EA Sports’ Madden franchise has been around for decades at this point, with a wide variety of games under the company’s belt as the league has evolved and graphics for different consoles have been upgraded. One constant over the last few years? The success of the franchise’s “Ultimate Team” game mode.
For those who are unaware, Madden players can partake in a mode called “Ultimate Team,” bringing fans back to the days where you’d open up packs of cards from the store, trade with your friends and make up games to play with the players’ statistics or tendencies.
Recently, that childhood hobby has turned into real life, with EA Sports consistently putting out a quality game mode for fans to enjoy, giving them the opportunity to collect cards for their favorite players, follow along as big moments happen throughout the year, and build up a “fantasy” team that could take down anyone that steps foot in your path.
However, the game mode could be confusing to any newcomers, especially as players evolve and playing styles change with the rise of players like Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley and Baker Mayfield. The pace is quick and frantic, just like the thoughts running through your head about how to put together the best team.
Fear no more, football fans. We have a complete guide with quick tips to follow to set up the perfect team for taking down your friends online or the computer in solo challenges.
This game is constantly updated throughout the year, and players get outdated quickly when promos like “Most Feared” and “MUT Heroes” drop. So, star running backs like Jim Brown or Marcus Allen may fall by the wayside as new versions of Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara and more drop into the game. So, some information and priorities may begin to change as the game continues to evolve.
For now, here are the basics to get you started off on the right foot in Madden Ultimate Team as you grind through solo challenges and learn the ropes when it comes to Online Seasons, Solo Battles, Weekend League and more.
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Building up your roster
Don’t rush your decision when it comes to the MUT Captains.
EA Sports released the details early regarding the MUT Captains for this year’s game, with gamers able to pick from four NFL players: Herman Moore, Dallas Clark, Ty Law and Ryan Shazier.
During a stream on July 22, EA’s crew showcased the card artwork as well, showcasing Moore’s 80-overall MUT Captains card.
This decision may seem like an unimportant one given the talent level of each player, but it’ll help set the tone for your team in a big way, so don’t take the decision lightly.
Do you want to focus on your defense? Which area specifically between your secondary or linebackers? How about offensively? Do you want a solid wide receiver to start, or do you hope to build up with a versatile tight end?
It’s not completely make-or-break, but this decision could influence your playing style for the start of your Ultimate Team, so take that into consideration when making your pick.
Don’t prioritize a running back.
Just like the real NFL, running backs come and go in Madden Ultimate Team.
Would it be awesome to have a guy like Saquon Barkley, Todd Gurley or Le’Veon Bell in your backfield? Sure, but when you’re building up your team and trying to fill out your roster with depth when it comes to your secondary, wide receivers or offensive line, you’re going to get the same results with players like Patriots running back Sony Michel, Bears running back Tarik Cohen or Browns running back Nick Chubb.
Keep it simple when it comes to running backs, as all you’ll really need to start for your solo challenges and low-difficulty games will be speed and the ability to hold onto the ball with no issues. Then, as you start to build up some of your currency while grinding through the solo challenges, you can splurge on a star running back to complete your lineup.
Depth is the most important thing when it comes to your positions with more than one player.
With the same philosophy as the running back argument, you’ll want to stack up multiple solid players when it comes to your wide receivers or secondary, rather than wasting all of your coins on a guy like Antonio Brown or Harrison Smith.
Don’t feel bad filling out your roster with guys from 85-90 when you’re loading up your offense and defense, so that the defense doesn’t shut down your 95 overall receiver or target the side away from your 94 overall cornerback.
Building up a rotation of guys like Cooper Kupp, Jarvis Landry, Golden Tate III or Demaryius Thomas would give you a solid chance on any play with tight coverage, rather than trying to huck up a Hail Mary to Julio Jones or Odell Beckham Jr.
Loading up with players like Jason McCourty, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Jimmy Smith and/or Johnathan Joseph can help you much more than just going for Jalen Ramsey and Patrick Peterson and leaving the slot to a 70 overall. Like a lot of these tips, it may seem obvious, but it helps to visualize it and understand where players can target your weaknesses.
Good players will figure out quickly when you’re relying on one or two players to compete, so it’s best to spread the wealth to give yourself the best chance.
Overall, you could likely prioritize your players/acquisitions in this order and be successful against strong opponents:
- Wide receivers
- Offensive lineman
- Tight ends
- Running backs
- Defensive lineman
Versatile quarterbacks are great, but pocket passers aren’t a dying breed like many think.
Patrick Mahomes is going to turn into a modern-day Michael Vick with the hype around this game and Baker Mayfield will be incredibly fun to play with as you run around the backfield looking for the open receiver.
But, don’t feel like you have to use one of those players to succeed. Just like real life, guys like Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Philip Rivers are still going to work for you if you have the correct playing style to accommodate them.
Lots of gamers like to rush for a card like Mahomes, Mayfield, Russell Wilson or Cam Newton, and love to have the option to run for it out of the shotgun if they need a first down on a 3rd-and-5. But, you’ll sacrifice accuracy in Madden with guys like that, with many players thinking they can throw on the run and hit a receiver 30 yards down the field with a perfect spiral.
Building up a solid offensive line, working the run and keeping a quarterback in the pocket may seem boring, but it still drives results. With quick, small receivers in your lineup, you’re better off with a precision passer who can sit in the pocket and deliver a dart 10 yards down the field with open space, or toss a perfect ball 50 yards downfield for a receiver sprinting down the sideline.
