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team shape - in english, please!


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So, after countless years of playing cm/fm, with better or worse results - i still have no idea how to adapt the shape setting to the team. After doing lots of reading, i can finally say that i do understand 90% of tactical aspects of the game, but at the same time having only a thoretical idea what shape setting actually does seems to ruin my concept at times - even if i just leave it on flexible, just to stay on the safe side.

I know it affects:

- creative freedom and tendency to deviate from the strategy

- movement between the lines

- taking on a teammates job, if he rushes to some other area of the field

Cool. But i still have no idea how to practically use that thing. For instance: my team is well suited to the direct style and my best asset is a quick winger. I try to keep play direct, when possible, and to not build triangles between players. But then, my LB is a sole wingback, as we do not use second player on the left wing (the formation is assymetrical). SO i need my wing back to move out of d-line on regular basis - that would point to go with the 'fluid' shape. BUT, at the same time, my team does not consist of brilliant individuals. I wouldn't like to give them too much say, given their poor mental stats. so... structured? BUT i need the movement between the lines. DO I really?! I set the team to play a direct style. Do i really need those guys dropping and exploring pockets? Flexible then? Aargh, so confusing.

What rules of thumb do you use, if any? How do you come up with the right shale setting for your team?

PS: Please don't post links to 'Lines and Diamonds' by Cleon. It's a video game, for crying out loud. It's a quality read, but at the same time way overintellectualized for my taste.

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I think a lot of people have qualms with the current shape system. It's very poorly explained and you're right about the whole knock on effect of it. You can use it to make your players more compact between the lines, but in turn you HAVE to deal with more creative freedom.. What's all that about?

In my current system (which I want to write about soon), I try and start with a balanced flexible setting. If we are playing a game in which we should win, I change to fluid to give us that extra creative freedom. Also if we are either losing or drawing mid way through the second half, then I'll switch it to fluid.

For example we were playing Bayern, 1-0 down at half time. The only change I made at half time was change to fluid, and it worked brilliantly and we worked 2-1 with some very nice football.

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You're over thinking it.

Forget all this movement between the lines stuff. Focus on creative freedom and being compact, much simpler.

If you want your left back moving out of the d-line on a regular basis, just give him the role, duty and (optionally) the PPM to allow him to do so.

And if overall you want your team playing with greater creative freedom and less space between players, go with something more Fluid. Or if you want the opposite, something more Structured. The FAQs sticky mentions this.

Don't forget there are TIs that will also affect these things. More expressive/disciplined for creative freedom; Shorter Passing / Retain Possession / Width / Def Line for space. PIs and PPMs also play a part if you want to specifically target certain individuals with things like creative freedom.

And please mind the language, even if you are abbreviating it :).

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Cool. But i still have no idea how to practically use that thing. For instance: my team is well suited to the direct style and my best asset is a quick winger. I try to keep play direct, when possible, and to not build triangles between players. But then, my LB is a sole wingback, as we do not use second player on the left wing (the formation is assymetrical). SO i need my wing back to move out of d-line on regular basis - that would point to go with the 'fluid' shape. BUT, at the same time, my team does not consist of brilliant individuals. I wouldn't like to give them too much say, given their poor mental stats. so... structured? BUT i need the movement between the lines. DO I really?! I set the team to play a direct style. Do i really need those guys dropping and exploring pockets? Flexible then? Aargh, so confusing.

The wingback moving up doesn't require a fluid shape at all. A wingback on attack duty in a structured system will primarily focus on his attacking tasks and probably move up better than that same attacking wingback when using a more fluid shape. As I mention another time later in this post the shape doesn't create movement between the lines but space between the lines. Structured is more space and fluid is less space, the movement is decided by the roles and duties and often a structured shape allows for more movement as there is more vertical space to move through and deeper players with an attack duty will focus more on their attacking tasks and have a more attacking mentality.

I think with the direct and winger focused playstyle you want to achieve a more structured shape makes a lot of sense and it was the small misunderstanding about shape "allowing" player movement that threw you for a loop while the rest of your thinking was correct. Is that right or do you want further explanation?

I think a lot of people have qualms with the current shape system. It's very poorly explained and you're right about the whole knock on effect of it. You can use it to make your players more compact between the lines, but in turn you HAVE to deal with more creative freedom.. What's all that about?

I think it makes a fair bit of sense. A structured system means players focus on their specific tasks. The increased space between the lines is because attackers position themselves higher up the pitch as they focus on attacking and defenders stay deeper as they focus on defending. A fluid system automatically implies creative freedom as players are told to get involved in more phases of play which reduces the focus on a specific task and lets a player decide what to do in the moment to contribute to the phase of play. The compactness follows from the creative freedom to contribute to all phases of play and the more spread out shape follows from the discipline to focus on a specific task.

I can see how sometimes you want to play compact and as a team without giving your players the encouragement to try the spectacular and unexpected but you have to take into account that when you let every player contribute to every phase of play that players get into positions they otherwise wouldn't be in which in itself encourages players to try the unexpected as the play itself is often unexpected (midfielders covering in defensive positions, defenders winning the ball higher up the pitch and finding themselves in attacking positions etc.).

Also in a more structured system you usually want to encourage specific players to try and do the unexpected by assigning them roles with a lot of creative freedom (usually the playmaker) instead of telling the whole team to be creative. In a very fluid system you usually want the whole team to contribute in trying to make something happen so more overall creative freedom makes sense. You can still play a compact and teamwork oriented very fluid system without encouraging all the backheels and hollywood passes by telling them to be more disciplined if you want through the team instruction.

Movement between the lines

Shape doesn't create movement between the lines but space between the lines as I talked about above. The movement comes from the roles and duties you assign along with their instructions.

HaroldHammond, accordingly, if you play a weak team or you do need to keep a clean sheet, then you move to the Structured shape, don't you?

