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I'm a bit confused regarding the MTG sets. Currently I'm looking at several options to buy for a draft:

  • Core Set 2021 Display (36 Core Set boosters)
  • Expansion Set Display (36 Expansion Set boosters)
  • Core Set 2021 Planeswalker Deck (5 premade decks including planeswalkers)

My questions are the following:

  1. How can I get proper cards to build several decks, is it necessary to have cards from the Core Set in order to use cards from an Expansion Set, or do the Expansion Sets work standalone?
  2. Does it even make sense to go for a Core Set display, if there is the Core Set Planeswalker Deck, which includes (I assume) the strongest cards of that set and guarantees Planeswalkers? Getting the display would most likely result in worse cards, maybe not even a single Planeswalker, or am I missing something? Maybe they are more common than I think?
  3. How important are Planeswalkers for a proper deck, is a deck without inherently worse than a deck with or is it just a nice additional, which needs utilization?

Depending on the answers, I don't quite understand how drafting can be fair, in case a display contains only 1 Planeswalker, which which will give one player a huge advantage.

Update: We went for 10 Boosters each and built decks, which is more or less the play mode „Sealed“. After that we did the same again and now have a good pool of cards to build proper „constructed“ decks. One of us pulled a Planeswalker, the other didn‘t, but it was fair nevertheless; as pointed out in the answers a Planeswalker does not mean an unfair advantage whatsoever. I can highly recommend this way of getting into MTG if you already have knowledge of the game but lack the cards.

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Drafting is done with draft boosters (and cubes, which are created by players for the purpose of drafting), never with other sealed products. You will never draft from a planeswalker deck, these are meant to be played in a constructed setting (everyone has their own deck already built).

Yes, people will get lucky in drafts (and sealed) and get stronger decks than other people, but the way it is fair is that it relies on that luck, no one is guaranteed if you sit 4th at the table you will open a planeswalker, and the rares in the pack are not always the best cards (or even useful cards, particularly if you spent the first two packs drafting different colors from it) The fairness comes from a draft or sealed being all luck and skill, you can't just go online, find the decklist that is doing the best and just buy your way into wins by buying those cards, you have to build it out of whatever luck gives you.

Lets look at your 3 questions

How can I get proper cards to build several decks, is it necessary to have cards from the Core Set in order to use cards from an Expansion Set, or do the Expansion Sets work standalone?

In 2015 Magic Origins was released as the last core set they ever intended to make. This wasn't popular and in 2018 they released Core Set 2019 again, but for years there were no core sets. Core sets are generally useful cards that can fit into many different places, while expansion sets are more streamlined, with specific strategies and archetypes being better supported. You can make a deck out of nothing but core set cards, and you can make a deck out of nothing but cards from a single expansion - usually you will make decks using the best of both worlds.

As for how to get the cards, you buy them. You can either buy cards from the secondary market, cards that someone has already opened and is selling, or buy packs. You also get to keep cards you get out of drafts, so that can also be a good way of finding cards you want. Generally buying specific cards is less expensive to get a deck, as there's never a guarantee you will get the card you want out of packs.

Does it even make sense to go for a Core Set display, if there is the Core Set Planeswalker Deck, which includes (I assume) the strongest cards of that set and guarantees Planeswalkers? Getting the display would most likely result in worse cards, maybe not even a single Planeswalker, or am I missing something? Maybe they are more common than I think?

You are talking about what is usually called a booster box. There is no 100% guarantee in these, they will not specifically contain the strongest cards in a set (and it's arguable that most of the time there isn't a strongest card in the set, when there is it tends to get banned like Oko, Thief of Crowns or Omnath, Locus of Creation were). This is just a box with 36 boosters in it, and if you buy boosters individually they are taken out of one of these boxes. The Planeswalker decks don't tend to be particularly strong decks, generally they are supposed to be decently balanced against each other, meant as a way for relatively new players to get into the game without excessively worrying about the small details that can go into competitive deck choices. They definitely are not built with the intent of being the strongest cards in the set.

How important are Planeswalkers for a proper deck, is a deck without inherently worse than a deck with or is it just a nice additional, which needs utilization?

Not at all, most decks have no planeswalkers in them. They tend to be flashy cards that get to do one thing before people kill them off or the effects are too minor to care about. Talking about the planeswalker decks, the planeswalkers in these tend to be underwhelming. They are different from the planeswalkers in the set, usually have a lower power-to-cost ratio, and rarely see play.

How many Planeswalkers appear in Core Set Displays?

If it was released before 2007, the answer is 0, since the card type didn't exist before Llorwyn. If it's a set after that, the answer is anywhere between 0 and over 36, depending on the set. Only War of the Spark guaranteed planeswalkers, 1 to 3 per pack, other sets can have none in a box or two in one pack (foil and regular).


