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State of the Market: September 2022

1 year ago

12:32

Heya everyone, it’s been a while since we did a normal one of these, and this feels like a good time for it now that we’ve got some new set news and recent big events to work with.

There are three main things I want to cover this month:

  • We should check in on Uprising prices now that we’ve had ample time to observe market trends.
  • With Prism locking in Living Legend status, it seems like a good time to discuss what LL means for the value of a Hero and their associated cards.
  • And, of course, we’re going to do some early speculation and discussion on the mid-November Dynasty release.

So, lots to talk about; let’s hit the ground running.

State of the Market

Prism’s exit from CC is a probable source for several of the Uprising changes in the past week. This is the biggest force on the market in recent weeks, and we don’t yet know how everything is going to shake out. The meta will now necessarily shift, and while the intuitive thing after the exit of a top deck is to look at the remaining top decks, you never know if things will radically realign as a deck that was kept in check by the former top performer is suddenly free to prey on the field.

General Uprising prices are also going to be affected by additional supply continuing to enter the market. While the big box opening period where countries first get access to a new set has passed, we’re still going to see people buying sealed product and opening it gradually, particularly while Uprising remains the current set to draft.

Let’s start with a look at the UPR Legendaries, which are sort of the traditional core of a set’s value. We’ll take a look at where each card was in CF and RF on 7/1, 8/1, and 9/1 and then very briefly discuss the current trend- though we’ll save the big picture points for after we look over all six Legendaries. As per usual, we’ll be using TCGPlayer sold prices with a little averaging and we’ll draw from a day earlier or later if there’s no applicable sale on the first.

Card image of Crown of Providence

Crown of Providence (Cold Foil)
7/1- $150 | 8/1- $248 | 9/1- $250
Current Trend: Flattening out after an upward movement. This first of the month view is slightly deceptive in this case, as the front end of August saw CF Crown’s price dip down to about $200 before it started picking back up again in the past week or so. We’ve had several sales in the past few weeks from $230-260, which suggests we might be looking at a proper rebound here as opposed to an outlier.

Crown of Providence (Rainbow Foil)
7/1- $114 | 8/1- $150 | 9/1- $140
Current Trend: Flat. The movement that the cold foil version saw over the past month was not really mirrored by the RF, which saw only a slight decline into its current relatively stable position.

Card image of Flamescale Furnace

Flamescale Furnace (Cold Foil)
7/1- $216 | 8/1- $200 | 9/1- $160
Current Trend: Flat after a recent downturn. There was a gap between 8/12 and 8/21 without any sales. Since then, the price dropped by $20 to the current $160 price point, which has been consistent for about ten sales over the past week.

Flamescale Furnace (Rainbow Foil)
7/1- $97 | 8/1- $100 | 9/1- $90
Current Trend: Gradual upward. RF Flamescale was down to $75-85 for most of August, but has started picking up a bit in the past week. If I were to speculate on the fact that the RFs are moving up while CF pricing remains flat, I would say that this could be indicative of people making a move to try out Fai in whatever new meta emerges. Given that he is unproven, it makes sense that people would be going for the “play” copies vs the collectible ones. If Fai re-emerges as a force in the new Meta, the CF version could pick back up as well.

Card image of Tiger Stripe Shuko

Tiger Stripe Shuko (Cold Foil)
7/1- $150 | 8/1- $134 | 9/1- $109
Current Trend: Downward over the past few days. After very few sales over August, we’ve seen some recent movement at about $20 below the previous sale on 8/12. This seems like sellers finally accepting that the market was not interested in the $127 price. Multiple sellers have repriced to the current ~$110 point, so we could potentially see some more fall off from here.

Tiger Stripe Shuko (Rainbow Foil)
7/1- $82 | 8/1- $81 | 9/1- $57
Current Trend: Steady downward. There’s no clear sign we’ve hit the bottom, and given that the CF is also moving downward, I’d be inclined to wait and see on this one.

Card image of Coronet Peak

Coronet Peak (Cold Foil)
7/1- $170 | 8/1- $87 | 9/1- $78
Current Trend: Slight downward. Peak is a good case study in the new paradigm of cold foils. We saw people treat all UPR CF Ls as valuable out of the gate, and then the “bad” ones dropped off dramatically while the ones that saw play maintained prices and/or moved upward. Though additional supply has had an overall moderating effect from peak prices across the board, good Ls have remained strong and the weak ones have largely stabilized, though prices are still creeping down a little.

Coronet Peak (Rainbow Foil)
7/1- $87 | 8/1- $46 | 9/1- $38
Current Trend: Flat. Prices have oscillated between about $34-40 for the past few weeks, and this seems to be about where we are- though as with the CF, I think a slight downward creep is also likely as people continue to open product.