I personally often defend with a more fluid shape in an attempt to get more players involved in the defensive phase. With a defensive mentality and very fluid shape the whole team has a defensive mentality, with a defensive mentality and very structured shape attackers are still somewhat attacking. One is better in terms of getting players behind the ball and the other is better for leaving players higher up the pitch to counter. Obviously the formation and roles/duties you assign has a very large effect on how this plays out in practice but I personally don't have a rule of attacking with a more fluid shape or defending with a more structured shape. It's more about how I want my team to play. Defending but trying to keep players up the pitch to counter usually means a more structured shape for me. Defending in an attempt to hold on for dear life with the whole team behind the ball for me means a more fluid shape with the right formation and roles/duties to allow them to get back properly (this is also a situation where you might want to reduce overall creative freedom).

btw. I personally don't think the shape system is too complicated. I just think it can be hard to get right at times

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What rules of thumb do you use, if any? How do you come up with the right shale setting for your team?

(The desired movement you want from your fullback is adjustable by PIs and PPMs, not so much the shape.)

I use more attacking roles from my forward players when playing structured. The opposite when using a fluid shape.

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You requested not to post links to 'Lines and Diamonds' by Cleon, so I haven't, but his explanation is the best out there:

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It really sounds to me like you already know what the differences are. To use them practically, I'd suggest a bit of trial and error in pre-season. That's what it's for, right? Watch the highlights on comprehensive, or full matches, and decide what seems best. I'd encourage playing teams of a good standard as walking over teams 7-0 you will learn very little. This is what I've done with my team which was set up as very fluid, with a high d-line and closing down more. I also had the 'Be More Expressive' TI.

Result? The team beaten by any team of similar or higher rating. Reason? I believe the players didn't possess the necessary workrate, teamwork and decision attributes to play successfully with this team shape. I narrowly avoided being relegated playing as Bologna in Serie A. Solution? Team shape is now fluid and I no longer employ the 'Be More Expressive' TI as standard. I will use this TI if I'm in need of a goal later in a game and it has worked. I'm now half way through my third season and I'm 3rd in Serie A.

To encourage your better players to be more adventurous without damaging the overall integrity of your team's shape, I'd use PI's as you see fit. Conversely, I would also use PI's on your lesser players too, if you think necessary.

I've read a lot of the guides on this forum and I take from some and not from others. I like some and I don't like some. I agree with some and I disagree with others. But overall, I appreciate the time and effort people have freely given to help others improve, understand and to have fun playing the game.

After all, it's only a game.

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The wingback moving up doesn't require a fluid shape at all. A wingback on attack duty in a structured system will primarily focus on his attacking tasks and probably move up better than that same attacking wingback when using a more fluid shape. As I mention another time later in this post the shape doesn't create movement between the lines but space between the lines. Structured is more space and fluid is less space, the movement is decided by the roles and duties and often a structured shape allows for more movement as there is more vertical space to move through and deeper players with an attack duty will focus more on their attacking tasks and have a more attacking mentality.

I think with the direct and winger focused playstyle you want to achieve a more structured shape makes a lot of sense and it was the small misunderstanding about shape "allowing" player movement that threw you for a loop while the rest of your thinking was correct. Is that right or do you want further explanation?

I think it makes a fair bit of sense. A structured system means players focus on their specific tasks. The increased space between the lines is because attackers position themselves higher up the pitch as they focus on attacking and defenders stay deeper as they focus on defending. A fluid system automatically implies creative freedom as players are told to get involved in more phases of play which reduces the focus on a specific task and lets a player decide what to do in the moment to contribute to the phase of play. The compactness follows from the creative freedom to contribute to all phases of play and the more spread out shape follows from the discipline to focus on a specific task.

I can see how sometimes you want to play compact and as a team without giving your players the encouragement to try the spectacular and unexpected but you have to take into account that when you let every player contribute to every phase of play that players get into positions they otherwise wouldn't be in which in itself encourages players to try the unexpected as the play itself is often unexpected (midfielders covering in defensive positions, defenders winning the ball higher up the pitch and finding themselves in attacking positions etc.).

Also in a more structured system you usually want to encourage specific players to try and do the unexpected by assigning them roles with a lot of creative freedom (usually the playmaker) instead of telling the whole team to be creative. In a very fluid system you usually want the whole team to contribute in trying to make something happen so more overall creative freedom makes sense. You can still play a compact and teamwork oriented very fluid system without encouraging all the backheels and hollywood passes by telling them to be more disciplined if you want through the team instruction.

Shape doesn't create movement between the lines but space between the lines as I talked about above. The movement comes from the roles and duties you assign along with their instructions.

I personally often defend with a more fluid shape in an attempt to get more players involved in the defensive phase. With a defensive mentality and very fluid shape the whole team has a defensive mentality, with a defensive mentality and very structured shape attackers are still somewhat attacking. One is better in terms of getting players behind the ball and the other is better for leaving players higher up the pitch to counter. Obviously the formation and roles/duties you assign has a very large effect on how this plays out in practice but I personally don't have a rule of attacking with a more fluid shape or defending with a more structured shape. It's more about how I want my team to play. Defending but trying to keep players up the pitch to counter usually means a more structured shape for me. Defending in an attempt to hold on for dear life with the whole team behind the ball for me means a more fluid shape with the right formation and roles/duties to allow them to get back properly (this is also a situation where you might want to reduce overall creative freedom).

btw. I personally don't think the shape system is too complicated. I just think it can be hard to get right at times

Would you say in a 4231 formation with Control Structured it would be advisable to give your playmaker a role and duty to that encourages creativity. When playing with Arsenal Ozil is usually the AMC and he is flanked by a Inside Forward Support and Winger Support and the Forward is either Complete Forward Support or Advance Forward Attack. I then usually put one of my full backs are all in Support and CMs are set to Defend and Support roles.

