Not very often do people admit they are wrong. Or bring up a past point they were so freaking wrong about to shed light on their ignorance. Since I am wrong so often it has become second nature, so here you go. Here it is, and to spare everyone the dramatic contrition of my mistake... **I totally bleeped the dog on the Prince Rennyn card for The Splinterlands.
Prince Rennyn of course is the quite powerful and highly sought after commodity as a legendary summoner for the Earth team. This has become just as often played as Selenia when it can be and likely makes you furious when you lose to it, especially when you don't have one that is leveled up or maxed out.
I bitched, moaned, maybe even shed a few tears at how this card was making the game unfair, eliminating the strategy and making everything else around it virtually unstoppable. I whined to everyone who would listen and then finally, just about a week to ten days ago I finally started to see the light.
Being a fanatical sports card collector when I was younger I was growing up when sports cards really started to hit their peak, then within a few years overproduction and hyperinflation of card costs ran the following generations to come virtually out of the hobby.
But nonetheless during this magnificent time of around 1989, there was a brand new set that debuted as a high end literal game-changer in the baseball card (soon to be entire sports card and beyond) industry. They were glossy, shiny, had holograms for the company logo and featured a card that became more myth than standard sized trading cardboard. It was card number one, the very first card produced by Upper Deck, and it featured a kid (that was just drafted first overall and made the Seattle Mariners relevant at that time which was a miracle in itself) in a San Bernadino Spirits uniform and the player happened to be Ken Griffey Jr. For non baseball fans the guy was an instant star. He wound up being one of two players considered as players of the 1990's in baseball (alongside Barry Bonds) and was a media sensation, wearing his hat backwards, chasing down triples in the alley, jumping over walls and swinging the bat like many hitters of today have tried to peg the same trajectory he had in his swing to drive the ball in the air.
But back to the set. Upper Deck instantly became the premium card on the lot and this card of Griffey Jr lit the world on fire. Back when a high dollar rookie card was a buck this was at least $20, or more, that is if you could find one. Among the memorable other cards in the set with art work, and had state of the art 3-d motion track shots of guys like Nolan Ryan, as well as a treasure trove of rookie cards of what has turned out to be countless Baseball Hall of Famers now, but card #1 blows the doors off the value of the set. Complete sets of all 800 cards produced by the factory and sealed to guarantee one of each card in the set were virtually impossible to find. Packs were hoarded, and of course card "The Griffey" (considered more like a Van Gough or Rembrandt to this nine year old at the time) was hoarded as an investment for a return several years down the road.. Sound familiar?
This card came out three years before Michael Jordan became their spokesperson for the Upper Deck brand as a whole, and of course is featured on more Upper Deck cards throughout his career than you can probably count. Hundreds and thousands of regular and special issue cards of MJ launched the brand for the next decade and put all other brands on notice as the new the standard in sports trading card collecting.
Ken Griffey Jr was such a likeable guy, being nicknamed "The Kid" he was only 19 with his smiling face still in his minor league uniform. But in the end what this card did was highlight a remarkable set. Even to this day 1989 Upper Deck factory sets are tough to find that are still factory sealed because everyone wanted the other hall of fame rookies that wound up to be in there as well, but the Griffey was the crown jewel. It even popularized and familiarized people of my generation with professional sports grading. PSA reports that the most single submitted card in their history is the Ken Griffey Jr Star Rookie from this set.
To put this in perspective as monsters collectors out there the Prince Rennyn has become that card now. The Green/Earth splinter has become the hot splinter to play. The earth elemental and Spirit of the Forest have surged in popularity and price likewise. Let alone what the Flesh Golem was before all of this, then adding the other cards that play alongside this one you can be thankful for that card when you go to sell or rent out one of your Earth Elementals, Magi of the Forest, Swamp Thing, or even now the common Wood Nymph and the rare Mushroom Seer. And as these start rising, the better cards that aren't even related start to rise. It becomes a pack opening derby for a Prince Rennyn (which is priced at the moment at or above even gold epics in the beta version for the most part). As this happens packs vanish, cards get combined, sold, rented, burned and scarcity takes over.
And to give you a frame of reference how long this phenomena can last we are now over thirty years out from that initial release of the '89 Upper Deck set and people still buy hoarded unopened packs at a major premium to pull a high end mint version of the Ken Griffey Jr, perhaps the most hyped rookie card ever upon its release that wound up launching a brand. So the next time that card beats you just remember that you are not the only one today getting beat by that card and/or that lineup, and you certainly won't be the last. Competition for scarcity is a pretty amazing thing and when this card is done look out, getting this when the packs are gone is not going to be pretty.
Full disclosure by the way I own zero of these cards...damn it.