG Arena, it will feel as close as possible to drafting at your local game store. I can tell you looking at the swaps that were made, it is just a handful of cards different.

Q: How will Play Boosters impact digital play? Will they just include the main set? Will MTGO have the foil slot but not Arena?

A: (Mike): MTG Arena is updating their draft events alongside the switchover to Play Boosters with Murders at Karlov Manor. MTG Arena will continue to have packs that are similar to tabletop draft boosters. There will be some small exceptions as, for example, some of the reprint cards found on The List won’t be included. A small number of rares/mythics on The List will be swapped on Arena to provide more interesting content for Arena’s non-rotating formats and you can find more information about the MTG Arena plans here –

MTG Arena doesn’t have foils so the foil wildcard slot will be a nonfoil wildcard slot.

Magic Online will mirror the tabletop Play Booster, both for Limited play and boosters sold in their store. This includes having a dedicated foil slot in each pack and matching The List from tabletop.

Follow-Up: I know it’s probably a stretch, but is there any chance that folks who think about formats like Explorer and Historic on Arena can have a few drinks with the new owner of The List ™️ to help a few choice staples trickle into the client that players have expressed interest in? Seems like a great way to get a mini “Anthology” experience with each set! Understand that those timelines are quite different and tricky. 

A: (Aaron) The Arena team will be considering that (among myriad other considerations) when they choose swaps.

Q: I realize that this doesn’t apply for Ixalan since Play Boosters don’t start until Karlov Manor, but do crossovers like Jurassic Park interact with Play Boosters at all? Also, are bonus sheets compatible with Play Boosters?

A: (Aaron): There aren’t any “crossovers” like Transformers in BRO or Jurassic Park in LCI in the short-term next few Play Booster sets. When we do get to the next one, we’ll be sure to communicate how the cards will get distributed throughout the products.

And yes, Bonus Sheets are very much in bounds and will work like they do now.

Follow-Up: Does this mean we will be getting fewer bonus sheets?

A: (MaRo) Bonus sheets will be used as appropriate. Play boosters won’t make us do any less.

Q: With The List cards being specifically selected for Play Boosters based on the Limited environment, does that mean we’re going to have fewer Common reprints in a given set?

A: (Aaron) Not for that reason. There will likely be fewer just because each set has fewer commons, period. But if we want a limited environment to have Pacifism, or a Standard environment to have Negate, we’re going to reprint them in sets like we always have. Those cards are not good candidates for the List.

Follow-Up: I’ve read somewhere that the typical sideboard cards will get cut from the common slots to compensate for fewer commons for limited. But how will standard then have its shock/duress/negate/… effects assured? Yes, rotation is now every 3 years but squeezing duress in a set with fewer commons slots will still be hard.

A: (Aaron) We’ll find a way. Making Duress an uncommon could be an answer, but if it’s important to the Standard environment, we’ll get it in somewhere, somehow.

Q: How has play boosters changed the actual composition of the set? Are there more rares and less commons to reflect the changes in the play booster?

A: (Mike): Murders at Karlov Manor has 81 commons and 100 uncommons in the main set. This essentially is swapping with current Magic sets, for example Phyrexia: All Will Be One had 101 commons and 80 uncommons. For rares and mythic rares, we are staying with 60 rares and 20 mythic rares as we have have done in typical sets.

Follow-Up A: (Chris) The change in the numbers of commons and uncommons combined with the # of slots in the Play booster means that Commons still feel common and Rares still feel rare.

Q: What changes were made to Limited design philosophy to facilitate this change?

A: (MaRo) Play boosters are making us rethink the role of commons and uncommons as they relate to limited. Commons need to be more dependable, meaning if you’re playing a deck of that color, you can seriously consider including that card. Cards that will only be desirable by a smaller number of draft archetypes or only serve a narrower effect that will probably live in the sideboard have been removed from common. Some have been moved up to uncommon, while some have been incorporated into modal effects (a path we were already going down due to “best of 1” on Magic: The Gathering: Arena). Uncommon expanding, means it’s now the home of the more niche effects which includes having more build-around cards. It also will be the home for the high synergy cards that don’t make sense at common.

Follow-Up: How do you anticipate this philosophical change as well as the 1 fewer card will impact things like chaos draft? Do you anticipate any issues with drafting these play boosters alongside traditional draft boosters?

A (MaRo): I think the play boosters will work fine in Chaos Draft as the variance is already so high.

Q: Will this affect how Universes Within cards are distributed?