This is all done in a Control Mentality. I am thinking of changing to Standard because Control is high risk. However Cleon did manage to get a Control + Highly structured set up to work in a possession thread. He did use a lot of support duties so maybe that is the best way to play with a high risk mentality.

What are your thoughts on Contriol + Structured

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I've read a lot of the guides on this forum and I take from some and not from others. I like some and I don't like some. I agree with some and I disagree with others. But overall, I appreciate the time and effort people have freely given to help others improve, understand and to have fun playing the game.

After all, it's only a game.

My point exactly. I wasn't trying to be disrespectful at any moment. As I said, I admire Cleon's insight, passion and, mostly, his dedication to help other people. That's absolutely admirable. It's not his fault I find his advice overcomplicated and coming across more like a mumbo-jumbo :) At the same time I do understand, that the engine is too sophisticated for oversimplified approach, like: if X happens, do Y. I really do; what I'm trying to achieve here is to find the sweet spot. What's more funny - or maybe rather unfunny - is that I play all the matches in the full mode and I still have no idea what the shape does to the team - practically, that is. I got the theory down, doesn't help.

I know I got the idea, how the shape system works. The problem is I have no idea how to make it work practically. OK, so whether my wing back pushes up the field or not - it's up to the role and PI. Yes, I know that.

OK, let's have a go at Mentality=risk and Shape=creativity approach. Why would you defend deep (Defensive) with high creativity setting (Very fluid) then? New questions just keep coming and coming to my head:

a) if Shape=creativity, then how does it work with 'Be more expressive' shout? What's more drastic from Flexible shape point of view: switching Shape from Flexible to Fluid or adding the 'Be more expressive' shout?

b) if Shape=creativity, and more creativity=more deviation from the tactics and roles, then it's attributes I should loook at. So I check Decisions, Anticipation, Teamwork, Vision, Composure and whatnot. Should I compare them with the opponent's team attributes? Or with a league standard? FI if my CM's have in average around 14 Decisions and 13 Anticipation, then it's: a)not bad, so Fluid might work; b)not bad, but the team we're playing has higher stats, so Structured is better; c)not bad, but here in Lige 1 most of the teams have slightly better stats, to I should stick with Flexible?

Thank you for all your posts!

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OK, let's have a go at Mentality=risk and Shape=creativity approach. Why would you defend deep (Defensive) with high creativity setting (Very fluid) then? New questions just keep coming and coming to my head:

a) if Shape=creativity, then how does it work with 'Be more expressive' shout? What's more drastic from Flexible shape point of view: switching Shape from Flexible to Fluid or adding the 'Be more expressive' shout?

b) if Shape=creativity, and more creativity=more deviation from the tactics and roles, then it's attributes I should loook at. So I check Decisions, Anticipation, Teamwork, Vision, Composure and whatnot. Should I compare them with the opponent's team attributes? Or with a league standard? FI if my CM's have in average around 14 Decisions and 13 Anticipation, then it's: a)not bad, so Fluid might work; b)not bad, but the team we're playing has higher stats, so Structured is better; c)not bad, but here in Lige 1 most of the teams have slightly better stats, to I should stick with Flexible?

Thank you for all your posts!

You might use a deep defensive because your team is slow, or less talented, or maybe just because you like that style, but might want high creativity to be in use when you have the ball. So much in the match engine is customizable for all types of different situations and approaches.

A) If you used a fluid shape and the be more expressive, you would up the creative freedom across the team to about the max it could go. On flexible, creative freedom equates to a middle setting. Players will exercise it sometimes- you can't get more specific than that, because only the devs know the exact numbers that get plugged into the engine. Now in terms of whether to select a more fluid shape or just add be more expressive, it depends on what you want because the shape change affects more than just creative freedom, right? You are also altering the mentality of your team to create a more compact or more spread out formation. So if all you are after is more creative freedom, you'd use the shout.

B) Remember, shape is about more than creativity, so don't reduce it solely to that. For the attributes, most all those attributes are critical whichever shape you use- but obviously better in those mental things (and I would include flair also) helps for better creativity. To some extent, though, it is about how you want to play. Do you want your defenders to be more involved, your midfielders etc? More fluid shapes bring your player mentalities close together so they operate a)more compactly and b) become more similar to one another in taking risks, especially in the area of attacking positioning.

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I know that in FM's case the answer 'it depends' is mostly the most accurate one, but to be honest, every answer I receive makes the concept for me even more blurry. Shape: an important setting, consisting of - excluding the extremes - only three options, all of them very vaguely described, affecting so much and depending on so much. A huge turn off for me.

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I know that in FM's case the answer 'it depends' is mostly the most accurate one, but to be honest, every answer I receive makes the concept for me even more blurry. Shape: an important setting, consisting of - excluding the extremes - only three options, all of them very vaguely described, affecting so much and depending on so much. A huge turn off for me.

It really is simple- what makes it complicated for some, and maybe for you(?)- is that there are not exact numbers that anyone outside of the programmers can give. I can't tell you that upping a mentality by selecting control over standard means that wingers will play 3.5 yards further up the pitch. There just isn't that level of info available.

That said, here is shape. In flexible, this is your neutral setting, where player mentalities are set exactly as they are with the strategy, role and duty selected, and creative freedom is also in a neutral position. So, think of flexible as the 'vanilla' where it has no impact on your tactic- everything is determined by the roles, duties, strategy you select.

When you move to the structured side, you are increasing the gap between the mentalities of your offensive players and defensive players- attacking players get a bit higher mentality, defensive players get a bit lower. This results in the formation being a little more spread out both vertically and horizontally to create clear distinction between attackers and defenders. Creative freedom is also reduced. From structured to very structured, these changes are more pronounced.

When you move the fluid side, the effect is reversed.

