So a week ago I wrote an article that was supposed to be about The Impact of Ghosts From the Past, which actually turned out to be a discussion of the collecting boom in Pokémon, and whether we're finally seeing something similar in Yu-Gi-Oh.
Spoiler if you missed it: we looked at a ton of chase cards, like Collector's Rares from Toon Chaos and Genesis Impact, as well as The Winged Dragon of Ra (Ghost Rare), the Number 39: Utopia (Astral), and Ten Thousand Dragon.
The overall conclusion was that yeah! We're probably starting to see a collecting boom in Yu-Gi-Oh! That doesn't necessarily mean our boom will look like Pokémon's, and it definitely doesn't mean that A Yu-Gi-Oh Collector™ looks like a collector elsewhere. The culture of Yu-Gi-Oh's much more invested in actually playing the game, and it's been that way since the beginning: market-wise, the innovation of Yu-Gi-Oh has always been the fact that the characters on the show actually played the game. That's long stood in contrast to Pokémon, where the cards are more abstract representations of the characters. That difference has always flavored the Yu-Gi-Oh experience at its core.
Flat out, we have fewer people who identify as "collectors" in Yu-Gi-Oh. They exist, and they're growing in number, especially during the pandemic when most of us haven't been able to actually play anyways. In addition, many Yu-Gi-Oh players are now finding that while they have careers that let them buy more cards, those same jobs - along with family life - make it tough to play as often as they used to, pushing them more into collecting.
Dedicated collectors - the kinds of people aiming to fill out organized shelves of organized binders of sets - are a growing demographic, sure. But more than that, collecting is a huge part of the background hustle for people who are players first. That's created a market that's a mix of nostalgia and iconic characters, as well as stone cold tournament staples in the highest, scarcest rarities possible. And that market is really taking off.
The one thing I didn't go very deep on last week was the topic of Starlight Rares, the cards that really kicked off the growth of Yu-Gi-Oh collecting as we know it. That was purposeful: I skirted the topic in that article because I wanted to write this one. For months, I've wanted to dive into all the data and try and find out: are Starlight Rares good investments long term? And if yes, what's the best way to go about investing in them? More than that, can we find simple, consistent rules that can help you be successful?
Those questions are important because they represent a lot of opportunity. We're only going to see Ten Thousand Dragon once. I'll be really surprised if it's ever reprinted. Outside of Ghosts From the Past, it looks as if Ghost Rares like The Winged Dragon of Ra (Ghost Rare) could be a once or twice a year affair. Collector's Rares are different too: dropping fifteen at a time, in what looks like just two sets a year, makes them behave differently (and they're generally not as valuable). But Starlight Rares? We're getting 20 of those a year now, spread across four core boosters, one every quarter.
If it turns out that Starlights are reliably good investments, well, that might huge game changer for Yu-Gi-Oh collecting.
Good question. Since so many sellers use TCGplayer to sell their cards, we have an unparalleled database of sales history. There's no vendor that has the sheer volume of information we have, and while eBay Sold Listings are a good resource, they don't stick around forever; those old listings get wiped, and it happens within 60 to 90 days.
I I want to look at the price history of one specific card, I can pop into our backend and see records that go back years, based on actual sales. With that in mind, I sat down to figure out what I wanted to look at analyzing Starlight Rares, and I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to use these figures as a baseline:
Those were my initial metrics when I started all of this. But once I was finished charting out the price histories for the 32 core set Starlight Rares currently released, I noticed a trend that made me go back over everything, adding one more metric:
Spoiler: the answer to that last question proved to be really important.
The TCGplayer Marketplace is a complicated beast, in part because it deals with lots of different games. You might look at Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, Magic, and other TCGs and see lots of similarities. They're all games, played with printed cardboard, where players make attacks to win, sure. But every product line on TCGplayer has dozens of unique quirks, and TCGplayer reconciles them all into one giant marketplace. That's not easy, and it's a constant work in progress because the games themselves evolve over time.
Because of how Yu-Gi-Oh listings work in the TCGplayer Marketplace, a few of the graphs I'm about to show you have some weird blips. A sudden, massive price spike probably indicates that a seller used Photo Listings to sell a graded version of a card: graded cards are often worth far more than a regular copy, and that can create a one-time price spike that doesn't really mean anything. We're going to be looking at regular 1st Edition Near Mint copies for this discussion.
On the flip side, a large, brief dip in price could indicate that a Japanese or Korean OCG version of a card was sold, also through Photo Listings; TCGplayer allows the sale of OCG cards as long as they're handled according to very specific rules, and those sales show up in this type of data. At the same time, sometimes a weird listing error gets mixed into the data and shows a sale at 0 dollars, sometimes even less than zero.
