2015 Bunt Launch Exclusive: TOPPSMIKE Highlights Brand New Features!

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As mentioned earlier today, Bunt is going to be launching their new build in the next few days. With MLB opening day just around the corner, I had a conversation with TOPPSMIKE about some of the amazing new features that 2015 Bunt will showcase. Before reading on, I think its clear that the team has listened to a lot of user feedback in making the new build more accessible and competitive. I am that much more excited after my conversation with Mike, as he and the team have obviously put in a tremendous amount of work surrounding the app. They really pulled out all the stops, and the 2015 season is going to be a blast.

NEW FEATURE: Bulletin System

As Mike explained in the article today, the bulletin system (like there was in ToppsKick) is a new way to get users any number of amazing new content in the game. Whether its packs, coins, reward cards, or maybe some funky new award – they can send it through the bulletin system to users.

Being aware of new cards and new rewards given for completing sets and other tasks has always been a relative buzzkill, as users were rarely made aware of when their spoils were made available to them. With this new system, Mike said that all changes. I like that a lot.

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I would guess this is something that may be a minor impact to the overall functionality of the gameplay, but its presence opens up a ton of opportunities for Topps to communicate and provide things directly to the community.

NEW FEATURE: Contest League Play Structure

Gone are the main leaderboards where all users compete against everyone else. Replacing the main leaderboard are specific contest leagues that allow users to pick and choose how they want to play along. There will be contest leagues that group users by difficulties, boost levels and all sorts of new styles of play, and every person will have the opportunity to do it their way.

Mike provided a basic examples of three traffic lanes – easy, medium and hard. This is used in consideration of how certain users may not want to compete with the diamond VIPs on the hardest level, instead opting for the easier crowd where they can excel on a greater level. Of course, playing in the easier leagues wont be as lucrative in terms of prizes, but it will provide a competitive balance for users to compete at their own pace.

There will also be consideration placed on providing options for the hardcore “WATCH EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY GAME” user, along side the more traditional fantasy player who wants to set it and forget it. Every type of player will have their time in the sun.

Contest leagues can last from one game to one week, or longer, as only a few of the structures are finalized at this point. Obviously, user feedback and suggestions will open up new ideas, as will special events and situations that come up during the season.

Similarly, this opens up a throwdown type atmosphere to the gameplay, where different Contest Leagues can be created for specific games or even specific play criteria.

Here is the kicker: You will have to build specific play decks for each type of contest league. That means, if you have one Mike Trout gold, you will only be able to play that card in one league. If you have 9, you will have to determine which of them you want to play and for what league. What this does is create a more even playing field if high collection score users want to play in multiple leagues at once.

With league based scoring in play, its clear that its not always going to be easy to just dedicate a whole pitching staff any longer, unless you have a ton of cards. This will be an enormous play advantage for the first few weeks, even more so as everyone gets ramped up. This could assist in leaving the victory to the person who can do the math and pick the most applicable players. If you pick the wrong guy for your play deck, and leave someone else behind, your team could miss out on a performance from a guy on your bench. Basically, each user will need to play the fantasy element and pick wisely.

Like 2014, the play structure looks to be very similar in playing 9 cards at a time. From what Mike was saying, it doesnt look like they are changing that very drastically. However, they did mention the play timer would go away in a previous statement.

For those of us (like me) who dont have the math or fantasy skills to build the decks in the best possible manner, he said that there would be a “best deck” type of option that automatically selects your most applicable cards. Whew!

Really, the sky is the limit here, and you can bet they will go through the walls with the league ideas. I foresee a Beat TOPPSMIKE league in our future! He has already challenged us to try to get ahead this time around, as he promised to be a force to be reckoned with.

UPDATE: Scoring Structure

Most people will be happy to know that they wont have to completely relearn the way cards score in Bunt. Although hitters have been made a bit more powerful, the main structure is still similar to what it was in 2014, give or take a few points.

Additionally, defensive point structures have gotten much more rewarding, as the tougher a defensive play is to make, the more it will score. If a guy in your lineup scores on an Outfield Assist, gunning down a runner at third, you can bet you will get some nice points for it this year. Sure makes those defensive gurus a bit more valuable to play.

UPDATE: Weekly Sets

Mike assured me that all the fan favorite weekly sets from last year will be back with updated templates. Basically, the deGrom card he previewed is just the tip of the iceberg, and if the rest of the cards look as good as the Editor’s choice, we are in for a treat.

