It was a big news week for Yu-Gi-Oh, with deck lists rolling in from the North American Remote Duel Extravaganza, won by our own Hanko Chow! It was also a huge week for spoilers, with OCG reveals from Dawn of Majesty , and the full set reveal of Ghosts from the Past here in the TCG.
…And oh, those Ghosts from the Past spoilers. The GFTP reveals and the community response were interesting, because expectations for the set were so high. Months ago, rumors started to swirl that GFTP would feature a Ghost Rare printing of Dark Magician Girl, instantly raising the set's appeal. None of those rumors were substantiated by official information from Konami, and many were skeptical; with very few exceptions, Konami's marketing department tends to put their best foot forward when they're announcing new products. Retailers have to order products months in advance, and to get stores to place those orders, it makes sense to talk about the most desirable cards in the set as early as possible.
But that didn't stop the rumor mill from grinding on, hyping a card that we now know doesn't exist; when the reveal of the fifth and final Ghost Rare from GFTP dropped on Tuesday, it was revealed to be Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon. It's a Championship-winning card from past formats that still sees play in Virtual World today, so it's not a dud, but it's not the DMG so many fans were worked up for. Online sentiment was mixed.
Then, a day later on Wednesday, YugiTubers from Europe and North America cracked product on their YouTube channels, over 2 weeks early, courtesy of Konami. Combined with the reveals from 24 hours prior, the complete setlist was now in player hands, revealing reprints of competitive cards like Hieratic Seal of the Heavenly Spheres, Evenly Matched, and Emergency Teleport, as well as pricy fan-favorites like Raidraptor - Tribute Lanius, Buster Dragon, and Kozmo Tincan. There were even some surprises, like the import of Shooting Star Dragon T.G. EX.
The internet rioted. There was no DMG Ghost Rare. There was no big competitive staple from the OCG, like Crossout Designator. And there was no big money card reprint: no Lightning Storm, Forbidden Droplet, Accesscode Talker or Triple Tactics Talent. Commenters took to their keyboards to voice their displeasure, and it all added up to one sentiment: Ghosts From the Past was a total disappointment, and would obviously bomb. Clearly.
That's the story if you've been reading Reddit and facebook the last couple days. But what's interesting, is that it's not actually the story by the numbers. While the vocal reaction to Ghosts From the Past was one thing, the market reaction was something else entirely. I think that might be the most interesting news of the week, and we're going to get to it in a little bit.
For now, we're going to break with our usual format a little. Today I'm going to show you the Top 10 best-selling Yu-Gi-Oh products from last Saturday onward, including sealed product (not just single cards).
Because wow, there's more to this story than what you're seeing on the surface.
Before we get there, Harpie's Feather Duster is still selling like hotcakes even though the cheapest copy is now up to 11 bucks. Why is that? Well, decks running actual trap cards have been on the rise for weeks, and that's made Harpie's Feather Duster increasingly popular.
Of the 16 competitors who qualified for the next Remote Duel Invitational, in Qualifier Group A and Qualifier Group B, 11 of them played Harpie's Feather Duster. Four of the qualified players, Rober Phinazee with Dragoon Stun, Emmanuel Lilly with Numeron OTK, Justin Jones with Dinosaurs, and Seth Ko with Virtual World, even played their copies in the Main Deck instead of the side. We've only got 10 of the Top 16 deck lists from last weekend's Extravaganza so far, but 9 of those 10 decks were running Harpie's Feather Duster - the one that wasn't was Matthew Thompson's Unchained build - and again, some of the players were Main Decking it.
This is probably as close as we'll get to a true "staple" in Yu-Gi-Oh, and that's made Harpie's Feather Duster a best-selling card since Maximum Gold dropped in November.
This is a mystery. I haven't seen Warning Point in any deck lists from recent events, I don't know what in Dawn of Majesty might have spiked demand, and nobody I talk to seems to know why a huge number of buyers picked up roughly one copy each this past week. Right now this card is a $5 Secret Rare, so if it turns out to be playable, perhaps as a hard stop to fragile combo chains in decks like Prank-Kids and Dragon Link, it definitely has growth potential. But as far as I know this is an unproven tech pick. It's definitely an interesting card to test if you've got the time.
Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon done really well ever since Crystron Halqifibrax lost Linkross, and that's turned Predaplant Verte Anaconda from a $25 card in December, into a $45+ card now. You can see the trends and the big dates in the price history below.
The highlighted columns represent the three biggest sales of Predaplant Verte Anaconda: Black Friday at the end of November, the December banlist reveal on December 10th, and the March 11th banlist drop a few weeks ago. You can see how players start to get more interested in Predaplant Verte Anaconda a few weeks into December, and the price continues to rise until mid-January.