A: (Aaron) I don’t think we’ve had to reckon with that particular question just yet. We’ll keep everyone informed when a set with another SLX component pops up.

Follow-Up: [MaRo] Previously said on Blogatog that Universes Within cards would be included in The List in play boosters. Is this not actually decided yet?

A: (MaRo) My answer on Blogatog was me making an educated guess (which was a mistake on my part). The actual answer is we don’t know how they will be handled yet.

Q: The article mentions color balance. Are Play Boosters going to be more color-balanced than Draft Boosters were previously, or are we just bringing it to “at least one common of each color” like Draft Boosters are now?

A: (MaRo) With only six locked common slots, we ended up choosing to guarantee four of the five colors appear in common in each booster (although the fifth color will often appear).

Follow-Up: Do you anticipate players “reading signals” out of boosters to be something that will have to be largely re-learned from the ground up given this and other changes to how draftable packs are 

A: (MaRo) I personally haven’t had any trouble reading signals.

Follow-Up (To the original question) Will this apply similarly to any modal, multicolor, and hybrid common spells in future sets as well, or will those most likely get bumped up to uncommon due to power increase?

A: (MaRo) : The proper set can have multicolor and/or hybrid cards at common. Modal cards will probably increase, at least proportionately, in common in play boosters.

Q: For limited play with these new packs, did the draft team consider that with three fewer cards in your draft pool, the ability to be flexible and pivot your draft strategy and colors cuts off sooner, making drafting flexibly much harder? If so, what have they done to address this?

A: (Aaron) On the more general topic of “How can we be sure limited is still ‘good’ after this change”?… We’ve been drafting and playing sealed exclusively with the Play Booster model for well over a year now internally, and we’re all enjoying limited as much as ever. The same very smart, very passionate people that have been bringing you all of the lauded draft formats of recent years are the ones crafting these environments as well. Limited is a very flexible format to design. We’ve made fun environments out of Mystery Boosters, Master Sets, Cubes, all sorts of things that are more different from traditional Draft Boosters than Play Boosters are. Lots of thought and iteration go into every format, and MKM and subsequent Play Booster sets are no different. It was important enough to us to facilitate this change in the first place, and we’ll do all the work to get it right every time. On the specific question about number of cards, it is true that you won’t be able to pivot quite as late as you could with one extra card per pack. But almost no one pivots that late. I was confident that cutting a card would have little tangible impact based on how many “playables” people must cut from draft/sealed decks under modern design… it’s a lot! I personally enjoy having 2-3 fewer decisions on what to cut once I lay my pool out.

Follow-Up A: (MaRo) As someone who has been drafting many sets with play boosters, the limited environments are tons of fun.

Follow Up:I’m afraid of a much higher power level of drafts now that pods will have more rares. Many sets have had their rares that read “if you don’t remove this immediately, I win”. And people like to draft removal very highly, even if they’re not going to play it, so I’m not confident printing good removal would help much against this higher power level.

A: (Aaron):  Your fears are understood. Give us a chance.

Q: Hi, I just saw Mark say that limited was in danger of being discontinued as a format without these changes. Is it actually that unpopular with how often I see people drafting on Arena? And how does the new solution help that as opposed to just consolidating pack sales?

A: (MaRo) Let me clarify a couple things. First, draft is popular. Sanctioned draft has been on the rise for the last three years. Millions of players enjoy it. Second, the issue I was talking about in the article and on my blog was an issue with the draft booster. While draft play has been going up, draft booster sales have been going down.  More and more players have decided when opening booster packs, they prefer to open set boosters, as they’re more exciting to open. The reason we chose to make play boosters was to find a way to continue supporting draft, again a popular format, while addressing the player preference for a more dynamic pack opening experience.

Follow-Up A: (Aaron) I’ll go a little deeper here. Draft is two things in one—an amazing intellectual exercise, and a fun way to build a collection. For years, we were hesitant to improve the latter for fear of “messing up” the former, and as a result our product team came up with Set Boosters, which were a tremendous innovation that I frankly think we would have never got to by simply iterating on the normal, draftable booster. And they were right—it turns out that getting cool-looking cards and chances at more rares and foils was a way bigger motivator of buying packs than the intellectual exercise. On top of that, MTG Arena offered the intellectual exercise portion, so you could get that aspect of the experience without needing physical packs. In order for physical draft to thrive, we need the “collection-builders” to want to play the format. So we’re taking all the great learnings that Set Boosters gave us and injecting the intellectual exercise into them. Hopefully now we have something for everyone.

