Pokémon card players are warning each other against buying loose English Pokémon Sun & Moon packs from retailers. An alleged exploit in Pokémon Sun & Moon’s booster boxes could lead to retailers scamming customers out of rare cards.
Over the last few days, Pokémon card players have reported that Sun & Moon’s booster boxes are “mapped.” It’s an age-old tradition describing how publishers package cards in a specific order, which is discernible and exploitable by players. Instead of being randomized, the Pokémon Sun & Moon booster box’s 36 single packs are allegedly arranged in a predictable pattern separating common-only packs from ones containing rares.
Players say that there is either an ultra-rare card or a rare card in every third pack. The rest of the packs, apparently, are garbage.
Since the cards’ early February release, YouTube videos and anecdotes across Reddit and NeoGaf have alleged this pattern. NeoGaffer N.Domixis tested it out for himself, pulling a rare, holo rare, secret rare or powerful “GX” card out of every third pack in his booster’s box’s left and right rows. Over e-mail, he added that there’s a “sub-pattern of alternative holo-rare/ultra-rare.”
An obvious implication of mapped booster boxes is that fans can determine which packs contain the best cards. That’s great for players who actually sink $99 into whole boxes. But most people don’t. Most buy single packs from retailers who, if they know about Sun & Moon’s alleged “mapping,” could remove packs with rare cards. Then, they could sell the cards separately, behind some glass and at a higher prices. That way, customers come back more, unsatisfied by their apparent bad luck.
Pokémon card players warn that, if you don’t trust your retailer, don’t buy single packs from them. If you’re looking for a rare card, you could be throwing your money into a ditch. On the other hand, NeoGaf user and Pokémon card retailer SalvaPot said that “no one buys the individual card unless it’s stupid, stupid good.” At his store, his colleagues shuffle the booster box before customers can pick out packs, something I’ve seen other retailers echo across the web.
The Pokémon Company did not comment on allegations of box “mapping.”
This isn’t the first time players thought they’d found techniques for maximizing their Pokémon pack purchases. In 2015, players allegedly found out how to weigh packs for holographic cards. For a 20-year-old card game, probably, card “mapping” should not be an issue. And yet, here we are in 2017, a year of surprising and unfortunate call-backs to less enlightened times.