All posts by Cliff Daigle

I am a father, teacher, cuber and EDH fanatic. My joy is in Casual and Limited formats, though I dip a toe into Constructed when I find something fun to play. I play less than I want to and more than my schedule should really allow. I can easily be reached on Twitter @WordOfCommander. Try out my Busted Uncommons cube at http://www.cubetutor.com/viewcube/76330

Expectations for Pro Tour ONE

I know it seems odd to be writing about the Pro Tour in two weeks, when the new set is out now.

My financial advice for people playing in prerelease events remains the same as always: Sell it all. Find someone who wants your lands. Move it and don’t wait around. Someone will see the sweet foil you opened and want to trade for it right now, not realizing (or not caring) that it’ll be 1/3 the price in two weeks.

So whatever you can move, right now, do that.

As for the Pro Tour in Philadelphia, on Feb 17-19, that’s a more complicated plan.

The rest of this content is only visible to ProTrader members.

To learn how ProTrader can benefit YOU, click here to watch our short video.

expensive cards ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

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.

The Math of Phyrexia: All Will Be One

Welcome back to this ongoing series of attempts to calculate exactly how lucky the luckiest pulls are for every set with Collector Boosters.

Phyrexia: All Will Be One (hereafter written as ONE) has some very interesting formulations, and every slot appears to have a variation in distribution. Thankfully, Wizards has given us a lot more information about ONE than they have for previous sets, making my task both easier and more difficult.

So let’s get into it, and calculate exactly our odds for opening certain packs, then compare those rates with chase cards from previous expansions.

All of today’s math will come from the Collecting Phyrexia: All Will Be One article, or explained using that math as a basis. That article has specific percentages, which I’ll copy over.

Also, we need to refer to this image to talk about what slot has what:

We are going to focus on the step-and-compleat slot, and the final slot with all of the Booster Fun treatments. 

All of the numbers we’ve been given are percentages that have been rounded, and that’s a source of error I can’t control for.

In the Step-and Compleat slot, we’re given these percentages: “There are 6 commons (38%), 7 uncommons (29%), 26 rares (22%), and 28 mythic rares (11%)” Normally, I’d talk about the distribution of 10:3:1:0.5 that Draft Boosters have, but that math doesn’t work out. What we do know is that the cards which appear the least, the 28 mythics, make up 11% of your potential pulls.

What we do is multiply the percentage by the number of potential cards. In this case, that’s 11% times 1/28 to get a chance of 0.39% for a certain mythic. In terms of packs opened, you need to divide the denominator by the numerator, also known as taking the reciprocal. That gives you approximately 254.5 packs to open a certain mythic.

Let’s make this into a table for the Step-and-Compleat categories:

Step-and-Compleat FoilsPercent 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
Mythic Rare28%0.39%254.5
Rare22%0.84%118.2
Uncommon29%4.14%24.1
Common38%6.3%15.7

One thing we need to pay attention to: There are multiple versions of cards available in this slot, such as four different Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines with this foil treatment. You’ve got the same odds to pull any variation from the slot. 

The other important slot is the final one, that compares everything possible except for the Step-and-Compleat versions. This includes something we usually don’t get: Foil Extended-Art versions of Commander and Jumpstart cards. Now here, we’ve been given some percentages for individual variations, rather than the overall number like we’re used to. As an example, we get “5 mythic rare Phyrexian-language planeswalkers (3%)” in the nonfoil slot. Because the nonfoil slot makes up 51% of the distribution of cards in the foil slot, I’m going to go ahead and run these rates in another table, taking the nonfoil rates and multiplying by .51:

Nonfoil Booster Fun TreatmentPercent 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
5 rare borderless “fast lands” 13%2.6%38.4
16 rare borderless ichor cards41%2.54%39.3
10 rare borderless manga cards25%2.5%40
10 mythic rare borderless ichor cards13%1.3%76.9
5 mythic rare borderless manga planeswalkers3%0.6%166.7
5 mythic rare Phyrexian-language planeswalkers3%0.6%166.7
5 mythic rare borderless concept praetors2%0.4%250
Borderless Elesh Norn by Junji Ito<1%0.2%500
Phyrexian-language Elesh Norn<1%0.2%500

The estimate of 500 packs is because Elesh Norn has two extra variants, the borderless manga and the Phyrexian, that the other Praetors don’t have in this set. Five variants in one set! 

(If you really want the math: All copies of all variants for one card should be equal to all variants of another card at the same rarity. Since Elesh Norn has two extra variants, I split the rarity for the borderless concept Praetors, as those are all add-ins to this set. When we get to foils, these will be plenty rare enough. If I get more concrete data, fromWizards or large operations, I will update this and the running tally.)

