Topps Huddle 2016: Your Guide to the Coming Launch

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With the NFL season kicking off in September, Huddle has already tweeted out that the new build will launch this week. Basically that means we can all start revving our engines to get ready for what is coming. With this being the first year that Topps will have a digital license but no physical NFL license, this can be a game changing opportunity for the brand. They will be able to build things specifically into the cards for a digital landscape, and that could be HUGE.

NOTE: I call it 2016 because its the 2016 season. Huddle is using the Madden nomenclature and going with the year the season ends.

As we approach launch, there are a number of things that need to be considered. I would love to walk through them all, but I chose the most important things that have made successful over the years.

Old Insert Value in 2015

To be honest, the 2015 insert landscape changed DRAMATICALLY over the offseason. With so many low count inserts, the normal approach might not be successful. It used to be that the sigs and low count stuff like limited would have extreme value, but that might not be the case with the way the 2015 season wrapped up. Things like Fire, Supreme and Museum might not hold the value they had long term, so dont expect to pick up top cards of 2017 easily with a 1:1 trade of that type of content. More importantly, the higher the count on the insert, the more likely it will not be very valuable in the new season. In the 2015 Huddle launch, the change to NFL licensing brought about a significant shift in value. A similar shift will be taking place with the offseason approach, and its going to be very interesting to see how those cards fare. Im not saying to dump all your cards now, but use this opportunity to trade up if you can. Package some cards together to see if someone will be more likely to give you a shot at some really nice inserts. Sometimes, nice inserts will have carryover value because they look cool or are rare enough to make a difference.

Also worth mentioning that your collection score will drop significantly once the new cards hit the sheet, so dont be alarmed. Once you collect the base and some of the other releases, it will start to creep back up in direct correlation to the rest of the users in the app. I would guess your score should hover around 80+ depending on how much old stuff you have.

First Day Planning

When Huddle starts up, there will be packs to buy and there will be a crap load of 2016 base cards to collect. However, I am going to urge you to wait to buy packs until the first inserts hit packs. Base cards will rarely ever sell out, which means that wasting coins on empty packs is probably not the best plan. I would guess there will be a number of sets that will be released in the first few days:

  • Kickoff cards (day 1-2 likely)
  • Signature Series (day 2-3 likely)
  • First non-marathon insert set (day 1-2 likely)
  • First marathon inserts (day 1-2 likely)
  • Go Boosts (Wed-Thur of release)

With so much content likely planned, its in your best interest to survey the scene before diving in. You do not want to miss out on a sweet card just because you got trigger happy on the first base packs of the year.

 

Hitting the Fan Feed

Get ready to trade and trade hard. There will be HUNDREDS of people who will jump onto the feed and post “Trading 2015 for 2016” the second the new app launches. Even though you will be one of those individuals, I would definitely find a way to get some trades done. Try to unload 2014 and 2015 cards that have no value to get higher boost cards of players who might not be the top guys. Use the red paperclip technique to parlay them into some trade bait you can use to get some cards of people you actually want. It wont be easy, but it will pass the time until the real inserts hit packs and you can finally dive in. Expect to enormously overpay for 2015, and that should not be a concern. Most people have a TON of 2015 boosts and stuff to unload – even singles – and I would advise giving up what you cant use to get cards you can use.

Scoring

If 2016 is anything like 2015, the contests will launch a few days before that Thursday game. playable Broncos and Panthers cards will be in high demand, and that means they might not be ones you can trade for easily. Remember, this is one game of hundreds, so dont liquidate your collection of new cards to get the ones for this particular game.

If you really want to get ahead, start looking at the teams that have a LOT of nationally televised games. Having a lot of those team’s cards will give you a significant advantage in getting top performance in contests.

Position Scoring Value

Last year, all offensive skill position guys were worth picking up as long as they were starters. Here are how I thought the breakdown went, in order of value:

  1. Wide Receiver
  2. Running Back
  3. Quarterback
  4. Tight end
  5. High tackle count defensive player
  6. High sack count defensive player
  7. Kickers
  8. High interception count defensive player
  9. Punters

Outside of that, its basically a jumble of other defensive guys and players that dont score. Dont get caught up in getting a top QB, because the way scoring was set up in 2015, the receiver almost always scored a ton more points for any nice play. DESPITE what people believe, RBs and WRs are much better for you if you are going to be participating in the weekly grind.

