Is Playing Magic: The Gathering Expensive? (Starting Costs, Supplies, Price-Saving Tips)

A complete breakdown of all costs required to play Magic.


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Is Playing Magic: The Gathering Expensive? (Starting Costs, Supplies, Price-Saving Tips)
Is Playing Magic: The Gathering Expensive? (Starting Costs, Supplies, Price-Saving Tips)

I’ve purchased numerous Magic: The Gathering cards in my twenty plus years of playing the popular card game and know exactly how expensive playing Magic can actually be.

On average, playing Magic: The Gathering will cost $600 a year making it a somewhat expensive hobby to play on a consistent basis. Starting costs range between $20 and $70 which include everything needed to get started such as a 60 card playing deck, card sleeves, dice, and tokens.

Continue reading for a detailed breakdown of how much it costs to get started playing Magic: The Gathering.

I’ll also cover the cost of essential Magic supplies that make gameplay easier, and how expensive playing Magic: The Gathering really is.

If you’re interested in learning more about Magic: The Gathering and why you should play it, you can view a detailed overview by clicking here.

Is Playing Magic: The Gathering Expensive?

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Playing Magic: The Gathering is a moderately expensive hobby with active players spending approximately $600 per year.

Active players will at least buy one booster box of each new set released during a year which is between $360 and $480 total plus essential supplies.

Active magic players spend $600 per year On average

No cards are ever guaranteed because booster packs are randomized which encourages players to spend more to get the cards they need.

Due to the randomization, Magic players tend to buy multiple booster boxes and packs of each set, drastically increasing the average cost of playing from $600 to well over $1,000 annually.

Furthermore, Magic products vary in price with unique products and special sets usually selling at a premium which increases expenditures.

Players also invest in protective sleeves to put their cards in, card boxes for storage, dice and counters, as well as play mats.

Most of these supplies are essential and keeps player’s cards in pristine condition.

So how much do Magic cards and Magic supplies cost? Let’s take a look at each in more detail.

1) Magic Cards Cost Breakdown

Each sealed Magic: The Gathering product has its own price.

Booster packs cost $5 on average whereas pre-constructed decks go for $15 to $35, and booster boxes (a pack of 36 booster packs) typically range from $100 to $150.

Each sealed Magic: The Gathering product has its own price

Decks are made by combining cards from starter decks and booster packs.

Casual players may want to start off by buying a starter deck of the newest set along with a few booster packs to help minimize costs.

Booster Pack (15+ cards)$5
Pre-Made Deck (60+ cards)$15-35+
Booster Box (250 to 650+ cards)$100-150+

Magic Sealed Product Key Points

  • Magic: The Gathering cards come in three main sealed product categories
  • Booster packs, pre-constructed decks, and booster boxes are most common Magic sealed product
  • These are the primary ways of acquiring Magic cards and building decks
  • Booster packs include additional cards that are used to swap-out cards from starter decks

2) Magic Supplies Cost Breakdown

Essential Magic supplies most players will need costs approximately $50. This includes card sleeves, storage, and dice.

Sleeves help keep cards in good condition, storage boxes provide permanent places to store your cards, while dice provides a means of tracking counters and life totals during play.

Essential Magic supplies most players need will cost approximately $50

I suggest every Magic player buy basic plastic card sleeves, a set of dice, and a storage box. These are non negotiation-able items!

Card sleeves protect Magic cards from constant wear-and-tear, dust, scrapes, and minor debris. A must-have to protect your card investment.

Dice are required for tokens and counting your life total in every match.

And storage boxes will house your decks or extra cards.

Play mats and carrying cases are nice to have but are optional–a flat surface and backpack can easily take the place of mats and carrying cases respectively.

Card Sleeves: simple, 1000 pack$20
Card Sleeves: durable, 1000 pack$36
Storage Box: 1600 cards$10
Carrying Case$20-35+
Dice (tokens/counters)$20
Play Mat$20

Magic Supplies Product Key Points

  • Magic supplies are essential
  • Every player should have card sleeves, dice, and storage boxes
  • Play mats and carrying cases are nice but optional
  • Supplies usually do not need to be replaced often if cared for

Expect to purchase both simple and durable card sleeves regularly as you buy more cards and create more decks.

Thankfully, many Magic accessories are one-time purchases that will last for years.

You only need to buy a set of dice or two along with a single carrying case.

And card boxes store hundreds of cards and will hold a couples years worth of cards on average.

You can also minimize card costs by buying individual cards at discounted prices via online stores.

