How Does NS Cards

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The Admin Tower How Does Dispatch on NS


Part of a series of archived articles in Refugia
How Does NS Cards
Author: Aramantha
Date Created: Jan 24, 2021

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NationStates Trading Cards are a unique trading card mechanic built inside NationStates. Cards are generated once a year (on average), and for every nation existing at that time, regardless of size, the game creates a card for that nation. Those cards are all split into rarities and each have their own number values and prices. There’s even a market just for selling and buying those cards!

But the best part about trading cards is their infinite potential. Some people go for owning the most valuable deck in the game, some go for making their own card expensive, some want to mess with markets, many others just want to collect cool cards. The possibilities are endless and all up to you. And that’s what’s really pretty cool about NS cards.

So how do I get cards?

In packs of course! You may have even noticed those packs already, after all they have a 20% chance of dropping every time you answer an issue. Each pack contains 5 cards of varying Rarity. But as issues only happen every so often (every 6 hours after the initial few issues), most collectors create a set of nations to answer issues with in attempts of collecting more packs and therefore more cards. These are usually called Puppet Nations (Note: extra puppet nations are neither required or necessary depending on what you want to do with cards. Some folks have no puppets while a select few have thousands!!).

How do I know how much a card is worth?

Cards are measured by two values: Market Value and Junk Value

Junk value is a set value that corresponds to the amount of bank you get for junking a card. Values are based on a card's rarity. There are 6 rarities, which exponentially increase in how difficult they are to pull in a pack. These rarities, paired with their respective junk values, in order from most to least common are:

Common: 0.01 bank

Uncommon: 0.05 bank

Rare: 0.10 bank

Ultra Rare: 0.20 bank

Epic: 0.50 bank

Legendary: 1.00 bank

But while junk value is important, not every card is worth it to junk. This is due to the other value each card has, Market Value.

Market Value is an individual statistic, compiled uniquely for each card based on past transactions.


As you can see in this example, the card in question is revealed to be a common by its 0.01 junk value, but its Market Value is leagues higher than that!

It’s good to keep in mind however that Market Value doesn’t actually decide how much you can sell a card for, that of course is up to the individual buyers. What it actually measures is how much it will boost your Deck Value. Deck Value is the value that decides the International Artwork Statistic and is also the most common competition among Card Collectors, having the most valuable deck is an incredible feat. So what that incredibly high Market Value tells you is that by adding it to your deck you would have 49.00 more deck value than previously. And if you wanted to sell it, well this is the highest offer to buy, considerably less.


How does the market work?

The market is based on an auction system. As a base concept, nations can put up Asks for cards, how much they’re willing to sell a card for, and other nations can put up Bids, how much they’re willing to buy a card for. When a bid and an ask match, an auction is started. During the auction (which lasts an hour), any nation can put up a higher bid in attempts to buy the card or a lower ask in order to try and sell theirs. To steal a card from a current auction is called Sniping and to under ask in order to steal bank is called Heisting. In addition, every time there’s a new match, one minute is added to the hour long timer so heists and snipes can't just always go through on the last second of the auction (bidding wars can sometimes go on for hours!!).

Now that on its own is pretty simple, but what comes out of it is less so. There are enough ways to exploit or use the market that it often serves a very different purpose than its intended one. Some of these are bank transfers, inflation/deflation, heisting, sniping, flooding, pull events, and the list just goes on. But the point is that the market is often a hectic place.

Can I avoid using the market at all?

There is one way to move cards without using the market and that is Gifting. Gifting is a pretty simple concept: you can pay junk value to send a card directly to another nation, no market involved! That is, if you have deck space. What's deck space?

Deck Space is also a pretty simple concept! You start with space for 50 cards (or 100 if you have Site Supporter). This does not mean you can only hold 50 cards at once on that nation. You can hold as many cards as you want on a nation, even if it exceeds Deck Space, but if you don’t have deck space, you both can’t open packs on that nation and can’t gift cards to that nation. Deck Space can be grown with bank however! Each purchase of 50 (or 100 with NS supporter) is exponentially more expensive. The first purchase is 1 bank, next is 4, next is 9, etc. So while deck space is extremely useful, there comes a point where it’s no longer viable.

How do I move bank from nation to nation?

There’s two main ways to move bank. The first method is pretty simple. If you have enough deck space on a nation, you can gift high value cards to that nation, therefore transferring however much bank you would get from junking or selling those cards. This is not perfect efficiency (you have to pay the junk value to gift), but while you have deck space, it is far simpler than the alternative.

The alternative is called Bank Transfers. There’s a lot of methods of transfer but the central concept is simple: A puppet buys a card from your main (or another puppet) for an very large price. However much it’s sold for is how much bank you move to your main.

