DIGITAL DABBLINGS – SPECIAL EDITION – How To Value Your Cards

By William M. Noetling, PWTorch Specialist



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The biggest question I get asked is “how much is this card worth” or alternately, “what can I get for this card?”  Given that there are tens of thousands of individual cards in the game, this can be a daunting task.  Trying to figure out a card’s value on the open market can take several steps.

Most important to any card valuation is supply and demand, so each singles’ Card Count (CC) is probably the most important arbiter of the card’s value, but it’s not the only aspect that defines its price.  Still you should always check the CC on the back of the card, and if there’s no CC listed, it’s an Open Edition and not worth much (see below).  Next who’s on the card determines its popularity and value.  Women wrestlers rule this game (due to the fact that the player base is predominately male), and the top women are in high demand at all times.  The top women don’t change as much either, though we’ve seen a shift at the top in recent months.  

The last factor is sheer economics, or how much it costs either in coins or cash to acquire a card. While very few cards can be purchased directly in the game via coins or cash, virtually every card is available through secondary channels like eBay or through private sales.  Card values stated here are based on verifiable eBay sales and personal experience playing since Day 1.  While many players don’t believe in spending real cash on the game for either coins or cards, there is a thriving cash based economy that must be taken into consideration.  When giving a cash value please take note, I’m giving a cash or trade value (meaning you should be able to trade for another card of this value), not one or the other. 

Personalities

Who is depicted on the card is of supreme importance as well.  There is definitely a “pecking order” when it comes to current superstars and legends in the game.  Last year I ran a survey on Survey Monkey asking players to choose their favorite performers in the game, based on those results and updated due to current events, I have identified the following superstars as the most popular in game:

Top 10 Females 

1. Alexa Bliss

2. Becky Lynch

3. Sasha Banks

4. Bayley

5. Paige

6. Charlotte Flair

7. Naomi

8. Nikki Bella

9. Carmella

10. Asuka 

Even though Paige hasn’t wrestled a match in WWE for over a year and hasn’t appeared on TV in about as long, she’s still super-popular with fans and her cards all sell extremely well.  Alexa Bliss rocketed to the top of the chart late last year and has stayed there ever since.  Her Live Signature cards sold out in record time.  There are so many Alexa collectors that it makes trading for her cards extremely difficult.  Of course if you HAVE her cards it makes trading them away that much easier.

Top 10 Males 

1. AJ Styles

2. Seth Rollins

3. Finn Balor

4. Undertaker

5. Brock Lesnar

6. Bill Goldberg

7. John Cena

8. Dean Ambrose

9. Shinsuke Nakamura

10. Bobby Roode 

Most of these you can actually just shuffle around in popularity order, though Finn Balor typically will command more of a premium for his cards, especially anything depicting him as the Demon King.  It should also be stated that active wrestlers have much more value than retired performers or announcers, who have the lowest value in the game. 

Top 10 Legends 

1. The Rock

2. Stone Cold Steve Austin

3. Shawn Michaels

4. Daniel Bryan

5. Eddie Guerrero

6. Macho Man Randy Savage

7. Sting

8. Ric Flair

9. Bret the Hitman Hart

10. Edge 

Notice who’s not on that list – Ultimate Warrior, Andre the Giant, Rowdy Roddy Piper, etc.  Just because they’re a legend doesn’t mean their cards sell well on the secondary market.  Sure there’s always player collectors, but beyond the top two on that list, none of these guys are in high demand at all. 

Card Types

As we know there are several kinds of card in Topps WWE Slam: Awards, Open Editions (OE), Limited Editions (LE), Sold Out (SO), Signatures, Pay-Per-View, Base and Base Variants.  Sometimes a card can be more than one of these things too!   Let’s break down each of the card types so that you can understand how valuable each of these cards can be.  Keep in mind that again the person on the card is an important factor.  When I give a range of values for each card be aware that the low end is for your jobber or mid-card performer and the high end would be reserved for the cream of the crop wrestlers.   

Awards

Awards can initially only be obtained by completing a set of cards.  Depending on how hard it was to complete that set, who’s on the award and the actual card count of the award is how you can value these.  Many awards have very very low card card, there are 40 different awards with a CC of 100 or less!  The chances that you’ll be able to trade for one of these ultra-low CC cards are slim, however they do come up from time to time on eBay.  16 of those 40 are high-end signature awards from PPVs, meaning that in order to get that award you had to collect the highest of the high-end PPV Signature cards, which are all behind the paywall now (meaning you have to spend cash for a chance at obtaining one).  There are a handful of low CC Marathon awards, but the rest happen to be the awards for completing older insert sets, usually the variants with the lowest CC.  