I suggest doing this if you are a moderate to advanced Magic player as buying individual cards requires card knowledge as well as a deck list or idea beforehand.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Started Playing Magic: The Gathering?

The base cost to start playing Magic is $20. This is enough to buy a playable 60 card deck although some supplies are absolutely essential. Including card sleeves, dice, and storage, the average cost to start playing Magic increases to approximately $70.

And I recommend all starting players buy these four components.

The base cost to start playing Magic is $20, enough to buy a playable 60 card deck

Basic Cost To Start Playing Magic: The Gathering

  • Deck: $20
  • Sleeves: $20
  • Dice: $20
  • Storage: $10
  • Total: $70

This might seem like a lot to play a game of cards, but it’s worth it once we break the costs down one-by-one.

This $70 is a one-time purchase that includes 1,000 clear sleeves, and 135 dice.

The card sleeves are enough to protect over 16 complete decks so you’ll be set long into the future, while the dice will last as long as you don’t lose them.

Storage boxes can either store multiple decks or hundreds of cards, depending on which one you choose.

Simply put, the “entry fee” of $70 will get you enough supplies that will last years or even the lifetime of playing Magic.

All you’ll have to do is build your card collection going forward and buy the occasional storage or card sleeve when needed.

Now, let me show you the card sleeves, dice, storage, and decks I’ve used over the past decade that I swear by.

1) “Penny” Clear Basic Card sleeves

These are the basic card sleeves that are good for starting players. They are called penny sleeves because a pack of 100 often sells for a dollar, making each sleeve worth a penny.

This pack comes with 1,000 sleeves which will be enough to protect over a dozen decks or hundreds of extra cards for storage purposes.


  • Inexpensive
  • Basic protection


  • Sleeves stick together over time
  • Sleeves can tear at the edges

If you’re interested in protecting your Magic cards with card sleeves, you can view these penny sleeves on Amazon by clicking here.

2) Basic Playing Dice And Tabletop Multi-Sided Dice

I purchased a 100 pack of regular six sided playing dice to use as counters in 2012 and I have never had to purchase dice again.

These dice are great for tokens when needed or counters to put on cards that ask for them.

Tabletop multi-sided dice, alternatively, are great when used for life totals or far greater numbers than six.

I bought multiple sets of multi-sided dice years ago which keep being used to this very day.

Both are very beneficial in making Magic games efficient.

If you’re interested in a 100 pack of playing dice to act as Magic counter, you can view them on Amazon by clicking here.

And if you’re interested in a 35 pack of multi-sided dice to act as Magic life counters, you can view them on Amazon by clicking here.

3) Storage Boxes And Deck Cases

I use both card board boxes for mass storage of extra cards along with individual deck boxes for the decks I use.

When starting out, I suggest picking one cardboard storage boxes.

These card boxes store hundreds of cards, usually come in a pack of 3 or 4, and can be smaller than a shoe box.

They’re a great way to not only store extra cards but to bring decks with you to wherever you want to play.

I’ve used these cardboard boxes for my Magic cards from High School, College, University, and beyond. My cards always remained safe no matter where I went.

If you’re interested in a 4-pack of cardboard storage boxes for your Magic cards, you can view them on Amazon by clicking here.

And if you’re interested in deck cases for your Magic decks, you can view them on Amazon by clicking here.

4) A 60 Card Deck

Simply pick up a starter deck online or at your local Target, Walmart, or hobby shop to start playing. And make sure to put them in your card sleeves first.

Then, have fun!

In the next section, I’ll detail the price of buying decks at store versus buying single Magic cards to build your own deck.

Is Magic: The Gathering Expensive?

Magic: The Gathering is only as expensive as you allow it to be. Buying a starter deck, a few booster packs, dice, and card sleeves will only cost around $50 which allows you to play infinite number of games. You aren’t required to buy more cards after this and can keep playing without further expenses.

Magic: The Gathering is only as expensive as you allow it to be

If you do want to buy more cards and build new decks, most common and uncommon cards (and even some rare cards) can be purchased at extremely low prices online.

Buy single cards to make playing Magic fairly affordable.

On average, single common Magic cards can be purchased for $0.10 to $0.25 each, uncommon cards for $0.10 to $0.50, and rare cards for $0.50 to $1.50.

Let’s compare the costs of building a new 60 card deck by buying singles versus purchasing sealed Magic product (using a combination of starter decks, boosters, etc.)

How Much It Costs To Build A Magic: The Gathering Deck By Buying Singles

A simple 60 card Magic deck can be purchased for $11.72 by buying card singles. Procure 24 lands for $3, 16 commons for $1.60, 12 uncommons for $3, and 8 rares for $4 by shopping at reputable online card shops to make an inexpensive deck that can be played with friends, family, and at hobby shops.

