Trading Card Game “Group Breaks” Explained
Group breaks?! What in blue blazes is THAT!?
Well, my dearest friend, I am here to explain group breaks to you. Maybe this is your first encounter with this term. Maybe you have just been redirected from our Twitch or YouTube breaking channel. Maybe you are an undergrad doing research on the video game industry. Maybe you are a writer for Medium looking to get your backlink game going with the article you are working on. Or, maybe you are just browsing our site and saw that we have blogs, clicked this one, and are now living the life exactly what I’m describing right now. Whatever the case for you to be here, welcome. Let’s kick back, crack a pack of trading cards, and get to figuring out what this card game breaking world is all about!
Brief History/Overview of Card Breaking:
If you are a part of the trading card collecting world, you may have participated in some sort of “box break” or “card break” at some point in your life. Ever since trading cards have been sold in large quantity boxes, there have been people coming together and splitting the costs of the product - allowing for everyone to be able to afford their hobby, while increasing the chances of everyone getting the exact cards they're looking for. With the advent of the internet, the ability for people to do this en masse has grown extremely fast.
Think about this. You and your best friend have 50 dollars each, and you both decide to go in on a MTG booster box. You’re looking to build a green deck, your friend is looking to build a red deck. You both put your money together and purchase the 100 dollar box of 36 packs! You both head home and start excitedly start cracking packs!
As you both open your last two packs you both realize that all or most of the red and green cards that you wanted weren’t opened! You opened a bunch of other cool cards, but nothing that you were interested in for your commander decks.
100 dollars invested and most of the cards will never be played by you or your friend. For many people, this ends sadly, in disappointment.
Many card collectors and players have experienced something of this sort in their era of hobby collecting. Sometimes it can be an amazing experience, but too many times you put a large amount of investment into booster pack opening, only to be met with regret.
This is where the beauty of the internet comes into play. Crowdsourcing box breaking, while providing entertainment at the same time! Let’s break it down.
Take a look at this breakdown of a “Pokémon Booster Box Break:”
15 dollars per slot. Each slot receives one “type” of Pokémon opened in the packs. Here are the 10 different slots:
How it works:
The process of purchasing slots happens in a few ways:
Random slot purchase process: Each slot is 15 dollars. Once all 10 slots have been purchased, the “breaker” then randomly places each customer into one of the slots. Whatever is opened from that slot is shipped to you (usually shipping costs are factored into the cost of the break).
Choose your slot purchase process: With this one, usually the “cost of the slots” is weighted based on what potential cards you could open in those slots. As an example of this, take Pokémon Sword and Shield: Darkness Ablaze. There is a VMax Charizard that has an estimated market value of over 100 USD. That slot would cost a lot more money than a different slot (Take the water slot for example. That one has very few highly desirable rares from it in Darkness Ablaze).
Filler break process: Filler breaks are usually used with “choose your slot” breaks and they can be a bit confusing so stick with me here. Take the “choose your slot purchase process” but imagine that the water slot and the fire slot were not sold (maybe the fire slot is too expensive for people and water slot no one needs cards out of). For example’s sake, let’s say that the fire slot cost 50 USD and the water slot cost 8 USD and they are the last two slots to fill before the break happens. Many times, there are people waiting to see their cards opened and you need to fill the last two slots, so a “filler” is announced.
Usually for the filler slot, the breaker (name for the person opening the packs on live stream) takes the remaining slots and combines them, then divides that number by the number of slots left. In this example, it would be ($50 + $8) / 2 = $29.
This is where the fun starts! Now, there are two “filler slots” left for 29 dollars each. Two people purchase these and they are now randomly selected to see who gets which slot. This makes the fire slot more affordable and the water slot a bit more expensive, but allows for people to jump in at the same price points with a chance to receive the fire slot for a little cheaper than they would normally!
Why should I group break?
Fun Factor: There are a few reasons. But first off, it’s FUN. Being able to hang out with your friends on Twitch or YouTube chat, cracking packs, and having a great time with the host is some of the best ways to open packs. When comparing this to buying a bunch of packs and opening them at your house by yourself, you could easily see why so many people are gravitating towards group breaking. Plus, when you hit the Charizard VMax with a Twitch chat full of 100 or so like minded people, the hype factor is HUGE.
Affordability: Paying 100 dollars or more for a box every few months can get extremely expensive, especially if you are someone that collects and doesn't resell your cards. Group breaks allow you to see all the packs opened, and you’re able to get some cards for yourself without breaking the bank.
The Future: As we move farther and farther away from traditional “local game stores packed with 100 people” culture and more about online card gaming, the ability to share in the excitement of your hobby is a changing landscape. The internet has already evolved into a video based world, and physical openings are on the rise everywhere from sports cards to TCGs, Pops, and other collectables. The ability to live vicariously through someone on a streaming service opening and experiencing something new is entrancing for many in the hobby industry. Joining in on this fun is something that many people are experiencing...and enjoying immensely!
In closing, much of my personal hobby research has been centered around this world of card pack openings in the last few months. If the numbers of sports pack openings is any indication of where the industry is going, we’re just at the tip of the iceberg of this craze. We have seen sports cards sell for millions of dollars in this past year, with the Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering collecting industry right behind it. Additionally, with the exclusivity of products coming out of all TCG’s lately, the market of “hobby collecting” instead of “collecting to play” is unfolding before our eyes.
No matter how you enjoy your favorite TCG, it looks like the landscape of the industry will be changing and evolving to cater to high end hobby collecting. Joining in on some group breaks might be some of the best ways to enjoy this new craze while also saving a few dollars.
Good luck on hitting those secret rares and foil mythics!