A Review of Rarity in Ultra Prism
I recently shared my initial thoughts on the latest Pokemon TCG expansion, Ultra Prism. At the time, I noted that I would be looking into the pull rates for the new prism rarity, and today I’m following up with a review of pull rates for not just prism cards, but also standard GXs, ultra rares and secret rare cards. But before jumping into the review, I want to explain a few ground rules. First, unlike other booster box pull summaries that look at “hits” by aggregating higher rarity cards into a single category, this review examines pull rates of each subset of official rarity. “Official Rarity” refers to the rarity designation assigned to cards by PCI as reflected on the official checklist for the expansion. In Ultra Prism, the official rarity categories of higher level rare cards include standard GX cards, Prism cards, full art ultra-rare cards, and secret rare cards. Since PCI treats these rarities differently, I have kept them segregated for the purpose of this review. This nuanced approach provides more information than “hit” aggregator summaries that should prove more useful for completists like myself. After all, if you’re going for a complete set, you need to know whether it’s worth buying a booster box for a chance at another secret rare, not how many “hits” you will get, especially if most of those hits are only standard gx or prism rares. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at pull rates in Ultra Prism.
When sets are released, it’s common to see forums inundated with posts of excited collectors showing off their amazing pulls from their booster boxes. What you rarely see are posts from the collectors with less favorable pulls. So, to try to control for this bias, I limited my sample to booster case pulls (each booster case contains 6 booster boxes) and cards I personally pulled from 2 sealed booster boxes. 20 booster boxes X 36 packs equals a sample size of 720 packs. I reviewed the pull rates from the booster cases by looking at posts by redditors shared on the pkmntcgcollections subreddit. You can see these pulls by following the links in this reddit post.
Note, that because this review only looked at booster box pulls, you should exercise caution before extrapolating these results into blister packs or elite trainer boxes. It could be that the collation for those products are different than the collation present in booster boxes.
In 20 booster boxes, the following pulls were observed:
13 secret rares or 0.65 per booster box
31 ultra rares or 1.55 per booster box
59 standard GXs or 2.95 per booster box
63 prism rares or 3.15 per booster box
So what should we make of these numbers? First, these results offer further evidence PCI’s continued rarity inflation, a trend I’ve talked about before in the Sun and Moon era. Rarity inflation refers to the pattern of including historically high numbers of ultra-rare and secret rare cards in a set, while keeping pull rates low. This has the effect of diluting the price of ultra and secret rares for most cards, while greatly increasing the price of certain “high demand” ultra and secret rares (see e.g., the secret rare Charizard from Burning Shadows). This ultimately has a negative impact on the game because it reduces the overall value and demand for most secret and ultra rares, reducing collector incentive to buy booster boxes and complete the set. In Ultra Prism, there are 17 secret rares, 18 ultra rares, 7 standard gx rares, and 6 prism rares, and the pull rates from this expansion offer compelling evidence of the rarity inflation trend. From a practical perspective, if you pull a secret rare or even two ultra rares in your booster box you should rejoice, you beat the odds.
Second, these results should serve as a strong reality check for those hoping to complete Ultra Prism by buying booster boxes or thinking about buying a booster box for another chance at Cynthia or one of the full art gold secret rare cards. The odds are very clearly not in your favor. With 17 secret rares at an estimated pull rate of 0.65 per box, you would need to buy approximately 26 booster boxes to get all of the secret rares, assuming you get no duplicates. That is a sobering thought. Separately, it is very possible for your box to contain no secret rares or only 1 ultra-rare (I should know, it happened to me). So if that does happen to you, your experience is not an aberration, but a fairly likely outcome at these pull rates. If you are trying to complete the set, I would not buy more than 1 booster box, especially with the price of most secret and ultra rares being fairly low on the secondary market.
Thecardpletionist has been collecting Pokemon TCG cards since the game’s English release in 1999. You can read more from the author at http://thecardpletionist.blogspot.com/ and follow him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/thecardpletionist/
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