One of the reasons I love SWCT so much, is because of the thousands of ways that they can present the source material in a fashion that is attractive to collectors. Whether its actual photos from one of the movies, renderings from the cartoons, or artwork itself, there are literally tons of directions to go. Lately, in my opinion, we have gotten some of the best looking inserts of the year, and there are no signs of stopping now.
The most recent set of inserts is making waves in the trade economy in ways I havent seen since back when the app first started. Although its not quite the level of Nightbrothers, Reflections is crazy popular at the moment. The going rate for a Reflections is 2 Vintage, and that’s only if you find the right person to trade with. Because there are no parallels, and the access to the packs are limited, supply is minimal to meet the high demand.
If you arent familiar with the source material, they are a series of pieces done by artist Christian Waggoner. If you want to take a look, you will see how awesome the other cards will be. You can even buy prints if you want!
The question is, how much does the cool factor of these cards mean for its value and how much is just the extremely limited access and release?
I think its actually a bit of both.
Bottom line, the cooler the card looks, the more people are going to want it. Obviously what is cool is subjective, but some things are just universal. Reflections and other sets like Badges are definitely up that avenue.
The pack format is probably a larger part of it than you would guess. With how many inserts existing that are paralleled to 3-5 variations, having just one set is VERY different. I like it a lot. Obviously Badges of War had a number of parallels, but were so cool, that they attracted more people. Other sets like Sketchbook is more of a niche set that appeals to very specific types of users. Others are more widespread, and appeal to the masses.
There is also a big factor in who has access to BUYING packs as well, as you have to actually pull a very specific card to have access to the Reflections pack. Until you pull that card, you will have no ability to even try, which limits the amount of these cards in the hands of people who dont buy a lot of packs. That means that for many of the people that will own Reflections, their collections will be more Robust, and they will be looking for less of the available inserts. It will be harder to obtain the cards they want, and therefore, harder to trade for one of these cards. With sets like Intergalactic, which I thought was actually pretty cool, a random casual user could open packs and pull the best card in the 25k daily bonus. Not saying that doesnt happen with Reflections, but definitely fewer times.
I have already referred to sets like this as a velvet rope release, as even spending real money wont get you access to the packs. You literally need luck or the means to acquire the card by trading. That has NEVER happened to this point, and I really like that they are trying it. If you are going to go bold to test an idea, you need cards that everyone will want.
Elegant Weapons was another set with a virtual velvet rope, but it was more derived from cost of the packs and odds of the pulls instead of access to the packs. Anyone could drop the 25k for a master pack to get the gold, but it would be ill advised unless you have the money to spare, right? Outside of the gold, you had to buy A LOT of the other packs to get the cards, and the odds were NOT good.
That being said, the cool factor seemingly didnt apply to EW as much as the team had hoped, and many of the cards took a long time to sell out. Although I thought the set was a cool idea, and the design was nice, I knew from the start the set was a lost cause unless I wanted to spend the cash. I gave up pretty early on as a result, but I know a lot of the more well off users chased the hell out of the rarer parallels.
Lastly, the standalone ability of an insert is a factor I have just recently started to observe. Im referring to the feeling that a card can stand alone in your collection without the rest of the set and still be a piece with value. Cards like Reflections are DEFINITELY going to be those types of cards, as will some of the other inserts that have been released recently. Some of the TK cards are pretty impressive. People are much more likely to want an insert if it is worth having on their sheet, even without the rest of the set.
Regardless of how you feel about these types of “experiments,” at least we are getting some really awesome looking stuff in the process. Im not going to scoff at that, and will definitely be chasing down as much as I can.