As such, here are five more “Retro Bowl” tips.
5. Focus on accumulating Coaching Credits early on
When starting a new save file, your biggest limiter is your amount of Coaching Credits — the game’s alternate currency that you can pay real money for if you want to. You’ll accrue these over time, especially the more you win and get your fan rating up.
Coaching Credits are important because any player you acquire will come with a Coaching Credits cost associated with them, meaning you not only need to make sure you have enough salary cap for them, you’ll need enough of this in-game currency.
Outside of playing games, you’ll often be faced with press interviews and dilemmas in which you can gain or lose Coaching Credits, boost or lower a player’s or the team’s morale, or please your fanbase.
The fan rating bar (shown as a percent) is important in the long term because the more you fill it up, the more Coaching Credits after games you will get. But when you start a new file, you’re a long way away from this mattering — you need to be able to win games first, and in order to do that you need enough Coaching Credits to sign star players.
This might mean opting to save a credit or two in your first seasons at the expense of having a player take a morale hit. In the short term, this is not ideal, but it will put you in a better position to acquire star players, which will better your roster and make it less likely for your team overall to lose morale via losses.
4. Don’t tolerate toxic players early on
If a player’s morale reaches rock bottom, they become toxic, which will negatively affect the whole team if they are allowed to remain on the roster. Early on, when your options for acquiring new players are slim, it might seem OK to tolerate toxic players on your roster to avoid leaving their roster spot from being empty.
In order to improve a player’s morale, you can meet with them, but it’s costly. In the current version of the game, it costs 4 coaching credits, which is easy enough to pay and get back once you’re a few seasons into your file, but can easily be half your Coaching Credits in Seasons 1 or 2.
During these early seasons, it’s likely that your player is toxic because they aren’t very good (they’re probably a player you were given by default) or your overall team isn’t very good. Both of which means that any losses are likely to undo the mood change that you paid such a steep price for.
These type of players will drain your Coaching Credits and will delay your ability to upgrade your roster. Cut them loose before they cause too much trouble.
3. Please the fans after you have enough Coaching Credits
Raising your fans’ approval meter will allow you to earn more Coaching Credits per game, so once you have a good amount of Coaching Credits, pay attention to this meter. It will pay off.
The best way to do this is by winning games, but certain dilemmas will also allow you to raise it. If you’re close to reaching to another tier (there are three) of fan approval, feed that bar. This is how you stash up credit and unlock the game.
2. Accumulate a minimum of 100 Coaching Credits before changing teams
You can stay with one team for your entire playthrough if you want, but that can be boring. Sometimes it’s fun to start fresh with newly-colored player sprites, or make up some in-game storyline in which you are exploring new horizons as a coach.
However, even if you pick a team that’s pretty well off, you will probably be lacking on multiple fronts by means of empty roster slots, bad players given to you on roster, and players whose contracts are expiring just as you are taking over.
Assume any new team you’re taking over is going to be a complete rebuild, and unless you want to rely on the draft slowly but surely like you most likely had to do in your first few seasons, you’re going to want enough Coaching Credits to splurge in free agency in order to be competitive. I’ve found that 100 Coaching Credits have been a safe number to save up before switching teams — it’s usually enough to fully fund a rebuild, and if you’re successful, you’ll earn them back quickly.
Anything less than that, and you won’t be able to spend in free agency without dangerously depleting your Coaching Credits.
1. If you don’t want to upgrade, skip an OL
Unless you want to pay for “Retro Bowl,” you’re going to be limited to 10 roster slots, which means you’re going to have to go without something. You can forego a kicker, and have five offensive players and five defensive players; you can have a kicker and have four offensive players and five defensive players; or you can do what I found works best, a kicker, five offensive players and four defensive players.
Even with this, there are decisions you need to make. You can have two WRs play on the field, one RB, one TE, one QB and one OL. Any additional players at these positions will be backups who don’t play.
I usually forego an OL, which allows me to have one player at each receiving position. You don’t have as much time with the ball, but this will put you in a position where it’s more likely that someone has managed to create enough separation with their defenders to be able to catch a pass without it being intercepted.
In previous reviews, I’ve noted how the interception algorithm isn’t favorable to receivers unless they are high-level, so having them get separation is crucial to making plays.
In my playthroughs with an OL in which I went down a receiver, I found separation scenarios less likely, and the extra time I got with the ball wasn’t worth it.
The big downside to this is that you do leave the defensive coverage bare, but most drafts will have an abundance of cheap defensive players with huge ceilings. If you do manage to snag four high-level defensive players, they will most likely be enough for you to get ahead offensively, though defensive injuries can kneecap your defensive capabilities.
Still, I prefer a team that has a strong offense but a weak defense than vice-versa. Unless you find yourself down two scores, a good offense will usually give you a chance to gunsling your way to victory. It’s really hard to win games with a team that can’t score.