Market Watch: The Finances of Ursula’s Return

Introduction

Ursula's Return is a very interesting set. In terms of power level, it seems to be on par with Rise of the Floodborn as opposed to Into the Inklands (which was a very powerful set overall). There is certainly a disparity in price between the "potentially meta cards" and the ones that clearly need some additional testing (or are already deemed unworthy) before an assessment can be completed.

The set is also under-allocated. I know my own distribution was cut by almost 40%, and that was just on booster boxes. If you look at the Illumineer's Quests, I was cut by 90% and similarly on playmats and other accessories. This means that in these two weeks prior to big box release, we may see prices remain strong as replacing sold product will be very difficult. Even once the Big Box release occurs on May 31, you are then looking at paying retail for packs: which will be good for Illumineer's Quests/Troves/etc., but way over priced for booster boxes.

Since a lot of the power level in this set is in lower rarities, we have some "haves vs have nots" going on at various rarity levels. This is not a doom and gloom, in fact I am very high on the potential of this set overall. It is important to understand what is going on at certain rarity levels, however.

Legendaries

In total there are only five Legendaries above a $10 price tag, with a staggering three of them already going below $5. Those swings will likely have a dramatic effect on the value players derive from opening a box or even a case, as swings in not only the number of Legendaries/Foil Legendaries/Enchanteds opened will be a determining factor, but now the breakdown of how many of EACH Legendary you open will determine the expected value of box openings. I think what this will lead to is an old axiom around here: leave box openings to the professional sellers as deriving value from it can be a slippery slope.

Diablo - Devoted Herald

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Let's start with the chase card in the set: Diablo - Devoted Herald. You will be lucky to find any verified seller pricing him under $50 and you will literally not have the ability to buy a playset off of a verified seller on TCG Player, period.

What has impressed me most about Diablo in testing is not his quick Shift ability, as most decks do not even run either one drop to Shift him onto, but instead just the consistency of having a must deal with threat hit the table on turn three and proceed to make life very difficult for opponents who like to draw cards on their turns. If you do not have an immediate answer, you really cannot "draw your way out of it" as the Diablo player gets the same value you do. I think this wanna-be Phoenix acts like a Beast - Tragic Hero light in a different color and is meta warping in his consistency.

Would I be a buyer at over $50? It is hard to say, given by the time you would likely need him in an event (too late for Atlanta, arguably even Chicago to guaranteed delivery in time) cannot wait for prices to adjust to the big box release (which will bring more unverified sellers trying to earn back the money they spent at retail on boxes) so I would expect this price to continue to be high as he is not just the premium Legendary, but a premium in an underpowered (seemingly less printed) set.

Sisu - Empowered Sibling

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This card really took off after last weekend, huh?! After putting several copies of Ruby-Sapphire into the top eight of the Battle-Bear Ursula's Return event in Germany, players flocked to TCG Player to grab four copies of this Floodborn Dragon before she spiked in price. Well, that worked for the players who jumped on early, with her price doubling overnight from the high teens/low 20's to finally settling in the low 30s.

004-125 can be a one-sided Be Prepared very easily, especially when backed up with even a single copy of Ice Block. I think this Sisu will be the face of Ruby control, regardless of which shell you are playing it in, and I expect her value to continue to be above $30, maybe getting closer to $40 in the coming weeks. You do not even "need" to be playing Sapphire to make use of her: simply being a relatively cheap Shift value with a three Lore body that takes out one character on the way in can be enough value to justify her inclusion.

Ruby-Amethyst? Ruby-Amber? Both have ways of making Sisu shine, so expect her to be omnipresent in the next metagame. If you can find copies at or below $30, I would act!

Ursula - Sea Witch Queen

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Early on the metagame contenders are centered around Emerald-Steel, Emerald-Amethyst, and Ruby-Sapphire. The centerpiece of Emerald-Amethyst is Ursula - Sea Witch Queen finishing games, oftentimes backing up or Shifting onto her smaller Emerald versions for close out value. There is something about just having a 4/8/3 body that is very difficult for decks to deal with, as her stats just put her out of range of a lot of problem cards (too much strength for Madame Medusa-The Boss, too much Willpower for And Along Came Zeus, etc.).

Time will tell if it is worth using her outside of Emerald and the obvious Shift targets, so given that she is only being used in one deck I would hold off as she may dip below $20. If you start to see other homes for her though, jump on her as having three solid Legendaries in a set can carry a price tag north of $30.

Mulan - Elite Archer 

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The best and most consistent way to use is either Shifting onto her one drop in the mid game (which is asking a lot for that character to be around for multiple turns) or combining her with [card]Vitalisphere which turns her into a powerhouse! I think the key with her is will she compete with 004-125 for deck slots and power level?

The other major factor is the copy of her you get in the Illumineer's Quest. Currently, this is not really a factor as the Quest is so hard to get, but when the big box release occurs in a couple of weeks, chances are she will drop in price as players would rather play the "Ursula-fied" version of her. That version is currently selling at about twice the price of the normal Legendary, and while I expect that price discrepancy to continue, I feel her prices overall will drop with more supply.

Yen Sid - Powerful Sorcerer

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Everything I said about The Illumineers Quest for Mulan is the same for Yen Sid. Arguably, it is worse, since we have not seen a consistent copy of the Broom deck come together yet. I think there is something there with Yen Sid, as the card replacement value of the threats in the deck are simply too high, but time will tell if his "relatively weak" stat lines can survive in a world of Ruby-based removal. Dragons feast on wooden brooms..

Super Rares

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Super Rares are always the hardest to evaluate as they are often niche playable cards for specific decks that are quickly discounted for volume. The two above have the best chances of retaining any value as they are the most likely to see sustained play. The others that may bust out are Belle - Accomplished Mystic and Gaston - Despicable Dealer who have chance of seeing play in multiple decks.

Super Rares can spike in price quickly, so keep an eye on these four if they can poke through the metagame. If they can, they can go from $2 to probably over $5 in a day!

Rares

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The rare slot is really where the money is to be made for box openers of Ursula's Return! Ten to twelve are currently selling by verified sellers above $.50 which is a solid starting spot for this rarity given the quantity opened by big sellers in the first week. I will not go into each one of them, but on a weekly basis I will be scouring tournament results for any of these cards to show up, as you should expect any tournament staple rare to jump over $2-3.

Here's a list to keep your eyes on:

  • Goofy - Super Goof
  • We Don't Talk About Bruno
  • Mickey Mouse - Playful Sorcerer
  • Philoctetes - No-Nonsense Instructor
  • The Muses - Proclaimers of Heroes
  • Be King Undisputed
  • Lumiere - Fiery Friend
  • Ursula - Eric's Bride
  • Look at this Family
  • Under The Sea
  • Second Star To The Right
  • Sisu - Emboldened Warrior

Conclusion

The initial perception around the power level of Ursula's Return is lower than Into the Inklands. I wish I could say that was a correct or incorrect assessment, but the truth is I have not dove deep enough into full on testing for the Chicago Challenge to say either way. I think players are jumping to conclusions way too early on this set, and that means that the world of finance is in for a rocky start!

AUStarwars
AUStarwars

Scott Landis is a 30-year Trading Card Game professional, and former writer for the World of Warcraft TCG and Transformers TCG among others.  Currently he is an owner of The Forbidden Mountain, a Lorcana YouTube Page and TCG player Store. You can follow them on YouTube and please use their TCGplayer Store (same cost as the marketplace). You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

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