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Starter and Boosterpacks

The difference between the different packs is very easy to tell.

When you start playing magic you need to buy some starterpacks, just to get enough basic lands to use in your decks. Usually you will need to buy 4-6 starterpacks to get enough land from every color to play that color on it's own.
After that you should buy boosterpacks, to avoid being flooded with those nasty commons.

If you are really into Magic and are spending a lot of money on it, you might want to ask for special rebattes for displays. A display is a big box of Boosterpacks, it usually contains 36 to 45+ packs, depending on the edition. Most shops will offer some rebatte if you ask. Just try.