Article

An Uncommon Problem or Two – A Look at the Distribution and Release of Non-Die Cards

Written by Andrew Carson

 

This article is going to be something a bit different. I’m a big fan of Star Wars: Destiny, but there are some issues with the game that I have. I think most players do, but we enjoy the game regardless. Today I want to talk about two interrelated issues I think many of you may agree with me on, even if you haven’t realized it yet. The problems I am talking about are the distribution of uncommon cards in expansion sets, and the release of “staple” cards exclusively in starters.

Star Wars: Destiny is a collectible card game, and with it comes the inevitable secondary market for single cards. Versatile and powerful effects can fetch lofty prices for a die and a card, or even just a card. This is a reality of the game for players and the market is thriving for popular singles. Like it or lump it, a healthy secondary market is probably as important as a healthy metagame for a collectible card game. If players can’t get the cards they want at a price they are willing to pay, they won’t play. It’s that simple.

In Destiny, a booster pack gets you 5 cards: 1 rare or legendary, 3 commons, and 1 uncommon. You get the same number of uncommons, one, a pack as you do rares/legendaries. There are usually a similar number of rares/legendaries in a given set as uncommons. I’m not good with probability, I admit, but this has affected single card prices to the point where several uncommons are now more expensive than most rares and many legendaries.

Electroshock is about $2 now, and at its peak it was a $10 card. Before the errata, Fast Hands fetched a similar price and is also about $2 now. Vandalize is $3 as of this writing on Coolstuffinc. Easy Pickings is sold out at $2. It Binds All Things is another $2 uncommon. So is Second Chance and it regularly sells out at my local store. Caution is $8, and Force Illusion is $10.

These numbers are likely to fluctuate, but as these cards continue to prove important to the meta game they could easily get higher. This is a good thing in the sense that there is more potential value in a pack for consumers, however the odds of getting a specific uncommon aren’t great. If you need those extra Easy Pickings or Vandalizes you will probably just want to buy them as singles.

For some broader context, in the Magic the Gathering secondary market, $5-$10 uncommons occur less frequently in the game’s Standard format. In a modern MTG booster pack, you get 10 commons, 3 commons, and 1 rare or mythic rare. You get three times as many uncommons as you do rares, although there are more uncommons in a MTG set than rares/mythics.

There is only one non-foil uncommon card in the current MTG Standard, Fatal Push, that is $8 and the next most valuable is $5.50. After that it’s $3.50. This is from 6 sets released compared to Destiny’s 4.

Additionally, one of the reasons Fatal Push is so pricey is it’s a great card in formats other than Standard. As Destiny gets on in the years, this could be a bigger issue if “eternal” formats prove popular. Reprints can always mitigate this issue, and I am in full support of Fantasy Flight Games reprinting cards in later expansions à la Wizards of the Coast provided they do it with similar infrequency.

Another potential solution is if Fantasy Flight Games adjusted card distribution slightly to 2 uncommons a pack. The problem with this answer is the question of where to get the other uncommon slot from. FFG could add another card per pack, which would be nice, but that seems unlikely. Perhaps they make every other pack have 2 commons, 2 uncommons, and 1 rare/legendary. This would keep uncommons still less frequent than a common, but much more frequent than rares and legendaries.

As for the starter deck problem, it’s much like the uncommon one where there are several exclusive cards in starter products that fetch legendary prices because they are so versatile. I will set aside any dice cards for this point because it’s cards like Crash Landing, Entangle, Honor Guard, and Sound the Alarm that are the most flexible and thus fetching a lot of money.

Crash Landing is sold out on Coolstuff at $4, Entangle is sold out at $4, Honor Guard is $2, and Sound the Alarm is an alarming $12. Sound the Alarm is the biggest offender, because it’s a Grey neutral card that is of use in pretty much any deck that can fit it.

The fact that they are only available in a starter deck means if you want extra copies for multiple decks, you have to buy that many extra starter decks. It’s nice to get all the extra cards and dice, but it’d also be nice to be able to open these cards in booster packs instead of paying the extra money and getting a bunch more stuff that you might not want.

I think the most logical solution here is reprints. I also think Fantasy Flight Games should only print dice cards exclusively for starters, but rereleasing cards in regular booster packs would be a more important move to make. If a card like Sound the Alarm was available as a common, it would not be so expensive.

So that’s it. I don’t intend to doom say, I just wanted to give my honest opinion on an important facet of the game beyond the table. I think Star Wars: Destiny is in the healthiest place it’s ever been, but it always pays to look to the future to make sure it continues to be a fun and accessible game for players. I hope you appreciate the perspective and am very interested to hear what other players have to say about this.

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