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The importance of leveling up your team is back to where it should be.
In previous years, the rewards for leveling up haven’t been up to par with what a lot of gamers were hoping for, and it looks like the EA team took notice, improving those elements when it comes to Madden NFL 20.
The team previewed a lot of the rewards players will get as their teams advance through levels, along with a new feature for Theme Selector Tokens. Those can help you build up your coaching inventory, along with stadiums, playbooks and uniforms.
The developers also showcased the new Series Trophies, which will be replacing Event Tickets as a form of in-game currency. Be sure to load up on those for any purpose that may require them, and be strategic with where you use them.
For example, players will get 10 Series Trophies at Level 6, with new Level Solos unlocked at Level 7, a Gold Plus Player at Level 8, 50 Training Quicksell at Level 9 and the Theme Selector Token at Level 10. Level 11 will feature a Team Captains Fantasy Pack, and Level 50 unlocks a 90-overall MUT Level Master player for your team.
Solo challenges are your friend, no matter how boring they may get.
I’ll admit, solo challenges haven’t been as worth it in recent installments of the game as they once were with the rise of the pay-to-win mentality through pack purchases. However, these challenges are the basis for any Ultimate Team player to get started with, and you should dive in on them as soon as you can.
The rewards have seemingly lessened in value/frequency, but they are rewards nonetheless. Whether you’re getting a few hundred coins for a quick win over the Jets, or a pack for finishing up a complete section of solo challenges, you’re getting something by the end of it that will help you to improve your team in a big way.
It may not seem worth it to complete a solo challenge for 250 coins, but the more you do, the more coins you’ll load up, the more legends and special cards you can work towards, and the more you can improve your roster for the long-haul. Some of them can be annoying and oddly-specific, like needing to force a fumble within three plays and then score in the minute thereafter, but they’re all worth it in the end.
The addition of missions for cards like an 86-overall Baker Mayfield or Deacon Jones also highlight the importance of the grind, with gamers looking to build towards the two NFL Epics players in Madden NFL 20.
Many people have made it through a ton or all of the solo challenges without spending a dime, and, in the end, created a well-rounded roster that could take down their opponents online and build their way up to acquiring some stars through the Auction House. It’s how I build up my roster every year, and it’s a great way to train yourself on what plays to use in certain scenarios in crunch time.
Objective lists are also a huge stepping stone to help you improve your roster.
Objectives are a fun way for you to build up your MUT level and accumulate some coins, and the benefit is the frequency of the list updates.
Some objectives could be as simple as winning a game in almost any game mode or completing a card set, or they could get a bit more difficult with longer-term goals to finish over a wider range of time. However, whenever you get the chance to dive in and get them done, it’s incredibly worth it, and another way to compliment your solo challenges.
Training points are on the rise in Madden Ultimate Team, so build up your stockpile in any way you can.
Whether it’s through quickselling bronze cards or duplicates, opening packs or grinding through solo challenges, there are many ways to pile up training points to improve your cards and maximize your roster’s potential.
Figure out early on who you’ll be keeping around on your roster, and build your team up around those players that you’ll be upgrading with training points. In the meantime, quicksell the players you don’t need and get a constant flow of points to improve your roster.
Find your favorite plays and don’t be afraid to use them, but figure out a rotation that works for you.
Anyone that’s been playing Madden for a few years since the current graphics model was created has seen the rise in crossing routes and screens in online gameplay. Unfortunately, due to their continued success, the old saying will always ring true: “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.”
However, much like the real NFL, I’ve found more success when I use a rotation of plays for each type of opponent, and figure out early on what would work best for that specific scenario you’re in.
Sure, the crossing routes and screens could get you to where you need to be. But, good players will eventually figure out where they can line up to combat both at once, and you need to work something else. That’s where you can use your statistics to show what plays you use the most, and you can even tweak those further with hot routes before the snap.
It’s a good idea to build up three running plays in your arsenal for some variety, and don’t be afraid to run the ball with the lead. Depth will come in handy here in case you’re pushing your running back to the limit with a lead, but it’ll also help if you build up plays with a back that can go out and get you five or six yards through the air.
Add a WIDE variety of passing plays, with a few versions of a screen, a few crossing routes, some verticals and some slants. That’s where the importance of a good offensive line comes into the equation, as many newcomers choose to blitz frequently to put pressure on the player and force mistakes.
However, once you can get into the rhythm at the start and figure out the defensive tendencies, you can work in the quick routes to counter the blitz. When they adjust to that, you can go to the run to then build up some play action, or you can get some of the verticals going. When opponents protect against a vertical, you can work in a slant or a draw to take advantage of open space to the first down marker. When they figure out the rotation of plays, hot routes come into play. Always keep them guessing.
It all seems simple and basic to anyone who follows football frequently or plays Madden every year, but it’s helpful to think about when you’re building your roster and figuring out your playing style as you progress through the newest installment of the game.
Have fun with it!
Let’s face it, there will always be those gamers that spend hundreds of dollars every year on a phenomenal roster full of cards they pull in these massive packs. But, that doesn’t mean that they’ll utilize the roster properly or play well with those legends and stars, so don’t get discouraged!
Part of the fun of Madden Ultimate Team is the process of building up a talented roster and pulling some of your favorite players in packs you earn or buy. There’s no sense in getting frustrated if you don’t have the perfect roster within the first week, or even the first month or two. It’s meant to be a grind, and just have fun and enjoy the ride as you get through solo challenges, online games and numerous hours spent opening packs and scanning the Auction House.