Magic: the Gathering’s Theme Boosters Are Perfect for Casual Players

Magic's new theme booster packs are the perfect way for casual players to build their decks.

Magic's new theme booster packs are the perfect way for casual players to build their decks.

I’ve been a casual Magic: the Gathering player for almost a decade now. I’ve tapped many lands, drawn a ton of cards, and said the words, “I Counterspell your Lava Axe” more than any human being reasonably should.

Like many of my fellow casuals, I have alternated between pouring my money into MtG’s booster packs and purchasing carefully-selected singles at a premium. Ultimately, though, I have been left unsatisfied by both options. But with the recent Dominaria and Guilds of Ravnica expansions, Wizards of the Coast has begun offering a product in the healthy middle of those two choices, and it’s perfect for casual Magic players like myself.

I’m talking about Magic’s new theme boosters. 

Magic: the Gathering’s regular booster packs are great ways to build up your card collection, but they’ve never been the best ways to get specific cards. Regular boosters contain 15 pseudo-randomized cards that can be from any of the game’s five colors.

The problem is that since most Magic decks can only contain two colors at a time (and sometimes a small amount of a third) and still function properly, the majority of the cards in booster packs are irrelevant to a single deck. For more involved players — ones that want to build and play with multiple decks per set and can utilize most of these cards — this is fine. It’s great for collectors too.

But for casual players like myself who only plan on making about one deck per set, this leaves us with a big collection of unusable cards that just take up space in our drawers. 

The flip side of that coin is purchasing Magic cards as singles, usually from a local game store or online. This allows you to pick and choose exactly which cards (and how many of them) you want for building your deck.

For competitive players, this is usually the best option and is almost essential in order to meet the demands of the current meta. But it also requires a ton of pre-planning with deck-building tools and a willingness to empty your wallet, as single copies of good cards can sometimes reach upwards of $20 per card.

In terms of both planning time and cost, that’s a pretty discouraging barrier for casual players. 

But theme boosters bridge that gap.

Unlike regular booster packs, MtG theme boosters contain 35 cards in the color(s) specified on the pack. So if you open one of the Dominaria set’s red theme boosters, you will only get cards that can be played in a red deck (red, colorless, lands, etc.). If you open a Guilds of Ravnica Golgari theme booster, you will only find cards that can be played in a green-black deck. 

This means that for casual players like myself, theme boosters are the ideal way to gather the cards you need. Every card in that 35-card pack has a shot at getting in your deck. It’s more efficient than buying regular booster packs and much cheaper than purchasing all singles.

I’m not here to deride booster packs or singles, of course. They’re great for their respective audiences and I know they’re an integral part of the CCG business model. But offering card packs that are weighted toward a specific deck type is a fantastic option that greatly benefits casual players, and it’s one that I’d like to see more card games embrace in some form or another.

I’m looking at you, Hearthstone

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