Obsidian Flames vs Ruler of the Black Flame Thumbnail

Obsidian Flames vs Ruler of the Black Flame - Expected Value and key differences explained!

Written by Andrew

5 minute read

It's been a few weeks since the release of Obsidian Flames and, with prices beginning to settle, along with the surprising ease of completing the whole set, we take a look at what this means for the expected value of a Booster Box.

If you missed our previous article on the expected value of Japanese 151 packs and boxes, then this is a series where we use hard numbers to determine whether a product is actually worth opening from a financial standpoint. More importantly, given that the answer will be a constantly moving target, we hope these write-ups enable you to do the calculations for yourself - should you wish to.

What we know about the Obsidian Flames pull rates

When calculating the expected value of a set, the biggest challenge of the exercise is finding out the exact pull rates of everything that has a rarity of Rare and above; the rest is a fairly simple calculation. Luckily for us, TCGPlayer has a useful infographic of the pull rates based on opening over 8000 Obsidian Flames Booster Packs.

Infographic of what a Commander Masters Collector Pack contains

Source: tcgplayer.com

Now, all we need to do is multiple each % chance by 36 to find the pull rates per box. The results are as follows:


Card Type Decimal Pull Rate Cards Per Booster Box
Double Rare (RR) 0.1361 4.9
Ultra Rare (SR) 0.0663 2.39
Illustration Rare (AR) 0.0760 2.74
Special Illustration Rare (SAR) 0.0313 1.13
Hyper Rare (UR) 0.0192 0.69

As all rarities beneath these are valueless (a foil 1 star Rare is worth 2 cents) we don’t need to figure out what goes where in order to calculate our Box EV. Now, all that is left to do is to find the average value for each card type and multiply by the frequency of which it appears. This time around, we looked at both the Cardmarket prices for EU, as well as the TCGPlayer prices for NA. After some tedious data collection, we made the following calculations:

We can now put everything together and use the pull rates found earlier, combined with the average values we calculated.



Card Type Avg. Value Cardmarket Cards Per Box Expected Value Contributed
Double Rare (RR) 1.96 4.9 9.60
Ultra Rare (SR) 4.77 2.39 11.40
Illustration Rare (AR) 3.81 2.74 10.44
Special Illustration Rare (SAR) 18.81 1.13 21.26
Hyper Rare (UR) 12.82 0.69 8.85

Card Type Avg. Value TCGPlayer Cards Per Box Expected Value Contributed
Double Rare (RR) 2.03 4.9 9.95
Ultra Rare (SR) 4.29 2.39 10.25
Illustration Rare (AR) 3.14 2.74 8.6
Special Illustration Rare (SAR) 18.87 1.13 21.32
Hyper Rare (UR) 12.71 0.69 8.77


Adding up the expected values, we get an Obsidian Flames Booster Box EV of €61.55 from Cardmarket and $58.89 from TCGplayer. With a Booster Box going for around €110 and $99 on the platforms, respectively, you will struggle to get your value back through opening.

But, how does Obsidian Flames compare to Ruler of the Black Flame?

Now that we have the expected value of Obsidian Flames calculated, let's work out the same thing for its Japanese counterpart: Ruler of the Black Flame.


For the Ruler of the Black Flame pull rates, the available sources are a lot less reliable than TCGPlayer. Below is our best guess based on information from a number of Japanese websites.



Card Type Cards Per Booster Box
Double Rare (RR) 4.5
Ultra Rare (SR) 0.75
Illustration Rare (AR) 3
Special Illustration Rare (SAR) 0.2
Hyper Rare (UR) 0.1


We can now repeat the process of data gathering and working out the average value of each card type. As Japanese Pokemon is not available on TCGPlayer, our only source for this will be Cardmarket.

Card Type Avg. Value Cardmarket Cards Per Box Expected Value Contributed
Double Rare (RR) 1.04 4.5 4.68
Ultra Rare (SR) 14.59 0.75 10.94
Illustration Rare (AR) 2.02 3 6.06
Special Illustration Rare (SAR) 76 0.2 15.2
Hyper Rare (UR) 51.66 0.1 5.17

Summing up the EVs gives us a total Ruler of the Black Flame Box EV of €42.05. With a Cardmarket low Booster Box price of €83, we have a situation very similar to Obsidian Flames.

The main difference is that the price of the big hits from Japanese Ruler of the Black Flame is much higher than their English counterparts, and this is wholly due to the extreme rarity differences. On average, you should pull 1 Charizard SAR in every 5 Obsidian Flames Booster Boxes, but that pull rate drops to 1 in every 30 Booster Boxes for Ruler of the Black Flame! 

So, what does this all mean?

With the expected value of the contents being close to half of the sealed box price for both Obsidian Flames and Ruler of the Black Flame, it would be easy to conclude that the set is a disaster, and that you should never open these products.

However, this phenomenon is not unique to Obsidian Flames. Outside of inflated prices during pre-order season, it is exceptionally rare for any product's contents to be more valuable than the sealed item itself. This is just a normal part of the hobby and should not detract from the fun of opening some packs and collecting the set. What's more unique about Obsidian Flames is how remarkably easy it is to collect the full set. While the pull rates of the different rarities has not changed, the number of cards in those rarity pools are significantly lower than other modern sets. For example, there are only 3 URs and 6 SARs in Obsidian Flames, whereas there are 9 URs and 15 SARs in Paldea Evolved.

Furthermore, for the sealed collectors out there, the value of the cards inside will lose correlation with the sealed box price over time. The sealed product itself is a commodity with a price determined through supply and demand. Once out of print, the supply will only get smaller over time, even if demand remains stagnant and the cards inside do not appreciate.

We should also note that we chose to take the lowest value listing from Cardmarket and TCGPlayer for our data. You may disagree with this and feel like TCGPlayer market price is a more accurate depiction of the state of things, and if so, the calculations should be easy enough to re-do with your own data set.

Obsidian Flames Charizard Analysis

Showing our spreadsheet workings

If we were to ask 'which is the rarest Charizard in Obsidian Flames?' the answer may seem obvious... right? The SAR is worth $78.91, by far the highest of all the 'Zards. However, we can take a more mathematical approach to see if this is actually true.


From the information we gathered earlier, in an English Obsidian Flames, we get on average just 1.13 SAR cards per Booster Box. Taking into consideration that there are 6 SAR cards in total to choose from, the Charizard has a 1/6 chance of appearing every time an SAR is pulled. In mathematical terms, the frequency of a Charizard SAR per box can be calculated by multiplying 1/6 (or 0.1667) by 1.13, equalling 0.1883 Charizard SARs per box. Repeating this process for every single rarity of Charizard, we get the results in the table below.


  TCGPlayer Price ($) Frequency Per Box Value Added Per Box
Charizard RR 22 0.2333 5.13
Charizard SR 26 0.1992 5.18
Charizard SAR 78.91 0.1883 14.86
Charizard UR 29.92 0.2300 6.88


While the Charizard SAR remains the value king, it is interesting to note how the frequency per box of all the Charizard cards are remarkably similar. This can be explained by the fact that, while the RR and SR cards are a lot more common than the SAR and UR cards, the more common cards also have a much larger card pool from which to pull from. We can assume from these frequencies that the value difference in the Charizards is mostly down to aesthetic reasons and not any true scarcity.

Thanks for reading another article on our website, and we hope it gave some insight into how the numbers work and what insights they can provide. If you did enjoy the read, then consider checking out our other Pokemon related articles here.

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