Huddle Thanksgiving – The Mid Year Super Bowl of Awesomeness

Even though I havent posted a lot here lately, this is literally one of my favorite weekends of the year for digital cards. Not only are there offers across all the apps, but Huddle literally goes nuts. Rightfully so, as the country has basically made Thanksgiving a football holiday, and as a rabid fan, I am definitely thankful for that.

This will end up one of the most insane couple of days in the app outside of the Super Bowl, so get ready to rock.

Brave the Elements

Here is where the day gets really interesting with a new type of card. Not a new set, but literally a new type of card. For a long time, the best animated card we had was anything parallax, and most Android users never got to see what that was all about. With Topps Focus, we have seen video cards in the apps, but nothing like what we are going to get with the new Motion type cards.

Basically, these are animated cards with special effects, but should be something that can be visible without hitting “play” on the card. That is not only freaking awesome, but they have used a fan favorite vehicle in Brave the Elements to bring it to life. I absolutely love it.

Verdict: Showstopper of the day

Gypsy Queen

This is the kind of set I have been waiting for all year. Filled with super limited content, in a huge checklist, with no waved type structure in the release. Get it all and get it now, and oh yeah, it has a great design to boot.

For super premium collectors like myself, we are tired of paying huge cost for a pack and ending up with a 1:100 shot at one of two limited cards. This is much differently structured, and still not all the way to what it could be, but we are making a lot of progress here.

The signature relics are amazing looking, as they were in Baseball, which are complemented by a great parallel structure that includes some very valuable cards if Bunt is any indication.

Verdict: This is what the app has been missing all year

Thanksgiving Boost Set

This is another yearly tradition and a godsend for many game players who arent going to drop coins on premium diamond packs. This might be the first real boosts available in coin packs, and hopefully people took advantage of the opportunity.

At 7x, I would guess many of us will still play these types of boosts into the playoffs, and that means these types of cards should be chased for all contest players.

Verdict: Ho hum boosts, but good checklist of guys to chase

Topps Crush

This set looks great, and is made by Tyson Beck who does all the Fire sets and Arcade from previous years. I absolutely love the design of this set, and as a cheap win for F2P players who want cool sets to chase today, this one is definitely a good one. Lots of players on the checklist without a lot of cards, including ones that are part of today’s games.

Verdict: Great looking set that works for all types of Huddle players

Turkey Red

More of the Huddle Thanksgiving tradition, and another year that I think this set might be one of the better chases for the entire holiday. Big checklist, nice award card, and of course, cheap packs that F2P players can afford if they have saved up a good chunk of coinage. I think that for a physical baseball set that has transitioned over to the digital side, this is a really nice way of reworking the old favorites. This was originally a retro set, so its kind of odd to move it to more modern looks, but the design is nice enough for that to work.

Verdict: Sets like this make me miss physical Topps Football cards

Thanksgiving Dual Signatures

We will get a batch of these for each of the three games, and each will feature a current player alongside a legend for that team. Being a Vikings fan, seeing Keenum and Cunningham on the card together is actually one of the more interesting and well thought out pairings I have seen in the app to date. Read the story of both QBs, and it will be more clear why its so intriguing.

Verdict: Continuation of the normal set with nice legend touch to it

Thanksgiving Signature Series

Ah yes, the one set that always makes my day. This one is no different, and if I had to guess, these cards were built a while ago. Not only are there players that are out for the year, but clearly featuring some players that just arent having great years. It is still cool to see these cards every year, as they have become a tradition. They look awesome and the higher boosts help. Wish they had low count variants, but that hasnt happened in the past either.

Verdict: Keeping the tradition alive in a great way

Thanksgiving Hunt

I really like the addition of the letters this year, as this is a type of card that really hasnt been explored all that much in digital, despite being EVERYWHERE in physical. The rest was just the standard hunt format, chase down letters for a set to get the reward. This isnt my thing normally, but with the new type of card in relic format, I was in for a few packs.

Verdict: Never been a fan of this format but the letters make it fresh

Overall, this is honestly just the beginning, as Black Friday and Cyber Monday will keep this party going. Its going to be interesting to see how this all plays out as the sets come into focus, especially if Inception is on the radar. We need some nice low count cards, as I find myself chasing ghosts in a lot of ways with tired third waves of previous sets, instead of dropping bombs like with Gypsy today. Cant wait to see what Huddle has on tap.

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Has Topps Lost Sight of How to Create Valuable Premium Content?

In the two sports apps I still have a good following of, I have noticed a very interesting trend over the 2017 season for both Bunt and Huddle. It has to do with the way premium content is delivered, and I dont think its something I have seen prior to this year. Each of the non-marathon “box type” sets that are released have very little limited content. It used to be that these boxes were A) much larger in size, and B) offered a subset of very limited inserts that usually incorporated both highly desirable cards that were also very difficult to obtain.