Most of the other awards available in the game, and there are a couple hundred of them already, run between $5 and $10 in value, if not more.  It really depends on the set and the award itself.

Open Editions

Completely opposite of Awards are OEs.  These cards are more or less worthless.  Given that they will never sell out for the most part, and the sets they belong to are not desirable, you will see a lot of OEs in the trade offers you get.  Be aware, NONE of these cards are worth much at all.  The only exception are the last-day OEs that are available only for a short time before the award is issued.  In this case those cards can and do sell for decent value or can garner stronger trade offers. 

However, the window for this increase in value is very short and Topps has been making efforts to mitigate the price-gouging that used to happen in the game (and yes, I will admit fully that I’ve taken advantage of this momentary bump in pricing in the past).  

The only OEs that seem to have any value currently are the Red Fire because the award is a Becky Lynch signature and they do not fall very often in packs that contain OE cards.  Monochrome yellow cards also have a bit more value than other OE, but not much.  For the most part stay away from OE cards.  In fact I’ve create a hashtag that I’m still trying to make a thing: #OE=Autodecline. 

Limited Editions

Many cards in the game are limited to a specific set amount at their time of release.  This amount can be anything between 25 and 1500 typically, and as common-sense dictates, the lower the CC the more valuable the card.  Of course the same caveats apply here as in other circumstances, the performer on the card, the set and the odds of obtaining the card all factor in.  Most LE that are 1000 or above command $2-4 in value.  Lower than that and a popular set and that can rise to $5-7.  Under 100 cc and the sky’s the limit as to value.  This is especially prevalent in the Gold Rush base variants which are 50cc, and the Topps Now relics.  

Sold Out

Unless a card is Open Edition, it will sell out in the game at some point.  Most awards are obviously instant sell-outs upon issue.  Insert sets are retired regularly in the game and sell out at a specific given time.  There’s also base cards that sell out upon special occasions, such as when an NXT performer moves to the main roster, or most recently during the recent Superstar Shakeup event when wrestlers moving from one roster to another had their initial brand cards sell out.

Just because a card sells out though doesn’t mean it gains a premium in value.  White through Green base sellouts really don’t have that much more value than their non-sold out versions, except to hoarders.  Orange and Black base sell-outs will command more depending on their CC.  For example, the 2016 Finn Balor Black NXT base has just about half of the cc of the WWE version, and can sell for as much as $30!  While the WWE version only goes for $5 or less.  Granted both cards are now sold out, but even when the WWE version was still in packs the NXT version sold for much much more. 

Signatures

Amongst the most desirable cards in the game are signatures which of course are digital versions of the actual performer’s autograph.  There are multiple ways to obtain signatures in the game and “sigs” are available in a lot of different types of sets.  First and foremost are the dedicated “Signature Series” cards, which are single issue cards usually with two to three variants.  Each signature series card has the same design within the series and Topps is now on their second dedicated series.  Packs containing Signature Series cards are usually reasonably priced, but have extremely long odds.  Of course cash bundles can be purchased to get a guaranteed low-tier card and a chance at a high tier card, which are always behind the paywall.  The high-tier cards are limited to under 250cc most often, and these are amongst highest value of single signatures.  For example, the 2017 Sasha Banks Gold signature series, which is 250cc, runs between $20-30 currently.  Obviously retired legends and mid-card guys run much much less.  Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, Rusev and Daniel Bryan all have 250cc gold cards that sell for under $5 apiece.

Some of these one-off signatures are special designs, such as the Finn Balor Demon King or the Shinsuke Nakamura art card.  Typically these command a bit more than a regular signature series, and the lowest CC of them are amongst the most desired cards in the game.

Signatures feature heavily in Pay-Per-View sets also, with virtually every PPV set having some sort of signature component. There is the thought that PPV signatures are not worth as much as other non-PPV signatures, and for the most part this is true, however it doesn’t mean they have no value.  Most of the PPV sets are between 2 and 5 cards, and of course have multiple variants.  There’s also awards issued for each variant set, often a mega-award for completing all the variants.  Typically there are only two variants, but sometimes there are three.  The lowest CC variant will always have more value, especially if it’s under 100cc and a performer that hasn’t had a single signature before.  Lately the high-tier variant has been either unlimited or over 1000cc, however most recently these have been behind a paywall as well, so they have slightly better value than previous high-tier sigs that were available to free-to-play (FTP) collectors.  

