In Magic the Gathering there are 4 rarity levels: common, uncommon, rare and mythical rare. In a booster pack you usually get 10 commons, 3 uncommons and 1 rare or 1 mythical rare. In Innistrad that changed a little. Instead of 10 commons you only get 9 and a dual-side card of random rarity. In addition you have the chance to get an additional foil card or a land or a token. As far as I know the cards who actually fill those card-slots are chosen randomly from the card-pool.

I wonder if all cards of the same "rarity level" are really equally rare within this card-pool. Lets take "Army of the Damned" and "Liliana of the Veil" for example. Both are mythical rare. When I buy a booster pack, are the changes of getting "Army of the Damned" the same as "Liliana of the Veil"? Did Wizards of the Coast ever made a public statement about that or are there statistics available?

  • 7
    Cool trivia: you can get 3 rares in a pack in Innistrad: your regular rare, a foil rare, and a flip rare. I saw it happen at the pre-release, it was pretty cool.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Oct 3, 2011 at 1:59
  • 3
    Haha, I opened Bloodline|Lord of Lineage, Reaper from the Abyss, and Foil Devil's Play in a draft, hardest first pick ever!
    – Affe
    Commented Oct 3, 2011 at 22:15

5 Answers 5


I believe that, these days, a card at one level of commonality is pretty much equally common (or rare) as a card at another level. However, it's pretty hard to work out exactly what the chances of getting a card of a specific rarity is, due to the complications introduced by premium foils, and other maverick card slots such as Innistrad's double-faced cards, which are going to get a slot all of their own. I dug up the following information from Wikipedia to demonstrate quite how arcane the system of putting together a modern booster pack is:

15 cards per booster: 1 rare, 3 uncommons and 11 commons; Core Set boosters contain a basic land as one of the commons. Starting with the Shards of Alara block, booster packs for both Core Sets and Expansions began to contain 1 land, 10 commons, 3 uncommons, either 1 rare (7/8 chance) or 1 mythic rare (1/8 chance), and either a tip card (which explains the new rules in the set, such as exalted in the Alara Block or Infect in the Scars of Mirrodin Block) or a token (which is of a type produced by a card in the set). Also, roughly one in every four booster packs contain a foil card, which can be of any rarity, including basic land. Since foil cards replace a common, no matter what the rarity of the foil, it means that there is a chance that a booster pack could contain 2 rares, a rare and a mythic rare, or even 2 mythic rares. Also, the presence of a foil card means that there is a chance that there are two of the same card in the booster pack (one foil and one regular), which would not occur otherwise.

Note: Innistrad boosters, first released in September of 2011, contain a slightly different proportion of cards due to the introduction of double-faced cards. In Innistrad boosters one of the 10 commons is replaced by a double-sided card. This double-sided card can be of any rarity and either regular or foil, with the likelihood of a specific card being present depending on its rarity. Also, there is roughly a 3/4 chance that the basic land will be replaced by a checklist. Finally, non-double-sided foil cards may still be present, probably still in roughly 1/4 of the boosters.

I believe this means that in Innistrad, you could get a pack containing 3 Mythics - one in the normal rare slot, one in foil replacing a common, and one in the double-faced card slot. And of course, you still hear rumours of errors at the factory producing all-rare packs from time to time!

To answer your more specific question, though, I believe Wizards have print runs of commons, uncommons and rares, in which each card at a specific rarity is printed once per sheet; so in theory at least any given rare (or whatever) should occur exactly as often as any other given rate. This wasn't always the case: in the old days you had things like "C1" and "C3" rarity, which meant that the first card would be printed only once per "common sheet", making it exactly three times as rare as a "C3", that is to say about as rare as an uncommon! There were also accidents of history, such as when only half of the Legends uncommon sheets were shipped to certain locations (such as the UK, where I lived at the time), making some uncommons easy to get hold of in my location, and some like gold dust...

As I say, I'm pretty sure they don't do this kind of thing any more though. A rare is a rare is a rare... unless it's a mythic of course!