To explain the cost/benefit of the planeswalkers:

Oko, the TricksterOko, Thief of Crowns

These are the two copies of Oko that were in Eldraine. The first is the one that was in the preconstructed planeswaker deck (Note how the card is 309, it doesn't show that it's 309/269, showing that the card is outside the normal set cards), the second was the one you could get in packs. The planeswaker deck oko cost twice as much at 6 mana over the pack oko at 3. The abilities on the planeswalker deck Oko look flashy, but it takes 3 uses of the +1 to be able to get the ultimate ability off, 4 if you want Oko to survive it, and that's if no one kills him or hits him at all over those 4 or 5 turns. The pack Oko on the other hand can be played 2nd or 3rd turn, when people don't have much mana, is only 3 mana so you can play another one if the first one dies, and that +1 ability is all most people ever used, turning your own 1/1 creatures into 3/3s or turning your opponents big threats into plain creatures is a very powerful ability. Even if you wanted to use the pack Oko's ultimate ability, it takes one turn using his +2 to get there and he lives through it. This is pretty consistent over the other planeswalker deck walkers - they cost more and the effects look powerful, but the only really good one takes too long to be useful. Oko, the Trickster is too week and expensive for people to play, Oko, Thief of Crowns was so good he was banned 45 days after the set was released.

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    I really had a hard time to properly outline my concerns/questions, but somehow you covered all of them with your answer. a) the importance of planeswalkers, b) the viability of the planeswalkers from the premade decks c) the completeness of a Booster Box (I thought it covered all cards from that set according to their rarity distribution). I was confused by the cost/use ratio of Booster Box vs Premade Planeswalker decks, but apparently, I can get way better cards (and better planeswalkers) by getting a Booster Box. I'll get a Core Set Booster Box for my small, "private" Draft with a friend. – kopaka Feb 15 at 13:33
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    @kopaka I'll edit to explain – Andrew Feb 15 at 14:53
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OK. There seems to be quit a few misunderstanding here, but I think I managed to identify a core one.

Magic the Gatherging can be played in several ways, the 2 most importat ones being draft and constructed.
There are also quite a few different products out there. Some suite one play style. Other suit the other. Some, especially in case of draft play, are absolutely the wrong way to do things.

But lets work on the assumption that you want to play draft. These are usually organized by game stores or by groups or friends. Either way, what you need is 3 draft boosters per player. (Usually 6-8 players in total.) Please note that non-draft booster products also exist, namely the new set boosters. These are not designed for draft play. 2 player draft variants also exist, but I will not get into those right now.

As for what set to get, most products are desiged to be drafted set by set, meaning (at least for all sets in stores right now) all the boosters for all the players would be from the same set. Doesn't matter if it is an "expansion set" or a Core Set. In modern MtG Core Set aren't that different from any other set. They just tend to have a bit more simple design in the cards they offer, to offer a better starting point for newer players.

What about Planeswalker Decks? Those are mostly intended as a starting point for constructed play, where you build a 60 (or 100 for Commander) card deck from any cards from any sets that are considered legal for the format you wish to play. Most beginner friendly constructed format (outside Commander, that's a bit of an exception) is Standard.

Trying to draft these decks would be... odd. Not impossible, but they really aren't meant for this.

Given all this, your 3rd question kind of becomes irrelevant, but let me just state that no deck needs planeswalkers. The are pretty powerful cards and some decks can make great use of them, but others will work just fine without them.

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    I also get the feeling that "draft play" doesn't quite mean what you think it means, but that is a seperate question to deal with. I'm sure there will be a bit of back and forth as you start to understand things better. – DJ Pirtu Feb 12 at 14:32
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    Maybe also worth noting that at least this year, there is no Core Set (replaced by the D&D Forgotten Realms set instead). – Philip Kendall Feb 12 at 15:52
  • @PhilipKendall There was also the 3 year gap after Magic Origins where they were planning to do away with core sets until their players complained enough. – Andrew Feb 12 at 19:16
  • Okay maybe some misunderstanding, I initially asked another question, which was closed. Thanks for the elaborate answer though. I want to have a starting point of drafting a deck with a friend and using this initial draft as a base to move to constructed play. However, this initial draft session should be fair, in a sense that not one of us ends up having an uber deck with planeswalker etc., while the other ends up having trash. This leads me to another question, which might be the answer overall: Does a whole Booster Display cover every card of the Set distributed among all its boosters? – kopaka Feb 15 at 9:47
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    @kopaka Drafting with just 2 players is challening. And to answer your question about Booster Displays (in a short way, you can post a new question for more detailed answer), no. It's not even possible for the box to cover all the cards in the set. – DJ Pirtu Feb 15 at 10:30

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