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There will also be tons of new content, so dont think its just going to be a Sig, an EC, an FC, and others without a few surprises for the new year. The collection element is going to be a huge part of Bunt this year, including the potential for a Collector of the Week or something to that degree. Nothing is quite finalized yet, but Mike said that collectors will be very much a focus for 2015 as much as gameplay. For a game like this, where there are as many collectors as gamers, that is a big deal.

There may also be an update to collection score and other collection based elements to ensure a fresh start to the year while not abandoning the previous years, but that is something that he didnt provide much information on. More to come.

UPDATE: Boost Structure

For those of you who arent a huge fan of the massive boosts we saw during the post season, Mike said he isnt a huge fan of that either. We already know the basic boost structure from 2014 will continue in 2015, with Common being 1x and Super Rare being 2x. There is no guarantee that things wont accelerate as the year progresses, but for right now, 2x is going to be the common boost that most players will get to in the game. There will still be 3x black boosts, and maybe a VERY special other card that could go higher, but that wont come immediately, from what he provided.

UDPATE: Opening Day Set

Last year, the first inserts of the year were the Opening Day cards, with a special logo on the common base card. They were kind of forgotten as the year went on, as many of the collectors didnt see much of a premium with that type of a look.

Right now, Mike said the plan was to release them again with 30 subjects, but this time with a special photo variation and logo to differentiate the cards from the base. That should help to create value instead of just another white base card with a special logo.

UPDATE: More Photos!

Photography in sports is one of the most impressive around. The dynamic action shots have provided a backdrop for some of the biggest sports headlines of the last 50 plus years, and Bunt is definitely heading that direction.

As some of you probably realized, they tried to move away from posed photography as much as possible later last year, and I could not be happier. This year, Mike was saying the bank of available shots has grown considerably, and they are going to work with their design team to make sure every card has some unique element to it. Either a new photo, or a new way of looking at one that was previously used. Great news there.

Overall – I am shaking with excitement over what looks to be an epic year of baseball action. There are a lot of reasons to get pumped up now that we know how things are going to play out.

Stay tuned for more articles on collecting strategies and how to build your deck.

BIG THANKS TO TOPPSMIKE FOR THE EXCLUSIVE INFO!!

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2015 Bunt Ramp Up: First Previews of the New Season!

As we saw from Tweets posted by the two Bunt producers, the 2015 Bunt Launch could be mere days away. With the season starting VERY shortly, this should be expected, and I could not be more excited.

Yesterday Bunt released the last insert set to be categorized under 2014, with the heritage series, and that means that the next scheduled release should be under the 2015 banner.  Unlike the transition between 2013 and 2014, there are a lot of cards on the sheet that have already gained scoring ability for the new year, but the excitement over what changes may come is palpable.

We also got a look at the new version of Editor’s choice, which will be a weekly insert continuing from the previous year. Last year, the set commemorated more under the radar type guys who had displayed a reason to be added to the game outside of the base set. They used a retro design and the cards were some of the more popular ones to chase.

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This year, the card sports a brand new look, and I really like the simple and sleek approach the design team has taken. The action based photography over the posed shot is so much more appealing to me. Color me a huge fan.

Obviously, this is only one of many previews that will be coming over the next few days, but MAN things are getting pumped as we get going.

We know that people have been itching to get their hands on the new cards for 2015, and even more people are itching to see the upgrades that will come with the new build.

Check back here, as I will be posting every last tidbit of information as it released, as well as a breakdown of new packs, cards, and all new scoring/play structure.

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Gridiron Unwrapped: Breaking Down Offseason Huddle Sets

This time of year is brutal for Football fans. No baseball, no football, and the draft is still a month away. I feel for the Huddle designers as well, because they have to find a way to keep people engaged and interested. So far, the offseason has had its fair share of content, and here is my breakdown.

Offseason Signature Set

1

Cards: TBD
Pack Price: 7000
Lowest Count: 100 (so far)
Cool factor: Top Pick

Last year, these cards were some of the most boring cards of the year. It was literally the stock head shot with a signature on the card. No design, nothing. This year, I am going to argue that the offseason sig design is better than the head shot sig design we got during the year. Its that cool looking with the chalkboard drawn play background. Although the cards are very tough pulls because of the odds and fewer people opening packs, they are still fun to try to get.

Offseason Limited Set

2

Cards: TBD
Pack Price: 6500
Lowest Count: 84 (so far)
Cool factor: 1st Round Pick

I really thought the first limited set was awesome when it came out, and seeing this set as a continuation of the theme is a huge improvement. The design is awesome, looking like stamped metal, and so far, the player selection has been pretty great as well. A win all around.

