Madden 15 – How To Keep CFM Fresh Until The Next Release

As much as I find it easy to troll EA and Tiburon for their annual cloneware – Madden 15 was the best Madden to date.  That said, it still gets to me that they don’t update rosters after the Super Bowl.  This has left many users to create roster updates and even add newly drafted players to teams in order to replicate what is happening in the league as far as rosters go.

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If you have followed NoobTubeTV over the last few years you will know that I almost exclusively play Offline Connected Franchise Mode.  Moreover, you will know that I almost always use my Cleveland Browns.  Even after finding the perfect sliders and gameplay tweaks CFM will get rather boring after a few seasons.

It is incredibly easy to build up a team into a juggernaut.  You simply need to invest in players that are between 20-26 years old that fit your play-style and keep them to minimum contracts until they are 30.  It is a widely known fact that EA has told Madden gamers that players will start to decline once they hit that age threshold.  Knowing how easy it is to relatively deal with the age issues of players and dominate with your team after a season or two of development it won’t be much of a shock to hear about people trading Madden in while they can still get some decent credit for it or simply leave it on the shelf to collect dust.  Here are a few tips on how to keep your CFM fresh.

  1. Max Contacts – Figure out your favorite players on Offense and Defense and make them fixtures on your team for the rest of their career.  In my case I had to choose between Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel.  Both players were 99 OVR by the time I got to the 2016 season and I decided to sign Johnny for the biggest amount of money and years (I believe it was 7 years, $140 million).  This will help make your salary cap management a bit tougher as you choose who to build your team around.
  2. Don’t Scout Draft Prospects – It really is this simple.  Don’t scout a single prospect during the season and you will quickly realize that what was once an incredibly easy draft process is more like real-life.  It will become more of a lottery system for your team and you won’t be able to find those ‘not so hidden’ gems in later rounds.
  3. Give The CPU More In Trades – It seems that trade logic in sports games has decided to take a nose-dive in realism.  NBA 2K actually has a trade difficulty slider (Madden needs this in the worst way!).  Do not shirk the CPU for their Draft Picks or certain players you know are franchise quality.
  4. One Draft Pick Per Round (At most) – It is far too easy (as stated in #3) to load up on 10-15 draft picks every season.  Make it a personal rule that you will not have more than one pick per round for every draft.  This will prevent you from pwning the draft year-in, year-out.  Madden has some of the dumbest draft logic in all of sports gaming, so don’t act like you really have to worry about the CPU.
  5. Coach Mode – This is something I have yet to do myself.  Simply call the plays for your team, snap the ball and let the AI take care of the rest.  This will make you look at your players in a different light and might even change the way you build your team.
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Earning and Spending XP In Madden 15

Just like any other sort of currency, you need to save, invest and spend your XP properly if you want your players to develop into juggernauts.  In some ways you may also want to spend XP differently on players you know you won’t keep or can’t keep.

Game Prep

Earning XP –  You will want to look at each player’s development trait in the ‘Progress Player’ screen before spending lots of points on them.  This will largely determine whether or not they will earn more points by performing extraordinarily.  Also, there is the ‘Consistency’ rating – this is key in helping players progress if they don’t get a lot of playing time or targets in games.  There is something you need to consider and determine on multiple levels before you spend your allotted hours on certain players – Do their expensive ratings warrant future investment?

If you are wanting to upgrade a WR, do you really want to spend XP on one that has 85 SPD?  Will it be cost effective to spend money on increasing his SPD?  Some may say that it is totally worth it – and that is fair and good.  Go for it.  However, if you really want to make the process easier you will want to check and upgrade their ‘Development and ‘Consistency’ ratings, respectively.

Upgrading development will increase the amount of XP a player earns for achieving goals in game – this includes obtaining awards, reaching milestones and other performance objectives.  Development costs 15,000 XP for each rating (from Slow to Normal to Quick to Superstar) – so keep in mind that it might take a season or two to build your favorite player into a Quick or Superstar Development rating.  However, once they are there – they will stay there and that is why it is worth upgrading quickly.

