The Kitchen Table #323 – The Alara Block Foil Packs

Grand Prix: Oakland!

Wednesday, February 3rd – Hello folks, and welcome back to the article that explores the casual side of Magic-dom. Today I want to simply talk about the All Foil packs that were made by WoTC. Are they worth buying? What else comes in them? Are the tokens foil?

Hello folks, and welcome back to the article that explores the casual side of Magic-dom. Today I want to simply talk about the All Foil packs that were made by WoTC. Are they worth buying? What else comes in them? Are the tokens foil?

I love that WoTC is not content to sit on their laurels and keeps making new products for us to buy, like the deck series, Planechase, From the Vault, and now this. You have the All Foil pack for all of the cards from a block. This is something new. A pack of all foils has been myth.

I love that Wizards is still trying out new things and ways to sell their product, so good job WoTC. I wonder if some guys were sitting around a table, and it was like those beer commercials:

“Let’s sell product in a new way.”


“How about all foil packs?”


“Okay, but what if… follow me on this… what if we decided to sell the packs of cards from an entire block, rather than just a set?”


“That way, not only do we have a new way of selling cards, but we also entice people to buy the packs for Limited play.”


I mean really, good going. I wonder what will be next? I’d like to see foil basics available as packs. What if you had boosters with, say, eight cards in them, with all of the basic land art ever printed, foiled? That’d be hot! What about releasing a New Alpha, with many of the original cards (but not all, for Reserve List reasons) foiled, with the old art and new borders? That’d be hot! You could add in some Arabian Nights and Antiquities cards in place of the missing ones that could not be reprinted. You’d have original art, foil, new border stuff like Atog, Juggernaut, Disenchant, Phantom Monster, Rukh Egg, and more. You could add in a few cards to help sell the set, like Sol Ring and Regrowth.

Imagine drafting that!

Here’s one… What about a foil pack that includes every gold card printed since Invasion Block? Foil gold baby! Now, draft that. That would truly be something to see.

Okay, enough about what else you could do, let’s talk about the packs as is.

Note that these are quite expensive for some. You have to drop nine bucks for an All Foil pack. Note that casual does not always mean budget, as there are tons of casual players that drop serious coin on Magic. (Such as myself)

For this article, I thought it would be a ton of fun to pick up three of the All Foil packs from SCG, and then open them up and see if they were worth it. Sound like fun? I thought so… let’s go!

The Foil packs feel like a real gamble. You have a really good chance of opening up a major foil player, like Elspeth or Maelstrom Pulse. In a regular pack, sure, you can open up a Maelstrom Pulse, but if you do, it’s not likely to be foil. Here, if you open one up, it’s foil city! However, since the entry price is nine bucks a ride, it feels like much more of a gamble. Open up a card that sucks in your rare, and you may be going home with a foil land consolation prize.

Again, that’s how it feels. Now, before we begin, let’s do some math.

How many cards in Alara Block have a foil version worth at least 9 bucks? Thus, opening up one would automatically make the price of entry worthwhile.

Let’s do a quick search here on SCG:

Ajani Vengeant
Bloodbraid Elf
Broodmate Dragon
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Empyrial Archangel
Ethersworn Canonist
Hellkite Overlord
Jenara, Asura of War
Knight of the Reliquary
Maelstrom Pulse
Meddling Mage
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
Noble Hierarch
Path to Exile
Rafiq of the Many
Ranger of Eos
Sarkhan Vol
Sharuum the Hegemon
Sphinx of the Steel Wind
Tezzeret the Seeker
Wall of Reverence

That’s 21 Mythics / Rares and 2 uncommons with the price tag that equals your investment. Considering that all of the cards from the block are in the set, that may not seem like a smart play, but, as we’ll see, perceptions may not hold after studying cases.

Alright, let’s open up the packs, and see what we got.

Pack the First:

Naturalize – a nice pull
Akrasan Squire – the 1/1 Exalted guy for 1, not for my deck, but not bad
Viscera Dragger – Just okay, there are some decks that play him though
Dregscape Zombie – Crap
Gustrider Exuberant – Crap
Esper Cormorants – Not bad at all
Bone Saw – Okay
Wretched Banquet – yuck
Qasali Pridemage – Great Pull
Grixis Grimblade – Okay in the right deck
Rockcaster Platoon – Upgrade for my deck’s non-foil one, great Multiplayer card
Skyward Eye Prophets – A 3/3 vigilance guy with Sinbad’s ability and 6 mana? — sucky idea
Fire-Field Ogre – Crappy
Maelstrom Nexus. Nice, and Mythic
Non-foil rules card for Domain

Okay, as you can see, I got a few cards for some of my decks in here, but not too many. The Nexus, Pridemage, Platoon, Naturalize, and Plains go right into Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy, pulling out non-foil versions of the non-lands. Now, the next question is, was the purchase worth it?

There are two ways to judge that. Did I get cards that I wanted? Did I recoup my financial investment?

As to the second question, easily. Take a look at two cards from this pack on StarCityGames:

Foil Qasali Pridemage — five dollars
Foil Maelstrom Nexus — five dollars

Just those two cards alone made me a buck, and then I still have all of the foil commons, uncommons and the Plains. A foil basic typically goes for a buck, so right there you know you are getting an extra dollar.