As for when you should use either one, all anyone can say is "it depends" because only you are watching your matches and seeing what is going on. Any FM match is inserting a ton of variables into the mix that preclude any hard and fast rules for when you should use what. Just don't overthink it. When I want to decide on a shape to use, and I don't have a particular style of play in mind, I leave it on flexible and watch a match or two. If I have my roles and duties well-balanced, then I can look at shape. Do I want my defenders and attackers playing more as a unit? Am I seeing to much separation between them? Would I like my defenders to be a bit more conservative? Those are the things that shape affects. Remember that the creative freedom thing, while a part of shape, can be managed by a team or player instruction, so you can leave that off the table initially.

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Would you say in a 4231 formation with Control Structured it would be advisable to give your playmaker a role and duty to that encourages creativity. When playing with Arsenal Ozil is usually the AMC and he is flanked by a Inside Forward Support and Winger Support and the Forward is either Complete Forward Support or Advance Forward Attack. I then usually put one of my full backs are all in Support and CMs are set to Defend and Support roles.

If you are looking for him to make something happen than yes I absolutely would. An Advanced Playmaker role would be an obvious choice here but depending on how you want to play you can consider some other more specialized options like a trequartista.

What are your thoughts on Contriol + Structured

I think it can work really well to break down teams using one or a couple of very specific routes while controlling the match. It keeps your defensive players conservative and allows a fair bit of space in between the lines for more specialized roles to work with. In your example the increased space between the most forward attacking player and the further back defending and supporting players can give Ozil more space to work with and give him the chance to open up defensive teams. I'd personally always pick at least one attacking role that is trying to get in behind the defensive line to open up the vertical space for Ozil. If the inside forward, winger and complete forward are all coming deep in support than who is Ozil going to play a throughball to and what space is he going to be in? It might even make sense to have all three on an attack duty but if you do that you might become a bit one dimensional and you will have to watch games to make sure Ozil actually gets on the ball and isn't getting taken out of the game by a DM. Something like Giroud (CF/AF attack), Walcott (winger attack) Sanchez (Inside forward support) and Ozil (AP/Treq support/attack) sounds like a balanced and varied offense that would suit a structured shape.

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OK, more I think about it, more I doubt my Bachelor's Degree :) Below I have pointed out approaches noted down from your posts and my thoughts as well:

a) approach A: shape=creative freedom

More fluid you get, more cretivity you give out to your players. More structured - less freedom.

Logical conclusion: having creative and good mentally players, it might be beneficial to trust their opinion at times. It might also make sense to choose more fluid shape when encountering weaker teams.

What feels wrong: when do I know if my players are good enough to trust them with decisions? Mental ats > 15? Mental at's better than opponents?

b) approach B: shape=space

More fluid you get, less space between the lines. More structured - more space.

Logical conclusion: shorter styles would benefit from fluid, and more direct from structured shape. In my team, attributewise and positionwise it makes most sense to play 3-man midfield defensive triangle. As I elect to play a direct football, this triangle, more useful in posession-based systems, doesn't seem necessary. Therefore I might go 'structured' with my team shape, to keep DM and CM's further apart.

What feels wrong: actually, in this case, nothing. But somehow I feel, that way of thinking is too straightforward and I'm wrong :)

c) approach C: shape=creative freedom & space

GOD. Fatal error, bzzt, restart. So, basically: both above approaches are true.

What feels wrong: fatal error, processor overload.

d) approach D: shape=mentality management

If Mentality is the risk meter, Shape is the risk management. With Defensive mentality I decide to play it very safe. Be selecting Structured, eveyrone sticks to their jobs, so while staying in Defensive mentality, strikers and midfielders still take some risks. If I go Defensive/Fluid, then everyone in the team refrain from risky attempts. Therefore, Defensive/Fluid turns out more defensive that Defensive/Structured.

If choose Control mentality, I'm taking more risks for the sake of the result. When adding Structured shape, I'm not going all-out, my defenders are still low-risk figures. If I go Fluid, everyone take more risks. Therefore, Control/Fluid is more offensive than Control/Structured.

What feels wrong: if creative freedom is really involved, than how is Defensive/Fluid supposed to be more defensive than Defensive/Structured?!

e) approach D: shape=mental war

More fluid system gives more decision making to your players, which might help, if they are better at decision making than opposition.

Logical conclusion: if you consider your team better in terms of key mental attributes (Dec, Vis, Ant, Tea, Com), go more fluid. If opposite - go structured. If tightly contested - stay flexible.

What feels wrong: SI Sports would never go down that easy. It just has to be more complicated.

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a) Yes, shape = creative freedom. When do you know if your players are good enough or if the opposition is poor enough? You don't. You could ask a similar question about any tactical setting before every game and you'd end up hardly ever playing a match. If you are willing, as Manager, to let your players deviate a little from your chosen strategy and their defined roles/duties, then choose Fluid. If you want to constrain players a little from their roles, choose Structured. If you want them to just follow instructions, Flexible.

How do you know when to be willing one way or the other? You don't. It's experimentation and experience based on the style of football you want to achieve. There is no right or wrong answer. No absolute.

b) Yes, shape = space. I understand the logical conclusion: more fluid equates to less space therefore players pass shorter. But you forget the creative freedom element. Players will try more risky passes - more through balls and/or long passes. As I mentioned above, there are other ways of compressing space if you want a short passing game without the risk element. If you take a look at Cleon's possession thread, he uses a Structured system, which would be illogical by your definition. But adding in shouts such as Shorter Passing or Retain Possession will bring players closer together again. I know I'm adding in more settings which may be even more confusing, but you can't ignore one element to satisfy a "logical" conclusion here.

c) See a) + b).

d) No. Sure mentality = risk, but why would midfielders and attackers take more risk if you tell them to play Structured? With that team shape, they'll deviate even less from their assigned roles & duties. Further, Mentality not only affects obvious team settings, which can be seen when you change mentality in the Team Instructions screen, it also affects individual player mentality. So, for example, a Fullback (support) will be more attack minded if you select the Control mentality than if you pick the Counter mentality - he'll be more willing to venture forward.

e) You want more complicated than examining each player in each new opponent you come across to compare their mental attributes to your own players to help determine which Team Shape setting you should use? :eek: Build your own style of play and worry about changing settings during matches only if you think there is a need to.