Demand and price start to fall off at that point, but as soon as the March banlist hits and players see that Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon and Predaplant Verte Anaconda aren't going anywhere, the price shoots up 50% in 3 weeks. That's where we are now, and with no reprint in sight, as well as no banlist tackling Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon until at least July, that upward trend might continue.
Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora was an early hit in the first few weeks of Blazing Vortex, and it stood out early as one of several new cards that could put more pressure on combo decks relying on the Extra Deck. Now that Dragon Link's the deck-to-beat, those types of cards have a rising value in competition, and I've been seeing notable players picking up Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora here and there in online groups; some are grabbing playsets, while some seemed to be stocking up.
Right now, Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora still floating around the same $15 mark it debuted at. It's been as low as $11.15, but that was a blip that happened just last week, and the price dip might have been one of the reasons people were buying up copies. At $15 this is a tough gamble to make for a lot of players; it's hard to imagine Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora on the level of bigger Secret Rare hand traps like Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring or Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit in its heyday. But if you've got the flex room, it may be worth a try.
This card's still about a buck, and still a staple in lots of Link climbing decks. There's not much else to say. Returning players and new players should pick this up while it's dirt cheap, because if you don't need it now, you probably will in the future.
Responses to Blazing Vortex have been pretty lukewarm since its release: outside of Starlight Rares, the set's big pulls are Pot of Prosperity at 95 dollars, Underworld Goddess of the Closed World at $25, and Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora at $15. The set's Ultra Rares are all $2 cards or worse, save Armed Dragon Thunder LV7 at $4. Outside of Pot of Prosperity, none of these cards are seeing much competitive play.
But at some point, those Pot of Prosperity everyone wants have to come from somewhere. With Pot of Prosperity at 95 dollars and sealed displays of Blazing Vortex at just 60, we seem to have reached the tipping point where buyers are willing to gamble. BLVO Boxes were a popular item in stimulus week mid-March, but sales have remained high ever since.
PSY-Framegear Gamma way down in competition right now, featuring in just 3 of the 10 decks we've seen from the Extravaganza, and 5 of the 16 invite-winning decks from the RDI Qualifiers. That seems like a natural response to metagames where more "real" trap cards are seeing play, and combo decks want to use as many card slots as they can for key starters and extenders, not this. At the same time, the uptick in Artifact Lancea is likely eating into PSY-Framegear Gamma deckshare as well.
But it's still big! As we've been saying for weeks, there are players coming back to cardboard Yu-Gi-Oh right now and many of them didn't get this card when the reprint first dropped in Toon Chaos. That said, demand may be winding down, if only slightly.
Alright, so now we get to the good stuff. To set the scene, the massive hype for Ghosts from the Past has driven huge presales, and combined with the surge of spending we saw when stimulus checks hit, the presale price was quickly pushed to $29 and more. That's almost twice the $14.99 Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). Despite the high price, presales were exceptionally strong heading into this week, where we'd see the Dark Magician Girl Ghost Rare myth dispelled on Tuesday, and the rest of the set revealed on Wednesday.
So, with player communities and YouTube personalities all booing the product, what do you think happened to demand for Ghosts From the Past? The presale price should crash, right?
Except it didn't.
On Monday, the average price of a product-hover id="228256" on TCGplayer was $30.13. Fast forward to now, and today the average price is $29.10. It's nowhere near that $14.99 MSRP, despite the negative buzz. Full GFTP displays were similar: they stayed between $136 and $130 all week long. So why didn't prices go down? It's because the reveal of the set list didn't hurt demand.
Instead, the demand exploded. More on that in a minute.
First, a brief intermission: Ghosts From the Past introduces the Sunavalon monsters, and one of the best ways to play the Sunavalon Links - Sunavalon Dryas, Sunavalon Dryades, Sunavalon Dryanome, and Sunavalon Dryatrentiay - is to pair them with the Aromage monsters. Aromaseraphy Jasmine doubled in price this week, becoming the best-selling single card in the game for the last 7 days.
But that said, Aromaseraphy Jasmine was outpaced by Ghosts From the Past itself…
Like I was saying, the unveiling of the Ghosts From the Past setlist didn't have the impact you might expect if you've only been listening to the discussion online. As always, I can't give you the exact sales numbers, but I can make comparisons to show you what happened.
Let's use Monday's presales of sealed boxes and displays as the baseline: it was the last day before we started getting reveals on Tuesday and Wednesday; presales were average, substantially higher on that Monday than the Monday previous; and prices were pretty normal at $29.51 per box. Then Tuesday hits, people see some new reveals, and they realize there's no Ghost Rare Dark Magician Girl. People banking on it start bashing the set.
