Hey nerds,

Welcome to my weekly rant about a topic. It’s essentially just going to be a random article about whatever I feel like ranting about for the given day. Usually on a topic related to my store and the people who inhabit it in general.

I titled the article towards TCG players as this appears to only ever be an issue that comes from all the guys who play and collect any sort of collectible card game (MTG, YGO, FoW, etc). The fundamental problem with all of these games is that they have effectively pushed the real product out the window and determined that the secondary market is the overall description of what’s worth while, or valuable.

The Topic:


What is value?

Lately, all I’ve perceived from people of the TCG variety is that their perspective of value is simple: estimated monetary worth of something. The majority of TCG Players look at the game from a strictly monetary investment value of the cards in a secondary market. But, in reality is value that simple and straight forward?

In reality I don’t think so. I think the secondary market has created a small bubble of artificial behavior and overall attitude within the gaming communities of TCG’s. What about the expected value of time you enjoy playing the game or hanging out with the community? Or the time you spend enjoying your hobby (deckbuilding, reading articles, etc)? I think these are equally valuable to a person who truly loves the game they collect/play and should play an almost even or greater role when considering ‘value’.

These should all combine to construct what I would call a “perceived” or “true” value of the product.

Behavior bubble??

I watch a lot of people open sealed product, I watch a lot of people buy singles, and further more I talk to a ton of people about how they feel after opening product, the price of a card, and the overall feeling they get when acquiring anything at my store. This lets me see a wide range of emotions, personalities, and expectations walk through my store everyday.

Normally when I see someone buy a booster pack, they just rummage through the cards, maybe take the rare, make a face of disappointment if they don’t get a card that has monetary value and then leave the rest of the cards at my store for myself or someone else to snag up. They don’t feel good about their purchase, the high of the gambling or the unknown has faded into another section of their brain, and their initial excitement about picking up that product has evaporated. This whole process is approximately 10 seconds at the most, and that includes them having to open the physical pack. Their mind has been hard wired to observe the secondary market as it’s most important factor.

Two weeks later that guys back in my store, looking for that random common that he gave to me on my counter cause it was ‘garbage’ because he wants to play a ‘fun deck’ or just enjoy the game. They’re excited because they have a goal, and a mission to complete. They give me some money for that card, that originally I got from him for free. But, now they’re super pumped about that card. Because they came in with a different attitude and a different perspective.

Why then, in the first place was they were not excited and engaged by their original purchase? Simply because they bought the product for an expected gain in monetary value without considering any other available factor that could occur including if they enjoy playing the card, it’s interactions, or overall fun.

This occurs on a small scale with booster packs, but becomes extremely more apparent when people open larger portions of product such as Booster Boxes. They develop an opinion over how the cards themselves should be worth far more then the amount of money they paid for the box. If this doesn’t occur people are usually disappointed, upset, and view it as they ‘wasted’ money. They go through their ‘rare’ cards and whip out their calculator and punch in all the numbers and if that number isn’t at least 50% higher then the money they put into the purchase they are typically disappointed or unexcited.

  • A perfect example was one day I was asked if I had some certain cards for a deck they were making, and unfortunately I did not. So, they decided to buy the booster box that included the vast majority of cards they needed. When they had finished opening their booster box, from a monetary value they ended up with cards which were worth slightly less then the overall purchase price. They were angry at themselves that they bought the product and they were disappointed that they ‘wasted’ their money. Makes sense right? Wait a second, why did they buy the box in the first place? They needed some cards out of the set. Did they get those cards? Yes, in fact they got every card they needed for their deck. But, because all they saw was the monetary value and not a perceived value, they were extremely disappointed by their purchase. Even though, it essentially was everything they wanted in the first place, plus additional stuff.

But, Blake it costs me money to play this game! I need some return! Right?

