And after a brief absence for Thanksgiving, I return to you with another part in the promo series. This title is almost assuredly going to date itself, but we’re here to wrap up our promo cataloging with the odds and ends. As with last time, I’m going to hop right in and not bore you with the reintroduction of “what’s a promo.” It’s because I respect your time. You’re welcome.
I hate this card. I really hate it. I don’t hate it because the art feels more out of place than anything else in FAB. I don’t hate it because it has a weirdly nebulous effect and will at some point probably require a silly amount of rules clarification. I don’t even hate it because it’s a gameplay unique card that was only available as a promotional card. Alright that last one was a lie, I kind of hate that aspect of it a little. But, the real reason I hate this card is that it has totally confounded my assessment of the singles market and makes me constantly question my own sanity to a degree that a Lovecraft protagonist would tell me to “take it easy.”
Why am I so vexed by this monkey? Well, it’s absurdly expensive and it makes no sense. Go Bananas has been given out as a promo multiple times in multiple contexts. Originally a promotion for early FAB events through a partnership with retailer Mighty Ape, the card was also given out in Alpha Investments’ initial FAB kits. Oh, and then it was given out again at a rate of one per box of CRU purchased from Mighty Ape. Not just pre-orders, but any order you made with them until just before they ran out of CRU stock. Remember last article (if not, how dare you?! I expect you to be taking notes. This will be on the test), remember how I said that the lesson to learn from the Gold Tunic kerfuffle was that promos are not safe as investments and they could be reprinted or have additional copies distributed at any time in any quantity unless we hear something that contravenes that? Yeah, in my mind, no card better represents this than Go Bananas. It’s been handed out in multiple contexts from multiple sources and is tied to a retail partner that has distributed them generously across multiple releases. Why, if you knew all of that, would you assume that this card will never be available again? Why would you buy it at $200 a card (a card, I’ll add, that is certainly more common than quite a few other promos that sell for meaningfully less).
Need more? Well here is Mighty Ape telling the FAB discord that they have a “big lot” of copies that they intended to give out in the US market in addition to more to give out as promotions for future box orders. I also asked if there would be an additional printing when the eventually ran out, and the person running the account had no info on any potential future prints, but noted they’re still using their initial stack.
From a gameplay perspective, Go Bananas is fine, if a bit silly. I’m sure at some point, I’ll be sitting around playing whatever multiplayer format eventually emerges to dominate that niche, and someone will do something crazy with it that gives everyone a story for the next few years. And that’s all lovely, but as an object of financial curiosity the card is an absurd gamble. And, given that we know there seems to be a lot of remaining copies that Mighty Ape intends to distribute, I would recommend you not take that gamble.
Cold Foil Potions
Let’s have a brief palette cleanser here so that no one gets whiplash from me moving to my favorite investment promo. The potion trio have been given out at a variety of OP events as well as featuring alongside the recently derided monkey in Alpha Investments’ WTR bundles. Again, we should assume that these will continue to be given out at some cross-section of OP events until they disappear. There’s really not a lot to say here – they’ve spiked with everything else, so some retracing on prices wouldn’t surprise me as more of them get out there, but they also haven’t reached the absurd heights of Go Bananas, so their current value ($40-75) might be a bit high, but won’t be a devastating loss if they get fliffed out through some promotion in the future.
Team Covenant Exclusives
Although this category of promo only has one exemplar at present, we’ve been told that more are coming, so we can expect these with each new (not unlimited edition or subsequent waves for 1st edition) expansion. The above Scar for a Scar promo, which we’ll discuss in a moment was their first, given out along with the pre-order of Crucible of War. But, as they note on their site: “We automatically ship you boxes, and Legend Story provides an exclusive promo card for us to include with each box shipped (these special cards will not be available through any other channel). We’ve seen a number of the upcoming promos, and they are absolutely gorgeous.” They’ve bolded the important words for you there, and that means these have what no other promo to date has: an actual guarantee of its limited nature.