Q: How will this affect prereleases? if the price to participate in a prerelease doubles, do you think participation will see a significant decrease?

A: (Aaron) It will be more expensive, and I don’t really expect anyone to like that aspect. But it shouldn’t be anywhere close to twice the cost; we’re charging the same as Set Boosters—the Booster most players have already shown to be their preference (noting that everyone downstream of us can charge whatever they want). All else being equal, yes, that could cause a decrease in attendance. But I’m hopeful that there’s an upside to be had here—the cost and shape of the new booster is the same one we’ve been selling the most of for the last couple of years, so giving folks that experience in a Prerelease Kit could bring players into the event that were otherwise not interested.

Q: During the Q&A you mentioned that the sideboard commons are going away. This brings up a few questions. What do you consider a sideboard common? Is it something like Negate or Mindrot or is it closer to something plumet? Does this mean we will be seeing more cards with consolidated effects in each color such as broken wings? Lastly, with these changes what will be philosophy of the sideboard in limited aside from just being a place that stores unplayed cards?

A: (Aaron) Great question, and you hit the nail on the head… although this is a shift that has been underway for a while now more due to the high percentage of draft games that happen in Arena’s Best-of-One format. If Mind Rot or Plummet would be the best cards against some expensive flying rare your opponent has, we want those cards to be maindeckable more now. Designs like Broken Wings and Skull Raid help us make that true.

Q: Hey folks! As a player who mostly plays non-rotating constructed formats, and thus Set Boosters have been my main choice of product if I‘m feeling like opening stuff. and maybe drafts once a set if the timing and occasion is right, the announcements today leave me quite confused. If I understand the net changes moving forward with the Play Boosters, Set boosters lose one slot where a rare/mythic could have been opened. On the Draft booster side, the expected price increase is probably enough to dissuade me from drafting all together. So from where i’m sitting, both booster packs are getting nerfed. Mark mentioned that “youll be likely getting more value of the boosters now” but this is honestly very difficult to put faith in given the frequency of product and reprints which makes the “increased value out of boosters” almost a non-issue here. are there any plans to increase confidence that the increased value opened is enough for it to be worth it?

A: (MaRo) Set boosters had two nonfoil wildcard slots. Play boosters have one. The percentage opportunity to get a rare or mythic out of the one play booster nonfoil wildcard slot is equal to the percentage opportunity to open a rare/mythic rare between the two set booster nonfoil wildcard slots. Yes, we changed the makeup of the slots, but we didn’t change how often you’ll get a rare/mythic rare. Your expected chance to open rares/mythic rares is roughly the same between the typical set booster and the play booster. Both play boosters and the typical set booster have an average of 1.4 rares/mythic rares.

Q: Will the Arena price to draft stay the same?

A: (Mike) MTG Arena does not plan to increase the entry cost for Limited events on MTG Arena, including Limited events that use the new Play Boosters. The cost of entry for a Murders at Karlov Manor draft will be the same as Wilds of Eldraine, The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, and other recent releases.

Follow-Up: Follow up to this, will the payouts be staying the same?

A: (Mike) Yes, in addition to entries staying the same for MTG Arena for Murders at Karlov Manor, the payouts will stay the same as well.

Q: Was there any consideration on moving to a 24-pack box? If so, what was the primary reason on 36 packs?

A:(Mike) We considered going to a number of different booster packs per display. The primary numbers we considered were a 30-count, to match what Set Boosters displays were, or a 36-count to match what Draft Booster displays were. We ended up going with 36-count as it means you can use a single display to both run a draft and have a nice number of prizes to use with the remaining boosters or run three eight person drafts. Additionally, it gives us the greatest options for including the most exciting Box Topper cards like what we have done with Zendikar Rising Expeditions or the Realms and Relic cards from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth.

Q: How will the List or Special Guest cards be balanced around draft? Will it be possible to get cards that are confusing/not playable like Command Tower? Will there be any balance on power level to avoid some players getting Vampiric Tutor and Sword of Fire and Ice?

A: (Aaron) We can easily avoid the cards that don’t function at all in the format, like Command Tower. The rest get tested just like everything else. I’m sure we’ll include some bangers, but, as we’re doing with the increased rare count in general, we’ll make sure there are maindeckable answers available. 

In general, though, I recommend imagining that YOU’RE the one opening the theoretical Sword of Fire and Ice, and not your opponents. It makes the idea seem so much cooler!

