I’ve been playing Madden Ultimate Team 13 for some weeks now and I feel like I now have a good handle on the system and economy of the game. So here’s my guide on how to play Ultimate Team, get a good team and not spend real cash to do it.
I should note before I start that I don’t really play head-to-head, I generally only play solo vs the CPU.
When you start an Ultimate Team, you get to pick an NFL team. You get their jerseys and a version of their signature player who is an 85 overall. I chose the Bears because that’s how I roll but if you’re going for optimal, probably choosing a team who comes with a QB or RB would be in your best interest. You will get a set of cards which is pretty terrible, but that gives you plenty of room to build.
Your options for playing games are 1-off games against the CPU, which is boring when you have another option. You can play head-to-head which I don’t really have experience with so I will skip. The bread and butter for the solo player is the Solo Challenges. This is a new addition in 13. When you choose solo challenges, there are a number of different options.
There are legendary challenges. Some of these were initially against 99 overall teams at All-Madden difficulty and were neigh impossible since your receivers couldn’t catch any passes. These have a minimum team rating requirement. Once you’ve hit it, do these. There are some at 85 and some at 92.
There are a set of 32 Preseason challenges. You can play through a team’s 4 preseason games. At the end you get a free Rookie pack. You don’t get a lot of coins for these games but it’s a good place to start. Do your team’s preseason games to get started and get your Rookie pack.
There are a set of 32 Regular Season challenges. Like the preseason challenges, you play through the 16 regular season games for a team. Through the challenges, the coin value of the games increases. You also get 3 rookies from that team and their top player that can only be used for 4 games. Most importantly, after the last game, you get a Key Pack. This is a pack of 1 Key Card which is required to complete one of the collections. When you’re done with all the Fantasy, Coin Up and Legendary challenges, start working on the Regular Season Challenges. Also, the games will get harder as you go on, so if you want an easier time then pick a challenge where the teams you play in the last 4 teams aren’t so good. Once your team is pretty good, you may not want to waste the contracts of your players on these easy games. At that point, bring in some of the crappier players from your reserves for the first 4 games or so.
Coin Up challenges are an interesting addition. Starting on Friday or Saturday, there are 2 games in a Coin-Up challenge. When you complete them, you get an 85 Overall version of a player that is playing in the Sunday night game. For example, one week it was Vernon Davis. There will also be a collection in the collections screen that will allow you to trade that card in for a player on the opposing team. In our example, you could trade Vernon in for Calvin Johnson. In the description of the challenge and collection, it will tell you how much these cards will be worth. It will say something like each player will be worth 500 coins + 1000 coins per touchdown catch. So now you’re basically playing fantasy football. On Monday, there will be a collection for each of the cards for the total of what they’re worth. You just collect that card and get the coins. You should try to do the Coin-Up challenge every week. Even if the card you pick gets no extra coins, you will still get a ton of coins for playing 2 games. These challenges will disappear on Sunday, so make sure you get to them.
Finally, for each week there are Fantasy challenges. Each week they pick 10 of the top players that week to make weekly fantasy cards of them. There is a 10 game challenge, one for each player. They give you good coins and after the last game, you get a 90+ overall fantasy card. Theoretically, this card is the final card to complete the fantasy collection but you give up a ton for those collections so they’re not really worth it. Just take the card.
Improving your team
So you’ve been playing games and getting coins but how do we turn that into a kick butt team?
The first thing you want to do is get yourself some halfway decent position players, namely a QB, RB, WR. You may already have one from your starting team captain. Now this year, the auction system allows you to start bidding and buyout at whatever price you want. The previous year, there was a predefined start value making 80 range cards not worth buying. Now, you can get yourself some 85-89 overall players for a few hundred coins. Use this to get your team up to this level. You can buy as many as you would like. You may want to get your whole team up to this level or just pick some particular positions like CB, and Offensive line. Get your team up to this level as fits your playstyle.
In the store, you can get bad bronze cards for 1 coin to fill out your team as you go. I did this for punters, kickers and fullbacks
Next is the issue of team contracts. If you play the games like I describe, you will be raking in the coins at a pretty good rate. Between the games, you’ll be getting between 750 and 1000 coins a game on average. When you play, you will be expending about 24 contracts. 1 each from 11 offensive players, 11 defensive players plus kicker and punter. You can buy a silver contract card from the store for 600 coins which restores 32 contracts. You can see that just buying these cards and you will be coming out ahead but we can do better. If you look at the auctions for gold and legendary contract cards, you can find them cheaper. Obviously any gold card cheaper than 900 is a better deal. Since the legendary versions give you 80 contracts, the equivalent price is 1500 coins so anything cheaper than that is a better deal. I will regularly look these up and buy up anything that is a great deal for future use. On Xbox I can ususally find legendary contracts for 1000 and gold for 500.
So now’s the time to start building up your team for real. All-pro packs cost 9000 coins and these will start to get you gold cards to up your team. After your team is full of all the 80+ cards you need, then just keep saving to 9000 coins and buy and buy all-pro packs. This should get you a nice assortment of high 80s, low 90s players with the occasional high 90s card. Alternately, you can start looking on the auctions for specific cards you want. The market for different players is all over. WRs tend to be higher priced since you can have 5 on the field at a time as opposed to QBs and RBs for instance. This can be great to get some of your favorite players or to round out your team
So by this point you should have gotten some good fantasy cards from the fantasy challenges, a decent selection of cards from the packs and auction. Through this process and some of the auction stuff I will mention, I got my team to 92, 93 or so. Not bad, it’s a lot of fun and didn’t cost any extra money.
Finally, you have the choice to continue to purchase All-Pro packs and specific cards or to start saving up for legendary packs which are 35,000 coins. The Legends vary widely and I don’t really like playing with them. On the other side, these packs do have a much higher chance of getting you the high 90s players, which is why that’s now what I’m going for.
Auctions and collections
Last year, the collections were worth a lot, and those coins drove the economy. This year, they’re worth incredibly little. I’ve basically ignored the collections entirely. I’ve put some of the uniforms and playbooks in there but gave up. Auctions are more reliable but take a lot of effort to research what to sell and for how much. Most of the key cards don’t sell for that much but some are worth a ton, namely the legendary ones. I was able to sell the Tom Flores card for a bunch. If you want to try to make money selling off your gold cards I’m sure that you can do pretty well but the amount of effort to reward didn’t seem worth it, so I’ll leave that guide to others to write.
I hope that this guide will help people get going in Ultimate Team. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.