Throwdown Primer 12/18 – Breaking Down Tonight’s Game Boosts

Well, I just dont know how to describe this game. Some how, some way, the NFL thought it was a good idea to put these two teams up against each other for the final Thursday night of the year, and I am pretty baffled why that is the case. Alas, here we are, and that means another throwdown!

Bishop Sankey – TEN 9x

Of all the game boosts, I think that this one might end up being the star of the show, as the Titans’ QB situation is not going to lend itself well to a great passing game. That means added pressure on the running game, and Sankey should see the bulk of that pressure. Hopefully he gets in for a TD or two.

Verdict: Worth Picking Up

Kendall Wright – TEN 9x

Although he is coming off a broken hand, he should play. He is the one receiver that Tennessee has that is likely to get more than one big play under his belt, but like I mentioned above, the QB situation is about as bad as it gets. Not Texans bad, but bad.

Verdict: Low Priority

Blake Bortles – JAX 9x

Celebrate Jags fans! Bortles is no longer leading the league in INTs thanks to Jay Cutler, but that is still not the best situation to be in as a rookie QB for a horrible team. Bortles has shown the ability to put up some scores, which could play well tonight in what seems to be potential for a high scoring shootout.

Verdict: Low Priority

Allen Hurns – JAX 9x

I dont think Allen Hurns’ dad thought his son was even going to get the looks he has had this year, and that says a lot about what Hurns was capable of as an UDFA that signed during the off season. With Justin Blackmon taking a turn for the worse, Hurns is a guy that has stepped up. The one other thing going for him is that he has no other cards in the game.

Verdict: Worth Picking Up

Honorable Mention:

Nate Washington – It is shocking to think that the Titans have played two nationally televised games. Its worth noting that last time around, Washington had a long TD.

Cecil Shorts III – One of my picks for best name in the NFL, and Shorts is coming off his best game. Interesting to see what he can do against a horrible Titans secondary.

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Huddle Tip of the Day – How Valuable Are Variant Sigs?

I mentioned earlier that I was someone that lives for sigs. I love them, and will walk the lonely road of the chase for as long as I need to. As of late, sigs have gotten a bit more interesting, especially as Huddle has started releasing Variant sigs as of Week 10 with Andrew Luck. With the Variant sigs numbered to as low as 5 with Murray, these have become the ultimate chase item for people like me. The Luck remains one of the most valuable in the game, which begs the question, just how valuable are they? Are they worth the chase?

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Collection Value – Pack Variants

Bottom line, go buy a lottery ticket if you pull one. With so few available, there are player and team collectors that will give up the moon to get them. Im talking ransoms as high as 9 high value sigs for one variant, subbing in high boosts where appropriate. Mint boosts (as well as chocolate in some cases) is a great ways to dangle a reward in front of someone that has a rarer variant, but those can be awfully hard to come by. In most cases, multiple Mint boosts, plus other low inserts will be necessary, and that only depends on the owner.

The scariest part is when someone without a huge collection manages to pull one, as there are a few scenarios that could play out. First, they are so enamored with the card (their right, of course), that it goes on lockdown forever, even if they are not team or player collector for that release. These accounts have been known to go dark, and the card becomes lost for good. This does add value to the live ones, but its not a good situation for the chaser crowd. I am always happy for the little guy in the pond who snags a big meal, as I have the optimistic approach that it keeps them in the game. Then again, they might not know what they have, trade it for nothing to a quick acting big fish, and that could be just as problematic for the economy.

Either way, I love the chase, and I take it as a challenge to try to acquire what I can. These cards are not targeting players who dont have a lot to give or spend, and that is a perk that I will always find valuable. If I am going to spend the money, I want to be able to get something that very few other people can get. I want the centerpiece.

I understand where people feel that the rarity is too much, but that is really the point. You want to keep the biggest players on their toes, while not disrupting the normal players’ quest for their cards. These chase variants have no impact on any of those sets or missions, so there is literally no harm in that. It might piss off the completists who want every card, but its likely a matter of time that they come to terms with the fact that not everything will be within their grasp, anyways.

Collection Value – Coin Chase Variants

This is where things get complicated. There have been two coin chases that huddle has done, with 4 different variant sigs being offered during the program. These are the programs where you have to buy the packs with tickets to the next level. The first was the pink Luck sig that has 12 copies, and then again with 3 different variant Russell Wilsons with similar rarities.

