CCG Market Guide – Part 1: Intro

Introduction to the CCG Market for beginners

 

It’s a while I want to start writing a blog series.
Was not sure on the content: Solo-Playing or a Market “Guide”.
At the end, the lack of time to properly study and put together the resources for the solo games push me towards the Market “Guide”.

This is going to be a monthly or bi-monthly appointment, depending on my availability.

I will start by covering general aspect of the old CCG markets and then try to do a deeper analysis of the status of each game, specially the ones already available on CardGameGeek.

Hopefully it will be of help to these sleeping players/collectors that want to get back into their game or that want to let go their cards.

So without further ado…

 

Getting back into game

If it’s a while you are out of the loop it might be hard to get a good sense of the value of your cards.
The market for out of production CCG (OOP) fluctuate a lot over time.
These fluctuation are driven by the most basic market rule: supply and demand.

 

Supply

Supply is generally influenced by 2 main factor:

  • Number of people willing to drop their cards at a given time
  • Availability of the cards (Print run) for a game/expansion

The amount of cards available, for OOP games, is fixed and dictate a “cap” on the total supply at any point in time.

The number of people, and by consequence the number of cards, that want to get rid off their cards move availability far o closer to this “cap”.
There are no rules of thumb on the reasons for people willing to let go their collection, most of the time they are just trying to free up some space, get some extra money or profit when they see the market is mature enough.

Ie: a game like Fight Klub had low print runs, hence a low “cap” and so far I never seen anyone actively selling it. This makes the cards from this game extremely rare and valuable, as far as supply goes.
Mythos earlier sets had high print runs, high “cap”, and a lot of people is willing to sell/trade these cards at anytime, making these cards not much valuable.

 

Demand

Supply alone isn’t enough to dictate the price. Demand helps regulate it.

The amount of people that are interested can be influenced, to some extent, by a large number of factors but the one that I see driving the market are mostly two:

  • Newly released Movies/Series/Books/Name your media (this applies to licensed games)
  • New Playgroup forming or increasing in size

The amount of people needed to sensibly change the demand pool for each game is very different.
Two new players don’t change the market at all for a game like Star Wars CCG with a big and live community. Viceversa two new players in Dune CCG can make all the difference given how few people are actively searching for it.

Another thing that influences demand, on a micro level (card by card basis), is such cards being good for playing purpose, collection purpose or both.

For Example in Middle-Earth CCG the R1 from Against the Shadow are all Unique (you can have a max of 1 in each deck) except for Farmer Maggot which you can have 3. So while they are all equally sought by collectors, being extremely rare, Farmer Maggot have an added value in being playable in multiple copies (and a very good card) making it worth almost double any other R1.

 

The right balance

Given the above assumption let’s make some practical example:

We said there is a very limited supply on Fight Klub if any. This put it’s base value at an “high price”.
At the same time there is a really low demand for them so 2 things can happen:
The buyer is willing to spend any amount requested by the seller given the rarity of the product or either the seller have to accept any offer made by the buyer, given it might take a while before another buyer come up.
What drive one or the other depend a lot on the seller. If they are looking for quick cash and or need to get rid of them in a relatively short time, or if they aren’t in a hurry and wish to capitalize as much as possible.

So on games with a smaller community, if any, we can see prices swing at any time in either direction because there’s no real stable market.
In this case the too often heard “They are worth what someone is willing to pay for them” is the only absolute truth.

Star Wars CCG prices are largely dependent on the set, the earlier ones are pretty cheap given the high print runs, while sets post Tatooine (and Death Star II to some extent) had smaller print run and are way more expensive.
That said there’s a huge community behind the game and the secondary market it’s “stable” enough, in terms of offer and demand, to allow for a pricing list, on average at least.
While prices may swing here as well (lately prices spiked with the release of the new Star Wars movies) you get a much better idea of what you should sell/buy for.
As for everything else you must take into account low/high end prices may differ, but it’s enough to make up your mind.

That’s all folk for this first article.
It was a generic intro to this world to better understand the basics.

The next one will be focused towards where to buy/sell your cards and what to expect when approaching the market based on the different platforms.

— Fabio