Thursday, October 13, 2016

Digital Horror on Ice

Hockey season is officially underway - I'd be a heckuva lot more excited if the baseball playoffs weren't still ongoing and the Cubs weren't doing what they're doing.  Nevertheless, I still tuned in last night for the Blackhawks' season opener against the hated St. Louis Blues at the United Center, for the first two periods anyway.  After that, I flipped the channel to the latest episode of American Horror Story (what an episode that was, by the way) with the score knotted up at two a piece.

I certainly made the right choice, as the wheels fell off in the third, as the Hawks racked up penalties and allowed three goals to score in that final period.  Yikes.  That's even scarier than what I watched on AHS!

With hockey season ramping up, Topps officially released their latest digital card-trader app - SKATE.  While Upper Deck might have the exclusive license for physical hockey cards, much like their loophole with HUDDLE and the NFL, Topps has discovered that said license holds no power over digital cards and they've now cornered that market on the ice as well.  Tricky, tricky Topps.

Now, I know the collecting community is well-divided on the topic of digital cards (are they even truly cards?) and I rarely pay them any attention.  However, I'll try anything once and a ton of freebies are thrown at you once you download the app.  Thus, as I did with BUNT, I decided to give it a shot.

If you're at all familiar with the BUNT or HUDDLE apps, then you are also familiar with SKATE  - there's no new ground to cover with latest card-trader.  One using "coins" to buy digital "packs" of cards from the app's store.  One can accumulate coins through daily rewards and not spend an actual dime of real money; or, if one is so inclined, you can also plop down actual dinero and earn more coinage in a quicker manner.  I, for one, will never spend real money on fake cards, but that's just me.

There are various different packs available, based on inserts and chase cards.  That said, since this app is super duper new, there isn't a lot of variety yet.  Nevertheless, in order to help you get your collection started, each new user is automatically gifted with 25,000 coins and a whole bunch of free starter packs.

The silver packs are the starters and the red ones are the starters with rookie cards to chase.  All told, one gets a ten card, regular starter and the option to download five free, five-card rookie packs and two three-card rookie packs from the store.  No guarantees on there actually being any rookies included, however.

And so, while I wasn't lucky enough to pull an Auston Matthews (four goals in a debut?  holy crap!) rookie card, I did find a few Blackhawks players hiding in my starter packs:

The Toews you see at the top of this post and again here was the first Chicagoan to emerge and it's a green parallel (because of course there are parallels).  The base design is sharp and I love the crackled ice effect used for the nameplate.  The only complaint I have is that it's sort of difficult to read the player's first name.  Otherwise, I sure wouldn't mind seeing this design used on a physical release... stupid exclusive licenses...

The one big thing that digital cards have going for them (besides instant gratification) is the ability to include real-time statistics on the "flipside," as you see above.  Even if it just reminds me of the lopsided score I channel flipped to get away from.

I also came away with a couple of non-parallel, base cards and I definitely think that they work better with white in the nameplate than with garish green or whatever other parallel colors are available.

That's a pretty sweet image choice for Artem Anisimov, showing the pure joy and ecstasy of a goal-scoring celebration.  Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum, Niklas Hjalmarsson is bearing down on the puck with intensity in the photo used on his card.  Here's hoping these guys put together a couple of big seasons for the Blackhawks in 2016.

Finally, while that was the extent of Windy City skaters in my starters, this Hurricane will always first register as a Blackhawk in my mind, seeing as he was a member of the 2015 Stanley Cup Championship squad.  All in all, Joakim Nordstrom called the United Center home from 2013-15.

I truly wish that I was able to actually, physically hold this card in my hand, seeing as I need a Nordstrom for my Blackhawks All-Time Roster Collection... Curses.

The one insert that fell out of my starters was this Draft card of the Islanders' John Tavares.  That said, from what I've seen on Twitter so far, it seems that this card might have been included in everyone's starter packs.  Not that I care too much about a non-Hawk anyway.

And so ends my first dabbling experience with Topps SKATE.  While I'm not much for digital cards, it definitely wasn't a bad way to spend twenty minutes of my life.  Plus, I got a blog post out of it during a time of seemingly-unconquerable writer's block - so, that's pretty cool.  But, in the end, all digital cards do is make me want to flip through and play with my actual, real-world cards and remind me that exclusive trading card licenses really suck.  

At any rate, this probably the most I'll think about hockey for quite a while yet, seeing as the Cubs pulled off an amazing and improbable comeback over the Giants on Tuesday night to advance to the NLCS for the second consecutive year.  Sorry Blackhawks, but there's just not enough room in my heart for two teams right now!

Much like there really isn't enough room in my heart for physical and digital cards.


  1. Goal celebration cards are awesome. Digital cards not so much.

  2. A paucity of digital goalies. Bummer. I love that BR song.

  3. I've tried to get into the digital trading cards but I just can't. I have trouble seeing the point. I played NHL Supercard for a while but at least that had a "game" to it