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Monday, May 17, 2010

Shiny: Ur Doin it Rite, Pokeymanz.

Although many hail Magic: the Gathering as the paragon of card games, it is not particularly shiny. It has exactly one (1) style of foil used for a lot of rarities. Like Pokemon, it has a full parallel set in shiny foil. Foil does not determine rarity or playability; generally, this is a wise mindset to have when it comes it card games.

Pokemon, however, takes the cake when it comes to doing shiny things right. Not only does it have a variety of creative uses for foil, when it does create premiums, they are usually pretty balanced.

To clarify, a "premium" in this case is a rarity beyond common, uncommon, rare, and foil. Currently, Pokemon has 5 different rarities: common, uncommon, rare, foil, Prime, and Legend. The two premiums have been bolded for convenience. The "reverse holo" rarity encompasses, and parallels, all rarities except premiums.

Now, some people would say that, holy crap, THOSE rarities are too much. Clearly they have not played Yu-Gi-Oh!, which has several rarities that can only be pulled after spending HUNDREDS of dollars on packs. Even scaling does not keep people from pulling crap. Pokemon is tame by comparison.

For starters, the foil ratios are not insane. Although the odds are not listed on the pack, I have personally found them to be 1 foil per about every 3 packs. These usually average about a dollar or two on eBay- slightly more for better holos. If it's not that good, there is probably someone, somewhere, who will want it in their binder. It is very easy to trade up after just a few packs.

Making this job easier are the parallel holos (also called 'reverse holos,' 'parallel rares,' and various other names) inserted into every pack. This can be a common, uncommon, rare, or even foil. It's this one-per-pack rarity that gives us Primes in HG/SS sets, Arceus in the Arceus set, and holofoil Unowns in EX: Unseen Forces.

Thanks to this system, there are many ways to pull two rares per pack. A regular PH adds a dollar or so. A rare/foil, usually a little bit more or less. Sometimes, the regular rares are worth more than their shiny counterparts; this is something you have to look up on eBay, i.e. do not guess at tournament events. Different people will trade for shiny versions of cards that are already in their decks, leaving ample opportunities for collectors and players to trade alike. (Note that this is NOT how things work in YGO; often, the shinier Konami makes something, the better it is in the game. This creates a gap, not synthesis, between collectors and players. It pits them against each other!)

The best part is that PokePremiums are good and useful in-game, but not broken. For those of you unfamiliar with CCG lingo, "broken" refers to something so good in play that the game is not balanced, and, by extension, not fun.

For example, the recent "Ho-Oh Legend" card is awesome in every regard. The art is stunning, the card is actually good (remember base set Charizard and how it kinda sucked? Nintendo fixed that), and you do not need to spend your life savings to get it.

There is a very good, cool reason why you do not need to break the bank to acquire this shiny birdie: Ho-Oh (and every Legend card) is split into two parts. Both parts need to be played at once in game, which balances the card nicely. It also means that players do not need 4 of each piece of Ho-Oh; since each card is named "Ho-Oh Legend," and a deck can only contain any 4 cards of the same name, realistically only 2 of each piece is needed. If a player using said Ho-Oh managed to get a 3rd top part, that person could trade it off for something more useful. There's enough Ho-Oh to go around, even with its rarity.

That is how a rare card SHOULD be: Shiny and pretty enough to retain its value, but also semi-useful in the game.

So, what happens when certain premiums - in this case, Primes - get reprinted? Nintendo did something smart: The tin promos have alternative artwork. This allows the pack-printed Primes to retain their value while, once again, evening the playing field. Good work!

I swear, there'll be a video for showing the Premium Rares (and how they work) whenever I get a complete set of Legends. *Still stuck with just pieces.*

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