State of the Market: January 2022
This month’s article is pretty clearly going to focus heavily on Everfest, given that it’s the subject most people want to hear about.
For a sense of timestamping this piece, I’m writing this at the tail end of the spoiler season, as people begin to stream the sealed packs and boxes that LSS sent them. While we do, at this time, know the full setlist, we don't have a precise read on all the possible variants and foil options in this set, nor their rarities. There are pros and cons to pushing forward with this piece with incomplete information remaining.
- Pro: Giving advice before the singles market starts to populate with cards will make this information more actionable.
- Con: We do not know all of the information about what the set contains, particularly as it concerns variant printings of cards. We’ll need to wait until enough product is opened en masse for people to report unexpected alternate printings of cards, such as the extended art foil Rares we saw pop up.
Moreover, I want to note right off the top here that when I talk about the set in this specific article, I am focused solely on the financial aspects. I think it is entirely possible to have very disparate feelings on a set’s effectiveness as a product, piece of media, or addition to gameplay compared to how valuable it is as an asset. For instance, my position remains that Crucible of War was a good expansion for the game, but it would have been regarded as a failure of a product had the game not exploded and catapulted it out of the negative EV opening experience it was.
The big financial question going into Everfest was, “Will the Carnival slot help solve the EV issue that recent sets have demonstrated?” So, did that turn out well?
Let me get out my magic 8 ball here...
My Sources Say No
I’m going to editorialize here and say that I really hate the lack of communication around the Carnival slot. I think any value generated in being mysterious about it was outweighed by the uncertainty it added to evaluating the product. I’ve spent most of spoiler season watching people be excited about the cards from the perspective of players/fans of the game, and being very nervous or negative about the EV of the set. I’ve spent the weeks leading up to the set repeatedly saying that if the Carnival slot isn’t a big deal, it’s going to bode ill for the set’s value, and here we are days before release and I still don’t 100% know what’s going on with the slot. I don’t like that paradigm. I’m not going to belabor this point more here, but this lack of communication is not building my confidence in the product’s value.
With that said, unboxing videos have begun to emerge, and I can at least tentatively speculate on the pack layout based on observations and the information from LSS here. We know packs are 10 cards. Opening order appears to front the 7 commons first. Financially, we don’t care about those at all. So that leaves three slots.
Following the commons, we get what appears to be a rainbow foil slot, which seems like it could contains any RF-eligible card (so, Commons to Majestics).
After that, we get what I am assuming is the Carnival slot. This slot appears to contain exclusively items, equipment, and Generic cards - which notably includes Majestic Generics, meaning you can probably open three Majestics in the same pack if you get really lucky. Cold foils also appear in this slot – the Alpha Investments opening showed two CFs emerge from this slot, one Legendary and one Rare.
The final slot is a Rare or Majestic in non-foil. It is unclear if cold foils can appear in any position aside from the Carnival slot.
There's one significant wrinkle to that final slot, and it's very significant. Daylon Mack’s tweeted pack had an Arcanite Skullcap in it. While I don’t know for sure what order the cards were in, we can make some inferences. We’ve got duplication of Fatigue Shot (yellow), so while you can’t tell from the image, one of those is almost certainly a rainbow foil. Dismissing the non-foil commons, that leaves us with the Skullcap and the Talisman of Balance. Because I’ve yet to see an item appear in the final slot in any packs, I’m assuming that was the Carnival slot for the pack, and the Skullcap was in the final slot.
This could mean two things: either that Ls can appear in both the final and Carnival slot; or that Skullcap specifically, as a non-CF-eligible card, appears in the final slot, while the two new pieces of Legendary gear show up in the Carnival slot. If that’s true, then someone is probably going to open a double L, or one L one F, pack at some point.
From what I’ve seen so far, the Carnival slot does not appear to contain any sort of surprise additions like reprints from other sets, though we do know that there are full art variants (like Arcane Lantern) that can appear as CFs in it.
Outlook Not So Good
I’m not going to sugar coat this: I am not optimistic about the near-term financial future of Everfest. This kind of sucks, because I feel like it takes the wind out of the sails of a new release, but this column’s purpose isn’t to build hype for the product. Now, I expect this to be like every set release where we’ll see high prices in the first few days to weeks as the project enters the market, but I expect a sharp downward trend from there. I just don’t see a lot of good signs for the set’s EV.
Post-CRU FAB sets tend to derive most of their value from a couple sources: Fables, Legendaries, cold foil Majestics, and variant cards. Tales of Aria Rainbow Majestics are relatively cheap, with even the best ones barely scraping over $10. The picture is a little better for Monarch, with a few in the $25 range and Celestial Cataclysm at $45 for a first edition RF; however, these are pretty much all part of a pattern of gradually falling prices from the exceptionally high launch price (RF Cataclysm was selling at $140+ out of the gate, did a sharp drop to $80 or so, and has been gradually moving down since July). None of the remotely valuable rainbow foil Monarch Majestics have any sort of meaningful upward trend, so we could continue to see slow declines for a few more months.