Follow-Up: Worth noting that sometimes an extremely powerful card in another format might not be as good in limited! Rystic study is in WOE and it’s honestly not very good, Hatching Plans on the other hand is incredible! Context can change with the environment

A:(Aaron) I drafted Necropotence last week but never cast it–I have to imagine its a similar situation.Oversold Cemetery, however, was hot. As the original designer of Hatching Plans, I am so tickled that it got its day.

Follow-Up: Is the new design of the list with limited in mind mirrored after the original Time Spiral draft experience with the “purple” bonus sheet?

A: (Aaron) That’s not a bad comparison. No Squires, though.

Follow-Up: I am posting on reddit that you promised us spitting slugs as we speak.

A: (Aaron): Hey, Spitting Slug is on that sheet because I played it as a 4-of in Extended long ago!

Q: Is there any chance that the ad card becomes even more rare? A lot of people don’t feel like it is even useful anymore.

A: (Mike) There are some products and offerings we will continue to advertise as part of the Play Booster release. Overall, we have been reducing the number of ad cards over time and are looking to continue to do so.

Follow-Up: Personally I don’t see much of a point to the ad cards. I’m already buying the product. Why do we need to use a slot to advertise a product I’m already buying?

A: (Mike) Often our ad cards are more for newer players, for instance when we are advertising the Store Locator, that is intended for people who don’t know that tool exists

Follow-Up: Just going to add in that double-sided ad cards are always a feel bad moment. I’ve had some trouble having enough tokens at some prerelease events (Brother’s War and Wilds of Eldraine both springing to mind immediately.). Both of those events, I ended up pulling double sided ads in my pack, and found myself wondering why one side couldn’t be a token. Any chance we can see the phasing out of double-sided ads?

A: (Mike) I hear you that double-sided ads aren’t useful compared to the ones with a token on one-side. Typically, you will see the double-sided ads on cards discussing digital offerings.

Q: Will the Foil Wildcard slot translate to a normal Wildcard slot on Arena?

A: (Mike) MTG Arena is always trying to create an authentic gameplay experience. The best way to do that here is that where paper has a nonfoil wildcard slot and a foil wildcard slot, in MTG Arena there will be two nonfoil wildcard slots (as MTG Arena doesn’t have foil cards). The cards you can get in the wildcard slot are mechanically identical between paper and MTG Arena.

Q: We know entry isn’t changing for Arena drafts; will payout stay the same?

A: (Mike) Yes, in addition to entries staying the same for MTG Arena for Murders at Karlov Manor, the payouts will stay the same as well.

Q: Will Commander set cards be included in Play Boosters, or will they now only appear in Collector Boosters?

A: (Mike) Starting with Murders at Karlov Manor, we won’t be making new Commander only content in the Play Boosters nor the Collector Boosters. While we may bring this back in the future, we have no plans to do so at this time.

Q: On MaRo’s blog he said that the total number of unique commons is decreasing, and the total number of unique uncommons is increasing. Given that this means commons will be more common and uncommons will be more uncommon, does this change how Signpost uncommons will be designed in the future?

A: (MaRo) We have no current plans to change how we use or design the uncommon signpost cards.

Follow-Up: But won’t signpost uncommons become relatively more rare, since there is an increased number of uncommons? If the signpost uncommon rarely appears, won’t that hurt its signaling effect?

A: (Chris) While there are more total Uncommons there are also more slots for Uncommons. The chance of seeing a particular Uncommon should be about the same as it was in Draft Boosters.

Follow-Up: Who’s to say some future sets don’t have more than one signpost uncommon for each theme? Different uncommon designs that play into the same theme… More uncommon design space seems spicy with possibilities.

A (MaRo): Extra uncommons do open so new design possibilities.[I believe this is supposed to read “…do open some new design possibilities]. 

Q: In terms of the edited version of the list for arena – will it be major edits, such as most or all cards being historic era cards? Or will it be mainly the same as paper with only a few non digital friendly cards removed?

A: (Mike) As it says in this article, because MTG Arena’s older formats are different from those of tabletop Magic, MTG Arena worked with the Magic Play Design team on a few card swaps on The List to mesh better with MTG Arena’s formats. You can rest assured that when you draft using Play Boosters on MTG Arena, it will feel as close as possible to drafting at your local game store.I can tell you looking at the swaps that were made, it is just a handful of cards different.

Q: With more rares potentially appearing in packs, will there be an uptick in premium level removal at Common to counterbalance this? I’m thinking Doom Blade or better level.

