The Biggest House Rules For Madden – Play Books and Playcalling

For those of you looking for a reason to continue playing Madden 19 I have a challenge for you.  Invest some serious time in two things – designing a playbook that doesn’t include the money plays you have come to find honestly (or … less than honestly?) and then go through that playbook and set up the Down and Distance star ratings for each play.  

I have found that All-Pro seems to become more challenging when my plays are limited to whatever shows up on my ‘Coach Selection’ rather than going through the playbook to find my go-to plays.  While this by no means fixes what is seemingly a consistently broken game, it does add a bit more fun in your gameplan and it also keeps you on your toes as some plays might become new favorites.

I am still at a point in Madden 19 where I am frustrated by the lack of difficulty in All-Pro and the annoying cheating of the CPU on All-Madden.  I don’t think there’s a fix for that at this point.  Slider sets and other such mechanics are less than desirable fixes for an issue that has plagued Madden for over a decade.  

I am to a point where this is my last go-round with Madden 19.  It’s sad to say, but I would probably get more enjoyment out of uninstalling than playing through another easy season of Franchise Mode.  I would certainly have more enjoyment in uninstalling rather than playing a single snap of the toxic Ultimate Team.

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Lamar Jackson and How EA Continues To Screw Up Franchise Mode

EA recently released a list of the top rookie quarterbacks in their annual hype train countdown to the release of Madden.  This year, they slipped up and unintentionally commented on their simulation formula for Franchise Mode.

‘Lamar Jackson could be the most interesting QB to play as in Madden 19. If you sim a lot of games in Franchise, he’s likely not the best pick at the moment. But holy hell, his base ratings make him fun…’ for more, go to the page here.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Minicamp

The issue with this isn’t that Lamar Jackson shouldn’t be rated higher or lower than anyone else.  It is simply the fact that they reference his effectiveness in Franchise Mode to his ratings.  What should continue to worry CFM players is this continuing problem with CFM being tied to overall ratings.  This would be like saying that Michael Vick would be fun to play with but he wouldn’t do much for a team in a simulation.  I’m not saying that Lamar Jackson is Michael Vick, but he is damn close.

This means that EA has not changed their formula of what is important in CFM.  It is still driven by OVR.  This means you won’t have any players that are low rated to start become anything close to superstars.  It also means that the CPU is actually at a competitive disadvantage.  As users, we are able to see certain players with abilities that we can take advantage of – speed, trucking, throw accuracy, hit power, etc.  We can turn a 6th round 67 OVR player into an absolute beast.  The CPU will either cut the player or never play them in a simulation.  Take a look at the practice squads in your Madden 18 CFM – the CPU has some BEASTS that never get a chance to play.  Many of us would snap up these players in a heartbeat.

Until EA makes Madden CFM more nuanced and less dependent on overall ratings I have a feeling we will continue to experience a rather mechanical and less organic CFM experience.

Madden 19 Will Continue To Be MUT Focused

For those of you that joined in my cheers about the initial announcements regarding Madden 19’s Franchise Mode – please don’t get too hyped.  If you look at the pre-order bonuses and such, this game is still obviously focused on the cash cow that is Ultimate Team.  In being focused on MUT, there are things that quite simply will NEVER change in terms of gameplay. madden 19 cover

If you watch any of the YouTubers or Twitch guys that post pack opening reactions and footage of them playing online MUT matchups you will see that there is good reason for EA Tiburon to keep the game as loose and arcade-like as possible.  I will admit, I have watched a few of the pack opening videos from various YouTube personalities and I feel like I am basically watching a hyped up commercial on EA’s Home Shopping Network.  I’m not hating on what makes these people happy or gives them YouTube success – keep doing you and get that YouTube money before they decide to find a reason to kick you off the pay platform.

What I find disconcerting is when Madden continues to push a mode that doesn’t encourage gameplay to become more realistic by default.  MUT is not and will never be a mode that encourages Tiburon to make Man to Man coverage a true representation of what we see on Sundays (Thursdays, and Monday’s) in the fall.  I can appreciate this aspect as sometimes it gets frustrating in any game to feel like you aren’t controlling the actions of the primary character at any given time.  MUT has to remain focused on player control and the arcade style that brings the money well after the game has released.

However, why is it that spin moves and jukes from players result in locked animations from tacklers three yards away?  Why do we continue to see AI make gameplay decisions that would baffle a 5 year old?  It’s a continuing sign of what EA Tiburon has a true problem replicating – 11 on 11 football.  Every time you play against a human opponent it becomes a 1 on 1 matchup, not a true football game.  Consider this the next time you switch to the DB in coverage during a long pass down the field.  Sure, it’s supposed to be a game that you play, but it doesn’t bode well for those of us that want some semblance of real football.

The spin, juke and other break tackle functions in Madden 18 were so overpowered and glitched simply from the interaction and animation system that I stopped playing the game in early December.  I played a few MUT games and even won a championship, etc.  At the end of the day, I wanted to play simulation football in CFM (OFFLINE) and I was greeted by such an artificially weak CPU opponent that I couldn’t justify booting up the game.

What do you think?  Are you a MUT player or a Sim Football purist?  Will the history dictate your purchase of Madden 19?

Madden 19 Franchise Mode – Only One Direction To Go

As we near the NFL Draft in a matter of days it is starting to leak out of the rumor mill that Madden will be focusing on ramping up the quality of Franchise Mode.  Hopefully this means we can expect a bit more depth in terms of how the mode is represented in a few different ways.

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Because EA is the Johnny Manziel of sports game developers.

They have tried to change how free agency works from the Auction system a few years ago to making offers before advancing and hoping the guy you wanted chose your low-ball offer.  Between bad financial logic and worse player and team logic – Madden hasn’t exactly been a beacon of realism for wanna-be GMs.

They must find a way to push gamers in this mode to eventually spend their money on veterans without looking at every 28 and 29 year old player like they are going to become Stephen Hawking at the age of 30.  Yes, there is certainly a youth movement in the thinking of NFL General Managers.  Yes, this means that drafting top talent over keeping ‘aging’ players is a common strategy.  It doesn’t mean that Madden should get a pass in making players in their late-20s and early 30s relevant in Franchise Mode.

On top of the age nosedive in terms of player ratings, the other aspect that needs the most help in Madden is the Draft and Scouting.

Scouting has quite simply been a lazy effort by the developers.  It isn’t difficult to find the superstar players later in the draft.  It isn’t hard to find the busts in the first round.  By the time you figured out the scouting dynamics in Madden 17 you were more than okay with the point reversal in Madden 18 that was supposed to make that aspect more challenging.  All you need to do is look for the first rating to be a B+ or higher and you are on your way.  It’s not rocket science… and that makes for an insanely boring experience that is arguably one of the most involved and talked about in all of sports.

They must address the lack of immersion in our experience week by week.  There is ZERO immersion in Franchise Mode from an overall league perspective.  There is no feeling for the salary cap when it comes to managing the team.  There is no excitement in Franchise Mode… NONE.  The Super Bowl has been the same stupid celebration and musical experience for years.

Madden 18 was the final straw for me as a Madden fan in a lot of ways.  It was the only Madden I have stopped playing before the Super Bowl was over.  It says more about the staying power of Franchise Mode than anything else.

Madden Ultimate Team has killed what made Madden a fun experience for those of us that don’t enjoy online sports gaming.  I am hoping that Madden 19 will make good on their chance to convince me to buy this game as a pre-order for the sake of giving my annual guides for all of you out there.