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Going D to D - Let's Talk Defense

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EA_Aljo
2122 posts EA Community Manager
edited March 2020
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Hey everyone,

We're changing things up this week with a discussion about defense. What kind of builds do you like to use? Are you a stay at home defender or do you get more involved in the offense? Got some tips for laying those big hits? Have you mastered poke checks, stick lifts and DSS? Let's hear your thoughts on all things defense.

And while we're at it, if there's anything specific on defense you'd love to see discussed here and in future posts we'd love to hear your recommendations.
Post edited by EA_Aljo on

Replies

  • I use a Sniper or Grinder when I go D because

    1. DD's are wayyyyy too slow and hitting really doesn't do anything
    2. Fights don't do anything to really charge a team so Enforcer D's are pointless (and you can just turtle and injure them anyway)
    3. Why go TWD when you can go TWF, and why go TWF when Grinder has better stats in every category?
    4. You absolutely ruined the Offensive D build - Sure it was OP before but now it's useless
    5. I can actually hit the net with these builds
    6. In EASHL your AI D partner will just let people pass them (you've seen the examples users have been posting) so you need the speed of non-D builds to catch up

    I could go on but you get the idea.

    It's all really been discussed in detail before: I'd actually love to hear what you guys are planning on changing for next year. I don't need any specifics, just sort of a spitball of ideas everyone was thinking of
  • I usually go sniper:
    1. He has the mobility to keep up with forwards.
    2. He shoots better than any D playertype.
    3. If the server feels like being nice you can poke, sticklift and intercept with anybody and if the server isn't feeling nice then you can't do those things with anybody so defensive attributes mean nothing.
    4. It's almost never worth the risk to throw a check, so you aren't missing anything there either.
  • I used TWD because they're just as good at intercepting passes as DFD and aren't a complete offensive liability.

    DFD can hit like a truck but passing is so wonky sometimes.

    OFD can barely poke check but the smoothness of the skating is nice.

    Never tried Grinder.

    The fact that the two comments above me use Snipers on D shows how defensive archetypes need a buff.
  • I used TWD because they're just as good at intercepting passes as DFD and aren't a complete offensive liability.

    DFD can hit like a truck but passing is so wonky sometimes.

    OFD can barely poke check but the smoothness of the skating is nice.

    Never tried Grinder.

    The fact that the two comments above me use Snipers on D shows how defensive archetypes need a buff.

    I use a TWD but I feel like I'm forced to play the smaller sizes to compete with the speed of the forwards. The grinder is a good build for D since they have really high defensive stats and are physical. I agree that the D need a buff if not an entire overhaul. In my opinion, the current weight-to-height mechanic that controls skating is broken. Just because a skater is larger doesn't necessarily mean that they lose the ability to skate. Whenever I've made a larger build it feels like my player is a bus.
  • I used to be a SNP D, but that has since become obsolete in my opinion with good teams that can both pass and intercept pucks.

    My build that I play with 3's and 6's is a PMD with Defensive Minded and Quick First Step; One Timer. Overall great build. I can intercept passes when I'm in the right position, make great stretch and sauce passes, and can be part of the offensive with one-timers from the point. QFS makes it possible to keep up with the fast forwards, and the defensive stick actually works pretty well. The only downside is the inability to push people off the puck at close range. However, this is less of an issue since I have a team that pretty much plays D as much as the D guys play D. Chemwarfare, who is my defensive partner, has a bit more heft in his build and we compliment each other well.

    Unless something drastically changes, I won't be going back to using a forward build for D.
  • untouchable_BF1
    953 posts Member
    edited March 2020
    Well I don’t really believe there’s much to talk about that hasn’t already been beaten to death, but here we go.

    It’s an incredibly boring position to play, and it has been for this entire generation of NHL. From having to block insanely accurate tips in NHL 16 (not to mention the complete lack of agility present in 13-18 which made facing the puck/play an art in itself) to having to glide, never throw a hit unless it’s completely from the front at almost full speed, and refrain from attacking the puck with your stick unless you’re 99% sure you’ll be safe from a penalty in NHL 20, this series has failed to make defense a rewarding position to play for how unforgiving it is.

