MLB 18 – Franchise Mode House Rules

The first rules I generally set for myself in any sort of Franchise Mode involves trading and player acquisition. In my last post, I talked about the sim gameplay aspect of using directional batting – after trying this for the last couple days, I firmly stand by this suggestion. The team management area of franchise mode is what drives me to have the most fun with the game. It can also lead you towards a short-lived journey if you don’t set up some rules to prevent you from dominating a less than stellar CPU AI when it comes to trades and team building.

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Trades/Free Agents During Season

  1. You have to select the players you want from a specific team before offering your own player(s).
  2. You may make one trade in the initial Spring Training (Two trades in following spring trainings).
  3. You are permitted one trade before the All Star Game and it must not occur until at least May 1.
  4. You are permitted two trades after the All Star Break.
  5. You can only sign a free agent during your first season if your team suffers an injury on the MLB level that requires 60 Day – DL.

Scouting Prospects –

I generally prefer to take the scouting aspect as a personal project, but the more I look at how MLB 17 runs things, I tend to believe that leaving scouting on Auto allows your scouts to actually do what they will do based on their ratings. This also prevents the user from figuring out how to find all of the Top Prospects with ease.

In-Game Rules

There are only a couple basic rules I set for myself for MLB The Show. First, I believe that user control generally makes for a better performing team overall. Once you get settings/sliders that provide you with optimal challenge and enjoyment it is crucial to set up a system that you can follow without second guessing your rules.

Here are mine for MLB 18.

  1. Pitching/Defense – Once you allow the first run you must Quick Manage the remainder of the defensive halves of each inning until the 9th inning. If you wish, you may use your closer if there is a save situation.
  2. Batting – You get THREE strike outs per game. These can be offset if you draw walks. If you strike out twice and then draw a walk you can subtract one of those strike outs. Once you strike out three times you must quick manage each half inning your team is at bat until the ninth inning. You can also allow a home run to reset all strike outs.

That’s it… pretty simple in the scheme of things. You will find that your season will progress a bit quicker and you will have a bit less direct influence on the simulation feel of the stats, etc. Also, I have found that this rule gives me a better eye at the plate because walks give me a real goal to offset strike outs.

There are more updates coming. Baseball season is finally here… even if it is 30 degrees outside.

Taking Your Draft To The Next Level – Madden 16

Now that the order of the first twenty teams of the 2016 NFL Draft have been determined it is officially draft season for many fans.  This includes yours truly… the constantly disappointed by my Browns ‘in real life’ Dawg Pound faithful Cleveland fan.

What makes it all better for me is knowing that I can at least build my team effectively in the draft on Madden 16. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an analytics wiz like Paul DePodesta to do this either. Here is a quick-ish guide to scouting and drafting better players in Madden 16.

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Scouting…It Matters
It took me awhile to realize that the most valuable moment in Madden 16 scouting is the first and cheapest ‘letter grade’ for each player. This is because it only get worse after that first grade… seriously, once you realize that the best grade they have is the first one you find you can quickly determine who to cast away as a waste of resources.

Scout Needs and Schemes First
Now that we know that letter grades will be a good guide for investing more points we can eventually scout all of the players that fit our scheme first.

C+ Is Not Average, It’s Bad
When scouting any players you should never be excited to see a ‘C’ rating. This is never a good sign and should tell you to move on. If you want to take a chance on some WR with ‘A’ SPD and ‘C+’ catching, that’s on you.

Combine ‘Final Litmus Test’
Never judge your prospects solely by their combine score. Always check out where they ranked in the important categories. If your LT prospect was 12th in the 40 yd dash, who cares? If he is the strongest Bench Press LT you might be happy to take him. The combine scores aren’t as important as the rankings for each workout. Do the extra button press and judge your prospects accordingly.

Don’t Be Afraid To Trade Down
If you don’t believe there is a ‘must have’ player for your team where you are picking you should always look to trade for other picks. If you have a Top 5 or 10 pick and want to trade, you could find a lot of great offers. Don’t take a player in the Top 10 if he doesn’t have at least an ‘A’ or an ‘A-‘ Grade in one category with ‘B+’ after… otherwise, you will find you drafted too high.