Upgrading consistency will increase the amount of XP your players will earn during weekly training in Game Prep.

Finally, earning XP is as simple (and difficult) as performing well in each game.  Once you have the necessary prerequisites (Development and Consistency) upgraded to your liking you will notice far more XP for each player you upgrade.

(Note: I argue that the confidence rating doesn’t matter nearly as much as the actual long-term ratings of players.  It could be because confidence simply needs tuned or patched to have a more dramatic effect – but with EA’s track record – I doubt it.)

Spending XP – This is one of the easier things to do once you follow the guide in earning XP.  It is entirely dependent on the player’s position and what type of player they are.  Here are the best ways to increase the OVR ratings or performance for each position (outside of ‘Consistency’).

(Note – I rarely/never increase player SPD or ACC ratings.  They are often too expensive to consider upgrading – and it helps with what little can remain simulation about picking ratings to increase for players in Madden.)

QB – Awareness, Short, Medium and Deep Accuracy, Play Action, Injury and Toughness.

HB – Awareness, Truck, Juke, Stiff Arm, Elusive, Agility,  Strength, Injury and Toughness.

FB – Awareness, Run Block, Pass Block, Strength, Injury and Toughness.

WR – Awareness, Catch, Catch In Traffic, Release, Agility, Spectacular Catch, Jump, Injury and Toughness.

TE – Awareness, Catch, Catch In Traffic, Run Block, Release, Spectacular Catch, Jump, Pass Block, Injury and Toughness.

OL – Awareness, Strength, Run Block, Pass Block, Impact Block, Injury and Toughness.

DL – Awareness, Tackle, Pursuit, Finesse and Power Moves, Agility, Injury and Toughness.

LB – Awareness, Tackle, Pursuit, Play Recognition, Finesse and Power Moves, Hit Power, Zone Coverage, Man Coverage, Agility, Injury and Toughness.

CB – Awareness, Man Coverage, Zone Coverage, Play Recognition, Tackle, Agility, Catch, Agility, Injury and Toughness.

S – Awareness, Zone Coverage, Man Coverage, Play Recognition, Tackle, Hit Power, Agility, Catch, Agility, Injury and Toughness.

K/P – Awareness, Kick Power, Kick Accuracy. (Note – Kickers and Punters can’t get injured in Madden… Because EA – well, you know.)

Madden 15 – Relocation Cities and Team Names

For those interested in a list of the cities and names of teams available for relocation in Madden 15 this is for you.

My initial reaction to some of the names is that they are so unoriginal it is almost painful to consider them at all.  The Mexico City Golden Eagles?  What happens when they play the Philadelphia Eagles?  Or when the Portland Snow Hawks, Oklahoma City Night Hawks and the Seattle Seahawks all end up in the same division?

Here is one of the better uniforms and logos - the Diablos.
Here is one of the better uniforms and logos – the Diablos.

Austin – Armadillos, Bats, Desperados

London – Bulldogs, Black Knights, Monarchs

Los Angeles – Crusaders, Red Dragons, Aftershocks

Mexico City – Diablos, Conquistadors, Golden Eagles

Toronto – Thunderbirds, Mounties, Huskies

San Antonio – Dreadnoughts, Marshalls, Express

Orlando – Wizards, Sentinels, Orbits

Salt Lake City – Elks, Flyers, Pioneers

Brooklyn – Beats, Bulls, Barons

Memphis – Hounds, Egyptians, Steamers

Chicago – Blues, Cougars, Tigers

Columbus – Aviators, Caps, Explorers

Portland – Lumberjacks, River Hogs, Snowhawks

Dublin (Ireland) – Celtic Tigers, Antlers, Shamrocks

Houston – Gunners, Oilers, Voyagers

Oklahoma City – Bisons, Night Hawks, Lancers

Sacramento – Condors, Miners, Redwoods

Top Needs of Madden Connected Franchise Mode (CFM)

There are all sorts of needs when it comes to Madden from a game-play perspective.  As many of you know by now – I almost exclusively play Offline Madden Franchise Mode.  There are so many aspects of the NFL that keep us interested all year and today we are going to focus on some of the things that Madden (or any other future football game… Are you listening 2K?) needs in Franchise mode.

