Buy-a-Box

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Buy-a-Box promotional cards are cards given away for purchasing a booster box of Magic cards at certain local game stores.

History[edit | edit source]

The Buy-a-Box promotion is designed to increase box sales at local game stores.[1] Initially they were foil cards with alternate art, bearing the five mana symbols arranged in a circle as a watermark. Starting with Dominaria, they are unique cards that are part of the relevant set, but can't be found in booster packs.

In 2020, an additional Buy-Any-Box was introduced. This was given away when any Booster Box was purchased.[2][3]

List of Buy-a-Box promos[edit | edit source]

The following table is a list of booster box promo cards:

Card Set Date
Honor of the Pure Magic 2010 2009-07
Day of Judgment Zendikar 2009-10
Celestial Colonnade Worldwake 2010-02
Guul Draz Assassin Rise of the Eldrazi 2010-04
Birds of Paradise Magic 2011 2010-07
Memoricide Scars of Mirrodin 2010-10
Mirran Crusader Mirrodin Besieged 2011-02[4]
Surgical Extraction New Phyrexia 2011-05[5]
Chandra's Phoenix Magic 2012 2011-07[6]
Devil's Play Innistrad 2011-09[7]
Gravecrawler Dark Ascension 2012-02[8]
Silverblade Paladin Avacyn Restored 2012-05[9]
Cathedral of War Magic 2013 2012-07[10]
Supreme Verdict Return to Ravnica 2012-10[11]
Nightveil Specter Gatecrash 2013-02[12]
Render Silent Dragon's Maze 2013-05[13]
Ratchet Bomb Magic 2014 2013-07[14]
Sylvan Caryatid Theros 2013-09[15]
Fated Conflagration Born of the Gods 2014-02[16]
Eidolon of Blossoms Journey into Nyx 2014-05[17]
Goblin Rabblemaster Magic 2015 2014-07[18]
Rattleclaw Mystic Khans of Tarkir 2014-09[19]
Shamanic Revelation Fate Reforged 2015-01[20]
Ojutai's Command Dragons of Tarkir 2015-03[21]
Relic Seeker Magic Origins 2015-07 [22]
Ruinous Path Battle for Zendikar 2015-10 [23]
Goblin Dark-Dwellers Oath of the Gatewatch 2016-01[24]
Elusive Tormentor // Insidious Mist Shadows over Innistrad 2016-04[25]
Thalia, Heretic Cathar Eldritch Moon 2016-07[26]
Skyship Stalker Kaladesh 2016-09[27]
Scrap Trawler Aether Revolt 2017-01[28]
Archfiend of Ifnir Amonkhet 2017-04[29]
Wildfire Eternal Hour of Devastation 2017-07[30]
Burning Sun's Avatar Ixalan 2017-09
Captain's Hook Rivals of Ixalan 2018-01[31]
Firesong and Sunspeaker* Dominaria 2018-04[32]
Nexus of Fate* Core Set 2019 2018-07[33]
Impervious Greatwurm* Guilds of Ravnica 2018-10[34]
The Haunt of Hightower* Ravnica Allegiance 2019-01[35]
Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge* War of the Spark 2019-04[36]
Rienne, Angel of Rebirth* Core Set 2020 2019-07[37]
Kenrith, the Returned King* Throne of Eldraine 2019-09[38]
Athreos, Shroud-Veiled* Theros Beyond Death 2020-01[39]
Zilortha, Strength Incarnate* Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths 2020-04
Hangarback Walker* Buy-Any-Box 2020-05[2][3]
Rin and Seri, Inseparable* Core Set 2021 2020-06[40]

^* Exclusive card, not found in draft booster packs of the main set.

Controversy[edit | edit source]

Nexus of Fate

As the promo for Dominaria, Firesong and Sunspeaker, was the only way to obtain this card, its release was heavily criticized. A comparison was made with the exclusive release of Nalathni Dragon in 1994, after which Wizards of the Coast had vouched to make all cards available one way or another for the main public.[41][42][43][44] Because it had served its purpose (promoting local game stores and furthering sales), WotC decided to offer a mechanically unique Buy-a-Box promo card at local game stores with each major set release for the foreseeable future.[45][46][47] However, they held the possibility open to reprint the promos in other products.[48]

This controversy only magnified with the release of Core Set 2019 and Nexus of Fate; while Firesong and Sunspeaker was of a medium power level and likely not required for any more than one copy per player as a Commander, Nexus of Fate was radically different. The ability to take another turn is extremely powerful, and the in-built recursion incentivizes players to run a full playset; ultimately, Pro Tour 25th Anniversary had several successful pilots of Turbo-Fog variants with playsets of Nexus of Fate, resulting in a massive spike of the card price.[49][50] The next two promos for Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance passed without incident, but Nexus of Fate's problems were clearly more of an issue of card power and the promo card status only served to exacerbate controversy over its unfun gameplay patterns. This led to a ban in Arena Standard.[51] Since, R&D intends to be more careful with the Standard viability of the Buy-a-Box cards, but they don't intend to stop making them.[52]

The promo for Throne of Eldraine, Kenrith, The Returned King was regarded as a card with potential, but not nearly as powerful as Nexus. There is a new wrinkle, however; non-foil versions could be attained through Collector Boosters, which may result in a new set of controversy as it means that since it is theoretically possible to construct a decklist without the foil version that it cannot be excused to be playing the promo foil option. This ultimately did not come to pass, as despite being widespread play (2-4 copies in a top metagame share deck), very few high-level Standard tournaments were held on paper (as opposed to on MTG Arena) and the ones that would have been were cancelled in the wake of the COVID outbreak.