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herne79, thank you so much for your time and effort to answer all my thoughts. I massively appreciate it.

In a way you're right: I'm trying to force understanding of the shape engine facts into my manner of thinking, but the only reason I do that is that I find the concept very unclear in terms of the way it's explained in-game. Additionally, people who seem to understand it have very hard time explaining it to other people :) If I was one of very few, who can't get their head around a game feature, then I'd stick with the concept that I'm just too slow. However, lots of gamers seem to have this problem. Given this is 5th? 6th? game edition including the feature, whatever it's called: shape, fluidity, philosophy - this means that the game does not do any decent job explaining the concept, again and again.

All the aswers I have received here help me big time. Maybe it'll tick with time. Shape, team talks, press conferences and player complaints are the parts of modern FM I truly hate :) which has led me to switching to FM Touch recently.

PS. Just saying: to be honest, my odd idea about setting shape differently in regard to every single opponent seems way less complicated that what it actually appears to be. :)

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The simple way I think of team shape is like this:

Do I want all my attack duty players to be as risky as each other?  That's what Very Fluid will do. 

Do I want my deeper players on attack duty to take fewer risks than the more advanced players?  That's what Very Structured will do.  Why not just set the player to Defend or Support duty? Because duty has a massive effect on mentality compared to team shape but also modifies the instructions.

 

It's assumed you want the same balance with creative freedom, deeper roles being more cautious and sticking to there roles or being more adventurous and creative.  You can always modify this by Be More Expressive / Be More Disciplined team instructions.

 

The part of me that likes to work out the details though has an advantage because  I played a lot when we just had the sliders and saw during the transition what the wizard translated it to on the scales. Now they changed how roles affect mentality so its impossible to get exact numbers and I can't remember what the numbers were for flexible (that used the same roles modifying mentality system), but for example on a scale of 1-20 with Attack duty might be +4 and defend might be -4:

1) You play Standard and Very Fluid, every player on support will be a 10.    FB-A would be 14/20 mentality the same as an AF-A.

2) You play Standard and Very Structured. your midfielders on support will be 10. Your DM strata Support duty might be 8.  Your defense strata support duty might be 6.  Your AM strata support duty might be 12 and your ST strata support duty might be 14.  Now that FB-A will be 10/20 mentality whilst the AF-A will be 18/20.  He's going to take less risks, less likely to leave his opponent unmarked to make a forward run (as he's instructed to try), if he thinks its worth the risk (such as having adequate cover) then he'll do it.

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All I can add is to first create an idea of what you want on a piece of paper and then watch your team play standard / flexible. Then adjust the shape for the next game and take note of the difference in the overall way your team plays. After doing this for a dozen or so games you will have a far better understanding of what is happening rather than trying to attach a theory to your tactic and your team.

Watching full games in 2D and experimenting is simply the best way to see how something works.  

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There was a post called "Tricking the wizard" that was really good and gave me insight of how the mentality and shape presets worked. Now I can't find it anymore in these forums. The essence was that there is still the same 1-20 sliders working behind the UI and that shape modifies the mentality spread. The more fluid the more narrow spread and vice versa. 

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44 minutes ago, Tyballs said:

There was a post called "Tricking the wizard" that was really good and gave me insight of how the mentality and shape presets worked. Now I can't find it anymore in these forums. The essence was that there is still the same 1-20 sliders working behind the UI and that shape modifies the mentality spread. The more fluid the more narrow spread and vice versa. 

Once the new forum has finished updating and indexing you should be able to find it again.  I quick Google search shows it's still there, just not visible yet.

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16 hours ago, Novatheorem said:

I've followed the thread this far and don't get it either. I don't think OP is the only one thinking he's slow. 

 

7 hours ago, Tyballs said:

The essence was that there is still the same 1-20 sliders working behind the UI and that shape modifies the mentality spread. The more fluid the more narrow spread and vice versa. 

 

This is what I was saying back at the beginning, and which Rashidi, Hearne, Summat etc. have also said in here. When the mentality spread gets closer or further apart the team plays closer and further apart. Let me try a different example- these numbers are just made up to illustrate. To keep things in line with the old slider system, we assume there is a spread of 20 points. At 1, this is the least risky mentality. This player will stay deep and do very little or nothing going forward, and will not involve himself in buildup or attacking play. at 20 mentality, this guy is hanging high up in his strata, always looking to push forward, take chances to get the ball into the net. He is not going to do much if anything defensively, and not much in the buildup- he is the outlet for the attack.

Okay, so lets take a couple of theoretical examples: you have a flexible shape. The game describes this as a balance of responsibilities- defenders generally defend, midfielders generally support, attackers attack. If we take two positions, a central defender on defend duty and a poacher on attack duty, we would see that the CD has a mentality of 8 and the poacher of 16 in this setup. So the CD will primarily defend and take few risks, but will sometimes step up into the buildup play or look to push the play forward. The Poacher will do his thing, high up on the pitch and look to receive the ball in an attacking position, while occasionally dropping into the high midfield strata for the buildup.

Now you switch to structured. The CD-defend gets a new mentality of 6 while the poacher gets 18. The effect is to create even more separation between these players on the pitch. The defender is primarily defending and taking even fewer risks, and will only occasionally move into the buildup. The poacher remains high up the pitch and will be even less likely to engage in buildup play. In effect, we have a more clear distinction now between an attacking player and a defending player.

