State of the Market: End of April 2021
Hello folks, this is a particularly weird time in the world of Flesh and Blood finance because, as you well know, Monarch first edition releases this week, and that’s going to dramatically shake up the market almost immediately. Because of this, I don’t want to focus too much on prices for any individual card. We should absolutely expect a lot of movement in the coming weeks, so fixating on current prices isn’t a great use of our time. Instead, I’m going to direct your attention to changing aspects of the market, things you should be looking at in the coming weeks, and the new hotness that is Monarch.
Diminishing Data Points
As we covered in last month’s article, the then-newly revealed print run numbers for the first three sets were even smaller than previously assumed. This means that both the number of unopened sealed boxes and the number of highly sought after singles like cold foil Legendaries is also smaller than previously assumed. As these items continue to climb in value, you should expect to see them showing up less frequently on the open market. As a quick example, over the course of April, we saw seventeen auctions for sealed WTR alpha boxes (that includes one case that sold for a staggering $35,000). During that same time period, we saw one (yep, just one) cold foil Fyendal’s Spring Tunic sell (a graded 9 at $11,000). Compare that to fifty-five boxes or cases of Crucible of War and three Shiyanas. As prices rise, cards naturally migrate into the hands of people who are increasingly less likely to resell them in the near future (or ever, in some cases). This occurs, in part, because the type of person who can buy a single card for $11,000 is often less likely to need cash right away and is probably buying either as a long term investment (as in, they’ll be holding for several years or more) or simply to get a collectible item that they have no intention of ever selling.
As prices rise, cards naturally migrate into the hands of people who are increasingly less likely to resell them in the near future (or ever, in some cases).
This change has a couple implications. First, pricing on these items is going to become increasingly nebulous as time moves on. When sales occur far apart, you are likely to see more variance in the price ranges; so while we’re all used to FAB moving as a steady upward climb punctuated by startlingly frequent spikes, sales on some of these items are going to start looking like nothing but spikes...
...which leads me to the other important aspect of this change: some things will be functionally leaving the open market. We’re already there to some degree. The Fables and the WTR and ARC Ls are starting to disappear from online stores and marketplaces like ebay and TCGplayer, with many sales being brokered privately through trusted third parties, and we should expect WTR and ARC boxes to follow suit in the coming years. If you’re in a position where you’re considering purchasing any of these higher end items, you’d likely be best served doing it sooner rather than later. Barring major changes to the global financial market (always possible), you’ll soon have a difficult time tracking down CF Legendary cards from the first three sets, as well as boxes of the first two. I expect Crucible of War to remain fairly easy to find, though at increasing prices, for at least the rest of 2021. With recent sales pushing towards $2,000, I think that, as so often happens with Flesh and Blood, projections of it being a $2000 box by end of year are looking overly cautious, and $2500-3000 seems more probable as a floor price for the end of the year.
Some things will be functionally leaving the open market; we’re already there to some degree, with Cold Foil Fables and Legendaries from WTR and ARC disappearing from online stores and marketplaces.
Unlimited Ups and Downs
We got some good news when a much-needed Unlimited printing of Crucible of War was announced for “mid-year.” I’ve seen what I would consider some pretty wrong takes that this is going to lead to falling CRU singles prices. Given what we know about the print run size of CRU (still quite small, despite being larger than WTR and ARC), I don’t think we should expect any meaningful price drops. We may see a slowdown in price increases, but actual significant sustained downward movement seems highly unlikely. Why? We’ve seen that players regard first printings of cards, even non-foils, as significantly more desirable than their unlimited printings. An unlimited Enlightened Strike is $45-50 while an Alpha E-Strike is $400+. Crucible singles, especially the short-printed ones, should be regarded similarly, though they will always lag behind their ARC and WTR counterparts both because they are more common and likely less visually distinct from their unlimited printing. In short, CRU Unlimited is great news for players, but I wouldn’t vacate your position on first edition cards out of concern for falling prices.
On a slightly less positive bit of unlimited news, we’re still seeing fairly high prices for Unlimited ARC and WTR singles; and boxes, while more readily available than before, are generally priced at MSRP, give or take a few dollars. Along with that, some singles, notably the Fables, are actually moving back up a bit, and I’ve seen people discussing them as investible. As always, my position is that investing in unlimited boxes and singles while they are in print is a high-risk decision that could lead to significant losses if and when Legend Story Studios manages to print at a volume that would allow MAP-priced boxes to reenter the marketplace. In short, while there is potential upside if LSS either chooses not to reprint these sets in large quantities or can’t manage to do so, the potential downside is significant, and there are better spots in the FAB marketplace to put your money. I encourage you to limit your unlimited buys to necessary singles that you need to play the game.