Offseason Street Set

3

Cards: TBD
Pack Price: 5000
Lowest Count: 500 (so far)
Cool factor: 2nd Round Pick

Although I still love the original street set so much, this one is cool in a very similar perspective. Its more like we would expect graffiti to look like, with cement walls and more vibrant use of font design, and that makes this a pretty intricate look to an offseason insert.

8 Bit Series

4

Cards: 10
Pack Price: 5000
Lowest Count: 1000
Cool factor: Top Pick

I cant even put into words how much I love this set. It is nostalgia like nothing else, bringing back the days of Tecmo Bowl and the NES to Huddle. The cards are designed perfectly, and the checklist is just as good. I managed to put together the whole set in the last day, and I could not be happier that was the case. One of the best head shot sets in the game, and its not even close.

Bowman II Set

5

Cards: 10
Pack Price: 6500
Lowest Count: 1000
Cool factor: 5th Round Pick

This was the first set to really try the variant coin bundle buy card, and I think it was an interesting approach. Im not a huge fan of offering the variants for small bundles at first and then ramping them up all the way to the 900k bundle at the end though. That’s a bit unfair, considering that many of the users were likely expecting the buys to be of the smaller variety all the way through. Of course, there was always that doubt in our mind, but still. All that being said, I love the design more than the original Bowman set, even though the first version were headshots. Just not a huge fan of the structure.

Finest II Set

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Cards: 10
Pack Price: 5000
Lowest Count: 400 (so far)
Cool factor: Undrafted Free Agent

I remember when these cards were released in physical back in 2011. I wasnt a huge fan of the design then, as the Star Trek like look and feel of the font/design just wasnt as appealing. Seeing them in digital form without the Chrome style presentation makes them look more dull and boring. Being that this is also Christian Ponder’s rookie year makes me have a bad taste in my mouth as a Vikings fan too. Ill try not to hold that against this set, but I would have gone with another year.

Im excited to see what Huddle has in store as we progress through bigger events of the offseason, and I expect they are going to bring the heat. The draft is approaching quickly, and hopefully we get some action going.

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2015 Bunt Ramp Up: Tips for the Launch

With Opening Day around the corner, there is likely going to be a lot of action on Bunt in the next few weeks. April 5th is the first edition of Sunday Night Baseball, and I would fully expect Bunt 2015 to be live a day or two before that. The question becomes, what do you do when it launches? Here are some of my priorities.

1. Figure out the new gameplay system

Multiple members of the Bunt team have already stated that the new build will be a change to the gameplay system. That means that the way you existed in Bunt last year is going to change. It could change slightly or it could change drastically. Be prepared to start from the ground up, and REALLY scour the new system and try to determine your strategy. This will give you a leg up in trading against those people who just dive in head first.

2. Figure out the new scoring system

With a new gameplay system will come a new scoring system, one that surely aims to correct the lopsided nature of 2014. If that is the case, make sure you FULLY understand the way the game works before you go start trading. Everyone will automatically assume that pitchers will be the way to go, but I would guess things will be more balanced this year. Read the scoring adjustments, run a few calculations, and determine a strategy based on the new gameplay and the new scoring.

3. Rip a few packs

If you are a free to play user, it might not be in your best interest to start ripping right away, even though the urge will be strong. If you are a collector instead of a gamer, dont rip anything until the first sig comes out. You will need your coins. If you are a gamer, familiarize yourself with the new pack structure, figure out what packs give you the best odds, and determine how you are going to use your coins. If you were smart, you should have saved up a few hundred thousand over the summer, and should have a stockpile. If you dont, this is the ONE time I would say to break the seal and buy in.

If you are a pay user, try not to get caught up in the storm at launch. Rip a few new packs to get some trading fodder, and then wait for the inserts to be released. You dont want to blow your wad and then be left holding the bag when Topps hits the turbo button on releases. The first sig will be out in the first day or two, and its not a bad idea to wait. I would also guess the opening day cards, and at least one more insert also making the rounds.

4. Trade a lot

In the first days of 2015, there will be a number of users who still want the old cards, even though they dont score. Post a message something like “TRADING 2014 FOR 2015″ or some variation of that as many times as you can. Hopefully the users who want to complete sets from 2014 will offer you some cards.

Be careful about giving up your top pulls this early on – especially golds and the like. The golds will trade like inserts for the first few weeks, so you might want to hang onto the ones you pull, IF they are even available. We could see a trickle like we saw in Star Wars Card Trader, where a team or two a day hit the sheet.

