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Sample Cards - The Rarest Sorcery Collectible!

After the Sorcery: Contested Realm Kickstarter campaign, I wrote an article listing the rarest collectible items in the game.


Putting aside items such as uncut sheets and looking only at cards themselves, sample cards (i.e. test print cards that Erik's Curiosa ordered during

development and included in giveaways to YouTube content creators and fans, and sold in higher end Kickstarter pledge tiers) rank 4th only behind artist proof cards, the Relentless Crowd promo (with illustration by Ian Miller), and potentially Curio Cards depending on their (currently unknown) rarity.


However, the rarity of sample cards is actually far more nuanced than that when you apply reasonable assumptions to consider the actual rarity of an individual card based on its rarity level (Ordinary, Exceptional, Elite, or Unique). In fact, it is highly probable that they are the most rare cards ever created for Sorcery: Contested Realm.


This article sets out to reasonably approximate the population (pop) size of sample cards and answer the question: Just how rare are sample cards?....

 

Before diving into the numbers, it is worth taking a moment to consider why sample cards are such a coveted collectible for trading card game enthusiasts.


History

A collector purists (like I consider myself!) covet the actual historical development of the game, and the earliest possible products that were generated in early game creation. Often times that translates to very early stage concept cards and play test cards, which can sometimes be very rough and crude card prototypes created by hand by the game creators, either through home-printing, inexpensive local printing, and/or even hand-written cards. These are not always made available to the public market.


The image shows the first meeting of game creators Erik Oloffson and Nicholas Reynolds, when Nicholas introduced Erik to his early game concept. If you zoom in, you can see the crude initial concept cards.


In recent times, sample cards (or test print cards) have been made available to the market by TCG creators through early-stage giveaway events and/or Kickstarter pledge tiers.

Sample cards are cards that were ordered by the company to 'test' various aspects of the card design, such as:

  • Corner roundness

  • Card thickness

  • Card stock options

  • Print quality

  • Card design layout

  • Foiling effects

  • Design element layout

  • Etc

Rarity

Any serious collector covets the 'chase' of a game's rarest cards. The difficulty of finding and acquiring cards is part of the thrill, and often translates into tremendous value - both intrinsically for the passionate collector and 'completionist', and financially due to basic supply and demand fundamentals with their very small supply relative to great collector demand.


Financial Value

A legendary game with millions of loyal fans like Magic the Gathering naturally commands a massive mark up for extremely rare early-stage chase cards. However, even in 'ultra-modern' TCG releases such as Metazoo, we see sample cards with pop sizes on the order of 100 to several hundred commanding as much as $100 to upwards of a few thousand dollars depending on card and rarity. As this article will reveal, Sorcery: Contested Realm sample card are actually significantly more rare than Metazoo (as a recent TCG comp)


As of this writing, there are only two data points for sales of sample cards; both of which were acquired by the same buyer, from fans who won them during giveaway events. One was purchased via eBay for ~$150, and the other was purchased privately for $300. In retrospect, after this analysis done for this article, these prices may prove to be a steal.


The validate the value of sample cards, we need more public data points across the market. I will be doing some consignment sales for community members in the near future, and will be auctioning several sample cards through the Sorcery: Contested Realm Fan Page & Marketplace Group on Facebook. I strongly urge you to join the group, participate in the auctions, or at least observe if you have any interest in collecting this coveted collectible category!

 

So, just how rare are Sorcery: Contested Realm sample cards?

To attempt to reasonably approximate an answer to this question, we need to collect and analyze all known information, and document any assumptions.


Kickstarter Sample Packs / Cards - 244 Sample Packs

The Kickstarter Campaign sold a net total of 244 sealed sample packs that were offered across pledge Tier levels. This included the following:

  • 4 Avatar of the Realm Tiers: 12 Sample Packs per Backer

  • 24 Collector Tiers: 4 Sample Packs per Backer

  • 100 Sorcery Early Bird Tier: 1 Sample Pack per Backer

Social Media / YouTuber / Distribution Partner Packs - 48 Sample Packs

Through Live Stream events and YouTube videos, we are aware of the following booster packs given to a YouTube content creator and distribution partner:

  • 12 sample booster packs sent to Red Zone Rogue

  • 1 sample booster box (36 packs) sent to Team Covenant

Sample Cards Preconstructed (Precon) Decks Pop

There are four Precon decks; one for each Elemental type (Earth, Wind, Water, Fire).