If you move to highly structured, this becomes more pronounced. Going the other direction, CD-D on fluid will have say a 10 mentality, while the poacher a 15 with the result that they player a little closer to one another- the CD will be more involved in buildup play as will the poacher. When you move to very fluid, this is even more pronounced. Remember that mentality is also affected by role and duty. To get an idea of the baseline mentality for any role or duty is check it at flexible, which is neutral.

I hope that makes sense. The thing to bear in mind with all of this is that shape only effects a degree of your tactic. Even on very fluid, a CD-defend is still going to be primarily a defender and you won't see him charging through the midfield to take a long shot at goal, for example. Likewise, the poacher will not suddenly become a deep-lying forward drifting back into the midfield and creating much in the buildup. What does happen is the vertical shape become more or less compact with shape change due to players increasing or decreasing their risk level (or mentality).

The last piece is the creative freedom aspect, where it gets raised or lowered according to the shape. More fluid= more creativity. This is a separate function from the mentality, though.

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1 hour ago, Dr. Hook said:

[...]

Okay, so lets take a couple of theoretical examples: you have a flexible shape. The game describes this as a balance of responsibilities- defenders generally defend, midfielders generally support, attackers attack. If we take two positions, a central defender on defend duty and a poacher on attack duty, we would see that the CD has a mentality of 8 and the poacher of 16 in this setup. So the CD will primarily defend and take few risks, but will sometimes step up into the buildup play or look to push the play forward. The Poacher will do his thing, high up on the pitch and look to receive the ball in an attacking position, while occasionally dropping into the high midfield strata for the buildup.

[...]

Then why not make it unequivocally clear what each and every setting does? Hiding basic information behind ambiguous descriptions is just bad gameplay and interface design. First-year CS students learn to keep things clear and obvious. As long as the game, mechanically, simulates certain aspects of play by using certain arbitrary values, why not make them available to everyone then? 

By the way, speaking of defensive lines and shape and vertical compactness: where's the pivot? Where does the formation orientate itself at? Where's everyone going to position himself when playing Very Fluid, Deeper Defensive Line, but with a Poacher? Will the striker drop deep, or will the d-line push high to keep everything "Very Fluid"? 

Hope you succeed to understand the problem. 

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2 hours ago, Blarry said:

Then why not make it unequivocally clear what each and every setting does?

While I can't speak for SI, I assume it's because the game tries to simulate how a real life manager would work. He doesn't tell his players to play with a mentality of 8 out of 20, he trains his team to play in a certain style and during a match can ask them to play more structured, or more fluid. I can imagine myself shouting at the side-line "come on lads, everybody's running all over the place, stick to your assigned duties!", or "don't just do your own job and let your team mates swim, get involved with play and help each other out!"

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26 minutes ago, eriktous said:

 

While I can't speak for SI, I assume it's because the game tries to simulate how a real life manager would work. He doesn't tell his players to play with a mentality of 8 out of 20, he trains his team to play in a certain style and during a match can ask them to play more structured, or more fluid. I can imagine myself shouting at the side-line "come on lads, everybody's running all over the place, stick to your assigned duties!", or "don't just do your own job and let your team mates swim, get involved with play and help each other out!"

This is being brought up every year since they botched the tactics screen in FM14 (?). And my answer's always the same: if you, as a manager, kept your instructions to such a generalized, unspecific and ambiguous standard, you'd be on food stamps after three weeks. The level of depth FM offers is alright for your average Sunday League game - although, if I wanted to be cynical I could say that Sunday League managers at least have a chalkboard available. :p Hasn't got much to do with professional football though. Sadly.

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You can make that argument about a lot of settings in FM compared to RL, especially pressing.  Trying to make a concise explanation of what team shape does and how it interacts with other settings is very difficult.

There's 3 instructions (mentality, team shape+formation and duty) that affect the players mentality.  The major ones are the team mentality and player duty, but if you use an unbalanced formation then team shape might have an unexpected impact.

If you have a bottom heavy formation and use a more structured team shape, your telling those deeper players to be less risky. Being bottom heavy you have fewer advanced players being told to be more risky.  The opposite is also true, take a 4231 and you've got 4 advanced players who are likely support or attack duty, playing very structured will make them even more attacking, if using a control/attacking team mentality the attack duties are likely playing as risky as is possible so don't be surprised if they don't track back and instead look to exploit space they're left in.  The same can be said about Very Fluid. A bottom heavy formation will have more players mentality increased, whilst a top heavy formation will have more advanced players mentality reduced.

This is why Flexible is a safe option if you aren't sure.

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It's definitely not about not being sure, au contraire, mon amour. This is about knowing exactly what you want and how you want it, but being unable to reproduce it within a "football" "simulation" that's not yet left the 1990s. 

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18 hours ago, Blarry said:

Then why not make it unequivocally clear what each and every setting does? Hiding basic information behind ambiguous descriptions is just bad gameplay and interface design. First-year CS students learn to keep things clear and obvious. As long as the game, mechanically, simulates certain aspects of play by using certain arbitrary values, why not make them available to everyone then? 

By the way, speaking of defensive lines and shape and vertical compactness: where's the pivot? Where does the formation orientate itself at? Where's everyone going to position himself when playing Very Fluid, Deeper Defensive Line, but with a Poacher? Will the striker drop deep, or will the d-line push high to keep everything "Very Fluid"? 

Hope you succeed to understand the problem. 

Well, as I am not a developer of the game, then why or why it isn't something is beyond me. I've been all for more transparency in how the tactics work and have been one of several who ask for that every year, but absent that, the best we can do is explain how it works. The thread was about understanding of team shape and how it works, nothing more.