I think the general consensus is that Tales of Aria was not a great set from a financial perspective. You can still easily buy first edition for under MSRP, but the average box is going to be worth meaningfully less than even MAP.
Flesh and Blood’s big problem has always been that, at the box level, you are almost always going to lose signficant value unless you hit one of the types of cards outlined above, and most of those occur at a frequency of 1 in 4 boxes or more. This has been somewhat obfuscated due to the tight supply and spiked prices of the first three sets, but it has grown increasingly apparent as supply has been increased to meet demand.
Everfest, at this point, doesn’t seem to do anything signficant to address this. Worse still, it has the same problem that Crucible had in terms of having fewer Legendaries in the set. This means that it will take more boxes, on average, to open an L. In short, a lot of people are going to open a case and not hit a single Legendary, and I kind of hate that.
Moreover, the chase cards that we’ve seen generally look to be of mixed quality. Arcanite Skullcap is definitely good - it was a much needed reprint, and I’m glad it’s in the set. However, as a reprint, it is not cold foil eligible, and thus its upper value is somewhat constrained. When I wrote about needed reprints in December, Skullcap was at $235; with the known reprint in Everfest, the price of the unlimited Skullcap has been steadily dropping, and it’s now at $160-175. That’s before any real quantity of Everfest has entered the market.
I think we can expect the price to continue to drop for the next few months as more Everfest Skullcaps enter the market, so prices much closer to $100-120 (or potentially lower) seem plausible. That’s a positive move for the game- the cheapest version of Skullcap was way too expensive before, particularly given its ubiquity in competitive play- but it’s also bad news for people hitting the Skullcap if it’s in the same “slot” as the new Legendaries.
To go into that point a little more, it is possible that the two new Legendaries (Stalagmite and Silver Palms) appear only in the Carnival slot and Skullcap appears only in the final slot in the pack, at which point they could have distinct odds – so maybe Stalagmite and Silver Palms are grouped as CF Legendaries and you will open a CF L in 1:10 boxes, and then Skullcap has its own distinct pull rate that functions independently of the cold foils. To repeat, I have no concrete information on this, I’m just talking about possibilities in the absence of any official word.
Now let’s turn back to those CF Ls.
Silver Palms is not going to be a high-value card once prices settle unless some very surprising build emerges to break them. Prior to Everfest, Merchant was mostly a meme class with a single young hero and no real card support. The new Merchant (Genis Wotchuneed –whose name reads like it was a placeholder they forgot to fill in), does not appear like he’ll be revolutionizing the Blitz meta, so the actual play demand for Silver Palms is going to be minimal, and the card will mostly be picked up by collectors who want a set of cold foils. Don’t get me wrong, it will pay for its box, but I suspect we’ll see them moving down towards the $120-140 range we see the less-played pieces of Monarch and Tales CF Legendary Equipment sell for fairly promptly. After that, they could likely go a bit lower. They’ll probably end up as the cheapest CF L Equipment in the game.
By contrast, I expect Stalagmite to fare a bit better. It’s definitely the best L in the set value-wise, and it has full art to boot. Guardian definitely looks like it’ll be a solid pillar of the meta for the forseeable future, so if it sees play, we can expect the price to hold up fairly well.
Are there other mitigating factors to consider? Yes, sort of?
Reply Hazy, Try Again
It seems that there may be a bunch of lower rarity CFs in this set, if all the Talismans, Potions, and Amulets are CF-eligible. This makes getting a specific one harder, so any ones that emerge as standouts should command modestly good prices.
What’s “modestly good?”
At the Common level, Tales of Aria has Deep Blue, which sells for $15. Items can be played in multiples, and as a result, they could have a higher ceiling if people are actively seeking out playsets. This doesn’t radically inflate the value of a box, but if you could reliably get a couple $20 CFs in a case, as opposed to the $5-8 most Tales of Aria CF Cs command, it would be a notable improvement. We’ve also seen an Arcane Lantern full art Cold Foil variant, and many other full arts. Full art variants could definitely help the overall value of the set.
The other potential for propping up the set’s value is the ambiguity about Unlimited Everfest. As of the writing of this piece, I can no longer locate the Unlimited Everfest product art among the Legend Story Studio’s Marketing Assets or in any articles relating to Everfest. I have locally saved images of these products, and a quick Google search will reveal multiple stores taking preorders on Unlimited (though they give wildly different expected release dates for the set), so I’m relatively sure that I didn’t hallucinate the previous existence of info on Unlimited, but it seems like it’s been pushed into the background. If I had to speculate on this, I would say that LSS may want to deemphasize Unlimited after what I’d consider the failure of Monarch and Tales Unlimited (recent finished ebay auctions have TOA unlimited cases at sub-$200). It’s possible that we may see a delayed release of Everfest Unlimited until the market has more fully absorbed first edition, which I’m not opposed to.
