Building Your Collection: Purchasing

by Pikkdogs ~ April 15th, 2011.

Hey everyone in Omar-Nation.  This is Pikkdogs here, with an article about purchasing Pokemon Cards.

But, before we get to that I actually have a breaking news update for you.  It was just announced that the cards that were released in the Black and White Theme decks that are reprints of cards that are currently in the format, will be legal for Regionals (with the exception of Potion).  That means that if you are low on Pokemon Communications, you can use the ones you have from the Emboar deck.  Its not a huge change to things, but putting these cards in your deck could be pretty cool.

There are a lot of articles out there today that talk about becoming a better player.  While reading these articles can make you a better player, if you do not have the best cards in your collection, you won’t be able to compete with the best players. You need to have a large collection if you want to be a great player.  This article is geared more towards  newer players.

Playing this game can get very expensive, so its important to examine how you can acquire cards.  Buying packs is great, but if you only buy packs you will probably be spending too much money.  There are 2 main ways to grow your collection through purchasing; by buying packs, buying singles, and buying from other players/collectors.

Buying Packs (and other stuff like official Pokemon bundles)

Packs are the building blocks of all Pokemon purchasing.  Every Pokemon card that you buy (except Promo’s and cards from Theme decks) originally were pulled from a pack.  In the U.S. they come with 5 common cards, 3 uncommon cards, 1 Rare card, and 1 Reverse Holo card.  Depending on what set the pack comes from and your luck, a pack can be worth a lot more than the $3.99 price tag, or a lot less. Usually, single packs will not be worth more than what you paid for them, but they still are really fun to open.  When there are great cards in a set, they can be really addictive.  For example, when Rising Rivals came out I was hooked on buying the packs.  I really wanted to pull either a Flygon Lv.X or a Luxray GL Lv. X.  When you get hooked on buying packs, you usually spending more money than you get value, but the rush you feel when you pull the card you want is priceless.              

Stores like Target, Walmart, K-Mart, and card shops sell packs individually for about 4 bucks.  You can also buy special sets of packs from these stores that may give you a good deal.

  • Single Blister Packs– Single blister packs usually come with 1 pack of cards and 1 or 2 promo cards, and are usually sold for about 5 bucks.  For example, when the HGSS set first came out they released a single blister pack with one pack of HGSS and promo versions of Hoothoot and Noctowl. Some of the older single blisters may also contain a POP pack.  Most of the POP packs are not legal anymore, but there still pretty cool to open.    Are they worth the money?– Usually if you like the promo card it is a good buy, but if not its  not worth the extra buck.
  • Standard Blister Packs–   Like the single blisters, they usually are released when a new set comes out.  Blister packs carry 3 packs of cards, and one promo card.  They usually have 2 packs of the new set, one pack from a set that was released about a year ago, and a promo card.  If my memory serves me right, they normally retail for about 11-13 bucks.  Its always cool to buy something that gives you 3 packs and a promo card, so thats always a plus.  Are they worth the money?–   Just like the single blisters, the standard blisters are usually only worth the money if you like the promo card.  For example, with the Platinum set a Porgyon Z blister pack was released.  The Promo Porygon Z was very playable, so it made sense to buy 3 of them, so you could build the Porygon deck, and have an extra 9 packs.  
  • Tins- Tins are metal containers (primarily not made of Tin) that contain a promo card and 4 packs of cards.  They are released with most of the new sets, and contain 3 packs from the new set and one from an older set.  They retail for about 18 bucks, and contain a good promo.  The promo cards are normally Lv.X’s or Pokemon Primes.  Are they worth the money?-Since the promo card are usually good, the tins are normally a good thing to buy.  The promo cards are sometimes really good, some examples are Garchomp C Lv.X Mewtwo Lv.X. They are a good combination of buying a good single card and 4 packs.
  • Other Things– Even though the tins and the blister packs are the most common packaged deal with packs (hah, package and packs), there are other ways to buy packs and other cards at stores.  There are poster packs, that are like Blister packs but usually contain an extra pack and a poster that has pictures of all the cards in the set.  There are also other random packaged deals.  Like the boxes that came out this winter that had 4 packs and both Palkia G and Dialga G Lv.X! There are also packs that are similar to single Blisters that have the complete evolution lines of Pokemon like Charizard and Torterra.  There are also packages that are not sold by Nintendo, that have loose cards.  These packs usually are just real packs of cards that have the rares taken out of them.   Are they worth the money?-Usually the value is tied to the promos that lie within the package.  The Palkia/Dialga box was a great value, but once it came out the price of btoh Palkia/Dialga G Lv.X plummeted.  The value of the 3rd party packages usually are just not there.