Now we’re basically going to take everything in this table and multiply by .51, because we’re told that for foils, 49% of that slot is the extended-art rares from the set, plus select extended-art Commander and Jumpstart foils. They don’t tell us exactly which are foil options in the article, which is incredibly frustrating. When I have better information there, I will update the section about the FEA cards. There’s no FEA mythics in the main set this time around either–they all got one of the other variant frames.

So here’s the table with everything you can get in that slot, along with my estimates for the FEA cards.

Foil Booster Fun TreatmentPercent 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
5 rare borderless “fast lands”6.63%1.33%75.41
16 rare borderless ichor cards20.91%1.30%77.20
10 rare borderless manga cards12.75%1.28%78.43
10 mythic rare borderless ichor cards6.63%0.66%150.83
5 mythic rare borderless manga planeswalkers1.53%0.31%326.80
5 mythic rare Phyrexian-language planeswalkers1.53%0.31%326.80
5 mythic rare borderless concept praetors1.02%0.20%490.20
Borderless Elesh Norn by Junji Ito0.10%0.10%980.39
Phyrexian-language Elesh Norn0.10%0.10%980.39
FEA Main Set Rares23.89%0.82%121.43
FEA JMP/Commander Rares23.06%0.82%121.43
FEA JMP/Commander Mythics2.06%0.41%242.85

Again, as I find out which FEAs are an option and which aren’t, I’ll update this table. This is the rarest possible outcome for the FEA rares/mythics, your odds will only get better from here.

I have also updated the Comprehensive Collection of Relative Rarities, so that you can sort out what the rarest pulls ever are. These special Elesh Norns are pretty high on that list!

As always, if you notice errors or want to talk about my methods, please reach out in the comments or the ProTrader discord!

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.

The Comprehensive Collection of Relative Rarities

There have been nineteen sets (so far, ONE is #20) with Collector Boosters, and frankly, every one has had a slightly different formulation when it comes to calculating what goes where. 

I should know; I’ve had to figure out all of them. 

Each time I do, I put together a comparison table for rarities, but what I’ve made for our members now is a spreadsheet of the percentages and odds, sortable in whatever ways you want to use the data. I’m not a data scientist, just a Magic nerd who likes knowing precise things.

So here it is, the first comprehensive attempt at relative rarities!

For the spreadsheet, this is all for foils. Some of these are not able to be foil, such as Dominaria United’s Lost Legends inserts, but most of these are for the foils.

So here it is, the first comprehensive attempt at relative rarities!

Here you are, a link for this very useful tool:

The Comprehensive Collection of Relative Rarities

The odds that are listed are for you to pull a foil card of a certain rarity, in any version. Wizards has a method for cards that I think of as the double roll. First you roll to see what card you get, and then you roll to see which version of that card you get.

For example, in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, you have a 1/272 chance of pulling any given mythic from that slot in a Collector Booster. But because there are two different premium versions of Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant, the Soft Glow and the Phyrexian, you have a 1/544 chance for the Phyrexian version.

Sadly, there’s no simple way to create a database of the number of versions available. The workaround I’ve found is to find the card in Scryfall, and see how many options there are. 

I would also recommend that you do a search for my articles “The Math of…” in order to find a more comprehensive overview of which cards have which treatments. I try hard to keep things organized, and you should enjoy the fruits of this labor.

Those articles will also clarify why some sets have different entries for Showcase styles, or FEA. Wizards has done a lot of different formulations when it comes to which versions can be found in which slots.

There is a second sheet dedicated to the rarest versions of cards for each set, so we can keep track of which are the luckiest pulls.

As always, if you notice problems, please reach out in the comments or in the discord!

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.

The Math of Ikoria, Zendikar Rising, and Magic 2021

Yes, I’m finishing the cycle, the set, I’m covering all the bases.

This week, I’m giving us the math of the last sets I never wrote for, and after that, I can have a full comparison going on for every Collector Booster set. 

These aren’t terribly complicated, and frankly, I’m used to how these stack up, so let’s get to the sets.

Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths

We didn’t have anything fancy going on with the main set here, but we did get a slot dedicated to reskinned monsters. Remember when they had to rename ‘Spacegodzilla, Death Corona’ and it spiked as a meme-level interaction?

Also, the Showcase cards are separate from the FEA cards. The FEA are instead mixed in with the regular foil rares/mythics again. I appreciate that even though a sheet is 121 cards, they have found so many ways to mix and match.

