Do you know that feeling you get when all you want to do is open some packs? But it’s late in the day, or there are no card stores nearby. How would you like to open packs, boxes or even cases of hockey cards no matter where you are, no matter what time of day it is, while also being able to chat and trade with fellow hockey collectors?
With the evolution of online shopping and e-commerce over the past few years, it was only a matter of time until the sports card industry caught on to the “buy stuff in my pajamas” concept. Upper Deck’s e-PACK sports and entertainment platform provides collectors the ability to do just that and even more.
Is this Real Life?
Opening an e-PACK is in very many ways the same as opening a physical pack. You literally click to unwrap it, and flip through the pack one card at a time. You can also turn every card over to look at the back if you wish. If you want to see everything in the pack at once you can even choose the “Show All New Items” button, which displays the entire pack in the side window all at once. My experience opening hundreds of packs over the past two years has always been one filled with the same nervous anticipation as opening a physical pack. Hoping that I pull a card on my want list or one that is rare and sought-after by other collectors that I would consider trading. While I’ve purchased allot of e-PACK’s none was more rewarding than the one I opened a few months ago because it contained an Elias Pettersson Young Guns rookie card. This was an even more amazing experience because it was the last card in the last pack of the box that I opened.
While opening a pack, Upper Deck makes it very easy to see if you have pulled a rare card in your pack by surrounding it in a glowing red light. That way you know to stop and take a closer look at the gem that you just pulled. This is great for someone like myself who have pulled several exclusives variants from Upper Deck physical packs over the years only to realize it days later when I went through my cards again. If you didn’t know exclusive variant cards are very rare and look like the regular cards in virtually every way except for the serial number and exclusives name printed on the card.
Once you have finished openings your e-PACKs, you can instantly filter them in multiple ways through the My Collection tab and even use attribute filters so that you can easily see just your rookie or autographed cards. From this view, you can do several additional things with your cards. You can choose to add it to your Wish List if you want to acquire additional copies of it (which we will discuss below), see which collectors are interested in acquiring it, lock a card so that it won’t be included in a trade whether you initiate it or another collector does, transfer your card in order to sell it on the COMC.com marketplace or ship it home.
Putting On The Foil…
Just like with physical packs, you are always left with some common cards from your e-PACKS. Everyone has a different opinion on commons as it relates to their collecting habits. For someone like myself who has been collecting for more than fifteen years, I am not a fan of common cards simply because they take up valuable storage space. Upper Deck e-Pack has a great solution for this issue and literally rewards you for collecting multiple copies of most cards. Keep in mind that you can’t ship or offer common cards for sale. But if you collect ten copies of a base card and you can redeem it for a special silver foil version of the card. Collect one hundred copies of a base card and you can redeem it for a special rainbow foil version of the card.
Even Young Guns and some insert cards can be combined into both foil versions as well. The foil process is an easy and inexpensive way to acquire some unique cards that are only available via e-PACK. Everyone on e-PACK benefits from the foil process simply because there is almost always someone looking to foil cards which provides you an opportunity to trade. Even the process of redeeming your cards into foil versions is something fun to watch as the website creates your new card right on the screen. I don’t think the hobby has recognized the rarity of foil version Young Guns, most collectors that are not on e-PACK don’t know where they come from or how difficult popular player versions are to create. On top of all those benefits e-PACK is an extremely earth-friendly way to collect since there are no wrappers, boxes, filler or commons to throw away (as some collectors do).
Got ‘ em, Need ’em
Once you have some cards in your collection, it’s important to learn what you have and decide if there is anything that you might want to consider trading or trading for. The Search Marketplace Option allows you to check on e-PACK populations. As you would expect how rare a card is, if the player is on a hot streak as well as how rare the card is on e-PACK impacts the value of the card to other collectors (see example below). Rarity on e-PACK has nothing to do with what a card is selling for on the secondary market. For instance, if you collect Brady Tkachuk like I do and are interested in the Exclusives version of his Young Gun rookie card you can see that while 100 total copies of this card were produced including both physical packs and e-PACK there is only 1 copy on e-PACK making it both rare and valuable to the owner of that card (while also making me sad that I can’t obtain one). You can also add any card to your want list from this section by simply clicking on the heart next to the card. That way anyone initiating a trade with you can check and see if they have what you are looking for.
Trading is an extremely helpful way to build your collection, and I have spent time trading despite not purchasing any new packs. Keep in mind that the trading process is easier, quicker and more fun if you have a want list of your own. Creating a trade is easy as you can choose what you are willing to trade as well as what you are looking for back from the other collector all on the same screen.
You can also counter a trade that you received if you are looking for other items or want to adjust what items are part of the trade. Please, please, please understand that a counteroffer is in no way a bad thing. I would recommend that everyone consider the fact that most successful trades have at least one counter offer before they are accepted. If you are being fair with the other collector, the counter offer is a very sensible component of the process. Where most people slip up is using prices from cards on eBay or COMC.com prices as the sole basis for a trade on e-PACK. While we already discussed how rare a card is impacts its value on e-PACK how difficult a card is to obtain or replace on e-PACK equally determines it’s “worth” more so than the going price to purchase it does. For example, CHL Autograph’s normally come about one per box and some of them sell for less than $5, but trading an autograph for a rookie card is usually something most collectors wouldn’t do as the autograph is harder to replace than the rookie card.
