As with every Topps app, the community trading aspect is a huge part of what makes the app so attractive. It allows users to improve or turn over their collections through interactions with other players, with an opportunity to customize their own experience through the different ways trading occurs.
Want to be a someone that focuses on collecting every insert there is? Trading is a huge help. Want to be someone that focuses on being the top contest player? Trading is a way to hone your collection to be the best.
The main issues is that trading is an art form, and understanding the card economy and unwritten rules of the community can be a daunting task. So much of an overwhelming experience that I would guess that a large portion of user attrition can be attributed to how little instruction is out there on how to survive and learn.
Im going to do my best to explain it the best I can, but let me be perfectly transparent here in saying that there is not really a way to put into words the amount of information that is needed to be successful. You really just need to power through it and learn through experience. The best thing to do is not get frustrated, and write off the situations you encounter as learning. Dont worry, after a week you will feel like you know whats going on. That’s how it was for me.
There are a number of ways to start trades in the app, but there are two ways that are really the best for certain types of situations. Each has its pros and cons, and each should be used to build within the app.
- Fan Feed – From the home screen, scroll to the bottom and click the word bubble labeled fan feed. This is a continuous scrolling thread of user messages that detail what they are looking for.
- Card Sheet Trading – From the “All Cards” sheet, any card selected can be brought into a trade and sent to users who own the card. Ill refer to this as “blind trading.”
I do a lot of trading both ways, and its clear that most people have a preference for the way they operate. I think that there are a lot of people who want to avoid trading as much as they can, which I think is a mistake. Trading is not only a way to save money, but also have fun. Without trading, the cost to obtain sets is exponentially higher.
To start a fan feed trade, go to the feed, click on someone’s name, and it should bring up the user menu. From there, select “offer trade” and that should start the trade interface, which is pretty easy to navigate. I would also read up on card sheet filters, as it will give you an edge to sort easily. The search box at the top of the offer card sheet is also a huge help, as it should be obvious that the amount of cards will eventually reach gargantuan levels.
Once the trade interface is launched, you can double click on any card to add to the offer. The cards you are looking to receive will be the first window. The second window will be the cards you are giving. Each card will have an indicator of how many you have or if it is one you need.
NOTE: The amount of times the card appears in the “Add Cards Here” part of the trade screen is how many of that card you are offering or receiving. Even if it says “x5” or something similar, you are not offering all five unless there are 5 copies pictured in the ACH section of the inteface.
Once you have selected what you will get and give, you will be taken to the trade overview screen. At this point you can add a message that will accompany your offer. If you forget to add a message, you add it at any time from your pending trade screen.
NOTE: If you ever need to communicate with a user in the game directly, the best thing is to offer a trade with the same card in the give and receive, and include a message. This serves as a “direct message” type of function, since accepting the trade will not impact either user.
To execute a blind trade, go to the main card sheet under “All Cards” and find the card you want to acquire. You can only offer on one card at a time, so you will not be able to add multiple cards into the “receive” part of the trade. You will be able to offer multiple cards to get that one you want, however.
Bring the card into your spotlight by clicking on it, and select the trade icon at the bottom of the screen. This will bring up the trade interface with that card in the receive, and after you move to your side, you can select the cards you are willing to give up. Instead of going to the trade overview screen, it will bring up a list of users who have that card available for trade. On that list of users, any of the people on your friends list will be listed as well as a random selection of users who also have the card.
Once you select up to five users, you will be able to go to the trade overview screen to complete the offer. It will then add those trades to your pending box.
Understanding the Trade Economy
When you are looking to trade, you will obviously be asking someone for something they own, in exchange for something you own. Just like any barter based economy, value is extremely important, but also extremely subjective. Keep in mind that just because something isnt valuable to you, doesnt mean it isnt valuable to them, and vice-a-versa.
Even more important, the app showing that someone needs a card COULD impact the person’s desire to acquire it, but not always. Need does not always equal want. Also, just because someone has one, doesnt always mean they dont want more. Keep that in mind, as having dupes of a nice card isnt always a bad thing.
With the app in general, you will need to start from the bottom and work your way up. Think of this like earning your stripes. Although its possible to hit the jackpot ripping packs, its better to build a good foundation through trading and pad your collection with a lucky pack here and there.
What I mean is that it is NOT a good idea to think that you will be able to trade the common cards from starter packs for the top inserts in the game. Ill talk about why that is the case in a second, but as a whole, you will need to trade your way up.
There are two types of cards in the game, and each of the two types has multiple sub types within them.
- Base – any card that is regularly available in packs and uses the 2015 Topps design
- Insert – any card that is limited in packs, and can use any number of designs
Ill start with the base, because the economy is almost built in. Basically, each base parallel has a rarity associated with it, which also corresponds with the boost level. Golds, being the rarest, have the highest boost at 2x for scoring points in contests. Whites, being the most common, score at 1x for scoring points in contests. You can see the rarity levels in the store when buying packs. It should also indicate that you really shouldnt be able to trade a common white base card straight up for a gold.
In most cases, trading base consists of player quality and parallel level. You might be able to trade Aaron Rodgers common card for a player that isnt on the same elite level in a different rarity. I usually expect 3-4 whites for a green, 2-3 greens for a red, 2-3 reds for a blue, and 2-3 blues for a gold, all things being equal.
NOTE: Because there are awards for completing the sets, people will likely not trade their single copies of a base card very easily, even if you are overpaying.
Like the base cards, insert cards have a varying level of rarity. In addition, player quality and card type have a big impact on the trade value.