A (MaRo): Part of changing over how we design sets is increasing the as-fan of answers. The power level for most low rarity cards will be set to match the power level of that limited environment, and will be skewed to address the most common threats (an artifact-focused set will have more artifact removal. for example).

Q: Will there be list cards finally appearing in Collector boosters? It feels weird that being the collector product but having no access to a wide amount of cards each set.

A (Mike): Special Guests will be appearing in Collector Boosters. The reprint cards (with the same art, rules) on The List don’t appear in Collector Boosters in Murders at Karlov Manor and won’t be in the future.

Q: With the downsizing of cards at the common rarity and the increase of cards at the uncommon rarity, has there been a consideration for the quality of cards being introduced into Pauper? Cards like Experimental Synthesiser or The Modern Agemake sense at common when the majority of a release is common, but with 20 cards per set effectively being shifted to uncommon, the “window” of new commons that could shake up Pauper or be interesting includes dwindles as they’d sit at the uncommon rarity.

A (MaRo): Our philosophy with Pauper has always to just make the commons that we need to make the set function. Different environments will encourage different designs, and Pauper will absorb what works. We don’t design cards specifically with Pauper in mind. I do believe the change for play boosters will affect how and what we choose to make common, so it will impact Pauper, but I think it will take time to understand what that impact is.

Q: With the loss of ~18 art cards per box, is there any thought given to maybe releasing an art series with each set? One of each of the Art Cards from the set, with only gold-stamped ones coming in boosters? As it stands now, in order to get a full set of all 81 art cards, you would need to open at least 7 boxes for even a chance at all of them, and this is assuming they are in every 3rd pack and each one is unique.

A (Mike): With Murders at Karlov Manor we are switching from 81 Art cards being made per set down to 49. Then with Outlaws of Thunder Junction we will be going to 54 Art cards per set release. This change was made, in part, to reflect that there are fewer Art cards showing up in each pack.

Q: Mark spent a lot of time in the announcement article and in the Twitch Q&A explaining all the problems and failings created by Set boosters that led us to the brink of the death of limited. Why shouldn’t we expect that in 2026 we’ll be reading another article explaining all the problems and failings created by Play boosters? Why should we have confidence that this time Wizards has gotten it right? And if Play boosters do worse than Set boosters, will we be back at the brink of limited being dropped?

A (MaRo): Magic’s thirty-year history is one of evolution. We try things, gather feedback on them, and then adapt based on the feedback. How we design sets, themes, mechanics, even individual cards is based on technology that we’re constantly improving upon. It’s the iterative process which is the core of good game design. The creation of the set booster was a positive step forward. We discovered new ways to put together a booster pack, and the response from the playerbase was overwhelmingly positive. We’re taking everything we learned to make the next improvement, which is basically figuring out how to make the set booster playable, as limited play is a crucial part of the Magic ecosystem. It’s not an issue of getting it “right”, but of constantly learning and adapting. There are many things that Magic has done that, in retrospect, we could improve upon, but we wouldn’t have figured that out without having tried it in the first place.

Q: With the play boosters not containing commander specific cards anymore, should we be expecting a larger number of commander exclusive cards in set specific precons?

A (Mike): We vary the amount of new content in our Commander preconstructed decks based on a number of factors. For instance, our The Lord of the Rings and Warhammer 40,000 decks had additional new cards because we wanted to offer an immersive experience to those worlds that solely redoing older Magic cards wouldn’t capture. For our main set releases, we have varied the amount of new content ranging from between 10 new cards per deck up to around 18 new cards. As Commander continues to rise in popularity, we have also increased the number of new cards we are making designed for Commander. Overall, I don’t expect the removal of new Commander specific cards to impact our Commander preconstructed offering significantly.

Follow-Up: What will happen with [setname] Jumpstart exclusive cards? Now you can get them from set boosters. Will they suddenly be draftable?

A (Mike): No, while we didn’t release a Jumpstart product for Wilds of Eldraine, we had already made Jumpstart cards and included them in Set Boosters by the time we decided to not release a set jumpstart for Wilds. Going forward, there won’t be Jumpstart exclusive cards

Follow-Up: This is perhaps a tangent, but I’ve personally found it annoying that cards like Firkraag, Cunning Instigator does not have an extended-art foil except for the collector booster sample packs, a card like Unite the Coalition does not exist in foil at all, and a card like Currency Converter only exists in foil from an FNM prize pack.I would hope that this change to play boosters doesn’t make it even harder to fit all these commander foils into the remaining product(s) it can appear in.(I wish some of these more arcane details would be included in the “Collecting X” articles)

A (Mike): I do try and include lots and lots of details in the Collecting Articles. I don’t typically get down into the details on the card by card level.

