The "Just buy singles" Conundrum
We've all said it and we've all heard it: "Just buy singles" or "I'm only going to buy singles". There's nothing really wrong with this approach as it is, at its core, a more economical way for you to get more bang for your buck considering you're getting exactly what you want without playing the booster pack lottery. Hats off to you. You're a fairly responsible person. Legitimately not being a smartass here regardless of what it sounds like. Only thing is, where do you think your singles come from?
This has been an age old subject since back when I started playing in '94 and its not going away anytime soon and really it shouldn't. It's totally viable while also being just the slightest bit problematic. "How is that?" You might ask? Well, here's how: (also all numbers below are nowhere near accurate and are meant for examples only to give an idea of possible price fluctuations.)
Somewhere out there in the void, there is a person buying a box so you don't have to. There's a person buy packs so you don't have to. There's an LGS cracking open boxes to get singles so you don't have to. Singles don't just come out of thin air and they can't be bought from distributors. Everyone else takes on the responsibility of playing the gambling game while people who buy singles just try to swoop in and take the goodies without the risk. Is that fair? No. Is it smart? Yes. Which is why it's always been a contentious part of things that people seemingly ignore because there's not a lot you can really do about it. It's just the nature of the beast.
If everyone, or even 70% of the TCG world, migrated to the "Just buy singles" mindset the singles themselves would be astronomical in price because there wouldn't be a supply of singles. There's be a couple hundred people who play the booster pack lotto while thousands just wait and see what they crack open. Which in turn will make the supply of singles very limited and very expensive because there would only end up being 20 copies of something and thousands wanting those 20 copies. So, you're highly sought after uncommon that might have ran a few cents, to a few dollars, is now going to hover in the $10-$20 starting range easily, not to mention how exponentially more expensive rares, mythics, legendaries, or whatever rarity scale your TCGs of choice follow. I wouldn't even want to think about how expensive foils, holos, or whatever other premium printings of things would be.
While I know the "Just buy singles" mindset is perfect for older sets that you can't find anymore because the boxes are all out of print, the "Just buy singles" mindset shouldn't really be applied to newer sets that have just launched. Everyone should buy into the booster pack lotto, even if you only end up buying a handful of packs all the way up to cases of product.
Now, before you get even more angry than you might be, hear me out on this. On a long enough timeline where everyone chipped in on the booster pack lotto, opened cards, traded or sold those cards to people/LGS's there would be more singles to buy out in the wild and thus would reduce prices across the board in the long term. Everyone complains about things being too expensive all the time, so why not try to be proactive about tackling that problem so in the future you're only spending $40 on that one card and not $60+?
"But won't this ruin overall price value for everyone?" Yes, but I think only marginally. Because not everyone will buy into the new sets for a myriad of reasons. So the supply wouldn't just multiply 20x overnight. Things would still hold a collectible aspect simply because, over time, things get lost and damaged resulting in the supply "naturally" decreasing while rares will always be rare and this "natural elimination" will just end up making them even more rare. Which is one of the main reasons why you see older cards being worth so much. The supply just simply isn't there. "But you just said we should increase the supply so over time things will be cheaper" Yes, and that is still the case. Because if the vast majority of people would play the booster pack lotto that card that only had 200 copies left in the wild a few years after launch, now might have 250 copies left in the wild. Would that reduce the price drastically? Probably not, but it might reduce it just enough to make it accessible to a larger pool of people. Sometimes that $10 more is the make or break point for a lot of people.
So, in closing, play the booster pack lotto only on the newer sets; at least some. Don't just strictly stick to a "Just buy singles" mindset because you're actually just hurting yourself in the long run and will, most likely, end up playing the booster pack lotto anyways when you simply can't find the single you're looking for anywhere or don't want to pay the inflated price so you end up buying sealed product anyways. Only this time, it might be out of print sealed product and you'll end up spending $120 on a booster box in hopes of pulling the card you're looking for even though the card itself might only be worth $50, regardless of the supply of sealed product available. It'll be out of print so people can charge whatever. Even if they only charge what you're looking to spend on the single for the sealed you aren't guaranteed to pull what you're looking for if you're looking for, or the quantities you're looking for in say uncommons. So, chip in a little now so you're not paying a higher price later on that booster pack lotto gamble.
What do you guys think? Am I wrong with my thought pattern here or do I make sense? Let me know and thanks for reading!