Wednesday, September 22, 2010

NHL 11: Attribute Importance

Back before the game was released I listed the attribute descriptions for NHL 11. Those are pretty accurate but fail to deal with how useful they are in practice so after 200+ games played I figured I would pick a few that I thought were important or different from NHL 10 and discuss the levels I like to have them. New tuner sets are coming every week so my advice might change but right now I am running with this build.

In the offensive category everything is mostly like it was in NHL 10. The only two real differences to my build that I didn't envision are the 90 hand eye and the 90 wrist shot power. Eye hand has multiple uses including deflecting shots and more importantly handling incoming passes including one-timers. Having a 90 lets me corral high powered passes from my center sent through traffic. It is also important to know what kind of hands the person you are passing to has. You are not going to be able to send a bullet cross crease to a rookie grinder with any hope of him doing anything with it so you may want to adjust your strategy accordingly depending on your linemates. Wrist shot power makes a big difference, bigger than last year it seems to me. Just going from an 85 to a 90 has made my shots a lot more deadly and increasing power compared with accuracy will allow for fewer hit posts (one of the oddities of the engine). The higher power also generates more rebounds for my line to put back.

In the defensive category there are a couple of key attributes if you don't want to spend all day in the penalty box and one that I think everyone should have at least a decent amount of. Discipline helps keep you from taking penalties of all kinds. According to the description it would seem it just helps hits but since going from a 70 to a 99 it has reduced my random stick fouls a ton. Along with this having a high stick check also helps with reducing stick fouls. I run a 90 but I would say nothing less than an 85 if you can. Defensive awareness is very important it helps a lot with disrupting and picking off passes. With a low defensive awareness pucks will just fly by you like you are not there. I am running a epic 95 but I would think if you can get a 75 or 80 at least you would probably be ok. The more the better because if you are in position to pick off a puck and it just goes by you are not only probably giving up a good chance against you are also probably giving up the opportunity to turn the puck over and create a chance the other way.

For athletics this year speed is definitely more important this year than last. I would go as far to say that for your first probably two or maybe three cards you probably want to throw most of your points into acceleration and speed with spares into agility. Being able to keep up is second to pretty much nothing else in this game. Putting on the 13" blades early on can help with your straight line speed as well but will hurt your agility and likely your defensive ability if you aren't used to them. The other two big stats are endurance and strength. Endurance keeps you from tiring out so quickly over the course of a period and let's you use the hustle feature a lot more often. It is also crucial for skating at high speeds for long periods of time. I run a 90 which keeps me pretty fresh even at the end of the period not sure what you could get away with, 70 definitely was not enough, 85 might be. Strength is important because it modifies so many other things. It helps shot power, ability to hit, ability to take a hit, hold off other players, etc. I run with an 80. I am, oddly enough, only running a 67 balance (85 last year) because I think other attributes are more important this year. I fall down if I get hit hard sometimes but when I get body position on a defender they can't really push me around if I lean into them due to the strength. I would say favor strength over balance at a maybe 3 to 1 point spending level.

So there you have it a few attributes and my thoughts on how useful they are.

Friday, September 3, 2010

NHL 11: Sample Defenseman Builds

So last post we looked at some sample forward builds this time we will take a look at a few defenseman builds.

You can find a spreadsheet with the defensemen builds here.

Defensive Defenseman: First up is a defensive defenseman who can hammer people in the defensive zone but still manage to make a good first pass and has no real shot to speak of. This class has an insane cost for offensive awareness and thus will need to spend a ton of points just to get to 67 then dump two boosts in to get to 75 to have a vision cone larger than a straw. Puck control even spending two boosts is at 80 and hand eye is a very substandard 60 and you likely can't spare any additional boosts for offense. You better hope the other players on your team know how to pass the puck to you softly or you will fumble it all over the place. The hand eye is not super expensive to raise but you can't really spare the points from anywhere else.

Defensively this build is the best in the game sporting 99s in every crucial category adding 3 +5 boosts. Athletically it is going to fall behind a bit but that is to be expected as this will be a lumbering monster of a build. Acceleration, agility, and speed will be 85 each. Balance is near 80 as is strength. Endurance seems a bit low at 60 so don't plan on using the hustle feature much or at least recovering from it in a timely manner.

