4

I've seen pictures of the source sheets. They pack many different cards per plate, not one card repeated a hundread times in the same plate.

Suppose that a set contains 300 cards and there are 3 plates with 100 cards each. If there are 100 rares, 100 uncommons, and 100 commons, I'd imagine that there is one plate with rares only, one with uncommons only, the third with commons only. Is this how they distribute the cards' rarities?

  • Which game are you asking about? – ikegami Nov 24 '14 at 16:51
  • MTG. But, rarity is a card quality present in all TCG. – 0 kelvin Nov 24 '14 at 17:24
  • 1
    Yes, but each game has it's own printing process. – ikegami Nov 24 '14 at 17:25
  • 2
    Re "If the distribution of rarity is 1:1:1", Clearly not. A booster comes with one rare or mythic rare, three uncommons and 15 commons. For each 8 packs, the rare is a mythic rare, so the ratio is 1:7:24:120. – ikegami Nov 24 '14 at 17:28
  • @ikegami 11 commons, right? (And the land, unless the set has weird things going on.) – Cascabel Nov 24 '14 at 18:19
4

Check out this article on how magic cards are made:

http://archive.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/feature/146

From this, we can identify several things:

  1. Magic cards are printed by a company called Carta Mundi.

  2. It appears Magic cards are printed in sheets. The oversized cards (from the commander sets) appear to be printed on 7x7 sheets and regular sized cards are printed on 11x11 sheets (though the Commander set may have been 10x10 so it was one sheet per deck).

  3. Not just are magic cards printed in a quantity distribution of 1:7:24:88 (mythic:rare:uncommon:common) for rarity, but they are also printed in different quantities by language (English being the most common).

From this, we can deduce that each printing sheet has only cards of one rarity and language (with extras like tokens and informational cards to fill in the extras) and that they print different quantities of each sheet according to the amount of each they want to exist. So, they print 88 times more of the "English common sheets" for a set than they do of the "English mythic sheets" (though there are probably multiple sheets of commons and only one sheet of mythic rares). They likely also have separate sheets for foil cards.

That said, this is all speculation based on what we can observe. You would have to find a better article or contact one of the companies involved to get a more accurate answer (though they are probably protective of some of the secrets in their production process).

For a historic perspective, magic used to do finer granularity of rarity by having cards repeated on a sheet. So, in Antiquities, they printed 3x as many "common sheets" as they did "uncommon sheets", but there were cards that showed up twice on the uncommon sheets (dubbed "U2" in rarity) which would be twice as available as the "U1" cards (cards that appeared once on the uncommon sheet) but still rarer than cards that "C1" cards (cards that showed up once on the common sheet). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiquities_%28Magic:_The_Gathering%29 and http://www.crystalkeep.com/magic/misc/rarity-info.php for more on the history.

Every large set from Mirage through Onslaught as well as the core sets in between had 110 cards of each rarity indicating that the example in your question may not be that far off. During this period of time, Magic probably was printed as a 10x11 sheet of each rarity with just different numbers of each sheet printed to create different rarity. It looks like they switched back to 11x11 sheets between 9th and 10th editions.

Also possibly relevant: Are cards of the same "rarity level" really equally rare in MTG? and http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/print.php?Article=11040

  • 1
    Magic sheets - and there are a lot out there; they show up as prizes at conventions and such - are generally 11x11, with 121 cards on them. (You can see this if you do a google image search for 'Magic uncut sheet'). The sheet in that article is specifically the sheet that the oversized Commander generals were printed on; if you look at the size of the images in comparison to the proofer's hands, they're much larger than normal Magic cards. – Steven Stadnicki Nov 24 '14 at 18:55
  • That article has pictures of what appears to be uncut sheets, and they're definitely bigger than 7x7 – murgatroid99 Nov 24 '14 at 19:40
  • @StevenStadnicki I've seen indicators that modern sheets are 10x11; can you find an example of an 11x11 for a recent set? – Zags Nov 24 '14 at 20:32
  • @Zags Here's a Magic 2015 sheet at 11x11: desertbus.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/… . As far as I know they've never used 10x11; even uncut beta sheets are 11x11 ( product-images.highwire.com/1593929/betasheetuncutsold.jpg ). I suspect the article you saw may have been in error. – Steven Stadnicki Nov 24 '14 at 20:40
  • 1
    That picture is of a print run from the commander decks, I'm assuming that they made a special size for them so that one sheet = one deck, since everything I've ever heard about the print runs of normal sets is they are on 11x11 sheets – diego Nov 24 '14 at 20:53
4