Box toppers[edit | edit source]

Main article: Box topper

Another take on booster box promo card, are the box toppers. Unlike Buy-a-Box promos, these are packaged within the booster box.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mark Rosewater (September 02, 2018). "Are buy-a-box promos more for the company and sales or because of the player base requesting them?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  2. a b Wizards of the Coast (May 18, 2020). "Announcing Love Your LGS Promotion". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  3. a b WPN (May 26, 2020). "The First Buy-Any-Box Promo Card Is Coming Soon". Wizards Play Network.
  4. Monty Ashley (December 13, 2010). "Sights From Worlds". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Wizards of the Coast (April 27, 2011). "New Phyrexia's Buy a Box Promotion". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Monty Ashley (May 23, 2011). "Magic 2012 Core Set Buy-a-Box Card". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Monty Ashley (August 29, 2011). "Innistrad Promo Cards". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Monty Ashley (January 9, 2012). "Dark Ascension Promo Cards". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Monty Ashley (April 10, 2012). "Avacyn Restored Promo Cards". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Monty Ashley (June 20, 2012). "Magic 2013 Promo Cards". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Monty Ashley (September 11, 2012). "Return to Ravnica Promo Cards". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Monty Ashley (January 02, 2013). "Gatecrash Promo Cards". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Trick Jarrett (April 11, 2013). "Dragon's Maze Promos & Tokens". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Trick Jarrett (June 25, 2013). "Magic 2014—Core Set Promos & Tokens". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Wizards of the Coast (September 18, 2013). "Buy a Box Promotion". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Wizards of the Coast (January 16, 2014). "Buy a Box Promotion". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Trick Jarrett (April 09, 2014). "Journey into Nyx Promos". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Blake Rasmussen (June 30, 2014). "Promos, Packaging, and Promos Some More". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Blake Rasmussen (September 4, 2014). "Khans of Tarkir Promos". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  20. Blake Rasmussen (January 2, 2015). "Fate Reforged Promos". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  21. Blake Rasmussen (March 4, 2015). "Dragons of Tarkir". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  22. Blake Rasmussen (June 23, 2015). "Origins Promo Cards". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  23. Blake Rasmussen (September 7, 2015). "The Promos of Battle for Zendikar". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  24. Blake Rasmussen (December 29, 2015). "The Promos of Oath of the Gatewatch". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  25. Blake Rasmussen (March 14, 2016). "The Promos of Shadows over Innistrad". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  26. Blake Rasmussen (July 7, 2016). "Eldritch Moon Tokens and Promo Cards". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  27. Blake Rasmussen (September 6, 2016). "Kaladesh Packaging, Promos, and Planeswalker Decks". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  28. Blake Rasmussen (December 5, 2016). "Aether Revolt Packaging, Promos, and Planeswalker Decks". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  29. Blake Rasmussen (March 27, 2017). "So Much Amonkhet News". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  30. Blake Rasmussen (June 17, 2017). "The Promos and Planeswalker Decks for Hour of Devastation". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  31. Blake Rasmussen (December 11, 2017). "Rivals of Ixalan Promos, Packaging, and More!". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  32. Blake Rasmussen (March 21, 2018). "Dominaria Buy-A-Box Pre-Order Promotion". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  33. Blake Rasmussen (June 11, 2018). "Core Set 2019 Packaging, Promos, and More". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  34. Blake Rasmussen (September 4, 2018). "Guilds of Ravnica Packaging, Promos, and More". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  35. Blake Rasmussen (December 17, 2018). "Ravnica Allegiance Promos and Packaging". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  36. Chris Gleeson (April 1, 2019). "War of the Spark Promos and Packaging". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  37. Chris Gleeson (June 17, 2019). "Core Set 2020 Promos and Packaging". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  38. Chris Gleeson (September 20, 2019). "Throne of Eldraine Promos". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  39. Blake Rasmussen (January 9, 2020). "Theros Beyond Death Promos". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  40. Ari Zirulnik (June 4, 2020). "Core Set 2021 Product Overview". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  41. Firesong and Sunspeaker sets a dangerous precedent. (Reddit)
  42. "Wizards decided to stop producing mechanically unique cards outside of booster packs." (Reddit)
  43. About the exclusive buy a box promo thing.... (Reddit)
  44. Blake Rasmussen Twitter
  45. Katie Allison (May 18, 2018). "Buy-A-Box Preorder Promotion Continues!". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  46. Mark Rosewater (May 18, 2018). "Going forward, we'll be continuing this promotion.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  47. Mark Rosewater (May 19, 2018). "Are you aware how it must appear when one promise is broken and another upheld?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  48. Mark Rosewater (May 18, 2018). "On the subject of the unique buy-a-box promos". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  49. Nexus of Fate is mjor problem. (Reddit)
  50. Nexus of Fate up 17.3% since yesterday and rising. (Reddit)
  51. Wizards of the Coast (February 14, 2019). "MTG Arena Banned and Restricted Announcement". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  52. Mark Rosewater (April 09, 2019). "How could WotC do this to us?". Blogatog. Tumblr.