With the newest Magic the Gathering expansion, Zendikar Rising, Wizards of the Coast has introduced a new variety of booster pack. Called “Set Boosters,” these new booster packs include up to four rares and come with full art cards.
The packs are meant to be a “journey” through the set’s new setting, and will show off grouped art, mechanics, or other through-lines in the pack.
In a sense, the Set Boosters are something of a premium booster, though not as expensive or lavish as the previously-introduced Collector’s Booster. They aren’t meant to be used in Draft, either, as that falls to the long-standing Draft Pack. Instead, Set Boosters are more of a “curated” experience, “set” to take you through a particular story.
What’s in the Pack?
The packs are randomized, of course, like all boosters in Magic the Gathering. However, all Set Boosters will start with a full-face art card, which has a chance to have a foil artist signature. Behind that card will be a land. In Zendikar Rising, all lands are full art, making this a gorgeous image of a landscape.
Next in the pack are six commons or uncommons, all of which are meant to be tied together by a common through-line.
This through-line could be artistic, such as “giant monsters” or “human survivors”. Alternatively, it could be a mechanical connection, such as a shared mechanic among all of the common and uncommon cards. Following the commons, things get a bit more interesting.
The Interesting Stuff
After the commons, there will be what is known as a “head-turner” card, a card with particularly eye-catching art. These are typically gorgeous and will catch the attention of even casual fans of the game.
Behind this, there is a wildcard slot that can be a Mythic rare or a rare. The next slot is a guaranteed rare or Mythic.
The final slot could either be the most boring card in the pack or a truly eye-popping card. Sometimes, it’ll be an advertisement card, or, other times, it’ll be a token. On some occasions, it’ll be a short minigame. However, on some rare occasions, there will be a reprint from an older Magic set in this slot.
These reprints come from “The List,” a lengthy list of cards that can appear as reprints in various places in the Zendikar Rising set.
The List is expected to be with the game for some time, and the designer says they’ll plan on subtly changing its contents as time goes on.
Roughly three hundred cards are present on The List, and it’s something of a “shadow set” that floats behind new Magic sets now. While some of the cards on The List are simple commons, others are actually quite incredible reprints in terms of secondhand market value and general power level for decks.
Notably, the controversial textless, full-art Player’s Rewards cards make a return on The List.
These cards were frowned upon by some players for not having the text of what they actually do written on them, requiring players to either already know what they do or to look the cards up online.