    The meta is simply not built for defensive balance in all competitive modes. The ridiculous LT spins (I’ve fixed with my own sliders easily but we haven’t seen them adequately nerfed online yet) the super high base acceleration, the RS curling at full speeds with no consequences, the almost completely broken hitting this year that was a touch away from perfect in 19 (again, fixable with sliders imo but the competitive defaults are simply not at appropriate levels) and the infamous board-bounce that has plagued this entire generation (fixable with sliders) all make for a very dull experience at the backend whether you’re playing 1v1, 6s, or anything in-between on the “competitive” default sliders.

    Watching high-level HUT and 6s, we rarely see the defending team actually forcing the play with body contact or stick attacks. We see this super defensive, passive meta due to the fact that checking (especially in 20) and stick checking aren’t usually worth the risk. Everything is now centered around body positioning and interceptions. So, instead of forcing players to make decisions quickly, they’re forced to play zone defense and feather LS so they can hope to pick a pass off. On the rush, we see the DSS used briefly until the puck enters the “danger zone” where only 1 mm of the defensive stick shaft needs to scrape a shin/skate to result in a penalty. Hitting has gone from OP at slow speeds to non-existent unless at high speeds which was to benefit goal scoring I assume, but has made a notoriously passive position even more passive due to this change.

    Now, from a video game perspective this seems like a super boring position to play, no? Sure, you have to read plays and put yourself in position with LS and LT to make some interceptions, but for the most part you’re passively gliding around hoping the game lets you pick the pass of that you read by a mile, or hoping you can pick the puck up out the scrum in-front (by also standing still) so that you don’t give up a goal. If you’re playing HUT, you’re probably doing the delicate dance of “stop the glitch goal and babysit my weakside AI teammate who is super interested in the corner” which seems insane to me, and why anyone plays 1v1 NHL competitively is beyond me. The endless twirls, RS curls, board-bouncing, and useless teammates make for super “entertaining” 1v1 games where I can watch 10 combined goals scored and be bored out of my mind because it’s the same 2-3 goals that go in even when GWC-level players are competitive. Yes, even the best players in the world at this game can’t always “stop the glitch” so what does that tell you? It should tell you the “defensive” games revolve more around the offensive player not executing, rather than the defensive player having the necessary balance to actually have an engaging experience where they are able to actively shutdown their opponents. I don’t agree that passively gliding around and hoping your AI is competent enough to behave is a sign that defense is in a good state.

    This is where games like NHL Hitz should really be studied, because their approach is simple yet effective. If you aren’t familiar, it’s a rock/paper/scissors mechanic where “poke” beats “deke” (stay with me here) and “check” beats “guard puck”. It’s not the exact solution I want in this game as this game offers way more tools and has way more options on what to do, but as you can see there’s a real sense of balance with the tools. I should add that this game used 3-minute periods by default, so meta choices should be very comparable to the 4-minute periods online NHL has by default.

    With all of the tools in this game, there’s no reason why any skater position should feel “out-gunned” or bored. The solution seems rather simple to me. Make passive DSS even less powerful (like literally how far away the puck can be poked) but also almost immune (maybe even completely immune? These are the meta issues your GC’ers should be testing) to penalties so you actually encourage the use of stick-work (you know, like real hockey) and make active DSS (R3 click) a lot more powerful at poking the puck away but also add-in the heightened risk of a penalty. If weakside AI problems get fixed, you could lower interceptions even more and encourage a meta where passively holding/sweeping your DSS is the best way to cut down passing and shooting lanes. If your gap is good and you read plays well, you should have a lot of success at mirroring your opponents stick (you know, the one they get to fling around at100 mph with a 4th line grinder with absolutely no worry of ever losing the puck?) and closing those lanes down. With the severely lowered power passive DSS has (maybe it shouldn’t even disrupt the puck if it’s on a stick, or maybe limited to only if it makes direct contact with the puck...so not through the stick blade...again, use the GC’ers/beta to see where this should land), you’d still allow attackers to use their body positioning, leverage, and skill to get around the passive DSS, but no longer could they easily force trips by doing their best figure skating impressions when in possession of the puck. I see this is as a win/win as it doesn’t nerf dekeing or puck control, while simultaneously making defense a more active and engaging position to play.

