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5 Ways To Improve “Retro Bowl” | Column from the Editor

“Retro Bowl” just got a new update, and along with it are Head Coach profiles and new playoff OT rules, among other tweaks to the game. 

Here are five things that could be included in future “Retro Bowl” updates, at least for the mobile version. 

5. At draft time, allow trades for picks in next year’s draft

Draft time is usually a time to either upgrade your roster or fill holes you need, but if you do the former and need to get rid of a player to make room on your roster during or before the draft, you are left with two options: Cut him or trade him for a pick in the current year’s draft. 

The only exception to this is if you are trying to get rid of a player whose draft value is that of a round you’ve passed. For example, let’s say you want to trade a player who is worth a first-round pick, but if you’re in the second round, you’ll get a first rounder in next year’s draft. 

However, let’s say you’re in the second round and have found a player you want to draft to replace someone else, and the player you want to get rid of is worth a second-round pick, you have no choice but to either cut him and get nothing for it, or get a second round pick in this year’s draft you don’t need. 

While you do get Coaching Credits for unused draft picks, a much better solution would be to allow you to trade players during the draft for a pick in next year’s draft, which you’re already allowed to do in the circumstances described above and directly after the draft. It’ll lead to less wasted draft picks and more flexibility for people trying to construct long-term strategies for their teams, especially those with aging players. 

4. Give us a bench

If a star player goes down, it can be catastrophic, especially if it’s your QB or kicker. In the NFL, when these injuries happen, it’s an opportunity for bench players to fill in and prove their worth — even make their case that they should get the starting job. 

“Retro Bowl” does allow you to have more star players at each position than you need, with every one over what you need sitting out unless the starter gets benched or injured. But it’s not practical (unless you upgrade to the paid version, which unlocks more roster slots) to have backup players, as roster spots are precious and you can’t afford to waste one on someone who’s not playing. Furthermore, if a player sits out long enough, their morale will tank. 

I think “Retro Bowl” needs some form of a bench. For the scope of the mobile game, I think this should be five slots where backup players can sit out. The bench should have no affect on morale. Young backup players are usually put on the bench to learn, so maybe players ages 21-28 can get modest stat boosts on the bench.

This subtle addition would add another perspective to the game: Player development, which is something you don’t get a lot of in the current game. Either players develop in a starting role or they don’t, and this would certainly allow even more long term-team development strategies. 

3. Let us trade players directly for other players.

Currently, if you want to trade a player, you can only get a draft pick in exchange. That does happen in the NFL, but so do trades in which players are directly traded for other players. 

I don’t think this would be too hard to accomplish. When trading a player, the mobile game could give you something like 3 players other teams are willing to swap for your current player, and if you don’t like it, you can always take the draft pick like normal. The tricky thing with this will be balancing these trades — you should be offered players of roughly equal value to the one you’re trying to trade. 

Maybe you’re trying to get rid of an aging WR with excellent catching but low stamina, and you’ll get offered in exchange for a younger player with lower stats but decent potential. Or maybe you’ll be offered a player with great stats but a toxic attitude.

2. Add an injured reserve (IR) list

While I think having bench slots for backup players would mostly fix the game’s issue with injuries, another (perhaps even complimentary) way to address them is to have a special injured reserve designation for injured players. 

In the scope of this game, I think all players on IR should not count towards roster limits, given how limited roster slots are already even with the paid version. This would add some intrigue to the game — let’s say your star WR goes down on IR, you’d be free to sign a temporary replacement. But if that replacement suddenly does better than the starter, then you have to make a tough call on who to keep. 

Even if a limited number of bench players were added, there will probably be some players you’d want only one of. For me, kickers immediately come to mind — I don’t see much value in keeping a backup on, but if they go down, you need a replacement ASAP. 

Even in the current version of the game, when a kicker goes down with a prolonged injury, I find it better to just cut them and sign a free agent in their place. Thankfully I’ve managed to keep my kickers relatively healthy — most injuries are 1-3 games at most — but an IR list would only add an extra dynamic to the game. 

1. Eliminate the Coaching Credits system 

This would never happen because “Retro Bowl” makes money in part by selling Coaching Credit bundles (50 for $1.99, 100 for $3.49, 250 for $4.99, 500 for $9.99), but the ultimate upgrade to the game would be the elimination of this premium currency. 

Coaching Credits serve as an additional cost you must pay in order to sign players outside of salary cap, as well as resolve certain dilemmas. During your first few seasons, they will prevent you from signing anyone unless you buy a bundle with them in, but in your later seasons, they will come so easily that the whole system basically becomes irrelevant. 

As I’ve stated in my previous reviews on this game, like most premium currencies in mobile games, they offer very little value to gamers and only serve as another way to monetize the game. Eliminating them would allow people to manage their team based on salary cap limitations alone — like actual head coaches and general managers in the NFL do — and I think the game’s dilemmas and press conferences can be adjusted without Coaching Credits included. 

It would unlock the game’s full potential, though at a great cost to its developers. Still, it remains the most effective way to upgrade the game.

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