One needs to be very careful when looking at PPV signatures, because the differences between a very valuable card and a virtually worthless card can be deceiving.  This comes into play with the Wrestlemania signatures most of all, because the signature set itself was very strange.  They issued five cards, two singles (Becky Lynch and Stone Cold Steve Austin), two doubles (Miz & John Cena and Goldberg & Brock Lesnar) and a Quad (Bayley, Charlotte Flair, Nia Jax & Sasha Banks).  These five were issued in three variants, the highest tier was blue with just 33 copies.  The mid-tier was red with 250 copies and the low-tier was Black and unlimited.  Unfortunately most of the WM cards have no cc on the back, so it’s kind of difficult to tell exactly how many there are of the black.  The price difference between the tiers is immense too, the blue sigs can sell for as much as $80 apiece, while the reds top out at $30.  The blacks can be had for under $3.  

Pay-Per-View

Every PPV event that WWE puts on now gets a specific set of cards in the game.  This includes NXT specials as well.  The sets are all a little different in scope, as Topps doesn’t seem to be able to find the magic formula that works for every set.  

For the most part each set will contain a small base set in at least two variants, a small signature set (see above), predictor cards and coin purchase incentives.  Awards will be issued for completion of each individual element and are typically the same color as the predictors or the coin incentives.  Some events will also have extra facets like a “program” set or a poster insert.  The four major events will get large sets of 50+ base cards and at least one or more additional element.

Additional “season” awards are issued for completing the easiest base set for a number of events in a row.  There have been three seasons thus far and we are now into the fourth.  

The base sets for most events are small, numbering from a dozen to 20 cards.  The low-tier cards are usually found one per base pack or with slightly higher odds.  Initially the higher-tier cards were found in larger packs that were more expensive, but still available to FTPers.  Lately though the higher tier cards have been completely behind the paywall and only available for cash bundle purchases.  This change has completely suppressed the CC of the high-tier cards in the last several events, with a typical high-tier that used to be 1000 to 1500 cc now numbering 300 or less.  The demand for these high-tier on the secondary market isn’t high, but it does exist.  While low-tier base cards typically go for $1, high tier can run $2 to $5 per card.  The same can be said for the predictor cards, especially of the underdog performers.  Coin incentive cards are a niche product for the high-rollers usually.  Some of these can really end up with low CC, namely the singles given for the $100 coin purchase.  For the last couple events these singles have ended up under 25 cc each.  

Older PPV sets will have less desirability than newer sets (the same is true of every insert set in the game BTW), as older players won’t need those cards in trade and will want to get rid of their duplicates.  Older PPV sets also tend to have higher Base CC levels as well. 

Base Cards

Each year or so Topps will release a massive “base” set of cards in multiple variants.  Throughout the year some cards will be retired due to the performer leaving the promotion or moving from one aspect of the show to another, and some cards will be added as new performers emerge, but for the most part, these cards are widely available in game.  The variants from easiest to hardest to obtain are White, Green, Teal, Orange and Black.  In any given pack of cards you’ll get mostly whites, some green, maybe a teal or two.  Orange are found rarely and not in every pack, while Black cards are only found in specific packs, often behind the paywall.

2016 Base cards have a CC on back, 2017 do not.  Unless it’s a Black base or sold out orange, base cards have little secondary market value.  Some players will hoard specific performers and trade their duplicates for their favorites, but don’t think that makes those players any more willing to overpay for their favorites.  Black base cards though definitely have a value, due to their extreme rarity in the game.  The 2016 Black base had CC in the 600-700 range, making them very limited.  A basic value for the least popular Black card is at least $1, while the most popular and limited can run up to $30 or more.  With 2017 cards not having a CC visible it’s tough to gauge how much each one can be worth, I can only suggest looking at completed auctions for that specific card.

Base Variants

Topps has a singular affinity for producing a rainbow cornucopia of base variants, which are the same as their base versions only with a different color border and a different method of distribution.  Each color seems to have a different way you can obtain them, and even within each variant the method can change.

For example, Lime Green variants in 2016 were issued as Tapjoy contest awards or in sets of 3 once a week or so, or they were incentives to buy very expensive 1/1 packs.  As such there are some Lime Green base variants that are 10cc and under and some that are over 200,000cc.  Bronze variants in 2016 were issued in the same manner, but some were also awards, and some were part of the “Coin Flip Challenge” which awarded Lime Green variants.

