1951 Topps

In 1951, Topps produced its first set of 52 baseball cards. These cards were produced to mimic the game of baseball. The cards had baseball actions printed on them like “strike” and “Home Run” labeled near each player. Two friends could get together and play a game of “fantasy” baseball with their favorite Major League Baseball players.

The foundation for “Pack Wars” was laid in 1952 when Topps added player statistics and biographical information to the back of their product. Topps’ intent was to sell bubble gum, but they started a market that would become a $1.2 billion dollar market at its peak.

Today there is a new game sports card collectors play called Pack Wars. Card collectors can play head-to-head or as a group. This game is much like the card game War where two people split a deck of cards face down and turn over their top card one after another. The player with the highest card takes the set. After 26 sets of cards are turned over, the player with the most pairs wins. Here is how “Pack Wars” is played.

Head-to-Head Pack Wars

Pack Wars

Head-to-Head Pack Wars can be played several different ways. A common way is for two friends to split the purchase a box of cards. If a box of cards contains 20 packs, then each player gets 10 packs and plays 10 rounds. The players must agree on 10 different statistics or a single statistic that will determine the winner of each pack. For example, if playing with baseball cards you could use most career home runs, highest career batting average, or most home runs in a season. There are dozens of other statistics that could be used. Each player opens a pack of cards and finds the winning statistic. For example, let’s say the statistic used in the first round was “Career Home Runs.” Each player would sort through their opened pack and find the player with the most career home runs. The player holding the best cards wins the contents of both packs. If you are playing “Winner Takes all” then the player with the most wins after 10 rounds of play takes the contents of the entire box. If you are playing “Pack for Pack” then players simply keep the individual victories. In the “Pack for Pack” version winning the most packs is not the object. You are looking to win the packs that contain the premium cards like autographs, game used, short prints, rookies, and other premium cards.

Another version of this is to split the 20 packs evenly and then place a predetermined number of packs into the pot. For example, let’s say each players places one pack into the pot, they will play head-to-head with nine packs each. At the end of the match players keep their packs and the winner of the most rounds wins the pot. In this example, the player that wins nine rounds wins the pot. This version is considered the safest as the loser still keeps some cards.

Group Pack Wars
My first introduction to Pack Wars was at the 2003 Hawaii Trade Conference at a Topps Sponsored dinner. After we all ate, the Pack Wars begun. Topps provided dozens of high-end prizes and handed out packs in a series of rounds. Topps provided a host that ran the Pack Wars and determined the statistics used for each victory. First, the host announced a prize (like a factory set of cards) and assistants handed out a pack of cards to everyone. My first pack was a Topps Chrome Basketball pack of cards. The host announced that whoever could produce the tallest basketball player won the factory set of cards. I did not win the set, but I did pull a LeBron James rookie card and was excited about that because we kept the contents of each pack. This went on for about 15 rounds. As you can tell from this story, the group pack wars are best played in large groups like functions and conferences.

Below are some common statistics that can be used for Pack Wars. This example is a 12 round Pack War.

Baseball Rounds

  • Batting Average
  • Home Runs
  • Doubles
  • Runs Scored
  • Stolen Bases
  • Triples
  • Career Wins
  • Most Strike Outs
  • Tallest Player
  • Heaviest Player
  • Shortest Player
  • Oldest Player

Football

  • Touch Downs RB/WR
  • Touch Downs QB
  • Career Carries
  • Career Receptions
  • Career Carries
  • Career Yards
  • Career Sacks
  • Tallest Player
  • Shortest Player
  • Heaviest Player
  • Oldest Player
  • Youngest Player

Any Sport

  • Lowest number card
  • Highest number card
  • Closest to a number
  • Tallest Player
  • Shortest Player
  • Heaviest Player
  • Lightest Player

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