If you’re interested in Magic: The Gathering and want to get into it, one of the biggest hurdles is which packs should you buy? There are Draft Boosters, Set Boosters, Collector Boosters, Jumpstart boosters, Bundles, Gift Editions of Bundles, Prerelease packs, Commander decks, and so much more.
So where the hell should you start? Well after Googling for too long, then buying some stuff, then being sent some stuff, I finally got my head around it. Well, around it enough to tell you a great place to start.
Magic: The Gathering Starter Kit
If you and someone you know want to try the game out and see if it’s for you, then this is a great place to start. With two preconfigured decks and an easy to follow rule book, this is a banger. I recently reviewed the 2023 starter kit, so I won’t repeat myself here.
There are a few options out there from previous years, including a Lord of the Rings one. You can pick any of them and have some fun learning the game.
What if you want to have some fun, simplicity, but also want to have some variety? Well for that I cannot recommend Jumpstart Boosters enough. Buy four packs, grab two each, open them up, shuffle, and you are ready to play.
The cards in there are precon (preconstructed) half decks. This means they are definitely enough to play the game, but there are a variety of potential precons. So you get enough to be guaranteed to play, but with the added spice of variety.
Now, I should note that when it comes to the named sets, this can be confusing. Most named sets, like The Brothers War and March of the Machine, have Jumpstart boosters to play. Each of these have basically five potential decks, so don’t buy 10 of them hoping for heaps of variety. You can mix and match, for example grab two from the Phyrexia: All Will Be One set and grab two from the Dominaria United set to battle against each other.
But the best option is the Jumpstart 2022 packs. With 46 different themes you have so many options. I bought four March of the Machines packs and hit a duplicate (so three unique options). Then I bought six The Brothers War Jumpstart boosters and hit two duplicates (so four unique options). On the flip side I bought 10 2022 Jumpstart Packs and got lucky, not one duplicate.
It’s the luck of the draw, but you get more draw options with Jumpstart 2022. Now, if you are looking for the Wilds of Eldraine Jumpstarts, there aren’t any. There is a review of that set coming, but for now, note that isn’t an option.
Draft Boosters, Set Boosters, Collector Boosters
This is where you make your own decks all by yourself. So your packs may come with all kinds of colours, not a lot of land cards, and varying rarity cards. If you are getting into the game, this will be the hardest and most expensive way to set yourself up.
The Draft Boosters contain one land card, nine common cards, four-ish Uncommon cards, and one-ish Rare cards. These ones are pretty good value, but don’t have much rarity or variety to them. They are commonly used for sealed events where you get a bunch, make a deck from what you have, then compete with others that have made their decks.
Set Boosters cost more, have less cards, but contain chances for more rares and more variety. These ones are my personal favorite because it is totally random, and entertaining as hell to open. They can come with art cards which aren’t able to be used in the game, but look pretty. These are on top of the 12 cards you will get, so it’s a bonus.
Collector Boosters are shiny. They come with a varying number of cards, so check the set they belong to, but the Wilds of Eldraine one comes with 15 cards. They have varying rarities, but there is so much shiny in there. The commons… are shiny, the uncommons… are shiny, and the land is … .shiny.
Comparing booster to booster, this is by far the coolest, but they cost a lot more. You can generally grab four other boosters for the price of a Collector booster. So while they are cool as hell, they are expensive as hell. So shiny though.
You will also find the term booster box a lot. That is literally just a box of boosters. You know how you see them all in a box on the store shelf? Well you are buying that whole box. They quite often have a bonus card as well called a box topper. For the most part though, it’s a giant stack of boosters as a decent price.
These are also precons. Each box has a 100 card deck ready for you to play a Commander game with. This is a specific game format which because they are so big, it will take a while to get into if you collect your cards. A precon Commander deck has you ready to go. You and a mate can grab one each and play your first game of commander, or you can buy one and head down to your local game store on one of their Commander nights.
These decks are damn good value, and come with some additional stuff like token cards and usually a Collector Booster sample pack, so you can have a few extra shiny cards.
Now, I have bought one of these and been sent one, and have to say I like them a lot. They come with eight set booster packs, and the value has already been made. On top of that they usually have a nice shiny promo card, 20 shiny land cards, and 20 standard land cards. There are a few variations of the game you can play with the set boosters, but if you are looking to buy set boosters, then these are consistently damn good value. They also come with a large life spin down die, which looks really nice, and a nice sturdy box to keep your growing collection in.
I cannot recommend these enough for the fun of opening packs. The bonus bits in there help make it a great option. There are also Gift versions of the bundles. They are the same thing, but with a Collector booster included. So make the call on if you want the Collector Booster. Remember, shiny, but expensive.
These come with six draft boosters and the value is already locked in. On top of that they come with a promo card, a life spin down dice, and a box to hold it all in. They also have instructions for a prerelease draft. This is where you basically open the draft booster packs, make a 40+ card deck from them, and play with that deck.
A lot of local game stores do pre-release tournaments where you make your deck like everyone else, and then compete against each other. This is a fun way to get into deck building, as everyone is working from the same number of random cards. If that is too unnerving, then you and a mate can buy a pack each and go head to head. But seriously, it turns out these game stores love newbies, so get down to one. If you are in Whanganui-a-tara or anywhere near Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai, I highly recommend checking out Bea DND. All my social games so far have been there, and they rule. It is well worth the drive from Te Awa Kairangi ki Uta to enjoy great people!
Where to spend your money!
Want to start playing the game? Grab a couple Jumpstart Boosters or Starter Kit. Want to open packs for the fun of it? Grab one of the boxes of packs. Want lots of shiny things? Collector Boosters are pretty awesome.