There was a time that the idea of grinding missions in MLB The Show sounded about as appealing to me as a root canal. In fact, I don’t think I even understood what most of the missions even entailed just as recently as last year when playing MLB The Show 16. All I knew was that they meant playing countless essentially meaningless games against a CPU opponent and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with that.
I was a die-hard franchise player, both online and offline, and I assumed this Diamond Dynasty mode I kept hearing about was only for people willing to shell out extra funds to buy the best possible team. Even when I finally gave Diamond Dynasty a try last year to see what all the fuss was about and learned that you could put together a competitive enough squad without spending so much as a dime, I still recoiled at the thought of grinding out missions to upgrade my team.
But then that all changed this year. Maybe it was the frustration of never being able to pull a single diamond from any of the packs and in-game rewards or the slowly dawning realization that it was going to be impossible to get over a certain hump without acquiring some better players. Whatever it was, something compelled me to finally give these missions a try. My first glimpse of the missions menu was rather confusing and I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even realize just how many types of missions there were initially because I neglected to scroll past the first page. But after watching some helpful tutorials on how to best approach conquest (knowing this was the easiest way to obtain a bunch of diamond players), I jumped into the deep end and before I knew it, I had spent the whole day conquering territories and strongholds all across the baseball landscape like some kind of sporty Genghis Khan. This was the gateway drug that got me hooked and since then, I’ve come to only develop a greater appreciation for all of the ways that grinding missions can be rewarding.
To state the obvious, there are an overwhelming number of missions that can be tackled in Diamond Dynasty, not to even mention the ones that are accessible through franchise. From the daily missions that often require completing only a simple task or two to the epics that demand such an insane amount of time and energy that you’ll eventually lose track of how long you’ve been playing and suddenly realize it’s 5am and you have to be at work in a couple of hours, there are enough missions to ensure that any social life as you know it will come to sudden halt.
The ingenious thing is that this variety of missions will also force you to actually play a myriad of different game modes. Many are attainable by playing against the CPU as I initially suspected but if that gets old (and believe me, it will), you can switch things up and set your sights on other missions that will have you squaring off against other humans in modes like Ranked Seasons, Battle Royale or Events. Through playing missions, I also learned there’s a mode called Extra Innings that I never even knew existed. The one thing to be careful of when mixing things up though is that it can be quite an adjustment to go from blowing out the CPU on rookie difficulty to playing a much more skilled online opponent.
“The ingenious thing is that this variety of missions will also force you to actually play a myriad of different game modes.”
In playing through all of these missions, another interesting wrinkle is that you will be required to use all sorts of players from different series of cards in order to accomplish the necessary goals. This means that unlike last year, when I pretty much just habitually used all of my best cards to go toe-to-toe with people online, it’s absolutely imperative that you use a wider array of players. This ends up becoming a veritable trip through the long storied history of the sport itself, where you’re given the opportunity to discover what made these players the legends that they’re now considered.
For example, many fans (especially Expos fans like myself) may remember hearing about the unfortunate death of Gary Carter from a brain tumor five years ago, but in MLB The Show 17 we’re able to turn back the clock all the way to his rookie season and utilize “The Kid” in his formative years to see the first glimpses of the great ballplayer he would become. Similarly, followers of the Blue Jays may know Chris Coghlan as merely a utility player on this year’s team but because of seeing his Hardware card in action in the game, we get the chance to experience what Coghlan was like in his prime. Heck, younger fans may not even know who guys like Reggie Jackson or Bob Feller even were and yet by doing missions and obtaining cards, they’re taking a journey through the annals of the sport and bringing it to exhilarating life every time they play.
Because there are just so many missions to complete, you’ll always want to be tackling as many as possible simultaneously. This is where a strategic element comes into play, as configuring your line-up and rotation can be like assembling a puzzle in trying to figure out a way to have every player on your squad contributing in at least some way to accomplishing a specific mission. Sometimes, the dilemma becomes prioritizing which missions are the most within reach at any given moment and deciding which of several different players will be most effective at getting you to the end of a mission.
