Now that we are a few weeks into the new leg of the Marathon, the economy for the recently released cards is coming into focus a bit more. Because this is the first time we have had a beginning of a chase with so little user attrition, its different than week 1. Its clear that the week one inserts have a ton of trade value due to availability, a number that was far less than what we are seeing for week 11. With that, I want to take a look at what I am seeing, as there are definitely some very interesting trends.
Week 11 Release Cards
I think the groupthink was in play for the value here, as many people seem to be putting a HUGE trade value on the week 11 inserts. This is in spite of the fact that counts are not any higher or lower than they usually are. For whatever reason, people are tying together the trends from week 1 with the releases from week 11, and using that as a marker for their own valuation in making trades.
Personally, I see this as a fool’s errand, as there are no real value indicators at bay – OTHER than character choice. I mean, the Boba Fett Attacks vintage should be more valuable only because it looks awesome, not because its week 11. Although the count is reduced by 250 copies, that is a negligible amount that should not contribute to a huge increase in trade value. Yet, as we are seeing, the trade economy is demanding more than even the character choice would dictate.
I absolutely think Week 11 was a strong week. The funeral pyre Widevision card is amazing in the way it looks, as well as what it represents. Han and Leia in a connections cards seems to speak to what the set should be all about. Boba Fett is immensely popular. Its not a coincidence that these choices are what they are.
Post Week 11 Releases
After the initial release of the new chase, things seem to be getting back to normal. Although week 12-13 cards are more valuable than comparable ones from the first chase, that can be chalked up to be in relation to the active chase. There are some character selection biases in value that are present (that Darth Vader vintage is awesome), but nothing that speaks to what we are seeing for week 11.
I want to say that weeks 12-20 will be relatively interchangeable in terms of trade value as the app progresses towards the next marathon milestone, but it all has to do with how crazy Topps wants to get with card counts.
During the first marathon, there were 3-4 cards per set that had a short printed card count per set, and its likely that will still be in play here too. All the week 11 cards will likely take up one of those slots, with Topps Choice Ashoka Tano being 500 less, Connections Han/Leia being 500-1000 less, and Boba Fett being 250 less. That doesnt necessarily mean that the trade value for the SPs will be decidedly higher, just that it will contribute to where those cards may fall in the difficulty rankings for that marathon.
2nd Leg Award Cards
The main awards each had about 660 cards delivered for their sets. I would guess that the award cards for the second leg will be in upwards of 1500. With users being relatively set on which awards they will chase, and the marathon being a more educated process this time around, it shouldnt be tough to complete sets.
This increase in completed award sets should also contribute to card values settling a bit, especially as the cards are released in weeks 16 and 17. The only saving grace for having a lower award count lies in the pack structure, knowing that it has become increasingly expensive to chase all sets. Daily bonuses only go so far.
As much as I dont want to say it, make it a point to chase down the week 11 cards. Although I fail to see a clear reasoning for such a huge trade value in the cards, above and beyond character choice, groupthink will prevail – always.
I would also make it a point to go after the releases that feature popular characters like Vader or Maul. A character preference can create attachment in many of the top cards, and that makes things a bit more complicated.
Outside of that, find the sets you like and focus your attention. It will streamline your trading activity, and it should make things easier. There wont be as much of a strangle hold on the nicer cards this time around, as the hoarders wont have to work as hard to build their collection. Availability should be enough to meet demand this time. Keep that in mind. Just because the most vocal people on the fan feed wont give up their stash of 8 Boba Fetts, doesnt mean there arent a bunch more people who wont work out an easier deal with you. Its not like Han in the Millenium Falcon, where only a few were available for trade.
Things will be different this time around, and hopefully it wont be hard to figure out how different it really is.
I think the rationale for week 11 being more valuable than the card counts suggest is the idea that people are looking at 11-20 as a fresh chance to chase down sets that were previously unavailable to them. The weeks 3-10 cards were valued extremely low because many people figured they had no shot at week 1. So the total number of people seeking a complete 11-20 Vintage set (for example) is probably way higher than the number of those who were after weeks 1-10. Combine this with an expectation that the counts will continue to rise, leaving week 11 lower than the rest, as well as the reality that people hoarded week 11s, and you have a recipe for actual scarcity. However, I do think all of that could change with the release of a well-designed card at a lower count than week 11. If they release a Vintage lower than 2000 then it will become the bottleneck for the second wave and likely supplant Fett as the most valuable card.
Definitely a good theory. No doubt about it.
I would also add the addition of Android users to this theory as an additional element.
This bottleneck theory, I think, is why a Classic Art Leia (3800) can fetch more than a Red Poster (500) or similarly rare card. There could potentially be over 1000 people who have every single Classic Art card EXCEPT for Leia (and now Lando too). That’s a lot of demand–a lot of people who actively need her. Either Leia (and Lando) will continue to climb in value or the rest of the Classic Arts will drop; probably a bit of both.