The lights are on
EA Sports' Ultimate Team card collection/tournament mode is already an addictive feature. This Friday, November 30, Madden NFL 13 is adding an interesting wrinkle to the format via a free new way to play called Draft Duels.
Like the normal Madden Ultimate Team mode (MUT), Draft Duels is based around opening card packs of players, forming a team, and then playing against opponents with that team. Draft Duels changes things up by putting more emphasis on how you put together your team. Like on the real draft day, a good GM can build a winner.
Each player starts out with a pre-determined number of unopened, Draft Duels specific card packs that contain nine players apiece. Both players pick one card from their pack during a timed round that varies based on whether you play the short or standard version of the mode, which also determines whether you start out with one or three Draft Duel packs, respectively (five-pack Duels may be available after launch). The next round you get to see all the cards in your opponent's pack and you pick from their pack and vice versa. In subsequent rounds you alternate between picking from your pack and his/hers until all the packs are opened and players picked. At launch Draft Duel players will come in bronze, silver, and gold flavors.
The alternating pick system sets up a strategy component: Do you take the best player from your opponents' pack, or try and deplete a certain position knowing that every other round they will have to pick from your leftovers? Like selecting a good fantasy football team, tradeoffs and gambles are inevitable. Perhaps you build your team around your play style by focusing on a particular position. When you see the cards in your opponent's pack, maybe you start to think about who might be available in future rounds, and you compare them with who you have in your pack. Be careful, though, you only have so much time each round to make your pick, so you'll have to be quick with your scheming.
After you've picked all the cards in the packs, the remainder of your roster is filled out by AI-selected players who will be serviceable, but not as good as those featured in the Duel packs. Before you take to the field with your new team, the computer makes a quick tabulation of each roster and awards an overall rating to each team. The player with the best team gets a gift of coins or a normal Ultimate Team card pack that can only be earned in Draft Duels.
After you play against your opponent in a head-to-head game, the winner gets a reward proportionate to whether you played a standard, premium, or elite Draft Duel. These range from coins, MUT card packs, and Flashback packs with exclusive player cards. No matter who wins, both players get to keep their cards for their MUT collection. Draft Duel packs can be bought with coins or real money (you start out with a free pack) and the mode-specific packs will cost around the same as the MUT All Pro packs.
Draft Duels will be available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 players this Friday, November 30 for free. The Wii U version of the game does not feature the Ultimate Team mode.
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