How cards get from sheet to pack and in what order

Everything else informative about Magic items and events.

Moderators: cataclysm80, Apocalypse2K, berkumps, dragsamou, mystical_tutor, pp, hammr7, l0qii

Post Reply
cataclysm80
Librarities Legend
Posts: 620
Joined: Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:09 pm
Location: Florida

How cards get from sheet to pack and in what order

Post by cataclysm80 » Fri May 18, 2018 10:08 am

This is something I've been meaning to post for years.
I wanted to make some images to go along with the text, but I never got around to it, and that's why I didn't post earlier.
I still haven't made those images, but I figured I'd go ahead and post the text version.

Two years ago today (May 18th 2016), I began helping a couple friends with a project of trying to figure out what an uncut Arabian Nights sheet would look like.
There's a variety of reasons that it would be neat to know what the sheet layout was, and since no Arabian sheet pics have surfaced, we wanted to know whether it was possible to figure it out.
I'll leave the majority of that story for another day, but as part of the process, I explored whether videos of pack openings could be of any use in reconstructing the sheet.
I've learned about the card creation process from WotC employees, pressmen, and from analyzing errors in the Misprint Group on Facebook.
Beta, Unlimited, & Antiquities are of a similar era to Arabian Nights, and I have pics of their uncut sheets, so I studied those along with numerous pack opening videos.
What follows is a brief text version of this research.


To start with, I needed to deal with a difference of style in pack opening videos.
Some people open the cards with the fronts facing them, and other people open the cards with the backs facing them.
To standardize my research notes, I decided that all cards would be described as if the pack were opened with the cards facing you.
For example, if there are 11 commons in the pack, the first common you see will be common 1, followed by common 2, followed by common 3, etc.
I feel that this is the way most people open packs, because it's the fastest/easiest way to see what cards you get when you open a pack.
The people who open packs with the card backs facing them, are trying to add extra suspense.
For these people, if there are 11 commons in the pack, the first common you see will be common 11, followed by common 10, followed by common 9, etc.

There is a similar issue inside the print facility. Sheets can be cut either face up or face down.
Which way that happens, affects the order that the cards are put into the packs.
On all of these early sets, the sheets were cut face down.
Here is a link to some more info on which sets were cut face up and/or face down.
https://greendisenchantproject.jimdo.com/edge-cutting/

Back then, card sheets were 11 cards by 11 cards, for a total of 121 cards per sheet, so this is what I'll use for the following examples.

The whole sheets are cut from one side of the sheet to the other side, so that the rows are separated.
Instead of having the whole sheet in one piece, you now have 11 pieces. Each piece is a row that's 11 cards wide.
(Additionally, there is a thin top margin piece and a bottom margin piece, but these pieces are thrown away.)

Each of these rows then travels downward (the direction that's towards the bottom of the sheet) to be cut again.
Each of these rows is cut from bottom to top, so that the individual cards are separated.
Instead of having a whole row in one piece, you now have 11 square cornered cards.
(Additionally, there is a thin left margin piece and a right margin piece, but these pieces are thrown away.)

Each of those 11 cards sit at the bottom of the cutter where they land.
It is 11 stacks that are 1 card tall.

Then the next row gets similarly cut into individual square cornered cards, which land on top of the previously cut row.
Now it is 11 stacks that are 2 cards tall.

Then the next row gets similarly cut into individual square cornered cards, which land on top of the previously cut row.
Now it is 11 stacks that are 3 cards tall.
As you can imagine, this process repeats. It's a machine.
This is a continuous process. When the last row (the top row) of a sheet is cut, the next row cut will be the bottom row of the next sheet.
(This is how a pack can contain cards from both the top and bottom of a sheet. It's because they're not from the same sheet.)

These 11 stacks of cards are where it's relevant whether the sheet was cut face up or face down.
If the sheet is cut face down (and you open the pack with the cards facing you), you'll see the cards in same order they were stacked. (first cut card first)
If the sheet is cut face up (and you open the pack with the cards facing you), you'll see the cards in the opposite order they were stacked. (most recently cut card first)

The next part is where the variation comes in. It's possible that there's a pattern to it and I just haven't seen enough pack opening videos to detect the pattern, but what I actually think is that this part was done by hand, and as such is subject to the whim of the employee. (They probably had some guidelines to follow while performing this task.)
From what I've seen, anywhere from 2 rows (11 stacks that are 2 cards tall) to 5 rows (11 stacks that are 5 cards tall) would be cut, and then the 11 stacks would be piled on top of each other and set aside.
Of the 11 stacks, the leftmost stack will be on the bottom of the pile, continuing sequentially rightward until the rightmost stack is on top of the pile.

That pile is then set aside. The next pile is placed next to it, and so on. (This is how a pack can contain cards from both the left side and right side of a sheet. They are from the same sheet.)
The cards remain in this order through the corner rounding process, and this is the order that the cards are inserted into packs.
For example, if we were talking about commons and there were 11 commons in a booster pack, the first 11 commons in the pile would go into a pack, the next 11 commons in the pile would go into the next pack, and so on.
Uncommons and rares follow the same process, they just have a different quantity put into the booster pack.

Keep in mind that on occasion there could be a mistake that alters the card order. For example, if cards are thrown out for quality control reasons, they'll be missing from the order, or someone could accidentally drop cards and put them back in a different order.



Here's a couple examples.
On a sheet that's cut face down: From the first card you see in the pack, cards will go upward in the same column on the sheet until you find the upper point of where the stacks were piled, then you'll go leftward one column on the sheet, starting at the lower point of where the stacks were piled and working upward until you get to the upper point again. Then it's one more column to the left and repeat. upward and leftward.

On a sheet that's cut face up, you travel downward and still leftward.

Once you've seen a few cards in the pack, you can be pretty sure of what the rest of the same rarity cards in that pack will be, and also in the next several packs up until the left edge of the sheet. Then you'll need to open another pack to find out how many rows were stacked before the stacks were piled.


Perhaps someday I'll finally get around to making images that help explain the process.


I'm confident that the method has changed over the years.
I'd like to know how long this method was used until it was changed, but haven't looked into that yet.

cataclysm80
Librarities Legend
Posts: 620
Joined: Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:09 pm
Location: Florida

Re: How cards get from sheet to pack and in what order

Post by cataclysm80 » Fri May 18, 2018 10:17 am

Though calculating the Arabian Nights sheet is still quite involved, doing the Alpha sheet should be pretty easy.
This may also be useful for other sheets that we haven't seen.

GlobalBoosterHunter
Legendary Aussie Booster Hunter
Posts: 1049
Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:38 am
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: How cards get from sheet to pack and in what order

Post by GlobalBoosterHunter » Sat May 19, 2018 7:26 am

Very interesting read, I have wondered about it in the past. Thanks

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest