Nine Ways to Use Your Prize Packs
By Roy Anderson –
Hello fellow Looters, I’m back after my long hiatus ! However, before we jump into our main topic, I need to set the scene:
You finally sit down after finishing your FNM. Your final record is 2-2. You feel pretty proud of yourself as you decided to bring that brew you always wanted to try. 2-2 isn’t great but it is better than the 0-4 you expected. Now you are sitting there staring at your two prize packs. Your eyes are wide and your mouth waters like a magic player getting to eat his first meal after a full day at a PPTQ. You hear a cheer to your left and turn your head. You notice the new player in the store just opened a foil Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. This makes you even more excited as you turn your attention back to your own bounty sitting before you. You slowly start opening your packs, taking a small pause after getting the wrapper open as that new pack smell hits your nose. You thumb through the pack and finally make it to the rare. Moment of truth…Remorseless Punishment. You sigh… Sadly, the next pack follows suit with another lackluster rare. At least you can use that Stormchaser Mage…
Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever thought that there has to be a better way to handle or get better value from you prize packs? Well search no further! I have helpfully sorted my suggestions in three categories: Value, Fun, and Third Category. Let’s dive in!
Do you like value? Do you often play divination in limited? Is Baleful Strix your favorite Magic card? Then this category might be for you. The following ways to use a booster pack are all focused on getting you that sweet sweet value.
Get Store Credit Instead
The first, quickest, and easiest way to get value from your prize packs at events is to just take any store credit option offered. Now, I am aware that not all stores have this option available at events. If unsure, ask your store owner if they have any sort of credit policy. If they don’t, let them know that you are interested as this can be more profitable for the store owner as well.
Let’s say that we are our friend from the story in the beginning and we decided to get store credit instead of those packs (most stores give around two to three dollars a pack). We could have picked up some lower end standard cards that we needed. We could have even put it towards our next event. Some players can even use this method to “go infinite” (play for free over and over) at their LGS. I got second place in a “win a box” at my LGS and decided to use this option. I left enough store credit to play in my next event along with taking eight packs home.
Either way, despite each pack being only worth a few dollars, you will consistently get a return from your prizes that has a lot less variance.
The next thing that you can do to get value out of packs is to save them. Specifically, take them home, stash them away (I usually use an empty booster box), and save them. This can get you value in so many ways and is actually my number one recommendation if you don’t do it already. As a set is out for a longer period of time, they slowly become less available as stores stop ordering it. After a few years, printing stops. All this time, your pack will become more valuable (assuming it isn’t homelands). This is why saving your pack for a period of time generates value. In addition, you can also have this pack available to you to draft with which will save you money from having to buy it at an inflated price later.
There are even multiple ways to go about deciding what packs to save. At first, I used to save at least one pack from each event I went to. These days I simply make sure I have at least three packs from each set in my collection (some of the old sets I only have one). You can even save every prize pack you get if that is what you want. I have pulled from my collection of boosters and added to it over the years but it is always handy to have boosters sitting around. Especially ones that are out of print.
Sell Them Off
So this one is something that I don’t personally do but it would still be a valid option for getting more from your boosters. This option does take more time and effort as finding mediums to sell your packs isn’t always easy. On top of that, if you use an online platform, there are most likely fees and shipping costs which will remove some value from the equation. The best way to go about this would be to find someone you know who really likes to spin that wheel and open packs who may buy them from you for cheap.
Now, you can also get creative with this one. In my old playgroup, I was often the one who hosted drafts. I would charge about 10-15 dollars (depending on the set) to cover the cost of the packs. One time, I did the same thing but instead of using a booster box, I had used packs that I have saved from events. I want to stress this here, DO NOT TRY TO MAKE A PROFIT OFF YOUR FRIENDS. They will not be your friends for long. That being said, if it would cost the charged amount to run the draft in the first place, it should be fine. Transparency is really important here. When I did this, I even charged less than what a box would cost and my friends loved it because it was cheaper for them. This is a good way to get value from your packs and it is basically “selling them.”
Trade Packs for Cards
The last way to get additional value for your packs is to trade them for cards. This will require you to find someone who really enjoys the rush of cracking packs. Your local serial drafting group may also take this trade as a pack has more utility than a constructed playable card to them. I personally fall into both the aforementioned stereotypes so this method is not for me. That being said, I have traded constructed cards for a spin of the wheel so I can tell you that these people are there.
