Inaugural Season Walk-through
Setting up and running your own league may seem like a daunting task for the new COM. It's not pie but it's not difficult either. UHS takes a slightly different approach at setting up and managing your leagues, so we'll walk through what you should be doing and what you can expect.
Please note this guide assumes you have created an EMPTY league and are on Season 1 Off-Season.
What are cron jobs? Well... to put it simply, there are tasks the server will execute every minute. Since there is nothing to download to your computer, everything is handled centrally on the UHS website. These jobs execute tasks such as:
- AutoGM functionality
- Marking Trades Void when the Trade Deadline has passed
- Checking team rosters and lines for errors
- Loading or Creating SavePoints
- Simming Queued games
- Updating stats for games played in Live Mode
- among many many other things...
Most jobs run at the top of each minute, with the exception of the Live Mode stats update... that will run once every five minutes.
If you know you don't want some cron jobs to run, you can lock your league. Most league functionality will not run if the league is locked, with the exception of the SavePoint Load/Save job.
Skills Hidden by Default
UHS is set up to run in two "modes": Either Skills are Hidden or Shown. By default Skills are Hidden. Experience has taught me that I have more fun when I don't know the values of player skills... I must judge their skill by how they produce. That being said, don't let that stop you from running your league with Skills Shown. They are just two different methods of running a UHS league.
Deadlines are Automatically Set
When your league is created there are a few key dates that are automatically set for you. These dates are set relatively far in the future so you have some time to monkey around with UHS and get the hang of things. If we didn't set these dates, drafts would get started immediately, free agency would be open before you're sure you're ready, and so on.
These dates are automatically set for you:
- Entry Draft Start
- Free Agency Start
- Free Agency End
- Trade Deadline
Create your Pro, Farm, Junior teams
The first thing that any league needs is teams! There are some questions you should think about before creating the teams:
- How many Pro teams are you going to have?
- Are you going to have any AutoGM teams?
- Are your Pro teams going to have a true Farm System?
- Is your league going to have a Junior system?
Let's go through each question...
Pro teams: If you're going to run an NHL league, the answer is simply 30 teams. Most fantasy leagues don't get the luxury of having 30 GMs at the start, so you can create multiple accounts for an individual to control multiple teams or set some to AutoGM.
The Farm System: If you implement a true farm system, each pro team is assigned one farm team that will play real games. The GM will need to set the farm team's roster and lines just as they would with their Pro team. Don't worry though, you don't need to implement this if you don't want to. If there is no true Farm System implemented, the GM can still move players down to a generic "Farm Team"... at the end of the season, these players will be rerated accordingly, without having played any games.
The Junior System: You can go two ways about this... the first is to create Junior teams with Junior players and have games simmed just like a Pro league. In the Season 2 Entry Draft, GMs will select draft-eligible players from those Junior teams. If you are going this route, some care should be given to how many junior teams you want to run. A good rule of thumb is to have one Junior team for every 2 Pro teams. It is also dependant on the number of draft rounds as well... you want to make sure there are enough draft eligible players to be selected right up until the end of the Season 2 Entry Draft. The other option for Juniors is just to create draft eligible players manually when it's time for the Season 2 Entry Draft.
Now What??? Well... you should know the kind of teams you want, so now you go create them. You can create teams by going to Manage > Teams > Add.
Create League Structure & Assign Teams
Now that you have all your teams created, you need somewhere to put them. This is when you create your league structure. Do you have enough teams for two conferences, five divisions... six divisions? You are required to create the league structure for your Pro league, however, whether you need a league structure for your Farm or Junior teams is dependant on whether there are any actual teams.
A good rule of thumb to remember is that if you have a team created, there's got to be somewhere to put it. If you are going for a real farm and junior system, you'll need to create a league structure for them and assign the teams.
You can create your league structures by going to Settings > League Structure and selecting either Pro, Farm or Junior.
Set your Play-off Settings
You know how many teams, conferences and divisions you have in your Pro, Farm and Junior leagues... now you should head into the Settings > Play-off Settings page and select which teams will make the playoffs, whether division winners are re-seeded at the top and how many games will be in each series.