- Marathon Inserts: Cards released once per week that provide awards for collecting the set over the course of the season (sigs, relics, Parallax, etc)
- Weekly Inserts: Cards released once per day over the course over a short period of time that provide awards for completing the set
- One off inserts: Cards released per the needs of the game that are meant to be standalone releases
Topps has structured their releases this way to create value in the better cards, mainly dictated by performance over previous years and performance in the other apps. Marathon inserts will likely always carry more value than weekly inserts, even if their card counts are higher, as the user base has assigned group value to the cards historically. A perfect example of this is Signature Series cards, which have always been the king of the mountain for everything in Topps’ digital card apps. A signature series or “sig” will always retain more value at a high count than a weekly insert will at a low count. Do not expect to trade a 200 count weekly insert for a 400 count sig, unless extenuating circumstances are at play.
The same thing will go for new cards versus older cards, and cards with an active reward versus dead cards with no reward in play. New hotness drives trade economy for every set, as the set collectors will need it for their collection, and will likely not value older cards they already have as much. This adds a huge amount of value to recently released cards, and showcases exactly why everyone always runs to rip packs when new cards hit the sheet.
Trading base for inserts is a tough thing to explain, mainly because it all depends on who you are trading with. High count non-marathon inserts can be had for base if you own gold cards of the elite players people are trying to stock up on.
I always think of trading in a red paperclip sort of fashion. Start with junk, trade the junk for more junk plus a little bit, so on and so forth until you can eventually trade your hoard of junk for something small of worth. Then take that small bit of worth and trade it for a small bit of worth plus a little bit. Eventually you will make your way to having a lot of good stuff when you started with nothing.
As a rule, the person making the offer has no leverage – especially on rare cards. This means the need to overpay in trade value is expected. When someone has something of worth – ANYTHING OF WORTH – they will get multiple offers. If you are unwilling to overpay to get it, someone else will. This means that leverage almost always resides with the person receiving the offers.
In blind trades explained above, this is magnified in a huge way, because most of the time, the offer is completely unsolicited. Think of it as making cold calls, which means overpaying is not just expected, its required.
You will get the hang of value as your experience moves on, but I will let you know the game’s trade economy is one of the most volatile markets I have ever witnessed. Even the smallest adjustment in the game can send a tidal wave through the economy, sometimes in very unexpected fashions.
Soliciting Offers On The Feed
If you want to post on the fan feed, be aware that you will be one of a lot of people doing so at any given second of the day. Posting once will likely not get your message across, as it will likely get lost in the hundreds of posts per minute that occur. Because the spam filter only allows one post every 30 seconds, you will need to post your message at least a few times to ensure enough people see it.
There are two types of messages you can post on the feed, both will receive different types of responses.
- Open ended trade requests – I have a lot of stuff and I am looking for a lot of stuff, so send me an offer and ill see if its something that catches my eye
- Specific trade requests – I need this one card, I have this stuff to trade for it
The open ended requests will have a lot more response than the specific ones, and you will likely get much more bang for your buck if you have something that someone will want. I have had a ton of success with open ended offers, especially when I have that one card that one person needs, and they offer a collection to get it.
Considering that overpaying is necessary in many cases, that is not a license to be a jerk about it, unless you really want to be. When I say overpay, I mean a tad more than one would expect if you were on the other side of things. If someone gives you a good trade, its in your best interest to accept, rather than counter and ask for more. Take the bird in hand, rather than risking the two in the bush.
Similarly, there is definitely a negative side to sending terrible offers. You could easily get ignored by the person you are trading with, which is a really bad thing if that person has a lot of cards you want. That means they will not see your offers unless they specifically want to, and if they are in the fan feed a lot, you will not have that outlet any longer. If you ever have a question about what you have to offer for someone with a card you want, send a same card trade with a message and ask them. It gives them the opportunity to tell you if your goods are even worth considering an offer.
A good indicator of the strength of the offers you make is your trader rating, which will drop drastically if you are not making offers people like. Because the indicator is anonymous, they can rate you with impunity, and though there are no penalties for a bad trader score, it is a good measure of how well you understand value.
Understanding Collection Score
In all honesty, your chops as a collector can be measured by your collection score. It is a live look at how your cards compare to the rest of the user base in the app. It will change frequently, and the better your collection is, the better your score will be. It will also help you to understand the users in the feed, and how much they have to offer when you are looking for certain cards.
- 50 and below – new users who have not yet gotten much in their collection
- 51-70 – users who have been around for a while, but dont have much volume or many top cards
- 71-89 – users who are established, but dont have the insane volume that some whales have
- 90+ – top users who have the best collections around, and have likely been around for many years. These “whales” are also likely top spenders in the game
If you are trading with people who are 90 and above, or even 80 and above, there might not be much you have that they need. If your collection score is low, they may also see you as a annoyance rather than a worthwhile trading partner. Just be aware that they have the means to be a top collector, and likely dont need you. Its different if they are actively soliciting on the feed, but dont use their collection’s mass to try to rob them. They will understand the intricacies of the market, but will not give up their goods just because you have something they need. Having a lot does not at all mean that they will give that up for nothing. It also might mean that if they DONT have a card, its for a reason.
There is a ton more to write about this subject, and I realize this is just the beginning. More to come as more about the trade economy gets settled over the next few weeks.
New User Tips is a running series on Digital Card Central – If there are any other questions you have about the nuance of the game, please do not hesitate to tweet me @SCUncensored or through a same card trade with a message in the game.
If you have ideas for future New User Tips – please let me know!