The truth of the matter is no. You don’t, not monetarily anyways. I have never found another hobby in the history of the world where they expect to buy a product only to receive something worth a higher sum of money so that they can sell it for a gain. The guys who come in and buy miniatures, or paints from me never have the expectation of buying those items and then getting rid of them for more then they paid. You don’t go buy a bottle of liquor and expect to drink it and then return it for more money at the end of the night (gross right?). You don’t go to a movie, and at the end of the movie expect them to pay you more then you walked in with in the first place. You don’t go bowling and expect they bowling alley to pay you on your way out. They’re all the same thing, a form of entertainment of which you’re investing time into. Yet the train of thought or perceived ‘value’ is incredibly different.

You go do these things and buy these things because you’re looking at the entire experience. You’re accounting for the fact that you’ll enjoy your time and that you’ll be happy with your purchase because you were entertained and had fun. But, for some reason when people see a product cost $40 in the TCG community that never has any weight on the expected ‘value’. You’re not thinking that there’s 5-30 cards in that purchase that you’re going to end up playing with every week, 1-3 times a week even, for 3-6 hours each time. Once you account for that even a common worth .25 cents in a box that costs $125 has an incredibly HIGH expected value per time.

What’s this Worth?! Can you look it up for me?!

This is equally a problem when I see people open a card. At first glance they read a card and are excited about it until they learn about it’s price on the secondary market. But, they were just merely excited about what it did and their brain was thinking of cool ways to use the card and play the game with that card. They were engaged, having fun, and full of excitement until the keeper of monetary value came into play. All of a sudden that card loses interest, and is tossed aside.

But, what’s a card really worth? That’s an interesting question to be honest. I have a question for you, we’ll use my own collection of Force of Will as an example. I have a near perfect collection, highest rarity of almost every card (the monetary value of most averaging about $5.00 upwards to $100). This collection contains thousands of cards. So, what is this collection monetarily worth?

The truth is it’s actually worth nothing. I have no intention of selling it or getting rid of it. If I ever have the impulse to get rid of it the game will be dead and it won’t be worth anything anyways. Blake that’s not true! It’s still worth the value on the secondary value. But, in reality it’s not worth anything unless I am willing to get rid of it or sell it. It’s value from a monetary perspective is absolutely ZERO. My modern deck and my other magic the gathering decks they’re all worth nothing because I don’t plan on getting rid of them. Sure they cost me an amount of money to acquire them. But, in the end I don’t view them as an investment or money because I have no intention of selling them.

But on the other hand it’s ‘perceived’ value could be argued that it’s priceless. I deem it irreplaceable, I enjoy the game, the community, the friends I’ve made, the time spent building decks, and above all playing the game. Why does this matter?

You Should Check Your Perspective and ADJUST!

I think this is a huge factor and importance for people who are currently playing collectible card games. I think it’s important that you look at the perceived value of something. If you’re always disappointed because the game is a monetary sink you should reevaluate whether or not you should even play the game. If you’re strictly looking for something to do and be an investment, I honestly believe that you are looking in the wrong direction. Go invest your money in stocks, or other ventures that have a more guaranteed and lucrative investment opportunity.

But, Blake I love the games and I still love that Trading, Selling, and ‘Hustle’ component. Sure, then keep doing what you’re doing. But, whenever you find yourself getting down strictly from a monetary perspective make sure it doesn’t absorb the entire hobby or overall experience you’re achieving. Once the monetary game takes over it will consume you and in reality you’re going to be looking at a lot more downs then ups.

Remember to look at the overall look, experience and circumstances involved in playing, acquiring and spending money on a hobby. It’s not a waste of money at the end of the day if you get enjoyment out of it. Don’t treat it any differently then you would a movie, drinking, partying, or going bowling. It at the end of the day is a form of entertainment and if you’re not being entertained maybe you should switch gears!

That’s it for my rant for the week!

Have a good one 🙂 and remember to….


4 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The following two tabs change content below.
I've been playing games for a lot of years. Most of those years at least semi-competitively. I love tabletop games. My current favorites are: Force of Will, Magic the Gathering, Guild Ball, Warmachine, and an assortment of Board Games (Argent the Consortium is the best one though).