Pokemon cards are generally released in sets. Sizes can vary wildly, but major sets are usually comprised of 150-to-200 cards. How much would it cost me to complete one?
For the purposes of this discussion, let’s focus on the Battle Styles set. It contains a total of 183 cards. 142 of these cards are functionally unique, while 41 are functional duplicates with unique visual treatments, such as alternate art, rainbow rares, and golden rares.
Not including duplicates, I currently have 95 cards within the Battle Styles set. How much did it cost me to get here? And how much more would it cost me to complete the set?
What I currently have
My 95 unique cards actually comes from a set of 191 total Battle Styles cards according to my personal tracking. 160 of those cards came from the two Elite Trainer Boxes I purchased. The other 30 are from a combination of booster packs from other bundles (such as the First Partner Pack) and a couple of loose cards from Dollar Store packs. For the sake of the argument, let’s round down to 190 so that I can document the remaining cards as part of three booster packs.
2 Elite Trainer Boxes: $120
3 Booster Packs: $19.50
Current Investment: $139.50
Percentage of total set complete [cards 1-183]: 51.91%
Percentage of functional set complete [cards 1-141 only] (no alternate arts, rainbow rares, gold rares, or secret Pokemon): 68.09%
I’m making the distinction between a “functional set” and a “complete set” because the cost of completing each is wildly different.
What I’m missing
I am missing a total of 88 cards. 47 of those are within the functional set and feature standard art. The remaining 41 are special cards. Sadly, I have yet to collect any of the really cool stuff.
My methodology for completing the set
I set out a goal to purchase one of every remaining card. In scenarios where a holo and non-holo exist, I went with the cheaper non-holo price. For the purposes of getting an actual dollar value and not an estimated price from somewhere like TGCPlayer (which is a fantastic site by the way), I used my local retailer 401 Games for their prices on each card.
Oh yeah, I also should have stated this before. All prices are in Canadian dollars.
So…how much would it cost me to complete the set?
If I simply wanted to buy the missing cards between #1-141, the total cost of those remaining 46 cards would be…
Not bad! For just over $100, I could have a functionally-complete Battle Styles set.
But if I wanted to collect all of the fancy alternates from 142-183, the cost of those cards are significantly higher. To buy the remaining 41 cards, that would cost me…
Oh. My. Goodness.
If completing a set were important to me, having a functionally-complete set for and additional $107.50 sounds reasonable. Spending $1,528.00 for the remaining cards is absolutely horrifying.
But would that technically be the cheaper way to do it? $1,528.00 would get me about 11 booster boxes after tax, assuming I use 401 Games pricing. With 360 cards in a booster box, that would give us 3,960 new cards.
With the way that rarity is distributed, I’m fairly confident we could complete a functional set. Maybe we could complete the whole set within 3,960 new cards, but I highly doubt we’ll pull all of the secret rares needed to do so.
Either way, it’s a massive financial investment to complete a set of Pokemon cards. Your best bet is probably to just buy singles for every card, but where’s the fun in that? The next best thing would be to buy a bunch of booster packs and then buy singles for what’s left. Trying to do it naturally is absolutely a trap.
Buying roughly the equivalent of two Elite Trainer Boxes worth of boosters (16 boosters total) felt like a nice in-between. I would cover more than half of the set that way while gathering a handful of cool rare cards. Curious to see where I net out after opening all 36 packs of Chilling Reign and revisiting this subject.
How important is it for you to complete a particular set of Pokemon cards?