Whenever something like that happens for a particular Starlight Rare, I'll be sure to let you know. But it's always best to just ignore those weird outliers and keep your eye on the overall price trends. Even if someone really wanted a Starlight Rare and happened to pay double for it at one time, we're more interested in lasting patterns, because they're easier to act on as a potential investor. So if you see something way up or way down, just know that it's probably an explainable flaw in the data, and not anything useful.
With all that established, let's look at the pricing history for every core set Starlight Rare in Yu-Gi-Oh, starting with the set they debuted in: Rising Rampage.
Wynn the Wind Charmer, Verdant (Starlight Rare)
Rising Rampage introduced Starlight Rares with four different cards, and three of them were undervalued at launch. Nobody knew quite what to make of Starlight Rares when RIRA dropped, and no group of Starlights have been so affordable since. These are the oldest of the Starlights, so they've had the longest time to grow in value, and Wynn the Wind Charmer, Verdant (Starlight Rare) exemplifies that: it's gone from $170 at launch to $650 and higher. That's owed to the card's age, its scarcity, and the hype that arrived later on for the Spirit Charmer characters, when anticipation started to build for Structure Deck Sprit Charmers.
This card presold at $200 and debuted at $170. If you waited two weeks, you saved another $20 picking it up at $150. That's really close to the all-time lows of $140 and $145. Once December 2020 arrived this thing started climbing and the market just never looked back.
Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess (Starlight Rare)
Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess (Starlight Rare) was the most expensive of the RIRA Starlight Rares at launch, and it's only gotten more expensive over time: it's one of the oldest Starlights, it's a popular female character, and it's been a huge card in tournaments ever since it was released. The numbers show a few brief price dips when it started to explode in June 2020, but those are likely OCG printings like the 20th Secret Rare version.
Presale prices on this card were significantly higher than the launch price of $340, and two weeks later it was still roughly the same at $345. There were a few dips into the $200, but it's unclear if those were TCG printings or OCG copies. Regardless, Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess (Starlight Rare) was largely $400+ until last March - there weren't really any dips to buy - and it was all upside from there. If you bought in at $400 you're certainly a happy camper today.
Storm Dragon's Return (Starlight Rare)
What a turnaround! When Storm Dragon's Return (Starlight Rare) was revealed, most players were pretty disappointed: nobody wanted a Starlight Rare version of a bad trap card with no real character value. To date, it's the only Starlight Rare to debut at under a hundred dollars. But as Starlight Rare collecting blew up in mid 2020, and buyers started becoming completionists, Storm Dragon's Return (Starlight Rare) started to look undervalued. Buyers started picking it up, and now it's rock solid at $125.
None of these moved in presales, but Storm Dragon's Return (Starlight Rare) got even cheaper two weeks after launch, dropping by almost ten dollars. It reached an all-time low four months later in November of 2019, and it stayed pretty flat around that value for almost a year. Note that while there's a huge spike in June of 2020, that's almost certainly due to a graded copy being sold above the regular price.
Marincess Sea Horse (Starlight Rare)
Those first three Starlight Rares were all amazing investments that gained value over time, and all three demonstrated a pattern: if you waited two weeks and let the hype die down, you got an even better deal on what turned out to be an excellent investment. But Marincess Sea Horse (Starlight Rare) was a different situation. This card was all over the place in presales, dropped to $135 on launch day, and immediately surged to over 200 dollars. If you waited two weeks on this one you actually lost out, paying $50+ more for your copy.
Marincess Sea Horse (Starlight Rare) stayed elevated until February the following year, where it crashed and bottomed out at a stunning 90 bucks! It didn't start to recover until late April, and minus that one mystery spike in June, it's largely been flat at $160 to $175. Marincess Sea Horse (Starlight Rare) pricing is a bit complicated: on one hand, it's got the waifu factor of being a female character. But at the same time, people actually wanted to play Marincess decks in the run-up to RIRA, and the deck turned out to be pretty disappointing. That enthusiasm, and the crash that followed, largely tracks with the card's value in 2019.
Still, if you bought this thing at launch and held it, you made a solid profit by today's value. It probably can't get any cheaper than it is right now: $150's really affordable for any Starlight Rare, especially one so old.
Next up, Chaos Impact!
Gorgon, Empress of the Evil Eyed (Starlight Rare)
A lot of people are probably happy that they bought into Gorgon, Empress of the Evil Eyed (Starlight Rare). Debuting at almost $140, it plunged in value out of the gates, and if you bought in two weeks after launch you saved almost 80 dollars - not far off the big dip in January the next year. But this thing really started trending up last April when the first round of stimulus checks went out, and it's largely stuck at $150+ ever since.
Again, the weird spikes and dips here are likely due to graded copies and OCG versions: we know there's a few PSA 10s and PSA 9s out there, and in this case you can probably see that $350 copy listed back in July.
