Tuesday, February 19, 2013

NHL 13: Overall Player Grade Calculator

One of the most frustrating aspects of playing NHL 13 in drop in games or the EASHL is the grading system EA has implemented. To make matters worse EA started to average your grades across all three forward positions and defense. This means that you may have the grade you need at three of your four positions but those two sloppy games you played in OTP at center where you lost every faceoff are holding you back. To this end Phil Rindone has created a spreadsheet you can find here that has boxes for all of the positions and what level you have in each metric (positioning, team play, statistics). What this will do is let you plug in your levels for all of your positions and your games played at each and come up with your overall grade. Then what you can do is adjust the levels and games played to see how to get your grade where you want it to be.

Friday, February 15, 2013

NHL 13: Build of the Week -- Defensive Defenseman

Here is a quick Defensive Defenseman build I put together. I have not tried it yet but with the attribute caps there aren't a lot of choices about where to put points this year. I ran this last night for a few games and made a few changes.

Defensive Defenseman
Legend 3

9" Skates
Regular Flex
Lowest Curve

Deking: 70
Hand Eye: 78 (+5)
Off Awareness: 72 (+5)
Passing: 85 (+5)
Puck Control: 74 (+5)
SS Accuracy: 75 (+5)
SS Power: 87
WS Accuracy: 72
WS Power: 75

Aggression: 82
Body Check: 85
Def Awareness: 87 (+5)
Discipline: 82
Faceoffs: 65
Fighting: 65
Shot Blocking: 65
Stick Check: 87 (+5)

Acceleration: 82 (+8)
Agility: 80 (+5)
Balance: 73
Durability: 65
Endurance: 80
Speed: 80 (+8)
Strength: 80

Pretty much everything useful in every category is maxed on this build. The only real mystery is where to put your boosts so I will discuss my general strategy with boosts. Offensively I like to focus on hand eye, puck control, and one shot. In this case the slap shot. The power is already good so no need to burn more than a +5 on accuracy.

Defensively you can see that basically everything useful is maxed with spare boosts in defensive awareness and stick check. The defensive defensemen I have gone up against and played with all seem to be vacuums when the puck gets around them and you can see from the defensive stats why.

Athletically I always spend 3 +8s on acceleration, agility, and speed. This is a skating game and you need to have the ability to turn and keep up when needed. I do run 9" skates with my defensive builds because I think being able to pivot is one of the most important abilities for a defender. I run a at 5'10" 180lbs because the skating feels smooth but I don't feel tiny. I don't think this build is going to be crushing anyone but if you play positionally sound then you should be able to break up almost any play. I could definitely see going larger for a better poke check range, more reach, and better hitting but you have to be comfortable with the skating dynamics of a larger player. I ran at 6'0" 195lbs last night and it was still relatively maneuverable and could hit people when needed. Still not a giant crushing build but had serious shut down ability.

Edit: I went from just putting together a concept to actually playing the build and made a few changes in this entry. I really like this build and may stick with it on D for a while. We played 3 games 4v4 with human goalies and gave up 2 goals total. Passing felt good and it was great defensively.

Friday, February 8, 2013

NHL 13: Recruiting

Edit: this season is going rough due to recruiting. Don't let our record fool you. We have been top 100 at one point and are usually around 250 overall. Once we get a few more active players who fit our style we will be back towards the top of the league.

Despite all of my complaints about the game we are still playing. Our team the Hamilton Mustangs are now recruiting if you are interested in trying out. We are only playing 4v4 (with a human goalie) and up. Here is what we need in order of importance:

  • Good defenders -- right now our two top forwards take turns playing D because our top two defensemen rarely play. You need to be able to stop scoring opportunities and make good outlet passes.
  • Backup goalie -- we have a regular goalie who is very good but occasionally we could use someone else to fill in when he is not around. It would be nice if you play goalie if you could also skate as a defender or even forward if needed.
  • Forwards -- who can control the puck, enter the zone under control, and make good decisions passing. Really we like to move the puck well and people who go 1 on 1 all game need not apply. This is the category we need least but if we were able to bring in a quality forward or two one of our other forwards might be persuaded to move to D. 
We do two tiered tryouts. First tryout will be either 5 games or a night of playing with us. The extended tryout is 20 games after which we figure out if you fit our team concept.

