This article is for those newer NHL gamers who have been pulled into NHL 09 by the EASHL. The online component is excellent for sure, but what to do when you are online and none of your fellow club members are on? Well you could delve into Be A Pro mode, but I would advise against that since it will rot your EASHL skills, and that would defeat what brought you to the NHL 09 party, right? So may I suggest Dynasty mode?
It is tried and true. While it is not perfect it does take me back to a place where my EA hockey experience started. It is a place where the ice was blue, the players were simply jersey numbers, and all five team members bent to my will. So let's get to the tips.
Don't start a Dynasty with your favorite team until the Roster Update comes out.
Old fans of the series will be rolling their eyes at this one, but I have wasted time on this before. I can usually avoid starting a dynasty until the real NHL season starts, but once the Sabres are playing for real it becomes tough. I get that Samuel Beckett-like itch to right any wrongs that may have happened in the real hockey world. This ends up being a waste of time because I get frustrated by not having players at my disposal that I should (such as the ageless Teppo Numminen in this year's game for the Sabres). This became a larger issue last year with the addition of AHL players and teams. Buffalo will have a bevy of prospects that I will look forward to calling up including Nathan Gerbe, Jonas Enroth and Chris Butler.
However, this doesn't mean you can't still play a dynasty. To prepare for my "real" dynasty, I usually go with my second favorite team: the Edmonton Oilers. This allows me to still have a single-player outlet until the roster update comes out, and gets me in the flow so I don't have any early season losses to teams like the Islanders.
Mix it up to make your offense more deadly over the years.
Mix up your offensive strategies.
With improved A.I. the days of setting all lines for crash the net and succeeding are gone. It was an awfully boring way to win anyway, so I am not sad to see it go. I tend to set my lines and strategies up as real-life coaches might: send the grinders to crash the net, and save the more skilled lines for the behind the net and positional settings. Mixing up your gameplan will allow you to have more fun and score goals that feel more like a by-product of skill rather than a gameplay glitch.
Pick an appropriate skill level for the A.I.
You may be one of those gamers who enjoys winning every game of a dynasty 50-0 and setting all sorts of records by playing at rookie level. I have to tell you, I don't understand how that can be fun. I also think that playing at a level that is over your head and prevents you from winning even while playing at your best is no fun either. The last two years have given you two separate ways to control the A.I. difficulty.
There are the standard Rookie, Pro, All-Star and Superstar designations. They rank, left to right from easiest to hardest -- standard stuff, I know -- but in this game, there's also the A.I. learning bar. It is a slider that determines how the computer reacts to you using similar strategies.
I have played around with the settings while doing my test dynasty with the Oilers, and I found my sweet spot at All-Star level with a full A.I. learning bar. At that level it felt like the computer was doing enough to prevent me from doing the same thing over and over, yet it was not cheating to win.
Don't hit the quit button if things don't go your way.
Yes, I now you love Sid the Kid. It is no fun seeing him writhe on the ice in pain, unless you are a Philly fan, and winning without him will be tough. However, don't hit the quit button and erase this moment. Injuries are a part of the game, and while it sucks that your team may be shorthanded, it makes the Dynasty mode that much more special. When you play OTP (Online Team Play), Sid is gone for that game, but it's no big deal since it is not a persistent mode. Dynasty mode is about taking the lumps, bad breaks, and losses because it only makes the great moments that much sweeter. I have ruined franchises/dynasties by doing what was described above with both injuries and losses, and it ended up haunting me. I never felt the same about that particular franchise/dynasty again. They were tainted forever with a Scarlet Q.
For you new NHL gamers out there, welcome to the first signature mode of the EA hockey experience. Newer modes have gotten the press and rightfully so, but Dynasty mode is still a nice single-player experience. It adds to the value of the game, and it is my hope that it becomes a larger part of the NHL 2010 landscape by becoming Online Dynasty mode.