5. Wait Patiently

Its going to be almost impossible, but the more patient you can be, the better. I cannot stress this enough. Although I know I will not practice what I am preaching here, its so important to have your patient hat on tight, as the new releases will likely be fast and furious in the first few days. Bunt will have to keep everyone on board who joins from the coverage they get, so they will not be thin on fun stuff.

Make a plan to buy only what pertains to your collecting and gaming needs, and dont just buy for the sake of buying.

Good luck everyone, this is one of the most fun parts of the year, as everyone is excited and everyone is ready for a new year. Playing things strategically will help you exponentially – TRUST ME.

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Force Tip of the Day – Collection Score Discussion and New Rankings

Yesterday brought a bit of a surprise, as we saw the gameplay element come to a bit of a revelation for Star Wars Card Trader. Basically, because there is no fantasy sports element available for Star Wars, Topps is using your collection score as a way to rank the top collectors in the game.

Like we saw in the other sports games, the top ranked users get a special card for their collection, this time being a Han Solo base parallel that was picked by the top guy. Since the article was published, I started getting a lot of questions on twitter about how collection score is determined. Ill do my best to break down what we know.

Background

Starting with 2014 Bunt, users started being able to see what the team affectionately called “Collection Score” pertaining to ranking users collection against that of the whole. The scores ranged from 0.00 to 100.0, and was based on how complete and how powerful your collection would be against a user with different completeness of their own collection. Certain things factored into the score, including quantity of cards possessed, quality of cards possessed, and percentage of cards collected from the main sheet.

Each card you owned represented a small fraction of your collection score, and it gave a great indicator of recognizing who’s collection was the best in the game.

Transition to SWCT

With the release of the new app, one that is 100% collection based, the “FORCE SCORE” is the Star Wars version of the collection score from bunt. Only this time, as mentioned above, its being used as both the game play and the bragging rights.

Improving Collection Score Part 1 – Quantity

Right now, there are only certain base cards that are available in the game. Because not all cards are released yet, no one can have the 100% complete score on their main page. At the same time, having huge quantities of cards from the base set will improve your collection score to a point. Although we dont know how much one card is worth, there is likely a part of your score that is derived from how much of the available set you have completed.

Use the fan feed and blind trades from the main card sheet to acquire as many base as you can, and trade your dupes for ones you need. Not only will this give you awards for completing the sets, but your score should be well above 50 at that point.

Part 2 – Quality

As we saw in Bunt, Huddle and Kick, owning higher quality cards will get you a higher score. It will also improve the part of your score tied to completeness, so its two fold. Because so little content is available at the moment, inserts and other rare cards can give you a bigger boost than they might in the past. The Episode 7 set did wonders at first, because it was the only insert set available. Now, its one of a bunch more, so the cards arent worth as much to your score.

If you want to move up in the rankings, you will likely need to acquire a good deal of these inserts, and that should not come as surprise. Trying to get one of each cards is not a goal to chase at this point, but determining which cards improve your score the most will help you know which to chase. From what I can tell, it looks like the cards 1000 and below will be your best bet.

Part 3 – Completeness

This is where things get a bit complicated, as right now, not all cards are realistically able to be traded for. For the rarer cards, many are on lockdown, and wont be easy to get without massive firepower.

Secondly, its going to be very tough to be ranked in the top 25 without spending real money. You can trade and trade and trade, but without buying in, there will always be people who are spending and can get more of the set done.

I have spent 50-75 dollars on the game since release, and have a collection score about 77. If I wanted to spend the time cross trading between Huddle and Bunt, I could easily supplement my spending with people who were more interested in Bunt than SWCT.

From what I can tell, the people in the top 25 have completed most of the scene collections, have at least 10-20 inserts, and 5-7 gold cards. With all of that comes the purple cards, which many of them have a few of.

Part 4 – Changing Scores

Remember, your score is based as much on other users as it is your cards, so as more cards are released and more people pick them up, your score could change significantly. Obviously, you have to check back and get going with new inserts as much as possible, as you dont want to miss out on cards that all the other users have picked up, but you did not. If you cant pull it from packs, trading is your best bet.

Let me stress that everything in this article is a generalization because there is no set guide to the collection score available in game. In all honesty, because the score is based on user by user averages and stuff like that (from what it looks like), that might not be possible.

Keep on your toes and watch your score like a hawk.

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Force Tip of the Day: Importance of Character Value

The one thing that always drew me to Star Wars as a kid had a lot to do with what every child aspires to be – someone with awesome powers. Superheroes have become a part of a kid’s upbringing for years, and Star Wars is a version of that fantasy. However, thanks to some very complex characters and story lines, the popularity has grown beyond just the movies.