We don't play every night but we are shooting to play 3 to 4 times a week if we have the people to do it. We are by and large east coast timezone and play mostly from 7-11pm NHL schedules allowing. Feel free to message Xaroc on Xbox or drop your gamer tag in the comments along with what position(s) you play and we can try to work something out.

NHL 13: Things to Fix for NHL 14

NHL 13 is definitely a better game when you always use human goalies. This has the drawback of needing at least four people to play (in my mind 2v2 with human goalies is pretty terrible). There are, however, a number of things the NHL team really needs to clean up in the next version. Some of these I have mentioned but I figured pulling them together in one post would be useful.

Here is my list in no particular order:
  • AI Goalies -- They are just too good. They stop chances that should be nearly sure goals 90+% of the time which is highly unrealistic. It turns the game into a low skill throw the puck at the net and hope kind of game play. 
  • AI hitting -- The AI is far too good at hitting and can knock you down at the drop of a hat even if you are 6'3" 225lbs with 85 balance and 13" skates. They shouldn't be pushovers but they shouldn't be able to hit like they do.
  • AI passing -- The AI is terrible at passing when you call for it and can't complete a 5 or 10 foot pass at times. Pee wees can complete these passes. Much like they need to tone down the hitting they need to up the competency of short passing for the AI.
  • AI decision making -- please stop the AI defense from walking right in front of the goal on defensive zone draws. This has been happening for years and no defender in any league does this.
  • Hitting from behind while skating away from someone full speed -- this needs to go away, if I am skating full speed away from someone and they are slightly faster than me they should not be able to knock me down from behind. There is no physics model that supports that. Mind you this has happened to me playing grinder at 6'195lbs and 80 balance and 70 strength.
  • Hitting in general -- hitting in general is way too effective and there are far too many teams that just run around like idiots and hit all game and never get penalized enough for it. And god forbid you give them the first goal the (non-existent according to EA) momentum plus intimidation means suddenly your team can't hit an empty net now. It needs to be toned down and more calls need to be made for illegal hits.
  • Incidental contact -- With the new skating model people can skate right into opponents and stop their momentum with no call. While I don't think it should be called 100% of the time I do think interference needs to be called enough to dissuade people from doing this all the time. I don't mind some body contact while skating the same direction but when people meet from opposite directions I think there needs to be calls at least some of the time.
  • Amount of low skill random goals -- even with human goalies the percentage of low skill pinball goals is way too high. I really think the game needs to reward skill more rather than rewarding slop like it does now. Over half the goals scored against us are just terrible low skill goals.
  • Changing face off handedness right before puck drop -- This is a problem that has been around since the series started. How this hasn't been fixed by now I don't know. If you change your faceoff grip less than a second before the puck drops you should lose every time yet they reward cheating.
  • Passing -- the passing in this version is really all over the place, it is muddy and imprecise even with high end passing. I preferred the cleaner passing of NHL 12.
When you combine the muddy passing, improved ability to knock down passes on defense (I like this), and the crazy AI goalies you end up with a lot of low skill luck goals. This is a general problem I have with game companies that do balance changes from year to year or even patch to patch. Every single one of them instead of just toning something down a little they go overboard and make whatever they were trying to fix totally useless. The one timer is a great example. Before it was probably 80% effective which was too high. What they should have done was get it to around 30% effectiveness like in real hockey. Instead they have made it less than 10% effective which renders it no better than any other shot (a lot of times worse) and not worth trying against the AI.

Anyway, I am sure a lot of you have other things you want fixed in the next version. Throw them in the comments so we can discuss them.