Card image of Alluvion Constellas

Alluvion Constellas (Cold Foil)
7/1- $113 | 8/1- $86 | 9/1- $70
Current Trend: Flat. Again, there is always some movement up or down a few dollars day-to-day when you’re dealing with cards over $50 or so, but Constellas is pretty stable. If it’s going to move, I would expect continued but gradual decline.

Alluvion Constellas (Rainbow Foil)
7/1- $81 | 8/1- $39 | 9/1- $31
Current Trend: Stable. The RF is moving pretty much in tandem with the CF version.

Card image of Ghostly Touch

Ghostly Touch (Cold Foil)
7/1- $111 | 8/1- $82 | 9/1- $68
Current Trend: Downward. Ghostly Touch has sold fewer copies than the other CFs, and the current downward movement suggests that sellers are perhaps looking to see where the buyers actually are.

Ghostly Touch (Rainbow Foil)
7/1- $70 | 8/1- $34 | 9/1- $30
Current Trend: Slight downward. Again, very similar behavior to CF and RV Alluvion Constellas.

Uprising is our first set with the new, rarer Cold Foils and the formalized Marvel rarity. What we can see overall is that the Legendaries debuted much more tightly packed than how they ended up. When we started, the most expensive L was about double the cheapest. Since then, we’ve seen them separate such that the top L is nearly four times as expensive as the cheapest one.

I feel like what we’re starting to see is the solidification of an era in FAB where being Cold Foil alone is not enough to ensure high prices. We saw the beginning of this trend with Monarch, but it seems increasingly like play is driving the prices of even the collectible version of cards, unlike the very early days where everything Cold Foil and rare was valuable. This is both reasonable and likely healthy for the game and the market, as it will reward people who can identify the best cards early and avoid buying bad Legendaries in the opening weeks of a set’s release.

An interesting thing I noticed while compiling this information is that the RF/CF price split has behaved rather differently with the good Ls (Crown, Furnace, and Shuko) as compared to the bad ones (Touch, Peak, Constellas). For the bad ones, we’ve seen RF and CF versions move rather consistently with one another. However, this has not been the case for the good ones, outside of Shuko. Crown and Furnace both had periods where the CF and RF copies were moving in opposite directions before the market corrected and they realigned. For Crown, this meant that the RF version shot up to catch the climbing CF version, whereas for Furnace, the CF spiked in response to rising RF prices that had brought the two versions rather close together at the beginning of July. I don’t think we can extrapolate any specific “rules” from this information as it pertains to good Ls, but it may suggest that there will be future opportunities for people if they can spot good Ls where one version starts moving before the other catches up.

Card image of Invoke Miragai (Red)
Card image of Invoke Tomeltai (Red)
Card image of Miragai
Card image of Tomeltai

Then we have Marvels. Let’s talk about these as groups. The Rare dragons (outside of Miragai) have been generally flat-to-downward over the past month. We saw some effort to buyout a few of these a little over a month ago, which led to brief price spikes; but the market seems to have largely rejected the new price, as we’re back down to where we were before or lower.

The Majestics, on the other hand, have moved. Tomeltai and Dracona Optimai both moved up and then plateaued while Dominia stayed stable. Marvel Ash has moved up consistently while Marvel Phoenix Flame has moved down. Both seem to still be in motion along those established trends, though that movement is gradual. After a couple weeks of no sales, CF Iyslander dropped about 15% in mid-August and has been relatively flat since then.

Card image of Aether Ashwing
Card image of Phoenix Flame (Red)

Beyond the Cold Foil Marvels, we’ve seen the non-foil Majestics continue to tick down, with Erase Face remaining a standout and really the only non-foil Majestic of note. While its current $16 price tag is itself a notable drop from its peak of around $30 in mid-July, it is still wildly more valuable than the rest of the normal Mejstics in the set. At this stage, Uprising seems to have mostly stabilized, and any additional significant movement will likely emerge as a response to the changing meta.

Living Legend

Card image of Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light

Prism’s relegation to Living Legend status is a very interesting retirement. She had the most actively used promos of any popular hero, and the vast majority of them are tied to the Light Illusionist class- which means that, with her no longer being legal in CC, these cards have no eligible Hero to use them. We’re in early days still, but it seems like the gradual price drop many of these had already been seeing in the lead up to her retirement has either continued or intensified.

This is largely uncharted territory for us. Starvo was retired in a format where most of his valuable cards (other than his CF hero variant, whose price fell off a cliff when he was retired) could still theoretically find a home in the decks of other legal Guardians. Similarly, Chane left a lot of his cards for our other Runeblades, and we didn’t exactly have piles of Shadow Runeblade promos.

Prism is a unique case of a Hero being retired with a huge host of rather expensive cards that no one else can use for the time being. Given that, I would pay attention to how these move in the coming weeks. Will people start selling off their promos in a race to the bottom to cash out on a deck they can’t play anymore? Or has Prism’s pending LL status been obvious enough for long enough that her eventual retirement was already mostly baked into prices, and we’ll only see either continued gradual declines or a plateau as the cards find their floor? I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the movement of these as we go forward.