Buying Singles

If you are trying to complete your collection or your deck, the most cost effective way to do this is to buy singles.  Online card stores  buy packs and cards in bulk, and then sell them individually.  You can usually find the best deal for cards at a store like this, although you don’t feel the rush that you do when you  buy a pack.  One thing you should be aware of is the fact that card values change fast.  For example, when Gengar Prime was first released it was valued at around 9 bucks.  When Lost World was released the value shot up to around 50 bucks!  About a month later, that same card was valued for around 20-25 bucks.  You don’t wanna be the one who buys the card for 50 bucks. So when do you want to buy singles and where do you buy them?

I usually buy singles either when I need to complete a deck or when a set first comes out.  When a set is released, I usually want about 8 copies of every good trainer card.  In order to get that many cards I would need to buy about 2 boxes of cards, so it makes sense that I instead buy those cards for just a couple bucks a piece at an online store.  And of course, when you think of a new deck you will probably need at least 1 or 2 new cards.  It is much easier to buy them as singles, then to hope that you will pull them in a pack.

So where should you buy singles?   I usually start my search on E-bay.  A lot of the online Pokemon stores are on Ebay and are selling cards for decent prices there.  If the prices are not great, I usually check on a couple websites like gatheringground.com or stop2shop.com.  They usually are about on par with Ebay prices, but are less subject to the whims of some TCG players.  These kinds of sites are also good to get cards when the set first comes out.  Ebay prices tend to be inflated near the release of the set, while other sites are usually not as bad.

Buying Cards from Other Players    

Other players/collectors can usually give you a pretty good deal on cards and packs, that stores just can’t match.  But, it can some times be hard to find people to consistently find the cards you want.  Other players can also scam you as bad as stores do, so you must also be aware of that.  Here are some good ways to buy cards from other players/collectors.

  1. On Ebay Auctions– Ebay auctions are a popular way to either make some money or to find some good cards.  But, usually it is a lot easier an efficient to buy cards online from a store, than through an auction.  Auction’s take a lot of time and usually will not give you great prices.  But for some cards, auctions can be a good way to acquire things.  Usually you can get a pretty good price on more expensive cards, such as Primes and Lv. X’s.  It may not be worth the time and effort to save 50 cents on a $2.00 card, but it is worth the extra time to save 10 bucks on a $50 card. Also, be aware of cards that jump up in value quickly, you don’t want to be stuck paying more for a card than you have to.
  2. At Tournaments/Leagues–  Most people who go to a Pokemon TCG event usually bring their trade binder.  A lot of Pokemon players are broke college students and respond well to cash offers.  You can probably get about 40% off trade value by offering cash.  The drawback to buying cards at tournaments is that it is hard to find the card you are looking for.  It can take you a while to see if people have a specific card up for trade.
  3. Online Message Boards- On a lot of Pokemon websites like Pojo.biz, Pokebeach.com, Pokegym.net, and sixprizes.com there are trading/selling message boards.  On these sites you can make a list of the cards you have for trade, and the cards you want to acquire.  On most of these sites, you can also make cash offers to other people for their goods.  Unfortunately, you usually do not get a great deal.  Most of the traders/sellers go by Ebay prices, and if you wanted Ebay prices you could just go to Ebay, so there aren’t a lot of great deals on there.  Occasionally you will get some people who will sell for fairly cheap, but not often.  Pokegym also has a special selling thread, in which you can post a “wants” list and then screened authorized sellers can make you offers.  Unfortunately, my experience with this service is that these sellers offer you prices way above and beyond Ebay prices.  This service is only good when you are looking to buy really hard to find cards or merchandise.  I have used this service twice.  Once I bought a Pikachu M, which is about a 5 buck card.  The seller valued it at 10, so I offered 5 bucks and 5 bucks trade value.  It was a terrible deal for me, but I couldn’t find the card at any other place.  Another time I was looking for the Pokeball Beach balls.  I can’t remember how much I paid for the beach ball, but at best I paid a retail like price.  As you can see, its a place where you can find rare items, but not a good deal to be found.
  4. Personal Websites/Videos– This is the newest way to buy cards.  It is by far the least common way to do it.  Famous players and collectors like my buddies the JWittz and Renaecollects each have websites in which they will trade and sell cards.  You can look at their haves, and make an offer.  It could take a while to find the deal you want, but you mostly end up getting a fair deal.  Some collectors also like to trade and sell cards.  These collectors make Youtube videos of either their collection, or them opening up cards; and then advertise that they have cards for sale or trade.  These traders also usually won’t give you a great deal, but will give you a fair deal.  Collectors usually have surplus stores of good trainer cards. and are eager to trade for  some bad, but rare cards.

There is a good review of how to buy cards.  Hopefully with this guide you are now introduced into the many ways to buy cards, and can easily find the best deals.  Please share your tips about buying cards in the comment box.  We always to hear from ya.

So long and thanks for all the fish!

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