Im sure there are a lot of people who have been curiously awaiting any sort of news regarding 2016 Bunt. We havent really seen much of what is coming with the 2016 build, and I had to see if there was a way I could get ToppsMike to spill the beans prior to opening day. He was happy to oblige, and provided an absolute ton of information for everyone to get a taste pf what Bunt has to offer. After reading his responses, I must say, this year is going to be insane. Cant wait to see what the cards look like and how the stuff below is executed.
Digital Card Central: When about do you think the 2016 update will be ready?
ToppsMike: We’re looking to release prior to Opening Day, with a little more room for fans to start collecting 2016 cards before the action gets underway on April 3rd. I can’t commit to a date just yet, but we’re planning on releasing earlier than last year.
DCC: I think that is going to be helpful, especially with getting lineups set. Now that we are closer to the season, what has you most excited in regards to the season and the update?
TM: Well, it’ll be great to have baseball back in general, but what I’m most excited about with regard to BUNT is our expansion on the 2015 base cards and how the 2016 base cards work alongside one of our new features, Card Exchange. We’ve expanded from five base parallels to 10. Between that and the new base template, we’re very excited about them. While five parallels will be available to all fans in select packs, something we’ve changed from the beginning of the 2015 season, you’ll have to earn your way up the ladder to earn a Gold card. There’s no paywall standing in your way, either. If you put the work in, you’ll be able to get a Gold card of your favorite players all on your own.
DCC: This is a bit of a game changer, especially in the way people chase different cards. Trading could really find a big bump in activity for sure. What are some of the other enhancements and changes that are coming that you feel will get US the most excited?
TM: In addition to what I mentioned above, BUNT fans will finally be able to chase something other than cards in 2016. With Levels, one of our other new features, fans will constantly be able to upgrade their status in the game by way of a number of in-game actions including logging in, opening packs, making exchanges, placing in Contests, and collecting cards and awards. Your level, which will be displayed on your fan profile, will allow you to access different packs, exchanges, and contests as the season goes on. Also, as a perk for our returning fans, those who have been around for a while will see an improved starting point over those who may sign up during the season.
DCC: Wow, interesting way to get some parity in the way things are going to work for many different aspects of the game. Im intrigued to say the least. Will contests and scoring be changing?
TM: Yes they will. As I alluded to above, contests will be revamped for 2016. There will be both free and premium contests, similar to the 2015 Postseason, contests that take more of a daily fantasy format as well as a free-for-all, and some featuring AL-Only and NL-Only action. Fans will be able to compete with others that are near their current Level, so everyone won’t be worried about getting their butts whooped by a guy who’s a level 50, even if you’re just a level 7. Since you’ll gain Experience Points (or XP) for placing in levels, there will be some that are focused on that as well. Contest cards will return, and some semblance of Best of BUNT will be around I’m sure, but we’re still working out the exact details of all of it.
In addition to the format and framework of contests seeing a bit of an overhaul, scoring will also be altered in 2016 as well. Without getting too specific, expect batters to be rewarded more for positive actions, with less risk of losing points if they don’t come through. On the other hand, pitchers will see a similar value placed on successful plays as they did in 2015, but significantly higher penalties for allowing hits and runs.
DCC: I like these changes a lot, we have been waiting to see how Bunt can continue to help hitters and other type cards become more playable. As for the collecting side, will our favorite insert sets be making a return?
TM: Ha, “our” is a highly-relative term, but absolutely. Signature Series will return for 2016, as will many of the 2015 marathon inserts that everyone (okay, most of you) loved so much. In fact, Hanford and I were a thorn in Dan’s side when he was creating the new Signature Series design. I bet he wanted to turn around and throw something heavy at us once or twice, but knowing how important that card in particular is to BUNT Nation, it was of paramount importance to get that one just right. We’re really, really excited to share the new design with the fans.
DCC: Trust me we are all waiting to see what you have up your sleeve in this department.
Last year, we had some amazing rookies with Bryant, Correa, and others. Who do you think will set themselves apart this year from the rookie class?
TM: 2015 is going to be hard to top from a rookie perspective. Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Joc Pederson, Noah Syndergaard, Miguel Sano, Jung Ho Kang and others have ushered in a new age of baseball. It seemed like for too long we were all lamenting the twilight of the Jeter-A-Rod-Nomar generation (okay, maybe it was just me) but this new crop of superstars couldn’t have come at a better time for the game. With that said, I’m crazy excited to see if guys like Aaron Judge, Aaron Nola, Lucas Giolito, Julio Urias, Trea Turner and a few others can not only make it to the big leagues, but stick and have that same impact on teams that may pack a surprise or two in the standings much like the Astros of 2015.
DCC: Yankee Aaron Judge tops your list, not a surprise, haha. Outside of your normal Yankees obsession, who is your must have Bunt player for 2016? Why?
TM: For me, it’s Carlos Correa. Hanford and I were looking back at his first pro season, and it’s pretty outstanding. We remarked that had he been called up earlier, he would’ve absolutely been included in the All-Star festivities in Cincinnati, and I fully expect him to be either the leading vote-getter or one of the manager’s first choices as a reserve in San Diego this season for the American League. Furthermore, I’m excited to see how far he can help carry the Astros. I have no worries about a sophomore slump for the reigning American League Rookie of the Year. But really, above all else, I’m going to stay on him about being a ringer for the Topps softball team this summer. I think it’s fair to say he’d be a pretty good player and fit into our team chemistry quite well. He can have the intern’s spot in the lineup.
DCC: Im surprised you would give the stage to someone who could potentially take away from your cinderella softball performance last year. He might steal some of that thunder.
With the launch of the Top Prospects set and Bowman Draft, Bunt has taken its first REAL foray into pre-rookie players. Do you guys have plans to do more with prospects this year?
TM: I think it’s something that we love to do, especially Hanford, and I think the fans really take to some of the prospect sets we put out as well. With that said, we do like to focus on goings-on in baseball when there are games being played, so I foresee prospects in general taking a bit of a backseat for a little while, but I see no reason why we couldn’t do some more featured content around the draft or Futures Game.
DCC: Over the course offseason, the team has gone deeper into lineups for the teams, and focused on delivering some content that isnt the normal Kershaw, Trout, Harper etc. Do you see that continuing for 2016?
TM: I think so, but the key is balance. To me it’s important to feature your stars, but also talk about the guys that help get teams to where they want to be. That isn’t always the guy grabbing all the headlines or the one with the biggest contract. Call it the Scott Hatteberg rule. We’ll try to do a little more of that in 2016.
DCC: Scott Hatteberg – PICKIN’ MACHINE! I love it. Thanks for all your help here, the excitement is palpable.
Another big thank you to Mike and the Bunt team for all the juicy info on the upcoming update to Bunt! As we get closer to opening day, Ill have more coverage on the launch, including some more follow up with the Bunt team. Keep checking back and follow @Toppsmike, @Toppshanford, @ToppsBUNT and @ToppsDigital on Twitter to stay on top of the news.