  • There are still rare exceptions to the "once per sheet" thing. In Rise of the Eldrazi, the two common Eldrazi, Hand of Emrakul and Ulamog's Crusher, were printed 1.5 times as often as the other commons (basically something like 2 cards in 3 common slots, alternating 2:1 and 1:2 on different sheets). That's why the set has 248 cards.
    – Alex P
    Commented May 23, 2012 at 16:07
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    In your first sentence, don't you mean "pretty much equally common (or rare) as a card at the same level"? Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 18:33

First thing to understand is that magic boosters are not assembled randomly. The cards are printed in sheets, cut up and packaged in order. There's one sheet for the rares per set (although there may be more than one printed in slightly different order to thwart box mappers), and the sheets are 11 x 11, or 121 cards. What's on them isn't super secret or anything, they turn up, Wizards gives them as thank-yous sometimes, or they show up as tournament prizes.

Anyway, at 121 cards for the rare sheet, you can see this actually come out in the set design, as a constraint on the designers is that they have to be able to print and package the cards!

Innistrad has 53 non-double faced rares and 15 non-double faced mythic rares. 53 * 2 rares on the sheet + 15 mythics on the sheet = 121 cards! Therefore there are 7 times more rares than mythic rares and a mythic rare is in roughly every 8th booster.

So in order for Army of the Damned to actually be more common than Lilliana of the Veil, that means Army of the Damned would be on the sheet twice, making some other rare a 'secret mythic!' While anything is of course possible, deceiving customers like that in a way that will eventually come out when someone sees the sheet, just doesn't add up for a company like WOTC.

Remember, for every time you say "WTFMates, yet another Army of the Damned?" some kid in a comic shop somewhere is whooping for joy over getting two Lilianas in two packs. Partly from shop owners dumping the last of one box into another, messing with the distribution, and partly because once the boosters are made wizards does do some sort of pseudo random collating to get in the way of people who would "map" boxes based on the order of the print run. This means you will occasionally get two of the same non-foil mythic in a single booster box. (making it possibly look more common.)


Other answers have touched on modern boosters, so I thought I'd answer the question for the older stuff.

In older sets (prior to Exodus), there wasn't specifically a "rare" rarity level ("mythic" is, of course, an even newer invention in MtG than rare). Cards were printed on a common sheet or an uncommon sheet, and not all cards were printed the same number of times on each sheet!

Today, those cards' rarity is referred to by the sheet it was printed on and the number of times is was printed. For example, a C1 card was printed once on the common sheet, and U2 was printed twice on the uncommon sheet. U1 cards are generally considered the "rare" cards of their expansions. However, because these older sets were larger, a specific U1 was more rare than a specific rare today.

Trivia #1: There is one card printed at C11 -- Desert, from Arabian Nights.

Trivia #2: In the early days, the MtG developers wanted to obfuscate how rare the different cards were. Because of this, one of the Island cards in Alpha was a U1! A rare basic land, who would have thought?


Overall, most cards of the same rarity have the same frequency of occurring. As an exception, in sets with 101 commons, exactly 1 common is short printed and shows up 5 times for every 6 times each other common in the set would.

This is because there are 2 Print Sheets of 121 cards, Sheet A with 60 cards showing up twice and 1 showing once and Sheet B has 40 cards showing 3 times and the same card showing once. Sheet A and B are printed at a ratio of 3:2.

For sets containing double-faced cards, the double-faced cards use their own sheet. For example, in shadows over innistrad, a regular uncommon card would occur exactly 1/80 + 1/79 + 1/78 times per pack on average (3.8% of the time), while a double-faced uncommon would occur exactly 1/30 times per pack on average (3.3% of the time).

Both the double-sided uncommons and commons occur on the same sheet in SOI, as there are only 5 double-sided commons in the set. This is also assuming the double-sided uncommons occur 4 times per sheet, while commons 8 times per sheet, which creates the ratio closest to the regular ratio, the closest ratio on the other side would be uncommons 5 times per sheet, commons 4 times would have each unique uncommon show up more often than each unique common which is opposite of normal.


Although the cards are equally distributed by rarity, there have been times when issues involving sorting and packaging have made certain cards more likely to appear together, or in the same booster box, or even be more likely depending on the area of the country you are in.

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