Based on what we have seen, here are my top players at each of the most important positions.

  • QB: Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck
  • WR: Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones
  • RB: Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Todd Gurley
  • TE: Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Travis Kelce

Not all of these individuals will have cards from day one, so pick out the ones that will likely be your top targets.

Contests/Boosts

Bottom line, Contests and Boosts are ingrained in Huddle’s culture. This means there will be a lot of boosts to play in the many contests that will be available as the season progresses. Some will likely be in packs, some will be purchase only. It might be available day one this year, but I would doubt it. Basically, if you arent ready to buy into the boosts, dont. I have seen people do extremely well in contests with no boosts, I have seen people win contests because of boosts. Both work. There will be a place for everything, and Boosts are a thing that make Huddle fun

If Huddle 2016 is anything like last year, the contests will have a Thursday contest, a Sunday Contest, a Sunday night contest, and a monday night contest. Be prepared to play as many of them as you can, not only because of the rewards, but also because of how much more fun the game is.

 

Get Excited!

Bottom line, this is going to be a banner year for Huddle if they can do it right, and that means that they will be focused on the parts of the game that drive participation. Being that Huddle is my main app, this is the time of year that I live for. If you have any questions, shoot me a tweet at @SCUncensored or shoot me a message in game.

Looking forward to seeing a big piece of awesomeness this week.

 

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2016 Topps Bunt Physical: What Worked and What Didnt Work

The release of 2016 Topps Bunt Physical is a big deal, even if you arent in the game of physical cards. Long have physical collectors chastised the digital arena for not having any tangible evidence of money spent, and now that has changed considerably. At the same time, the release was clouded with some major issues, and that hurt the potential I feel this had in a lot of ways. Here are some thoughts.

What Worked Well

First off, it should go without saying that seeing Bunt take on a physical form was really cool. The base design is awesome, and the inserts are even better. Building a product around the digital format is a great opportunity for digital collectors who havent opened real packs to do so. That in itself is a win, considering how the physical hobby has been shrinking in direct contradiction to the growth we have seen in digital for years.

The redeemable inserts and cards in the loot packs are going to be prized in the game, or at least they should be. They look great, they have great concepts, and the checklists are pretty good too, and if you walk away with 13 loot cards per box, these cards are worth redeeming them for.

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Price point on the physical boxes is as good as the card design, with packs accessible to just about everyone under the sun. They could have gone another direction and price the boxes at 70-100 dollars with more physical content, but it wouldnt make it as digestible for the age groups that make digital successful.

What Didnt Work Well

I dont know what happened with the release of this product on the digital side. The sales sheet promised exclusive content to the physical product that seemed to be lost on the digital team. Packs of the insert cards from the product were released into mass circulation in the app, and it came within a hair of ruining the value around every part of the physical product.

Luckily, the cards were pulled after a few hours, but what seems to be the lack of communication between the two sides of the Topps business, really hurt what this product could have been. Instead of VERY low count cards from all aspects of the physical product, many of the parallels are now much higher in count.

In the same vein, it seems like the boost levels on the cards associated with the product dont really fit with the boost escalation patterns of the app. I was expecting the topaz and platinum cards to be a minimum of 3x, but seeing them at 1.5x and 2x is a huge bummer. It doesnt provide much reward for people who pull the cards.

Content in the product also leaves a lot to be desired. Autographs are 1:10000 or so packs, and there are no redeemable physical cards that are less than 1:1400 packs. Although more autograph content would have increased the product’s price per box, more physical redemption content should have been included. This was hugely disappointing in that respect.

I know that digital wants to protect their revenue, but they also cant look at this from a one product slate. There seemed to be huge opportunity to do something like a physical product more often if this was successful, but nerfing the content seemed to seal the deal that this could be one and done. More redemptions, more content designed for the loot packs, more exclusivity should be a focus, and give people a reason to engage BOTH parts of Topps’ offering. There should be a seamless partnership in place for a product like this, and I just dont think that happened based on the way the release went down.

I am someone that loves both parts of the hobby – physical and digital – and I want to see that both remain a part of the landscape. I dont think that the app loses much if some awesome stuff hits physical packs, and I think there is a possibility to gain users if they can showcase the fun of the digital arena in a way that makes sense on the physical product side. If content sucks, and release is botched, all that goes away.

