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MTG gets crappy new boosters, with no guaranteed rares

Wizards of the Coast is trialling new ‘Value’ boosters with fewer Magic the Gathering cards and no guaranteed rares, despite earlier flubs.

MTG Bloomburrow value boosters - two sky blue booster packs with a happy otter wizard on the front

On Tuesday, Wizards of the Coast quietly announced it was launching a new Magic the Gathering booster product, so-called ‘Value’ boosters. While the price for these boosters has yet to be revealed, the contents are worse in every way than regular ‘Play’ boosters, with half as many cards, and no guaranteed rares.

Value Boosters will launch alongside the upcoming MTG set Bloomburrow, and will be available at as-yet unnamed “select retailers”. They’ll contain three common cards, two uncommons, one ‘wildcard’ of any rarity, and a seventh card that may be “a land, a traditional foil, or a Special Guests card”. The specific percentage chance of getting rare MTG cards in either the wildcard or seventh slot has yet to be announced.

MTG March of the Machine Aftermath epilogue booster box - a blue display box containing booster packs, with art of three heroes walking towards the viewer

I am, on one level, amazed that Wizards of the Coast is continuing with its disastrous attempts to sell cut-sized Magic the Gathering boosters. The first attempt to do this was in five card boosters for March of the Machine: Aftermath. That was such a massive flop that Wizards chose to remove a similar set from the MTG release schedule entirely, even though it was ready to print, cramming the cards into Outlaws of Thunder Junction as a bonus sheet instead.

The MTG Universes Beyond Assassin’s Creed set released on July 5, sold in ‘Beyond’ boosters containing seven cards. The success of that set remains to be seen: Wargamer’s Matt Bassil called it “a set made for no-one”, but some cards are seeing price spikes thanks to demand from MTG Commander players.

The choice to release seven card boosters rather than Commander decks for Assassin’s Creed feels like Wizards AB testing different booster products, trying to find the minimum number of cards that Magic players will willingly buy.

MTG Assassin's Creed beyond booster box - a cardboard display box of white booster packs, with art of a leaping assassin

But in the case of Bloomburrow Value boosters, I believe something else is at play. I think these products are going to be aimed at children, and will be priced accordingly. The “select retailers” Wizards alludes to in its announcement will be big box stores like Walmart and Target.

Basic Magic booster prices have floated out of pocket money range for many kids. Partly that’s to do with stagnant wages for parents, and therefore stagnant allowances. Partly that’s because Wizards has increased the wholesale price on its booster products, particularly with the transition to Play boosters.

Adult collectors also have a role in price rises too. Wizards removed the MSRP from its products some time ago, allowing retailers to charge what the market will bear for the product. Prices go up when products are in demand, while collectors sweep the shelves when they find a retailer selling for below market value.

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I suspect the absence of a guaranteed rare in Value boosters is, in part, specifically supposed to deter collectors, so that these boosters stay in stock for kids to buy.

Will they want to buy them, though? I don’t think this booster type is being launched with Bloomburrow by accident – the theme is very child-friendly. But how well Value boosters compete against Pokémon cards – which have ten cards to a pack, and an already-beloved roster of familiar characters – remains to be seen.

We’ve recently rechecked and refreshed our guide to MTG Arena Codes to find all the ones that still work, to unlock free digital boosters for you MTG Arena decks.