The Be All End All **GUIDE TO GM MODE** This was put together by a genius poster on the IGN message boards. ALL CREDIT GOES TO "edenborn", whoever this master of smackdown gaming is. GM Mode: Ten Ways To Make The Computer Tap Out GM Mode got you down in SvR 2K7? Struggling with ratings and losing money? Shaking your fist at your computer opponent? Well, stop that, silly, it can't see you. Instead, why not settle back and learn a few ways to exploit the computer's weaknesses? I'm giving out tips to beat GM Mode, and I'm giving them free of charge. And these are legal exploits, no rules turned off, no two player mode, not even that "put all the legends on your roster" ploy. No, you don't have to play with legends at all. Want to make Shane-O dance with rage? Want to see Teddy Long lose all his hair? Read on, playa, read on. 1) Steal A Million Dollars This game is about money and, believe it or not, the computer doesn't have an endless supply of it. Financially, it has to play by the exact same rules you do. If it can't outspend you, it can't compete with you. Your goal is to drive it screaming into the poorhouse. And wouldn't that goal be a lot easier if you could get a million dollars up on it on the very first week of the game? The computer's biggest weakness is it can't trade for spit. It's a mean little monkey, but painfully stupid when it comes to trades. All it looks at is popularity, and you can exploit that to your advantage. Here's how it works: - Start a new game, start a new draft. - Use your first pick to grab the most popular superstar available. HBK's the best choice, but HHH or Angle are fine. Don't get too attached to this guy, he's trade bait. - Sign your first pick for just 5 weeks. This should cost you about a couple hundred grand. - With its first pick, the computer will select a similarly popular superstar and sign him to a long term contract, typically 9 months. This will cost him over a cool million. - Once the draft is complete, offer your first draft pick for his. If your superstar's popularity is higher, the computer will gleefully accept the trade. Like I said, the computer is bad with trades. A human would say, "You want me to give you the guy I hired for 9 months for the guy you hired for 5 weeks? So I'm a million dollars down and when 5 lousy weeks are up I've got to spend another small fortune to keep this new guy around? Uh, how about 'no?' Does 'no' work for you?" But the computer says, " shock ZOMG!!1! ME GET 88 POPULARITY WRESTLER AND GIVE UP 87 POPULARITY WRESTLER!! ME AM WINNING!1!!!one1!" Whatever you do, don't think like the computer. Popularity's important, sure, because it drives ratings and ratings bring money. But if you can trade weeks of service from one of your superstars for months of service from one of his, do it—even if your guy is a few points more popular, give him up in a heartbeat because you're vastly better off. Note: After you run the draft, you have to decide who on your roster starts with a championship. You might well want to make your trade bait a champion—it boosts his popularity, which increases his trade value. And if you find that your trade bait is still not popular enough, just use a New Superstar promo and/or spend the first few weeks giving him wins—this should make him more attractive to the computer. 2) Treat Your Wrestlers Like The Pawns They Are This is a business. Your superstars work for you and not the other way around. They don't have a union. You don't have to pal around with them, give them Christmas bonuses or get to know their families. You don't have to be loyal to them. With rare exceptions, superstars of the same popularity and gender are completely interchangeable, so get in the habit of protecting your wallet and your sanity by trading anyone on your roster whenever it suits your purposes. "But I love so-and-so! He's my favorite wrestler!" Yeah, whatever. That kind of thinking won't help you. I mean, sure, we're obviously all fans of this pseudo-sport, and we like some wrestlers more than others. I think William Regal is fantastic, and if you disagree I'll stab you in the face. So I'll typically draft the "naughty one" to my roster, but when he's down to the last week of his contract and I can trade him away for someone with a longer contract who can help my show just as much, I'm smart to send him packing. Be sentimental at your own peril. Who should you trade away? - It's not a bad idea to trade draft picks 2, 3, 4 and 5. Get the best popularity superstars you can and sign them all to 5 week contracts. Trade them to the computer for superstars with 13 week contracts or longer. - Trade away disciplinary problems. Got a superstar who's Upset or Furious and you can't find a way to make him happy? Toss