If you don't set this now, don't worry too much... you can change this at any time. If you have a non-standard way of doing your playoffs you can also manually set the series when the Play-Offs roll around.
You can group your teams by Division, Conference or League. You will also select the number of teams that will qualify for the grouping you've specified.
It is recommended to have Division Winners Ranked High if you've selected League or Conference grouping and to select Div Winners Not Ranked if you've selected Division grouping. Ultimately this is up to you. If you select Div Winners to be ranked high, you're telling UHS that all division winners should be re-seeded at the top regardless of regular season standings.
Finally, you'll select the series to be 1, 3, 5 or 7 games in length.
Important Dates to Think About
This is when you sit back, get out the calendar and start planning your league's dates.
The first date you need to think about is your Draft. Inaugural Drafts can possibly take a long time... it just depends on how many rounds it is and how many teams you have in your league. More importantly, when do you want to start? You will enter the date & time in this format in the Settings > Draft area: YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS
Once you have your starting date for the Draft, you can add maybe two days to that date as a good place to start with Free Agency. You can set your Free Agency Start Date now. You shouldn't need to worry about your Free Agency End Date or your Trade Deadline at this point.. that will get automatically set later on.
Your league now knows when the Draft will be and knows when Free Agency will start. How many days do you want to give teams to play around with Free Agency and finish up filling out the rest of their roster? Typically four days is a good choice. It will let teams have time to make alternate picks should they lose out on their initial free agent bids. Your Pre-Season start date will be your Free Agency Start + 4 days (in this example).
Before moving on, make sure you've set your Draft Date and Free Agency Start Date. You should also set the Free Agency END Date to sometime in the far future just so you don't get any errors... it doesn't matter what the date is as it'll get set once you make your Regular Season schedule.
Create the Pre-Season Schedule
You should have your Pre-Season start date handy from the previous step. This is the date you're going to use to start ALL Pre-Season schedules regardless of it being Pro, Farm or Junior.
How many games do you want it to be? Typically a pre-season schedule should be really short in comparison to the length of the regular season. The shorter you have your pre-season the better... even if you make a schedule where you aren't taking on divisional rivals... maybe your pre-season schedule is shorter if you take on other-division rivals? Whatever the case may be... make it as short as possible.
Go ahead and create a pre-season schedule, using the same Start Date for each level (Pro, Farm, Junior) that you are creating.
It is IMPORTANT to keep an eye on the last date for each pre-season schedule. Take the latest date from each of the Pro, Farm and Junior Pre-Season schedules and write that down. It's important as we'll need that for the Regular Season start date calculation.
For example: The Pre-Season ends on June 24 (Pro), June 23 (Farm), June 25 (Junior). The latest date we'll use for the end of the Pre-Season is the Junior date: June 25.
Create the Regular Season Schedule
You've created your Pre-Season Schedule and you have your Pre-Season End Date. You should add a day to that to give GMs one last chance at making adjustments before the regular season begins. The Regular Season will start the next day so (using our example) the pre-season ended on June 25... our Regular Season is going to start on June 27.
Go ahead and think about how many games you want your teams to be playing. There are some purists that want a full 82-game NHL-type schedule and others that want to get through seasons quickly. Do you want to play games every day? Playing games every day has some pros and cons.
If you play games every day then a schedule with more games is feasible.. you'll be pounding through 6-7 games every week... it'll take you about 14 weeks to play the regular season. Playing games every day also runs the risk of burn-out with the COM and the GMs.
On the other hand, if you're playing games only 4 times a week (like TJHL), an 82-game schedule isn't very feasible: you'll be at it for 24 weeks... SIX MONTHS. Currently the TJHL runs through a 50-game regular season playing 4 games a week and takes us about 13 weeks... so just over 3 months to get through the regular season. Remember... you have playoffs too.
When you're settled on what your regular season structure will be, create the regular season schedules for all levels: Pro, Farm and Junior.