Benjamin TD

Player Contracts, Morale and Agents 

If you have paid attention to any of the contracts signed by NFL players in the last few years you will see that many of these contracts are not nearly as simple as just throwing out a number and having it accepted or declined.  Madden has always had a problem with making contracts too simplified.  In that regard it has also made Franchise Mode exceedingly easy from a management perspective.  You can always low-ball a player or get someone on the cheap if you know your way around the salary cap.  Here are a few ideas on what would make this a bit more realistic and more challenging as you advance through multiple seasons.

  • Tiered Contracts – We should have the ability to front load or back load contracts for players just like in real life.  (NBA 2K has been doing this for years)
  • Incentive Based – There have been numerous contracts in recent memory laced with performance incentives.  (See Ben Tate’s deal with the Browns for an example).  This could be something that gamers need to focus on as they are building their teams around specific players.  You want that young WR you have made into a superstar to sign an extension?  Make it worth his while with money up front and incentives based on performance or staying healthy.
  • Battling Through Injuries – In this regard I like to see it being somewhat tied to the incentives listed above.  If a player tweaks his hamstring or maybe has a sore shoulder and needs to play a certain % of snaps to earn an incentive.  A good example of this is the contract of Jason Campbell for the Browns in 2013.  He did an admirable job trying to tough it out and play.  When it comes to staying healthy and getting paid to play a certain % of the snaps – you bet that is an important aspect for some players.
  • Morale – Something that never ceases to annoy Madden gamers is the thought that many features have been added and taken away as the wind blows at EA.  Morale was in Madden 2005 and played a large role in realism.  Players in the NFL have serious egos and morale swings almost daily.  In this case, a simple morale bar would be nice to see when it comes to making players happy to be on your team.  In that same breath, it should effect their performance as well.
  • Holdouts – Yet another part of the game that was removed is player holdouts.  This happens quite often and has at times caused many teams to lose important players or show them the money they demand in order to stick around.  This needs to be back in the game.

Another part of Franchise Mode that has been getting better incrementally over the last couple years is the NFL Draft.  As we enter the final week before the NFL Draft (in real life) there are many things that are becoming more apparent when looking at the draft and scouting in Madden.

  • Big Boards – I’m not talking about the main screen where they have thrown up the top players based on the CPU’s programming.  I am talking about as the GM/Coach/Owner making your own Big Board.  This could be as simple as taking a lesson from the NCAA Football team when they made a recruiting board for up to 35 players to recruit.  In this manner it should be expanded quite a bit (maybe to 50-70 players) so you can work your way through the draft like real teams do.
  • Measurables and Grades – I am  sick of the simple scouting method of paying to find exact ratings.  At most there should be grades or maybe a rating range made available through scouting.  When it comes to the combine in real life it is the biggest part of the pre-draft experience.  I want to see 40 times, bench press reps, interview notes, etc.
  • Coach Input – If you have seen the movie Draft Day you will know what I am talking about when I refer to Denis Leary’s portrayal of the Browns coach that basically tells the GM he is quitting if he takes a certain player or doesn’t help him fill the missing pieces in the draft to fit his system.  This is very important needs to have a greater presence in the game (perhaps Coach Morale as well?)
  • Scouts – This is something that is desperately needed in Madden for the sake of realism.  It would be great to not only streamline the process but also to add some variation to how players are rated based on what qualities that scouts have.

Madden 25 – Choosing A Team In Connected Franchise Mode

Now that we are about six weeks into the NFL Regular Season there are many surprises in the league as far as performance and records go.  There are already many teams vying for the #1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft while others are suddenly looking like they think they can make a surprise playoff run.  Here is a list of some teams you might want to consider using in Connected Franchise Mode with some ideas of how to build them to success.