One thing to note, of course, is that if we see a price crash on these cards, there could be a future opportunity for a re-valuation if a new popular format emerges where people can actually use these. As ever, eyes are on the eventual release of PvE.

Dynasty

Supplemental sets have been a sort-of sketchy item in terms of value thus far. I’ve always maintained that Crucible of War was more or less saved by the game exploding while it was the current expansion. At launch, it was a rough product to open, with few big hits and cases that very rarely covered their value. But a couple months later, prices had spiked across the board in response to the sudden surge of interest in the game, which made CRU look good in retrospect. Then we got Everfest, which was a pretty big flop from a financial perspective, once again rarely delivering anything approaching the cost of the product. So, the big question going into Dynasty is, “will LSS finally fix their Supplemental product issues?”

Card image of Command and Conquer (Red)

One thing that seems very likely is that we’ll be looking at a long-needed Command and Conquer reprint at modern Majestic rarity. As we now know, the upcoming Hero, Emperor, Dracai of Aesir, can essentially conjure up a C&C from your deck with his ability. Given that, it would be exceedingly odd if LSS didn’t also reprint C&C, which remains a $65 card in its cheapest printing.

What would a modern Majestic printing mean for C&C’s price? Well, as discussed above, in a normal set, Erase Face, our premiere generic Majestic for Uprising, has settled down to about $16. I have a hard time seeing C&C not dropping significantly in all but its first edition printings. An initial move to $25-30 and then a slow decline from there before it hits its floor and starts ticking back up again seems reasonable.

So if you aren’t planning to use them between now and mid-November, I would hold off on buying copies. Significantly cheaper prices seem imminent unless LSS decides not to reprint it, which would likely mean prices getting back up to $100+ per copy (I think this is the significantly less likely of the two scenarios).

Aside from a probable C&C inclusion, we have a major change in Dynasty’s favor: the number of Legendaries has increased to five. This has long been a problem for Supplemental sets. Since specific Legendaries in FAB appear at a fixed rate regardless of the total number of Legendarys in a set, you are more likely to open a Legendary if a set includes more. CRU had two, Everfest had three.

Of the five in Dynasty, we know that the Emperor is one of them. Shiyana is our only reference point for a Young Hero printed at Legendary. She currently sells for $55-60 in RF. We can assume the Emperor will debut higher than that, but Shiyana’s price is probably a solid provisional guess at where he’ll end up. Well, unless he proves to be a competitive hero for Blitz. If that happens, his price could go a fair bit higher.

We also don’t have any real context for what his price in CF will be, as Shiyana’s CF printing was much, much smaller than what we see from modern FAB Legendaries.

As one last bit of Dynasty spoiler news, we know about Crown of Dominion, another Legendary from the set, this one seemingly designed to make sure the Emperor isn’t the only Hero around who interacts with the new Royal mechanic. It’s hard to gauge whether this card will be playable or not until we know more about what the set does with Royal, but it’s definitely one to keep an eye on as it’s a Generic Legendary Equipment, which have historically been the most expensive types of Equipment.

Alongside Legendaries, we also see Marvels returning. These were largely successful in Uprising and stand to help buttress the set’s EV, assuming they’re used similarly in Dynasty.

There is a monkey wrench in the works, though. Dynasty MSRP is up $10 per box over UPR, which means a corresponding raise in MAP pricing. This represents a 10% increase in overall cost of product with no change in quantity of packs, nor any clear indication that EV will be better than Uprising. Presumably this is or will be justified as a change due to rising production and logistics costs, but for the consumer, what matters is that Dynasty will be more expensive than Uprising, which, for a product line that has yet to impress me, is cause for some caution.

So, given all of that, I would say that from a value perspective, Dynasty looks more promising than Everfest, but Everfest was also a huge failure in terms of its value, so there’s a lot of room between it and a genuinely good product. We can hope that LSS has put in actual new Legendaries with real play value as opposed to the mess that we saw with Everfest where the highest value L is the reprinted Skullcap. Meanwhile, Stalagmite is down to $45-50 (though, to be fair, that was also partially a casualty of Starvo’s LL status), and Silver Palms is a dismal $35-37.

From where I stand, Uprising did a solid job of righting the EV ship and demonstrating that a modern FAB product could yield a respectable value for consumers. Dynasty is going to be a test to see if the lessons learned from UPR will finally yield a Supplemental set that you can confidently open.

Finally, sealed FAB investing remains a long term speculative endeavor for new sets. Uprising is easily available at MAP but is also, significantly, not being fire sold the way we saw with Everfest, both versions of Tales, and unlimited Monarch. If you’re still interested in playing the long game and seeing how sealed product does on a multi-year timeframe, there is no urgent need to buy in advance. You should be able to easily wait and accumulate a position post-release. Given that, I would tend to avoid pre-ordering unless you’re doing so from a store that charges MAP and won’t bill you until right before the product ships.

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