Okay, you’re getting back into APBA football, after taking a bunch of time off for real life, and you have just purchased your new game with the four teams that come with it.  After playing a few games, you are now ready to buy your first set of season cards since….well, Nixon was president?  Wow, that’s a long time isn’t?  But, you know that APBA doesn’t change things very much, that’s for sure.  You know that you will get the set of 34 cards per team with your new purchase, and then you can add the six more XF cards, if you like, and you are good to go.   But, wait!  APBA did change.  The 34-card set is gone, and so are the XFs.  What happened?  Well, we are about to find out.

When purchasing cards sets, you now have two options which are called the Basic Set and Jumbo Set.  Each type of set appears to appeal to certain buyer groups, and each group will insist that their set is the way to go. Here, we will explore the differences between the two sets.

The new Basic Set is not what you remember it to be.  The old Basic Set had 34 cards, and contained the most-used players.  With the set, you got all of the starters, and most of the back-ups.  For most people, the Basic Set was fine.   But, if you really wanted extra flexibility, you could always purchase the XF set, which added another six players per team (at an additional cost, of course), bringing your total up to 40.  So, 40 cards per team was the maximum amount that you could ever have, at least until the 2014 season.

As of 2014, APBA changed its season set plan.  At first glance you will notice that the new Basic Set, as a rule, no longer provides cards for linemen.  In fact, the set does not provide a card for any player if they didn’t pass/run/kick/or return the ball in some fashion, or another.

Notice, I didn’t say “catch” the ball.  A receiver, such as Dez Bryant, doesn’t receive a card if all he did was catch it.  This caused a huge stir during the 2014 season, but since then, many have adjusted to the concept.  It seemed very weird, indeed, that a seldom known receiver on the team like Dwayne Harris, who rushed for four times for 7 yards and who only caught 7 passes all year, would get a card when a super star receiver like Dez Bryant who caught 88 passes would not.  But, that is how it is set up.

So, how many cards do you get with the Basic Set?  Well, with the current 2016-17 season, you get 751 cards.  Notice also, I said cards, not players.  Some players actually have two cards, but we will address that a little later.

But, if there are 751 cards in the Basic Set, how many of them are in the Jumbo Set?  The Jumbo Set is like the old card set that you remember, but it now contains EVERY PLAYER who played that year.  So, if that player played one down during the whole season, then he has a card.  The answer to your question about how many cards the Jumbo Set has is in the current set is 2022.  That averages out to about 63 cards per team, and that’s just about triple the amount of cards contained in the Basic Set.  In fact, if you purchase the Jumbo Set, you get two envelopes for each team because one obviously won’t hold all of them.   But, if you desire to have a card (sometimes two) for each player, just like the good ol’ days, then the Jumbo Set is for you.

But, before you go and make your decision, let’s explore some other things.   Price: The Basic Set is listed at $70, while the Jumbo Set is double that, and is listed at $140.  That’s certainly a consideration for some potential buyers.

Another potential issue could be that 2022 cards are just too many cards.  That’s probably sacrilege to say, but 2022 players really are quite a few cards.  Why would anyone want that many cards?  Well, from what I have observed, many game players who play in leagues like to have a card for each player.  It certainly does make it easier when that player is involved in a return, and a card wasn’t issued for him.  We’ll get to that in a minute, as well.  With all of the players you never have an issue with trying to establish your depth chart.  You can see all of the players, and arrange them in the order that best suits you.

With the Basic Set, you are pretty much limited to just the QBs, RBs, kickers, punters, and all of the various returners.  While it seems strange at first, these ARE the cards that you play with the most, so the others are often just merely ratings that you are looking at.  If your 4-rated RG is injured, you can look at the roster and see that a 3-rated G is his back-up, and you can make a note of the substitution without missing a beat.  After all, you don’t really need to actually have a RG’s card to note that a new one is in the game.  So, there is definitely some merit to having the Basic Set.

Let me just touch on the topic of two-carded players now.  In the old days, everything seemed to fit on one card.  After all, you had three columns.  But, what would happen if the player rushed the ball, passed the ball, was a back-up punter, and returner kick offs and punts.  With this situation, this guy would need five columns.  Obviously he would need two cards.  Additionally, with the new Extra Point rules, and the new kick off rules whereby the ball often goes into the end zone for a touchback, you may need a column for kick offs, one for field goals, one for extra points, and another for a pass for a Fake Kick, or one used as a back-up punter.  Again, you have more than three columns, so you need more than one card.  These players are actually kind of rare.  I would estimate that there are only about 25 players in a season set that have two cards.  I have yet to see a three-card player as of yet, but who knows?

There are two final areas that we need to discuss before we can make our decision about which set to buy.  Many face-to-face leagues, by rules, will drop the receiver’s card down on passing plays to indicate that that player is the intended target.  But, how do you drop down Dez Bryant’s card, if you don’t have a Dez Bryant card? Well, APBA has provided APBA WR generic cards, or even APBA generic cards that resemble the regular football cards on the back, and those can be used as a substitute for the non-existent Dez Bryant (or others) card.  Each set of blank cards cost $10, and is available, if needed.  While many game players use the locator columns to determine who the pass is going to be thrown to, this blank card method is a way for those who like to personally make their selections.

That brings us to our final area of what to do if a player who doesn’t have a card is suddenly designated as intercepting a pass, or recovering a fumble, etc.   Well, if you have the Jumbo Set, your problem is solved.  You already have a player card so you can proceed directly to that for your result.  But, what if the player in question doesn’t have a card?  Now what do you do?  Well, APBA has created what they call GENERIC CARDS.  These cards are all the same in each category, and actually have the same results contained as the actual player cards (in most cases) for those who do have cards in the Jumbo Set.  The players are generally grouped by their position which is given a letter grade that corresponds with a generic card of that letter.  For example, most offensive linemen are As, and most receivers and defensive backs are Bs, etc.  Whenever an event comes up that requires a player who does not possess a card to do something, his name on the roster directs the game player to the corresponding card with that letter grade, and then that generic card is used for the outcome of the play.  In most cases, these cards don’t usually amount to much of a return, but they do match the actual player card in the Jumbo Set, so everything is good.  It really isn’t difficult, and it really isn’t as confusing as I may have made it out to be.

So, if you aren’t playing in a league, or if money is an issue, then I sincerely believe that you can be happy with the Basic Set.  There is a little bit of extra work involved, but it could be a big financial savings for you.  Also, if space is a concern for you, then you may be forced to go with the Basic Set because, as I said, the Jumbo Set is three times the size of the Basic Set.  If, on the other hand, if money, space, and convenience are no issue to you, it’s always nice to have a card for every player in the set, just like the good ol’ days.  The choice is yours.