Friday, December 6, 2013

Searching for Gems among the Generic Shadow Specter Cards

Konami appears to have the following marketing strategy:  Introduce a cool archetype with an interesting mechanic at an accessible rarity.  Follow this set with one that offers additional support, but make sure these cards are secret rare.  Throw in a few TCG exclusives that will guarantee the success of the archetype.  After 8 to 12 months, ban a few key cards; introduce new archetypes; rinse and repeat.  

This strategy leaves players with two choices: (1) chase after the over-valued and over-powered cards or (2) play the deck without the chase cards.  Players following the first choice are called poor; those following the second are called losers.  In about six months, Konami will sell reprints of the chase cards.  As a result, the poor players will become salty as they watch their investment drop by about 80%. The losers are still losers because their deck will be hopelessly obsolete.  

One (perhaps) unintended consequence of this strategy is the shrinking pool of universally playable or generic cards.  These cards are usually the hidden gems of set.  They can be quite undervalued at first because players are not sure what to do with them.  For example, I picked up Number 11: Big Eye for about $10.  At the time, no one thought you could make rank seven XYZs easily.  On the other hand, 10 bucks seemed cheap for the ability to take an opponent’s monster forever*.  

Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any real hidden gems in the Shadow Specter’s set.  Of the 100 cards, two thirds are dedicated to archetypes.  Of the 32 generic cards, nine are worth a look.  Most of the good generic cards seem to be fairly priced.  Nevertheless, here is my assessment of those cards on a “Buy It”, “Pull It”, or “Leave It” scale**.  

·         Mistake - $22.99, Buy It
o   This is best card in the set.  It causes problems for Bujins, Geargias, Dragons, Spellbooks, and any other search-based deck.  It is undervalued because a lot of decks can’t play it.  Regardless of how the meta changes, this card will be useful. 

·         Pot of Dichotomy - $24.99, Pull it
o   Any card that lets recycle cards and plus by drawing is a good card.  Constellars, Evilswarms, and Madolches will benefit greatly though a lot of other archetype-based decks are also type limited. Shelling out $75 for a play set seems a bit rich.  On the other hand, I would buy it if the price drops into the low teens. 

·         Celestial Wolf Lord - $5.00, Pull it
o   There are 10 generic level six synchro monsters.  Of these, only Gaia Knight has a higher attack.  The only comparable synchro is HTS Psyhemuth.  Personally, I like this one better.  

·         Return of the Monarchs - $3.50, Buy it
o   Monarchs may see some play next format.  They work well with Ghostricks and Frog Monarchs have never gone completely away.  If you’ve played the deck, you know that too many Monarchs can clump badly.  This card may let you decrease the number of Monarchs without decreasing you access to them. 

·         Puralis, the Purple Pyrotile – $0.15, Buy it
o   There are three level two synchros and one is limited.  Given this low number and the low price, I’d pick it up.  Besides, it has the best name since Interplanetarypurplythorny Dragon. 

·         Armored Kappa - $1.29, Buy It
o   Rank two XYZs may become more popular if Ghostricks catch fire. There are eight such monsters, of which five are generic. Armored Kappa is not the best of the bunch but it certainly is playable.  I don’t see people playing more than one so forking over a buck and a quarter seems reasonable

·         Swarm of Crows - $0.15, Leave It
o   This card is one word and one level away from being a gem. I don’t understand why they demanded that it be flip summoned and not just flipped. Even with that restriction, it may have been playable as a level four.  As is, it’s not worth pulling. 

·         Aratama - $0.10 – Buy it
o   One could consider the Spirit monsters in this set to be their own archetype.  The mechanic is intriguing and searching is always a good thing.  Besides, a play set is cheaper than that Coke you're drinking.

·         Genomix Fighter - $0.49 – Leave it
o   An ultra-rare for under a buck?  The price did make me take a long look at this card.  Its ability to summon without a tribute is a plus and it is searchable with certain Gusto and psychic cards.  However, the list of synchro monsters that require specific types is rather weak.  As a result, I do not see much future for this card. 

*Before you think I am Yugi clairvoyant, I also have a $15 Vampire Dragon. Take my advice with a liberal dose of salt. 
** Prices are from CoreTCG 

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