Note that Wizards tends to be fairly secretive about the specifics of how their print runs work, and exactly what a print sheet looks like. We occasionally get articles like the one that Zags linked to showing an entire print sheet, but most of the information we 'know' about the print runs has to be inferred from answers Wizards employees give or mathematical analysis of print runs.

Currently for a regular large expansion a set has 269 cards broken down as follows

  • 101 Commons
  • 80 Uncommons
  • 53 Rares
  • 15 Mythic Rares
  • 20 Basic Lands (5 Different Lands with 4 arts each)

A sheet of cards is 11x11 (121 cards total) as far as we have been able to tell so far the sheets are split up as follows (Source)

  1. 2 of each Rare + 1 of each Mythic
  2. 2 each of 60 Commons + 1 extra Common
  3. 3 each of 40 Commons + 1 extra Common (the same Common as on the previous sheet)
  4. 3 each of 40 Uncommons + 1 Blank
  5. 3 each of 40 Uncommons + 1 Blank
  6. 6 of each Basic Land + 1 Blank

For the 2 Common sheets they are printed in a 3:2 ratio so that every common has the same rarity. The one exception is the 1 extra Common which has a rarity of 5:6, so it is very slightly rarer that the other hundred commons. This 101st Common is generally an artifact or land depending on the set.

These sheets are then printed so that the rarities are preserved both within and between each rarity, so each of the Uncommon sheets will be printed the same number of times so each Uncommon has the same likelihood of getting opened in a pack, and each of those sheets will be printed 3 times for every Rare/Mythic sheet that is printed.

This ends up with a booster pack that has 1 Basic Land, 1 Rare or Mythic Rare (7/8 chance of Rare, 1/8 chance of Mythic Rare), 3 Uncommons, and 10 Commons (one of the Commons has a chance of being Foil, about 1/6 (Source))

Note that all this information is about current large expansions. Small expansions have ratios that work out similarly. Special releases like the Commander decks, and other preconstructed decks have their own print runs (as Zags shows in their answer) and these cards are in addition to any cards in a normal print run, so for example any Rares in the Magic 2015 Intro Packs are more common than normal Rares that aren't in Intro Packs. Also as Zags also noted older sets had different print sheets where one card might appear on it 4 times, another card 5 times, and a third card 11 times (these numbers are based on Arabian Nights) Wizards has not done sheets for normal expansions like this for a while though.

  • If mythics and rares are printed on the same sheet at a 1:2 ratio, how do they end up as 1:7 in distribution? – Zags Nov 24 '14 at 22:23
  • 1
    Because there are 53 unique Rares and 15 unique Mythic Rares, so on each sheet there are 106 Rare cards and 15 Mythic Rare cards which comes out to the distribution seen in boosters. – diego Nov 24 '14 at 22:26
  • Interesting; this means that each mythic card is only twice as rare as each rare, not 7 times as rare. Secondary market prices seem more skewed than this. – Zags Nov 24 '14 at 22:30
  • @Zags You forget the demand side of the supply/demand equation. Sure, Mythics are "only" twice as rare, but they also usually include the most sought after cards. (Hello Planeswalkers!) – ghoppe Nov 24 '14 at 22:38
  • @ghoppe I didn't forget demand side at all; I'm just surprised that mythics are only actually twice as rare as rares given how big the price difference is. It's a credit to WotC R&D that they managed to make mythics fairly consistently more desirable cards than rares. – Zags Nov 24 '14 at 22:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.