A flurry of posts to at least two Magic: the Gathering Websites (MTGNews.com and Brainburst.com) has raised the question of whether the sequence of rare cards in boxes of Magic the Gathering: Odyssey Booster Packs is truly random. The posts indicate that based on the location of packs containing particular Odyssey rare cards, the location of packs containing subsequent rare cards is predictable. Once the sequence was posted, subsequent post-ers, for the most part, reported finding identical sequences, at least in the US (non-US sequences appeared to be different). However, since less than 100% of the US post-ers reported finding the same sequence, there appears to be some question as to the ubiquity of the pattern.
Other products have been reported to have rare cards appearing in predictable places within a box, or in predictable places once the location of one rare card is known. The Odyssey situation seems to be more extreme because specific cards (rather than any rare card) can reportedly be found once the location of a single specific rare card is known.
Of course, there are a couple of easy solutions for retailers concerned about customers cherry-picking packs with rare cards. One is to shuffle the packs in the box before letting customers pick which one they want. Another is to keep the cards behind the counter and pick the packs for the customers, rather than letting them pick the packs themselves. Either is a good policy for all card products sold in packs, and this latest brouhaha is a good reminder to consistently enforce such a policy.