Welcome back, let’s hit the ground running! We last left off our discussion of promos shortly after dipping our toes into the treasures awarded at Premier Organized Play events. And that’s where we pick back up with **drum roll**
Cold Foil Heroes
If you’re reading this, you are presumably familiar with cold foils. We sort of skimmed over it while discussing the Season 3 Armory kits in the previous post, but aside from sounding cool (don’t worry, I hate myself a little for that pun) cold foils are a striking foil treatment that really pops out compared to traditional rainbow foiling. For my money, the cold foiling when applied to the distinctive hero frame borders really makes these some of the best looking cards in the game.
So, how do you get one of these heroes? You’ve got a few options. By far the coolest path to acquisition is being the highest ranked player of a particular adult hero after the swiss rounds at a Road to Nationals event. In 2020, we saw events where some heroes (pour one out for Azalea) weren’t even played, meaning you could have just showed up with a Ranger deck, lost every game (not an unlikely outcome) and walked away with your very own cold foil Az. The most consistent way to get one is to make it to your country’s Nationals where every player is awarded one for the hero they’re playing. And, of course, the easiest way to get one of these is to simply buy it. Sadly, at least for those looking to pick them up, the recent influx of players has propelled their prices into the stratosphere with copies selling at $500-900 apiece in some cases. To think, it was only a couple months ago I was remarking on how they felt overpriced at $1100 for four. Beyond the methods mentioned above, Legend Story Studios occasionally gives them out as prizes for special occasions (like the Blitz-a-Thon hourly prizes) or at some other OP events (like the Blitz tournament held during Nationals). Aside from the adult cold foil promos, there is an Ira cold foil making the rounds. When I was initially writing this, there were at least 17 known to be floating around, but more have entered the market since then. For now, she is a fair bit rarer than the adults, but it’s hard to know what the long term numbers will be for her, so I’d be cautious in regarding her extreme rarity as a permanent state of affairs.
If you want one or more of these pieces, there are a couple things to consider. First, FAB has an eternal card pool, so all heroes are legal until they reach Living Legend status. That means, unless LSS changes their reward structure for Premiere OP events, more heroes will continuously enter the market. For FAB to function as a competitive game, they will need A LOT of Road to Nationals events (it’s hard to imagine fewer than 30-40 as a minimum for the US when you consider that New Zealand had 7 in 2020, and they are downright tiny when compared to the US both in terms of landmass and population). Now, it’s entirely possible that a boom in players will absorb these cards without affecting prices, but I find that somewhat hard to believe. In my mind, we are currently at one of the absolute worst times to buy CF heroes. That said, I wouldn’t expect them to ever be cheap. I can’t see them ever dropping below three figures a piece.
One last financial thought before we move on, cold foil heroes will likely spike in price once a hero reaches Living Legend status because the supply will become fixed (barring LSS changing how these are distributed – I would expect them to comment on this when someone actually becomes a Living Legend). At that point, they become somewhat of a known quantity, and people can feel a little more confidant knowing that another hundred or more won’t be entering the market every year. But until then, I’m still holding out for significantly lower prices, even if it’s a year or two before they get here.
Technically LSS refers to these as “golden cold foil” but colloquially it’s “golden foil” or “GF”. At any rate these cards are distributed for high finishes via sealed black envelopes with a random Arcane Rising or Welcome to Rathe Legendary (excluding Tunic) and a note that seems to be a little scrap of lore. They were given out to first place finishers in 2020’s Road to Nationals events, the entire top 8 of Nationals, and a handful will be given out at The Calling – Auckland 2021 for various events. Numbers on these are rather incomplete at the moment, but single digit wouldn’t be unlikely. Again, we have no idea how many of these will eventually be given out. Early on these were around several hundred to $1,000, but lately prices have ballooned to $2,500-4000.
Again, from a financial perspective, I wouldn’t really recommend taking a position on them to anyone who isn’t already immersed in the FAB market enough to not really need my advice on these. Cards like this are very high-risk high-reward proposition with limited short term potential unless there is another spike. If FAB is still chugging after 20 years, they’ll likely be worth a small fortune, but that’s not how most people are approaching the hobby, and thus, finding a buyer for this sort of item is often a challenge. I would expect prices to spike very sharply if LSS ever makes an official announcement about their availability. For instance, if at the start of the 2022 season they said they were retired and would not be distributed again, that would immediately lock in a supply that would likely make Cold Foil Hearts and Eyes look plentiful.