This season, the format in these situations are cookie cutter to a fault in both apps, with a “wave” based release of a larger checklist, so that only a portion of each box is available at once. It is clearly designed to spread out the spending across multiple waves, making more money for Topps along the way. Problem is, the content involved in each wave is both small in number and large in count. This is especially true lately, with high priced packs (in upwards of 10 bucks per pack) offering very little in the realm of super limited content.

Most of the “premium diamond pack” hits are as high as 200 count, which makes me wonder if the team is legitimately trying to avoid this type of card? My other question is why there has been SUCH a dramatic shift.

Let me say, I do support the notion that super limited content had gotten out of hand. It got so bad in huddle that all cards not numbered 1/1 were worthless across most areas of trade value. However, that does NOT mean that type of content needed to be eradicated. It just means the balance needed a bit more adjustment.

More importantly, pack prices are getting MUCH more expensive for the desirable sets, while at the same time offering less content for the money. With a wave approach to set release, there are usually only 2-5 checklist examples of cards at 25 count or less, something that frustrates me to no end.

Its actually gotten boring. 10 base cards, 10 parallel base cards, 5 relics, 5 signatures and 2 limited type cards. Huddle has brought in 1/1s to make things a bit more interesting, but I am starving for the old way. I miss the sets where there were 10 super limited cards per release. Each box had one wave and the varied approach to the configuration always got me going.

Now, if the super limited cards arent up my alley, I just walk away knowing how the rest of the content will be so readily available, I can trade for it easily later. That is just boredom for me. I love the thrill of ripping super premium packs, but only when I know there is something valuable inside. Because so many people still remember the glory days of the app, a card that has a count of 50 is barely worth batting an eye.

Here is my suggestion.

If a pack costs us real money, it should have some element of limited content that dips below 50. If that pack costs SIGNIFICANT real money, most of the pack should consist of content below 25, with MULTIPLE elements of cards below 10, 5 and 1/1.

Similarly, these sets shouldnt be a regular thing. They should be available, but not to the point where we stop caring about the marathons and non-super premium releases.

Its almost like there is very little awareness of how real money works on a digital app on the Topps strategic team. For 99% of the country, buying one of these packs is more than someone is paid minimum wage per hour. For that same percentage, spending 100 dollars on a non-tangible entertainment item is a treat, and should be thought of as such from the Topps team. I spend a lot on the apps, but I am also able to do so. The majority of the app’s traffic isnt able to drop that kind of cash more than a couple times a year, if that.

For that reason alone, the users who do make that commitment should be heavily rewarded for their spending power, and that should be delivered in the pack’s content. When you get bottle service at the club, it comes with perks, or at least an experience that the other club goers cannot experience without spending the same. The people ordering water at the bar also dont expect to have the same experience as those VIPs. The same should be the case for the apps.

First off, premium spenders should get access to content that intrinsically has more worth. What makes digital a golden goose is that the cost to create a premium card vs a non premium card is identical. For physical cards, that isnt the case. The cost to build an autograph card or a relic card over a base card is exponentially more expensive. There is no reason other than lack of time to not build a ton of content for both areas of the club. However, there has to be comparative value in the cards in each situation.

Here is where the discussion comes full circle. Card count, much to everyone’s understanding, is still the largest driver of value. The lower the count, the more potential value a card can have. Its not the only value driver, but its the one that adds value more than any other. Basically, a fire can burn hot without an accelerant, but tossing gas on the fire can cause an explosion. Same thing is true here. Low card count is the accelerant.

If the team is going to go down the path of super premium packs, they should expect to have a large amount of limted card count available in that release. Again, if they expect us to drop a car payment on some of these sets, they need to be shown that this type of release pattern doesnt facilitate a proper repayment of the money we are spending. We pay for the entertainment, and we arent getting that without low count inserts more readily available.

Similarly, if they are afraid of user reactions, they shouldnt be. If the set content is released in BALANCE, the user base will understand the dynamic I explained in the club bottle service analogy. In the same vein, if people arent allowed in the bar without the expectation of getting bottle service, you can see where people would get pissed. That’s the utopian dilemma.

Net net – find the damn balance between premium and non-premium, and give people the value they expect. No more trying to disguise premium content with high count releases. If Topps needs more money out of people, make more cards. Dont try to stretch things into to waves or create high count releases to extend pack availability. Its not fair to the spenders and it creates resentment we have already started to see.

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Contest Time in Huddle 18

2018 Topps Huddle 1

Today is the first big day for NFL contests, and with it, some awesome prizes. If you are like me, and have been waiting for this over the last 4 months, its literally a religious holiday. Most people who play Huddle struggle with the contests at first, and I wanted to make sure vets and rookies alike had an inside track. Here are some very basic understandings of where the nuances lie, as well as a few changes for this year.

The Importance of Red Zone

If you dont have NFL Red Zone, what are you living in? The dark ages? It is insanely fun to watch, first of all, and second of all, is hugely important for Huddle on Sundays. Because of the importance around having the right cards in your lineup at the right time, Red Zone clues you into when those things happen in real time. As you will see, one of the big changes we saw on Thursday night is lag time, and this channel has become all but the most important tool of the day. There are twitter accounts that list all the touchdowns as they happen too, so if you dont have access to the show, follow one of those accounts.