When you create the Regular Season schedule for your Pro level the Trade Deadline and the Free Agency End Date will be automatically set to the 75% Game Day mark of the season. If you don't like that date, you can go into the settings and change it.
Create Players for the Inaugural Draft
You have your teams created; you have your league structure set up; you have your dates written down; your pre-season and regular season schedules have been created.
At this point, you really only need to create players to be drafted / selected in your Draft. For every round your Inaugural Draft is going to be you should create 1.5 players per team. So if you have a default 25-round draft and you have 10 teams drafting, you should create 375 players (let's round that up to 400 players).
Now... does your league have a real farm system in place? If so, does the length of your Inaugural Draft take that into account? If you have just a Pro team with a fake farm team 25-rounds will be fine. If you have a real farm system in place, it's okay to still only have a 25-round draft but we would still need to create an additional 400 players (in our example) so that the teams can fill out their farm rosters as needed via free agency.
If your Draft is something like 50 rounds to help account drafting for both Pro and Farm teams then you won't need to create additional players... it'll be accounted for in the original calculation: 50 rounds with 10 teams drafting multiplied by 1.5 players per round = 750 players (round up to 800).
Create Coaches for your League
You technically don't need to do this step. If you don't want coaches in your league, you don't have to create them and can skip this step entirely.
If you are going to create coaches, you'll typically want to randomly generate up to 5 coaches per team in your Pro league. 10 teams in the league? Generate 50 coaches.
Please keep in mind that teams will not be able to sign these coaches until Free Agency begins.
Create Accounts for the GMs in your League
At this point you are pretty much set up and ready to go. You just need to create accounts for your GMs and communicate the dates for your Draft. You might want to give them a couple of days before the draft starts so they can do a little research into who they want to select.
Please note, if all of your teams are Auto-GM'd, creating a GM account for the team will be meaningless. The user will not be able to access anything for a Auto-GM'd team.
Conduct the Inugural Draft
The time is nigh! Conduct your draft starting on the day you planned for. GMs can log into UHS and make their selections directly or you can make their selections on their behalf.
Free Agency Starts
A few days later, free agency is going to start. There is not much to do here as free agency opens up automatically once the date & time you set in the Free Agency Start Date has arrived. Teams will also automatically have access to start placing bids players that went undrafted as well as trying to sign a coach for their team.
Pre-Season is here!
Once the date for the pre-season arrives, all you really need to do is go to Tools > Advance Season. There will be a check-list of last minute items you need to make sure you're good with before you advance from the Off-Season to the Pre-Season.
Once you're in the pre-season, GMs should already have their Game Rosters set for both Pro and Farm. All you need to do is head to Play Games and sim the games for the day. You can sim each game individually or sim a bunch of them at once.
There are several simming modes to consider when simming your games:
1 . Demo Mode: The game is simmed and the results are shown to you on the screen. No scores or stats are saved at all. It's used mainly to have a sneak-peek at what the game outcome could be.
2. Regular Mode: The game is simmed and the scores and stats are saved immediately. The results are also available immediately to your GMs. Once the game is simmed, you're done!
3. Live Mode: You'll enter a date & time that you want the game to start at. When you hit the little video camera button, the game actually does sim right then and there, however, the results are stored in temporary tables. The point of this mode is that at the date/time you entered your GMs can watch the game unfold "live". The results will be available an hour after the games start.
Regular Season is here!
So the pre-season is over, you gave the GMs an extra day to get their team sorted out, now it's time for the games that really matter. You'll go to Tools > Advance Season and (after reviewing the checklist) change over to the Regular Season. The types of game modes do not change from the Pre-Season ones... pick your game mode and sim your way to the end of the Regular Season.
You'll probably notice that there are a few game days here and there that have way less games in them than most regular game days. These short game days would typically be found at the end of the season but we think it's more exciting to have the regular season end with a full slate of games than a week of game days where only a few teams are playing. The solution to this was to randomly move those short game days somewhere else in the season.