    Obviously to round this out, fix hitting please. I rock stumble threshold 30 and stumble and fall ease at 95 offline. Seems like a great balance where puck-hogging gets you knocked off the puck, but I’m not seeing a ton of those little bumps that the streamers all cried about last year. In fact, I think a more widely used DSS would actually mitigate the bumping problem, as you’d see users activate LT attacking the stick much more often should would naturally give the offensive players time and space if they’re good at puck protection.

    TL;DR version:
    1. Defense is boring and unrewarding.
    2. Game balance isn’t right.
    3. Passive DSS (sweeping) shouldn’t draw penalties but shouldn’t impact puck control. It should be used to cut-down passing/shooting lanes by mirroring the carriers stick.
    4. Active DSS (poking) is where the penalties should happen. Poke power should be really increased here due to the fact that there’s a risk to performing the action
    5. Fix hitting. 19 was almost perfect, 20 it’s barely effective
  • I used TWD because they're just as good at intercepting passes as DFD and aren't a complete offensive liability.

    DFD can hit like a truck but passing is so wonky sometimes.

    OFD can barely poke check but the smoothness of the skating is nice.

    Never tried Grinder.

    The fact that the two comments above me use Snipers on D shows how defensive archetypes need a buff.

    I use a TWD but I feel like I'm forced to play the smaller sizes to compete with the speed of the forwards. The grinder is a good build for D since they have really high defensive stats and are physical. I agree that the D need a buff if not an entire overhaul. In my opinion, the current weight-to-height mechanic that controls skating is broken. Just because a skater is larger doesn't necessarily mean that they lose the ability to skate. Whenever I've made a larger build it feels like my player is a bus.

    First of all thanks Aljo for making this topic I'd also like to recognize blueberry, you 2 have been very active in the forums and I appreciate that.

    I agree with taste and cw94
    This year I play mostly TWD sometimes PMD (like it better than last year)

    Never played OFD so I can't comment, as for DFD I used to play it all the time but this year there's something lacking, a slight boost could probably change that.

    The DSS was a great addition last year and was nice to see more focus on defensive play for the 1st time in years, come to this year and it was back to offensive. I get it people want to score but something in the middle of last year and this would be better imo. I've been lucky enough to be on the same team for 3+ years now, last years score was around 3-2, this one is more like 6-5 in most games.

    I would also like to have the option of a different preset camera angle for forwards and defenseman.

  • beer354 wrote: »
    I used TWD because they're just as good at intercepting passes as DFD and aren't a complete offensive liability.

    DFD can hit like a truck but passing is so wonky sometimes.

    OFD can barely poke check but the smoothness of the skating is nice.

    Never tried Grinder.

    The fact that the two comments above me use Snipers on D shows how defensive archetypes need a buff.

    I use a TWD but I feel like I'm forced to play the smaller sizes to compete with the speed of the forwards. The grinder is a good build for D since they have really high defensive stats and are physical. I agree that the D need a buff if not an entire overhaul. In my opinion, the current weight-to-height mechanic that controls skating is broken. Just because a skater is larger doesn't necessarily mean that they lose the ability to skate. Whenever I've made a larger build it feels like my player is a bus.

    First of all thanks Aljo for making this topic I'd also like to recognize blueberry, you 2 have been very active in the forums and I appreciate that.

    I agree with taste and cw94
    This year I play mostly TWD sometimes PMD (like it better than last year)

    Never played OFD so I can't comment, as for DFD I used to play it all the time but this year there's something lacking, a slight boost could probably change that.

    The DSS was a great addition last year and was nice to see more focus on defensive play for the 1st time in years, come to this year and it was back to offensive. I get it people want to score but something in the middle of last year and this would be better imo. I've been lucky enough to be on the same team for 3+ years now, last years score was around 3-2, this one is more like 6-5 in most games.

    I would also like to have the option of a different preset camera angle for forwards and defenseman.