Lag Time

Speaking of lag time, this looks to be one of the big changes over last year. It used to be you had 4-6 plays before scoring would hit the feed and it gave you time to switch out guys. I was seeing plays hit the feed within seconds of play completion on Thursday, but it may have been the scoring glitch as it was, and could be different today. Either way,  Topps Digital mentioned publicly they were looking to change the scoring providers for this year, and it *SEEMS* like this has been correct. That means, when you see a TD or big play happen, switch fast.

Players to Use for Best Scoring

This early on in the season, it can be hard to have a lot of stuff to play unless you have been ripping packs like a maniac. On long plays or touchdowns, I have one rule and one rule only for unlimited switch contests – ALWAYS PLAY THE GUY WHO CAUGHT OR RAN THE BALL THERE FIRST. This is even the case for boosted QBs over less boosted WRs. Just play all the receivers first, hit save (lag is short!), then put in all the QBs to fill the gaps. If you dont have enough of either, playing the defensive player who made the stop can work too. If you have a lot of experience, this becomes second nature, but I promise you, to save time and score big, just play the receivers who make the catch.

In contests that are limited switches allowed, this is where QBs make their money. The only time Im moving out QBs to burn valuable plays is on longer TDs, as the cost of switching out guys and burning plays can be huge. I havent seen fantasy contests yet, but if they come back, just play defensive guys who get a ton of tackles and QBs. Period.

Staying Ahead of the Thu/Sun/Mon Night Curve

Every team has a Thursday night game, so that’s not as big a factor in chasing down the bigger boosts. When it comes to Sunday and Monday night, thats where some teams have the advantage around nationally televised games. These games usually have dedicated contests, and if you can stock up a few weeks ahead of schedule, you will reap the rewards. Teams like Dallas and New England will have a lot of these types of games, as will Green Bay, New York and Pittsburgh. I use my cards from teams like the Browns and Jaguars to add in as throw aways to get cards from these few teams. With dedicated contests, these cards will put you in a spot to score larger to hit prizes for the leaderboard spots, which will get you sigs and relics across the board.

The Importance of Boosts

GO boosts and perma boosts are part of Huddle culture and will always be a focus in an app that has such high participation in the contest side per capita. There will be an escalation of boost level through the whole season, so please do not expect that pink will be the last boosts we see. By the time the season is over, we will end up seeing at least 10-15x by the playoffs and 40x-50x by the Super Bowl. Keep that in mind as you are trading, I would probably stay away from hoarding pinks, unless you can get them for cheap. Im not trading limited inserts to get them, as I know they will be made obsolete by higher levels eventually.

Choose Your Battles

With lag what it looks to be, you need to be sure to choose the right contests to make the biggest splash. As we see, there are premium prizes for premium contests, and if they continue to look as cool as they do, I would expect them to be quite valuable. I have yet to see a contest that costs more than a daily bonus, so that would suggest they want to make these quite accessible.

Last year’s contests in Huddle were a blast – especially as the playoffs got going. Make sure to get involved at some point to figure out how to play. Last year, there were physical prizes awarded at the end of the year, and it helps to have the goods to compete.

Celebrate people! Here we go!

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Breaking Down the New Huddle Marathons

Ahhh yes. The best time of year. Football is back, and everyone is raring to go knock some teeth out. It also means the start of Huddle for the year, and with it, a fresh new set of Marathons. I was curious to see if they went about it the same way this year, considering last year got a bit dicey early on with Bundle buy ins. Now that diamonds have simplified the whole situation, I am seeing some major progress towards keeping value in the cards before eBay drives all prices down to nothing.

Similarly, the addition of the weekly collection award for chasing down all the base marathons are a huge help to creating a market on the trade feed. People will want to make sure they stay within the lines for whatever card is being offered, and this could not be a better opportunity to create buzz.

To make things even better, the addition of rookies and 2017 preseason game photos add a level of authenticity that we never had the chance to get in previous years. Rookies were always left out until much later on in the season, and it left a void that had always been huge. Week 1 cards include Brandin Cooks on his new team, which shows the level of dedication the Huddle team had in creating these, instead of resorting to what they already had done. With approval processes in place that have likely made things difficult in the past, prep for 2017 is clearly on point.

This year also marks the second year that Topps Football is without a physical license, which means that Huddle is the only source of Topps in the NFL this year. Luckily for everyone, TOPPSCOREY is a maniac, and might be the best designer in the stable they have. Here is a breakdown of the first few glimpses into his handy work.


2018 huddle archives

Design:   football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Collectability:   football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Cost:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design

This is one of those sets for people looking for a good chase, but dont want to spend that much trading or ripping packs to get the ones they need. I think the look is going to be one of those situations where no one’s jaw hits the floor, but that we kind of expected that to happen. Overall, this is the weakest one there is, but could end up getting much better.