Regular Season End
Okay... the Regular Season is over. At this point you need to take a look at the Standings and see which teams would have qualified for the playoffs. The best way to do this is just go to Stats Central and record the teams and points they have. You'll see why in the next section.
It's probably a good idea to give GMs a day off to get their teams in order before the playoffs start just like we do between the Pre-Season and Regular Season.
We've already pointed you at the Settings > Play-off Settings page... if you've selected a playoff format other than Manual, then you don't really need to worry about the info for "Manual Play-Off Series" that follows. You will still go to the Manage > Schedule - Playoffs page... once there you will find all your playoff series set up and waiting... all you need to do is enter the first day for your games and click "Create Games".
If you are manually setting up your playoff series, the following applies to you:
You will go to Manage > Schedule - Playoffs and enter the playoff series management page. In here you will select the Series Type, the Home-Ice Advantage team, their Opponents and the length of the series. The team selection and series lengths are all pretty much straight forward so instead we'll focus on the various Series Types we have.
Preliminary - Use this series type when your league is going to have 4 or more rounds. Don't worry about division finals or anything similar, we are more trying to focus on the overall playoff format for each level (Pro, Farm, Junior).
Quarter-Final - Use this series type when your league is going to have only 3 rounds or when there are only two more rounds of playoff hockey after this series. Another way to think about it is to use this only when there are 8 teams left (4 teams left is Semi-Finals, 2 teams left is the Final).
Semi-Finals - Use this series type when your league is going to have only 2 rounds or when there is only one more round of playoff hockey after this series (the Cup).
Junior Championship - Use this series type only when you are creating the final series for the Junior League.
Farm Championship - Use this series type only when you are creating the final series for the Farm League.
Cup Championship - Use this series type only when you are creating the final series for the Pro League. This is very important as the team that wins the Cup will have all their players' Cup Wins incremented by one.
Now that we've gone over the series types, make your selections and click Add Series. Add all the series that you need for the current round only. As you add each series you'll see them appear in the list below. If you've made a mistake with a series, you can delete it now. It is important that you create all the series you need for this round before you proceed.. that means all the Pro playoff series, Farm playoff series and Junior playoff series.
Once you're done creating all playoff series, you'll be able to enter the start date and click the Create Playoff Games button. At this point UHS assumes that playoff games are going to be played every day regardless of how the regular season was conducted.
Once all the games are created, you can now go and sim those games, once a day (or even more if your GMs are okay with it).
At the completion of each playoff round, you'll go back into the Playoff Series Management page and set up the series for the next round. You will continue doing this until you've completed playing the Championship series for each level (Pro, Farm, Junior).
End of Season Awards and Money
At this point, what is there left to do? Not a whole lot except for awards and money. If you are giving out player awards, you should be doing so before the end of the season so that it shows up they won that particular award for the currently running season.
You can create awards in the Settings > Awards section. You can assign awards to players using League > Assign Award.
We also recommend you hand out your season's monetary rewards as well just to make the book-keeping look nicer. If you get money cause you won the Cup in Season 1, you'd probably want the money to be showing up in the ledger for Season 1 and not Season 2. In the long run it really doesn't matter but for some folks with OCD (like me) just do it.
So... really... that's it. You're done a season. The only thing really left to do is use the Tools > Advance Season page to move your league from Season 1 Playoffs to Season 2 Off-Season.
When you initiate this move, you'll see a message telling you the process is going to take a bit longer since UHS will process retirements, player rerates and so on. Your league will be locked so that GMs cannot come in and change things while the processes are going on as that may make a mess of things. A SavePoint will be automatically created for you so that you can revert back to the end of Season 1 Playoffs in case you're not happy with what happened during the season change or you forgot something.
Once the SavePoint is created your league will be unlocked and GMs will be able to go about their business. It typically takes around 5 minutes or so for this kind of season change to fully complete.
Now that you're in Season 2 Off-Season, well... you should have a pretty good handle of things... just go back to the top and repeat the processes of setting Draft Dates, Free Agency Dates and so on.