With SWCT the trading market will function on some very easy to understand principles, which include rarity and reward value (sets, credits, etc). Aside from those, one of the more volatile parts of the economy has to do with the popularity of the character, which can exponentially increase value for an already valuable card.

Right now, there is still a vacuum in content creation, stemming from the early stages of the app combined with the amount of huge demand for top cards. As a result, character basis can really have a huge impact on the value of a rare card, especially if that character is Sith related. Its been no secret that fans often gravitate towards the dark side, as the characters were always full of different layers. Where the Jedi were the boy scouts of the universe, the Sith were conflicted. This makes for a more interesting dichotomy between the groups. Because this article is not about why bad guys are popular in movies, I digress.

This means that a Darth Maul high value card will likely carry more weight than one of the minor soliders. Same thing goes for Boba Fett, Han Solo, and other fan favorite characters that have an attachment to the nostalgia of the movie series. That doesnt mean that a Cantina based scene collection isnt cool, or is worthless, just that more popular characters get more love in certain situations.

This may seem pretty obvious, but you would be surprised. Topps is going to have a very tall task of writing out checklists with character popularity in mind. It goes all the way down to trading base at some points, as its clear that someone may be less inclined to give up a dupe of Yoda vs a dupe of Grand Moff Tarkin. This can lead to some major rifts in what the users think is a cool card, vs how a character fits into an overall plan for the content of the game.

Im sure we will find out more as the game progresses. So far they have done a very nice job keeping things diverse.

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Force Tip of the Day: What Inserts / Cards Are Worth Chasing?

We are now through our first week on the new Star Wars Card Trader, and with it, a number of awesome card releases as I posted about yesterday. I have gotten a lot of questions about the value of certain cards in the game, and how much I have had to give up in each case. There are two classes of cards, and both have their pros and cons.

Rare Base

The first class of cards that I have seen is the rare base. This group contains the gold, purple and now orange parallels of the base cards, some of which are very valuable. There is also an argument that can be made towards how valuable the new yellow cards are worth, as they can be expensive the day of release.

Here are the obvious rankings:

1. Orange Base – So far, only one has been released in Qui Gon Jinn. With so few of them in circulation, you will have to give up a ton. Because so little is know about future availability, I would hold off chasing until more is revealed. Jinn isnt exactly the most popular of the Jedi, despite Liam Niesson’s VERY specific set of skills, and I would guess more popular characters are on the way.

2. Purple Base – When collecting the 3 daily yellows, plus the golds, you will get a purple as a reward. Because only a few people can manage to get all four cards in the 24 hour window provided, the purples are very rare.

3. Gold Base – This is where things get interesting. Gold base are only available in 1 pack (Darth Vader), and you have to make a purchase to get access. On top of that, they are only 1% pulls, and may be valuable as part of multiple scenes at once. The issue is that once available, they are not sold out, so the card counts will continue to climb. Right now, popular characters are trading for low tier inserts, but that could change.

Inserts

As of right now, the inserts are divided into categories as well. The first group is the set based inserts (sometimes released in 3-4 different rarities at once), and the second is the group of weekly inserts that will have new cards each week. These weekly sets are SW Vintage, Topps Choice, Connections, Galactic Moments, and the like. The last group are the single inserts that have a shared concept, like the Greedo Bounty card that was released yesterday.

Here is how I would rank them right now:

1a. Connections – Cool concept and cool looking card. The first one was 1000 copies, which is rare by this standards.

1b. Vintage – Han is still highly sought after at 1500 copies

3. Widevision

4. Topps’ Choice

5. Galactic Moments

Another thing to keep in mind is that each of the weekly inserts has a collection reward for collecting the run of the set. That means that even high count versions of each of the cards may still carry more value just to get the set reward.

As for the set cards, the rarer versions are close to impossible to get. When you see that some of them only have like 50 copies, there might not be any available card in the game that one could trade. I have seen some nice cross app trading go down, but that is at your own risk. Think about what someone would have to give up for the 50 count Maul Nightbrothers or a similar card.

Overall, I have traded Hoth type set cards of the lower versions for golds, and I have traded golds for some of the higher parallels in the other sets too. As the cards age, the value will drop, so dont think you could get shut out for your whole career on the app. With a ton of people busting the Vader pack each day to get the daily bonus, you know the card counts on the golds will eventually top any insert available.

At the same time, we really know so little at this point that you almost have to take it day by day. Keep in mind that the apps change considerably over time, which means something valuable today may be more valuable tomorrow or vice versa.

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