Playing & Collecting
This week, I’m going to going into the two aspects of Pokemon, playing versus collecting, and which one is the better investment. Each level of collecting comes at a different price cost. Beginners have it the easiest, while Masters have deep pockets. Even players have different levels of involvement, going from casual(beginner) to pro(Master). But what is the actual cost breakdown and who benefits the most?
What level of collector are you?
Beginner: You are the type of person that just likes seeing new Pokemon, and the new cards, you buy a few packs and trade. EX’s and GX’s are cool but you usually don’t spend money to buy them individually. The actual cost investment is fairly minimal as this person might buy a pack a week or less(yearly cost around $200-$250 on the top end).
Intermediate: You are the type of person that completes sets, minus the secret rares and full arts. You might buy a box of the new set, and a few packs here and there The investment cost varies but can be between $300-$600 on average.
Master: You have the complete set plus foils, with the all of the secret rares and full arts, you usually go above and beyond to make sure you have the master set. This person might buy cases of booster boxes or just flat out buy the cards they need to fill in the gaps, depending on how they do it makes the price vary a lot and is around $600 and above.
What level of player are you?
Beginner (Casual): You play with your friends, maybe attend a local league but you don’t care if you win or lose. The amount of money invested is minimal, and usually is a split between packs and occasional entry fees. You can just buy a starter deck and be happy with that for the most part. Cost is around $15-$100
Intermediate: You attend a local league fairly regularly, make an effort to play in League Challenges/League Cups and maybe attend a regional if it’s close enough This is where it gets tricky, as a lot of players in our area could fall into this category. The investment goes beyond just buying cards for your deck, you need transportation, sleeves, deckbox, counters, entry fee, and possibly even hotel (if travelling) and food. The cost at minimum can range from $150 to $500
Master(Pro): You play in almost every League Cup, travel to make Regionals and plan on top cutting or above This can get very expensive if you don’t see a return from prizes for placing. There is a great emotional involvement as well. A lot is at stake and if you don’t reach top cut, it can be very disappointing. On top of all the Intermediate level items, you are travelling a lot more, and your costs are going up for every tournament and deck you build. At minimum, you are looking to spend $600 or more in a single season.
The point here is that Pokemon is great no matter what your level of intensity is. Each degree of playing or collecting depends on how much you invest both time and money, and even though there are some very real financial costs, there are ways to exist in each level of play or collecting without dropping big bucks. It all depends on your time to money investment balance. Often times you can save quite a bit of money by investing a bit more time in the process. There’s no right or wrong way as long as you have fun and don’t skip on other aspects of your life. At the end of the day, it’s still a game and this is supposed to be fun. I personally have more fun playing and teaching old and new players, it’s made me a better player because of it. Playing at a higher level takes more of an emotional investment over collecting, as it takes time to build decks, learn meta, and travel to play. Playing costs more than collecting, as building a good single deck usually costs around $150 per season (super rough estimate), gas money (unless you live very close to a card store). But in playing, you can make your money back by winning tournaments and getting packs/boxes/money.
Whatever your level of intensity, don't ever let anyone tell you that you are "doing it wrong". Super intense players/collectors sometimes have a hard time understanding that someone can enjoy the hobby as much as they do without meeting their level of intensity. Learn to enjoy where you are and if you want to ramp up you're commitment level, go for it, but always make sure its what you want to do and not what everyone else makes you think you should do. If you jump into something based on the opinion of others, you will likely end up regretting it and walk away disappointed and upset. Set your own standards and goals and hit them in your own time.
These are good lessons in both Pokemon and Life. Take them, live them, and go have fun!!Tom Alguire
The Frugal Dutchman