We’ll discuss why this matters and then look how you get these without paying egregious secondary market prices. What’s “egregious?” I bought my first two in the weeks after the release of CRU for $30 each. I continued to offer $30 while seeking my 3rd steadily ramping up my offering $40, $50, $60 (hours after a set of three had sold for $150), and finally got the final one at $70. So, the person I bought it from essentially paid for her box of CRU by selling the promo. That’s insane. That’s free product if you can float the cash. Want to know something even wilder? Here were my thought when I was first drafting this article around a month ago: “People are offering $100 a piece for them now, a couple weeks after I got mine, and it’s nothing but crickets. What’s their ceiling? No clue. Earlier tonight, while a seller in the discord was discussing how to price them, someone said they wouldn’t really consider parting with their set for less than $1000.” Well, it took a month because they now routinely sell for $300-350 apiece.
How rare are they? I don’t have exact numbers, but here’s what I do have – I asked Team Covenant’s own Zach Bunn if he was surprised that they were (at that time) already worth $50 on the secondary, and this was his response:
We also have this little bit from one of their streams.
A couple key points there – 1.) He thought they were rarer than people were giving them credit for. 2.) The people who have them, likely do not want to part with them. While I can’t prove that one, I take him at his word on that (Team Covenant’s podcast is kind of absurdly candid about their business practices, and I personally think their good reputation is well-earned).
What do you do with this information going forward? The first thing you should do is modestly scale back your expectations. These are now a known quality, and it is extremely unlikely that they will ever hand out as few copies of their promo as they did with Scar for a Scar. With that said, “less than $300” on a thing you get for free still has a lot of room for profit. As a comparison, the generic buy a box promo (the rainbow foil WTR heroes) that were given out with CRU spiked at around $120 for all four before sinking to prices as low as $12 per hero.
What else could knock down the value of future TC promos? Well, part of Scar’s appeal is also its high level of playability. Its effect is fairly distinct at generic, can be employed in multiple decks, and seems like a poor candidate to see an obvious replacement for in the future. But what do we know about the future promos? Will they be good? Once more, let’s go to Zach on this:
So, everything listed there is a promising feature of a valuable card. Will they have a miss someday? Probably, at least given a long enough timeline, but the intent seems very much to be handing out a card you will want to own and be excited to receive.
Alright, before I talk about how to get your hands on future promos, I realize that this is starting to sound a lot like I am shilling for Team Covenant. Just for clarity, I have no relationship with them beyond asking Zach some questions on the FAB fan Discord and buying things from them. But, as noted in my first post, they did introduce me, via their content, to FAB and, before that, they got me into Netrunner with their videos. Essentially, I like the cut of their jib (I’m unclear on what one’s “jib” actually is; I believe it’s nautical in nature, but I do know that you definitely want yours to be well-cut). Anyway, I hold some affection for them. End disclaimer.
Each pre-ordered box comes with one promo. You get a pre-order by setting up a subscription with them for a game. In the case of FAB, the subscription is on a per/expansion basis. They sell boxes at $76.60, so MAP on the nose, meaning you won’t get a better deal legally unless someone is hooking you up with an unadvertised deal. Three boxes is the key number because 1.) you get a playset of the promo and 2.) that’s the free shipping point. They’ve said that they will not sell pre-orders in excess of what they can provide promos for, which separates them from most other online retailers who, often due to working with distributors for their promos, can only promise that they’ll do their best. And the real kicker is that TC doesn’t collect your money when you submit your subscription. You get an email about two weeks out letting you know that they’re going to charge your card soon and giving you a window to cancel your subscription for whatever reason.
I would be remiss if I didn’t note that you should definitely support your local shop if you’ve got one that is supporting FAB (and I think TC would agree with this sentiment), but for the time being, many of you in the US are in a similar situation to me where you have no LGS supporting FAB because stores have been shut since March in many major cities. My stance on this is that when I can play in person and find or convince a store to support FAB, I’ll split my case orders between them and TC. A lot of people aren’t ordering multiple cases, so, at that scale, you’re on your own to make the decision based on what you can feel good about.
As a final note, TC is working on making subscription costs a little less onerous on international subscribers. I don’t know any real details off the top of my head, but if you’re not in the US and you want cards from them, I would monitor their website and/or social media and look out for more news on that as it emerges.
Wow, that was a lot of TC talk, but again, these are the only promos we actually know will be exclusive, and thus are the most reliable promo to put money into if you’re looking for value. Since I went so long there, I think we’ll put a pin in things for today, and I’ll wrap this up with one more short piece discussing the promo market as a whole and speculate on what sorts of things we might see in the future and what they could do to the market.
*Header Image: Edge of Autumn by Fajareka Setiawan