Thoughts on Uprising

Hey, everyone it’s been a minute. I took a few weeks of leave from work to attempt to decompress after having not taken more than one or two consecutive days off since covid began (well, aside from the three days for my grandpa’s funeral, but that wasn’t exactly a chill period). ANYWAY, I thought I’d come back and get some stuff moving along around here, but then I immediately got a covid diagnosis on my first day back. Fun times.

But now that I’m mostly back on my feet, I can get content out again! We’re going to kick things off with this piece, which is my take on how Uprising functions as a product (so like, the non-gameplay elements) with a particular eye towards assessing how FAB 2.0’s changes have helped, harmed, or been neutral for the game. I’m not going to get too granular on the financial end of things today because I’ve got a three article series going over at the Rathe Times (part two should be out now) where I’m tracking individual box values of three cases of Uprising over a six week period to get a rough idea of what sort of experience a person buying either a single box or single case might get from the new product composition.

Beyond this piece, I hope to post the winners of the last flavor text contest this weekend (winners will be contacted at that time). Thanks for bearing with me on that one everyone. I got to give out the majority of the promos from that Appreciation Kit at PT New Jersey, and it was an absolute blast. But, I do apologize for getting the last chunk of them out this late –sometimes life sneaks up on you. So, thanks for bearing with me. There are also a couple other articles in the works for the next few weeks, including my now very, very late article for Pride (though, I think releasing your Pride article a month late is gay culture, so hopefully the core audience for that particular one will give me a pass). For now, let’s talk some Uprising!

Simply Marvelous

Marvels are probably the most visually striking change you’ll notice when opening boosters. The full art CF dragons really pop when you’re thumbing through the cards, and I’m very happy to have variants that are this distinct back in the product. Honestly (while I know this isn’t how the actual dollar value lines up), I personally am more excited when I open a CF Marvel/Rare dragon than I am when I open a RF Legendary, which feel kind of like a letdown after being used to first edition always being Cold Foil. After full art Twinning Blade in Crucible, the variants seemed to take a step back in terms of how visually impactful they were with the notable exception of CF Starvo. So, it’s really nice to see big splashy variants back in the game via booster packs. Speaking of CF Heroes, I am, as ever, glad to see the CF variant heroes continuing to appear, although my same complaint from Everfest (that LSS only included one hero in this format) applies here as well. While they can certainly release similar versions of other Uprising Heroes in this CF format later on through other means (promos), FAB is a game that a big chunk of community relates to in terms of their favorite Heroes (“I’m a X player”). As a result, I think it’s kind of frustrating to see a new set drop, have a Hero you’re excited to play, and then see that they didn’t get a cool variant while another Hero in the same set did.

Now, I think that I can speculate on why this choice was made for Uprising specifically – Dromai has an absolute mountain of Marvels since every dragon got their own. Meanwhile Fai and Iyslander functionally get one each, and Iyslander didn’t have something as core to her identity as Phoenix Flame is to Fai’s, so her getting her hero card makes a degree of sense. Here’s the thing though, why not just give us more? Why not give all three Heroes a CF variant, and then toss Fai and Iyslander a couple other ones each? Yes, it would likely mean that people pull a Marvel a little more frequently, but that’s honestly not a bad thing here. I think the clustering of variants around a single class is often kind of frustrating for everyone. For people playing Illusionist, you have an absolute ton of stuff to collect, which is expensive. And for everyone else, you get nearly nothing, and have to look on jealously at Illusionist (because it’s always Illusionist).

Don’t get me wrong, doing all of the dragons for Uprising makes sense. I think it would be a bit odd to see Ouvia, Themia, and Cromai in CF full art while Azvolai, Themai, and the others don’t get a variant. I can see the logic of stretching for this particular set because of the nature of Dromai’s kit. However, I fail to see why Fai and Iyslander couldn’t have gotten a little more love as well. Also, why are Cold Foil Frost Hex and Rainbow Foil Frost Hex both Majestics –is it just that the CF has the same art, or does it have something to do with pull rate as well? I thought the Marvel rarity was being partially introduced to help you know when you pulled a card that was scarcer special than its printed rarity would otherwise convey.

This all sort of goes back to a complaint I had about FAB 2.0 in general, and which I feel even more strongly about now that we’ve seen it in action. Marvel as a rarity is not very useful for determining what you’ve opened. Oh, it’s a slight step forward to be able to see the symbol and know a card is special in some capacity; that’s definitely an improvement over literally no indicator. But, can you please just tell me what the hell I’m actually gambling on? Listing it on the site and/or the bottom of a booster box is fine, just, please give people enough information to make informed buying decisions with –color code the Marvel symbol to match the card’s base rarity or something.  I think it’s important to help reduce the ability of people acting in bad faith to mislead people, particularly new players and younger players, into thinking that certain variants are rarer or more common than they actually are.