    My play style would be more representative of a DFD but due to the size restrictions and speed I'm forced to play a smaller class. The game is definitely built for forwards. I understand why. There's more excitement in a fast paced, high scoring game. But some of us love the grit of a hard-checking game.
  • EA_Aljo
    2122 posts EA Community Manager
    beer354 wrote: »
    I used TWD because they're just as good at intercepting passes as DFD and aren't a complete offensive liability.

    DFD can hit like a truck but passing is so wonky sometimes.

    OFD can barely poke check but the smoothness of the skating is nice.

    Never tried Grinder.

    The fact that the two comments above me use Snipers on D shows how defensive archetypes need a buff.

    I use a TWD but I feel like I'm forced to play the smaller sizes to compete with the speed of the forwards. The grinder is a good build for D since they have really high defensive stats and are physical. I agree that the D need a buff if not an entire overhaul. In my opinion, the current weight-to-height mechanic that controls skating is broken. Just because a skater is larger doesn't necessarily mean that they lose the ability to skate. Whenever I've made a larger build it feels like my player is a bus.

    First of all thanks Aljo for making this topic I'd also like to recognize blueberry, you 2 have been very active in the forums and I appreciate that.

    I agree with taste and cw94
    This year I play mostly TWD sometimes PMD (like it better than last year)

    Never played OFD so I can't comment, as for DFD I used to play it all the time but this year there's something lacking, a slight boost could probably change that.

    The DSS was a great addition last year and was nice to see more focus on defensive play for the 1st time in years, come to this year and it was back to offensive. I get it people want to score but something in the middle of last year and this would be better imo. I've been lucky enough to be on the same team for 3+ years now, last years score was around 3-2, this one is more like 6-5 in most games.

    I would also like to have the option of a different preset camera angle for forwards and defenseman.

    Thanks for the kind words. That's definitely appreciated :)

    What kind of camera angle are you wishing were in the game? I've been using Zone for a few years now and it works really well. Especially when you put the camera focus on the hybrid view where you sort of zoom out when the puck gets farther away.

    I switch to a PMD a few weeks back. I had played TWD before that, but I'm really not that offensive a player so moving to PMD and having better passing more suits my playstyle. I haven't tried using a forward. While I can see there are benefits, I just feel like I should be using a defensive build. Many people are obsessed with numbers. I prefer to go with what feels good as well as a build that's meant for the position. In the end, it's more about how you play than your overall.
  • I switch between zone and overhead on d, it's the odd time I play forward I'll switch it to classic, then when I go back to my natural position it's still on then have to wait until the end of the first to switch it back.
    Socair (hope I got the name right) if not I'm sure you know who I mean is also doing a good job
  • EA_Aljo
    2122 posts EA Community Manager
    beer354 wrote: »
    I switch between zone and overhead on d, it's the odd time I play forward I'll switch it to classic, then when I go back to my natural position it's still on then have to wait until the end of the first to switch it back.
    Socair (hope I got the name right) if not I'm sure you know who I mean is also doing a good job

    Classic seems like it would be really tough on D. Once in a while I play as a center. I may need to try out classic next time.

    I'm curious though, why do you switch between Zone and Overhead on D? Are there different situations you like each for?
  • I was playing with zone for a long time but recently switched back to overhead. I like it more because I can see my gap and the angles better
  • EA_Aljo
    2122 posts EA Community Manager
    I was playing with zone for a long time but recently switched back to overhead. I like it more because I can see my gap and the angles better

    Interesting. I used to play on Overhead, but then discovered zone and setting the camera as I described so I could see more of the ice. I may have to try Overhead again and see if it lets me see gaps and angles better. Thanks, bud. Appreciate the discussion.
  • @EA_Aljo , thoughts about reworking the defense builds to better represent the body types of the modern NHLer? I tried looking up the weights of the taller active NHL defensemen and nobody weighs over 245 (excluding Chara). If the restrictions on the weight of the CHEL defensive builds were shifted down by like 10 - 15 lbs, it would help balance the more physical builds.
  • EA_Aljo
    2122 posts EA Community Manager
    @EA_Aljo , thoughts about reworking the defense builds to better represent the body types of the modern NHLer? I tried looking up the weights of the taller active NHL defensemen and nobody weighs over 245 (excluding Chara). If the restrictions on the weight of the CHEL defensive builds were shifted down by like 10 - 15 lbs, it would help balance the more physical builds.