him. Really, who needs the aggravation? Go get someone on the other brand who's almost as popular, ideally with a longer contract. - You might well want to trade your divas for male superstars of roughly the same popularity. That's not an "I hate divas!" prejudice—there's a valid reason for this. Divas are barred from many specialty matches, so it's harder to drive ratings with them. A 90 popularity diva who can't compete in Last Man Standing and Hell In The Cell matches is less useful to you than an 88 popularity male superstar who can. That should be obvious to you and me, but it's not to the computer. All it sees: 90 > 88. Who shouldn't you trade away? - If you're Raw, don't trade yourself into a situation where you have less than two divas on the roster. If you're Smackdown, don't trade yourself into a situation where you have less than two cruiserweights. - Unless it's a truly great trade for you, try not to trade away anyone involved in a hot rivalry. - And, naturally, don't trade superstars you've signed to long term contracts away for superstars with short term contracts. Oh, and what do you do with draft picks after number 5? - Sign the midcarders you like to long term contracts. With the money you've saved, you should be able to afford plenty of them, and with their lower popularity you can get these guys on the cheap. But won't they suck? Well, of course they will! At first. Don't worry about that; you'll be making them more popular over the next 6 or 9 months. - That's right, 6 or 9 months, not 12. Don't ever sign anyone to a 12 month contract. Yes, a 12 month contract saves you money over time, but it ties your hands in too many ways. Here's one: As your superstars become more popular, they'll want to renegotiate their contracts, and you won't be able to keep them without ponying up more cash. Which means you'll be signing them for a minimum of 12 months + 5 weeks, and why would you want to do that? For all you know, the computer will nab that wrestler in a post-Wrestlemania draft lottery. You don't want to throw that money away. - You don't need to fill up all 20 slots on your roster. In fact, it's better if you don't. Just grab 12-15 and pop out of the draft. Ideally, you want to save at least one to two million dollars in spending money to use for shows, writers, free agents, etc. 3) Hang On To Your Midget And hang on tight. By midget I mean Rey Mysterio. He's more valuable than you might think. He's the only cruiserweight who starts with good popularity. That makes him of obvious value to Smackdown. If that's your brand, grab him or trade for him and make him your cruiserweight champ. I mean, seriously, why wouldn't you do that? But let's say you're Raw. You don't have a cruiserweight belt. This doesn't matter—grab him anyway for the sole purpose of keeping him off Smackdown. Don't forget: Title matches always do better in the ratings than non-title matches. You're better off letting Smackdown try to win the ratings war with someone like Psicosis as their cruiserweight champ—it'll take that jobber many weeks to reach the popularity Rey starts the game with. So hold on to Rey Rey whichever brand you are, and if you're Raw don't even think of trading him until Smackdown builds up cruiserweights of the same popularity. (And you might not want to even trade him then.) Mind you, the same doesn't hold for Melina. She's the diva who starts with the highest popularity, but the popularity difference between Melina, Lita and Trish isn't nearly as great as the difference between Rey and the next popular cruiserweight. So don't hoard splits girl the way you hoard midget. 4) More Handicaps Than The Special Olympics It's a numbers game. Let's say you've signed Benoit and Masters to long term contracts. You want them to gain popularity. Put them in a match against each other, and one gains a point while the other loses a point. +1 and -1. That adds up to 0. Not necessarily the best use of your time. But let's say you've got a handicap match. Benoit & Masters beat Hardcore Holly. +1, +1 and -1. That adds up to +1. Likewise, if Angle, Benoit & Masters beat Hardcore Holly, that adds up to +2. And if you don't care about Holly, it's a +3 net gain. That's the sort of result you want. Handicap matches are very useful and I put them on constantly. It's rare that there isn't one on my card, and often I'll use two or three. When I'm not using a handicap match, I'm often using single or tag with manager (two or three superstars I want to gain popularity) winning over single or tag without manager (one or two superstars I don't care about). Sign a few free agents to 5 week contracts for the specific purpose of losing to your regulars. They are the meat you feed to your young lions so your lions will