In your second paragraph, the answer to the question is to be found in watching the match engine. Again, while there should  be something in-game as a reference point, there isn't. So, to answer where the base point is for orienting the mentalities, you use a neutral shape with no PI or TI active and you watch it for a bit. This will show you the d-line baseline, the pivot points etc. Then you add in what you want, bit by bit and see the effect. Most don't do this, and don't want to, and I don't blame them, and for most users I suspect they get what they want out of the game by adapting to the vagueness. For someone like you who has these deeper questions, this is the only way to get the answers you want, even if you don't like what you end up seeing.

 

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OK, so we're 1K posts into the subject and, at least for me, it's not even 1% clearer what the shape setting does and does not. Again, I might be slow. Nothing embarassing about that, as far as I'm concerned I don't work in nuclear phycics industry or NASA, so I shouldn't rule anything out.

I appreciate - I do! - removal of the sliders and attempts to make me feel "more" like a real life manager, who is unable to set the team's closing down level at '12'. What I can do is tell the player to close down 'more' or 'less' - and I like it. What I don't like is being given unclear options, making the game unnecesserily confusing and complicated. Mentality and formation - is that not enough? It's Football Manager, not Chessmaster.

The game is what it is and I can either play it or not. So - as I choose to play it despite it's shortcomings - I'll reshape my initial question. I asked what does the shape setting do and it resulted with lots of posts about bringing the mentalities closer together or further apart, influecing transitions, vertical spaces at this kind off stuff. Thank you. I still don't get it.


This is the new question:
HOW do you set the shape and WHY? (practically, not philosophically)

For instance:

a) 'I set 'fluid', because I want more vertical space and mentalities close to each other, as well as I need different transtions' > unclear

b) 'I set 'fluid', because I want my central midfieders to have a better use of their huge creativity' > clear

:)

Thank you so much for all your posts, please do keep trying to make me see the light beyond the clouds. I really appreciate it. (Who wrote the match engine? Plato?)

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4 minutes ago, goalash said:

For instance:

a) 'I set 'fluid', because I want more vertical space and mentalities close to each other, as well as I need different transtions' > unclear

b) 'I set 'fluid', because I want my central midfieders to have a better use of their huge creativity' > clear

:)

Thank you so much for all your posts, please do keep trying to make me see the light beyond the clouds. I really appreciate it. (Who wrote the match engine? Plato?)

I use shape very simply: do I want the players contributing to more phases of play or not? That's it in a nutshell. I choose fluid if I want my defenders to be more active in the buildup play, midfielders to play more defense and more offense, attackers to contribute defensively. I choose structured if I want clear separation between offensive players and defensive players. This is the choice and I don't know how to put it more simply.

Leave out the creative freedom thing. Why? Because you can change it via team and player instructions. You can have a creative structured system, after all.  All things being equal a fluid shape will be more creative than a structured shape, but not so much more so that it's worth deciding a shape around.

 

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1 minute ago, Dr. Hook said:

I use shape very simply: do I want the players contributing to more phases of play or not? That's it in a nutshell. I choose fluid if I want my defenders to be more active in the buildup play, midfielders to play more defense and more offense, attackers to contribute defensively. I choose structured if I want clear separation between offensive players and defensive players. This is the choice and I don't know how to put it more simply.

Leave out the creative freedom thing.

OK, we're leaving the creative freedom thing out.

'Do I want the players contributing to more phases of play or not?'. Still bit abstract, don't you think? Not there, but slowly getting there. The real question and the real answer would be:

'WHEN and WHY do you want your players to contribute to more phases of play or not?'. This is the level of simplicity myself and few more intend to achieve from you guys. What do you base your judgement on?

Does the need for the players to contribute to more phases of play include: relying on DLF(s) to help in midfield, because without it you're overloaded in the middle? two WB(a) to push higher, as they are meant to cover the channels solely? DM(s) to help with the build-up more? AML(s) to help the FB when not in posession?

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In other words - the simplified version:

I assess my team. I know where my best assets are, I have an idea how I want to play. I come up with the intended formation, roles and duties.

NOW: what at this point might make me consider going to structured/very structured or fluid/very fluid?

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17 minutes ago, goalash said:

In other words - the simplified version:

I assess my team. I know where my best assets are, I have an idea how I want to play. I come up with the intended formation, roles and duties.

NOW: what at this point might make me consider going to structured/very structured or fluid/very fluid?

The way I do it is I look at the overall skill set of my club. If I have a defense that can play "two way" football, at least to a competent level, I might really look at fluid. If I have a more limited defense, or a really slow one, I look at structured as I won't want them pushing up and getting involved higher up the pitch, for example. Defenders defend pretty exclusively, attackers attack. I also look at what style I am shooting for- a structured setup is going to be more spread out. If am wanting a more direct style built around getting the ball quickly forward, structured would be my choice, or if I want to create an attack that spreads out a bit- again usually with a more direct passing style-then structured. If I am looking for more of a "total football" approach, compact, shorter passing, ball retention, players stepping up while someone else covers, then fluid is more useful for that.

If you've done the above and settled on a style and setup, then you choose a shape that best complements what your vision is. Does this in any way help?

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Thanks. This is exatly the kind of answer I have been looking for since I had started the thread. Skill-based distinction seems very clear to me.

So, you start with defenders and elect whether they are good enough or fast enough to get involved further up the field. Do you also look at the defensive qualities of your forwards and midfielders? Do you take a formation into consideration?

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12 minutes ago, goalash said:

 

So, you start with defenders and elect whether they are good enough or fast enough to get involved further up the field. Do you also look at the defensive qualities of your forwards and midfielders? Do you take a formation into consideration?

Yes, I absolutely look at the skills in relation to the league I am playing in, but equally important to me is how I envision the side playing. I worry less about the defensive skills of the forwards, but midfielders I do- no point in playing a fluid style with midfielders that are just wrecking ball types with little to offer going forward :) . If my midfield is creative, great on the ball etc., but weak defensively a fluid shape would suit me more in that case. If I can't pinpoint a shape this way e.g. I have crap defenders, creative midfielders, or nothing really stands out to my eye, I would go for flexible to start with and see how it goes. Formation I am less concerned with when setting up my side, but only because I choose a formation after I assess the squad and how I want them playing. Obviously some formations are better for certain styles, but I don't really put that much thought into the formation vs. shape question. It is somewhat self-selecting in my view.