Finally, one last bit on the Marvel front, and this is mostly just me musing rather than a pointed commentary, but I’d be curious to know how the community as a whole would feel about Marvels coming in both a CF and (a more common) non-foil variant. I’ve been thinking about this a lot because Magic just released Double Masters 2022, which also contains a lot of full art variant treatments, and those come in both rainbow and non-foil (there’s also textured foil too, but let’s ignore those). In Magic, I tend to only collect non-foils when a particular art is in both formats because I feel like the art looks better on them without the rainbow foiling in the vast majority of cases. For FAB, I find that, while I really like the Cold Foil treatment on card frames and (usually) on the art for things that are naturally metallic, like Equipment, I sometimes think that it can detract from the art of other cards. Miragai, for instance, is just visually difficult to parse in Cold Foil. Like I said, I’d be curious to hear other content creators –particularly people who make content about art- feel about this (and of course, I welcome everyone else to also have this discussion, if it’s an interesting topic for you).

Anyway, that was a long take to essentially say, I’m glad to see the inclusion of Marvels. They feel like a strong direction for in-booster variants, but there’s definitely room to improve both in terms of conveying how common or scarce they are as well as doing a little more to make sure that people playing any of the new Heroes in a set have a reasonable amount of special cards to hunt. This feels like the right path, we just need to see a little more iteration.

A Word on EV

Let’s spend a little time talking about whether sealed Uprising product is actually worth buying from a financial value perspective. After tracking the market value of the cards from over a dozen boxes (plus seeing countless pictures of friend’s case contents), I believe that I can tentatively say that LSS has solved the EV problem that has been plaguing FAB since Tales (well, since Mon-U, really). Well, it’s been solved at the case level at least. Opening sealed product is gambling, and you should treat it as such. What determines whether I personally take that gamble is rooted in how much I can expect to gain or lose. As someone who is somewhat risk averse, I focus mostly on the “how much can I lose” end of that equation. To that end, I generally want to see a product give me two thirds of what I spent on it or better in value once opened, and there should be a chance to do reasonably better than if I had just bought singles, even if I won’t necessarily win that bet too often. What I don’t want to see is a worst case scenario where I’m opening something dreadful like cards worth one third of what I paid for the sealed product (I see you Everfest).

So, how does Uprising stack up by that metric? Really well so far… as long as you buy by the case. Right now you can easily buy a case of Uprising for $320 in the US, which is the same price as what you paid at launch. My worst case was worth $300 when I opened it (perfectly acceptable) and the other three cases were worth over $500 with two of those being closer to $600 than $500 (and now over $600 with the price spike on Furnace and Crown). I frankly couldn’t ask for more from a sealed case. Uprising cases have been a delight to open.

I very much expect those singles prices to dip over the next two months. But I have a hard time seeing them get low enough not to make those cases a good value. On the flipside, I would still caution against buying singles this early with a few exceptions –most notably, if you need cards to play with vs. collect/bling. Right now, there is a huge incentive for singles sellers who can access distributor pricing to break cases to sell for singles. It’s hard to not at least break even on a case at distro pricing, and you have a lot of room to make money right now. As more product is opened, it will drive prices down as retailers compete to get sales –I doubt we’ll see all the CF Marvel/Majestic dragons sitting over $100 a month or two from now, for instance. However, even as prices fall, cases will have a lot of room to remain excellent value.

So my feelings towards the EV of cases are very positive. However, I have two critiques on EV and one personal anecdote. First, while I really love the value Uprising is giving players at the case level, I am much less impressed with the EV at the level of the individual box. At MAP pricing, a box that yields $53 or less is a bad box using my two thirds cost metric. Of the 16 boxes I’ve opened thus far, 5 have been under that bar, including potentially the worst box of FAB I ever opened, clocking in at $13.75 when I opened it and has even gone down a few dollars since then. Now, for me personally, I don’t really care about these because I buy and open a meaningfully above average amount of product and almost always by the case. But, I care a lot about the experience of the average player and the budget player because, honestly, their hobby dollars matter a lot more to them than mine to do me. For a new player who can only buy a single box, getting that $13.75 box would be absolutely devastating, and I could see an experience like that really souring someone on FAB. I know I sound like a broken record here, but this feast of famine nature of boxes really needs to be addressed. The nature of collation means that bad boxes are very hard to avoid one hundred percent of the time; I accept that. But, that’s the thing; this isn’t a rare occurrence. We’re looking at about 1 in 3 boxes being bad to awful value right now, which is far too high for my liking.