Fan’s Choice

2018 huddle fans choice

Design:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Collectability:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Cost:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design

I think this is one of the strongest fan’s choice designs I have seen, and Im glad they moved away from a retro look to deliver an original take. The quality of this marathon depends on two things – the choices given to the community and the way the community votes. So far, Joe Mixon has won, and that’s a bit representative of the way this whole thing can go.


2018 huddle matchups

Design:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Collectability:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Cost:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design

A new marathon for 2017, this is based off of Bunt, but seems to fit much better in Huddle. I really like the design, and I think it could be cool to see the different players they chose for this set. I believe these will be built around the Thursday night game, and hopefully we can get some color rush goodies to match in some other fashion.


2018 huddle relic2018 huddle relic gold

Design:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Collectability:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Cost:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design

I love the relic design this year, and though Im not a huge fan of the set overall, I think its a pretty cool look after a drab few years the last couple of go arounds. With a dual relic set also in play based on contests, who knows where this might land in the hierarchy of value.

Signature Series

2018 Huddle signature series2018 Huddle signature series gold

Design:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Collectability:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Cost:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design

Another year, another great looking design for this set. Unlike previous years, the Gold variant has a different photo, which has been the case in Bunt for a while. It adds some allure to chasing both sigs, and I cannot wait to see the checklist. This could end up being a tough set to complete, with diamonds limiting the availability of the variants to farmers. Another great byproduct of the change, as these cards shouldnt tank as fast.

Huddle Greats

2018 huddle greats2018 Huddle greats signature gold

Design:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Collectability:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Cost:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design

This mirrors the legends set from last year, and it might be the best looking marathon of the bunch. This could end up being a velvet rope type marathon in the end, with 1000 diamond packs being the only way to get the signature version of the set. Considering how awesome this stuff looks, it should end up being the most valuable to collect and stash away. So far, my favorite new addition this year.

On the Radar

Limited – We havent seen this set yet, but we know its coming. Depending on the way the set is configured, these will be some of the most valuable cards in the app.

Street – The Weekly award is a signature street card, so we have to assume these will be a set of some sort this year. Man do they look cool, and I am so happy these are back after being gone last year.

Dual Sigs – As part of the tournament structure, there are dual sigs that look really freaking cool. Hope we get these as a running set in the app.

Its going to be a fun year if this trend continues, happy to see how much action has already been going now that this stuff has come fast and furious. My compliments to the chef aside, this is definitely the best looking year of Huddle so far. Not even close.

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Football is Back: Topps Huddle 2018 Launch Thoughts

2018 Topps Huddle 1

When I started with Topps Digital, my main focus was Huddle. I downloaded the app and created my original account when the app was in its first year, and never looked back. The launch of the new build has become my favorite part of each year, and 2018 is no different. With so many things up in the air around digital cards, its great to see Huddle take center stage and knock it out of the park.


Well, as expected, the changes delivered to all of the other Topps apps have come to Huddle. Diamonds, cosmetic changes, and functionality that we saw across the other titles have finally come to Huddle. I like the costmetic changes after having some time to mess around with them in Bunt and SW, and I dont think any one has scoffed at the update there. Things are faster, better looking and animated the same way we see in other apps we play.


I get it, you either love this or you hate this change to the apps. Adding a secondary currency as we see in a lot of other digital apps is not unheard of, and its clear that this is the way Topps has chosen to go for the foreseeable future. Im not going to sit here and try to defend this adjustment, its been hashed and rehashed to death in the articles and twitter for the last few months. As someone who buys and doesnt really care about F2P scenarios, this doesnt change anything for me, and thus doesnt matter to my gameplay. I would be buying either way, and buying diamonds vs coins is of no consequence. I understand others feel differently, but when you are ordering water at the bar vs shots and cocktails, you have to understand the priority will be different.

I will say this – with the release of Relics today, the ebay vultures are not up and running. That means better in game value and a happy experience for those that spend. Finally we get something for dedicating our funds.


Let me start by saying TOPPSCOREY is a goliath among men. Not only is he the best at what he does, he does it so well I fear he will get taken away for better projects. The base design is an update over 2017, when Huddle had its first digital exclusive look, and boy did he do a great job.

Looking at the marathons, including the recently released Relic and Street series, he clearly knows how much attention to detail matters in the construction of a good looking card. Its the little things that matter, and Corey knows what the hell he is doing and then some. Cant say enough good things.

App Strategy

With base cards only reaching 2.0x as opposed to the card exchange strategy of Bunt’s 10x golds, its obvious that boosts are going to be back en force for 2018. Im not opposed, especially because of how much fun the contests were last year, but Im curious what might be a different approach. Is this really the best way of doing things, or is there a hybrid strategy that works just as well.

Topps huddle 4 elliott

In observance of the awesome level rewards, contest content has to be as good – if not better. As long as the Huddle team puts some beef behind that part of the app, we will all reap the rewards. Contests need to be unique with exclusive promotions, or all those diamonds spent on attaining special cards wont continue to flow the way they have. Churning out the same structure for 17 straight weeks will be a death sentence, and I hope they understand how variety is the spice of life.

