Over the last few months, since the creation of the Smuggler’s Den, there have been a few series that have depended on the feature to complete the chase. It adds a level of urgency around the card collecting, and it has had some polarizing reactions from the community. I think its easy to say that the Den has added some curious tendencies to completing a set, but its all in how you look at it.
I really like when they keep things fresh with a cool set format or an odd packout structure. Think back to the way Reflections was released, or the way the Force Awakens premiere cards were done. Those were fun because you knew there was an element that was different from the usual way we operate.
With the addition of the Smuggler’s Den to an insert set, like we have had recently with the Gray Imperial Officer’s set, it also adds a need for people to pick up more cards than they normally would need. It adds value to the individual set pieces and forces more trading and swapping for people who need two copies instead of one. Arguably, some could see this as a negative, but I see it as an opportunity. I hate when I pull a set piece and it is automatically worthless by the time the next card is released. Adding this type of a stipulation to the set helps to hold value through the whole process.
This also gives people a lot of great trade bait if they are people who are looking to take advantage of the hype. Back when Force Friday hit, trading was insane, because everyone knew that they would need an extra set just to get both reward cards.
Cost of completion on many sets has drastically increased over the last few months, and any time an extra set has to be collected, the cost goes through the roof. Because cost of completion is rarely considered in the value of the award by the community, most times extra cost does nothing but add to a negative experience.
It can easily price people out of a fun chase, and that isnt a good situation for the user or the app. I think that with a guaranteed insert per pack set, its one thing to add the need to collect more than one set, but with longer odd structures for many of the sets that use the den, its rough.
The issue is that when people have to complete two sets, they have to spend more to complete it, thus grossing more revenue than would normally be generated. I think that the users are pretty clued into this and see a practice of this sort as something ugly. Although I understand the app needs to make money, this is a perception thing too.
If I were building a set with a Den piece in place, I would do my best to mix the good with the bad, because both need to exist for us to get what we want and Topps get what they need.
I would create a set with a guaranteed per pack insert setup, and use that setup to create one of two situations that could both be fun:
- Each pack has an insert, and all are available but one to complete the set. The guaranteed inserts must be shredded to have a shot at the final card, which is offered at in a non-guaranteed situation in the den. This will be good for reducing card counts on a set with guaranteed packs, and also give use for all those doubles that happen.
- Secondly, Topps could also set up a similar setup where each insert is guaranteed, but to get the second tier reward card, you have to pull the golden ticket from the guaranteed pack at higher odds. This ticket is shredded for the last card needed to complete the reward. It would force people to open more packs, and it would also provide a chase for a valuable award card.
- Lastly, Topps could also build a set where access can be granted to the packs only through pulling an insert in the Boba Fett packs. I would also say that you can keep the ticket and keep your access to the packs, or shred it for access to variant packs which have a timer on them, or low count inserts that create urgency to make a decision on the shred.
Bottom line, there are so many options here, that they could really dive deep down the rabbit hole and see where it comes out the other side. If we are going to continue without Marathons in the mix, stuff like this needs to be a big draw, outside of the design of a card.