Some things have little value. Sure, I could use the Rockcaster Platoon, but a foil one is only 60 cents. The Naturalize is nice and a buck value right there. It’s obvious that when you count the value of the extra foils, you are looking at probably in the neighborhood of 15-17 bucks for everything, and that’s totally worth a $9 investment. However, many point out my luck in netting a mythic and a super high value common in the same pack. Surely, that luck will not hold, right? Right?

By the way, in a draft, what would you draft here, first pick?

Pack the Second:

Glaze Fiend — Ick
Sigil Blessing – Not too bad
Resounding Wave – Solid
Agony Warp — Better than solid
Resounding Roar – Okay
Deny Reality – Yuck
Beacon Behemoth – Yuck
Molten Frame – Yuckity yuck
Grixis Illusionist – Not bad at fixing mana problems early, but cannot be used to hose opponents like Dream Thrush, so enhh
Sangrite Backlash – Nah
Illusory Demon – Yuck
Scourge Devil – Nah
Jhessian Balmgiver – Nah
Font of Mythos – the double Howling Mine, very tradable. Not really my kind of card
Esper Card

This pack leaves me with more collywobbles than the first. The cards just really aren’t my style. What here would replace a non-foil in Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy? Agony Warp and Mountain. That’s it. Not exactly a winning pack. In terms of play value, for the style of decks I like to run, not that much.

Now, what about financial value?

Foil Font of Mythos — 7 dollars

Well, right there is pretty much my initial investment. The foil land is a buck. That’s 8 right there. The uncommons are not going to have much value, but three of them together are worth a buck at least guaranteed. That leaves all of the commons, and my rough guess is that you are looking for 11-13 dollars in cards, but with few cards I think of as playable, I’m just not happy with this pack.

Alright, ready for pack three? I know I am.

Pack the Third:

Grixis Panorama – Excellent!
Savage Hunger – Yuk
Sanctum Gargoyle – I love this card!
Viashino Skeleton – Crappy
Breath of Malfegor – Solid in some multiplayer formats
Valeron Outlander – Enhh
Rupture Spire – Awesome!
Infectious Horror – Not even close
Sanctum Plowbeast – Great! I already had a foil though, so it goes in EDH deck
Violent Outburst – Playable
Etherium Astrolabe – Meh
Shard Convergence – Rockin’
Sangrite Surge – Enhh
Angel Token

Note that the Angel Token is not foil. Ah well. Anyway, although I love the Spellbreaker Behemoth foil, note that it has the lowest value of the rares I opened, at 4 bucks for a foil one. However, in terms of play value for me, this is my favorite pack. The Panorama, Gargoyle, Spire, Convergence, Plains and Behemoth immediately make the trek to Happiness and Joy, with the Plowbeast going to an EDH deck. They all are immediate foil replacements for other cards. Play value = very high.

What about financial value?

Foil Spellbreaker Behemoth — 4 bucks
Foil Plains — 1 buck
Foil Shard Convergence — 1 buck
Foil Grixis Panorama — 1 buck
Foil Rupture Spire — 1.50 bucks
Foil Sanctum Plowbeast — 50 cents
Foil Etherium Astrolabe — 60 cents
Foil Sangrite Surge — 60 cents
Foil Violent Outburst — 1 buck
Foil Sanctum Gargoyle — 50 cents
Foil Savage Hunger, Infectious Horror, Valeron Outrider, Breath of Malfegor, Viashino Skeleton — 1.70 total

Total Value — 13.40 dollars, for a 9 dollar investment, and that’s after getting just a 4 dollar rare.

What are the least valuable foils in the Alara block for rares?

There are 47 rares with a value of just two bucks foiled. That’s a good chance you are going to be stuck with junk like Ooze Garden. Note that a lot of these have a very high play value, like Soul’s Majesty, Vein Drinker, Fight to the Death, and so forth. Some are powerhouses in multiplayer like Invincible Hymn, Magister Sphinx, and Vicious Shadows. That means some of these low value foil rares are worth something in terms of play value. Others, well… not so much.

Take a look at the packs. Could they come back from an Ooze Garden? The first pack? Easy. The third pack drops to 11.40, so it could too. What about Pack 2? Well, I didn’t price it as much, so let’s find out real quick.

The commons are worth 4.40 led by 1.50 for a foil Agony Warp. The uncommons are 1.80. The foil land is a buck. Your Ooze Garden is 2 bucks. Total? 9.2 bucks. In the worst case scenario, where your foil rare is 2 bucks, and your uncommon foils are just 60 cents each and your commons are largely 50 cents or less except for one at 1.50, you still make out, just barely. That’s the worst case.

Because of the elevated value of foils, even for commons and uncommons, I think it is important to understand that it looks, from an admittedly small sample size, like they are worth buying in terms of the price of your cards post pack. You know, if you bought a regular pack at 2.99 here on SCG, and you opened a buck rare, with crappy uncommons, you are not making that money back. On the other hand, you can get a much better return on your investment, percentage wise. The best card you can get, money wise, is a foil Elspeth, at a value of 60 bucks. You can get her in either pack, but one costs 9 and the other 3. You probably have a lesser chance in the regular pack, but it is three times cheaper.

Anyway, they look like a good investment overall. Thanks again WoTC!

Oh, and I would totally love to play this in draft at least once… better yet, Rochester. That’d be awesome!

Next week, expect the review of Worldwake in this column, followed by the deck article where I take some of the new cards and build around them.

Until later…

Abe Sargent