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Madden Ultimate Team: Building on a Budget

Madden Ultimate Team has seen many changes since it made its debut in Madden 10.

Some of the improvements have been good, such as being able to play your friends online and the ability to trade your unwanted cards; the old auction system was very flawed.

The good news is you can build a powerhouse team in MUT without dipping into your cache of Microsoft Points, because let's be hontest, who wants to spend real money on virtual cards? Those micro-transactions can drain your piggy bank in a hurry. You can succeed in MUT without being a virtual version of Jerry Jones or Daniel Snyder.

Here are some tips to build your team the good old fashioned way: with some hard work, ingenuity and, yes, a little bit if luck.

Dance with the one who brought you
MUT is quite generous when you start your franchise in Madden 2012. You get a slew of players with long contracts (25 games), giving you some breathing room to get out on the field with your new team against either a CPU or human opponent. Also, if you played the demo, you get three highly rated players for free.

Sure, these guys aren’t the best – most are rated in the 60s and 70s -- but there is a nice mix of talent to help you start rolling in coins.

Before you play your first game, you should explore every player on your roster thoroughly. Flip his card and look for attribute numbers that stand out – either good or bad. Also, pay close attention to what playbooks you get out of the gate, especially on defense. 

If you get a team playbook that utilizes the 3-4 defense and you don’t have the personnel to run that scheme, you have several choices. The easiest is just to plow through it the best you can. The more you play, the more coins will roll in. Typically you will gain 1,000 or more coins per game against either the CPU or head-to-head online, even if you lose. That will allow you to either go out and get the personnel or playbook you need at auction, or to buy packs that will net you more players and more options.

I found it is easier to play against the CPU to build up your coins in this early stage. You won’t get very many surprises out of the CPU, allowing you a better opportunity to find out what you have on your roster. Look at it as a sort of MUT preseason.

Plus, there is a faction of unscrupulous players online, players who have a roster full of legendary players who dump them onto their bench to get a low overall rating, sucker you into a game and then adjust their depth chart once the game starts to get easy wins and easy coins. If you insist on playing all your MUT games against humans, simply check out your opponent’s roster before entering the game. If you see him or her do this, back out and try again.

Bronze packs are your friend
As your coin purse fills with each game, don’t be afraid to invest it back into your team.

In this stage of your franchise, purchase the dirt-cheap Bronze packs. There are some hidden gems, players who perform well above their overall rating.

I was blessed with a couple: 49ers receiver Ted Ginn Jr. and Seahawks quarterback Tavaris Jackson. Those two are very solid, especially Ginn, who has speed to burn and is excellent on special teams.

Bronze pack cards won’t net you much if you discard them. A select few, however, could bring you coins on the auction block or better players in trades.

Most MUT players are enamored with speed. If you have a player with jets, but mediocre auxiliary skills, put him up for auction. The fee of 50 coins is a bit excessive for these cards – in my opinion these fees should be on a scale based on the tier of the card -- but if used sparingly and wisely, you can get a little windfall.

Be a collector
Another way to fatten your coin coffer in a hurry is by utilizing the collection feature.

MUT rewards you handsomely for completing these collections, and there are plenty of them. However, the easiest collections to complete are the AFC and NFC coaches. 

It seems you get at least two or three coaches in every pack you purchase and the auction and trade screens are abuzz with people swapping these cards. It shouldn’t take you long to complete one or both, netting you a quite nice coin haul to dump into your team.

There are more difficulty challenges to complete, such as collections consisting of 12 to 15 player cards from a certain team.

The higher the reward, the more difficult it is to complete the collection. There aren’t any, though, that are absurdly ridiculous to finish. Plus, this offers a lot of replay value as new collections are frequently added.

Go for the Gold
Now that you are swimming in coins like Scrooge McDuck, what ever are you to do with them?

I’m not a big fan of the auction system in MUT, mostly because there is no point in bidding on cards. You are required to post a card at its set value or above, which kind of negates the purpose of the auction to begin with. No one goes to eBay thinking, “I’m going to pay for that item what it is worth.” People go to eBay thinking, “I’m going to pay as little as I can for that item.”

