Zendikar Rising, Magic: The Gathering's fall 2020 Standard set, releases on September 25th. Wizards of the Coast announced a new Set Booster for Zendikar Rising, along with changes to the pull rates for mythic rare cards in booster packs. The new non-foil mythic rare pull rate of 1 in 7.4 rare is higher than the traditional 1 in 8. Also, this pull rate change comes after WotC increased foil pull rates in Core Set 2020. How does the change in mythic rare pull rates affect their supply and average secondary market price from Set Boosters and Draft Boosters?
To understand the supply and price impacts, one must understand the math behind it. Currently, players have a 1 in 8 chance, or 12.50%, to pull a mythic rare from a booster pack. A Standard set booster box includes 36 booster packs and contains 4.5 mythic rare on average. A booster box case contains six Standard set booster boxes and approximately 27 mythic rare. For a more holistic picture, I will use a Standard set booster box case for comparing non-foil mythic rare pull rate changes.
With the change in pull rates to 1 in 7.4, players have a 13.51% chance to find a mythic rare in a booster pack. The average mythic rare found in a Standard set booster box increases to 4.86. The amount of average mythic rare per booster box case increases to 29.16 mythic rare. On average, mythic rare pulls will increase by 2 for every booster box case opened.
Traditionally, Standard sets contain 15 mythic rare. Assuming Zendikar Rising also contains 15, players may find their booster box contains five mythic rare more often than four. For example, if WOTC sells 50,000 booster box cases, or 300,000 booster boxes of Zendikar Rising worldwide, the amount of mythic rare found in the booster box cases is about 1,458,000.
If Zendikar Rising was printed with mythic rare at a 1 in 8 pull rate from booster packs, the approximate amount from 50,000 booster box cases is 1,350,000. The totals show a 108,000 mythic rare supply increase for a 1 in 7.4 pull rate. Dividing the mythic rare totals by 15 gives an estimated amount of 97,200 and 90,000, respectively. The result is an increased supply of 7,200 copies per mythic rare—an 8% increase. It's undeniable the rise in the mythic rare pull rate will impact the secondary market supply.
Another factor to keep in mind is how WotC prints cards. Currently, Standard set mythic rare and rare appear as 121 cards on 1 sheet. The card sheet usually contains 15 mythic rare and 106 rare—two copies of each rare. It's currently unknown how WotC plans to modify its printing method to accommodate the increase in the mythic pull rate. I suspect WotC may remove one rare per sheet and replace it with one of the 15 mythic rare. Dividing 16 by 121 equals 13.22%, a percentage close to 13.51% (1 divided by 7.4).
Unfortunately, this method means WotC must also figure out how to balance printing the missing second copy of a rare, and additional mythic rare, on each sheet. In any case, people doing mass box openings should pay attention to the frequencies of each rare and mythic rare pulled. Finally, other supply factors to consider are the unknown quantity of booster boxes printed, the booster box distribution to different parts of the world, and how many booster boxes get opened.
Determining a price impact is challenging without knowing specifics on the amount of booster box cases printed, distributed and opened. If print runs for Zendikar Rising are equal to Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, we can expect approximately 8% more mythic rare entering the secondary market. It's a rough estimate considering Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths is "the best-selling spring set of all time." However, I wouldn't be surprised if Zendikar Rising exceeds the total sales of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. I believe it's in WotC's best interests to ensure that Zendikar Rising has ample supply and availability upon its release. My prediction for Zendikar Rising is secondary market mythic rare prices will be lower on average than previous Standard sets since Throne of Eldraine.
I believe WOTC's primary goal of making booster pack opening more fun is growing sales revenue. Increasing the amount of mythic rare found in a booster box case may encourage players to open more booster packs. Also, the introduction of Set Boosters creates more revenue opportunities for WOTC. While Set Boosters may cannibalize Draft Booster sales, it will likely be a net gain in sales revenue.
One way WOTC has helped reduce Draft Booster cannibalization is by making Set Boosters more expensive. WOTC estimates that Set Boosters will cost about $1 more than Draft Boosters. If unit sales were net neutral, WOTC would earn higher revenue from Set Boosters. Ultimately, it is a player's decision on how they spend their money and what MTG related products they choose to purchase.