Every Thursday afternoon - usually at about 5pm EST - Wizards hosts a weekly stream on the official Magic channel. This stream is used to catch people up on Magic related news, announce new products, or even just interview notable people within Wizards and do Q&A's with their chat. On October 10, Gavin Verhey teased a new announcement on Twitter to the surprise of many. When it came time to make the announcement, we were introduced to the sweet Unsanctioned but also the all new Mystery Boosters with more details coming during MagicFest Richmond.
Well this weekend, MagicFest Richmond came and went alongside Mythic Championship VI and with it came most of the details of the Mystery Boosters. Dressed like secret service members, Gavin and team arrived on the scene with a briefcase of boosters and they were distributed accordingly, finally opened eventually to the whole world. What players saw stunned them. The very first card popping out of the deck was what looked like a play-test card created by R&D and entering the hands of players for the first time.
Many ranged from reasonable, if a bit unusual, to completely off the rails. Cards like Five Kids In A Trenchcoat or One With Death got tons of people talking, to name a few. And that's to say nothing of Time Sidewalk which puts token copies of freakin' Time Walk into your deck! It was so much to take in but one thing was for sure: once people figured out what they were looking at they were quickly falling in love.
What had a bit more of a mixed reaction were the cards behind the play-test cards: a whole smorgasbord of different cards. We saw everything from draft chaff jank to cards like Bloom Tender and Mana Crypt. The thing that particularly stood out, though, was that each of these cards was an exact reprint of cards across a vast array of sets, from the most recent blocks to supplementary sets like Commander and Planechase, and even some old sets all the way back to Mirage.
A number of players decried the product as feeling like mystery packs and the like, but as more information trickled through, it's clear that they were something else. As Gavin Verhey later described the set, it's somewhat like a chaos draft meets Future Sight thanks to the play-test cards. There's also nearly 1700 cards in the main set, so the wide swath and mix of cards you can expect to find in these events means you likely won't get more than one of a single card, making it almost kind of like a Cube as well.
Here's what a Mystery Booster might look like, per Gavin Verhey:
Went on WeeklyMTG to answer some Mystery Booster queries! It's Chaos Draft meets Future Sight. Each pack has 2 C/U of each color, 1 Multi C/U, 1 artifact/land C/U, 1 playtest card, 1 M15 forward R/M and one pre-M15 card in its original frame. Here's the pack we showed!#wotcstaff pic.twitter.com/Joxl3If06r— Gavin Verhey (@GavinVerhey) November 7, 2019
Basically there's a healthy mix of, well, everything here! You can get numerous commons and uncommons, as well as an old frame card with either the original card frame or the 8th Edition frame. On Monday, the full details dropped including a full list of cards in the set. At the same time, Gavin tweeted out a list of cards that are either in the M15 frame rare slot or the old frame slot, and players started noting a few cards you could find in the common/uncommon slot.
Here's a small sampling of standout cards you can find in those slots:
This is only a small number of the great cards I found when poking through the set. I had a more in-depth look here on Twitter (albeit with names cropped off for better visibility) but it's easy to say there's no shortage of great reprints in this set across all rarities. This is exciting, as it means lots of fun reprints for a variety of formats make it in and your value can literally come from anywhere in the pack as opposed to just in the rares.
Flipping through the visual spoiler on Scryfall made me note that Energy Field was in this set and, more importantly, wasn't on the Reserved List. A number of cards from that era continue to surprise me that they're able to be reprinted. There's so many great cards that you can open. Even a lot of the bulk is still wild fun for making an open draft experience. Speaking of, how do I expect this to play? I'll let MPL member Autumn Burchett give their experience directly from Richmond:
To clarify; normal chaos limited has many set-based synergy cards that don't work in that environment. Too many unplayables.— Autumn Burchett (@AutumnLilyMTG) November 8, 2019
A curated set of 1500ish cards maintains the chaos feel but lets decks actually be functional, good and fun to play.
(also the playtest cards are dope) https://t.co/Pifson1mnT
Essentially, this is exactly what many of us hoped for: chaos draft, but as Autumn mentions, it's also a bit more coherent than a chaos draft. While the appeal of a chaos draft is that you just open a bunch of random packs and go to town, there's also a lot of concerns about trying to make a somewhat synergistic deck and not really always being able to. For example, Kaladesh block relies heavily on the energy mechanic, Mirrodin relies on you having lots of artifacts, Kamigawa cares about you having spirits or arcane cards. You get the picture. A lot of times you'll end up with a solid amount of unplayable garbage but there's far less of that here and a solid enough of a mix that you can make it work more easily.
As you may already know, I'm a huge fan of chaos drafts, having wrote an article on what I'd consider a Cube to look like for the draft format earlier in the year. At this point, however, I may have to change my idea to look something more like this with more even distribution and perhaps even just take a full set of this and add a few select cards to juice up the power. We don't even know everything the set has to offer just yet with 121 foil cards still to come in place of the play-test cards in the retail version that hits stores in March.
While this may not be for everyone, it's good to know that Wizards is making an effort to appeal to a greater variety of players and I'm here for it. Mystery Boosters seriously excite me and I can't wait to draft this set for a long, long time. If you're at a MagicFest in the coming months, make sure you get out there and give this Limited experience a chance!
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