These cards dont have the same value as the pack pulled variants, in my opinion, but they are definitely not cheap at all. I was able to acquire the Russell Wilson pink sig for one of the low count Marathon cards I pulled, and I think I got the better end of that deal by far. I have seen multiple mints get passed along for the lower count Wilsons, and I expect that when the next coin chase comes along, there will be 3 more from different players we will get. I wouldnt be shocked if Aaron Rodgers, Brady or Manning gets the treatment.

Collection Value – Post Reward

Im adding this in, because I still think that the variant sigs are one of the only cards that maintain almost full value after rewards are paid out. With 50k sometimes on the line for hanging onto the variant, that is a huge reward for one card. Even after the reward, the cards can command full value, even without promise of coins, which is unlike any other card type in the game.

Play Value

With most variants coming in a step above their white sig counterparts, I think there is a definitely awesome play value to these cards that will attract points players to the pool of collectors. Many of the variants have at least a 5x boost, with the holiday variants clocking in at 7x. That is a pretty nice incentive.

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Huddle Tip of the Day – Participating in Throwdown Formats

Since the beginning of the season, Huddle has instituted a format that I have become absolutely enthralled with. Instead of competing in a week long chase for the top spot, Throwdown becomes a way for users to compete in a one day league, akin to the new rage created by a bunch of different new Fantasy Football sites. Although there is a cost to play, there are reasons why it can be more profitable than playing in the week long chase. If you can do both, even better.

Each nationally televised game on Thursday and Monday have a throwdown attached, so be ready around 12pm to see what is going on with each game.

Understanding the Format

Each throwdown has three tiers. Gold costs 25k coins and is the high rollers bracket for lack of a better term. It also has the biggest prize. Silver costs 5k, and offers coin rewards, as does Bronze at 500 coins.

My advice is to play according to your collection strength. Unless you have the card collection to score over 100k-150k points in one night, DO NOT PLAY GOLD. It took over 175k points to finish top five last night. There are no coin rewards for finishing in the top 10 or top 100, and to get in the top 5, you have to have a collection that is among the best in the game (in terms of boosts and top point scoring cards).

Silver is still HIGHLY competitive, because unlike Gold, the coin rewards extend into the top 100 to get a nice return on your buy in. Because 100 people rarely play this bracket, its a no brainer to try if you have the coins. To get the really nice payout, you have to finish top 5 though, which is tough without scoring at least 100k points for the night.

Bronze is much easier to have success in, but because the buy in is so cheap, it gets a lot of players who are like “meh, why not?” Finishing in the top 10 can be a feat, but at 500 coins for a ticket, its not like you are losing your house.

As the article mentions, do not buy more than one ticket, and the last one you buy is the tier you will be competing in. You cannot compete in more than one tier. You also DO NOT need to play the ticket in your starting lineup to be considered for the prize.

Live standings can be found when you click on the little flag at the bottom, and then select leaderboard from the top menu that says “fan feed.” If you go all the way to the right, you can see where you are finishing.

Strategy to Win

In the top two tiers, it helps tremendously to chase down as many game boosts as you can. Now that they have switched to 9x, they have become even more valuable than they already were. In a pinch, go after the RBs and the WRs first, as the QBs can still be outscored pretty easily by the people they throw to. On a long TD, the gold WR will outscore the high boost QBs, from what my understanding is.

Once you have your cards, set your lineup at least an hour before the game starts, this is very important. I usually pick my 5-6 best cards from each team and load them in, with a focus on RBs and QBs that I know will be the people that get points on the first drive. RBs will get the first play of the game 75% of the time, so take that into consideration, and it will save you some VERY valuable plays.

To win you will have to play along with the game live. There is no other way around it. Huddle functions on NFL API stream, which is about 2 plays behind live. This means you can wait for the play to happen before substituting guys. Do not make instant switches or you will likely miss out on points. Wait for the points to accumulate and then make the switch.

If you have a ton of cards for the top point scorers, make sure to use your plays wisely. On plays less than 5 yards, you might want to consider skipping the switch unless you dont have many cards you are going to play live. All long plays should start with your WRs being loaded in, prior to loading in your QBs. Make sure to switch out guys on all turnovers – interceptions for QBs and Fumbles for everyone.

Future Strategy

I always play two weeks in advance in trading for teams in the throwdown. The day before and day of, everyone will be scrambling to get cards for their lineup, so you dont want to have to overpay.

I would chase the cards in this order:

  • WR – Top potential for point scorers in any single game, interchangable with RB depending on talent level
  • RB – RB carries across the league have reduced, unless your name starts with D and ends with emarco Murray. More RB by committee means less points for backs. Guys like Charles and Bell catch passes too, which makes them more important.
  • QB – These cards can be good to fill holes if you cant fill your lineup with WR or RBs
  • TE – Depends on the guy, as we know Gronk and Jimmy Graham can still catch a huge amount of passes.

