The War Report: The Value Proposition


In my last entry, I spoke about how I had gone to the card shop and picked up a box of boosters for the new Magic: The Gathering set, Aether Revolt. I thought that for the money, this was one of the best ways to get a large selection of cards. With 36 packs in a box, that’s a total of 540 cards. There are 184 cards in the set, but with the rarity of some cards, buying more packs theoretically increases your odds of getting some of the rarer cards, including inventions, which I ended up getting out of one of the packs (but have since found out that these cards aren’t standard legal, which kind of sucks!). You would think that picking up that many cards would be detrimental, due to the fact that it’s about double the amount of cards in the set, but because of the way the game is played, it’s advantageous to have a lot of cards. Having up to 4 copies of any one card means that buying a box can net you multiple copies of good cards that you’ll need to build decks. Having extras also bring up trade opportunities with friends. Either way, there are many options to acquire cards, you just have to choose which method works best for you.

That was the question that kept coming to mind as the set’s release date approached. Previously, I had entered back into the world of MTG during a time when 2 blocks had already been finished, and Kaladesh was still the newest set, but only part one of a block. This release, Aether Revolt, finished off the Kaladesh block, and rounds out the 3-block standard format.  Because I had multiple sets to work with, I decided that picking up some of the starter sets (Planeswalker Decks) and boxes (like the Booster Bundles) was the best way to get a collection going. From there, I bought handfuls of boosters at a time, mixing and matching from the available sets. From there, I used sites like Troll & Toad to order singles when I knew what I was working towards with my decks. I did miss the original launch of Kaladesh (and the older sets) though, so I didn’t have any pre-established collection to work with. Theoretically, I could have just purchased singles that I wanted to improve my existing Standard legal decks. You could too. Or you could take a path similar to what I did previously. Or, you could buy a box.

I can’t break down what money I spent or what I received with my prior experience. I can estimate that I spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 on cards, probably around $300 if you count all of the accessories like deck boxes, card sleeves, dice, tokens and a carrying case (these things aren’t necessary but essential if you want to protect your collection, and have some handy ways to deal with game mechanics). That was obviously an expensive way to amass my collection, but it was more of an initial investment. At this point I don’t have to buy more protective gear nor do I have to buy from multiple sets. At this point, it’s just buying stuff from the new set. And considering I got 540 cards out of one box for $100, I’d say that was a good start. It seems that buying a box nearly eliminates the need to buy further boosters. Really, you’ll get all of the common cards (and for the most part, 4 copies of each) plus you’ll get a few dozen uncommons, rares, mythic rares and foils. The only cards you can’t get in boosters are the unique Planeswalkers and a few other cards that are included in their decks, and there are usually 2 of those per set, so you’re looking at an additional $30 for those, but you’ll also get more copies of cards you might need as well. From there, you can buy singles of the rarer cards and copies of others you might need, and you’re good to go. So it seems like the best route to take, and I did just that.

To provide some further analysis, I broke down the 540 cards into categories, mostly to sate my own curiosity.


47 commons
16 uncommons
6 rares
1 foil

52 commons
16 uncommons
5 rares
1 mythic rare

51 commons
15 uncommons
4 rares

54 commons
15 uncommons
7 rares
2 foil

51 commons
13 uncommons
3 rares
1 mythic rare
1 foil

92 commons
11 uncommons
5 rares
1 alt art promo
1 foil

9 commons
6 uncommons
2 rares
1 mythic rare

17 uncommons
2 rares

Mythic Rares:

exquisite-archangel heart-of-kiran-aether-revolt-spoiler 1109300

With this breakdown in mind, there are a total of:

356 commons
109 uncommons
34 rares
3 mythic rares
5 foils
1 alternate art  – this is the promotional card that comes with buying a box

This is likely to be the spread when buying a box, or buying a similar amount of booster packs individually over time. If you want to get more Rares and above, you’ll have to buy singles. That isn’t a problem with stores and online merchants, but sometimes cards are expensive, so you might be spending a lot more money on individual cards. For instance, the nifty super rare invention I got out of a pack sells for $60 by itself on Troll & Toad. Other cards sell for $20-30 a piece. Most are more affordable, and I’ve spent upwards of $10 or $15 on a single card, so it really depends on how deep  your pockets are, and if you’re the gambling type. If you want to gamble, buy more packs. If you want what you want, spend the money on singles. Or do what I do, a little of both. Objects are only as valuable as you make them.