Future Considerations

Personally, I dont see this release as the nail in the crossover coffin as some other users have flamboyantly claimed. There is still a big reason why stuff like this should be done frequently and with a focus on optimization.

We have a SWCT physical product on the horizon, and I think there should be lessons learned from this release too. Communication with the customers, communication between the teams, and follow through on content is all paramount. Without top notch representation of those elements, it will fall apart in a similar fashion to what we saw.

Next time around, I would even consider digital packs with physical redemptions to make it beneficial revenue wise for both sides. If you can get real stuff out of digital packs that arent available on the physical side, that is a huge attraction to bring physical collectors into digital to buy.

I would also toy with the idea of live signature content to be delivered in physical packs, with the first ever opportunity for Topps to showcase their new toy to a broader audience on the physical side.

Lastly, treat this like an event. It cant be just one article the day of release. It has to be marketing on both sides, especially to foster that crossover traffic that makes this product so big a deal.

I hope that Bunt takes the lead on this, because digital is looking more and more like a the horse to pick in the longevity race for sports cards. Products like this can do essential service to education of the hobby population, and my opinion is that this wasnt treated that way.

 

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2016 Topps Bunt Physical is Here: What You Need to Know

The day has finally come for the Bunt crossover product, and I could not be more excited. For those of you who arent aware, there is a physical card product that is being released in Hobby stores and retail tomorrow that will have connection to the digital app we all know and love.

Setup

Not only are there physical versions of the cards from the app, but there are exclusive base cards, as well as loot cards that function as digital redemptions for in game packs. Worth adding that Topps has a checklist of autograph content that adds real signatures to the digital designs.

Capture

In all honesty, what makes this product so attractive is the price combined with the digital redemption aspect, in combination with the potential to get some autograph content at a higher odds ratio.

Impact on Physical

Honestly, this product is more of a win for the physical side than the digital side for a number of reasons. I dont really see a huge clip of physical collectors opening this box and being turned onto digital in a way they havent already seen. In my mind, this is basically a way to entice the larger population of digital collectors to rip some physical packs for the first time.

Impact on Digital

This is where things get interesting. Loot cards are hitting at 1:3 physical packs, and these are where the real gems are. Topaz base that are boosted, plus some opportunity to pull even more inserts. The checklist is pretty stacked, and that means that the cards will be that much more valuable in the game.

There are also digital redemptions for inserts in the physical packs, from what it looks like, which might mean even more of a reason to rip this in mass.

Group Breaks

There are a lot of people who will see that group breaks of the product are online with some of the main players in the GB game. These group breaks might be a way to get in on some of the cards if you arent near a hobby shop.  The different formats are random team or pick your team, where you will have the chance to get a lot of different cards from a team you pick or a team that is decided by draw. Word to the wise: read into how the loot cards are being distributed, because these are where things will make or break your participation.

Checklist

If you want to get an idea of who is included on the checklist, here is the link to Topps’ website.

Topps Bunt 2016 Checklist – Topps.com

Words of Warning

Redemption cards and autographs are TOUGH pulls. This set should not be purchased for people that want to hit the big cards. This is cheap fun with collecting the set and maybe getting lucky along the way. Autographs fall something like 1:10000 packs. If you are a Bunt player and want to get the loot cards, plus some fun other inserts, this will be a blast.

Overall – dont hesitate to shoot me a question on Twitter, im going to be ripping quite a bit of this and will be posting the goods online.

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Signatures Awaken – Boyega and Ridley Invade SWCT

This is a time that some have been eagerly awaiting, the addition of new Force Awakens main characters to the signature side of the app. With new deals on the physical side getting signed, the app team now has more and more actors they can play with, including two of the four best names you can have. Although we are still waiting on Harrison Ford and Mark Hammill to be added, we now have John Boyega (Finn), and Daisy Ridley (Rey) on board. The cards are pretty awesome to boot.

Star Wars Card Trader Rey Signature

The first batch of cards rehashed the signature design we have seen now for almost a year, which was a bit disappointing. Although I think the design was good at first, I think it has gotten a bit tired. Adding so many variants to the original batch has diluted the way the signatures are valued, and I was actually curious why they didnt use the design from the pack art instead of the one they chose.

