Run around Magic: The Gathering circles long enough and you’ll eventually hear someone ask, “So, what exactly is The List?” Answers will range from shrugs of shared naivety to exasperated sighs as someone launches into an explanation of Timeshifted cards, reprint value and booster pack slots.
The curated selection of reprints from the popular trading card game’s history has changed several times since its introduction in 2020 - lending more confusion to an already obscure feature - but the introduction of the unified Play Booster next year marks Wizards of the Coast’s latest attempt to wrangle The List into something even casual pack crackers can understand.
First, some history: The List was introduced alongside Set Boosters with 2020’s Zendikar Rising set and was philosophically pitched as a curated list of reprinted cards from throughout MTG’s history that might show up in roughly one out of every four booster packs. It contained 300 cards in its first iteration, ranging across the rarity spectrum from common to mythic rare, and all were printed in their original styles. Wizards would prune The List slightly between sets to better fit its theme, swapping no more than 75 cards at a time.
Once Universes Beyond entered the scene, Wizards conscripted The List to house the mechanically unique cards printed for Secret Lairs (think The Walking Dead and Street Fighter crossovers) approximately six months after they were initially available. These in-universe versions were reportedly made more abundant in Set Boosters - Draft Boosters never contained cards from The List. Streets of New Capenna’s iteration of The List contained only 67 cards, but that number ballooned back to 300 for Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate.
Play Boosters arrive in February 2024, accompanying the Murders at Karlov Manor set. One slot in the 14-card pack will be dedicated to a card from a new version of the list that now only contains 40 reprinted cards. Thirty of these will be commons or uncommons, while the rest can be either rare or mythic rare - all cards will boast new art treatments for their The List counterparts.
The List will keep its 12.5% chance of appearing in Play Boosters’ seventh common slot, meaning roughly one out of every eight packs will contain something from the newly curated List. It might also be a Special Guest, a new initiative Wizards of the Coast will introduce in this year’s The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. Special Guests are specially selected reprints that thematically fit the current set and will be reprinted with new art fitting the corresponding set’s style. Ten Special Guests will rotate through the list, bringing the grand total of possibilities to 50 reprinted cards.
As head designer Mark Rosewater broke down in a recent blog explaining the logic and philosophy behind Play Boosters, The List is now slightly easier to parse in its dedicated pack slot:
- 87.5% - Common from current set:
- 9.38% - Common/Uncommon pulled from The List
- 1.56% - Rare/Mythic Rare pulled from The List (not Special Guest)
- 1.56% - Special Guest reprint from current version of The List
Wizards of the Coast has not provided the contents of the significantly pared down version of The List coming next year. Dicebreaker has reached out for more information. The publisher will likely provide more information as we get closer to Murders at Karlov Manor’s preview season in 2024
What does this mean for MTG Arena?
Play Boosters will jump to digital and replace the booster packs currently available on MTG Arena, as the company has dedicated itself to as much parity between the two versions as possible. (Shoo, Alchemy, not now.) But not every card on the current List has been added to Arena’s online repertoire, so Wizards has devised a specific solution.
Play Boosters will be used in all of MTG Arena’s limited formations (Quick and Premiere Draft, Sealed, etc.) but will contain “a few card swaps on The List to mesh better with MTG Arena's formats”, according to a recent blog. The design teams for both physical and digital will apparently communicate these substitutions for all sets following Murders at Karlov Manor.
Play Boosters purchased directly from the MTG Arena store or earned through rewards, mastery passes and so on will be identical to their tabletop counterparts. Wizards of the Coast said that the price of limited events on MTG Arena will not be increasing - a stark difference to the future cost of entry of physical draft, sealed and prerelease events.