I:P Masquerena (Starlight Rare)
Paralleling Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess (Starlight Rare) in Rising Rampage, I:P Masquerena (Starlight Rare) debuted at almost $400 and it's essentially doubled in price since, becoming one of the most prized chase cards in Yu-Gi-Oh today. I:P Masquerena (Starlight Rare) been in the $800 range for months, so if those recent sales at $500 were actual TCG copies, whoever scooped them up did exceedingly well. They may have been Prismatic Secret Rares from the OCG's Prismatic Art Collection. But if they were, that card's $900 now anyways, so it was a win regardless.
This card's been nothing but growth since a month after it dropped, and while it was tough to imagine a Starlight Rare going for $800 when Chaos Impact released, the sheer return on this investment changed the way we looked at Starlights.
Salamangreat Pyro Phoenix (Starlight Rare)
Salamangreat Pyro Phoenix (Starlight Rare) was a hotly debated card when it first dropped - it was seen as a potentially playable card, but it arrived on the tail end of Salamangreat's reign, just as it was losing ground in competition. Salamangreat Pyro Phoenix (Starlight Rare) saw some limited play, but it didn't measure up to the expectations of many players, and the fall of Salamangreats wound up costing it. That made for one of the biggest drops from launch of anything on this list, falling from $273 to less than $110 in a matter of days. If you bought early you probably weren't happy, but if you waited a couple weeks you still came out ahead to the tune of $40 or more today.
…And if you managed to buy in at the dips in January or March, you've nearly tripled your money. While Salamangreat Pyro Phoenix (Starlight Rare) might not be a great card, we've learned over time that any Starlight Rare is going to be undervalued if it's not in the triple digits. And $65 for this card was just a nutty opportunity.
Unchained Twins - Aruha (Starlight Rare)
Swiftly dropping from $160 at presale, to $145 at launch, to $120 two weeks later, Unchained Twins - Aruha (Starlight Rare) is a winner today at $220. If you managed to buy the dip and score a copy at $100 you made a fantastic buy, but even at $120 it's seen fantastic growth. Excuse the wonky graph: some sort of error muddled the data from May 2020. obody was selling this for negative dollars, but yeah. Time, demand from collectors, and the growing dedicated base of Unchained players took this one to impressive heights.
The price of Unchained Twins - Aruha (Starlight Rare) is surprisingly stable, and has been for roughly ten months.
Sky Striker Ace - Roze (Starlight Rare)
Moving onto Ignition Assault, this is the end of two eras: first, IGAS was the last set to have four Starlight Rares; once ETCO arrived we moved to five Starlights per release. And second, Ignition Assault shows a shift in tone when you look at the price of Starlights at launch: Rising Rampage had three Starlight Rares available for under $200 on launch day, while Chaos Impact had two. Ignition Assault is where stuff starts getting pricy, with the cheapest Starlights starting at $180. From there, the rest of them were $200, $300, and $400. Those values would change course in record time.
Case in point? Sky Striker Ace - Roze (Starlight Rare) presold for as much as $370, fell to $325 at launch, and two weeks later it was all the way down to $210. Like Salamangreat Pyro Phoenix (Starlight Rare), Sky Striker Ace - Roze (Starlight Rare) arrived pretty late in the life cycle of Sky Striker's tournament reign; we'd see a few Striker decks top tournaments after Ignition Assault, but "occasional tops" weren't what we were used to seeing from Sky Striker. Sky Striker Ace - Roze (Starlight Rare) plummeted after release, and would drop even lower a few weeks later, to its all-time low of 165+ dollars.
But flash forward to June of 2020 and player enthusiasm for Sky Strikers was trending back up. Sky Striker Ace - Roze (Starlight Rare) spiked north of $400, slipped back down to the $300 range in September, and then slowly climbed back up to $400 and beyond. Now it's sitting at $440+ and if you nabbed your copies in that "two weeks later" range you've more than doubled your investment in a little over a year. Yowza.
Lightning Storm (Starlight Rare)
Lightning Storm (Starlight Rare) presold huge at $475, dropped to $400 at launch, and was still $400 two weeks later. It largely stayed there until May of 2020, where it briefly spiked, and then resumed its methodical climb to nearly 600 dollars.
There's not that much to say here. We've had over a year to see how a Side Deck staple Starlight Rare performs over time, starting pricy and only gaining value. Like Sky Striker Ace - Roze (Starlight Rare), if you bought this two weeks after launch and held it you've made about 200 bucks apiece.
