Thursday, June 4, 2015

News: Amnesty Messiah Prices Skyrocket

Price surveys of sales of Sovereign Star Dragon singles this week are demonstrating an alarming and rapid shift in price dynamics; over the course of just four days the set's second generation rare, Amnesty Messiah, has jumped up from a 1500~2000 yen card to selling for 6000~7000 yen each. (approx. $48~$56 at the current exchange rate.) The news comes on the heels of the set's other generation rare Phantom Blaster Dragon dominating price charts last weekend, with Amnesty matching Phantom Blaster coin for coin. The Abyss Dragon generation rare has since dropped to 5000~5800 yen, with his lows staying at the same ceiling as on the set's release date.

The inflated prices are likely owed to the modified distribution of generation rares in the set, as it has been independently confirmed several times over that in Sovereign Star Dragon each case of sixteen booster boxes comes with exactly one copy of each generation rare.

Prior sets Generation Stride and Soaring Ascent both distributed generation rares with the same frequency as triple rares, and the only real difference between GR and RRR cards were their foiling. Shadow Paladin and Link Joker are the highest priced clans in the set, with Dark Irregulars in third, and Gold Paladin and Murakumo in fourth.

Another reason for the rise is the lack of reliable unlock skills in the Messiah deck. Their key unlockers White Dwarf Lady Battler and Blast Monk are both distributed exclusively as promo cards rather than in booster sets. With few ways to unlock Arousal Messiah to initiate their combos, Messiah cardfighters rely on the high-rarity Amnesty to piece together their strategy.

Cardfighters in Japan are being forced to come to terms with the increasing expense of the game, as the popularity of specific clans dramatically increases the demand for high-rarity cards. Link Joker has always been one of the most expensive clans in the Japanese game, since the heyday of Chaos Breaker Dragon a year and a half ago. But the high prices of Phantom Blaster and Amnesty Messiah exceed anything seen in previous formats, as their absolute values have doubled; where 3500 yen was once the most expensive price one could pay for a single card in Japanese Vanguard, that value has doubled in the time since to 7000 yen. A game that was once priced for children is becoming prohibitively expensive for its target audience, leaving adults as the primary consumer. Two years ago Eradicator Dragonic Descendant was the currency equivalent of a $10 card, and one of the best decks in format could be afforded with a middle school student's monthly allowance. This dilemma is likely to hit the English-language game even harder with the international release of Sovereign Star Dragon on July 10th, as the most expensive standard rarity cards in the game are already $40~$45. The rarity of Amnesty Messiah and Phantom Blaster may drive the grade 4 units to $80~$100 per card, dramatically increasing the cost of deckbuilding. One of Cardfight!! Vanguard's original selling points internationally was the low cost of the game relative to its contemporaries Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic: The Gathering and the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Whether cardfighters would find the new decks worth investing in is questionable when one of the most important aspects of the game is that superior judgement wins out over the amount of money spent; a cardfighter that buys a $500 deck is no more likely to win than one who buys a $150 deck with similar levels of support.

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The above buylist comes from card shop C-labo, written c. May 29th. At the time this list was written, the shop was buying Sovereign Star Dragon cards at their exact market value rather than at a 30~40% depreciation. Less than a week after these prices were listed, Amnesty Messiah's average selling price has already tripled from what is seen here, while Phantom Blaster Dragon's has stayed at a similar price point.