8 minute read
With Enchanting Tales, Anime Enchanting Tales, List cards, foil-stamped Art Cards, and Wildcards that can be either Borderless, Showcase, Jumpstart, or Commander cards, never has there been a more confusing booster pack in the history of Magic: The Gathering. In this article, we will dissect the enigma of these Wilds of Eldraine Set Boosters, as well as use some hard numbers to calculate the expected value of the product. By the end, you’ll have a much better understanding of what all the Project Booster Fun variants and treatments mean for your value, and also where in the pack the value is coming from.
Table of Contents
Where do we start?
As with our Commander Masters Expected Value Breakdown, to find the mathematical value of Wilds of Eldraine Set Boosters, we must first understand what goes into the make-up of a pack, which is no easy feat in itself. Thankfully, as usual, Wizards of the Coast provide a (somewhat) useful infographic on the matter.
If only things were so simple! In reality, the infographic does not divulge some key bits of information needed for our calculations, such as the distribution of C/U/R/M in the Wildcard, Traditional Foil, and Enchanting Tales slots. Furthermore, we don’t know the frequency of the 5 non main-set card types in the Traditional Foil and Wildcard slots: Enchanting Tales, Borderless, Showcase, Jumpstart, and Commander.
Unfortunately for us, the only way to figure this out is to painstakingly watch some Set Booster openings and note down and categorise each card. Just to make things more difficult and confusing, the cards are also in a different order than the infographic suggests. Thanks, WotC!
After watching more pack openings than we would care to admit, we noticed some strange intricacies in the way the Set Packs and Wildcard slots are put together.
Whenever Wildcard #1 is an Enchanting Tales card, it jumps a slot in the pack and appears directly after the forced Enchanting Tales slot instead of coming after the main-set rare/mythic slot as usual. Not a big deal, and shouldn’t affect any numbers.
More concerning than the first issue, it seems that rares and mythics can only appear in the 1st Wildcard slot; the 2nd Wildcard slot can only ever be a common or uncommon.
Before we jump to conclusions about the 2nd issue, the rare/mythic pull rates from the 1st Wildcard slot lines up with what we would expect from both Wildcard slots put together. What's likely happening here is that the pack ordering is being forced to have the higher rarity cards towards the front of the pack, and the 1st Wildcard we see in any pack can actually be Wildcard #1 OR Wildcard #2 being forced to the front. We also believe, based on historical data, that there is a small chance of around 1.6% that the 2nd Wildcard slot can also contain a rare or mythic. Does this mean both slots would be bumped up in the pack together? Your guess is as good as ours but we're not going to watch enough openings to find out!
It’s all very confusing and we hope you’re still with us. To make things easier, we can break down each slot in the booster pack with what it can contain, as well as the probabilities involved.
Slot 1 - Token card, ad card, or The List card (25%)
Slot 2 - Traditional Foil (70% C, 17% U, 13% R or M)
Slot 3 - Enchanting Tales (97.2% Regular, 1.1% Rare Anime, 1.7% Mythic Anime)
Slot 4 - Main-set Rare (85.7%) or Mythic (14.3%)
Slot 5 - 1st Wildcard (49% C, 27.6% U, 23.4% R or M)
Slot 6 - Uncommon
Slot 7 - Uncommon
Slot 8 - Uncommon
Slot 9 - 2nd Wildcard (91% C, 7.4% U, 1.6% R or M)
Slot 10 - Common
Slot 11 - Common
Slot 12 - Common
Slot 13 - Basic Land (33% Full-Art, 20% Foil)
Slot 14 - Art Card (foil-stamped 10%)
The first thing we can do with this list is discount most of the slots as being worthless. Basic Lands (of any treatment), Commons, Uncommons, and even foil-stamped Art Cards have negligible value on average. This leaves us with: Slots 1, 2, 3, 4, and both Wildcards to consider.
Before we go further, we must note that all the card prices we use in this article are taken from Cardmarket, and always the lowest price listing for each card. The spreadsheet for all of our workings can be found at the end of this article so you can customise your own data set with prices of your own choosing.
Is the Wilds of Eldraine List worth anything?
We’ll start with Slot 1, which can contain a Token card (no value), ad card (definitely no value), or a List Card (hopefully some value?). Luckily, WotC do us a solid here and specify that List Cards appear exactly 25% of the time in this slot. With the Wilds of Eldraine List, we are also told that 5% of the time, the List card will be selected from a pool of 6 special SLX (Secret Lair X The Walking Dead) options.
With that in mind, now we just have to gather the price data for all 185 cards in the Wilds of Eldraine List, split the 179 regular cards and 6 SLX cards into a separate pools and find the average card price for each pool. We can then weight the main pool by 95% and the SLX pool by 5%, leading to a combined total of €1.11. However, with List cards only making an appearance in 25% of Set Boosters, the EV per pack of this slot is 1.11/4 or 0.278. Yes, there are some good mythics on The List, but their value is heavily diluted when weighted for the probability of being pulled - sorry to disappoint! With 185 cards, we'll not post an image of our workings but you can find the entire spreadsheet at the end of this article.
Wilds of Eldraine Enchanting Tales
Next up, it’s the Enchanting Tales slot. Enchanting Tales are similar to the Mystical Archive cards from Strixhaven, a ‘mini set’ of cards with special art treatment that can be pulled through various boosters in the Wilds of Eldraine product range.