Through YouTube videos and events, and statements from the Erik's Curiosa team, we are aware of the following Sample Precon decks being distributed (note that a "set" refers to one of each elemental deck in this context. Bullets highlighted in yellow are confirmed precon sets from the Chinese printer):

  • 1 Precon set to Red Zone Rogue distributed very early in the game's development. For this reason, it is possible that these cards have unique distinctions from latter prints since many cards were changed significantly during development and presumably more sample card prints were ordered later on, and potentially from different distributors. However, it has been confirmed that this set of precon decks were printed at a local print ship in New Zealand, where the game creator lives. That makes them more comparable to Print and Play cards, and dissimilar from actual sample / test print cards from the office Sorcery printer in China.

  • 1 Precon set to Kitchen Table TCG

  • 1 Precon set to Kohdok (never revealed on camera as of this writing)

  • 1 Precon set to Arsenal Pass

  • 1 Precon set given away to fans via a YouTube live stream event with Simon (Erik's Curiosa Community Manager) and Red Zone Rogue

  • 1 Precon set to Alpha Investments (this is unconfirmed, but a reasonable assumption since it is reasonable to expect that sample cards were sent to him to pitch him the product)

For simplicity and due to the aforementioned variables and unknowns (e.g. Red Zone Rogue sample deck contents, and existence of Kohdok, Armada, and Alpha Investments decks), the Precon card pop is excluded from this analysis. However for added perspective, the list of deck contents is included at the end of this article for reference.


The value in documenting the Precon decks set list is to add additional insight into the slightly higher population of these specific cards. That said, given the very few Precon decks assumed to be in existence, combined with the few copies per Precon set, the net result is a very marginal and insignificant impact on overall pop size per card. Nevertheless, it is interesting to consider that cards NOT found in the reference Precon deck set lists are indeed slightly more rare than Precon deck inclusions.

 


All credit to Sorcery community member Ryan Hutson for the analysis depicted in the table.


The table above provides a summary analysis of approximate sample card pop size based on the 292 sample card packs known to have been created. The analysis excludes Precon deck cards, for reasons explained earlier in the article. Again, the list of those cards are included at the end of this article.


Inherent in these calculations are the rarity level pull rates, as stated by the game creators. With 292 packs, the aggregate total number of sample cards is 4,380.


The table below this line provides a few potential scenarios based on the very high probability that there were not 400 cards in the set list (the approximate number expected in the final Alpha set) at the time that sample cards were ordered from the print shop(s). The reason why this is highly probable is because it is well known that the set was incomplete several months ago when sample cards were ordered. Paintings were still being commissioned and card designs (i.e. everything from card titles, to card text, to card mechanics) were still incomplete and being developed. This was still true at the time of Kickstarter, and it is assumed that the fulfillment of sample card orders will draw from pre-existing test print runs and not new cards ordered when the set is finalized. This is also intuitively obvious by definition of what sample cards are and why they exist, but it is worth stating for clarity.


Thus, to further explain scenario "Set Size Estimate #1", we changed the estimated number of each card type that was printed. In this particular example, it assumes 57 uniques. The second scenario assumes 40 uniques, and the third scenario assumes 20 uniques. The same can be extrapolated for other rarity levels; and, in aggregate, the inherent assumption is that total set list was something less than the ~400 that is expected in the complete Alpha set list.


At first blush, it may seem like the pop size in each scenario is backwards. However, when you consider Scenario 3, since the aggregate total number of cards assumed in the set at the time of the sample print order is significantly less than Scenario 1, it is logical that it would yield more duplicate copies within the same total sample card population of 4,380 cards (292 packs).

 

Conclusions

Even in the third scenario with a significantly smaller set size assumption, you can quickly get an appreciation for how extremely rare each individual card is:

  • Unique Copies: 2.95

  • Elite Copies: 5.825

  • Exceptional Copies: 14.6

  • Ordinary Copies: 53.533

Thus, even an "Ordinary" sample card would have a total net population on an order comparable to that of Art Proof cards (25-25 per art illustration), and would be twice as rare as the most rare Promo card in the game (Relentless Crowd Promo - 100 copies).

Moreover, the Unique rarity cards are astonishingly limited with only a few of each that exist in the world.


Again, it is worth considering how these numbers are biased higher by the Precon decks. On a relative percentage basis, it significantly increases the pop count since there are cards of all rarities included in the Precons. However on a raw quantity basis (which is most relevant), it still yields astonishingly miniscule net pop numbers.


Moreover, it is important to consider cards which are NOT in in the Precon deck list, as those would be more reflective of the tabulated pop numbers above, with only a few copies in the world at the higher echelon Unique and Elite rarity level!