Historically, this sort of move is good for propping up prices short term. After all, we saw first edition CRU prices soaring in the absence of an unlimited edition. However, Everfest is very much not CRU in this respect. Although we knew a CRU unlimited printing was coming, cards like Spoils of War and Courage of Bladehold still demanded very high prices until Unlimited actually arrived because they were cards people needed immediately for the Blitz events that were taking place. But this is largely not the case for Everfest. The only cards that will be in Everfest without cheaper NF or RF versions are the ones that are only printed in CF, so our Fable, Stalagmite, Bastion of Isenloft, and Silver Palms. All of the Majestics should be readily available in NF format, and, as discussed earlier, non-Generic Majestics just don’t command huge prices.
So, should you hold off on Everfest?
Signs Point to Yes
If you are trying to optimize value, I would not advise buying any sealed product or singles for several weeks post-launch. Singles prices will certainly fall from their starting point over the next 4-6 weeks at a minimum. I also suspect that you’ll have little trouble finding MAP-priced first edition boxes online – several sellers were already offering them at MAP for pre-order, which suggests supply is not going to be an issue.
Now, that was a scenario where you only cared about squeezing every ounce of value out things. In reality, it turns out that opening cards is fun and you may enjoy doing it. I know I’ll be opening a case or two, despite my financial projections. You might also need some of these cards to play with, so you’ll likely need to buy them before the prices settle.
On that note, the main piece of caution I have is if either Stalagmite or the Fable take off in competitive play, and we don’t have an unlimited announcement, they could get rather expensive in the short term when only the cold foil versions are on the market; however, when (or if) we get unlimited, those inflated prices will take a bit of a dive as people look to downgrade to RF and cash over CF.
That’s where we are. I wish it looked a little better, but in terms of value, I wouldn’t expect Everfest to be a meaningful upgrade of Tales of Aria first edition at the level of a booster box.
Anyway, thanks for tuning in! Next month, while we’ll certainly still be talking Everfest, we’ll also look at the market as a whole again. For now, most segments of the FAB secondary remain stable. Good luck on Everfest, I hope you all open Stalagmites.
Last Minute Update
Well, I said it at the beginning of the article, but some takes were contingent on available information and I’ve gotten a little more info since submitting the initial draft of this piece. Significantly, the cold foil version of the new Bravo has a full art back that also features cold foil embellishments – this is going to make it a very big “hit,” likely making it more valuable than Silver Palms, Skullcap, and even potentially Stalagmite (unless LSS has tinkered with pull rates). I’ve also seen enough pictures to verify the full art version of Earthlore Bounty. Overall, this doesn’t dramatically change my take that, at the individual box level, it will be a total feast or famine experience where people will either get a hit and make out or get kind of creamed on value –that’s sort of just how FAB works in the post-Monarch world; this doesn’t change that. However, the potential for a few more moderately to very impressive hits in the set do make the prospect of opening a larger volume of product a little more reasonable. This is thus good news for people who do their opening at the case vs box level.
Update the 2nd (2/2/22, 9pm EST)
Alright, I’ve got two main points here.
First, the logistics of releasing a monthly column mean that you sometimes have to publish things without all the information in hand. I feel like this article, as originally written, included ample disclosures in terms of outlining what data I was working with as well as what sorts of things would change my evaluation of the set if they emerged. I stand by my initial assessment given the available information at the time of writing.
With that said, additional information has emerged since this article was published and that impacts my assessment fairly meaningfully. Significantly, Everfest appears to have multiple extended art rainbow foil variants at both Rare and (very importantly) Majestic. We don’t actually know how frequently these variants appear – early information suggests that the EA variants exist alongside normal rainbow foils of these cards, but we don’t know for sure. Similarly, we don’t know the rate at which the variant foils appear, though the community has historically assumed EA variants (like Monarch's Majestic EAs) account for half of an individual card’s rainbow foil run.
Given all of that, these could be exceptionally valuable. Herald of Erudition, which is the all-star EA from Monarch, sells for $200+, which places it ahead of most of Monarch’s CF Ls (By contrast, Mark of the Beast –the “bad” one– is $90.)
As we don’t know every Majestic that has an EA variant, I don’t want to fall too far down that rabbit hole, but Everfest definitely has some powerful Majestics, and if any of these have EA variants, those could, for price purposes, function as virtual Legendaries.
Not to be overlooked are the Rare EAs. Any of these that find themselves a home in a top deck could claim $10-20+ price tags. While that doesn’t sound huge, adding a few addition hits in that price range really changes the math on the EV of a box (the numbers I’m throwing out here are speculation on stable prices once the set settles, almost all singles will be overpriced in the first few weeks).
In conclusion, there appear to be notably more chase cards than were previously known to exist, and that should push the EV of the set up in a meaningful way. I don’t want to lay down a prescriptive recommendation here since we still don’t have full information, but at this stage, I’m personally planning to open more cases than I initially anticipated. Do with that what you will.
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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