Booster F.A.Q.

Which booster packs are most valuable?

This is easy to answer! Alpha, Beta, and Arabian Nights are the most expensive on the market and have been for years.

Alpha and Beta packs are so rare these days that it’s difficult to provide a fair cost estimate. As of July 2015, there is only one Beta Edition PSA-Graded booster available on Ebay with an asking price of $3,999.

Cards and boosters from these sets are so valuable, in part, because of the small batch print runs. There were only 2.6 million Alpha Cards printed, 7.3 million Beta, and 5 million Arabian Nights. Much of the artwork in these sets is iconic, and Richard Garfield himself played a key role in their design. (I recommend reading this article by Mr. Garfield for a richer history of the development).

If you are interested in anything in this range, I would probably recommend Arabian Nights boosters as they are very limited, popular, and far more affordable in the $350 to $500 range.

As always, I recommend only buying from a reputable dealer or a back fresh from a sealed box because some of these packs could be “searched” through the packaging with a high power light or lamp. (I know… I tested this myself with an Antiquities pack that I paid too much for).

Now, for all those interested in numbers, check out the table I put together! Note that it isn’t perfect yet, because I forgot to take into account the sets with only 8 cards. (For instance, AN had only 8 cards and technically no “rares.” Each pack had 6 commons and 2 uncommons.)

Set NameHighMeanLow
Arabian Nights330.43250.42213.19
Future Sight28.8613.29.41
Fifth Dawn26.3810.66.29
Urza's Saga23.78.725.44
Champions of Kamigawa21.027.814.4
The Dark25.27.714.13
Planar Chaos20.617.24.06
Urza's Legacy20.557.023.88
Time Spiral19.226.473.5
Urza's Destiny19.36.433.62
Mirrodin Besieged19.736.393.45
Rise of Elzradi19.896.333.51
Betrayers of Kamigawa18.836.33.35
Alara Reborn19.556.13.35
New Phyrexia19.336.022.88
Mercadian Masques16.725.072.64
Classic Sixth15.294.792.45
Shards of Alara16.864.682.08
Scars of Mirrodin15.934.521.97
Saviors of Kamigawa15.674.442.26
Khans of Tarkir17.314.341.97
Mirrodin Besieged15.064.281.98
Fifth Edition15.54.211.93
Return to Ravnica16.134.21.91
Avacyn Restored16.494.131.91
Fourth Edition14.753.991.9
Dragons of Tarkir14.793.811.35
Ice Age14.583.571.52
Fallen Empires14.183.511.5
Journey into Nyx14.473.421.23
Dark Ascension14.923.351.21
Fate Reforged14.113.090.88
Born of the Gods13.633.050.88
Dragon's Maze13.252.710.74
7th Edition14.964.091.8
8th Edition16.034.792.47
9th Edition17.685.522.94
10th Edition17.35.622.99
Magic Origins17.185.142.09

Which packs are the “best” buy?

The best answer is… it depends.

Are you planning to open the pack? Are you looking to resell? Are you you speculating and hope to sell in a few years?

(Though there are several packs that have historically always been a bad investment. I see Dragon’s Maze staying in this category.)

If you are planning to open the pack, the “best” pack will have the best ratio of estimated value to cost.

expected value cost mtg

For instance, if the cost of Arabian Nights is $450, and the estimated value of a pack of Arabian Nights is $330, the Ev/C is 330/450 or .73.

With this, the closer to one you get, the better. A 1:1 ratio would mean that the expected value and cost are equal. Anything greater than 1 would tell us we can expect greater value when we open.

Obviously, we will rarely find an Ev/C value greater than 1 unless we’re buying from an unsophisticated third party.

While I’ve developed a spreadsheet that will allow you to quickly determine this Expected Value, it’s more tricky determining an average “cost.” You’ll really have to hop on Ebay or Amazon to get a better sense of current prices.

As a second consideration, I also evaluate how many cards in the set are more valuable than the cost of the pack.

Imagine two sets both costs $10 per pack. One set includes 1 card worth $100 while the other has 5 cards worth $20. While the estimated value may be the same, I may opt to buy the second pack because there is a greater probability of me getting a positive return on my pack once I open it.

If your intentions are on reselling, the “best” depends on a) the expected value of the pack and b) the cost of the pack. If someone offers you an Arabian Nights booster pack for $475 and the expected value is $350

Is it worth if to buy a booster box or pack?

This is one of my favorite videos. The creator is definitely a huge fan and avid collector… you have to love the enthusiasm!

While the phrase “worth” it is always carries some emotional and subjective baggage, this video focuses more on the “finances.”

I’ll get more into this later, but the short answer is “maybe” for booster boxes and NO for Fat Packs.

If you’re getting into collectible, older booster boxes, however, it gets into more of a gray area when determining value.

For instance, assume a pack of Arabian Nights only cost $10 on average. Then, a box of 36 should retail for $360 right?

Not necessarily! Part of the reason the sealed box is worth more is that we know none of the individual packs have been searched.

Also, the sealed box is going to more scarce than a sealed pack for obvious reasons ;).

A third reason the sealed box may be worth more is that as a buyer you can be more confident that the cards are in great condition and that there haven’t been heavy objects on the pack of cards or anything that may bend or have affected corners, etc.