Q: Was there ever any consideration for going with larger pack sizes? For example, maybe going up to 16 cards per pack, so that in a draft, you wheel something from every single pack.

A (Mike): We looked at a variety of pack sizes, mostly ranging from 12 to 15 cards. Those ranges came from the idea that we were looking to combine the best of Set and Draft Boosters, so the card counts of each was the natural starting point. After consideration and testing, 14 cards was where we ended up as it offered the best gameplay experience of Draft Boosters and product offering of Set Boosters.

Q: Will Universes Within reprints and their distribution change in any way with this? If they continue to be printed in The List, will the fact that they appear in limited games affect how Universes Beyond Secret Lairs are designed?

A (MaRo): I falsely said on my blog that the Secret Lair Magic Within cards will definitively appear on the List. I made an educated guess, but the reality is we don’t know yet how they will appear. I do know we will design Secret Lair cards to maximize them for their use in the Secret Lair. We’ll figure out the appropriate way to create the Magic Within version based on the needs of the design.

Q: Have there been any considerations for printing Arena remastered sets on paper / printing paper remastered sets on Arena? The recent SoI Remastered comes to mind for Arena > paper and the upcoming Ravnica Remastered going the other way.

A (Mike): The challenge with doing one of these products for the other platform is that we are always wanting to customize the offering to the audience. For example, with MTG Arena we are always valueing including new content that hasn’t yet been released on MTG Arena – but for tabletop, that isn’t a concern at all. We do try and build off of the products that are released. MTG Arena in particular finds individual events to run that are inspired by paper releases.

Q: Why weren’t the Ad and Helper cards finally cut completely in favor of tokens & art cards?

A (MaRo): Ad cards have been significantly cut back. The reason they still exist at all in the booster pack is it’s the only way we know to communicate with less enfranchised players, so if there are other resources they might enjoy, but not know about, we want to have the opportunity to let them know about it. Helper cards are as much a game tool as tokens, so their use should stay the same (in the sets that need them).

Follow-Up: What percentage of inserts will be tokens for draft? We already struggle to have enough for drafts/RCQs/Prereleases. Now that there will be art cards in addition to ads and learn to play I am worried. I ask because each set seems to need more and more unique tokens. We never had enough Role tokens for players drafting.

A (Mike): One thing that we did to get people started with Roles was to include a selection of Roles in the Prerelease kit. With each set we customize the token distribution with the intent of getting this to match player needs.As for the breakout %, it does vary by set making a specific breakout is tough. I’d say on average 85% times you are getting a token/ad/helper that a token will be a part of that.

Q: Mana Crypt is a “Special Guest” in Lost Caverns of Ixalan. Will future sets include cards at that power level, with the potential to be drafted?

A (MaRo): Mana Crypt is a pretty powerful card, so it’s not something we would do lightly. That said, it’s not off the table.

Q: With the choice to move to one Planeswalker per set, for the foreseeable future, is it possible that a new set might “technically” have more than one Planeswalker through The List or Special Guests?

A (MaRo): Planeswalkers aren’t off limits for The List or Special Guests.

Q: On the Twitch Q&A it sounded like The List will no longer be around after MKM and that slot will be used for different things going forward. Can you clarify that this is the case, or tell me if I misheard?

A (Mike): The List will continue on past Murders at Karlov Manor. We are going to move away from the inclusion of the reprint cards (same art, same expansion symbol as the orignal printing but adding PW symbol). So after MKM, The List will still exist but we adapting what is included on it.

Follow-Up: Does that mean they’ll still be reprints, or are we potentially looking at entirely new cards added to The List starting with Outlaws of Thunder Junction?

Follow-Up: [This is the post by Jarvan that Mike will refer to below]: I think Mike means they won´t just “throw the last art file and add a PW symbol” to them. The Special Guests are still reprints but with new plane appropiate art, the rest of the list probably follows suit without having to change the art but I guess from what was said, having the set symbol of the new set they are showing up in.

A (Mike): Jarvan clarifies what I was saying well. It is challenging to clarify between reprints that are nearly the same, reprints of cards that have new artwork, and so on.

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Mike Provencher
Mike Provencher

Mike started playing Magic in 1994 and was a DCI judge back when the most complicated question on the test was about Sengir Vampire interactions. You can currently find him on Twitter @RevilFox, or moderating Jim Davis’ Twitch and Discord.

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