grow up big and strong. Now the free agents will drop in popularity week after week—that's fine. You don't have to protect them. Likewise, you can double or triple book these free agents—it'll tire them out and risk injury but that's also fine. They're jabronis. Jobbers. Scum. Let's say I've got Cade and Murdoch as free agents. This is a perfectly acceptable card: Match 1: Handicap, one on three, Cade loses to three regular midcarders. Match 2: Handicap, one on trio, Murdoch loses to three more regular midcarders. Match 3: Single w/manager vs. single without manager, Cade loses to two more regular midcarders. Match 4: Hardcore w/manager vs. hardcore without manager, Murdoch loses to two more regular midcarders. Match 5: Single Intercontinental title match, one regular high popularity superstar beats the other. Main Event: Submission WWE title match, another regular high popularity superstar beats the other. What have I done here? My regulars have wrestled once while Cade and Murdoch have each wrestled twice. I've added 3 + 3 + 2 + 2 popularity points to my regular midcarders (the stars of tomorrow) via Cade and Murdoch, and I've put on a couple of competitive title matches with my top superstars to help drive ratings. Will it win the ratings war? Not right away. But as my midcarders get more popular, that will change. Naturally, this will work even better if I put my superstars in rivalries. You know how rivalries work, right? You feud clean and dirty superstars. You make sure they're in a different match together week after week. Do this long enough and the ratings go up and your superstars gain popularity even if they lose. Then the rivalry gets boring and you move them on to the next feud. That's all well and good, but here's something a surprising number of people don't seem to realize: You don't have to pit your feuding superstars against each other, because to preserve the rivalry all they have to do is wrestle in the same match. Got that? Read it again if you don't. Good. Because, in fact, you're often better off if you put your regular superstars on the same team, and let them win together against your free agents. Let's say you've got Mick Foley and Edge in the early stages of a rivalry. Have them win together against Cade and/or Murdoch for a while. When the rivalry gets two thumbs up, then you might pit them against each other for the sake of ratings. Maybe it's Foley managing Edge against Cade in Week 1, Foley, Edge and Big Show against Murdoch in Week 2, Big Show managing Foley and Edge against Cade and Murdoch in Week 3, Edge managing Foley in a ladder match against Murdoch in Week 4, and then a submission match between Foley and Edge in Week 5, then alternating between single, tag and gimmick matches between Foley and Edge (no more Cade or Murdoch) as we come to the PPV. Keep them from getting too fatigued, and put on a super nifty gimmick match (Last Man Standing, Hell in the Cell, Iron Man, etc.) at the PPV. Now then, if you can possibly help it, make sure you never use your jobbing free agents on the PPV (unless they're on Velocity or Heat, which don't count for squat). Your free agents simply aren't big enough draws for a PPV, and the PPV is your golden opportunity to gain viewers, gain money, and deprive the computer of money. So you can handicap your way up through the weeks, but leave the PPV to your regulars, ideally all with hot rivalries and super nifty gimmick matches. Make sense? "What if my free agent jobber complains about losing all the time?" Who cares? He's only sticking around a few weeks. More if you decide to rehire him (at less money, of course, since he's less popular now) but that's up to you. Also, when superstars drop below a certain popularity level (40?), they stop complaining about losing and they don't dare dream of asking for a title shot. They're just happy to have a job. Kinda pathetic and sweet, now that I think about it. "What if my free agent jobber gets injured?" Yeah? What if? Break him. He didn't cost you much and you can always get a new one from the free agent pool. "Wait, so do I put my free agent jobber in a rivalry at the rivalries screen?" No. Don't bother putting your free agents in rivalries with anyone. The rivalries are for your regulars. The free agents are just sad little chumpstains who get demolished match after match to get the regulars' rivalry in gear. 5) Poison The Well If you've followed my advice up to this point, you know how to make smart trades with the computer, and you know how to gang up on jobbers to put your regular roster on the path to popularity. Excellent. This alone should win you the game. But let's slant the odds more in your favor. Let's leave the computer sobbing and carrying on like a schoolgirl