I hope you found a few new ways to get some value from your booster packs. Now, what about having some fun with your boosters?
Now, we all got into magic for most likely the same reason: we enjoy playing the game. This category is all about getting more play from your packs. Who doesn’t like to have fun?
One of the quickest yet fun ways to use a booster pack is to play Pack Wars. This option option requires two packs, basic lands, and a friend to play with, but most Magic players/LGS should have these in abundance.
There are quite a few different rules for how to do a Pack War, but what follows are the ones I generally use. Each player needs one pack and ten basic lands (two of each color). Now, open your packs and remove the token without looking at the rest of the pack. Shuffle the basic land and the contents of the pack together (carefully if you value keeping your cards in good condition. I tend to pile shuffle as you can do it without scuffing corners and it also mixes the land well). Now, duke it out! I have done contests with this and even spent a good portion of a day Pack Warring an entire booster box. This is definitely a great way to open your packs that gets just a little bit more fun for your buck.
Draft Them with Friends
Out of all the suggestions I have made in order to get more value from your packs, this is the one that I love to do the most. Drafting is obviously one of the best ways to use a pack for fun as it is one of the intended uses. You can draft with 4-10 of your friends and this also allows you and your friends to save money. This option also allows you to play one of my favorite formats, Chaos Draft. A Chaos Draft is a draft that is done using packs for all different sets. This creates a completely crazy and unique draft format. Recently, at GP Oakland, my friends and I hosted a Chaos Draft in our hotel room after day one. At most Grand Prix, prizes come in the form of tickets which you can spend at the prize wall on many different packs from various sets. We each got four different packs during the day. Three were mixed in with the draft pile and one was saved for prizes. Some of the packs we had were: Ice Age, Innistrad, Darksteel, Return to Ravnica, and many more. It was a lot of fun.
Just saving one or two packs from each of your events would give you a draft set of packs every few weeks. If a few of your friends did this, there you have it! You can even save packs long-term in case you want to draft them for cheaper down the road. This leaves room for nostalgia drafting without breaking your bank.
Ok ok…I know this article was supposed to be filled with alternatives to just cracking your packs. That being said, simply opening your pack is still one of the best ways to use it. It is also incredibly fun, (as most of you know). Don’t be afraid of losing value all the time as getting to simply crack a pack is awesome. That time you pull a foil Ulamog will far outweigh the 50 times you may pull something mediocre. We play this game for fun, so crack those packs every once in a while! (Sorry Marshall…)
I personally think “Other” is a boring category name and there were a few more on this list that I could not call valuable or fun. (Editor’s Note: Third Category would make an excellent Indie band name.)
Give Them Away
Now some of you may never do this, but I like to think the Magic community is awesome and I just want to share this option.
Let us go back to the example in the beginning. You got two packs for going 2-2. Let’s pretend that your last round opponent was one of the new players at your store who just had an event deck or some cobbled mass of draft cards and he was just there to have fun. You were 1-2 during the last round. He had no wins and just got matched-up due to people dropping. He is here to have fun though and continues to play. You beat him because it is clear he still does not have a great grasp on the game. I have encountered times like this all too often and sometimes, helping them out in a kind way or even giving them one of your prize packs can make them a member of the community for life. It may not be value or fun but I would say that it is very rewarding. Think back when you were just starting out. I am sure you can remember something incredibly nice someone did for you and it made you feel great about the Magic community.
I am not saying give away all of your packs you get, but just remember that a show of kindness every once in a while can be a great thing. Sometimes you can be rewarded back as well. I recently did this and then after the draft we went to go trade. He had some cards I wanted and he gave them to me as a very good deal because I did something nice. I then gave him a ride home because it turned out he lived a few blocks away from where my friends and I were headed. The Magic community is awesome! Let’s help keep it awesome!
Flip it or Rip it
This is neither value nor fun for people who are sane. Have you heard of this game yet? If not, good. Don’t look this up and never play it. If you do play it, shame on you! I’ve included it only because it is technically an “option.”
I hope this list gave you some ideas on alternatives for your future prize packs. There is no blanket way to use all of them but doing each option (short of Flip it or Rip it, of course) every once in a while should give you more value and fun from your prize packs.
Well Looters, that is all for this time. I hope you enjoyed my suggestions and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
Until then, happy spellcasting!
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