Market Watch: The 2017 Set By Set Breakdown Part 1
Welcome to our last look back at 2017.
Regional Qualifiers kick off this weekend, there's an ARGCS in Las Vegas,Structure Deck: Wave of Light is just days away and Extreme Force is less than a month out. For the past week we've been looking at the biggest cards from 2017 and recapping the year in dueling. Now we're going to take one last run at the year-defining data as we countdown the Top 10 bestsellers from each booster release and examine the impact of each set.
Fitting with our retrospective theme, the first booster pack of 2017 was actually a reinvention of the star release of 2016. When The Dark Side of Dimensions Movie Pack first arrived in the TCG it changed competition immediately, ushering in the era of ABC-Dragon Buster and Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Everybody wanted stuff from the set: tournament contenders, casual players, and fans of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! TV series all bought it up by the case, creating a release where the return on pack purchases was almost always higher than the cost of the packs themselves.
That led to a situation where many retailers weren't even selling boosters: lots of stores were Cracking all of it for themselves, going straight to the secondary market. And that created so much demand that KDE reprinted the entire set with some added bells and whistles as a new Gold Edition.
The Dark Side of Dimensions Movie Pack: Gold Edition
#2 Gold Gadget
#8 Dark Magician
The fact that Duza the Meteor Cubic Vessel topped this list might come as a bit of a shock, but think about how this product was positioned: a lot of players already had their Gadgets and Blue-Eyes cards, since so many boxes were opened and sent straight to the secondary market.
What people didn't have was the opportunity to open actual packs.
That's not to say secondary sales of the Gold Edition were low – quite the opposite, and you can see that the competitive cards in the set did really well in the relaunch. But a large volume of the audience didn't need anything here other than Duza, and while Cubics went on to accomplish almost nothing in competition, there was some serious hype surrounding their release and a few of their OTK combos.
Beyond Duza, the Top 5's basically the usual suspects: Gold Gadget, Silver Gadget, and Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon were all on their way out the door after weeks dominating competition. MAX Dragon was a huge fan-favorite, while the original Blue-Eyes White Dragon always sees big sales every time it's re-released. Beyond that, the only surprise might be the relatively low ranking of Chocolate Magician Girl, a card that sold extremely well on a mix of competitive potential, a handful of actual tournament Top 8's, and waifu status.
#2 Lost Wind
As the first core booster release of 2017, Raging Tempest utterly warped the shape of competition with the release of Zoodiacs. While Paleozoic Frogs held on for a surprising length of time, Denko Sekka stomped them out in short order and while a handful of other strategies were viable, Zoodiacs quickly became the deck-to-beat in an era where there was simply no competitive reason to play anything else. That situation worsened in some ways with the release of Fusion Enforcers, but we'll talk about that more in a bit.
For now, let's consider all the factors that made Raging Tempest such a competitive set. True King Lithosagym, the Disaster defied the True King rarity trend, appearing as a Super Rare instead of an Ultra Rare. That was important because it made the promise of True King Dinosaurs and the Dinosmasher's Fury Structure Deck that much more enticing. Dinosaurs did far better in the OCG than they did in the TCG; that translated to a ton of hype for Dinosaurs, which meant week after week after week of Number 1 bestseller status for True King Lithosagym. That didn't just pump sales for Dinosmasher's Fury – it boosted demand for Dragonic Diagram later on, too.
Lost Wind served as a new Ray of Hope for the flagging Paleozoic Frog deck, while Windwitch - Ice Bell and Windwitch - Glass Bell became the basis for several viable strategies once Fusion Enforcers arrived. And while the new Ancient Gear cards turned out to be a flop in tournaments, they somehow became one of the hottest themes of the first half of 2017 as far as single sales went.
It's still unclear how that happened.
#10 Toy Vendor
The late February release of Fusion Enforcers lined up with the popularization of the Instant Fusion + Elder Entity Norden combo in Zoodiacs almost too well, and while that play took a surprisingly long time to catch on, it eventually skyrocketed demand for Instant Fusion. As the freshest printing of a card only released as commons and tough-to-find foils in smaller releases, the attraction of an easy-to-get Super Rare was a big factor in its popularity.
