Welcome to a new blog on Heart and Hand that covers all the latest goings on when it comes to FIFA Ultimate Team. This will hopefully guide you through this seasons version of what remains the most popular game mode when it comes to football gaming. Some of you may be reading this and have absolutely no idea what I am talking about. If you are, why are you reading this? And if you still intend to, let me give you a brief overview of what Ultimate Team is.
Ultimate Team is an online game mode in FIFA, the now undisputed most popular football video game, which allows you to build a team to play against other players. You build your team based on either ‘packing’ them or buying them with coins. You pack a player through player packs, which you can purchase with either coins you gain through matches or through FIFA points (oh, that’s a topic for a blog on it’s own, trust me). It follows the old style football card idea, although it is far removed from the “have it, have it, have it, have it, NEED IT” days. With me so far?
Each player has a number of stats to determine their overall rating, and these reflect how the individual player performs in game. When you create your team, you can give each card the best opportunity to have the best stats possible by giving it the highest possible chemistry. That’s right folks, we’re going back to science class! A players chemistry can be boosted if they are linked to a player who is either from the same league as them, or the same country as them. You can then give them a strong link by linking them to a player who is either from the same league AND country, or from the same club. A perfect link is linking two players who are from the same club and country together. Let me give you an example.
Here is an example of a squad someone can make. They have built a full Spanish team, so everyone is on “full chemistry” so their stats will be at their maximum. David Silva and Thiago have all orange links, or “weak links” as is the common term. That means that if any of their links were red (or “no link”), so far example if you replaced Jordi Alba with an Italian left back from Serie A, then Thiago would not have full chemistry, therefore you are not playing Thiago at his full potential. There are four players in this squad who have perfect links. Isco and Dani Carvajal are two, as they link to each other and play for the same club and country. That means that they could have two “dead links” but still have full chemistry even with another weak link. I’m sure you can work out the other two players who have that perfect link.
A lot of people like to keep their squads quite simple in this way, as it makes it really easy to get the most potential out of the team you have. But some like to be more creative with their squad. Like this.
This is a really cool example of a “hybrid squad”. It contains three different leagues, and every player is on full chemistry. Declan Rice has two dead links, but because he links to Antonio (although I’m sure his nation will update to Jamaica which makes this example null and void but run with me on this) he has one perfect link and therefore is on full chemistry. The same applies to Nainggolan, who has two dead and one perfect with De Laet, and thanks to his extra weak link from the left back who plays in the same league, that gives him the right amount of links. Mignolet has a strong link out of two so he is fine, and the right winger Madueke has two weak links from two, a league and a country, so he is fine.
This is one of the things I really enjoy about the game. The opportunity to get creative. As a side note, if you noticed the chemistry number at the bottom being 9, the maximum you can get is 10, which you will get if you have packed the player, ie he is yours from the start, or you buy him and they have played 10 games for you. If you’ve a player on 9, you can boost them to a 10 if you’re manager is either from the same league or same country.
So, you have your squad all set up, what are the game modes that you can play it in? Well, you out with friendlies which you can do with your mates, you tend to play your squad in Division Rivals. This is pitting you up against other players of a similar level (hopefully) and the result either gives you more or less points. At a certain point, the points you have will either promote you to a harder division or relegate you to an easier one. The weekly rewards you get, which will be the packs for where you can get new players, as well as kits, balls, stadiums, staff etc, will be better or worse depending on the division you are in by the end of the game week, which typically is a Thursday. If you get enough points, you can qualify for the Weekend League, now we are getting into the serious stuff. You’ve a maximum of 20 games to play in this (it was 30 last season but clearly EA realised 20 would be a better number this year) and the number of wins you get (there are no draws, it’s win or lose) determines your ranking, which results in the number of rewards you get. Basically, the better you are, the better packs you will get to make better teams. There is another game mode called FUT Draft (FUT stands for Fifa Ultimate Team) where you get to build a one off squad from a selection of the best players in the game and play up to 4 games, with the number of wins you get determining what your rewards will be. That’s quite fun if you want to play with better teams than what’s possible for you, depending on how you find the game.
So that’s how the game works, effectively. In the future, I’ll talk about in form cards and other special cards you will see over the course of the season, but let me know if there are other things you want me to cover in future blogs if there is anything you maybe don’t know or want further information on. Now, let’s look at which are the best cards in the game.