I encourage you to limit your unlimited buys to necessary singles that you need to play the game.
Monarch (It's Almost Here!)
I assume everyone reading this is incredibly eager to get the new set in their hands, and while there are a huge array of things to be excited about from a gameplay angle, we really don’t have enough information yet to confidently speculate on the full ramifications of new mechanics for old cards until people start getting actual games in. Instead, we’re going to be looking at a more broad level.
Let’s start with the things to avoid. Blitz Decks are not a good place to invest your money. There was a brief run on them when the full art Mentor cards were revealed. People started to buy them up with abandon, but LSS thankfully and commendably quashed that with an announcement that these decks would be “printed as required” and a second wave of them had already been ordered for mid-June. While I certainly think that a sealed brick of Blitz decks will be worth over MSRP in five years- assuming, as always, that the game is doing well- there are many other items that will perform much better over that same time period. If you want blitz decks to play with or a display for a personal collection, by all means grab one, but don’t start buying up boxes en masse. It’s both a poor personal investment and an annoyance to prospective new players who would otherwise buy the decks.
Another thing you shouldn’t be investing in is Unlimited Monarch. It should be abundantly clear that LSS will continue to print unlimited boxes as they are able to in order to meet rising demand. When the unlimited edition goes out of print, it will become investable, but until then, there are better things to spend your investment money on.
On the other hand, if you play the game with unlimited cards, you should absolutely order unlimited boxes for your own use now– like, stop reading this (temporarily), open a new tab, and put in an order. Why have you not ordered these already? There are still multiple sellers offering MAP-priced boxes in the US with New Zealand supply available at $120 NZD or lower. If you recall my discussion of unlimited WTR and ARC in the previous section, you should be considering the strong possibility that there will be a protracted period where unlimited Monarch is available at MSRP but not MAP. If you want unlimited Monarch (and, you do), they are as cheap as they are likely to be for at least the next six months; stop dragging your feet and lock in some cheap boxes now.
Alright, let’s get into the heavier hitting Monarch items. The gold standard will be first edition sealed boxes. These are the only first edition FAB boxes you’re going to see under $1,000 until Kingdoms comes out. They’re currently sitting at $500-600, and they’ll continue to go up from there. With that said, there is a chance that we might see a price dip immediately after launch. This could happen because there are people who ordered boxes well below current market prices on credit and will need to immediately resell some or all of their boxes in order to recoup their costs. Similarly, some people ordered boxes when they were at MAP or MSRP and would rather just flip for profit than invest.
There are two ways this could play out. If there are enough people looking to sell, you’ll start to see prices go down as people in need of cash undercut the competition. Alternatively, if the number of people looking to sell is relatively low, the market will quickly absorb the available boxes without much or any movement. If a dip occurs, it will be short-lived (days or weeks), and then the market will absorb the product and start to rise again.
I mention this because, if you’re looking to buy, these will be the cheapest boxes you’ll have a shot at going forward. Alternatively, if you plan to sell Monarch in the next year, you should definitely not sell into this dip if you can avoid it. My bet is that the lowest Monarch is going to be by year’s end is $1,000 a box, and there is significant room for additional upside if we learn that the print run isn’t significantly more than double CRU’s run. While I don’t want to put too much stock in generalizing a timeframe from the one solitary info drop, if we go by how long it took for the CRU print run information to come out post-release, we could see Monarch print runs before the end of the year, and when that happens, expect another flurry of movement and price adjustments.
The big mystery for Monarch is going to be where singles prices are at launch. Previous sets have offered very affordable cold foils for some period of time post-launch, but I expect similar opportunities to be much rarer this time around. For context, in the weeks after CRU came out, you could leisurely purchase cold foil Rares at $7-10 and Majestics at about $30, and it wasn’t until a couple months later that those prices started to shoot up. At this point, people know that cold foils have significant long term value (at least while the game is growing and first editions are quite small). Moreover, those CRU singles prices existed alongside moderately available MSRP CRU boxes.
Monarch’s situation is entirely different. Any really good deals will likely be people listing things below what they “should” be selling for; this will mostly be people with only a cursory knowledge of the market, and we can expect these sorts of things to get snatched up immediately. Unlike boxes where we might see a dip at launch, I think that a lot of singles will come out high and then people will scale back if they don’t get their initial asking price. At some point during the first month post-launch, we’ll likely see the lowest price for cold foil singles, but it might be a few days before that low point occurs.
Previous sets have offered very affordable cold foils for some period of time post-launch, but I expect similar opportunities to be much rarer this time around.