As the moved onto the movie vision, dual signature and signature relic cards, thats when I jumped in head first. Not only was it a fresh design, but the cards reflected a lot of what I was hoping to see. Although the variant count is already starting to increase for the cards, im still loving the direction of the design work for these examples.

Star Wars Card Trader Signature Relic

The signature relic is turning out to be an EXTREMELY tough pull, which is unfortunate based on how awesome the card looks. If you are a physical collector, it represents a very similar approach to what Topps has done in their high end sports sets. I have a feeling we are going to see a lot more usage of this type of approach, especially as more and more physical sets utilize these signers. Seeing that they are also working on a SWCT physical set, I can see a sig relic level of design taking hold.

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Bottom line, having Rey signatures in the app is a very good thing. People loved Force Awakens, they love the new story, and Rey is central to that. There are a few creepier reasons why people like her, but it all goes to the same place in the app. People want more cards that use her character in cool ways. Of course, if they try to milk the ideas dry with variants of existing cards, instead of developing new sets, its going to be as stale as we saw the original signatures get. Rey or no Rey, fresh content reigns supreme. These signatures are definitely in that vein.

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Topps Previews 2017 Flagship – Quick Look at Impact On Bunt

If you are following along on the physical side, Topps has just published the first look at the flaghsip design for their base baseball products. This design, much like 2016, will likely fund the look for 2017 Bunt as well, and I wanted to go through some initial thoughts.

2017 Topps baseball Bunt

First off, I think the design definitely goes down a path that has a retro looking feel to it. Funny enough, retro being 1998, still looks pretty modern, so it looks really cool. I like the metal framework nameplate, although Im not a huge fan of the tilted team logo.

The full bleed photos are back for the most part, and that remains one of the best features of this card. I like they have decided to go borderless for two years running now, and its going to be interesting if the name plate is used to show color in parallels.

For Bunt, they still have a lot of options when building out the design to show boost levels and other variations. This will work better for them than 2016, even though I think that the 2016 design is better as a whole.

EDIT: As was being discussed on Twitter, there might be a reason that Bunt has the desire to develop its own design, especially with the pending release of its own physical product. Curious to see how this shakes out.

Curious to see what people think on their end – comments welcome!

 

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New Bunt Contests: A Step In the Right Direction

I was really happy to see that the team had taken feedback from the community and started to move on it. Contest feedback on twitter has been less than positive, and my own feedback has been similarly hardened in the way that the team has approached contests this year. As mentioned, it stems from prizes, lack of series 2, competition type and variety – all of which seem have been taken into consideration in new contests announced yesterday.

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Breakdown

First, the new contests are broken up into two types of setup. They mirror the original setup of DFS and traditional Bunt, and both have some pretty nice cards attached to them. Both setups will be running for 7 days instead of the traditional 1 day, and it gives people an opportunity to really dial it in for some nice prizes. Some of the contests are going to be very difficult to win, but at the same time, that’s a good thing.

Fantasy – Pick your best 9 cards and 3 mulligans to test your prognosticating abilities against others.

Traditional – Unlimited switch contest similar to the old weekly challenges that we loved so much. This is the grind, so be ready.

Pros of the New Setup

Bottom line, this will bring the fire back to the contests for a lot of the top players who were loving the playoff run last year. Not only is this a great way to use all those boosts that were built up over the course of the year, but there is FINALLY a competition worth fighting for.

Not only are the new contests more competitive, but the contest cards are nice too. I think the color schemes shouldnt be layered over the players, but maybe they can adjust so that the players are still full color against a shaded background. The 1/1s should be very coveted.

The desire to open base packs and collect series 2 is now a bigger deal, especially when needing more cards to be able to be competitive. This should get more people to open packs, and make the boosts a bit more valuable.

Cons of the New Setup

Most importantly, this needs to be step one of many. This cant be the final solution. There is limited time to take advantage of regular season play, and I hope that changes to daily contests are coming too. This means different prizes, more variety in setup, and an overall attention to the way the contests deliver versus how much effort is required to win.

There are no free entries, and that could be an issue for F2P players. Obviously, they arent the target market, but a nice opportunity for them could go a longer way than Topps might think. Maybe the prizes dont include actual contest cards, but some packs for the victors might be a good incentive.