Aside from Astral Pack releases, Instant Fusion hadn't been reprinted for almost exactly five years – Ra Yellow Mega Pack hit shelves on February 21st of 2012, and Fusion Enforcers didn't arrive until February 24th of 2017. So on one hand you had a bunch of players who never owned Instant Fusion to begin with, and then a bunch of oldschool players copies from Cyberdark Impact that were beat to heck commons. Minty fresh Super Rares were at the top of everybody's want list. Lonefire Blossom was similar, having only had two mainstream printings in nine years.
Aleister the Invoker, Magical Meltdown, and the Invoked cards that go with them created one of the only viable strategies that could stand up to Zoodiacs, combined with the Windwitches from Raging Tempest. But the deck was relatively expensive, to the point that for some people, it made more sense to just invest a bit more and play Zoodiacs. From there the rest of the Top 10 was just the floor sweepings of shattered Fluffal dreams, all of which still remain in pieces on the floor today almost a year later.
Seriously. Where the [REDACTED] is Frightfur Patchwork ?
Star Pack: Battle Royal
Star Packs are usually pretty irrelevant to tournament players. I'm not sure if it was the intent of the model, but to me, the price point and set composition always seemed positioned as an impulse buy product aimed at light casuals and kids. Which is fine! The more people playing and participating in Yu-Gi-Oh! the better.
But that said, man, Star Pack: Battle Royal was no slouch. Speedroid Terrortop was past its prime but still an in-demand card back in March, and people were still trying to make Different Dimension Demons work, so the Star Pack reprints of D/D/ Swirl Slime, D/D Necro Slime, and D/D/D Oracle King d'Arc were all really popular (those cards were missing from the Pendulum Domination Structure Deck). Somebody made a great choice buffing the pack with those cards.
Yosenjus were actually a pretty solid Card of Demise strategy too: they Top 8'd more Regionals than most people seem to remember, so that demand makes a lot of sense as well. Superheavy Samurai have never been good, but they've always been cool, and Fluffals and Frightfurs are, sadly, almost in the same boat. On the other end of the spectrum, did anyone remember that Melodious cards existed?
I didn't, and it's literally my job.
#2 Set Rotation
With everything going on in Maximum Crisis it's mildly surprising to see that Predaplant Ophrys Scorpio was the biggest card from the release. Sure, it was accessible due to its rarity, it was part of a splashable suite with Brilliant Fusion, and it had a ton of hype leading into MACR's release. It all adds up, but the sheer length of the card's legs was probably the real rason for such high sales: Zoodiacs are dead and gone, Pendulum Magicians disappeared from competition for months at a time, and True Draco players are basically getting from tournament to tournament by riding the Strugglebus.
But Predaplant Ophrys Scorpio's the Tortoise to all those Hares; it never really stopped topping tournaments, as 60-Card decks have always been at least some sort of competitive factor. And that made Scorpio the most popular card from the set.
Set Rotation was huge before it got whomped with the F&L List; Fairy Tail – Luna had just enough competitive hype to get it a few Top 8's; and Duelist Alliance was absolutely massive for a Secret Rare that was really quite pricy before its reprint later in the year. It's kind of shocking to see how well that card sold, though its price collapse after reprinting might have had something to do with it.
True Dracos were exceptionally competitive for quite a while, and they're still in the fight even if True Draco adherents are on that bus I mentioned. True Draco Heritage and True King's Return are exceptional cards, and Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King was one of the biggest boss cards of the year. Dragonic Diagram was necessary for both True Draco variants and True King Dinosaurs, while Waterfall of Dragon Souls and True King of All Calamities saw splashed play in related decks.
Duelist Pack: Dimensional Guardians
One of the biggest flops of the year, Duelist Pack: Dimensional Guardians wasn't well received, at least by tournament players. Scarlight Red Dragon Archfiend is one of the most commonly played Level 8 Synchros, and while its current price point wouldn't really suggest it, a reprint there was a good move. Galaxy-Eyes Cipher Dragon had some competitive merit too and everyone should own one, but it was just released in Dragons of Legend: Unleashed eight or nine months prior, and it wasn't breaking the bank even then.
Cyber Angel Benten was a welcome reprint, but again, it wasn't seeing play anymore by the time it was reissued. In a year with really well positioned releases and a ton of smart micro-level decisions, Dimensional Guardians felt like a misstep. The fact that two of the three most-sold cards from this set were Resonator cards kind of says it all.
Up next in Part 2, we'll look at the Top 10 from Pendulum Evolution , Battles of Legend, Code of the Duelist,Legendary Duelists, Circuit Break, and Spirit Warriors to close out the year in review! See you over there.