with a skinned knee, shall we? While your regulars' popularity should be trending ever upwards, your freelancers' popularity should be dropping like President Bush's poll numbers. Maybe you've gotten them down to 40. Maybe 30. Heck, maybe 20, or 10, or down to single digits. At a certain point, these jokers become an extreme liability. Poison for viewers. Every time they have a match, you can hear the sound of viewers changing channels. In essence, you've saddled them with the equivalent of a bad Vince Russo gimmick, and turned them into Sir Lancealot Cade and That 90's Guy, Trevor Murdoch. Just like WWE Creative and DX's attempts at humor, they suck. What to do with them? Dump these embarrassments on the computer. Aha! See! Here's another way in which the computer AI is criminally stupid: The computer will never fire anyone it has under contract no matter how badly they suck. No, it will gladly take them, and it will repeatedly try to use them, thereby sabotaging its attempts to put on entertaining WWE programming. I say, "I'll trade you my 73 popularity Regal for your 70 popularity Kennedy since they're both about equal, and, uh, hey, here's a deal. I'll also throw in my 8 popularity Cade and my 3 popularity Murdoch. And you can't fire them. And you have to use them a lot, even though they'll bring your matches waaaay down in quality. Sound good?" You say, "Get bent, edenborn." But the computer says, " shock ZOMG!!! REALLY??! DONE!!!!!!" Here's what you do. - Pick your poison. Create a few painfully unpopular free agents by having them lose repeatedly to your regulars. Cade, Murdoch, Daivari and Viscera are fine choices for poison, but Candice Michelle and Jillian Hall are arguably better, since they're also barred from a number of match types. - When they're unpopular enough for your liking, sign the poison to a long term contract. You want to sign them long enough to get close to Wrestlemania but not any longer. Use the schedule to count. You may need to do this in increments. For example, if Wrestlemania is a little over 7 months away, you might want to hire them for 6 months, then hit the button for 5 additional weeks. And don't worry about the cost. If you've gotten them unpopular enough, this won't cost you much money at all. - Trade them to the computer along with someone the computer wants. - Don't forget to keep track of how many free slots the computer has on its roster. If he's full up with 20 wrestlers, you won't be able to poison his show right now. Instead, work to make him struggle in the ratings war—keep it up and he'll have no choice but to let some of his midcarders go, and when he's down to 19 or 18 on the roster, there's your opportunity to slip the poison in. 6) Juggle, Young Man, Juggle There's a lot to keep track of in GM Mode, and you'll do well to keep all the following in mind: - It really is worth playing to the hometowns. Have a local win a title in their backyard and it helps the ratings. Do this with any reasonably popular superstar. If the superstar is out of title contention, consider making him a manager of whomever you want to win the match. It's a good idea to look several weeks ahead in the schedule to see what's happening where. It's an especially good idea to pay attention to where the PPVs are held. - The Promote Title Match promo is a nice way to bump up the ratings, especially if you've set the title as a non-gimmick match to give your superstars a fatigue break. - Use the Rivalry Attack promo when you're in a two or three thumbs up rivalry and your superstar isn't too fatigued. - Monitor fatigue carefully so you can really let it all hang out at the PPV. Don't be afraid to rest your superstars or let them take it easy with single and tag non-gimmick matches. Your ratings might temporarily suffer, but you'll make up for it at the PPV. - Despite what JR/Tazz says, it's sometimes better to put on just 4 or 5 matches instead of 6. Leave the first one or two slots empty if you must and focus on the rest. But try never to leave an open slot at a PPV. - Use the super nifty PPV-exclusive matches at the PPVs. That's what they're there for. - Be sure to beat the computer at the cross brand PPVs. - At Wrestlemania, it may be customary for the Royal Rumble winner to face the champion in a title match, but don't be afraid to add more superstars to that party. Load it up and make it a Hell In A Cell. 7) Bikini Madness (How To Exploit Women For Fun And Profit) I don't know if it bumps up the show ratings or not, but that Bikini Contest promo is a great way to bump up your divas' popularities. Put your divas in rivalries, use them to win handicap matches (I enjoy the 3 on 1 with divas vs. Khali—take that, Tester Challenge!) and give them regular bikini contests. Their popularity will be up in the 90's before you know it. Now you might say, "Who cares? They're divas. They can't compete in any of the good matches." To which I'd say, "You're right, though don't forget they can be used in the Iron Man Match, the 4-Man Over The Top Battle Royale and as managers in Ladder Matches—and, more importantly, don't forget you can trade them to the idiot computer. Use your 95 popularity Torrie Wilson to get his 94 popularity Undertaker." 