Outside of the above mentioned items, I hope the desire to continue building around the contest system for all the apps will be a big thing, maybe even a position that Topps could create within their team so that someone could ensure this part has merit for the whole season. Right now, contests still seem like an afterthought because they dont bring direct revenue that can be pointed to. I think this is a short sighted approach and really limits the playability for the users and the profitability for Topps. In case you are counting, thats a lose/lose.

Better contests and more variety in delivery means a ton more people get engaged and stay engaged with the app. That means more buys and more fun for us. If executed in the direction we seem to be headed, that is a big win for everyone.

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Five Things Huddle Needs for the 2016 Season

Training camp is underway! We are finally ready to get back to business on the NFL front, and I literally could not be more pumped up. Football is life for me, and with a new NFL season comes a new quest in Huddle. When the new build eventually hits, there are a few things I would love to see.

Establishment of a Brand

Im not sure if you are all aware, but this is the first year that Huddle will be operating without a brand on the physical side to mirror. I dont actually say that as a bad thing, because its clear that digital has created enough of a fan base that they dont need the support of brand continuity anymore. They can do this on their own and people will flock to the app per usual. That being said, this is also a real opportunity to establish Huddle as Topps’ brand for football above and beyond anything we could imagine. Create products, continue the ones we love, and make them a digital party. For lack of a better term, this is a make or break year for Huddle, and they need to knock it out of the park. I am confident they will.

Continued Excellence in Design

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Before we go any further, the design work done over the course of the offseason needs a round of applause. TOPPSCOREY has shown that he is worth his weight in digital gold for this app, and his work is nothing short of incredible. Each new set is better than the last, and now that we are a few months (years in digital time) into his tenure, he has settled in and created some stunning work. As mentioned above, this year is about pushing digital past the limits of the original Topps football physical sets, and showing that Huddle can be a player in the look and feel of cards across the entire hobby. Of any of the things on this list, I think this one is on lockdown, so really no worry needed. I cant wait to see what Corey’s take on the base design will be.

Adjustments to the Marathon Structure

One piece of the pie last year that really struggled was the way the marathons were built, as too many copies per card were released at once.  With the new season comes a new opportunity to take a different road, and I dont think veering off the path from the way things were done this offseason is a good idea. Keep with what has worked, as people really seem to like the structure of the marathons during the summer. The only thing i would consider is adding some rigor around the first few weeks of the app, so that on day one of the release, Huddle is ready to go with the first program, and start the year right. We had a big gap in that last year, and nothing pisses people off more than having to wait for inserts. The season is so short, the team literally has no time to waste. Get it going fast.

Avoid Huge Set Hangovers

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Im not going to get on here and say that Museum isnt awesome. Im not going to say that Fire wasnt fun and cool. I am saying that the size of these releases has given people quite the hangover, as set after set after set hits the sheet. Doing a box based format is awesome, but doing it in ten waves is not going to work in keeping the community engaged. If Huddle wants to release sets like this, I would support it, but do it in less time with fewer waves. We want to see fast and furious, not a slow, plodding approach to a set. When the season starts, its go time.

Where we see Bunt having major issues, Huddle has really seen a lot of success. The contest scene on Huddle is hot, and the boost culture in the app has a lot to do with it. Last year’s structure through the season was fun and kept me interested through the Super Bowl. At the same time, releasing boost after boost will only keep people in the game if there is something that can be done to keep things fresh. That means new checklists, new photos, anything to avoid the idea that the team is just slapping a new colored border on an existing card and calling it a day. Approvals may take forever with all of the apps, but spending the time to refine the approach will pay enormous dividends.

Similarly, the contests need to be built around what makes Huddle awesome. As long as the setup and prizes reflect the effort it takes for a user to place high, you will see people want to join in regardless of cost. This CAN be a major money maker for Topps if done right, and the ripple effects can be huge for a successful approach. Bunt has seemingly botched the contests over a long season, and Huddle doesnt really have that same issue. There are 16 weeks of regular season and another 4-5 weeks of playoffs. It should be easy to sit around a conference table and map out a winning contest journey for 2016. Hell, crowd sourcing the ideas might not be a bad way to do it either!

Overall, Huddle has been a blast over the last few years, and I wholeheartedly believe it will continue to be. All bets are off with the physical sets in the can, and this is their time to shine. If the team can do some great things on the points above, this will end up being a banner year.

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