Frame# at rare# at mythic
Regular5315
Borderless PW03
Showcase105
EA437
Godzilla67

For anything where different rarities are mixed, Wizards uses the booster pack model of distribution, as far as we know. This means for every one copy of a mythic rare, there’s 2 copies of a regular rare, 6 copies of an uncommon, and 20 copies of a common. So in the Godzilla slot, there’s going to be a whole lot of Mothra’s Great Cocoon going around. The pool of options for that slot is 20 Cocoons, 30 of the uncommons (6×5), 10 of the rares(5×2), and 7 mythics, a total of 67.

In the Showcase/Borderless slot, it’s 5/15/20/8 for the C/U/R/M numbers, and given our ratio, the pool of options is 218. Neat trick, pushing in 5 commons and 15 uncommons that will make up about 87% of the pulls from that slot.

For the FEA slot, we’ve got only rares and mythics, but a full set of the regulars mixed in. That means 53 plus 43, doubled, and then add the 22 mythics, for 214. So close!

Frame/Rarity% chance of any card with that frame/rarity% chance to open a specific card with that frame/rarityApproximate number of packs to open a specific card with that frame/rarity
Borderless Planeswalker – Mythic1.37%0.46%218
Showcase Rare9.17%0.92%109
Showcase Mythic3.2%0.46%218
FEA Rare20.1%0.93%107
FEA Mythic3.3%0.47%214
Godzilla Rare14.9%2.98%33.5
Godzilla Mythic10.4%1.49%67

Zendikar Rising

The return of Expeditions, and the unapologetic ‘everyone gets nonfoils as a box topper, but only Collector Boosters get foils’ of this arrangement. 

This was the first set where they just crammed all the good stuff into one slot, and then didn’t mix in the regulars. Separating the regular frame cards just made sure that the value dropped, as it used to be that regular foil mythics and borderless planeswalker mythics were dropping at equal rates. No more of that!

Frame# at rare# at mythic
Regular6420
Borderless 63
Showcase72
EA5115
Expeditions030

What we do get, though, is a whole lot. 64 rares, 50 mythics, for a pool of 178. Better odds than a lot of sets! The number of mythics is clearly goosed by the presence of all 30 Expeditions, each of which is classified as a mythic.

Frame/Rarity% chance of any card with that frame/rarity% chance to open a specific card with that frame/rarityApproximate number of packs to open a specific card with that frame/rarity
Borderless Planeswalker – Mythic1.6%0.56%178
Borderless Land – Rare6.7%1.1%89
Showcase Rare7.9%1.1%89
Showcase Mythic1.1%0.56%178
FEA Rare57.3%1.1%89
FEA Mythic8.4%0.56%178
Expedition Mythic16.9%0.56%178

Happily, this works out almost exactly to a point referenced in the Collecting article, that one in six Collector Boosters will have a foil Expedition land. I do love it when a plan comes together.

Core Set 2021

This is where things start getting unusual. This represents the first time that we got multiple versions of the same card, and it’s not just two versions of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon but a full four different versions of Teferi, Master of Time! Later on, they would adjust the collations so that no one card was more plentiful than the others, but this time, each version is expressly added to the pool as its own card.

Frame# at rare# at mythic
Regular5318
Borderless PW & Reprints48
Showcase59
EA457

The numbers don’t all add up this time, and that’s entirely due to the multiple frames. Irks me, really, but they fix this issue later.

There’s two slots we care about: The last one, with the foil Showcase and Borderless treatments, and the two middle slots that can give FEA rares and mythics. For this set, they dipped back into mixing regular frame foils in. What I haven’t been able to verify is which borderless cards from this set are uncommon. If you know, hit me up on Twitter or our Discord, tell me what research I missed, and I’ll adjust this table.

The Showcase slot has five commons and five uncommons, to go with 18 rares and 17 mythics, for a pool of 175. In the doubled-up slot, there’s 53 regular rares and 18 regular mythics to go with the Extended Art numbers, and that means our magic number is 221. However, there’s two bites at this particular apple, which the table will reflect.

Frame/Rarity% chance of any card with that frame/rarity% chance to open a specific card with that frame/rarityApproximate number of packs to open a specific card with that frame/rarity
Borderless Mythic4.58%0.57%175
Borderless Rare4.58%1.14%87.5
Showcase Mythic5.1%0.57%175
Showcase Rare5.7%1.14%87.5
FEA Mythic6.3%0.90%110.5
FEA Rare40.7%1.8%55.25

Normally, at the end of these articles, I put in a comparison table, but I’m reworking those tables into a living spreadsheet, which will allow me to rank where certain cards fall in comparison to each other. I can tell you, though, that these three sets had better odds than just about anything in more recent times, as Wizards figured out how to balance individual variations and lower chances. The set after ZNR was Commander Legends, where you had a 30% chance of having your foil rare/mythic turn into an Extended Art version, and that’s where the odds skyrocketed.

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.