8) What Cruiserweight Title? Smackdown can't put on many cruiserweight title matches when Raw drafts or trades for every single cruiserweight in the game. That gives Raw a distinct tactical advantage, provided that they bump those cruiserweights up in popularity to the point where they can draw a crowd. It's a gambit, not to everyone's taste, but if you like cruiserweights it might be the strategy for you. You can also combine this strategy with "Poison The Well," getting the cruiserweights, making them unpopular, and then dumping them, letting the computer desperately try to do something with them. An obvious variant is "What Women's Title?" but I'm not sure it's worth hoarding all the divas on Smackdown when women are barred from so many gimmick matches. Sounds like a drag to me. On the other hand, I imagine it's a perfect strategy if you're one of those lesbian storyline bookers. Five star "cheating girlfriend" rivalry between Trish, Candice and Torrie, anyone? Don't try to hide, I know you're out there. Now an easy cheat would involve just removing all the cruiserweights or divas from the game world. You play Raw and give Smackdown a draft with no available cruiserweights—you're sitting pretty. But I don't play that way. Exploiting stupid AI is fine in my book, but cheating the game world is not. Your mileage may vary. 9) Play Defense You're trying to put on great PPVs because they're the best way to swing fans to your brand. Well, the computer's trying to do the same thing. So pay attention to when his PPVs are coming up, and put on a little counterprogramming. In the weeks leading up to his PPV, consider running Interference promos. If successful, they suddenly end one of his rivalries. Oh yes, the computer runs rivalries. You can pop them from three thumbs up down to zero, and scramble his plans for the PPV. (Incidentally, if your rivalries disappear from time to time and you're all, "But I put them in a match this week, what happened?!" the chances are the computer destroyed that rivalry with interference. Annoying, yes, but adjust and move on.) On your last show before the computer's PPV, consider putting on a PPV quality show. You won't have access to Hell In A Cell, Last Man Standing, etc. but you can put your top guys in Ladder Matches, TLCs, Backstage Brawls, Steel Cages, etc. and if you do you'll prevent the computer from gaining much ground. You might even put a few of your superstars in rivalries that will get three thumbs up around the time of the computer's PPV. Helloooo, main event title match! 10) Dodge The Draft So you're a month away from Wrestlemania. You've got 15 superstars on your roster and popularity for e a good number of them is in the 90's. What do you do? Hire jobbers from the free agent pool. Sign them to 5 week contracts. Why? Because the computer will be randomly drafting from your roster via the lottery. If Viscera's in the free agent pool with a low popularity, grab his ridiculously fat can and drag it to your regular roster—you're giving the computer a chance to catch him instead of a superstar you actually want to use next year. This is also why it's a bad idea to "Poison The Well" with anyone slated to stay on the computer's roster after Wrestlemania. You want to force him to use those sucky superstars for as long as possible, but let him dump them back to the free agent pool a week or two before Wrestlemania so you don't absorb them in the lottery. That gives you better odds of getting the superstars on his roster that you actually want. And that's number ten out of GM Mode: Ten Ways To Make The Computer Tap Out. Did you laugh? Did you cry? Did you learn? Did you grow as a person? Whatever you did, I hope it changed your life profoundly and for the better, and empowered you to beat the holy hell out of your computer opponent. There goes the money, Shane-O. Believe that, T-Lo. Go on, use these techniques, bask in your resounding success, then watch the cut scene of Vince McMahon yelling at your rival GM. A thing of beauty, that cut scene. Like an angel decided to code for Yuke's. Yes, you'll breathe a little deeper, the air will taste a little sweeter, and life itself will seem a little more worthwhile. I'd go on, but it chokes me up just thinking about it. Thank you and goodnight.