    Personally, I'd like that. I'm not really a fan of guys that like to put a goon line together just to go out and hit everything that moves. That doesn't make for a fun game for me, but it's not often I see them also. In my experience, they've been more prevalent in Threes and Ones, but I don't play those modes too often. I wouldn't mind that restriction for EASHL club and drop-ins, but that would be another build you'd have to manage if you wanted to make a Chara type player that just wants to hit.
  • EA_Aljo wrote: »
    @EA_Aljo , thoughts about reworking the defense builds to better represent the body types of the modern NHLer? I tried looking up the weights of the taller active NHL defensemen and nobody weighs over 245 (excluding Chara). If the restrictions on the weight of the CHEL defensive builds were shifted down by like 10 - 15 lbs, it would help balance the more physical builds.

    Personally, I'd like that. I'm not really a fan of guys that like to put a goon line together just to go out and hit everything that moves. That doesn't make for a fun game for me, but it's not often I see them also. In my experience, they've been more prevalent in Threes and Ones, but I don't play those modes too often. I wouldn't mind that restriction for EASHL club and drop-ins, but that would be another build you'd have to manage if you wanted to make a Chara type player that just wants to hit.

    I don't think my club has ever lost to another club that uses an enforcer build. Their offensive and defensive stats are trash. The enforcers are physically imposing but are guaranteed to take a major penalty. Really no upside.

  • I don't think my club has ever lost to another club that uses an enforcer build. Their offensive and defensive stats are trash. The enforcers are physically imposing but are guaranteed to take a major penalty. Really no upside.


    First thing my buddy and I say when we see a DD is "ok good, it's a DD so [player] can easily dance around em"

    They used to be an annoying/feared build to play against but the new poke system and speed changes have made them obsolete imo. My Grinder can go toe to toe with them in a fight, is faster, has better shot block and equal if not better poke checking let alone offensive capabilities....
  • TheMajjam
    794 posts Member
    edited April 2020
    You know this game has an imbalance when you see a team with a moderately-sized ED or DD and breathe a sigh a relief, whereas you see a team with PWF or SNP on defense and you go, "Need to watch these guys."

    Purely defensive builds have NO place in this game as they are just too unforgiving to play. I'm referring to Club 6's here, but I have almost never seen a purely defensive build in 3's as well.

    You know there's something wrong when you're a DD and a defensive liability because you bring little offensive and can't keep up with the forwards zooming, dekeing, and LTing past you.
  • EA_Aljo
    2122 posts EA Community Manager
    TheMajjam wrote: »
    You know this game has an imbalance when you see a team with a moderately-sized ED or DD and breathe a sigh a relief, whereas you see a team with PWF or SNP on defense and you go, "Need to watch these guys."

    Purely defensive builds have NO place in this game as they are just too unforgiving to play. I'm referring to Club 6's here, but I have almost never seen a purely defensive build in 3's as well.

    You know there's something wrong when you're a DD and a defensive liability because you bring little offensive and can't keep up with the forwards zooming, dekeing, and LTing past you.

    I really haven't had a problem with forwards LT'ing past me as a PMD, but my regular D partner and I back each other up well. One of us is always the last man back so having them get past us is pretty rare. I let them LT and try to cut off their options as best I can while trying to keep them to the outside. The one thing that gets me sometimes is a poking when they decide to pivot, so I tend to use that less. I'm at least forcing them to move the puck since they don't have a lot of options when facing away from the play as long as I stay in front of them.
  • My problem with defense is when you are in perfect position back-skating with an opponent in front of you, what should be an easy stick poke turns into a tripping like 9 times out if 10. Instead you are forced to play passive d and just rub into them hoping they lose it. If you lay a big hit there is a good chance the puck goes directly to their next team mate and you are out of the play for committing to the hit. I love defense and it is fun but your hands are tied in what you can do most of the time.
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