Aussa the Earth Charmer, Immovable (Starlight Rare)
Again, the release of Aussa the Earth Charmer, Immovable (Starlight Rare) preceded the fan-hype of Structure Deck Spirit Charmers, and over time it's proven to have both character value and tournament chops, in the hands of players like Ryan Levine and Esala Wathuthantrige. The presale price was inflated at $240, dropping to $226 at launch - you're probably noticing that's a pattern. And again, buying two weeks later saved you over 25%, at a price of $160. Fast forward a year and a bit, and it's now $335 to $350. Everything in IGAS was just such a good buy long term, especially if you went in at that 2-week mark…
…Except for this next one.
Time Thief Perpetua (Starlight Rare)
Maybe that's harsh. Time Thief Perpetua (Starlight Rare) has done fine, it just hasn't delivered the way the other three IGAS Starlights did. If you grabbed this at presale you're still in the hole, but if you bought it at launch, or two weeks later, you've basically broken even.
If you managed to buy the dip in April 2020 - yes, this card was at its all-time low right when stimulus checks hit - you've made a solid 60 or 70 bucks. But as a Starlight Rare waifu card, of a character that keeps getting new versions? And keeps appearing in card art? For a deck people actually like playing and just got new support?... Well, this one seems weirdly undervalued. I'd keep an eye on Time Thief Perpetua (Starlight Rare), but for now it's technically a vote against investing in Starlights because it hasn't shown a notable return.
And now we get to Eternity Code.
Chamber Dragonmaid (Starlight Rare)
Once Eternity Code hit a lot of forces converged and stuff got expensive. Like, more expensive. ETCO marks the shift to five Starlight Rares per set, with one of them now being a reprint. That made each individual Starlight Rare a bit more scarce. In addition, Eternity Code was delayed more than a month in the Americas, and by the time it arrived people were ready and eager to drop those duel dollars they'd been saving.
The result was a big shift in prices: the cheapest ETCO Starlight on launch day was this one, Chamber Dragonmaid (Starlight Rare), at 260 dollars. The other Starlights debuted at $270, $450, $500, and a whopping $550. Some of those prices left room for growth. Others left room for disappointment.
Chamber Dragonmaid (Starlight Rare) was not a disappointment at all. It dropped from $260 to $221 two weeks later, and we saw it dip into the $200 to $220 range several times. But today, with several Dragonmaid cards reprinted to make the theme a bit more accessible, and with Chamber Dragonmaid (Starlight Rare) a key card in the most popular builds of Dragon Link, this card has skyrocketed to nearly $450.
Traptrix Allomerus (Starlight Rare)
Traptrix Allomerus (Starlight Rare) was another ETCO Starlight that debuted high and then got clawed back over a period of several months, before rising to its current price of $250. Its initial value lasted less than a week before it started to decline, and this far into the discussion it's not a surprise to see a non-tournament card, even a female character, decline like that. Once it dropped to $150 it stayed there for nearly half a year, but like many chase cards it started to trend up just this past February, and then it shot up in the weeks following the March stimulus payments.
Again, if you bought with that two-week cushion after launch, you've made a few bucks here. If you bought when the card was at $150 - and it was there for a long time! - you did much better, scoring almost a 70% gain in a matter of months.
Eria the Water Charmer, Gentle (Starlight Rare)
ETCO released in the Americas in June, roughly the same week that the previous Starlight Charmer cards - Wynn the Wind Charmer, Verdant (Starlight Rare) and Aussa the Earth Charmer, Immovable (Starlight Rare) - exploded due to anticipation for the Charmers Structure (it was still scheduled for an October release at that point; it would wind up being delayed til November). Take that factor, and add all the other forces making ETCO Starlight Rares more expensive already - the fifth Starlight Rare, the delayed release - and the result was a $450 launch price.
That dropped to $375 two weeks in, and the early prices weren't bad: anybody who paid that much is still holding a $400+ card. But there wasn't much of a window for investment: while Wynn the Wind Charmer, Verdant (Starlight Rare) still way up there, Aussa the Earth Charmer, Immovable (Starlight Rare) and the rest have yet to spike to the same degree. For now, Eria the Water Charmer, Gentle (Starlight Rare) at least very stable.
The same can not be said for the last two Starlights from ETCO, both of which started high and have only lost value over time.
Effect Veiler (Starlight Rare)
Effect Veiler (Starlight Rare) was the first rule-shattering Starlight Rare reprint, and the hype surrounding this card was massive. But in the grand scheme of things, it just hasn't held value; while lots of people believed the release of a new "top rarity" version of the OG hand trap would kill the value of the former luxury print, Effect Veiler (UTR), the exact opposite happened: the 1st Edition Ultimate was $200 in June when ETCO dropped, but by September it was nearly $300, and today it's still $260 or more.
Super high expectations for this card led to the single most expensive launch price for a Starlight Rare up until that point, but Veiler didn't see much use in the tournaments that followed, and its price has slowly sagged.
But don't worry: the final ETCO Starlight made Effect Veiler (Starlight Rare) look fantastic by comparison.