Now the special case: Fyendal’s Spring Tunic. Before we address this quagmire on this card, let me take a moment to just note the technical details. Unlike the other gold foils, Tunic is both an extended art and gold foil; it’s pretty stunning. Now onward into the mess of misinformation that surrounds this card. I’m going to try to unpack the apocrypha, the facts we have, and the lessons we can take from the whole situation. When I entered the FAB scene in July 2020, it seemed like a lot of the American audience was just becoming aware of the existence of this card (even though some had been distributed in the US during our brief flirtation with hosting tournaments before gross mismanagement of the global pandemic more or less shut us down). The most common information about the card that circulated in the buying/selling Facebook communities and the Discord was that there were 40 of these in existence, and the remainder had been shredded and sent to early-FAB tournament sensation Sasha Markovic following his victory at The Calling.
From this point, different people have different accounts of how this information was conveyed, but from my perspective it was heavily implied that these 40 were the only Golden Tunics that would ever exist and the tunic confetti was sort of a visual signal of this. That account tended to predominate online spaces until The Calling – Auckland 2021 was announced and there, sitting in the list of prizes for the main event was “$1200 + Golden Cold Foil Extended Art Fyendal’s Spring Tunic + Professional Tournament Invite (PTI)”. At this point things got a little crazy for a few hours as people (myself included) tried to get the scoop – was this one of the 40 that someone had put up, or was it copy 41? Matt Rogers, who had posted the tournament announcement to the FAB Fan Page confirmed that it was a new tunic, and noted that he had been saying for some time that that 40 number was never a real limit. Wild speculation ensured, people panicked about other promos thought to be “safe” and general discontent reigned for an afternoon.
Why the hubbub? Well, when I got into the game, golden Tunics were exchanging hands at around $1000-1500, but soon after the “only 40 exist narrative” took hold in the US marketplace, prices spiked, first to $2,500, then $5,000. Shortly before this whole situation, one is said to have sold for $6,000 and another was on the market for $10,000. I think it’s fair to speculate that some of these purchases might not have happened if the buyer had known that an untold amount of gold tunics would continue to enter the market place. As an aside, when we get into discussions of prices for extremely rare cards, it is often quite hard to pin down specifics. Sometimes we have public asking prices, but these have yet to show up on ebay or other places where we can prove a sale price. Information is all second hard on these, and I operate on information shared with my by people who I generally consider to be trustworthy, but if you want to get into the market for this sort of card, you’d be best served to do additional resources, and politely make contacts with other people who deal in these spaces.
But, let’s get back to the “Only 40 exist” issue. From my perspective, I think there were a mix of honest and not-so honest intentions at play here. I myself repeated what proved to be apocrypha regarding the rarity of these cards, and I think many other players who got into the game around the same time, and particularly in the US, were in a similar situation where this information was presented to us as fact, and there was no one vocally contradicting it. So, some people certainly spread misinformation unknowingly. However, after seeing a number of people advertise the Art of War play mats awarded at the New Zealand Nationals as 1 of 8 in the world to boost the perceived rarity of the mats as they attempted to resell them for upwards of $1200 (you can read my thoughts on hyper-expensive playmats here), I think that some of the people promoting the 1 in 40 tunic narrative were likely acting in bad faith. As an aside: the Art of War mat claim was technically a “fact” at the time, in that those were the first 8 distributed but by all indications more would be at other Nationals.
As a brief aside, I’ll note that some people like to distinguish between “in circulation” and “in print”. Essentially they use “in circulation” to indicate how many cards are out in the hands of players and “in print” to indicate how many copies exist period (the implication being that LSS retains some number of copies that have not been released). From my perspective this distinction is somewhat academic unless LSS starts stating that some cards will never be reprinted. If they did, you could have a scenario where they printed 100 of a promo, handed out 30, and said no more would ever be made, but then inject 70 more into the market at a later date. Barring that scenario, there is no real functional difference between them releasing a portion of a larger print run and then releasing the remaining copies later vs them printing a smaller run and then reprinting and releasing a bunch of identical copies later. If subsequent printings were marked differently, that would be a different scenario, and we’d functionally have a “1st edition” promos, which would carry a premium.So, what lessons can we take from this? Well, for starters, assume anything can and will be reprinted or that there are more available that haven’t been distributed until LSS makes an official statement to the contrary, and be skeptical of anyone telling you that they have made such a statement unless they link you to their source. In terms of spending your money on promos, the rule of thumb I’m using is that I am only buying promos because I want them for my personal use at the price I’m paying or I think I can flip them in a window of a couple weeks for a meaningful profit (exceptions made for known limited promos like the Team Covenant ones –we’ll talk about those in a future article).
That brings us to the end of this installment. For our next one, we’ll pick up the remainder of the promos which includes both some of the weirdest and coolest cards out there. We’ll spend some time on the promo I would regard as the only “safe” one currently available as well as the one I would be most afraid of holding. See you then!
*Header Image: Singing Steelblade by Adolfo Navarro