In my first season coaching the Daytona Beach Wildcats, my season expectations were low. I was expected to win only 6 games and bow out ingloriously at the end of the season. I managed to win 7 games and blew out the #3 seed in my conference tournament before taking the inglorious bow that I was expected to all along. Seeing a glimmer of hope I rushed into recruiting season hoping to land a new guard that could help advance the team in the postseason.I was hooked.
Campus Dynasty plays a lot like many other sports games on the market except that this game is a free app for Apple and Android. And it’s good. Like really good.
I have to admit, when I picked this game up for the first time, I was hesitant. Many phone-based games just aren’t all that great or have some sort of paywall that prevents you from really getting good unless you buy into the game. This game surprises in that it is both a very solid simulation and it is completely free. There are no paywalls, no coins to buy and no gimmicks. It is purely a phone-based simulation.
Build Your World
The game begins with you making a coach for yourself. You get to customize the look with some nice options. From there you are tasked with choosing a school. However, unlike many other games of this kind, Campus Dynasty makes you choose from mid-major schools and below to start. There is no option to take over for Duke and run your way to an instant championship. All of the schools available have a prestige level in the 30s or below and require you to build to something greater.
This process is done in the season by setting your lineups, your strategy and your usage all from a handy dashboard that allows you to make meaningful tweaks on the fly.
Starting in an unsuccessful program offers a unique challenge and prevents you from giving yourself an advantage. You will be dropped into a fictional conference, and given a low expectation. The first few seasons have you trying to grind out conference tournament wins. That is going to be the only way to try and reach the Big Dance is by winning your individual conference.
Once you have established yourself, at the end of each season you get a new prestige level for the program. It can go up or down depending on your previous performance. Also at the end of the season, other schools that are down on their luck are going to try and recruit you. Here is where the game really begins to shine.
You can either choose to take a better job and start climbing the prestige ladder up towards the Top 25 or you can try and stay and build a mid-major program into a respectable school over time. Both are equally fun and pose their own challenges.
If you choose to stay and build a program in the bottom tier of schools scheduling and recruiting become all that more important. You need to start building a long term program by putting together favorable schedules and under the radar prospects that are going to be able to grind out conference wins for a chance to advance via your conference tourney at the end of the year.
If you decide to start climbing the ladder, you need to win splashy games with the team you have now in an attempt to catch the eye of the next best school. If you don’t perform well immediately or can’t secure that next job you have to make sure the team is built to win now so it can propel you upwards.
I did both approaches with my time in the game and both are different and each is extremely fun. In my game as Daytona Beach, I started tanking my nonconference schedule in order to wrack up easy wins and focus on conference play. When I was trying to climb the ladder as Terra Haute State, I loaded up my nonconference schedule with the bigs in the Top 25 in order to try and get a shocking upset to boost my name.
The game takes place in an unlicensed fictional universe but you can figure out which teams are supposed to be which pretty easily. There is also a mod that you can find right here at GMGames that allows you to import real-life names and logos into the game if you want to turn it into a more realistic simulation.
An Amazing Simulation
The most impressive thing about this game is the robust nature of the simulation itself. This game has everything you could want from an NCAAM management game. It has a fully dynamic Top 25 ranking system, conference rankings, fully realized conference tournaments, the full 64 team National Championship tournament, it has recruiting, statistic tracking, a customizable nonconference schedule, a simulated NBA draft of star players, dynamic news feed and it keeps track of the history of the world including records and Hall of Fame caliber players.
It is a fully realized simulation of a realistic, living world that is honestly stunning for a mobile app. Not only does it have every feature you could want in an NCAAM simulation but it runs like lightning. You can simulate a whole season in about ten minutes.
Day to day simulations do not hang, they don’t stutter or miss a beat. There are some computer programs that cannot say that about the smoothness of their simulation. Especially since this game simulates the full slate of 256 Division I level teams. In case you do run into performance issues, though I never did, there is an option to cut down the number of teams from 256 to 128.
Then there is the recruiting system, which allows you to recruit players every year from a pool of 800 of them. Recruiting can be daunting but taking a gamble on a high potential player from the bottom levels of the list or swinging for the fences at a recruit that is above your program’s weight gives you such a rush. This system is fully realized, taking place in three rounds of point-based recruitment, similar to what you see in a game from Wolverine Studios.
I got such a jolt when I managed to lure away an A- potential player just outside the top 100 from a big school due to my persistent recruitment. Unfortunately, he only stuck around for a year before departing for bigger and better things but it showed me that you could recruit above your weight class, although landing a big prospect was rare while in the lower leagues.
Campus Dynasty is the ultimate way to take your favorite kind of game with you in your pocket. It is not only a good game for mobile, but it is also a good game period. It has everything needed to sink its hooks in you. Soon you’ll be muttering “one more season” or “if I could just land this center, we’ll be ready for greatness”. It is a great experience.
The best part is, it does not pigeon hole you into play a certain way. It allows you to play the way you want to play. If you want to simulate the season game by game, tweaking your strategy for each individual opponent, checking box scores and stats as you go to try and squeeze the most out of your team you can do that.
Or, if you want to recruit your players, set a strategy for the year and let the season simulate in a few minutes before playing the postseason and see how your team does on its own, you can also do that. You can chew through seasons, build a world in a day or so with years of history or you can spend days simulating it out game by game. It is a game that really knows its audience and it shows.
Did you know we have a #campus-dynasty discord channel? Yup. Come chat.
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