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Token Rarity

Happy Tuesday MTG peeps,

Today we wanted to talk about a rather interesting image posted by Redditor 'DeliciousCrepes' which qualitatively shows the rarity of tokens from 36 Battle for Zendikar Booster Boxes.  Yep - that is a total of 1,296 booster packs, a sample size that we would feel confident with on making some general observations on the distribution of specific tokens within booster packs - at least for the latest Magic: the Gathering set.

When we first started playing shortly after the release of Lorwyn, we suffered a certain level of naivety with regards to the distribution and availability of tokens included within booster packs.  We really had not given it much thought until Scars of Mirrodin was release and we wanted to acquire the accompanying wurm tokens (the 2 lifelink and deathtouch 3/3 wurms) to the lovely Wurmcoil Engine we were lucky to pull from a booster pack.  To our surprise, we could secure these, but only by purchasing them for $4 each.  We quickly realised that our false belief that these 'free' token cards that came with (almost) every booster pack had a certain rarity to them which was also tempered by an additional complexity driven by consumer demand.

What we came to realise, is that there was a loose relationship between the rarity of a token and the particular spell (card) which created it.  This was most recently confirmed by Mark Rosewater in a Tumblr post from October 18, 2015 who indicates that a "Tokens’ rarity is based upon the rarity (or rarities) of the cards that make them".  

This statement may be modified slightly for Battle for Zendikar as it is now widely thought that the occurence of an 'advertisement' card in each booster pack was reduced so that the ratio would be approximatley 1 of 10 packs would contain an advertisement.  Contrariwise, 9 of every 10 packs would produce a token.  At this time, we are uncertain what the ration may have been previously.  To throw another level of complexity into this, a token's rarity may also be affected by how many spells / cards produce said token.  by way of example, the 1/1 White Kor Ally (token 6/11) is produced by only two cards (Retreat to Emeria and Unified Front), whereas the 1/1 Colourless Eldrazi Scion (tokens 2/11, 3/11, 4/11) are produced by 15 different cards.

Anywhos, in Battle for Zendikar, there was a total of 14 tokens, which also includes 3 emblems created by Planeswalkers.  Redditor DeliciousCrepes found that the rarest token was was the 10/10 colourless Eldrazi creature token (1/14) created by Desolation Twin, a rare card.  This is rather interesting as there was only 18 copies of this 10/10 Eldrazi token in 1,242 packs - one would have thought perhaps one of the (Mythic Rare) Planeswalker Emblems would have been.  One observation is that Desolation Twin has a whopping casting cost of 10 which means the Twin may not show up in games as often as compared to Dragonmaster Outcast which is able to generate a 5/5 Red Dragon creature token with flying, also a rare, but has a casting cost of only one.

We are only scrapping the surface here but will say that although very cool to know, we still relish playing Magic: the Gathering with its complexities and a small measure of inherent mysterious unknown.


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