But keep in mind, if you do this with just any card, there’s a good chance other players will already have that card and will try to heist your transfer, taking the bank for themself. Luckily there’s a couple of ways to remedy this! The first is to use low-owner cards. Every card shows the amount of owners at the bottom of the card as well as the who those owners are. Here’s an example of a low owner card:


In addition, nations that are CTE (ceased to exist) are a lot rarer to pull (and are also usually low-owner), making them better targets. Cards from past seasons are also useful as packs from previous seasons are considerably rarer than packs of the current season. A CTE common with usually 1-10 owners is the simplest commonly seen bank transfer. As you get more complicated, transfers usually split into two categories:

For transferring small amounts of bank or in smaller increments, Mass Transfer is the safest way to transfer. With mass transfer you acquire a bunch of copies of a card (low owner is better but not necessary). You then sell all at once at small increments of bank. This kind of low bank transfer flies easier under the radar and transfers small enough amounts of bank that if someone heists you, you can just buy the card and add another copy to your mass transfer collection.

For transferring large amounts of bank, Piggybacking is the preferred method. When piggybacking, you have to collect at least two copies of a low-owner card. You start selling one at a low price and once there’s a very short amount of time in the auction, sell the other one for the enormous amount of bank you want to move. This gives people a very short time to respond and/or pull the card, leaving you a lot more impervious to heisting... but never perfectly so.

Bank transfers can always get a little bit more secure but none of these transfer methods (and probably none in the future) are perfectly safe for two reasons. The first is that depending on the size of the purchase, you may end up inflating the Market Value of your transfer card and this makes your card more valuable, therefore more desirable by value collectors.

The second reason is TCALS.

Wait what the heck is TCALS?

TCALS stands for the Trading Cards Anti Laundering System. That name is a bit of a woofer so we just call it TCALS for short. TCALS was added to the game to debuff transfers, inflation, etc and to make the market just a little bit more risky. What TCALS does is make it a lot more likely to pull a card that is currently at auction. It’s a simple rule, but you can imagine how that would complicate transfers or inflation or really a lotta stuff in the market. Of course not every card that ever goes up for auction gets pulled from TCALS, but it is a lot more likely and there’s a couple things that make it a lot more so:

First of all, the lower the rarity of a card, the more likely it is to be a TCALS pull. Commons get pulled with TCALS more often than a legendary would. Notably at the same time, the higher the bank value of the sale is, the more likely it is to be pulled. TCALS is not a perfect science but there is a certain point in the value of a transaction when it will start being pulled by TCALS, and that rarity changes based on the rarity of a card. And the final thing that affects TCALS rarity is how active the auction is. The more recently a new match has been made, the more likely it is to pull. If two people are fighting over a card, it often gets pulled more often. In fact, this particular concept leads to the most popular exploit of TCALS (and probably of NS cards in general), Pull Events!!

Pull events are events used to acquire a card that is either very expensive or very rare. The card is put up for auction at a super high price and then someone continually penny bids (bids .01 bank higher than their last bid) at a high speed for the duration of the event. Other players then farm cards for that same duration. It works... really well, and is the easiest way to get a card if it’s too expensive or rare to acquire on your own.

Side Note: Because of past shenanigans, TCALS only has a chance of activation if a pack was acquired in the last 2 minutes.

How do I find _____?

Specific cards:

If the nation hasn’t yet ceased to exist,, you can look up the nation and click “view card” under the cards icon. If you’ve sold or bought the card recently, you can also find it in your trades section under sales or buys.


If you have no way of finding it through the website, The North Pacific has a card finder that lets you find large categories and singular cards with ease. It can search by keyword, bids, asks, market value, owners, etc, and can even search many parameters at once. Really good resource if you’re looking for particular cards or forming collections:

Deck Value:

By clicking the value button next to your total cards number,


you can see your total deck value and which cards give you that value, in order of highest to lowest market value. This is very useful for cleaning your deck of cards you don’t want or finding what cards are giving you value!

Deck Value Ranking:

By going to the rankings page and clicking on the International Artwork Statistic

Past, current, and future transactions:

The trades button on the top shows all your current auctions, asks, and bids as well as all former buys and sales you’ve made with that nation (this can also be really helpful if you’re trying to find the owner of a puppet as most of their sales will be gifting or selling to a main nation).

Most valuable cards/decks and most recent trades:

In the market, at the top there’s a bar that lists auctions, trades, cards, and decks. The auction tab shows you current auctions, the trades shows you the most recent trades, cards shows you the most valuable cards, and decks shows you decks with the highest deck value. These can also further be narrowed down by rarity and season.