October 06, 2014

Junk Wax Battle Postgame Report

Judge Matt Sienkiewicz explains the rules.
Last Thursday evening we kicked off what is sure to be a national phenomenon: Five players. Seven-hundred-and-twenty unopened packs. One ugly set. Yes, the inaugural Junk Wax Battle: 1988 Donruss was a success.

We played at Knight Moves Board Game Cafe in Coolidge Corner, in Brookline, Mass. Starting just after 7pm, we had to call the game due to time constraints  after two and a half hours of frantic wheeling, dealing, and ripping of packs. And no, I did not find a Robbie Alomar Rated Rookie OR a Roger Clemens...

We've proved some of our assumptions correct while others fell by the wayside:

1. Our game was awesome. We knew going in that our rules would provide plenty of frantic moments, from the mass bedlam of five people ripping packs at one table, to heated auctions for needed cards that no one could find in packs. Our prizes were pretty good—a signed Casey at the Bat poster, a 2002 Japanese Topps card of Raul Ibanez, an unopened pack of 1987 Fleer, among others—and the players were competitive. All of it made for a compelling game.
Collating their way to glory.
2. Collation was a nightmare, only not how we expected. Some packs yielded complete fifteen-card runs, like cards checklisted on numbers 240–254 all in one pack, while other packs were more random. And a few other packs, from within the same box, were exact doubles of earlier packs. All told, none of our players completed the 660-card set. The closest full set was still missing around 120 cards. (I thought that at least one person would complete the set, but there were whole swaths of the checklist that nobody found—like cards in the 400s and mid-600s.)

3. Players felt too hurried, and there was too much for them to do. One suggestion was for players to compete in pairs, with one person ripping packs and collating, and the other managing auctions and marking the checklist. This is something we'll tinker with in future games. Another idea was to slow down the game.

Checklisting took a lot of time.
4. The judge was a great idea, and for larger games with more players, two judges could work as well. The Judge's Challenges added life to the game and made it easier for players to amass cards.

5. 1988 Donruss was an inspired choice for our inaugural game. With a 660-card checklist, and terrible collation, it was challenging to put together a set in two and a half hours. In fact, we proved it was practically impossible. Many players said that the checklist was too large for a game like this, but I contend that your amount of time to play dictates the size of the checklist you should use. Two and half hours might be too short for a 660-card set. But at three hours? The beauty of our rules is that the game works regardless of checklist size. We're thinking of using 1988–1990 Topps Big Baseball for our next game, to see how a 264-card checklist might work within the same time constraints.

6. From baseball card shops looking for ways to bring new customers in and kill off their dead junk wax stock, to an exciting group activity at a sports card convention, to a child's birthday party—we think this game has a lot of potential. It may even work as a self-contained game you could buy in a toy store. All of these are possibilities.

E-mail me if you want to participate in our next Junk Wax Battle, and I'll give you the details.


The Junior Junkie said...

I would like to see the written rules.

Ben Henry said...

Here's a link to the rules: http://junkwaxbattle.blogspot.com/p/how-to-play-rules.html

mmosley said...

This is probably the greatest idea since the Rated Rookie. Me and some buddies played a game with various junk wax. Points for favorite teams and players and per pack contests for best card, best action shot, best mustache, etc. The 4 of us voted for every contest. It was a lot of fun.