According to WotC, the dedicated Enchanting Tales slot in Set Boosters has a 97.2% chance of containing a regular Enchanting Tales card, and a 2.8% chance of containing an Anime Enchanting Tales card. We’re given a handy breakdown of the 2.8% Anime chance into 1.1% of an Anime Rare and a 1.7% chance of an Anime Mythic. We’re given no such breakdown with the remaining 97.2%, but we can go with the historical observed pull rates of 72/147 Uncommon, 60/142 Rare, and 15/142 Mythic. With this information, we can now collect the relevant price data and do some simple calculations for this slot.
After multiplying each card's value by its probability of being pulled and adding everything together, we get an expected value of 1.33 for this Enchanting Tales slot.
Wilds of Eldraine Wildcards are, well, wild
Now we move onto the trickiest slot in the pack to make sense of. As explained above, much of what we do here will be based on our observations, our assumptions, and historical data on pull rates.
The first step to untangling this mess is to understand exactly which cards can appear as Wildcards. This select pool of cards contains: any card from the main-set (276 cards), borderless (11 cards), showcase (20 cards), jumpstart (15 cards), enchanting tales (63 regular, 20 anime), and commander (8 cards). The second step is to split this huge pool of cards by rarity and consider the Wildcard pull rates established above:
1st Wildcard (49% C, 27.6% U, 23.4% R or M)
2nd Wildcard (91% C, 7.4% U, 1.6% R or M)
Luckily for our calculations and sanity, commons and uncommons remain value-less and we need only focus on the rares and mythics. Once we have separated these from the pool, we need to take into account the forced historical pull rates between rares and mythics of about 6/7 and 1/7 respectively.
For example, the Wildcard pool has 124 rares and 65 mythics. The probability of any rare being pulled is not 1/189 but 1/124 multiplied by the rare-pool weighting of 6/7. Similarly, the chance of any one mythic being pulled is 1/65 * 1/7. With that in mind, we can weight all the rares and mythics appropriately to get an expected value of 1.411.
As the 1st Wildcard has a 23.4% chance of a card from this pool worth 1.411, the expected value of the 1st Wildcard is 1.411 * 0.234 = 0.33. Similarly the expected value of the 2nd Wildcard slot is 1.411 * 0.016 = 0.023.
Based on the information from WotC, the card pool for the Traditional Foil slot should be identical to that of the Wildcard slots, with one key difference: they are all foils. The Traditional Foil slot should also have a rare/mythic hit rate of about 13% - the same as each Wildcard slot (remember, the lopsided weightings of 23.4% and 1.6% are only to visualise the forced ordering of the packs!).
All we have to do now is repeat the process of weighting the rares and mythics but for a pool of foil cards and their prices. Once done, we are left with an expected value of 3.131, and multiplying by 13% gets us to 0.407.
Lastly, we just need to figure out the value of the main-set rare/mythic slot. Just as before, we collect price data for every card that can appear in this slot and then weight them by the usual 6/7 and 1/7. Again, as this slot contains 80 potential cards, we’ll not post an image but you can find our full workings in a google spreadsheet at the bottom of the article. With this main-set rare/mythic slot resulting in 0.811 of EV, we can now add everything together for our Set Booster EV...
|Slot||Cardmarket EV (€)|
|Main-set R or M||0.811|
|Set Booster Pack EV||3.179|
|Set Booster Box EV||95.37|
As we can see from the table, we get a final Set Booster Pack EV of €3.18 and Box EV of €95.37. With a Set Booster Box currently selling for €111, the expected value of what's inside doesn't quite match the price tag - not worth it from a simple money in vs money out standpoint.
However, it is exceptionally rare for the contents of a box to be worth more or even the same as the sealed price, with many recent MTG products suffering from overprinting and terrible EV ratios. In comparison, the €95.37 vs €111 is relatively healthy. Part of the value of opening a Set Booster Box is the fun of the opening itself. This intangible value is impossible to put a number on and will vary from person to person!
Beyond expected value
While the expected value of a product is a useful metric, it does not tell the whole story. Over smaller samples of packs and boxes, you will never reach the long term expected value, and other metrics can be more useful to gain valuable insights into the reality of cracking packs. To calculate these metrics, we have to simulate thousands of booster packs to get an idea of what's going on.
From our simulation, we get a median pack value of €1.77, almost €1.50 below the expected value we calculated. This difference will be wholly down to the low-frequency, high-end chase cards skewing up the EV disproportionately compared to the median. The median is just that - the middle value of all booster packs, meaning every Set Booster opened has a 50% chance of being above or below this middle value.
Repeating this process for Set Booster Boxes gives us the following distribution:
Similar to the booster packs, the Wilds of Eldraine Booster Box has a median value below the expected value - €89.02 vs €95.37. There is also a 25% chance a Set Booster Box contains less than €76 in value, and a 25% chance it contains over €104 in value. The standard deviation is €21 meaning that, box to box, you are likely to experience quite some variations in the value pulled.
So, there we have it. All the numbers you need to know for the Wilds of Eldraine Set Boosters! Of course, the numbers you see here are just a snapshot in time, and prices are always moving; so please don't take any of this as financial advice! Hopefully, if you have stuck through until the end, then you have gained some valuable insight into what goes into these mind boggling packs, and can attempt to calculate the values of future products for yourself.