A few words of caution here. Anytime you create a trade proposal, think about the person on the other side. Being fair to the person you are trading with and treating them how you would want to be treated helps you both get what you want out of a trade. Trying to take advantage of someone who might need a specific card or attempting to hide expensive/rare cards within a long list of common cards you are proposing in a trade is no way to make friends within the e-PACK community (this is referred to as “golfing,” after an infamous trader who is no longer active). Same thing goes from your side. If you are trading several cards, make sure you choose the more sought-after ones first when creating the trade then choose any commons or lesser value cards last. That way when the other collector reviews your trade they see the higher quality cards first and the commons last not a mix of both on their trade dashboard.
My last point on trading is that when you initiate a trade it will remain active for twenty-four hours. While most of the e-PACK collectors spend a few minutes on there every day not all collectors do so. Upper Deck does send you an email that displays all the components of the trade request, any counter trades offers and a confirmation email when a trade is accepted. I can tell you from experience that the anticipation of seeing and ultimately getting confirmation that a trade is accepted is just as exciting as opening a pack and pulling a card you were looking for. Completing fair trades is the single most important way to continue to grow the e-PACK community.
As with any other social based forum, there are some standard etiquette rules to live by here. And trust me that the positives far outweigh the negatives. The Sports Forum serves two purposes, the first (or right side) is specifically for trades while the left is for chatting. Chatting includes thanking another collector for a great trade, bragging about a great card you pulled, asking questions, looking for opinions from other collectors or even just talking about hockey. I for one have always gotten an answer to my questions there and recommend spending a few minutes there whenever you are on e-PACK.
Offering cards for sale, mentioning eBay auctions and posting offensive comments are strictly forbidden on the Sports Forum, so thankfully those conversations rarely occur. Some collectors don’t agree with the rule about promoting auctions/cards for sale but keep in mind that the e-PACK Forum was created to allow collectors to purchase and trade cards not to resell them on the secondary market, especially since you can choose to transfer your cards from your e-PACK account to COMC.com and make them available for sale.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Before you know it, you will become a savvy e-PACK user and likely have built up a significant collection. So, what do you do next? If you want, you don’t have to do anything; you can leave your entire collection right there on e-PACK. Your cards are completely safe, don’t require any supplies to store them in and are always available for multiple transfer options. On the other hand, you might want certain cards in your personal collection, you may want to sell them or maybe even have them graded. You can choose to have your cards mailed directly to your home or transferred to your COMC.com account. From your COMC.com account, you can offer your cards for sale or even request to have your cards graded. This provides you with a much greater chance of receiving a high grade because your cards are pack fresh and shipped from a secure source. If you haven’t gone through the task of getting your cards graded, you need to be very careful storing, packaging and shipping them to ensure you receive high grades. Anything that can remove some of the complexities of that process is a great thing.
A few points to be aware of when it comes to e-PACK collecting include set availability and release timing. Not every set is available. For example, SP Authentic and The Cup are without question the two most sought-after sets that Upper Deck produces each season, but they have yet to be made available via e-PACK. Additionally, it does take a bit longer for new products to become available to collectors on e-PACK. Personally, I understand the reasoning here as Upper Deck needs to walk a fine line making both their Hobby Shop and e-PACK customers happy. While Hobby Shops get access to sets first, e-PACK collectors get the ability to create one-of-a-kind parallel cards that can only be made there, and packs and boxes never sell out.
Are We There Yet?
e-Pack is a great way to collect as well as make new friends and talk about hockey. Despite all of that, there are some improvements needed on e-PACK. My hope is that Upper Deck will use this story as the beginning of an open dialog with us, the collectors as to what we would like to see improved upon.
Improvements needed include, but are not limited to an IOS/Android App, an improved trade request interface, the ability to process a redemption electronically vs. having it mailed to you before it can be redeemed, a cleaner separation between the chat and trade forums, and an increased level of monitoring of fair trade practices (no golfing, please). In the end, if you aren’t on e-PACK you are missing out on a unique collecting experience that will only increase your love of the hobby. Hope to see you there soon.
Video About Getting Started on e-PACK
e-PACK Chat and Trade Abbreviations List
Auto – Certified Autograph Card
COMP – Compendium Series
DM – Direct Message (sent directly from one user to another rather than posting on the Chat forum)
Dupes – Duplicate cards
FT – For Trade
HG – High Gloss Subset
LF – Looking For
No Blanks – This is a statement at the end of Trade forum posts and means that the collector is not interested in blank trade proposals. Some collectors (like myself) are fine with this method and some are not.
POE – Program of Excellence Subset
Redeemed – Redeemed is a card that was already used towards an e-PACK badge/achievement. Cards cannot be redeemed more than once. If you are not trying to complete achievements or obtain badges than the fact that a card is redeemed has no impact to you if you are trading for one.
S1 – Upper Deck Series 1
S2 – Upper Deck Series 2
SPGU – SP Game Used
WL – Wish List (aka Want List)
YG – Young Guns
YGC – Young Guns Canvas
YGE – Young Guns Exclusives ■
Follow Larry Berman on Twitter @PaigesFall.