Ghost Mourner & Moonlit Chill (Starlight Rare)
Most of the Starlight Rares printed so far are either good investments, or relatively flat. It's kind of hard to actually lose value. But Ghost Mourner & Moonlit Chill (Starlight Rare) is the horrifying exception. With a launch week price of half a grand, and a long, agonizing slide to a current value of half that, this is the single worst Starlight Rare you could've invested in at launch. No other Starlight Rare has lost this much value.
Ghost Mourner & Moonlit Chill (Starlight Rare) was a dicey pick to begin with, a relatively narrow hand trap covering ground that was in part already tread by PSY-Framegear Gamma players Effect Veiler When the metagame conditions needed to make it a hit failed to materialize, the Secret Rare version plunged from $35 to $20, which is about where it is today. That was rough for Secret Rare buyers, but the Starlight Rare got hit with the force of an angry god, dropping literally hundreds of dollars. We haven't seen anything like this since; investors wised up fast.
For a card with "Chill" in the name, this was a surprisingly hot dumpster fire.
Triple Tactics Talent (Starlight Rare)
Starlight Rares from Rise of the Duelist also debuted at really high prices that were similar to the launch day prices of ETCO, but to be fair, the cards were better: Triple Tactics Talent and Dogmatika Ecclesia, the Virtuous are a lot more desirable and exclusive than Effect Veiler and Ghost Mourner & Moonlit Chill.
If you bought in and grabbed Triple Tactics Talent (Starlight Rare) at $515 on launch day, you've lost a little value on what's now a $440+ card, but the good news is that you still own Triple Tactics Talent. It's still an amazing card you can play almost anywhere. If you waited a couple weeks and got it at $400, you're sitting pretty - we saw some dips to about $350 last year, but they don't seem likely to repeat now that Rise of the Duelist is impossible to find, with seemingly no reprint in sight. Triple Tactics Talent (Starlight Rare) not a great investment unless you got lucky on the dip, but it's solid and probably has nowhere to go but up.
Gaia the Magical Knight of Dragons (Starlight Rare)
Meanwhile Gaia the Magical Knight of Dragons (Starlight Rare) released at $260 - definitely a bit inflated - then dropped to $180 where it still is today. Again, if you bought this early you're probably not regretting it, and if you nabbed it for under $150 in January or March, congrats! Given the timing, and the sub-$200 price, this card may not have finished maturing in value.
Wynn the Wind Channeler (Starlight Rare)
The same can be said for Wynn the Wind Channeler (Starlight Rare): if you grabbed it at launch you've lost about 50 bucks, if you waited a couple weeks you've broken even, and if you got really lucky and bought at just the right time, you've gained 30 to 40 dollars so far.
I don't know how much room for growth this card has, but we're only eight months out from Rise of the Duelist and we've seen longer maturation cycles for older Starlights. It's around that point where we have to consider that these cards may not be at their peak yet.
Dogmatika Ecclesia, the Virtuous (Starlight Rare)
If you haven't figured it out yet, don't buy Starlight Rares at presale prices. There are always copies available later on, and it almost always costs you money. Dogmatika Ecclesia, the Virtuous (Starlight Rare) a great card and the Starlight's managed to stay around $500 for the year so far, but if you bought at $650+ and saw it sink to $350 a month and a half later, you probably didn't have a good time.
That said, if $350 seemed like a good gamble to you, it paid off. At $500 Dogmatika Ecclesia, the Virtuous (Starlight Rare) may not have much room to grow, but time will tell.
D.D. Crow (Starlight Rare)
Finally, the Starlight reprint from ROTD performed a lot like Effect Veiler (Starlight Rare) in ETCO, albeit with some wrinkles; this is one of the very few cards where buying at launch was actually a better move than waiting two weeks, as a brief spike saw D.D. Crow (Starlight Rare) rise to $400 around that two week mark, just before it started a gentle decline to $330.
It's on a bit of an uptick right now, but again, it's facing the same problem as Effect Veiler (Starlight Rare): this is a tournament nostalgia card that only appears in competition on rare occasion, while other hand traps see more use. And while these are collector's cards first and foremost, we're still seeing that time and time again, the line between "collector" and "player" can be nonexistent.
Two points of data don't make a pattern, so we can't start drawing conclusions about Starlight reprints quite yet. But give me a minute and we'll get there. Onto Phantom Rage.
Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS - Sky Thunder (Starlight Rare)
The Starlight Rares from Phantom Rage have only had 6 months to mature in value, but they're doing pretty well already! This batch of Starlights debuted at lower prices than Eternity Code and Rise of the Duelist, and if you bought your copies two weeks after launch, then four out of the five cards are already up. Take note though: if you bought in at launch day prices, four of these five cards aren't winners yet.
