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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.

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 July 17, 2009
Day of Judgment Zendikar October 2, 2009
Celestial Colonnade Worldwake February 5, 2010
Guul Draz Assassin Rise of the Eldrazi April 23, 2010
Birds of Paradise Magic 2011 July 16, 2010
Memoricide Scars of Mirrodin October 1, 2010
Mirran Crusader Mirrodin Besieged February 4, 2011[2]
Surgical Extraction New Phyrexia May 13, 2011[3]
Chandra's Phoenix Magic 2012 July 15, 2011[4]
Devil's Play Innistrad September 30, 2011[5]
Gravecrawler Dark Ascension February 3, 2012[6]
Silverblade Paladin Avacyn Restored May 4, 2012[7]
Cathedral of War Magic 2013 July 13, 2012[8]
Supreme Verdict Return to Ravnica October 5, 2012[9]
Nightveil Specter Gatecrash February 1, 2013[10]
Render Silent Dragon's Maze May 3, 2013[11]
Ratchet Bomb Magic 2014 July 19, 2013[12]
Sylvan Caryatid Theros September 27, 2013[13]
Fated Conflagration Born of the Gods February 7, 2014[14]
Eidolon of Blossoms Journey into Nyx May 2, 2014[15]
Goblin Rabblemaster Magic 2015 July 18, 2014[16]
Rattleclaw Mystic Khans of Tarkir September 30, 2014[17]
Shamanic Revelation Fate Reforged January 23, 2015[18]
Ojutai's Command Dragons of Tarkir March 27, 2015[19]
Relic Seeker Magic Origins July 17, 2015 [20]
Ruinous Path Battle for Zendikar October 2, 2015 [21]
Goblin Dark-Dwellers Oath of the Gatewatch January 22, 2016[22]
Elusive Tormentor // Insidious Mist Shadows over Innistrad April 8, 2016[23]
Thalia, Heretic Cathar Eldritch Moon July 22, 2016[24]
Skyship Stalker Kaladesh September 30, 2016[25]
Scrap Trawler Aether Revolt January 20, 2017[26]
Archfiend of Ifnir Amonkhet April 28, 2017[27]
Wildfire Eternal Hour of Devastation July 14, 2017[28]
Burning Sun's Avatar Ixalan September 29, 2017
Captain's Hook Rivals of Ixalan January 19, 2018[29]
Firesong and Sunspeaker* Dominaria April 27, 2018 [30]
Nexus of Fate* Core Set 2019 July 13, 2018[31]
Impervious Greatwurm* Guilds of Ravnica October 5, 2018[32]
The Haunt of Hightower* Ravnica Allegiance January 25, 2019[33]
Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge* War of the Spark April 27–28, 2019[34]
Rienne, Angel of Rebirth* Core Set 2020 July 5–7, 2019[35]
Kenrith, the Returned King* Throne of Eldraine September 27–29, 2019[36]

^* 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.[37][38][39][40] 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.[41][42][43] However, they held the possibility open to reprint the promos in other products.[44]

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.[45][46] 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.[47] 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.[48]

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.

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