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For a certain segment of app-friendly sports fan, Topps BUNT Baseball can be viewed as a gateway drug to real fantasy nirvana.
BUNT has enough similarities to fantasy sports, namely providing an avenue to create rosters of real players whose cumulative stats count towards your own personal glory, without any of the stuff that some might consider time consuming or exhausting, like researching free agents, making sure the players in your lineup aren’t injured or benched, or spending hours preparing for and then executing a draft.
The distinction should be clear – BUNT will probably not serve as a worthwhile extension to someone who already plays in three fantasy baseball leagues. Instead, it might appeal to the baseball card collector who wants a little game in their baseball collection.
Users are given nine free cards at the outset of BUNT. From there, everything the players on those cards do in the real games gives the user points in the BUNT game. If Josh Hamilton goes 4 for 4 with a couple of homers, the user will see more points than if he were to go 1 for 4 with a measly single. While that may seem awfully similar to regular fantasy baseball, there is no bench or bullpen in BUNT. You don’t need to have a set number of players at each position, or anything like that. In fact, the only way you can swap out one of your nine players is to trade them with one of the other users in the game.
Users can propose any number of trades to their friends or complete strangers, and of course, they can receive trade proposals themselves, which they’re free to decline with total disregard for social mores. But other than the trades, BUNT doesn’t offer players much choice in roster construction. While you could construct an all-Mariners lineup or field a lineup of nine second basemen, your strategy is greatly limited by what other users are willing to trade you. There’s no waiver wire to sign new players, and you can’t even drop a guy who is just piling up negative points for your team.
Gameplay aside, BUNT has a unique cartoon-meets-baseball card look to its interface that is probably its greatest feature. It’s a terrific blend of realism and whimsy, complete with a strange collection of user avatars (including a baseball playing octopus), that grounds the game in a mood that feels like the opposite of a tense, fantasy baseball trade negotiation.
Whether the idea of having your baseball fandom represented by an octopus in a ballcap and leather glove is distasteful or delightful will probably reflect very similarly how you feel about Topps BUNT Baseball app as a whole. If nothing else, BUNT proves there are always new ways to enjoy a classic game.