The Math of Universes Beyond: Doctor Who

Wizards may be turning off a lot of folks with the velocity of new cards, but the Warhammer 40K set taught them that we love Commander decks stuffed with new, thematic, and fun Commanders and cards. Every week, there’s a different Surge Foil from those decks that pops off in value, and that probably won’t stop for a while.

With Universes Beyond: Doctor Who, we’re getting a new formula for getting cards. Every new card can be had in regular frame nonfoil if you buy the Commander decks, but if you want shiny versions, or alternate frames, you have to go right to the Collector Booster. 

As a result, there’s some information out there regarding what you can open, and I’m here to turn that glimmer of light into a useful and focused beam.

One thing before the numbers: The original Commander decks had a code for how often a card was in the decks. If it was common, it was in all the decks. Uncommon was three decks, rare was two, and mythic-coded cards could only be found in one particular deck. That isn’t in use anymore, and with this set, everything is equally rare, even if coded as rare or uncommon.

Let’s begin with a discussion of the thirteen Serialized Doctors, who add up to 6591 unique cards. We’re told you have a less than 1% chance of opening such a card, and here’s the breakdown of how many total packs it takes to go from 1% to .05%.

So our estimates say that there’s less than 100k total CB boxes out there. Note that even at its rarest, WHO is getting less than a third of the 3.3 million CB packs made for the original LOTR release.

Just so you can see what we’re working with, here’s the set by rarity symbol: There’s 23 Commons, all reprints plus Planechase cards. Here’s the list of commons. The uncommons are a mix. Link to 33 new cards plus 30 reprints, 63 overall marked as uncommon. Rares are a mix as well. 222 total, 151 new, 71 reprints including several land cycles. Mythics are super weird. 5 for the set, that’s one display commander per deck and then Wedding Ring. I don’t know why it was the only other card marked as mythic.

Now, slot by slot, according to the Collecting Dr. Who article.

Slot #2 is dedicated to foil Doctors in the regular frame, of which there are 13. Exactly 10% of these are Surge Foil, which means you have these odds:

Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of CBs to open one specific card from that category
Regular Frame Traditional Foil Doctor90%6.92%14.4
Regular Frame Surge Foil Doctor10%0.77%130

Slot #3 through #7 reprint one card from each deck. I’m basing my odds on the inclusion of basic lands, there’s anywhere from 6-11 of those in these decks. These are all regular frame and have the same 10% chance to upgrade to surge foil from traditional foil. Since basic lands aren’t specifically excluded here (as they are in other sections), I think they are potential pulls. If that changes, I will update this section.

Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of CBs to open one specific card from that category
Regular Frame Traditional Foil card from a Commander deck90%0.9%111.1
Regular Frame Surge Foil card from a Commander deck10%0.1%1000

That’s right, we’re already at some one in one thousand odds, so if you like regular frame surge foils, they will probably be pricey. However, each CB will have multiple paths to the same cards, if not very good ones.

Next up, we have Extended Art cards for six slots. 

Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of CBs to open one specific card from that category
Nonfoil EA new card (132)100%0.75%132
Traditional Foil EA new card (132)100%0.75%132
Nonfoil EA reprint (71)100%1.4%71
Traditional Foil EA reprint (71)100%1.4%71
EA Surge Foil new card (132)100%0.75%132
EA Surge Foil reprint (71)100%1.4%71

Then we have a Surge Foil Wildcard, which could be any card that isn’t TARDIS framed or basic land. That total is close to 1100 cards, and so you have a 0.09% chance of getting any particular card from that slot. If there’s one million Collector Booster packs out there, which is a legit estimate based on the drop rate for Serialized Doctors, then you’re looking at 900 extra copies of each Surge Foil card from this slot. 

For the EA and TARDIS Surge Foils, that’s not a big deal, but for the regular frame Surge Foils, that nearly doubles the amount in circulation.

Finally, we have two slots dedicated to the TARDIS frames. The first is nonfoil, the second traditional foil with a 10% chance of Surge foil. That last slot is also where the serialized Doctors will show up. Both of these slots can have the same set of 30 cards in equal chances (3 uncommons, 23 rares, 4 mythics) no matter the printed rarity.

Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of CBs to open one specific card from that category
Nonfoil TARDIS frame (30)100%3.33%30
Traditional Foil TARDIS frame90%3%33.3
Surge Foil TARDIS frame10%0.3%300

Yes, you’re reading this right. Surge Foil regular frame cards are more than three times rarer than Surge Foil TARDIS frame cards. 

Let’s summarize with a comparison of cards and drop rates.

Example CardFrame/TreatmentApprox. number of CBs needed to find one copy
Regular Frame Traditional Foil The First DoctorRegular Frame Traditional Foil Doctor14.4
Regular Frame Surge Foil The Third DoctorRegular Frame Surge Foil Doctor130
Regular Frame Traditional Foil The Night of the DoctorRegular Frame Traditional Foil card from a Commander deck111.1
Regular Frame Surge Foil Cyber ConversionRegular Frame Surge Foil card from a Commander deck1000
Nonfoil Extended Art The Sound of DrumsNonfoil EA new card 132
Traditional Foil Extended Art Displaced DinosaursTraditional Foil EA new card132
Nonfoil Extended Art FarewellNonfoil EA reprint 71
Foil Extended Art Heroic InterventionTraditional Foil EA reprint 71
Surge Foil Extended Art Weeping AngelSurge Foil EA new card 132
Surge Foil Extended Art Day of DestinySurge Foil EA reprint 71
Nonfoil TARDIS Frame Dalek SquadronNonfoil TARDIS frame 30
Traditional Foil TARDIS Frame MissyTraditional Foil TARDIS frame33.3
Surge Foil TARDIS Frame The Fourth DoctorSurge Foil TARDIS frame300
Serialized The Tenth DoctorDouble Rainbow Foil Serialized Doctor1436 to 2585

My biggest takeaway is that the regular frame Surge Foils are easily the rarest pulls in the set, and there’s less than 2000 of each of those cards. 2000 regular frame Surge Foil Mind Stone, 2000 regular frame Surge Foil The Thirteenth Doctor. I don’t know that the market will figure this out right away, but this is why I crunch the numbers every set: to find the value that they hide in weird printing strategies. We know what the availability is for these cards, and we can estimate a few key points:

  1. There are nearly twice as many of each reprint as the new cards when it comes to the EA frame. All the versions have that 71 vs. 132 number going on, and that should be in your mind when you see the prices they are listed at. 
  2. Surge Foils in the regular frame are about 7.5 times rarer than Surge EA foils, and at most, have about 2000 copies in existence. 
  3. The rarity symbol doesn’t matter on these cards. Once upon a time it did, but Displaced Dinosaurs is as hard to pull as a mythic rare.

I hope this helps inform your buying, and I trust you’ll crack packs responsibly!

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.