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MTG: What does as-fan mean?

I've been playing Magic: The Gathering for some time, and today I want to share my tricks.


What is the as-fan?

As-fan is a slang word from Magic: The Gathering that derives from the phrase "As Fanned" and is used to indicate the number of cards with a certain mechanic or type in a Magic: The Gathering pack.
With as-fan 1 we mean that within the 15 cards of the pack, on average, it is possible to find a card that corresponds to the required requirement. With as-fan 2 there are on average 2 cards per pack and so on.
The as-fan is a tool that is used when designing Magic: The Gathering Sets (or even other CCGs or TCGs) so that developers can understand on average what cards players will find in a Draft or in Sealed.
Based on these numbers, the Set is then designed and tested to verify how to best convey the sensations or the necessary Gameplay elements.

Usually, within a Magic booster pack, there is 1 land (usually basic), 10 Common Cards, 3 uncommon cards and 1 rare card (or mythic in one case out of 8 to replace the rare card). In some cases, it is also possible to find a Foil but usually, they are not counted in the calculation of the As-Fan as they are too random.
Usually, a set consists of approximately 101 common cards, 80 uncommon cards, 53 rare cards, and 15 Mythic cards. Kaldheim was slightly larger with 111 common cards, 80 uncommon cards 64 rare cards and 20 Mythic cards.

The as-fan is therefore a weighted average that includes both the number of rarity slots present in the packs and the variable of a certain element within a set.

The value must be high enough for players to see patterns both in terms of mechanics and in terms of Flavor (images, creature types, etc.) but it must not be too high to make the expansion too monotonous or make one mechanic too present and predominant over the others.
It must be high to allow players to draft it but not too high to predominate in a Sealed and maintain some variability.
If it is too low, there is a risk that it will not be perceived by players as an important theme of the expansion and therefore may not be interesting or not very useful for the set.
So the As-fan is a very important method of conveying the content of the expansion to the players. It is incredible to imagine how much science is behind every single expansion of Magic: The Gathering and it is needed to ensure that players can have fun without even realizing how much every little detail is studied and realized.
Usually, for many main game mechanics, the As-Fan values ​​can range from 1.50 to up to 2.75. A value of 1.5 means that in 50% of cases we will find a card and in the remaining 50%, we will find 2 cards of the mechanics under analysis among the 15 cards of the pack, while for a value of 2.75 usually, 3 cards correspond in most of the cases (75%) while in some boosters it could be simply 2 (25%).

As said by Mark Rosewater (a.k.a. MaRo), if the main theme of the expansion is not accessible and recognizable to everyone then it is not the main theme.
In fact values ​​lower than one means that in some cases we will not find any card with the theme in question. Usually, these values ​​are assigned to surrounding themes and are not used to emphasize the major themes of the expansion.

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For higher values ​​instead, there are those elements that are necessary for the Gameplay but which do not serve to give specific themes to the expansion, in this case, for example, the number of creatures or non-creature cards inside a pack is measured (without considering their Color or creature type, etc.).
Since Creatures are the easiest way to win during a Draft, they must be extremely abundant to allow everyone to be able to receive an adequate number.
Also in this case, however, to convey the mechanical identity of colour in Magic: The Gathering, not all colours participate in the same way in the As-Fan of creatures Colors such as White or Green are often favoured in the number of Creatures as they rely heavily on creatures and combat phases while other colours such as Blue participate less in the number of creatures as they are less combat-oriented.

What will we find this time?

What will we find this time?

But what do I need the As fan for?

The as-fan can be extremely useful for several reasons and different types of players:

For example, it could be useful if you want to make your own card game or if you want to make a Draft Cube with the cards of Magic: The Gathering you already own so that you can play it with friends.

Or if you are a fan of Limited formats and want to try to understand some secrets that could be useful for you to have some more chance of winning than the others or if you like the lore of a certain expansion, understand how they managed to convey those feelings to you.

Or if you want to understand how easy it will be for you to have access to the cards of a certain mechanic that interests you through the purchase of sleeves or if it is better to buy the individual cards directly, perhaps at a higher price.

Or as it happened to me, to calculate the "stroke of luck" that a friend of mine had at the pre-release of "Rise of the Eldrazi" when he found in the first Booster Pack of the Draft the Mythic card that allowed him to win the whole tournament! (of course, he also won thanks to his skill as a player but still today we tell him that it was just luck ... XD)

Whatever your motivation, I think it's an important form of reflection to help you understand what you like about Magic: The Gathering too.

© 2021 Christian Allasia

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