So, if you’re looking for singles, what’s a good price? I honestly don’t think we can know that right now. The market is going to be incredibly volatile, and it will almost certainly thwart any attempt I make to give specific figures.
What I can offer you are some points to consider when evaluating if a particular single is a good buy. The most important starting point is to use extant cold foils as a guide. While we don’t know exactly how big the Monarch print run will be, I think it’s fair to assume that there will be more copies of each cold foil than there were in any previous set at comparable rarities. That means that you should be spending meaningfully less on a cold foil Common from Monarch than you would on one from ARC or WTR. Spending $150 on a cold foil Monarch common is unlikely to be as good as just taking that money and spending it on a Crucible of War cold foil rare. Do I think a Monarch cold foil common at $150 will be worth meaningfully more in a few years? Emphatically yes. But I also think the CRU cold foil Rares will show better growth in the same time period.
Please note, I’m talking generically about cards of a given rarity here because, while a piece of Common MON equipment that ultimately proves to be quite good could outpace a bad CRU Rare equipment, most people are not great at guessing which ones will be stars ahead of time, and Monarch is introducing significant mechanical changes to the game, which makes me less confident in my own and anyone else’s predictions on how strong specific cards will be.
You should be spending meaningfully less on a cold foil Common from Monarch than you would on one from ARC or WTR.
Cold foils and any special variants (like the full art Twinning Blade from Crucible) will get the most attention out of the gate. There may be some opportunities to get well-priced rainbow foil Majestics as the money chases the cold foils. That said, we did see a meaningful narrowing of the gap between non-foil and rainbow foil pricing with the Super/Majestic rarity combination in Crucible. WTR and ARC RF Majestics sell for four to ten times (or more) what their non-foil counterparts do. Crucible RF Majestics tend to be more in the range of two to three times their non-foil cousins.
Monarch will age well, but you aren’t going to see the sorts of returns that the previous sets yielded because the opening prices will never be remotely as low. Shiyana went from a low of $280 to about $6000 in less than a year. Don’t expect Monarch Ls to hit the same lows, nor for them to multiply as much as CRU did– there are more of them, and more people are focused on the market this time around. Spending a few hundred now on a CF Legenday will still likely look pretty good in a year, but the growth rate is unlikely to be as absurd as we saw with first three sets. Also, do remember that due to the way that LSS distributes Legendaries, you’ll see a CF Legendary more frequently in Monarch than any previous set since there are six instead of five, meaning approximately 1:80 packs.
While I think there are potentially some reasons to wait a small amount of time on singles and/or boxes to see if you can get a better price than what you see on day one, if you’re doing this, you take the risk that the target price you’re looking for will never occur, and then you’ll get stuck watching prices rise and waiting for them to “come back down.” Monarch singles pricing is going to be weird, and you need to be agile. You should go into things with an idea of what you want to spend on cards, but if those prices don’t materialize, you need to be prepared to either opt out of buying the cards or accept a higher price and commit. If you’re investing as opposed to collecting here, you should set yourself some limits where, if prices exceed those lines, you will put the money in WTR, ARC, or CRU CFs instead. With all the attention focused on Monarch, the next few weeks have the potential to be a good time to pick up some older cards at good prices.
I’m going to wrap up by talking about Monarch’s Fable, which has appeared online via cellphone pictures from several prereleases. The card, Great Library of Solana, is the game’s first Landmark. As such, I would be highly suspicious of anyone’s assessment of how good or bad the card is; we don’t have enough data to go on here. Fortunately, I don’t think this really matters for the value of cold foil Fables at this time. If gameplay utility were dictating current Fable prices, Eye would be as much or more than Heart, especially given their identical print runs. So, we’re mainly just looking at it as a very rare card.
The first Great Library that I saw sell was briefly shown on a Facebook marketplace before being sold for an undisclosed price, though apparently multiple people had offered $3,000. Since then, prices being offered for a Library have been as high as ten boxes of MON first edition (or approximately $5500-6000). I wouldn’t take this as indicative of a set price, and you should expect prices to fluctuate wildly once the actual release happens in a week and the majority that are going to hit the open market do so.
With that said, my personal take is that, once you get to the $4000+ range, you’re better off kicking in another $1000-2000 for a Shard- unless your goal is to collect all the cold foil Fables, in which case, good luck. I think the Fable is going to be the card that people potentially most overpay for. There will be some of these listed at very high prices, and the hype surrounding the set will almost certainly lead to several sales at questionable prices. Be careful with these- soaring prices may make them a worse investment than other cold foils over the same time period, even if they still accrue very respectable gains in the coming years.
Best of luck to everyone cracking packs in the coming weeks, and I’ll have another State of the Market for you next month!
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/
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