Take A Chance In Rounds 3-7
You will find that some players projected well (green projections) will be worth taking in the round before their projection at times, especially in later rounds.

While I wouldn’t suggest taking a projected 5th Round player in the 2nd or 3rd round, they might actually be worth it if their combine and grades check out. Take your time and be picky with this as you learn what your team needs.

Don’t Forget Position Changes
What many people might forget is that some players that might not fit schemes as they are listed for the draft but they would be perfect if they changed positions. That 3-4 DE might be too fat and slow to be a DE for your Attacking 4-3, but that doesn’t mean you can ‘ draft him and edit his position to DT just after the draft. This is the only time you can do it for any player, so don’t forget. Also, take a look at changing CB to SS or FS as it may fit them better. You can always mess with these things to see which ratings will be the best for OVR.

You should now be on track to have a top draft every single year.

Madden 16 – The Scouting Guide For Your CFM

I thought about which part of Madden 16 I would feature first this year and I believe that the biggest improvement to Franchise Mode this year is in the scouting process.  They are really trying their best to make you focus on the scheme of your coach and the play-style of each player on your team.  While this might still be somewhat wishful thinking in terms of making the game a more ‘true to life experience’ it certainly makes it a bit more challenging and enjoyable to scout players for the upcoming draft.

Madden_NFL_16The one part of scouting and the draft that seems to have been hidden away for some reason is the weekly news keeping you up to date on all the latest college prospect happenings throughout the season.  They are still in the game, but they are nowhere near the main page you look at each week.  You have to go all the way to the far right tab and look up the league news, etc.  It is terribly clunky and I can’t believe they haven’t designed the interface to be a bit more organized.  Why there isn’t a page totally dedicated to the upcoming draft with mock drafts and news on draft picks is beyond me.  So, with that said – here is a quick guide for scouting.

It’s All About Scheme

If you want to draft players that will come into your team with the highest overall rating possible you need to focus on scouting and drafting according to your coaching schemes and player preferences.  You can find all this information under the ‘Coach Section’ in CFM (the same area you find auto-subs, etc.).  Take some time before you start your season and certainly before you start scouting (Which begins in Week 3 each regular season).  If you are running a 3-4 defense chances are good that you won’t want to draft a 4-3 DE to play DE for your team at the same position (now, if you want to move him to OLB after the draft… well, we will talk about that later.

Invest Heavily in Middle and Late Rounders

Yes, your first round pick is crucial and you need to get it right.  However, this is typically one player at a position you know for a fact you want to fill.  In this case you know what you are looking for and shouldn’t have to spend your points on first round prospects as your options will hopefully be limited.  If there isn’t a can’t-miss prospect for your team in the first round of the draft I would highly suggest shopping your pick during the draft (or even near the trade deadline if your team is looking like a playoff team (no sense in keeping a late 1st round pick when you can trade it for a future 1st and a current 2nd or 3rd Rd. pick for this coming draft.

Use your points to find players at positions you are weak in the middle rounds.  There are often some high 70s and low 80s players that fall into the 4th and 5th rounds – you need to uncover their draft stock and be sure to ‘Watch’ them with the Triangle or ‘Y’ button as you scout.

Watching Players (Your Draft Board)

Sure, you still can’t put players into a draftable order for your team, but the new function of ‘Watch’ is a great way to organize the players you uncover as potential goldmines in the draft.  This will also be helpful for you as you get past the 2nd Round and see who is falling or who might get snagged by the CPU.  Keep in mind!!! The CPU becomes a trade nazi during the draft.  You might want to move up a few picks to get a guy you have a feeling might go before you get a chance.  The CPU will not take a trade that might happen in the regular season – so don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on one of those players you are watching maybe a round earlier than it suggests (if you think he merits the risk).

Check The News Wire

During the season and just after the Super Bowl it is crucial for you to see which players are featured on the news feed as they are often going to be ‘storyline’ players as well as decent picks to take when you get the chance.  There are some other players that will be tremendous busts as well – don’t fall into that trap.

Keep checking back for more tips and suggestions for your Madden 16 CFM.  The NoobTubeTV Sliders and Setting will also be uploaded to PS4 servers and shared here shortly!

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.

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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.