The Buy-a-Box promotion is designed to increase box sales at local game stores. Initially they were foil cards with alternate art, bearing the five mana symbols arranged in a circle as a watermark. From Dominaria through Core Set 2021, they were unique cards that were part of the relevant set, but couldn't be found in booster packs.
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 vowed to make all cards available one way or another for the main public. 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. However, they held the possibility open to reprint the promos in other products.
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 led to an endgame where the player takes every turn and wins with whatever's left; 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. 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. R&D admitted the Standard viability of the Buy-a-Box cards needed increased scrutiny, but the exclusive promos would continue.
The promo for Throne of Eldraine, Kenrith, The Returned King was a card that saw widespread play (2-4 copies in a top metagame share deck) for six months. However, during that time, 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-19 outbreak, mitigating the discontent regarding obtaining such a card.
A a result of the player feedback, Buy-a-box cards reverted to non-exclusivity with Zendikar Rising. However, reprints that are released exclusively as Buy-a-box promos have continued in supplemental sets such as Commander Legends and Modern Horizons 2.
Somewhere once upon a time, Wizards of the Coast decided that they could print neat promotional cards featuring an alternate foil (sometimes with alternate art not found in the main set) that would come with any purchase of a booster box.
These cards were in every major set release from 2009 to the release of Dominaria in 2018. This set started a new trend of promo cards that were only available through the buy-a-box promo.
The modern iteration of box toppers started with Ultimate Masters, which gave players a foil with an alternate border in a small pack included with the box. These continued with Ikoria, Double Masters, and Zendikar Rising with different rules for each.
Wizards of the coast have put out a NEW Buy-a-Box IXALAN TREASURE CHEST promo pack only while stock lasts and only when you buy a booster box of the newest set, IXALAN!Each Buy-a-Box Treasure Chest booster is unique and contains the following:
The second thing worth mentioning is that, because of the double-faced cards, mythics from Ixalan are slightly rarer than normal. In a typical set, you will open a specific mythic 1 in 121 packs, while in Ixalan, this number drops to 1 in 141 (basically, instead of opening a mythic one in every eight packs like usual, it will be one in every nine packs in Ixalan). While this isn't a huge difference, it does make it slightly harder to pull a chase mythic. For example, if Carnage Tyrant were in Amonkhet, you'd have a 30% chance of opening it in any given box; in Ixalan, you only have a 25.5% chance of hitting a Carnage Tyrant. While this likely won't have a huge impact on the box EV, especially since some of the double-faced cards are the most expensive rares in the set, it will decrease the overall EV slightly.
The value of the mythics from Ixalan is oddly pedestrian, especially considering the set doesn't have any Masterpieces. While the average value of $5.62 is higher than that of Hour of Devastation (which had the lowest average mythic value ever since I started calculating expected value back in Return to Ravnica), it's actually lower than a lot of Masterpiece sets and significantly lower than Shadows over Innistrad block, which was the last time we had a non-Masterpiece set. The biggest problem seems to be a lack of depth. Carnage Tyrant gives the set a chase mythic, while all of the planeswalkers are worth a good bit of money at between $10 and $15, but things fall off quickly after that, with five mythics being worth less than $2 and three more worth less than $3, which means more than half of the mythics in the set are worth less than a pack. Compare this to a set like Amonkhet, which has a similar number of high-end mythics but only had two mythics worth less than $3. Basically, the value of the mythics from Ixalan is low for any set but doubly low for a set without Masterpieces eating up a chunk of the value.
Of course, this might not matter in the long run if the rares from the set make up for the low value of the mythics. Actually, it could be a good thing, since rares offer the most consistent value for people opening packs and boxes, since you get one every pack. So before we talk too much about the low value of the mythics in the set, let's take a look at the rares.
So, why are the rares of Ixalan so strong in terms of value There are a few reasons. First, Growing Rites of Itlimoc is the most expensive rare we've seen in a long time, and while we'll have to wait and see if it can hold this price over the long haul, it's an amazing open for the immediate future, and you'll get one (on average) about every other box. Even beyond the top end, the set has a lot of depth in the rare slot. Ixalan has a massive 17 rares currently worth at least $2, which is nearly double the number we've seen in recent large sets (Amonkhet had 10, and Kaladesh had just eight), meaning that just over 25% of packs will have a fairly exciting rare, which is great for box openers and limited players. Finally, the bulk rare rate is lower than normal. Thanks to the flip cards, Ixalan has 63 rares, of which 31 fall into the bulk or semi-bulk categories. Compare this to Amonkhet, which has just 53 rares but actually has more bulk and semi-bulk rares, with 32.
One of the biggest problems with Masterpieces is that they made opening packs a lot less fun. Rather than hoping for a good rare or mythic, you just flipped to the back of the pack to see if you got lucky enough to open a Masterpiece, because that's all that really mattered. As such, with Masterpieces, it was very common that you would sit down to open your prerelease sealed pool and find zero dollars in value looking back at you. Ixalan solves this problem in a significant way. In fact, the set is almost the direct opposite of the lottery-esque Masterpiece sets, since the value is mostly concentrated in the rare and even uncommon slots. This means there will be a lot more feel-good packs to be opened. Of course, gaining lots of good packs means we give up the chance for one great pack, but by the end of the \"Masterpieces in every set\" plan, the \"great packs\" weren't really that great. Come to think of it, the Masterpieces I opened weren't worth much more than a Carnage Tyrant or Liliana, the Last Hope anyway, which means we really aren't losing that much by not having a shot at opening a Masterpiece.
From a more meta perspective, it's hard to say much about the future of the set from a financial perspective. Ixalan isn't clearly underpriced like Dragon's Maze or Hour of Devastation, and it isn't clearly overpriced like Khans of Tarkir or Return to Ravnica. While most of the cards from the set will tick down as supply hits the market over the next couple months, having a massive crash is unlikely. Instead, we'll likely see some lower- and mid-tier cards jump in price as players realize how good they are, while some of the current chase cards will drop as everyone realizes they are overrated. Regardless of the future, Ixalan feels like a fine set to open. While it's unlikely you'll come out ahead, you probably won't lose much either, which means there's little reason not to have some fun if you enjoy cracking packs!
Sealed Case of 18 Ixalan Prerelease PacksEach prerelease pack comes with 6 Ixalan booster packs Randomized date-stamped premium promo card Spindown life counter Insert with deck-building advice 781b155fdc