Either way – Huddle has made its worth known around two things. App wide gameplay participation, and super premium content. If those things change, I hope some aspect of both remains. Releasing a ton of content with no premium gives no incentive to spend, and I wish the experience of the off-season would reign over the strategy planning for 2018. Although you cant swing the pendulum too far either direction, offering something for the whales along side the F2P crowd brings about a hierarchy that breeds benefit all around.

First Take

I love what my experience has been in Huddle since 2013. Its been a fun albeit bumpy ride. That doesnt mean that things arent going to be awesome this year. We have rookies in the initial set, and we get some great content already flowing from day one. Not everyone is going to be happy, but I can say this year is already off to a good start. As long as the balance between premium content and community wins is maintained, we should have a great year to experience. Cant wait to see what is going to happen and what surprises the team is going to bring to the table.

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Guest Post: Kick 18 is Here!

Capture.PNGNote: Im not fluent in all the Topps apps, so when my buddy Apeshot wanted to put together a piece on the launch of Kick 2018, I happily accepted. Looks like its off to a good start, really good article here for anyone seeking out a vet’s perspective.



Kick 18: Thoughts on the Launch of the 2018 Build

Kick 18 launched for many yesterday and I wanted to give my initial thoughts on a significant update to the Topps app.  The first thing that all fans of Topps Digital Apps should take note of is that this release demonstrates what I would describe as a significant investment by the Topps Company into the digital space.  I think it’s easy for many fans to forget that none of this is for free, and earning profits is the goal of any company.  It’s easy for anyone to throw ideas out on what would be great; it’s an entirely different process to execute those ideas with financial resources.  Thank you Topps for reinvesting in the digital product.  Here are my initial thoughts on the app update, enjoy!

“Gamifying” the User Experience  

Topps has added some games of chance in a smart way.  It is obviously the goal of any app to keep the user on the app as long as possible.  The two new games aren’t groundbreaking by any means, but do allow for a new way of grinding out some coins, rather than just watching videos about laundry detergent through TapJoy.  It’s a system that prevents easy coin farming, but rewards the users who want to invest the time, such as casual kids.

Making Sense of the New Tiering System

Finally, a chase for collectors.  I’m now only a collector on the Kick app.  I’ve been a chaser in the past, having won gold game changers across all three leagues, so I know what kind of time and dedication that takes to win those gold beauties week in and week out.  Those days of waking up at 5:30 am on a Sunday morning to watch Ingolstadt versus Darmstadt in the Bundesliga match are gone for me—thank the Lord.  However, I’m still competitive and have always tried to make the case for a collector chase.  The new tier system doesn’t accomplish this 100%, but it’s another step in the right direction.  For the top collectors, exclusivity and competition are huge motivators—and reasons to spend money.  This element is really well done.  It is well presented, and updates on your progress are obvious with immediate rewards.

Design Front and Center

We don’t tell the team enough, but the graphic design team is absolutely outstanding.  The initial pack releases are gorgeous.  If you compare it to the Panini apps, it’s not even in the same league of design quality.  If the product is ugly, it won’t sell, no matter how good the app is.


The Kick team has really stepped up and improved communication over the last half year.  They are absolutely bombarded by nonsense and insults day in and day out, but yet continue to sift through our rants and keep us pretty up to date.  Communication in this first 24 hours has been outstanding from what I have seen.  Communication takes real man/woman hours and as a customer I really appreciate the effort they’ve put in on day one.  It’s important on launch because there are always problems and glitches.

Problems and Glitches

The app right now is completely full of glitches.  Some people aren’t even able to get through the tutorial, trades aren’t loading, some card collections haven’t loaded yet for customers, etc etc etc.  It’s only been one day, so most of this is expected.  But worst of all, the servers are absolutely smashed just from pack openings.  I can only imagine how poorly the points chase will go this weekend as more users come on line, eager to use the new app.  We know from history, it won’t go well.  If this is true just from Kick, when Huddle update hits, it will only get worse.

Power Consumption Challenges  

It always confuses me how an app that basically just displays static images can comsume so much battery power.  I don’t even know how anyone could properly chase a full 90 minute game without draining their phone battery.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that this app uses more battery power than any other app I use.  I don’t understand why when the interface is conceptually so simple??  I would love to get this fixed.  If I can render 3D graphics on a sports game app for hours, why can’t I just look at a few images on this app without draining the battery???

To Be Addressed

Communication with other users has not been addressed.  Sending 1-1s to message is ridiculous in 2017.  We need a chat bar at the bottom with custom user groups we can access.  This would be absolutely amazing for trades and for chasing.  The benefits are limitless and help tie the user more into a community.  We also still need a way to customize some sort of home screen for users.  Let me show off something from my collection that I value.  Let me express some personality or flavor.  Let me tell the community what I’m looking for and what I’m not looking for…I’m seriously not selling any singles including the one you’ve asked me about for 8 months. No seriously, not even that base card from MLS.  😉

I know I’ve missed some things, but all in all, I am super excited about 2017 in Kick.  Beyond all features and games and new designs, I am most encouraged to see Topps further investing in digital cards.  After going most of the last 12 months without spending any money on Kick, I hit the coin store last night.  Well done, Topps!