There are missions like the Hanley Ramirez program, for instance, that require you to use Impact Veteran hitters to obtain stats in a number of different categories. Of course, not all Impact Veterans are created equal. While some players might have the power to get you the home runs that you need, these same players won’t have the necessary speed to get you any of the stolen bases required. By diversifying the different skill-sets in your line-up, you’ll be able to find the right balance to help you slowly but surely reach the summit. After playing for a while, you might also find yourself simply becoming more comfortable with certain cards rather than others as there’s a trial and error process to finding who works best for you.
“…there will be times where you’re tearing your hair out and practically ready to fly the white flag of surrender because a mission is just too hard.”
Everybody knows that the sense of accomplishment for finishing a task is relative to how much time you’ve put into it. With that in mind, many missions in the game seemed to have been designed to bring you the utmost satisfaction, assuming you’re willing to devote hours upon hours of your precious time to seeing them through to the end. While it may be asking a lot to put things like school, a job and even relationships on the back burner in order to give yourself over to the grind, these rewards wouldn’t be nearly as valuable or satisfying if they were easy to come by.
Yes, there will be times where you’re tearing your hair out and practically ready to fly the white flag of surrender because a mission is just too hard. I’m reminded of an instance where I narrowly missed out on accomplishing a multi-faceted mission all because a ball went a few inches foul. But when I was finally able to right that wrong and put a checkmark next to that mission, you better believe I was fist-pumping and celebrating as if I had just won the World Series myself.
As I began acquiring cards throughout the grinding process, it dawned on me that one of the reasons that I ended up finding Diamond Dynasty so unexpectedly appealing is that it reminded me of when I used to collect baseball cards as a kid. But unlike how I used to take all of the cards I managed to get my grubby paws on and preserve them under sheets of plastic to be admired whenever I wanted, Diamond Dynasty offers cards that you can actually see in action out on the baseball field rather than just trading them with your friends and cataloguing the ones you had and the ones you needed.
Despite ostensibly starting to delve into grinding out missions in hopes of procuring some better cards that could be used to play people online in ranked seasons, something funny happened along the way. I noticed that even when I was able to snag some of those cards I desired, I didn’t actually find myself playing ranked seasons nearly as much as I expected. That’s because there were still more cards out there to hunt down and, to my surprise, I would begin undertaking missions for cards that I wasn’t even sure I wanted. This speaks to the addictive nature of grinding, as the thrill of the chase and the allure of the unobtainable become more powerful than revelling in your rewards. I’ve come to learn the simple truth that it’s not so much about the destination as it is appreciating the challenging journey that got you there.
Random Mission Tips
– Team Epics offer the chance to score some premium cards, but be aware that they will eventually require you to collect all 40 live series cards from the team you are tackling, which can cost you a whole lot of stubs in many cases. Some of the cheaper ones that you may want to set your sights on first are the White Sox, Cardinals, Phillies, Athletics, Royals and Twins.
– Conquering strongholds in conquest will unlock separate missions for each division that need to be completed before you can be rewarded with your handful of diamond cards. The NL West one requiring you to hit 10 HR’s with All Star series players may prove to be the most difficult. A cheap and effective option for completing this is acquiring All Star Stephen Vogt or Andre Ethier on the marketplace. But if you want to hedge your bets and get through it even quicker, try first completing the Reds’ mystery mission for Griffey or land Carlos Beltran by collecting all of the Cardinals’ affordable live series.
– For any missions that necessitate getting stats like wins or saves, don’t waste your time playing 9 innings against the CPU when you can get these much quicker by playing 3 inning games in conquest instead.
– Because you won’t get any sort of notification when you’ve completed a mission, be sure to always scroll through your missions after every game you play. You’d be surprised how often you’ve managed to complete something without even realizing it, especially in the My Career missions.
– Check in regularly on your daily missions and re-roll any that don’t seem that interesting, which will be most of them. For every one you complete or re-roll, you will earn another chance at landing a promising player epic.