Far and away, the safest investment in the PHRA Starlight lineup was this card, Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS - Sky Thunder (Starlight Rare). With a current value of about $500, it was a big win if you bought in at $310 two weeks after release. It was still a great investment at the launch day price of $370, and it's one of the only cases where the current value even beats the presale price! If you managed to buy this card at its all-time low of $235 you've made out like a bandit: Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS - Sky Thunder (Starlight Rare) is a tournament staple for a lot of different decks, it looks amazing as a Starlight, and it was clearly undervalued for a long time.
Tri-Brigade Ferrijit the Barren Blossom (Starlight Rare)
Speaking of undervalued cards, Tri-Brigade Ferrijit the Barren Blossom (Starlight Rare) was on a decline until the Lyrilusc Tri-Brigade deck started making repeat tops in February. It's only $220 right now, but again, this card's had less than six months to realize its full potential, and as a popular female character for a fan-favorite deck that can actually throw down in tournaments, it wouldn't surprise me to see Tri-Brigade Ferrijit the Barren Blossom (Starlight Rare) continue to grow.
If you bought this at launch you're still a few bucks in the hole, but if you waited two weeks you're already in the black. That price dip to $110 in early February might be an OCG copy, but this card spent a lot of time around 150 dollars, and it's no surprise to see that buyers refused to let the card drop any lower. If there's a hard and fast "buy Starlights at [X Price]" rule to be found, $150 is probably where the opportunities become undeniable.
The Phantom Knights of Torn Scales (Starlight Rare)
The Phantom Knights of Torn Scales (Starlight Rare) performed a lot like Tri-Brigade Ferrijit the Barren Blossom (Starlight Rare), debuting at a similar value, dropping even lower two weeks later, and seeing an even bigger spike to its current value off notable tournament showings. I started sounding like a broken record a while back, but look at that difference between the launch day price, and the value two weeks later once stuff cooled off: you saved a hundred dollars if you were patient, and that value's been returned with the price increase we've seen since mid-February.
The PHRA Starlights are interesting for lots of reasons, but one of the most notable is that it was the first - and so far last - set where every Starlight Rare's seen major tournament play. Ignition Assault almost got there with Sky Striker Ace - Roze (Starlight Rare), Aussa the Earth Charmer, Immovable (Starlight Rare), and Lightning Storm (Starlight Rare), but Time Thief Perpetua (Starlight Rare) a grey area at best. Meanwhile every single Starlight from Phantom Rage is a banger: even Hiita the Fire Charmer, Ablaze (Starlight Rare) saw heavy play in the heyday of Sky Strikers, and as the "worst" card of the bunch, it's still got the Spirit Charmers appeal to compensate.
Alpha, the Master of Beasts (Starlight Rare)
The only "loser" of Phantom Rage so far is Alpha, the Master of Beasts (Starlight Rare), which is surprising: it sees lots of play in Zoodiac variants, and it pops up in Side Decks and weird combo strategies pretty regularly. If you bought this at launch you're down 80 bucks, and if you bought yours two weeks in you're out a fiver. That's not much damage on the two-week scale, and the low period you can see from January to March was pretty long. Again, when something on this level drops to $150, it may be correct to just snap it up if you're looking for a long-term hold.
Hiita the Fire Charmer, Ablaze (Starlight Rare)
You could have lost some value if you picked up Hiita the Fire Charmer, Ablaze (Starlight Rare) on Day 1 too, but if you nabbed a copy two weeks after the drop date you've actually gained 30 bucks. The overall trajectory of the Spirit Charmers Starlight Rares is interesting to watch: it's tough to tell if collectors are getting fatigued. Personally the current value here feels low to me, especially with Hiita the Fire Charmer, Ablaze (Starlight Rare) being one of the more played Charmers.
It's almost guaranteed that we'll see a Starlight Lyna the Light Charmer, Shining in Lightning Overdrive, and if the market underestimates that card, it could wind up being a big opportunity. Time will tell. For now though, the big takeaway is the lower first-week prices of the Phantom Rage Starlights compared to the two prior sets, and the fact that these were all tournament cards, that have all done pretty well so far.
Finally, let's look at the Starlight Rares from Blazing Vortex.
Pot of Prosperity (Starlight Rare)
Like Phantom Rage, Blazing Vortex was another spread of Starlight Rares that offered some lower prices at launch than ETCO and ROTD. We even saw one Starlight debut below $200, which hadn't happened since Ignition Assault three sets prior, and it was the cheapest new Starlight since Chaos Impact. More on that in a bit.
For now, you can see Pot of Prosperity (Starlight Rare) followed a trend line that feels similar to Lightning Storm (Starlight Rare) and Triple Tactics Talent (Starlight Rare). All three cards are on a gentle rise from their first few weeks, and while Pot of Prosperity (Starlight Rare) still very new, it's pretty easy to look at Lightning Storm (Starlight Rare) climb from $400 to $600, Triple Tactics Talent (Starlight Rare) shift from 400 to $450, and this card's move from $365+ to $400+ now, and expect some similar results. All three cards are big power spells playable almot anywhere in multiples, and that draws immediate comparisons.
