How to Understand Magic: The Gathering Rarity

Last Update: March 26, 2023 5:41 PM /


Magic The Gathering Rarity

 It's hard to talk about competitive Trading Card Games without immediately thinking of Magic The Gathering. With it almost being around for 30 years the iterations and advancement that these cards have been through are mindblowing from original rare cards like the Black Lotus, all the way to their newest releases. As these Trading Cards don't seem to be losing steam you might be looking to get into the game, or wanting to revisit your old collection. This Magic The Gathering Rarity guide will help teach you what to be looking out for as you look through your cards so you know what might be worth something, and what is a common card.

If you're interested in rarity in different card games, after you finish this article you should also check out our exploration of Pokemon Card rarity and Digimon card rarity!

How do I find out the rarity of my Magic The Gathering cards?

Knowing the signs of Magic The Gathering Rarity isn't just important for those interested in the resale of cards for profit. Wizards of the Coast tends to make common cards more simplistic in terms of abilities and mechanics, that's not to say that common cards don't deserve a place in your deck, just that your Rare or higher cards will likely allow you more opportunities to gain the upper hand in battles, or turn the tides.

There are slower ways to verify the rarity of your Magic The Gathering cards but Wizards of the Coast has marked on each card what its rarity is in a number of locations. The image below is of a Grand Abolisher card from the Magic The Gathering set Archenemy: Nicol Bolas.

Magic The Gathering Rarity Reference

You can tell the Magic: The Gathering Rarity based on either the symbol to the right in the middle of the card on its type line.

Here (1) you'll see a symbol, depending on what color is in the symbol will determine which type of rarity the card is. In this example we see that Grand Abolisher has a yellow/gold Expansion Symbol icon, this informs us that he is a Rare card. You can also look at the lower-left corner of the card (2) to find a letter. The R here on Grand Abolisher confirms yet again that this is a Rare card. Cards of Rare or Mythic Rarity will also have a foil sticker in the lower center of the card. While the symbol being representative of rarity is like Pokemon, the number in the lower left is similar to Digimon.

The list of Magic The Gathering Rarities in order and how to distinguish them are as follows

Rarity Expansion Symbol Color Lower Left Initial
Land Black/Clear L
Common Black/Clear C
Uncommon Silver U
Rare Gold R
Mythic Red M

Below is a representation of what each of those colors will look like on the card.

Magic the Gathering Rarity Colors
From Common all the way to Mythic


How many cards do I get in a Magic The Gathering Booster Pack?

How about I answer your question with another question, what type of Booster Pack are you looking to purchase? In recent years Wizards of the Coast have sought a way to change the way they deliver cards to players. What was the standard Booster Packs could now be called Draft Boosters, and accompanying them are Set Boosters, Collector Boosters and more. With these other variations of Boosters there can be a different number of cards in the pack, and different chances of getting cards. Below we have a breakdown of what it's like purchasing a Standard/Draft Booster Pack

A pack of Magic The Gathering cards contains in it 15 playable cards for Magic The Gathering as well as a token card. The rarity of the cards that you get will be as follows:

  • 10 Common Rarity
  • 3 Uncommon Rarity
  • 1 Rare or Mythic (The chance for this Rare/Mythic slot of the Booster Pack to be a Mythic is 1/8)
  • 1 Basic Land

The token card will usually represent some kind of token that links to other cards in the set.

Using this spread it informs us that if you were to purchase a Booster Box (which contains 36 Booster Packs) you'll on average receive the following spread of cards:

  • 360 Common Rarity
  • 108 Uncommon Rarity
  • 36 Rare or Mythic (Using the 1/8th chances of your Rare being a Mythic this would technically average to 4-5 Mythic cards but there's no guarantee)
  • 36 Basic Lands
  • 36 Token/Instruction Cards

While the above is the case for modern Magic The Gathering Booster Packs earlier packs for the Legends, Arabian Nights, and other expansions were sold in 8 card booster packs. From the Unlimited Edition onwards the format shifted to 15 cards per Booster Pack. 


How do Foil and other special Magic The Gathering cards come into play?

There are a number of special variants of Magic The Gathering cards you can happen across. Most commonly you'll see Foil and Etched Foil variants of cards. Practically any card has a chance of being a Foil card, but that chance is only about 1 in 45 so don't hold your breath. In terms of gameplay, a Foil Magic The Gathering card against a regular Magic The Gathering card has no difference. If you're looking to buy or sell Magic: The Gathering though the Foil Edition will likely go for a higher price.

There are also other special cards such as Promo cards, Timeshifted cards, and Masterpiece cards. These don't have any variation from the above listed Common through Mythic scheme but are rarer cards to acquire, especially the Masterpiece cards.


How much are rare Magic The Gathering cards worth?

It would be impossible to not notice the ever-popular exchange of single cards for money. While as a Booster Pack you might be buying 16 cards for a few dollars once you know what those cards are you'll be able to find out how much that card could be worth if sold separately. Normally cards of the Common and Uncommon variety don't go for enough for it to be worth investigating their worth, but when getting into Rare and Mythic cards, especially if they're Foil or any other special variety of card there's a chance that they could be sold for a higher price.

Another factor that goes into the sale of these cards is the quality that the card has been kept in. You might have a card that's extremely expensive in pristine condition, but if you left it under a couch for years and it's folded in half and dog-eared that value will begin to drop rapidly.

Grand Abolisher Magic the Gathering Rarity Page

Continuing with the example of the above Grand Abolisher from the Archenemy: Nicol Bolas set you can look it up on websites like TCG Player to find what people are actively trying to sell this card for. In Near Mint condition you'll see some sellers trying to offload this card for $40 or higher, and damaged editions have been put up for $20. Luckily these kinds of sites will also give you an average so you can know whether your deal is a steal... or if you're getting swindled. Some other recommended sites for purchasing and reselling are ChannelFireball and Card Kingdom.

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Andrew has written Video Game and Entertainment news, reviews, and guides for 10+ years. As Senior Content Manager, he assists in creating and editing… More about Andrew

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Learn more about Magic: The Gathering
Release Date
August 5, 1993 (Calendar)
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