Apeshot – 3 year user of Topps Apps, former holder of the 100 score account in SWCT, current holder of most cards on Kick.  Always a pained Minnesota Vikings and Arsenal fan. 


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Topps Apps Introduce Diamond Based Secondary Currency


This was an interesting development, as its clear that we are in a timeframe where changes like this to app structure may be more frequent than ever before. With a bit of a slump taking place across the landscape of digital cards, its becoming clear that something needed to be done, as I have stated many times before.

My main desire was to see more product development take place, improving the user interface and making the games more accessible across the board. More importantly, without a major facelift since 2014, the apps are hurting for some new features that really havent come, period.

To be perfectly clear, the introduction of a secondary currency through real money purchases is NOT one of those features, but it might actually provide some interesting changes to the way users accumulate coins in the app. Some of those changes may be bad, but others may not be all that terrible. If you play any other digital freemium games, Topps is correct in saying that secondary in game currency is far from out of the ordinary.

In a more comparable sense, apps like Madden Mobile and the like have been immensely successful with the way they position their packs, and I dont think Topps plans to be much different in their approach. Madden offers regular packs for coins farmed within the auction house and mini games, but also uses Madden Cash to deliver better odds, better access and special deals for users that spend.

Using a secondary currency may, in fact, be more familiar to new users, who have complained in the past that top cards are not within their reach. It may be easier to understand how the trade value for these premium access offerings may be better than more regularly available inserts. This type of accessibility does present a positive outcome, but only if proper organic tutorial like education is coupled with the onboarding process. Go into an app like the new Angry Birds game, and look at the way that game onboards a new user, versus what happens when someone fires up Bunt or Huddle for the first time.

Additionally, it may slow down coin farmers, who have contributed significantly to the crash of the secondary market. Before, with in game currency presented without effort, it was easy to run emulators and code based farm programs to harvest millions of coins without fail. All they had to do was open the packs themselves, which can be done quite quickly. If premium currency access is required to open the packs, it will hopefully prevent a flood onto ebay with minutes of release. That isnt saying the flood wont come if access is eventually granted, but it could give spenders time to rip packs instead of trying to beat the clock.

As with every new feature, this new change will need to be executed with precision and not carelessly as we have seen in the past. That means everyone at Topps Digital has to understand the strategy, understand how to ensure users dont get so upset that they walk away, and how to message the change to both existing and new users appropriately. Without that in place, this will go the way we have seen so many things go in the past.

Im still holding out hope that major changes will come to reinvigorate the way Topps Digital is seen within the community. We have seen positive changes from both SWCT and Bunt, but the overall commitment to quality needs to remain intact. This is one of those things that could end up being good, but its too early to tell. Hopefully we get more communication in the coming days as Diamonds launch on Bunt.

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Bunt Contest Changes – Good Sign of Things to Come?

If you have been on Bunt lately, there has been a significant change in the way that contest prizes are delivered to the masses. In the past, this is where I think the team has struggled significantly to keep people engaged, but this could be a step in the very right direction.

Basically, instead of packs or coins as a prize for winning a contest, you now receive a ticket that can be used in the card exchange. After a horrible downturn in marathon participation due to tickets last year, this is finally a tremendous use of the card exchange feature that can keep contests fresh all year long.

Bunt Contest Ticket

Even more than just regular season contests, this could pay enormous dividends when the playoffs start, as it gives a great outlet to generate tons of content without adjusting the contest formats themselves.

I understand that it can take a TON of time to generate contest formats that arent built from a template. More importantly, it can cause a ton of errors to pop up as well, most of which the users literally raise hell over. With tickets, the contest format can remain the same, while driving more content that can be delivered without giant investments from the producer team.

Its clear that this is almost 100% dependent on updating the exchange regularly with compelling cards. If that doesnt happen, this will fall as flat as we saw contests did last year when packs were stale and didnt include new base as they were released.

The true test of this as a vehicle is coming up as we approach the all star game, where the team usually kicks up a huge amount of new designs and compelling cards to drive revenue as the midsummer classic ramps up.

To put a bow on this, contests need love. A lot of love, mainly because its clear that the users will gravitate and spend to get the cards earned through top contest performance. Even better, tickets make it so that the top users playing in one contest can be on a level with mid range contest players who spread their attention over an entire week. Although there are still run and gun contests like Best of Bunt that play to everyone’s old school tendencies, but this is the start of a wonderful path. I hope it continues.


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On Shelves Now: 2017 Topps Bunt Physical Product

Let me be the first to say that I am shocked this product is back, all things considered. I understand the business reasons why it would be brought to the table again, as it is a cheap product to make, and one that doesnt require a huge autograph budget to make it work. That being said, the coordination between the physical and digital team was quite poor last year, and it really killed the buzz on the initial release. Some awesome contests and fun adjustments brought the magic back, but it didnt look good for the first few days.