Unlike Triple Tactics Talent (Starlight Rare), Pot of Prosperity (Starlight Rare) dipped well below $400 at the two-week mark, which makes sense because it debuted at $100 less. If it winds up being in that $600 range like Lightning Storm (Starlight Rare) then it's just another impressive ROI to add to the list. But we'll have to give this more time.
Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora (Starlight Rare)
Yup, Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora (Starlight Rare) is the cheapest new Starlight since Unchained Twins - Aruha Starlight (Starlight Rare) and Gorgon, Empress of the Evil Eyed (Starlight Rare) back in Chaos Impact. And that makes sense: it's been a couple months and while Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora (Starlight Rare) got lots of potential, it's yet to see a big tournament breakthrough. The value of the Secret Rare's and the Starlight's remained pretty flat.
That said, regardless of when you picked this up you've probably made a few bucks. There just aren't many Starlights you can grab right now for under $200, and with the exception of Armed Dragon Thunder LV10 (Starlight Rare) they're all much older cards. Whether or not Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora (Starlight Rare) has room to grow is certainly up for debate, but the one thing we know is that it has time: it's way too early to write this thing off.
Speaking of Armed Dragon…
Armed Dragon Thunder LV10 (Starlight Rare)
You can also pick up Armed Dragon Thunder LV10 (Starlight Rare) for under $200 right now: it was $165 at launch and it's $165 now, though its value has been all over the place in the last month. It was a steal at its all-time low of $130, but it still seems really good right now: the Armed Dragon Thunder cards were surprisingly popular when Blazing Vortex dropped, and there's clearly a fandom for this card that's likely to grow over time. If you picked it up at launch you're still recovering, but if you bought two weeks in you're sitting on it flat. Not bad.
Live Twin Lil-la Treat (Starlight Rare)
It's a bit wild that Live Twin Lil-la Treat (Starlight Rare) debuted with a higher value than Armed Dragon Thunder LV10 (Starlight Rare) and Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora (Starlight Rare), but in some respect it's not surprising: with Konami leaning so hard into their female characters for Starlight Rares, the question of which ones will hold lasting appeal is tricky to navigate. In this case, the market treated the latest Live☆Twin Starlight the same way it treated most Live☆Twin cards: it overvalued them a little, then walked back the price very, very slowly.
Again, this feels undervalued compared to the bulk of the Starlight Rares out there, being under $200. Only 7 of the 32 different Starlight Rares are under 200 bucks right now, and like the rest of the BLVO lineup, this card's still fresh. The Yugiverse is making up its mind about Live☆Twins, and buyers are still figuring out what to do with this card. For now, we can make the observation that even buying in at that Week 2 sweet spot hasn't landed you in a profitable position just yet.
Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier (Starlight Rare)
And finally, the fourth of the four current Starlight Rare reprints is yet another loser, at least in terms of investments. Yes, it's too early to call Blazing Vortex Starlights, but it doesn't seem like a coincidence that of the four Starlight reprints, only one has managed a meaningful gain from its two-week mark. The reprints have all been pretty flat: they're stellar pulls if you're lucky enough to open one, but they don't seem to grow in value. Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier(Starlight Rare) an awesome card, but the nostalgia factor means it arrived with a high price tag, and its lack of relevance in today's tournaments keeps it from getting much higher.
Kind of a lot, actually. I spent a ton of time with this data the last few weeks, and I think there are two really useful conclusions.
First, Starlight Rares have significant growth potential. We've repeatedly seen that these cards can bring in $100 to $200 returns, just in the year and a half or so that they've been available. Some of them have done it much faster. What could happen in another year, or two years, or five is impossible to guess. But for now, we know there's strong precedent saying most Starlight Rares can have a substantial payoff.
Second, there appear to be some general rules you can use to boost your chance of success if you're investing. We've seen a few deviations amongst these 32 cards, but for most of these cards, I'm very comfortable suggesting the following. Let's start with the most obvious.
Pre-release prices for Starlight Rares are higher than launch week. We don't have presale data for all of these cards, because some of them didn't sell in those periods (or in the case of Eternity Code, the set's staggered release garbled the data). But from the 22 cards we can observe, there's only one case where presale prices weren't higher than those at launch, and that was Salamangreat Pyro Phoenix (Starlight Rare).
There seem to be no real advantages to buying Starlight Rares at presale. You're much safer buying them a few days later when more are being offered, and prices are more competitive.