Chase your cards like a fantasy owner would. Who has the most potential to get A) a ton of yards and B) score TDs.

If you have any more questions on Throwdown formats, let me know.

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Throwdown Primer 12/15 – Breaking Down Tonight’s Game Boosts

Wow – if you havent seen the article as of late, I would advise you go check it out, as the GO boosts have been changed to a 9x to 4x format for the first time. This will greatly impact performance tonight – which is a big change from previous weeks.

Here are some thoughts on how the Game Boosts will play out.

Drew Brees – SAINTS 9x

Brees has had a down year, and its no stretch to see how that has impacted the Saints so far. Its been a struggle for them, but when you play Chicago, whose secondary consists of cardboard cutouts of people that used to play defensive back for the Bears, you know this is going to be a night to right the ship. The NFC south is a joke, and even though the Saints are under 500, they have a legit shot to still make the playoffs. Insane.

Verdict: Vital Piece

Mark Ingram – SAINTS 9x

Ingram has had his ups and downs this year, and this is his chance to have another big game. The Bears have been gashed for huge yardage in the past, and Ingram could be a prime candidate to take home a large number of points tonight. Bears are not playing well on defense, as you have probably seen.

Verdict: Worth Picking Up

Alshon Jeffrey – BEARS 9x

With Brandon Marshall out for the year, Jeffrey is the only guy worth throwing to any more. The Saints will put their best guy on him, but he could still have a huge game because he there arent many options save Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte.

Verdict: Vital Piece

Matt Forte – BEARS 9x

With the Saints playing as poorly as they have, Forte could shoulder more of the burden if the Bears can get out ahead fast. He is responsible for a big percentage of the Bears offense, and has a unique ability to almost play as a WR as well as a RB. That means big Huddle points for him. The Saints can also dedicate resources to bottle him up, but they might have their hands full in the defensive backfield and it wont matter.

Verdict: Vital Piece

Honorable Mention:

Kenny Stills - With the Bears secondary being so terrible, Stills could have a tremendous opportunity tonight. All about how well Brees can play.

Martellus Bennett - Over the last few games, he has been a bright spot. Im interested to see if he continues to play well.

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TOPPSMIKE Confirms New Team Member for 2015 Bunt

I mentioned last week that I had heard Bunt was going to be bringing on a new team member to help TOPPSMIKE and the app stay ahead of the curve. I commented how much the App Producers go through to make things run smoothly, and how much help another set of hands can be.

Well, I decided it was worth reaching out to them and Mike was very kind to respond with a statement that fuels a bit of my question posed in the title of this post.

First, here is his response:

“As we saw countless numbers of teams made big moves at this week’s annual Winter Meetings. Topps was no different in making a key acquisition of our own. We’re happy to be bringing on another member to add to our small, yet dedicated, BUNT Team. This person, who is a well-known and beloved member of BUNT Nation, will join myself, TOPPSCHRIS, TOPPSIAN and the rest of our staff in creating and maintaining the absolute best baseball trading card app there is. In addition to simply working alongside us, we’re confident that this person will take the group’s knowledge of baseball, the app and most importantly, the community, to new heights and we’re very excited to be expanding our team.

While I’ve said time and time again that it’s the passion of our fans that keeps our fire burning to come up with the latest and greatest card ideas, designs and concepts, producing at the level BUNT Nation has come to expect from us was simply unsustainable long-term given the size of our current staff. This addition will free up some members of our team to concentrate on making the app better in other areas, making us more well-rounded as a whole. This is an investment by our company in that very same passion our fans give to us on a daily basis, and a way to help us surpass even the highest of expectations, which are self-imposed.

Because of legal issues pertaining to this person’s current employment, we’re not at liberty to identify them at this time. But this person will be working closely with myself and TOPPSCHRIS in the coming weeks to become a fully functional member of the team, something BUNT Nation should be very excited about for the future of our great app.”

Im really curious to see who it is, no doubt.  I have heard rumblings from some outside contacts that it is someone that many of the Bunt users should know, which only makes this more intriguing. Ill definitely follow up with Mike to get more information on the new guy, and as soon as details are made public, Ill post them immediately.

Either way, this looks like it should be a very positive thing for Bunt, considering that they have obviously recognized the importance of serving the community.

Thank you to TOPPSMIKE for his response!

NOTE: It is not me – got a few funny responses thinking that was the case.

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12 Days of Huddle and Bunt – WOW.