Similarly, the physical product itself was quite ‘blah’ in 2016. Autographs fell one per three to four cases, and the redemption cards were ten times as difficult to pull as they should have been. That being said, there wasnt much to lose, as the price per box reflected how valuable a kid friendly product with a digital tie in COULD be if done the right way.

Thankfully, I think we are getting closer to that with the Star Wars Card Trader physical product, and now with the Bunt product as well. This year looks to have brought more content, more redemptions and more autographs to the table, and as long as the loot cards contain some of the rare gems they did last year, I think 2017 will be infinitely better than 2016.

There is one main issue.

The loot cards in physical packs show that you can get 25 dollars in free coins, which I find to be relatively worthless to include in this product for existing Bunt users. Although the offer is attractive for new users, coins are easy to come by, especially with Batter Up now in the fold.

From what I understand, the code cards actually do not give any coins, but rightfully give access to a loot pack, similar to the format last year. This is the RIGHT call, but the curious misprint makes things weird. It might be the offer was meant to say “a chance at” or something like that, but giving loot packs is so much more important than anything else. If the goal is to get the digital users who dont buy physical cards to try ripping real packs, the loot cards need to deliver something worth chasing. Coins are not worth chasing in that way. They are helpful, but only if the other stuff is ALSO included.

As for the content, it looks like there are A LOT of cool looking cards to be had. Vapor, Splatter, and other Bunt sets from last year have been added to the product, and they look really cool. In fact, the signature cards in the physical packs look better than the signature series cards for Bunt this year, in my opinion. Its a great looking base set, and after checking out on this product early on, my mind might be changed all together.

There are also a few players that I have seen making their Bunt debut thanks to these cards, including a very important Yankee who I dont think has been in the app to date. I searched for Roger Maris on all cards, and didnt see any, so this might be the first card he has.

I do have a few suggestions for next year, and I would hope that they take a look if this does indeed make another run in 2018. First, there needs to be more crossover promotion. The physical world rarely ventures into Bunt territory, and for good reason. Many physical collectors hate that digital exists in their territory, and refuse to even check it out. “Why would I want photos of cards on my phone if I can have the real thing?” they say. Well, this is the opportunity to change the narrative a bit.

Additionally, its time to really make an investment in linking the cards to the app. Bring some super premium content to this product, in a way that doesnt add any cost. So, im not saying you need Kris Bryant physical MLB logo patches, but why not offer some of that type of content on the digital side? How about some tickets for live signatures that might be scheduled in the future? Why not some coin cards to supplement the loot packs? Hell, this is the opportunities to bring signature series variants that are unavailable anywhere else to the fold! Give us a reason to chase the digital side of this product, none of which adds any cost to the product. As soon as the physical team embraces the true “soul” of what this should represent as a product on the calendar. Content in the loot packs and the physical packs should have super high end versions of the digital cards in place. If printing costs are increased by adding additional short printed designs, fix with generic cards that “unlock” access to a pack containing a massive hit.

Either way, ill be ripping some later today, stay tuned to see a bit of what I pull.



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2017 Star Wars Card Trader Adjustments: A Map for the Apps

Since last year, things have been looking up on SWCT for the first time in a long time. I have posted before that the way the app has changed its focus has made small strides with the community, something I honestly thought was impossible. For almost a full year, the focus of the app was driving direct purchased bundles and card acquisition through any way that involved cash changing hands. Variants were plentiful and hard to follow in many cases. It got to a point where the app seemed to be losing more people by the day, and the flood wasn’t stopping anytime in the near future.

Although many issues persist, things have changed. All that negative energy that once existed has calmed to a point of toleration, which is a victory in itself. To take a group of people with pitchforks and torches to a group of people that has changed to “well, at least I can live with this,” is pretty impressive all things considered. That’s not saying the Topps Digital team is farting rainbows and burping stardust, but its better than it was.

At the core of this transformation is a few specific things that the team has done, which I will go over, and how that might be applied to the other apps.

Similarly, my call for product development and feature development beyond the app’s current structure continue to be as loud as ever. The team will NEVER be able to get through their current woes without some sort of change to the platform on a wholesale level. Bunt may have added Batter Up, but at most, its just a new way to deliver daily coins in a fun mini game.

Star Wars needs to feel like Star Wars. It cant feel like a reskinned version of Bunt. Similarly, Star Wars needs features that bring the rabid and dynamic fandom of the remaining community to light, with a holistic reimagining of the way a user engages with the app. This is a non-negotiable.

Additionally, this app is not all the way fixed. Its hard to take a pile of burning rubble and construct a new way of doing things overnight. Im also not advocating that EVERYONE is happy right now. That being said, the turn in commentary has been significant from my vantage point, and that’s why I want to address this. Its clear the producers behind the strategy have recognized the issues of years past and tried to at least right the ship as much as possible in a short time. Hopefully that continues.

