Rare is one of the four rarities of Magic cards. Cards that are of the rare rarity are often referred to as "rares." Rares have been identified by a gold-filled expansion symbol since the Exodus expansion. In sets printed before Exodus rarity was not denoted on cards.
Appearance in boosters
15-card booster packs usually contain 1 rare or mythic rare. Some of the earliest expansions; including Arabian Nights, Antiquities, The Dark, Fallen Empires, and Homelands; were packaged in 8-card booster packs that had no rares. The Alliances and Chronicles expansions were sold in 12-card booster packs that usually contained one rare. However, since Time Spiral, premium (foil) cards no longer replace a card of the same rarity, thus allowing for the possibility of two rares per pack (one foil and one regular).
Different kinds of rares
Expansions through Alliances, excluding Ice Age, had some common and uncommon and rare cards that were actually more prevalent than others. This was the result of some cards appearing more often than others on the printer's sheet of uncut cards. For example, Scarwood Bandits is a "U1" uncommon, and Whirling Catapult is a "R6" rare. This code represents the number of times the card appears on the rare printer's sheet of uncut cards, making "R6" rares six times as abundant as "R1" rares. Additionally, since 8-card booster packs contained no true rare cards, "U1" uncommons are often referred to as the "rares" in these expansions.
- Too complex to be common or uncommon
- Rules complications R&D doesn't wish to put in common or uncommon
- Too wordy, requiring microtext (a smaller font)
- Big creatures or big spells that need to be rare to keep their specialness
- Cool, unique creatures or spells that need to be rare to keep their specialness
- Narrow cards created for constructed (and not limited)
- Cards that prove disruptive to sealed or draft
- Cards that could be uncommon or rare but there’s no room left in uncommon
- Part of a rare cycle
- R&D needs to make the card rare to keep a balance of “good” cards throughout the three rarities
- Gavin Verhey. (July 6, 2017.) “Let's Talk about Rares”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (February 25, 2002.) “Rare, but Well Done”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater. (March 12, 2018.) “Quite the Rarity”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.