Enforcer Defenseman: The next build was probably the surprise of the roundup. It is the enforcer defenseman. I expected it to be completely unplayable like most enforcer builds but surprisingly it is better than the defensive class at some things. Like offensive awareness is cheaper so getting it to 75 only requires one boost instead of two. Hand eye can be 70 instead of 60. The rest of the offense is pretty on par with the defensive D with similar weaknesses but overall you have one extra boost to use somewhere else.

Defensively it is also a very strong build. It can get 99s in Aggression, body check, defensive awareness, and discipline (surprisingly) with just two boosts. Add in one more plus 5 and you have a 90 rated stick check. This is 9 short of the defensive D rating but still very very good. So you have used three boosts here just like defensive defenseman. Oh and if you want to fight your fighting rating is 80 instead of 60.

Athletically it is pretty much identical to the defensive defenseman other than a few points here and there and a big +10 strength advantage for the enforcer. Note that, as mentioned here, strength affects a lot of different abilities in game so that is pretty nice. Also you have your spare boost to throw somewhere else on the build to shore up a weak spot or maybe give yourself a 95 strength. :)

Offensive Defenseman: This is your typical puck carrying, rushing, cannon of a slapshot, jumping in late to create an odd man situation defenseman. This build has very good offensive abilities including a 90/90 slapper, 90 passing, and 90 puck control. I even added a passable 80/80 wrister for jumping into the play to tap in cross crease one timers or when you don't have enough time to uncork the slapper. You could even throw another boost or two in if you want to enhance offensive awareness or hand eye or want that wrister to be more dangerous.

Defensively this build can hit a little but is mostly going to be a poke checking positionally sound build that looks to turn the puck over and get the rush going the other way quickly. A few boosts could be spent here shoring up any weaknesses if desired. Athletically this build is sound and should skate well and have plenty of endurance for getting back into position after forays up the ice. It is a bit on the weak side though so potentially dropping a +5 in strength to boost it to 70 might help.

Two Way Defenseman: This is supposed to be a build that brings some offense but can also be a responsible stay at home defenseman as well. A hybrid between pure defense and pure offense. It succeeds mostly. It has good offensive numbers and with 4 +5 boosts you can have 90s in passing, puck control, and both slapshot attributes. Offensive awareness and hand eye are not as good and are candidates for additional boosts.

On the defensive side it is definitely a better hitter than the offensive variety but not the punishing presence that the defensive defenseman or enforcer is. A couple of +5 boosts to aggression and body check would bring those both to a very good 85 which opponents will feel. Athletically it is identical to the offensive defenseman except it has a 75 strength.

So two way defenseman has the same slap shot and no wrister with worse hands and instincts but definitely better hitting and strength than an offensive defenseman. Comparing it to a defensive defenseman or enforcer it has better offensive abilities, worse defensive abilities, but better athletics (except the enforcer's strength).

Two Way Forward as a Defenseman: I had heard some rumblings of this being a better option as defenseman so I decided to find out. Offensively hand eye and off aware are both better than the two way D, puck control will need two boosts (but hand eye and offensive awareness need none), slapper is less accurate, wrister is a wash. Mostly don't care about deking for defensemen other than throwing some points in if it is cheap. Defensively the two way forward hits harder and is pretty much on par in every other category. Athletically they are almost identical. I am pretty sure though at this point the two way forward probably has spent three fewer boosts than the two way defenseman.

That makes the case for two way defenseman pretty difficult. On the two way forward I can throw a spare +3 on slapshot accuracy and have an 88 vs. 90 accuracy negating that advantage almost completely then still have two more left to improve other areas. Looking closer it makes the case for offensive defenseman pretty difficult as well. That tradeoff boils down to really good hitting and better strength versus having two different competent shots.

So there you have it. The enforcer and two way forward were surprises to me. The offensive defenseman seems to have a very narrow role this time around. The two way defenseman seems mostly like a waste of time given the alternatives. The defensive defenseman seems oddly somewhat worse than the enforcer but that might change if you wanted a shooting build.

Obviously some or all of this could change based on differing tastes, builds, or play style. We also don't know exactly what boosts are going to be allowed where so knowing how many boosts can go to which attributes is tricky at this point.