Casual Magicking - Booster Fun: One

By Irvan Adinata - 31 May 2021 (06:35)

#MtG #TCG #Magic #Pack #Boosters

iniquitous – adjective : grossly unfair and morally wrong

“Just buy singles.”

“Cracking packs is a waste of money.”

“Boosters are for draft.”

“Standard booster boxes are worthless.”


I get it. Really, I do. Boosters aren’t for everyone. Oodles of players would prefer to spend their cash on singles. Fair enough. But must so many people scoff at or try to shame players who enjoy cracking packs?

Today (and next time, and probably the time after that, since this topic got away from me) I’m going to defend the simple act of opening a booster pack “for fun.”

What would YOU do if you had these?

And why not start there – fun. I want to establish, up front, that (almost) all of us are perfectly happy to pay for experiences. Going to a movie, eating at a favorite restaurant, traveling on vacation – these are things many of us enjoy that have few, if any, tangible benefits. We pay for them because we hope to enjoy the experience, and perhaps retain some happy memories.

And of course your own preferences dictate what experiences you’re interested in and what you’re willing to pay for them. My mother thought anything more than $5 for a movie ticket was unacceptable extortion, even if that purchase might have made her children happy for a few hours. My father simply hates the entire theater experience and has refused to go to the movies for decades, but he gladly pays hundreds of dollars to sponsor jazz bands he likes to ensure they can play for an hour at a party or festival he’s attending. Those are both valid stances, and despite not agreeing with or understanding them, I take no issue with them.

Your time and your money is your business – spend it how you like.

To circle back to Magic: opening a booster pack is an experience.

Perhaps you don’t enjoy it, but millions of people do.

Perhaps you aren’t willing to spend money to do it, but millions of people are.

What irritates me is what feels like judgment from those who see cracking packs as wasteful or pointless towards the people who think it’s fun and worthwhile. Is it really so awful to imagine people enjoying things you don’t?

You can call opening a booster gambling – many people do – and I won’t argue the point. I think it’s a form of gambling the vast majority of players can (and do) engage in responsibly, and I’d much rather spend $4 on a booster pack than pump 16 quarters into a slot machine that might eat every one and pay out nothing or shower me in a colorful, noisy jackpot. But the latter is an experience many people enjoy regardless of outcome.

I’ve even seen people vociferously argue that packs are unethical loot boxes that are exploitative and predatory. If you’re honestly of that opinion, I’m baffled by your willingness to engage with a game so fundamentally built on something you find so unconscionable. Like them or not, packs are where the vast, vast majority of Magic cards come from. Even if you aren’t buying them, someone is, and the singles you buy on the secondary market are still part of the Magic ecosystem. If you want to argue the whole booster pack concept is irreparably flawed, then those singles you’re buying are not unlike blood diamonds.

But hey…most of us see the booster as, at worst, a necessary evil to keep Magic thriving.

I enjoy much of Tolarion Community College‘s content, and The Professor is a gift to the Magic community. But I disagree with him about the purpose or role of booster packs. Before Set and Collector boosters, Prof often repeated the mantra “packs are for draft.” And make no mistake – he saw draft boosters as serving one single purpose: limited play (draft or sealed deck.) And hey – it’s right in the name of the pack, put there by Wizards themselves – “Draft Booster.” Of course that’s all they’re for.

Prof’s reviews of Set and Collector boosters are, fundamentally if not completely, reviews of the financial value to be gained from opening those packs, and therefore his reviews of those products are almost universally negative. He sees little or no financial reason to open packs, and stresses to people that they shouldn’t do it for essentially that reason alone. He’s even begun to make videos advising people not to buy packs from recent sets, but to instead buy specific singles from those sets (as if Magic players are a monolith who all want to own and play with the same cards.)

I’m honestly puzzled by how strongly Prof seems to cling to this narrow view of what packs are (or can be) for. If you just have fun opening a pack, or a bundle, or a booster box…is there not value in that experience? And is it not up to the individual to decide what price they’re willing to pay for that experience (and, you know…whatever cards they open?)

Lets’ be honest: the creation of Set and Collector boosters was tacit acknowledgement by Wizards of what they, and many other Magic aficionados, have long understood: huge numbers of players like cracking packs. Many people don’t draft but want new cards, and even those who do draft still like ripping open a pack (or 36) on occasion…as an experience.

Tell me: how does a player get cards if they aren’t opening packs?

“Singles, you moron.”

Ah, so simple an answer. Let’s complicate it.