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Dr, Hook, since I'm actually learning something at the moment - I'd like to throw another one at you.

Same moment: formation, way of playing, roles decided. How fo you set the passing style? What do you refer to?

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After lots of testing about this damn team-shape setting on fm15, I noticed something interesting. The shapes which have high creative freedom are Structured(!), Flexible and Very fluid. Highly structured and Fluid(!) have low creative freedom. Maybe it's stupid, but I swear to god this is what my eyes saw.

I did the testing in challenge mode, playing the same 3 match over and over again. 

Again, i talk about fm15. This doesn't seem to be true for fm16.

 

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11 hours ago, goalash said:

Dr, Hook, since I'm actually learning something at the moment - I'd like to throw another one at you.

Same moment: formation, way of playing, roles decided. How do you set the passing style? What do you refer to?

Glad you are finding this helpful!  With shape, formation, roles, duties set, I typically start with not touching the passing until I see what happens on the field. How the team passes will be already set to a large extent by those other things, especially match strategy and attacking formation (which is created with the roles and duties). The exception might be if I am trying to replicate a certain style. Otherwise I like to play a couple of friendly matches and watch the passing and go from there. Sometimes it's not even necessary to set a team passing style, but just to tweak individual players or groups (like using play out of defence.

 

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2 hours ago, sacchi said:

After lots of testing about this damn team-shape setting on fm15, I noticed something interesting. The shapes which have high creative freedom are Structured(!), Flexible and Very fluid. Highly structured and Fluid(!) have low creative freedom. Maybe it's stupid, but I swear to god this is what my eyes saw.

I did the testing in challenge mode, playing the same 3 match over and over again. 

Again, i talk about fm15. This doesn't seem to be true for fm16.

 

How are you determining this? Just from watching the match?

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19 minutes ago, Dr. Hook said:

How are you determining this? Just from watching the match?

Yes, watching how the players are behaving with the ball.

I used for this experiment a very basic tactic. GK - FB(a), CD(d), CD(d), FB(a) - WM(s), CM(s), CM(s), WM(s) - AM(s) - P(a). No TI-s, no PI-s. 

What I'm clearly noticing is, that on Fluid and Highly structured the team is playing kinda first option football. And on the other 3 shapes, it's like the players 'think' more, probably using their vision attribute more.

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Hook, is your mentality fixed or does it depend on a match you're playing? I have noticed some people just setting Attacking or Counter and playing a whole season this way, as in some mysterious way it suits the team. Myself, on the other hand, I start every game on Standard and just try to adjust it to win the game in the safest way, with the risk factor toned down as low as possible to be competitive.

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I'd suggest thinking of a team shape not only as of a risk or creativity but as of work rate as well. If all your players participate both in attack and defence - it means they run much higher distance. I noticed that using very fluid shape + roaming from possition + the highest possible closing down can result the team to run 130+ km per 90 minutes, which is almost impossible IRL. Even if your players have high stamina - you need to use squad rotation through the whole competition to avoid players getting exausted. So, playing with very fluid shape you need to keep it in mind, and try to avoid it if your players don't have high stamina or if you don't have enough players to perform squad rotation. 

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On 7/31/2016 at 08:38, sacchi said:

Yes, watching how the players are behaving with the ball.

I used for this experiment a very basic tactic. GK - FB(a), CD(d), CD(d), FB(a) - WM(s), CM(s), CM(s), WM(s) - AM(s) - P(a). No TI-s, no PI-s. 

What I'm clearly noticing is, that on Fluid and Highly structured the team is playing kinda first option football. And on the other 3 shapes, it's like the players 'think' more, probably using their vision attribute more.

That's an interesting observation. The only thing I can think of is in both cases you have two things going on that look similar- in the first you have a more spread out shape which will produce more direct football while the second would be a function of the creative freedom. But that is just a guess :)

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21 hours ago, goalash said:

Hook, is your mentality fixed or does it depend on a match you're playing? I have noticed some people just setting Attacking or Counter and playing a whole season this way, as in some mysterious way it suits the team. Myself, on the other hand, I start every game on Standard and just try to adjust it to win the game in the safest way, with the risk factor toned down as low as possible to be competitive.

I generally have a fixed mentality that is my default system, but  I do adjust it in matches regularly. I know some that just set a mentality and go but that has never been me- I am just not that good with FM where I can design a perfect tactic that will work every time without fail :)

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23 hours ago, EuanDewar said:

One thing that is unclear to me: People say structured and fluid push players further apart/closer together. Does this mean in the offensive phase or the defensive phase or both? 

It is in all phases, as the mentality of the player sets how they position vertically both to defend and attack. I would say that is more noticeable in the offensive phase though because in defense you are expecting to see the team reform into your formation.

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21 hours ago, daleuk8 said:

WWfan used to use what he called the "Rule Of One" when slider setting were used. Does this still exist within the shape settings?

No, duty affects mentality on all settings, so you can't exactly recreate the old mentality structures. If you have everyone on the same duty, then it would be similar to the new Fluid. Still, it's worth keeping in mind that the ME has changed a lot in 8 years.

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32 minutes ago, Dr. Hook said:

It is in all phases, as the mentality of the player sets how they position vertically both to defend and attack. I would say that is more noticeable in the offensive phase though because in defense you are expecting to see the team reform into your formation.

So lets say I want defensive compactness and structure to be at the maximum. Obviously other factors like defensive line, formation, shape etc. factor into that. But just looking at mentality alone, what would be the ideal choice? Very fluid?

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