MUT doesn’t allow you to do this. Matt Moore will cost you the same amount of coins in auction as Tom Brady. It’s laughable. So, the best way to get bargains and build your team is through buying packs and selling or discarding off the jetsam and flotsam.

Early on, Bronze packs are key in building depth and for snatching players who fit your schemes the best. But, to truly succeed, Gold packs are where the money is made.

Silver packs aren’t worth the 3,000 coins. The haul isn’t much better than the much cheaper Bronze packs. The same goes for Premium Gold packs compared to its cheaper Gold counterpart. There isn’t enough difference to warrant the extra 3,000-coin payout.

Players you want to jettison through discard net you 750 coins whether they come in Gold or Premium Gold packs. The only benefit to shelling out the extra scratch for the Premium packs is the 90-plus rated player you can snag. But those players can be had for the same price as some of the lower-rated Gold cards and through shrewd trading.

Legendary packs are out since you can’t pay coins to purchase them. We don’t want to spend real money, after all.

Everyone is different
The great thing about MUT is there are a myriad of ways to build your team and just as many ways to earn coins.

Personally, I’m trying to put as many of my favorite players on my team as possible to play in my favorite team's uniform and stadium. To me, it is a blast to hunt for these cards and then use them online or against the CPU.

What are some of your tips and tricks in building your ultimate team?


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Member Comments
# 1 BCDX97 @ 10/29/11 07:43 PM
Personally, I avoid this mode like the plague, because it's such a tedious grind - and I'm not thrilled that some people keep funneling their money to EA, so they keep working on the UT part of the game, and neglect other areas. But if it makes you happy building a virtual card collection, more power to ya.
 
# 2 bfindeisen @ 10/31/11 12:03 PM
I like MUT because you can sort of be like a GM and build a team to your liking that you can use to compete against other people's creations. However, there are so many flaws with the mode that it leaves much to be desired. 2 things MUT greatly needs: STRUCTURE and PROGRESSION. I love MUT but often end up asking myself what the point of it is. I could care less about the "virtual card collection" (especially since EA doesn't allow you to keep the cards year to year) and your record really has no relevance other than bragging rights. It would be nice if there was some structure (i.e., leagues, tournaments, etc.) or a progression system in place to make you want to keep playing. I've built a great team that I like, but now what?
 
# 3 bfindeisen @ 10/31/11 12:11 PM
Also, some key tips for building a team without spending money:

Sell your Coaches, Uniforms, and Stadium cards in the Auction as often as possible; because people buy these cards cheaply in the auctions to complete their collections, you can often earn more than the value of the pack by selling these cards. KEY: list the buy now price equal to the card value and set duration for 1 hour; this will more often than not rank your card higher in the auction house because it is closer to expiring. Usually, you can sell gold Player cards, too, if they're collectible. They often take longer to sell (as in you may have to renew the auction several times), but when they sell you make 10,000 coins, which more than offsets the cost of the pack + the cost of the auction fees.

This strategy alone has allowed me to consistently buy gold packs or outright buy the Player cards I want, as it is much easier to accumulate coins this way. If you really wanted to spend the time, you could just buy Bronze and Silver packs and just sell all the contents. In the long run, you will certainly profit, but it depends on if you really want to spend your time doing this -- like I said earlier, if I'm gonna spend all this time and effort, it would be nice if there was a point to MUT.
 
# 4 baseballsim @ 10/31/11 02:19 PM
I'm going try to keep my team below 85 OVR. The higher rating my team gets the less enjoyable the online head to head matches are.

I hope EA fixes the preview depth chart crash in PS3. I faced someone last night where they started out with a punter as their QB. After a couple of plays, they paused the game and then put Michael Vick in as their QB.
 
# 5 newefan @ 11/02/11 09:04 PM
uteam is a joke . just do a fantasy draft
 

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