A simple 60 card Magic deck can be purchased for $12 by buying card singles

Of course, all card costs are averages and individual cards can be higher or lower no matter the rarity.

However, you can normally expect to pay less for the exact cards you want by buying singles versus buying sealed Magic product.

I can tell you from experience that building your own decks by buying singles online is the most cost-effective way of playing Magic.


Buying Magic card singles is the way to go.

Save money by simply buying the exact cards you want and not on cards you don’t want–these are both issues when buying randomized card booster packs as well as pre-constructed decks with set cards.

The only drawback to buying singles is that you’ll need a card list of the latest set along with a deck list or idea.

Essentially, you’ll need to know what deck you are building and what parts you need to build it.

No worries. You can always stay up-to-date with current and past Magic set card sets at Magic’s official site by clicking here.

And you can buy Magic singles at a variety of reputable hobby and card shops online.

I recommend Cool Stuff Inc, Troll And Toad, and Channel Fireball. These three sites have the best card prices by far, prices I used when creating the tables in this article.

I’ve used these three sites to buy and sell Magic cards for over a decade without issues. I suggest trying them out for sure.

Where To Buy Magic Singles

How Much It Costs To Build A Magic: The Gathering Deck By Buying Sealed Product

Building a Magic deck with sealed product can cost between $13 and $40. A starter deck plus a few booster packs to make a casual-competitive deck will cost around $30, with theme boosters and Commander decks increasing the price further.

  • Sealed product is simply pre-packaged Magic: The Gathering product found on store shelves

Building a Magic deck with sealed product can cost between $13 and $40

Starter Deck$13-20
Theme Booster$8-10
Commander Deck$30-40

Starter decks are usually 60 card decks that also come with a booster pack at the price tag of $13 to $20.

These decks aren’t normally the most powerful decks in the world, but have the upside of being completely playable with enough lands and a variety of cards to play casual-competitive Magic.

The starter deck is fine to play by itself.

From my many years of experience, however, I suggest buying a couple booster packs to make the deck even better. Starter decks often need to be improved by buying additional cards.

This is the most favorable method of building a traditional Magic deck from sealed product.

Total price for using a starter deck:

  • Starter deck $13 to $20
  • Two booster packs $10
  • Total price $23 to $30

Commander decks cost $30 to $40, making them pricier than starter decks. They’re also built to be played in the non-standard Commander Magic format which has its own unique rules and deck building guidelines than traditional Magic.

This is the least favorable method of building a traditional Magic deck from sealed product.

Total price for using a Commander deck:

  • Commander deck $30 to $40

Lastly, theme boosters are the least expensive at $8 to $10 and comes with 35 cards. This is a great way to start a card collection but theme boosters do not come with land and are not decks.

Players must build their own deck with the theme booster cards by buying lands individually as singles or by purchasing an additional starter deck that comes with lands.

This is an optional method to buying a starter deck when creating a traditional Magic deck from sealed product.

Total price for using theme boosters:

  • Theme booster $8 to $10
  • Starter deck for lands $13 to $20
  • Total price $21 to $30

So what’s most cost effective: buying Magic singles or buying Magic sealed product to make a deck?

Building your own Magic deck with singles will cost on approximately $11.72 while using sealed product will cost between $13 to $40. Singles products have the advantage of being selected by you and costs less than sealed. Win, win!

As you can see, buying Magic singles is the least expensive way to buy Magic cards and to build decks.

Purchasing a sealed starter deck or a theme booster alongside singles to make a playable deck is the second best option.

You can view the wide array of Magic sealed product on Amazon by clicking here.

The Verdict: Is Magic: The Gathering An Expensive Hobby?

Playing Magic does not have to be expensive, especially for causal players who play with friends and family members or even at their local stores in casual settings.

Buying singles to build decks and investing in essential supplies early on will make playing this popular card game relatively inexpensive.

Now use everything you learned today to save money when starting or continuing your collection, and start playing some Magic!

Read More Great Articles

Now you know how expensive playing Magic: The Gathering can be.

Bookmark this site for even more Magic: The Gathering guides, tips, and tricks.

Check out all Magic: The Gathering articles on Bucket List Games.

(Screenshots taken by me. Images sourced from product pages, websites, or social media and are credited appropriately. Logos, images, etc. belong to their respective owners. All information current at time of publication.)

SOURCE: Wizards of the Coast

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Wally GX

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