So What's the Deal with Shiyana?
Last month I made what has probably been my worst prediction in about a year of calling the FaB market. I projected that unlimited Shiyana would be a $300 card with a $400-500 upside (as ever, the prices I use are USD).
That prediction has proven to be spectacularly wrong.
As of this writing, Shiyana is $135, which is about $5 behind the unlimited Crucible of War printing of Tunic (or “CRUnic” as I’ve been affectionately calling it since last fall). Whenever I whiff something like this, I usually make an effort to go back and figure out why that happened. So today, we’re going to look over what might have caused Shiyana to perform so far below my expectations, and if there are any long-term implications.
Why is Shiyana Desirable?
From a gameplay perspective, we know that Shiyana is not currently considered a 'good' card. She has 0 Living Legend points, meaning that she has never won an event of substance. There is some theoretical long-term upside to her unique ability in that, as long as LSS makes new specializations, she will get better over time. However, she is so far from being strong right now that it’s hard to imagine her price being driven by people speculating on her future play use. That said, if a more casual format takes off, she could become more popular there, where her “cool” factor might be more important than her being top tier.
That “cool” factor really does seem to be the source of Shiyana’s desirability. The community decided they liked her when CRU launched, and that sort of enthusiasm can drive prices irrespective of whether anyone is actually playing her.
The power of the community liking a card should not be underestimated. Rainbow Foil Cracked Baubles from first edition CRU are still $70 cards, and you would literally never put one in a deck if you had any other options. Until LSS creates some sort of Bauble synergy, they are 100% meme cards.
However, community enthusiasm can also be fickle. We’ve seen other “bad” cards spike and fall off. The Crazy Brew promo went from $150 to over $300, and is now about $145 with a downward trajectory.
I think I made two bad assumptions in projecting Shiyana’s price. I assumed the price of a CF Shiyana would have some bearing on her RF version, similar to how other Legendaries have behaved; and I assumed the CRU-U Legendary slot would be worth more than the Legendary slot in other sets where Legendaries show up much more frequently.
Thus far, there has usually been a pretty decent correlation between the relative prices of CFs to each other and their respective RFs to each other (with the exception of Tunic, since it has two more printings than the rest). For instance, Mask of Momentum is worth a fair bit more than the other Welcome to Rathe class Legendaries, both as a cold foil Alpha card and a rainbow foil Unlimited card. The same is true of Phantasmal Footsteps in Monarch (though Carrion Husk has been steadily catching up).
This didn’t bear out with a $140 Shiyana. My immediate reaction was that either the CF version was overpriced, or the RF version was underpriced. It felt like something had to give- and it did.
What gave appears to be the price of cold foil Shiyana. When I wrote last month’s article, we still had $3,000+ sales. In the past two days, two CF Shiyanas have sold on eBay- one at $2033.85, and one at $1900.
I don’t know if that’s a floor price either. Scabskin Leathers, which is the lowest WTR CF, is about $2000, and that’s an card people actually play in competitive decks. Plus there are meaningfully fewer copies of Alpha Scabskin Leathers than 1st Edition Shiyanas in circulation; and I would bet that a higher percentage of CF Scabs were actually sleeved and played with when compare to the Diamond Gemini.
In short, I think when you look at scarcity and playability, CF Scabskin should probably be more valuable than Shiyana. Her previous highs were propped up entirely by the community’s love for her, irrespective of her gameplay value, and it’s beginning to look like that hype is dying down a bit. If the community is cooling on her, we could still see the CF version slip a couple hundred dollars, and the RF could move down a little too.
Which brings me to the other element here: CRU’s overall value.
CRU'S COOL RECEPTION
It’s been interesting watching people who weren’t around for CRU the first time talking about their bad experiences opening the unlimited product. I’ve seen a lot of “I opened two cases and didn’t get an L or F; what’s the deal?” posts.
I'm reiterating here, but to make it clear once more, Legendary pull rates are based on individual card frequency, not 1 L in X packs, with each L appearing 1:480 packs. That means that in WTR and its unlimited equivalent, 1 Legendary appears in 96 packs/4 boxes (5 Ls in WTR). However, in CRU and CRU unlimited, you only get 1 Legendary in 240 packs/10 boxes.
My previous assumption was that Shiyana would hold a higher price in part because of the odds of pulling any L in CRU. Now, interestingly, if we account for the drop in her CF price, the current $140 actually looks a lot like a premium. Other RF Ls that don’t see much play are selling for $40-70 right now.
I was caught off guard by the sharp decline in cold foil Shiyana’s pricing because there doesn’t really appear to be any sort of event that prompted it- aside from potentially the existence of RF Shiyana. (But was anyone buying the CF version to actually play?) With the CF price drop, her current price makes more sense, though I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if she moved down a bit more still, especially as additional waves of CRU-U come out.
The lesson I’m taking from this is a reaffirmation that a card’s play value and scarcity remain the most dependable predictors of price, and the community’s affections for a card- lacking one or both of those factors- can be fleeting and may change without warning.
Ada (Freyja on Discord) got into Flesh and Blood a few months before it took off in the US and has been heavily involved in the financial side of the game ever since. When she’s not writing finance pieces for The Rathe Times, her FAB-related writing can be found on her blog: https://fabwithfreyja.com/
As an owner of not cf and rainbow foil versions, the cool factor is definitely a drive for me. She was my first Legendary CF. I was 2 weeks old in the game and owning a, then $6k card was amazing. I do hope there will be support for her or her class in the future.
Awesome recap as per usual, thanks Ada! I think these look-backs at market trends and movements are really important, both for the community more generally and ourselves to learn from. Good stuff.
Thank you for the articles in Markets. Love reading them!
Great write up Ada! I think there was an initial future-thought calculation that went into Shiyana's CF pricing. Another factor to consider is the overall market being much softer since its peaks. Speculators have cooled down with their purchases which has had a weight on prices as well. Shiyana will be an interesting case study on single card prices over FaB's history. I think she will be an outlier, because at the current moment there is nothing quite like her.
Shiyana definitely has one of the coolest design spaces. I think shes just waiting for more tools before she can become "playable".
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