Prices two weeks after release are almost always lower than they were at launch. I don't play the secondary market in Yu-Gi-Oh: I think it would be a conflict of interest. But if I did, this is where I'd be buying Starlight Rares as long-term investments. You could argue that waiting even longer might be a good call, but if you look say, four weeks out instead of two, you start to see some big variance: there are places you'd win, like Time Thief Perpetua (Starlight Rare) or Alpha, the Master of Beasts (Starlight Rare); and there are places you'd lose and end up paying more, like Aussa the Earth Charmer, Immovable (Starlight Rare), The Phantom Knights of Torn Scales (Starlight Rare), Pot of Prosperity (Starlight Rare) and others.
There are outliers, but that two-weeks-out window appears to be the safest time to invest in Starlight Rares.
Overall, I'd say at least 19 of the 32 current Starlights have a generally upward price trend, and have proven to be good investments. Others, like [Marincess Seahorse], [Traptrix Allomerus], and [Eria the Water Charmer, Gentle], hit price floors and then gained enough value to be profitable, but only if you bought in at the right time, which was difficult. We saw lots of dips in December, January and February of both 2020 and 2021; it's very possible that's a holiday trend and it may be the case every year, so there could be some potential to buy at those times. But looking at the full spread those dips can be unpredictable, and it's easier to just throw down on new Starlights at the two week mark.
Only six cards look like losers so far: Ghost Mourner & Moonlit Chill (Starlight Rare), Effect Veiler (Starlight Rare), Wynn the Wind Channeler (Starlight Rare), D.D. Crow (Starlight Rare), Live Twin Lil-la Treat (Starlight Rare), and Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier (Starlight Rare). All but one of them debuted at over 300 dollars (Lil-la Treat's the one exception). So while the bigger Starlight Rares can offer big gains, the smaller Starlights are largely much safer, and can often grow just as much. Note that these six cards are all from Eternity Code and later; it's possible they just haven't had time to mature yet.
The fact that three of the four reprint Starlight Rares have proven to be bad investments, while the remaining one, Hiita the Fire Charmer, Ablaze (Starlight Rare), is largely flat in its value, suggests that Starlight reprints enter the market close to their peaks. They're great pulls, but they look like poor investments so far.
You could've made about as much money buying Unchained Twins - Aruha (Starlight Rare) two weeks after launch, as you would have if you'd managed to luck out and buy Hiita the Fire Charmer, Ablaze (Starlight Rare) at its all-time low. Granted, one of those cards is older than the other. But the point stands: Starlight Rare reprints are so popular out of the gates, that they command an immediate premium. As an investor that's not where you're trying to put your money.
Non-competitive cards largely grow despite tournament trends, but tournament-played cards are still valued according to their performance. Cards like Gorgon, Empress of the Evil Eyed (Starlight Rare) and Time Thief Perpetua (Starlight Rare) aren't viewed as tournament-level cards, but plenty of them go up in value with enough time. And while it's tempting to attribute that to the character value, Storm Dragon's Return (Starlight Rare) really shows it could happen to anything.
Compare that to the rising value of The Phantom Knights of Torn Scales (Starlight Rare) and Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS - Sky Thunder (Starlight Rare), both of which roughly track to their tournament performance. Or look at the utter plunge of Ghost Mourner & Moonlit Chill (Starlight Rare) when it failed to see play.
Undervalued Starlight Rares are largely a good long-term investment, while competitive cards are a gamble, as they're more subject to tournament hype. That said, it's the I:P Masquerena (Starlight Rare) and the Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess (Starlight Rare) that have become the most valuable Starlights so far, so the risk isn't without rewards. Regardless, it's important to recognize that the cards classed as "tournament playable" seem to operate according to different rules, often harshly so. It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, happens when the first Starlight Rare is Forbidden.
There's a lot of money to be made investing in Starlight Rares, and while chase cards are finding their way into all sorts of booster releases in Yu-Gi-Oh, Starlights occupy a unique space - they're the first of this new generation of modern, high-value Yu-Gi-Oh cards, and their ceiling is almost unmatched in modern releases. Lots of Yu-Gi-Oh fans are beginning to collect and invest more aggressively, and that means rising demand for cards like these.
There are lots of safe bets in the world of Starlights, and very few true losers. There's a good chance that future releases will behave in much the same way as the ones we just looked at, and with the rush of collecting surrounding Ghosts From the Past, it's a good idea to look at other types of cards beyond Ghost Rares if you want to find more opportunities. If you can dodge the type of Starlight Rares that seem to be duds, make your moves in that post-release window, and then hold for the long term, you could do really well.
Like any investment, you shouldn't take risks you can't afford. But the landscape of the TCG world has changed drastically over the last few years, and for passionate Yu-Gi-Oh fans with a mind for collecting - or anybody who just gets lucky and pulls some fire - this is proving to be a golden era.