So what happens in the marketplace? On Tuesday, presales for GFTP sealed triples. In fact, presales on Tuesday were almost four times what they were on Monday.
"But that was less than a day of reaction time! How about Wednesday?" Good question: the full set list hits on Wednesday, word gets around, and the outrage ramps up. Is that where things start to go downhill?
Nope. GFTP does even better. Wednesday's bigger than Tuesday, and presales are more than quadruple the Monday baseline. Thursday's slightly slower, but GFTP still sees more action than it did on Tuesday, almost reaching that 4x multiplier again.
So how about another comparison: what if we put presales for Ghosts From the Past up against presales for Duel Overload, from one year ago? I'm not the first person to have that idea. LOTS of people are comparing the two sets: they were both planned as March releases, they both had lots of hype, and they're both boxed sets with packs. I saw people talking about just how much better Duel Overload was than Ghosts From the Past, and I thought, "Hey! Maybe they've got a point!"
After all, Duel Overload had amazing new cards for tournament play. Crystron Halqifibrax, Predaplant Verte Anaconda and Selene, Queen of the Master Magicians are still huge a year later, while Union Carrier was so broken it has to be banned. Duel Overload was fantastic and players loved it.
So I went and I compared the presale numbers for Duel Overload, with the presale numbers for Ghosts From the Past. And I was floored. No matter how I spun stuff, and no matter which date range I tried, Ghosts From the Past mopped the floor with Duel Overload.
At first I figured I'd make it a fair fight. We're 2 weeks out from the launch of Ghosts From the Past, so I grabbed the presale totals for GFTP so far and compared them to the same "2 weeks before the release" numbers for Duel Overload. It's a little rough, because GFTP went into presale a bit earlier than DUOV. But the numbers were shocking: when I compared the two timelines, Ghosts From the Past brought in 14 times the presale revenue of Duel Overload. My jaw nearly hit my desk.
Was GFTP actually dropkicking DUOV that hard? I started turning the question around, looking at different angles. I had an idea: what if I looked at the entire presale run of Duel Overload, right up until Thursday of the release week, and compared that to Ghosts From the Past's performance so far? To be clear: I wanted to compare just the current sales of GFTP without the next 2 weeks of presales, to DUOV's entire presale record.
And surprise: even with a 2-week handicap, Ghosts From the Past has already tripled Duel Overload's total presales. GFTP's done 356% of the sales so far, that Duel Overload did in its entire presale period. It's not even close.
Well, I don't have a crystal ball, but I'll make some predictions based on the numbers. For instance, I don't think sellers are going to have much of a "race to the bottom" on Ghosts From the Past prices anytime soon. The sealed product's moving at three to four times the speed it was a week ago, and it's still at double the suggested retail price. I don't think it's going to get more expensive, at least not until after the release. But I wouldn't expect to see online prices at the $15 mark.
At the same time, I don't expect Ghosts From the Past to last long on store shelves when it hits big boxes at $15 a pop, for a few reasons.
First, Yu-Gi-Oh players and collectors want the set. While it may not be Duel Overload as far as hardcore meta players are concerned, there's a lot here for budget players, rogue fans, and of course, big collectors who want the chase cards. The return of Ghost Rares makes this a collector-targeted set more than anything else, and collectors are going to be buying up GFTP wherever they can find it if they can get it at retail.
In addition, certain stores may not limit product purchases with "2 per customer" type restrictions unless the MSRP of that product is $20 or more. At $14.99 a piece, retailers might not impose limits at all, which means one person can sweep out the entire stock.
And finally, a factor that almost nobody's talking about: Pokémon scalpers. The recent Battle Styles Pokémon expansion was good for players, but it didn't have any chase versions of Charizard or Pikachu. That means the guys who stalk your local Walmart every morning looking to flip high-value Pokémon product like product-hover id="194729" may be looking for a new cash cow. And if they figure out that Ghosts From the Past is worth flipping, that's going to be even more pressure on the market.
Look, I'm not saying anybody's wrong. But Yu-Gi-Oh products are largely targeted at four different demographics, to varying degrees: hardcore tournament players, casuals, collectors, and nostalgia buyers who drift in and out of the game when they recognize stuff like God Cards and Blue-Eyes White Dragon. If you're playing online and duking it out in Remote Duels every weekend, and all you want to do is finish your playset of Pot of Prosperity or Forbidden Droplet, there might not be much here for you. That's fine.
But if you want to play some new decks, or you don't have your there copies of Evenly Matched yet, or you're a collector that wants those Ghost Rares? This set was made for you. And judging by the massive presales, that describes a lot of people.
Some of us are going to get lucky and score a bunch of GFTP at retail. For the rest of us it's going to be a scramble, and we might be in for a wild couple of weeks.