Top Rated Cards
Professional players take their ratings in the game very seriously. No, really, they do. Kyle Walker was livid when he thought his pace had been downgraded, only to find out it was a prank from his teammates. Those pesky kids. So whoever is the top rated player, according to FUT, is likely to be viewed as the best player in the world. No prizes for guessing who that award goes to…
That’s right. PSG’s new boy Lionel Messi is the outright highest rated player, at the start of the season anyway. You would think that would make him the most expensive card to buy, or indeed sell, right? Well, the game doesn’t seem to work quite in that way. Just because Messi is the highest rated card in the game does not make him the best card to use. What you will find is players with better pace stats tend to play better in game, so Kylian Mbappe, Messi’s teammate, is faster with an incredible 97 pace. That doesn’t mean that all faster players are better than Messi though. Adama Traore and Alphonso Davies both have 96 pace, but their overall ratings are much lower (78 and 82 respectively) because other aspects of their game are not as good. The thing with Mbappe is, he has the pace stats but also has really high shooting and dribbling, so he is still the most overpowered card you can get. It’s no wonder he is the cover star for the game. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to aim to get the best players possible, how you build your squad is completely up to you, something I will touch on in a moment. You might want the best shooters, and the winner for that is Cristiano Ronaldo with 93, one ahead of the top two ranked players in the game, Leo Messi and Robert Lewandowski, who both have 92. Your best passer is Kevin De Bruyne who has 93, two ahead of Messi (a theme is developing here) and Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos. If you are someone who feels you will win by having the best dribblers, than look no further than PSG for your front line, as the front three for the Parisians are the three best dribblers, Messi on 95, Neymar on 94 and Mbappe on 92. But it’s not all about attacking stats, you need good defenders too, and the best defenders are the guys you would expect if you follow football, Liverpool’s van Dijk, PSG’s Ramos and Manchester City’s Ruben Dias. The player who for many years has boasted the best stats for physicality, in other words the strongest player in the game, is Adebayo Akinfenwa of Wycombe Wanderers. That doesn’t seem to have changed, and in his final year as a professional, he goes out on top once more with a 97 rating for this, despite being a silver card as opposed to gold. Your best goalkeeper is Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak.
As I mentioned before, each player will have their own way of building a team that is suitable for them, and I would like to tell you about the squads that I intend to build this year.
This section is for a guest writer, whether it be a podder or otherwise, to give their views on FUT. You can submit a paragraph or two by emailing me, [email protected], with anything that you would like to share with your fellow FUT players. Let me give you an insight into how I build my squads.
I like to base my squads on leagues that are relatable to me. Now, being a hopeless football nerd, there are a lot of leagues and clubs that hold an interest, so I have to be rather selective with this. Last year, I decided I would do one squad, that’s it. And it would be based on Rangers. I guess I just had a feeling that we were going to have a good year! So I would make sure that any Rangers player who would get a special card, the in forms of Goldson and Barisic, the FUT birthday Ryan Kent, the Europa League Morelos, the numerous special cards that Tav collected over the season, they would all be in my team. And I would have Icons in there to help with the chemistry (if I’ve skipped ahead here for you, don’t worry, I’ll cover what this means next time). So I would have Gerrard and Hagi snr as Rangers representatives as it were, along with Puyol at the back to keep things in check. This year, however, I intend to have a lot of different squads. So I still want to have my Rangers squad, which may well include special cards of other SPFL players, not from the other side of the divide though, or indeed anyone with any link to them. So, if a player from Aberdeen scores a hat trick against that lot and gets an in form from it, then I would be inclined to include him for instance. I then want to have a squad from the English leagues, but not necessarily the Premier League. My English team is Huddersfield Town, so my English squad would be based around the best player(s) from there, and then link those players to others in the English leagues. So if an English player from Huddersfield gets a special card, then I would want to link him to other English players from the Premier League, and build a PL team from there on. I like that challenge of building a squad like that. I would then do the same for La Liga and base it around Valencia, for whom my affinity stems from me having lived there for a period of time and still keep an eye out for that team ever since. That’s a bit easier, that’s just a La Liga squad but always making sure the best Valencia player is in there. Those who have been subscribers on Patreon for a while will know I do love a bit of Serie A, so naturally I will have an Italian squad made up of both Serie A and Italian players. Again, the likes of Donnarumma and Verratti being included in that would make that slightly more challenging. And then, to be a bit more fun with it, I think I will have squads that represent our clubs’ official partners. Sadly, Orange County are not currently in the game, so I will have to make do with a squad of MLS players, which should work well for me as EA like to big up that league. We then have our German brothers in HSV, so the best Hamburg player will be the basis for that squad, which I’m sure will consist of Bundesliga players in the main. And one of the new additions to FIFA is the Indian Super League, and I will very much look to build an ISL team which will hopefully be stacked with a number of special cards from Bengaluru. Now, most of these squads would not fair well against your massively high rated teams in Weekend League, or even division rivals, but the idea I’ve got (and this is where it all comes together) is to have a main squad where I can put together the best possible team from players from different squads. This will require Icons, as well as some interesting squad building. But I love that aspect of the game, so it suits me wonderfully. I would imagine that most you will run with just the one squad for ease, or maybe a couple that you can go back and forth with, and that’s a sound way to do it. But I like a wide range of options.
James’ top tip
Where I can, I like to help people. Having played this game mode for a number of years, there are things that I have learned which I think make a difference to your game. Here is something that I think will help. Your star striker, the guy who you want to get the goals, whether you play one up top or two, you want that guy to be the complete package, and the key statistics that you want for this for your main striker are not just pace and shooting, which most would expect, but I think physical stats are an important addition to this. If you’ve got someone whose stats in all three aspects are high, you are onto a winner. Last year, for instance, this guy did wonders for me.
Any time I would get into the box, or indeed close to the penalty area, with this lad, he would always find the net, because his shooting was unbelievable. I think I put a Hunter card on him as well (again, I’ll get to that for those who are unsure) are perhaps I boosted all three stats. You could not get the ball off him no matter what, and his pace just made him an absolute beast up top. So, if you’re looking for your key number 9, keep those three stats in mind when picking.