Secondly, while it’s not news that good generic Majestics command high prices, it’s really pronounced here. Erase Face is worth radically more than every other M. If you hit two in a case, they’re offsetting nearly a sixth of the entire case price. So, the number of that specific M has a really outsized effect versus say, which CF Marvel/Rare you open. I like the fact that class specific Majestics are pretty affordable, but I do think high individual prices on Generic Majestics are a bit of a problem, and we’ve been seeing it since E-Strike and Tome in WTR. I’d like to see LSS consider addressing this issue by having generic Majestics appear at a slightly higher rate than class-specific Majestics (maybe something like 1.3:1). Bad Majestics will still be cheap, but that’s true of all bad cards. An approach like this could help reduce the barrier to entry on “must have” cards and because you wouldn’t actually be increasing the total number of Majestics coming out of packs (just making the most used ones appear a little more often) the value that something like Erase Face would lose by being a little more common, should be mostly absorbed by the class Majestics which would become a little more rare, and could use the bump anyway. This doesn’t do much to change the average price of a Majestic, it just evens it out a little. Good Generics would still be more expensive than Good class-Majestics, but hopefully the disparity would be less pronounced.

Also, as an odd little point of interest. I found that charting prices for individual boxes was a very useful practice for this set because I think you can easily open something that seems like it’s not that good in terms of EV but is actually okay or even good when you dig into it. For instance, I opened this box which I assumed would math out to be a bad box (though it did have my favorite pink dragon in full art, which was cool):

Invoke Ouvia     CF
Erase Face           NF
That All You Got?             RF
Quelling Sleeves               CF
That All You Got?             NF
Tome of Firebrand          NF
Burn Them All    NF
Encase  NF

When I added it up, it was actually worth $73.25, which makes it a perfectly fine box on EV. So, in the absence of a big obvious hit like a Legendary, Majestic/Marvel, or other similar card, take a second to actually check out how much your remaining cards are worth. You might be surprised. Uprising has definitely changed the math compared to previous sets.


One nice little piece of the pre-release experience was seeing Scar for a Scar back in packs again. It was like, “hello, old friend!” and then I killed some people with it. Good times. But, more seriously, I really like the move to just include older cards that will help the limited experience as opposed to making functionally identical or nearly identical new versions. So, I endorse that choice.

Now, how about we reprint some of the cards that actually need to be reprinted? I didn’t like History Packs as a product line when they debuted, and my opinion of the line has only continued to go down as time has gone on (as ever, I grant an exception for the black-bordered versions which mark a card’s first appearances in any non-English language –those are good; keep doing that). But in terms of fixing prices of some of the most needed staples *cough* Command and Conquer *cough* the product has been a pretty dismal failure with C&C still chilling at $87 at time of writing and Art of War on the rise ($60). Uprising is a value-packed set, so fine, maybe it would have been over-the-top to push something like C&C into this one, but how about we get the prices down on some of these cards for new players by putting at least one of these staples into the next set as a reprint at the modern Majestic frequency?

Tell More Stories

So, there was a whole section on lore here –specifically about the relative lack of it for Uprising this far out. Then, like two hours before I was originally planning to publish this piece, LSS did a lore drop. So I delayed posting it in hopes that I’d have time to take the new drops in and update. That hasn’t happened so, in the interest of getting this one out, I’m going to suspend this discussion for now and will try to fit in a new article about it later.

Wrap Up

Wow, that turned into a whole lot very quickly. Overall, I think Uprising is a really nice debut for FAB 2.0. There’s a lot of stuff to like here (and so much more I didn’t even have a chance to talk about, art round-up coming ::waves hands mysteriously:: sometime). Even if EV at the box level is still kind of a mess, the product being fixed at the case level is absolutely huge. Going into Uprising, I wasn’t sure if I’d be opening sealed FAB anymore because Tales was only okay because my luck was really good, and Everfest was just awful (so many $20-30 boxes), but, as I said earlier, Uprising has been a real joy to open. It definitely feels like the game is turning a corner in that respect. Yes, I still think there are plenty of areas that can be improved on as the game progresses and LSS has a chance to iterate more, but I don’t want that to overshadow the success of this set. I’m really looking forward to seeing what LSS does with the next set.

*Header Image – Invoke Tomeltai by Federico Musetti

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