Content Development

topps-swct-rey-holoscreenFor a long time, it looked like the Star Wars team got a little too conservative on risks they were looking to take with content. Many cards looked like they were just another set that was put together with the same publicity shots and movie stills. Since last year, things have gotten a lot more interesting with released sets, and much of the design work is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was prior.

This could be a dual blame game with responsibility placed on both LucasFilms and Topps, but whatever the issue was, it has gotten much better. Things like switching the signature design, adding more behind the scenes, and choosing more untraditional characters to highlight was really interesting. SWCT needed a facelift in content, and it looks like that went well.

Map for the Apps: Content drives everything. Content for sets, content for gameplay elements, content for the entire Topps Digital Universe. If content isn’t compelling, the users will be bored. Its a process, and reuse and recycling of certain tropes never works out well. Fresh perspectives and designs are insanely important, and no one is going to hit the bundle button unless they MUST have the cards in the article. Topps needs to keep that in mind all over the place.

Increasing Coin Economy Stock

As mentioned before, there was a time where coin packs had almost gone extinct in SWCT, which meant that FTP users were never able to participate in the way they were before. It led to widespread abandonment of the coin economy, which is one of the main factors that drives stability in the app. Coins are almost 100% responsible for new user participation as well, and without a stable economy, onboarding was basically “spend or leave.” Horrible idea for long term sustainable growth.

Right now, direct purchase is still used in a lot of ways, but it is almost 100% used in conjunction with coin packs. There are still special cards that can only be obtained with bundle buys, but I don’t think that is a horrible approach as long as it isn’t the ONLY way to acquire nice cards.

Map for the Apps: Coins are important, and as a whole, Topps has balanced the weight on bundle cards pretty nicely across all their apps. Its fine to use that strategy once in a while, but it should be the exception, not the rule.

Open Edition Inserts Strategy

I hate open edition. Its a crutch, and a poorly constructed one at that. I have been no less than 10 reasons why it was used, and I don’t think any of those 10 are actually accurate reasons why it should be considered. Card counts need to be displayed and cards need to sell out – PERIOD.

Over the last few months, I have seen the use of NEW open edition inserts drop considerably, and I could not be more happy. There is no reason for the team to use OE as a way to stretch production of content, and even less reason to use it as a buying strategy.

I have been very vocal about the way cards are perceived in the market and diluting the pool with this junk is a terrible thing. You want new users to be in awe of what they can have, not have a cheap patronizing knock off to keep a dead set at the table. If something is dead, bury it. Don’t prop it up at the table and try to have a dinner party.

Map for the Apps: Bunt stupidly tried to institute a strategy that was built on many of the tenants I see present in open edition. It resulted in a community wide revolt and a reversal in course (thankfully the team listened!). Open Edition needs to go away and fast. Don’t extend old crap, get the new hotness blazing every day.

Variants and Pack Structure

Oh yes, this is where the controversy really cuts deep. For a long time, variants of all sorts were getting absolutely nuts. Only further complicated by pack structures that made no sense. Lately, its changed by a considerable margin.

Variants still exist, but not 20 at a time. Direct purchase variants on weekly chase sets are only used sparingly, instead of every god forsaken set, and it feels cleaner in just about every way.

Additionally, NO MORE SALES! What used to be a complete slap in the face to any early buyer, sales have stopped. Like most of 2016 SWCT, the strategy behind it was HORRENDOUS, and seems to have been corrected. The community isn’t as venomous with new variants now, as its clear that there wont be an 80% off sale the day of release.

Map for the Apps: The variants are still lacking content other than just a color change, and that is a problem that remains. I would like to see the team go the direction Bunt has gone with their signature series and change pictures or design with variant pulls. Although color changes are done all over trading cards and gaming cards everywhere, it feels wrong with the apps to use that as a way to sell more packs. Give us a reason to buy.

Mistakes Corrected

Man, there was a time where there was a SWCT team error every day. Someone forgot to add a card to packs, someone added the wrong card to the wrong pack, any number of things. Errors kill the way people perceive the release, and it happened way too often.

I don’t hear as much about that anymore, as the anal retentive nature of the team has made a commitment to being as close to mistake free as possible. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but man, its gotten better from my experience.

For a card to hit packs and work correctly does take a lot of work, believe it or not, and I have personally come to understand from my discussions with the team how taxing it can be. That being said, they are human and things will be missed. Hopefully its not a pattern anymore like it used to be.

Map for the Apps: Pretty simple, Topps needs to test things before release and spend the time to make sure new content is delivered in as seamless a way as possible. It might be difficult, but the ROI will be palpable.

Im sure I am missing a ton here, but I feel like this is a good start. I spent some time talking with different members of the community, and from what they said, these were definitely on their list of reasons as well. Sure, there is a lot of rope left to tighten slack on a community that was about as toxic as it could be, but it looks like the strategy side of things is catching up. Now we just need the features to come along too.



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