Thursday, May 28, 2015

News: Phantom Blaster Dragon Becomes Most Expensive Card in Game, Touken Ranbu -ONLINE- Playmats, Deckboxes & Sleeves

The Japanese edition of G-BT03: Sovereign Star Dragon went on sale just a few hours ago, and prices from both Japanese auctions and retailers are already stabilizing. Of all the cards in the set, the most alarming is G-BT03's print of Phantom Blaster Dragon; his average selling price has jumped to be the highest single in the game's history, at 5000~7000 yen per card. (approx. $40~56 at the current exchange rate.) This is more than the price of one box of Sovereign Star Dragon, and observations from Japanese buyers are that the inclusion rate of the set's two generation rares is at one of each generation rare per carton--one Phantom Blaster and one Amnesty per every sixteen boxes. If this ratio is true, it would be a massive departure from Generation Stride and Soaring Ascent of Gale & Blossom, where generation rares were distributed at the same rate as triple rares. Lagging behind Phantom Blaster are Amnesty Messiah and Aurageyser Dragon as the second most expensive cards from the set, going for 1500~2000 yen each.

The exorbitant prices for Phantom Blaster are derived from his synergy with multiple different Blaster deck types, including Phantom Blaster “Abyss,” who is generally regarded as the dominant deck of the pre-BT03 format. Both halves of the “Abyss” legion experienced a similar price jump earlier this month. However, running the Phantom breakride in “Abyss” has been brought under severe scrutiny from the first day the Blaster Dragon breakride was revealed. Doing so means surrendering virtually all forms of soulblast support, including Black-winged Swordbreaker and Darkheart Trumpeter. It also means losing access to Blaster Dark Revenger and Revenger “Abyss” for most of the game, neutering Revengers' devastating field control options and ability to shut down a vast number of first vanguard-centric strategies. Other Blaster decks are also on the rise, with triple rare playsets of Phantom Blaster Overlord reaching a 2000 yen high, and Gust Blaster Dragon rising to 1200 yen apiece.

In other news, Duel Portal, retailers Cardshop Ogre and Card Kingdom have all revealed merchandise for G-Title Booster 01: Touken Ranbu -ONLINE-, including eight character-specific sleeves from Bushiroad's Mini Sleeve Collection and several deckboxes. Six playmat designs (pictured below) are also being produced for the set, intended to double as mousepads. The Touken Ranbu booster was originally announced as an April Fool's joke by Bushiroad of Japan, and later clarified to be a real product made in association with DMM and Nitro+. The booster will feature the characters of Touken Ranbu as part of the unique clan "Touken Ranbu," and will be compatible with all of the cards produced in the existing Cardfight!! Vanguard trading card game.

While the booster set has been designed to attract a new audience to Vanguard, fan reactions across the globe have been mixed. Some fans have expressed displeasure with devoting a booster set to what has been described as an opposite gender counterpart to Bermuda Triangle, when that space could be devoted to an existing clan. Others have criticized the Touken Ranbu clan as being out of place in the greater context of Cardfight!! Vanguard's world, particularly with respect to the planet Cray. But still other fans find an appeal to the cross-promotion that would otherwise be absent from the game, and in Japan boxes of the title booster have already been promised as prizes at several upcoming VGCS tournaments.

The set's status in English-speaking countries is unknown, as DMM lacks an international presence and licensing the set for the western market could prove difficult. Bushiroad Inc. does have experience with bringing over these types of properties in its older card game Weiβ Schwarz, but the possibility remains that one of Cardfight!! Vanguard's clans will remain exclusive to the Japanese edition. Touken Ranbu -ONLINE- will go on sale in Japan on July 17th.

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