Let's start with a recent example. Predaplant Verte Anaconda was printed in Duel Overload in March last year. I bought it from Cardmarket at a pre-order price of fourteen euros because I believed it to be a good card and the price was fairly reasonable. Fast forward to October 2021 and the card has almost reached €40. Don't even get me started on Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon, which seems to be amazingly adept at dodging ban lists. The card hit €70 recently and might even climb higher if a reprint isn't announced soon.
The obvious answer to why these cards are so expensive comes down to their playability. If a card is played in lots of decks, then lots of people need it and it increases the price. A lot of people hope reprints will bring their cost down, but even if they were reprinted or banned, there's a reasonable chance they would retain some value simply because the demand is high, or they have become iconic in their original, rarer forms – this is especially true for a card like Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon. Do the high prices on these cards constitute a mistake on Konami's part? Was it a mistake to design cards like this? Time will tell of course, and I'm sure it depends on whether you have a copy or not.
If I had two copies of Kaiba's legendary monster, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and offered you one of them for free, which would you pick? The first copy is a gold rare from Maximum Gold and the other one is the first edition, near-mint copy from Legend of Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Most people would instantly choose the latter. It's a first edition (read: scarce) printing from the first set it came out in. It's worth a lot of money – we're talking in the hundreds, if not thousands of euros, depending on condition, whether it has been graded, and other factors that help determine its overall condition.
Most people understand the idea of old, scarce copies of iconic cards having high value, but that Maximum Gold copy is also quite valuable – worth 20 or so euros. Why is that? It came out fairly recently – around a year ago or so – and, I mean, it's a Blue-Eyes. It doesn’t see much play. Blue-Eyes White Dragon is also one of the most reprinted cards of all time, having seen a whopping 57 printings (58 if you want to count the oversized black and white card from Duel Overload). Looking at this, you might be thinking, "Such reprints, very wow prices". Of course, if someone wants a Blue-Eyes, they don't need to shell out 20 euros. There are cheap common versions from sets like Starter Deck: Kaiba Reloaded and Structure Deck: Seto Kaiba. The reason the Maximum Gold version costs so much is that it was a new take on the card and on gold rares, although another version of the card was introduced in Premium Gold 2. Thus, the scarcity and collectability of this unique version of the iconic card affects the price quite a bit.
The commonly used Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring protects us from most common searches and special summons from the deck. However, her protection comes at a surprising cost – around ten euros for any given copy of the card. This is despite the little buggers having eight different printings in less than five years. The price just doesn't seem to go down. I would guess that even it received another two reprints in rapid succession, the price would still hover around the same mark, maybe dropping a little bit.
Infinite Impermanence is another good example of a card held up by insane demand. With six different printings of the card prior to Cyber Strike (including one ultimate rare reprint in OTS Tournament Pack 17), the card should in theory be affordable. While the Maximum Gold reprint managed to drive the price down, it remains quite expensive at around fifteen euros a copy. The upcoming structure deck reprint should finally soften the market for this card, offering a guaranteed reprint that can drive the price down and make the card affordable for budget players. Still, though, this card sees enough play that we might see another sort of Ash Blossom situation here. It's a little different since it is going to be reprinted as a super rare as opposed to a common card. Only time will tell how the reprint will age after the initial release of the structure deck.
Both are staple cards that are almost an auto inclusion in any deck that has enough space to run hand trap. The fact that they are highly coveted and very much in demand keeps their prices high, even if the supply increases fairly dramatically.
We've all been there, right? You've found an awesome card. It's not played anywhere in the top decks, you go look it up on Cardmarket, and BAM! The price shocks you! Even more so if it's a fairly old reprint. Right now, Raiza the Mega Monarch is one of these cards. Although unplayable in the current meta, the card is a popular tech piece in the upcoming Floowandereeze deck debuting in Burst of Destiny next month. The fact that the card could become meta-relevant has caused its price to skyrocket as players scramble to get their copies before the set is released. You could say the same thing about Fusion Destiny, which also gains new life in the upcoming set.
Sometimes hype is generated by a card's sudden discovery. While no current card comes to mind, missing cards from upcoming reprints can also raise prices. Take Cyber Revsystem and Cyber Dragon Sieger. They are both missing from the Cyber Strike structure deck. While Sieger has been reprinted three times, Sieger has a mere two copies to its name. Since Revsystem is a three-of in the deck, the demand for it is sky-high. If a reprint doesn't come soon, the cost could increase quite a bit.
More factors affect prices of course, like when a card is unbanned or new cards bringing up the cost of older cards in the same archetype. Which reasons do you see come up a lot that aren't covered here? Let us know in the comments below!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.