1. 1951 Topps Blue and Red Backs
|1951 Topps Red Back #5, Johnny Pesky|
Topps began mass-producing baseball cards with this pair of game sets. They're not hard to find today, but few collectors risk the condition of either batch of 52 players by riffling, dealing, and flipping them competitively.
DIFFICULTY: Easy to find scans of all 52 cards and uncomplicated results ("OUT") make this one straightforward.
2. 1968 Topps Game
|1968 Topps Game #5, Harmon Killbrew|
17 years later, Topps made a second trip to the well with this "floating head" design that now reminds me of Allen & Ginter.
|2007 Allen & Ginter #94, Charlie Manuel|
DIFFICULTY: Easy to find scans of 1968's 33 players, but extra game situations like "Double (all runners score)" make this a bit more work than the 1951 version.
3. 1978 Topps "Regular"
|1978 Topps #400, Nolan Ryan|
This 792-card set moved its game to the back, a nice bonus that didn't interfere with face space on the front.
DIFFICULTY: It would take a bunch of time to collect the scans, but game logic is straightforward and similar that seen in 1951.
4. 1935 Goudey Knot Hole League Game & 1936 Big League Gum
|1935 Knot Hole League Game #5 (score card)|
|1935 Knot Hole League #5 (back)|
I dug into the history of Goudey's Knot Hole League and related promotions in late 2013. The text-only set's not much to look at, but remains interesting as an artifact of its era. Should be fun to combine with players and situations from 1936's Big League Gum.
|1936 Big League Back, Oral Hildebrand (game back)|
DIFFICULTY: Knot Hole League is obscure and finding all 24 scans online is tough, given low collector demand. It's not hard to put together a Big League Gum set, so starting with that and adding some of the score cards might be easier than Knot Hole League alone.
5. 1933-34 Goudey Sport Kings Varsity Football
|1933-34 Sport Kings Varsity Football #5|
A close cousin that predates Goudey's Knot Hole League (and also mentioned in its profile), this text-only football set's so rare that I hadn't seen a real card until 2013. This one's especially interesting for its glimpse into 1930s football plays, positions, and rules.
DIFFICULTY: I've found scans for half of the 24 cards so far. Goudey printed paper "fields" that connect with card play, but it's possible none survive in the modern marketplace, so I'd need to create my own or go without.
So what would you like to play most? I'll keep the poll running for awhile and update on decision/progress.