In conclusion, sample cards are likely the most rare cards in existince, with pop sizes most closely comparable to Artist Proof cards and potentially even SIGNIFICANTLY more rare than the Relentless Crowd Promo. As such, they will be extremely coveted by collectors, and likely extremely valuable.

 

Precon Deck Lists

Note that in many cases card titles have changed through the development process and will be different in the final Alpha set list.


Fire Deck

  • 1 Avatar of Fire

  • 2 Raal Dromedary

  • 2 Ogre Goons

  • 2 Rattlesnakes

  • 2 Petrosian Cavalry

  • 2 Sacred Scarabs

  • 2 Rimland Nomads

  • 2 Sand Worm

  • 1 Heat Ray

  • 1 Incinerate

  • 2 Minor Explosion

  • 1 Cerberus in Chains

  • 2 Clamor Harpies

  • 1 Quarrelsome Kobolds

  • 1 Hillock Basilisk

  • 1 Rollicky Dragonets

  • 1 Will-o'-the-wisp

  • 2 Fireball

  • 1 Flashfires

  • 2 Wayfaring Pilgrim

  • 1 Infernal Legion

  • 1 Doomsday Prophet

  • 1 Ancient Dragon

  • 1 Major Explosion

  • 1 Erik's Curiosa

  • 1 Drums of Doom

  • 9 Desert

  • 2 Shifting Sands

  • 2 Cornerstone

  • 1 Stonehenge

  • 1 Vesuvius

  • 1 River of Flame


Water Deck

  • 1 Avatar of Water

  • 1 Guile Sirens

  • 2 Swamp Buffalo

  • 3 Sea Serpent

  • 2 Deep-sea Mermaids

  • 2 Coral-reef Kelpie

  • 2 Polar Bears

  • 1 Swan Maidens

  • 2 Dodge Roll

  • 1 Riptide

  • 1 Anui Undine

  • 2 Brobdingnag Bullfrog

  • 1 Unland Angler

  • 2 Tide Naiads

  • 1 Sedge Crabs

  • 1 Flood

  • 2 Ice Lance

  • 1 Frost Nova

  • 1 Marine Voyage

  • 1 Mega Amoeba

  • 1 Diluvian Kraken

  • 1 Upwelling

  • 1 Wrath of the Sea

  • 1 Mother Nature

  • 1 Great Old One

  • 1 Polar Explorers

  • 1 Erik's Curiosa

  • 9 River

  • 2 Undertow

  • 2 Floodplain

  • 1 Leviathan Island

  • 1 Tadpole Pool

  • 1 Maelström


Wind Deck

  • 2 Snow Leopard

  • 1 Dead of Night Demon

  • 1 Sling Pixies

  • 2 Spectral Stalker

  • 2 Cloud Spirit

  • 2 Plume Pegasus

  • 2 Midnight Rogue

  • 1 Apprentice Wizard

  • 3 Thunderbolt

  • 2 Blink

  • 1 Peregrine Apparition

  • 2 Headless Haunt

  • 1 Kite Archer

  • 1 Nimbus Jinn

  • 1 Spire Lich

  • 1 Waypoint Portal

  • 1 Thunderstorm

  • 2 Chain Lightning

  • 1 Nightmare

  • 1 Roaming Monster

  • 1 Grim Reaper

  • 1 Hounds of Ondaros

  • 1 Grandmaster Wizard

  • 1 Ball Lightning

  • 1 Devil's Egg

  • 1 Doomsday Device

  • 9 Tower

  • 2 Updraft Ridge

  • 2 Observatory

  • 1 Mountain Pass

  • 1 Great Wall

  • 1 Cloud City


Earth Deck

  • 1 Avatar of Earth

  • 2 Belmotte Longbowmen

  • 3 Autumn Unicorn

  • 3 Cave Trolls

  • 2 Wild Boars

  • 2 Amazon Warriors

  • 1 Entangle Terrain

  • 2 Bury

  • 2 Frontier Settlers

  • 1 Land Surveyor

  • 2 Pudge Butcher

  • 1 House Arn Bannerman

  • 1 Mountain Giant

  • 1 Enlarge

  • 1 Midland Army

  • 1 Queen of Midland

  • 1 King of the Realm

  • 1 Stone-gaze Gorgons

  • 1 Wraetannis Titan

  • 1 Royal Bodyguard

  • 1 Earthquake

  • 1 Atlas Wanderers

  • 1 Craterize

  • 1 Screaming Skull

  • 1 Siege Ballista

  • 1 Spear of Destiny

  • 1 Rolling Boulder

  • 9 Village

  • 3 Quagmire

  • 1 Secret Tunnel

  • 1 Rift Valley

  • 2 Vantage Hills

 

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