HERE WE GO. BACK TO FOOTBALL. Let’s take a peak under the hood of Connected Franchise Mode and see whats in store for 2014. EA has given us another green light to indulge you in the CFM features. This would be all three different types of CFMs (owner, coach, player). Here at Tradition Sports, we want to continue our series of What It All Means. We are excited to see what this year’s release brings and eager to answer any questions you guys have! Personally, I enjoy CFM more than any mode on Madden and always have a “league” first mentality. After seeing the mode grow within this cycle, I came away pretty impressed with the direction of what Josh Looman and his team are doing. With this being my first release as an EA Sports Gamechanger, I hope you guys enjoy my views on this particular mode of the game. Connected Franchise Features: Random Draft Classes: What you will read about it: For the first “official” time, EA has added random draft classes to the Connected Franchise Mode. The draft class is random across all attributes, weights, heights, and names. What it all means: One of the most annoying things as a Commissioner of a CFM, is the one “member” who knows every player in the draft. For a while I continued to wonder what in the hell I was doing wrong (I think its me wanting the best in people). I finally figured it out when I received a tip about Madden Online Draft Guides, and what a slap in the face. Those days are GONE. There will be NO way another owner can know the players in the draft class. If this was the only thing EA did for CFM, I would say THANK YOU. Random Branching Storylines: What you will read about it: Story lines are now random for the top rookies. What it all means: Just that much more IMMERSION. The past story lines caused the players to fluctuate in ratings at the combine, but with draft guides it was pretty well known which players would take a dive. Random story lines just continue to enhance the draft experience. Confidence and Consistency Ratings: What you will read about it: EA is introducing a true confidence rating to go along with a redefined consistency rating. The confidence attribute is dynamic and will go up and drop down, depending on the play of your player or team. If you trade a star player, your players will also take a dip in confidence. What it all means: Throwing three interceptions or missing a key FG in a game will actually cost your players. On the flip side doing great with your player will raise his confidence. Alongside the Confidence rating, Consistency finally plays into a factor that we can see. The more consistency your player is the less confidence he will lose when he plays bad. Madden finally captures that aspect of the sport. One final item on confidence is trading. If your franchise trades a star player like Tom Brady, then your whole team will end up losing a ton of confidence. While this happens, the backup QB will get a confidence boost. ALL players start the CFM with a 50 confidence rating. Once that number dips or raises is when it starts to affect the overall of the player. You will be able to check what has increased or decreased by going to your depth chart. Game Prep: What you will read about it: Game prep is going to take the place of practice mode, and is now considered the top new feature in Madden CFM. Game prep can include boosting your players confidence or building your players XP. Skills trainer is now included inside the Game Prep feature, and this will be the best way to boost your XP. The game prep can also be simulated (auto) and this will give you the same xp that the CPU teams receive. What it all means: Practice mode is out of the CFM, with Game prep being incorporated. Once inside Game Prep you will be given a set number of hours (depending on the time between games). These hours will be able to be divide up between whatever activities you choose for whatever player or positions. As stated above the best way to build XP for your specific player or position is by completing tasks within the Skills trainer. If you choose to save hours for boosting confidence, then you can automatically select a task that will give you a random “ballpark” boost. This can be done with XP as well if you do not have the time to complete the task. But beware, the automatic XP is less than what the skills trainer tasks give you. Finally, your hours will depend upon the time in between your games. Owner Mode Financial Changes: What you will read about it: There are now sweet spots for every sellable item within the mode. IF you leave your prices at the same point during your CFM, you will be leaving money at the gate. What it all means: It is going to be important to pay attention to your players personality ratings (jersey sales), and your concession stand prices. If you can find that right point for each you will be making hand over fist. However, the most important thing you need to know is Just Win. Simming: What you will read about it: The ability to sim to a certain pre determined point is a small but new feature in Madden 15. What it all means: If you want to simulate your seasons or jump ahead in your CFM, you now have the power to do so. Easily done, the CFM will simulate to whatever point you pick on the pre determined list. This will open up the options and formats of leagues. New way to Buy Packages: What you will read about it: Now in Madden 15 CFM, you will be able to easily buy packages with an all new way to spend XP. There will be a sliding bar that enables you to easily add or subtract XP. What it all means: Let’s put it this way, adding XP