Obviously Bad Teams

JagsThe Jaguars are among the worst teams in the NFL and we knew this before the season started.  Given the fact that their Quarterback situation is almost laughable.  When running this team it might be wise to create a new owner as well (unless you want to be the Wario look-a-like Shahid ‘Shao’ Khan.  Also, taking it upon yourself to look into trading Maurice Jones-Drew for a potential draft pick might be something to consider if throwing away the season is on your possibility list.  Another action to consider for a fun storyline would be signing Tim Tebow and trying to save the franchise in Jacksonville.  Otherwise, moving the team to Los Angeles might be the absolute best idea… even if EA doesn’t do much to make it worthwhile to move a team other than strictly in being in a new city.

BucsTampa Bay is in desperate need for an overhaul in how their team is run.  If that means you go through a season with Greg Schiano leading the way with his faux-military take no prisoners style or possibly just creating yourself as an intelligent player’s coach – the choice is yours.  With the departure of Josh Freeman there is a possible storyline to go with in using rookie QB, Mike Glennon and having him lead the Bucs to success.  Otherwise, you might want to start looking into the potential for getting someone in the draft or free agency.  You will have a decent base of skill players to use with Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams at WR on top of having the ‘muscle hamster’ Doug Martin at HB.  Tampa Bay isn’t a terrible team, but they could use some serious help and changes – starting at the top.

Surprisingly Bad Teams

SteelersThis team has been a perennial contender for the last decade and they are starting to show their age… not to mention some serious holes in personnel.  When they lost their starting Center in Pouncey it looked bad.  Now that the season has started and they have no real answer at HB, WR, OL, LB or DB it is looking like they might need more work than anyone ever thought.  Maybe it is because they play in what used to be a two-team division and they are simply falling behind the other teams.  Either way it goes, the Steelers are a team that could potentially use a huge front office change and maybe a new face for the franchise if Big Ben proves to be declining as much as he seems to be.  Do yourself a favor and revamp the O-Line before you do anything.  Try to sign a true #1 WR and hope that the defense can pick it up.  The potential for a fun rebuild is there in using the Steelers – and suddenly it isn’t so surprising.

GmenThe Giants are in trouble.  This is a team that just a few years ago won two Super Bowls.  Now they are looking similar to the Steelers in almost every way.  The Giants have started to look like an aging team and Eli Manning is starting to look like the player he was early in his career throwing INTs like they are going out of style.  This compounded by the fact that they are a team without a true HB threat.  Bringing back Brandon Jacobs was surprising after he had been released by the team rather recently.  Their defense was once one of the most feared in the league and now it has more holes than a block of swiss cheese.  Taking over ownership of this team could be a lot of fun if you want to get rid of Manning and start fresh.  Although, that could be a long road ahead.

 

Surprisingly Decent Teams

BrownsCleveland is a team that looked like they were destined to go 0-16 after two weeks and suddenly they are tied for first place in the AFC North.  While they are a team on the rise, they are also a team without a true answer at QB or HB.  While Josh Gordon seems to be a legitimate threat to be a Top-10 WR in the league and Jordan Cameron is one of the better TEs this season the Browns need some serious help in offensive skill positions.  On defense, the Browns are among the best in the NFL and this is largely due to the aggressive approach they have taken under Defensive Coordinator, Ray Horton.  You might want to look into getting some help for Joe Haden on the other side of the field at #2 CB.  Otherwise, this is a team that simply needs a couple pieces before they become a true contender.

ChiefsKansas City is starting to look like a serious contender with new coach, Andy Reid.  If you were to take this team to a 5-0 record in your first season in Madden it suddenly isn’t too far-fetched.  However, this doesn’t mean that they are a perfect team that doesn’t need any help.  They have some good pieces to play with in Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe and even Alex Smith at QB.  This goes with a defense that is rather dangerous and can hold their own against virtually any team in the league.  It could be fun to take over the Chiefs and make some moves to make this a team to compete with the Broncos for the AFC West.