If you have been reading this site for a while, you know how much I love sig cards. As an autograph collector in my physical collection, it only makes sense that I am enamored with sigs as much as I am. To hear that Bunt and Huddle are running holiday programs all involved with signature cards? Amazing. I am beyond excited.

For Bunt, it will be 12 days of Dual Signature cards, which I assume will be pretty big. Because they have the ability to use retired players in releases, they have a lot more flexibility to make this work very well. The first release is a Dual Sig of Bo Jackson and Frank Thomas, which I am sure Ian had a lot to do with. With 11 more on the way, I cant wait to see where we get to go.

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Huddle is taking a bit of a different approach, but I have every reason to be extremely pumped up. Each day they will release a special holiday sig and a signature variant, starting with my main man Teddy Bridgewater as the initial release. There will be a holiday Triple Sig and variant for collecting all 12, and you know that card is going to be pretty low.

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Although I have heard complaints over how much it will take to get all 12 cards, I stand by how cool this program is for us sig collectors. If you are not a sig collector, Im sure there will be plenty for you to chase over the next few weeks. With the playoffs ramping up in huddle, and Bunt going all out on retired guys, you know that this will not be the end. There have been major shakeups during the MLB Winter Meetings, and some amazing storylines in the NFL that should get some attention too.

Let me stress that you dont have to pull every card to enjoy the program. 12 is a lot, and there is no rule saying you cant have fun with just one of the cards. That’s the beauty of sigs, not only do they have value as part of the set, but also as a single. Last year’s program was half of what this is, and the cards lost value very quickly when it was over. Attaching sigs to the set is a big way to keep these intact for the whole year.

Cant wait to see what they checklist looks like for each.

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Positive Changes on the Way for Bunt 2015?

I want to paint a picture for you, as I want to make sure everyone understands how Topps digital is set up before going into this post.

The whole division is a very small team of guys who run the 3 Apps. Each app has its main producer, Ian runs social and other responsibilities regarding the community, and there are management personnel like TOPPSCHRIS as the Editor in Chief that oversees the whole thing. There is also a VP of Digital, which oversees a greater scope of the Topps company and its digital scene, but for the most part, Chris is on top of the general direction of the apps, with the producers handling much of the main content for each individual platform. There are other people that handle design for each game, and support for engineering and other aspects.

As a producer for Bunt/Huddle/Kick, each have a SLEW of responsibilities, that can range from high level content creation and checklist building, all the way down to day to day maintenance of the app. It is literally a 24/7 job, and in case you were wondering, all those releases during Thanksgiving came manually delivered by one of the guys running the show. Becaus such a huge portion of the apps are manually maintained,  it can be a ridiculous burden on the individuals that staff these situations. They are often seen as the face of the game, and also the complaint department when things go wrong, which causes tension sometimes in the community. Again, because the team is so small, and the community is so large, priorities sometimes have to be set accordingly for the sake of the business. That means on certain occasions, the producers can look absent or not available.

I have sources close to the team that have said this hopefully is going to be on the up and up next year, thanks to a new role within Bunt. With a huge focus on providing additional hands for the team to run the app, and additional resources to be more in tune with the community aspect of each individual game, this is a huge deal. This means that the enormous dedication of time needed to run some of the less glamorous parts of the app can be split more evenly between the associate type producer and the main producer.

Although I have not confirmed who this individual will be for 2015 Bunt, I think we can all agree that this is a widely positive move by Topps to add to their ranks. The main complaints of the game focus on customer service, updates, and transparency, which can all be lost when 20-30 things need to be done in one game. This should help.

Most importantly, this article is not meant to be patronizing, as there are still major issues system wide that need attention. I wanted to make sure that you all had the opportunity to see some of the stuff behind the curtain, which I feel to be a very positive thing. TOPPSMIKE may be a controversial figure because of his position, but I know how hard he works to make Bunt the best it can be. Same goes for TOPPSMARC in Huddle and TOPPSCHARI in Kick. These guys put in some of the longest hours of any job out there, and I am sure each of them will be happy to get some extra help if the position is made available to them. They all love what they do, but im sure you can understand what new help will mean to the games.

Bottom line, I think that this move WILL NOT fix everything, in my opinion. It will not be something that will correct 100% of the issues out there, as I dont believe that is possible. However, I do think that it is becoming clear that the team is willing to invest time and resources into making each game better, and this should only be the beginning.

If the team continues to grow in the right direction, many of the nagging things that we see to be the larger problems should get fixed. When new problems arise, having additional headcount will ensure that they get addressed more quickly.

Stay tuned for more updates as the individual eventually becomes known.

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