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How to navigate the vexing choices of Madden's devilish Draft Champions

Draft Champions, as I said in my review of Madden NFL 16 this week, is my new favorite mode in the game. Its three-game commitment is perfect for those who might get into longer term modes like Franchise or Ultimate Team and get bored with their squads or paralyzed into inactivity by a series of bad breaks or choices. Yet it still has real heft, a real challenge to it.

The choices posed by Draft Champions are downright diabolical, and this video from Zach Farley (who writes the game's strategy guide) helps you make sense of them. It's not about simply taking the player with the best rating. And, regrettably, sometimes the game itself doesn't expose the information you need to make a choice.

The coach advice is particularly salient because you're only going to be told one time what his playbook and defensive formation is. So know that throughout the 15-round draft. Write it down if necessary. The tableau you work with during the draft will always show four linemen and three linebackers even if the coach's playbook employs a 3-4 (that's linemen to linebackers) scheme.

Taking a player just because he's "best available" is a dumb idea.

I found this out the hard way when I picked up Detroit's Nick Fairley to round out my front three, then leaped on 2014 defensive player of the year J.J. Watt in a later round, figuring I'd just adjust my depth chart later. Nope. Playing guys out of position in Draft Champions is about the worst thing possible, too, because despite his overall rating, he will perform at a much lower level even if he's a right defensive end playing left. Taking a player just because he's "best available" is a dumb idea.

Understanding the coaches' playbooks, especially before picking one, is also vital and unfortunately, Madden NFL 16 doesn't give much information in this regard. At least be familiar with a coach's starting quarterback. Obviously, if you pick a coach who uses a mobile QB, you do not want to select a statue with pigeon shit on his shoulders like Peyton Manning, no matter how dazzling that opportunity may seem. This is how Draft Champions gets you.

You will not build a super-team in Draft Champions. Just accept that. There's an achievement/trophy for building an 82-rated team in the game — that's the on-disc rating for the Kansas City Chiefs (and would be the best team in the woeful NFC South division). I am told that an 84 is theoretically possible if the draft opportunities are perfect and matched perfectly to a coach's offensive and defensive style. I've never done better than 81.

So, in Draft Champions, some part of your team will go neglected but, like Catan, or XCOM, or base-building games, so long as it is strategically neglected, you should do alright.

For more on Draft Champions, see our preview and for more on Madden NFL 16see our review.

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