Madden Dementia


Planned on heading out to the KC Cougars game tonight, but like the Cubs game, it got rained out. So I mostly screwed around and accomplished little instead. One of the things I wasted time with is my never ending Madden 2005 franchise.

My friend Jim is a huge Madden/EA fanatic for the GM Modes. Within a week of getting each year’s game, he will know the relative worth of every single player on the game, how he can acquire him for a trade, and how he could put together a team of Pro Bowlers in under an hour starting with any team, salary cap hits or not.

Which would be fine enough, and relatively useful as video game knowledge goes, except it doesn’t end there; last year, he spent three weeks trying to figure out the best All Rookie team he could put together, and knew the class inside and out by the end. On top of that, he was working, off and on, for about three months on a team with a perfect defensive record. By trading and playing, he wanted to go a couple season without giving up a single point. Sometimes he’d get as far as 11 games without doing it. Sometimes, he’d get four, delete, and restart because he just didn’t like the team. Amazingly (semi-insane) dedication.

Anyway, this deal he’s settled on started when he settled on a team long enough to sim out a season, and won a Superbowl as a slight surprise. And then he won again. And again. And again, all simming it and not playing it. Since he was on such a run, Jim decided to keep the franchise going, instead of just deleting and trying a different idea. Pretty good idea – last he told me, he was at 17 Super Bowls, in a row.

(#1 Piece of advice: trade for the 1st round picks of the worst team in the league at Week 6. Computer erroneously will overvalue your pick despite your better record, and if you’re good, you can pick up two 1st rounders. Helps to keep restocking if you get good picks.)

Back when he around 11 or 12, he was talking about his run and how he was starting to field mostly created guy teams, and it got me thinking about how I’ve never gone that far in Madden. (An article on VeteranPresence got me thinking the same thing.)

Madden games go like this for me
– start my own franchise
– figure out a few things on All Pro*, get a hang of the new year
– get way too into knocking off the madden challenge and mini camp things
– start a franchise with other, actual live people
– get good playing the computer a billion times in the franchise season between actual real games against people
– get more creative playing against real people
– occasionally go back to single player franchise, find out I can now stomp the computer at will, get bored without the carrot of eventually playing a real person
– move on to some other game

The multi-person franchises never go more than three or four years – this year, we’re going four somewhat against my interest at the time, and I’m gaining my revenge by breaking passing records with Matt Schaub – because it takes about four to six week to get thru a season if everyone’s around, and it feels kinda lame if we’re still playing by next year’s draft. (This year, we shall be lame.)

Jim’s franchise gave me an inspiration – I’ve been playing these games which hype a 30 year mode, and I’ve never gone past year 5, what am I missing? What are those wacky things you can buy? How does the game change when all the guys who started it are gone? What exactly happens after year 30? I thought I needed to find out.

I ended up picking up my franchise I’d otherwise discarded (Texans) and with an actual reason to keep playing, kept on going. Since I can’t stand the idea of putting so much effort into building a team and having the sim screw it up, I’m simming it up to the point where my team might be eliminated (either the start of the playoffs, or when it looks like I might not make the playoffs with another loss), and winning all the way out by myself.

I didn’t realize going in how fun it’d be to draft guys, improve them thru playing time, and watch the prosper into perennial pro-bowlers; you don’t see that as much in short franchises. Having coach after coach retire because they’ve got too many rings is neat, though it did lead to an agonizing ethical dilemma at one point: if he’s got the best numbers, can I ethically hire Brett Farve to be my head coach? (No. What was I thinking?) Building up quarterbacks, letting them to go when they want too much and there’s another on the way, and watching the be awesome on other teams is pretty satisfying; there’s something hilarious about causing Dave Ragone to be Farve’s successor, even if the other guys seem to end up coming back into my division.

I spent part of the night building my way to my 11th (or 12th?) championship, which started out as one of my worst teams (having parted with my #1 QB, #1 RB, #2 WR, and #2 CB mostly to let younger guys get playing time and improve), and I’m only a couple wins away as I take a moment to write this out.

The neat thing is I’m closing ground on Jim’s run of championships. See, he stopped playing for a while to pick up MVP – he’s trying for a season with zero losses.

I think I’ll draw the line there.

* I’d play All Madden if the AI was actually smarter and figured out you were running the same eight plays on that level; it just gets cheaper instead. Waste of time.