in past Madden games was a bit tedious. But now in Madden 15 you will not see a pop up. XP will be able to be adding by clicking through whatever attribute you want until you have no XP. The bar will change color showing you what you have added. We all know sometimes we make mistakes by adding to the wrong attribute and the best thing is you can take away whatever you added before you close out the screen. Weekly Goals: What you will read about it: Weekly goals now reflect your position on the depth chart. They will also react to player status, types of games, etc. What it all means: The days of being a 3rd string QB and needing 3 touchdown passes a week are long gone. The goals will be more feasible and easier to obtain for certain skill positions. Redesigned Free Agency UI: What you will read about it: A new User Interface is now included within Free Agency during an offseason in CFM. The interface will give you key information telling which will help you determine if the Free Agent is a proper fit for your team. What it all means: The new user interface helps gives you the positives and negatives of what a player sees in your team. There will be 8 categories that the prospective FA can like or dislike in your team. Another little tip is you will be able to see who was the highest bid. From the same UI you will be able to see how many of that position you actually have on the team, thus helping you determine if you actually need that player or not. We all get in situations where we have 4 CBS and then sign 4 more, right? Progress/Regress Tracker: What you will read about it: A new user interface that will help you track the progression and regression of each individual player. What it all means: Now you will basically have a true guide as to whether or not your player is actually progressing. This is just another layer of immersion that adds to the strategy of being a true owner of your team and roster. Owner Mode Relocation: What you will read about it: Relocation is redefined inside Owner CFM. There are new uniforms, new teams, and new user interfaces helping you choose the best city for your team. There will also be commissioner options for relocation. What it all means: The team at EA has created and retooled all the uniforms, team colors, and team names. They also helped us by including better user interfaces that will help owners pick where their perspective team is the best fit. The commissioner options for relocation can be set to where the CPU will not move during the duration of the CFM. Co-Commissioners: What you will read about it: Another nice feature inside CFM is the ability to add multiple commissioners. These commissioners will be called Admins. What it all means: We can now have well respected members of your CFM be considered admins. These admins will be able to do anything the original commissioner is able to do, except for booting the original commissioner. Choose wisely, as this person will share the keys to the castle. Autopilot set length: What you will read about it: There will be an ability to set the length of your autopilot. What it all means: Need a vacation? Madden now has it where you can set the duration of your time away. Injured Reserve Changes: What you will read about it: The ability to remove one player from IR What it all means: We are now able to take a player off IR if he seems to be healing quicker than we expect. It is however available only once per season. This will mimic the NFL rule. Hire/Fire Staff in Season: What you will read about it: Owners now get more control with the ability to hire and fire their coaches during the season What it all means: “Get out of here you bum trainer” was a motto that was echoed throughout certain leagues. Now you will have the physical ability to fire your Head Coach, Trainer, or Scout. Other notable items: CPU uses alternate Uniforms Pro Bowl depicts real life Depth Chart Overalls match in game overalls Wait...there is more... Injury Glitch in CFM: What it all means: The dreaded Quarterback injury glitch is now gone from the game. If you have 2 QBs on your depth chart and he gets injured, then you are in deep trouble. This will create more strategy within your depth charts. This also applies to other positional injury situations. Quarterback was just more frequent last release. Position Changes: What it all means: During the last cycle, some of us in Connected Franchises got into situations where we moved a player and could not move him back to his original position. Some of the key changes that were out last cycle were, WR to TE and QB to HB. That has been corrected and now you can move a player to wherever you want. Essentially you can think in terms of NCAA, when it comes to moving players around. Just remember there is still only limited time to move players (offseason). Tiebreakers: What it all means: Tiebreakers are officially fixed in Madden 15. While each cycle they have gotten better, the tiebreakers have not mimicked how the NFL utilizes them. This is a big factor in creating a more "friendly" CFM. Being on the wrong end of the spectrum, I know for a fact it is not pleasant feeling "jipped" from the playoffs. Scouting Changes: What it all means: In Madden 15, the Scouting has been tweaked to allow for more in depth scouting. The Letter grade is now easier to access, while the true number grade will cost you an abundance of points. This will help CFM users scout more in depth on the surface, and allow them to build their boards a little better. Of course, that is only if you do not go crazy and use all your points on a stud player.