Sometimes Topps will issue a partial or complete base set in a specific color to commemorate an event.  For example, in February they did a 20 card Pink Valentine’s day set comprising of 10 real life couples in the WWE (Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth were the award).  They also did a Red-White-Blue partial base set for the 2016 US Elections, and a full Pink base set to commemorate Susan Koman Breast Cancer month.

Purple cards are issued three at a time once or twice a week with fairly high odds.  In 2016 they were also incentives to buy a coin subscription.  In 2017 though the coin sub cards are all Lime Green.

Maroon cards have been exclusively issued as card exchanges, where a player will give up a green or teal card for a 5 or 15 percent change to get a maroon card.  

Fire Red and Light Blue cards are reserved for special events that occur on Raw and Smackdown respectively.  A handful of these variants were available for a limited time each year and more are sure to come.  IN fact just this week a new Fire Red of Braun Strowman was issued.

Standard Red and Dark Blue variants were issued in 2016 for each performer drafted by Raw and Smackdown.  In 2017 they were issued for each performer who switched brands.

I’ve already discussed Gold Rush variants, these are without a doubt the most popular of all the base variants as they are issued sporadically and limited to 50cc every time.  The odds of pulling one are 1:300, so prices of $10+ per card are not unusual.

It’s difficult to give an overall value for each variant due to the vagaries of distribution method and CC levels.  Again I suggest that you check recent sales on the specific card you’re looking at trading for, remembering that again the person on the card is just as important as to the CC of the card, and that’s good advice for every card you’re interested in obtaining 

TRADING

I’ve already touched on trading way back in column #3 (http://www.pwtorch.com/site/2017/02/07/digital-dabblings-3-trading-abcs/) and of course that advice still holds true.  A couple of things to remember:

1. Start SLOWLY.  Walk then run.  Don’t immediately join the game and try to get someone’s hard earned low CC cards for your base.  Start by doing base cards for base cards and then move up to inserts for inserts.

2. Don’t ever offer regular base for inserts.  Even if they’re sold out, just don’t.  Unless you’re talking about Black base.  Even then I wouldn’t do it.  You’re going to get declined and 1-starred.

3. Try not to offer people cards they already have.  It doesn’t do people much good to trade cards they only have one copy of for a card they already have, unless they specifically say that want more of that card (i.e. Hoarding).

4. Open Editions do not have much value, try not to offer them for sold out/limited edition cards, you won’t have much luck if you do so.

5. Pay attention to what people are looking for in the Fan Feed.  The latest inserts always have the most current trade value.  You can also discern who’s hot and who’s not if you look at the stars people are looking for.  You know that Alexa Bliss is hot because it seems like every other post says “collecting Alexa Bliss”.

6. Most players don’t want to break their completed sets.  A good way to figure out if their set is complete is to look at their awards.  Asking someone to a break a full set is likely to get you a 1 star rating.

7. Speaking of star ratings, they are important!  Pay attention to them.  Someone with 3 or less stars is not a good trader, or at least doesn’t make good offers.  Someone with 4 stars or more with a good number of trades (500 or more) is definitely someone you want to trade with, but they will have fewer wants than you probably have.

8. You will get bad offers. Daily.  Multiple times daily in fact.  Try not to let this disparage you.  There are a lot of uneducated players out there, and they haven’t been reading this and other articles about the game.  If you get a bad offer, 1-star it and move on.  I like to at least give a comment though as to why I declined your offer.  Most often it’s “Not for Trade” but a lot of times it can be “It’s NFT and worth way more than your offer.”  As long as you don’t personally insult someone you should be OK.

9. Join trading groups!  There are multiple groups on Facebook and Reddit for trading and cross-trading.  It’s faster and easier to post your complete haves and wants elsewhere as opposed to a limited number of characters on the fast-moving Fan Feed.

10. Cross-Trade!  Even if you have no interest in the 7 other Topps Apps, join them all and start cracking packs.  If you pull the latest hot insert in say, Star Wars, you can post that you have it and you’ll get multiple cross-trade offers.  Just be careful and exercise caution.  I’ve done hundreds of cross-trades and only gotten burned two or three times.  Always be prepared to lose the card you’re offering just in case.  Star Wars and Bunt seem to be the most popular cross-trading apps.  UFC and Kick are the least popular.

Next time we’ll go back to our regularly scheduled article.  Until then, HAPPY TRADING!


NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE: DIGITAL DABBLINGS #12 – What’s New from Topps WWE and Insert Set Focus Part 5

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