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Marsupian

(Creative) freedom, a management style

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Creative freedom, a management style

There are many different views on creative freedom as a tactical instruction and on how to use it. Some only give creative and technical players creative freedom, some give every player a creative freedom setting in relation to his creativity or decision attribute, some managers give players creative freedom in relation to the role they wan't the player to play in the team and others give the whole team a similar level of freedom. All off these appoaches are valid and based on different views on a players freedom in a tactic.

I will give my approach to freedom and not only discuss it in the light of a tactic as part of a set of instructions but also in the context of a management style and real life football.

First lets take a look at what creative freedom does.

How creative freedom works

From the online manual:

"Creative Freedom affects the tendency of your players to attempt the more difficult and ambitious. The slider ranges from Little to Much, and in short, the more creative freedom you allow your team, the more unpredictable they may be. A higher setting may see your players occasionally ignore your tactical instructions and attempt to do their own thing, but the degree of success depends on the technical prowess of your players. Given they’ll be attempting the more difficult stuff; they need to be of a sufficient caliber to make it count. Therefore, it may be advisable to limit this on a team basis and allow it for the more talented player(s) in your team."

In the player instructions section the manual adds:

"The player will act on his own authority at times and attempt to play with flair and trickery."

There are two common interpretations for this text.

1. The player will use more technically difficult moves and attempt the flamboyant (or bluntly put by some people it is a "flair modifier").

2. The player will have more freedom to make his own choices and disregard your instructions.

I am of the belief that both of these interpretations are wrong and right at the same time. I think creative freedom does both. It will give your players the freedom to disregard your instructions and it will make them free to attempt the flamboyant.

A critical distinction to make here is that it will not make your players attempt the flamboyant, technically difficult moves. Instead it will give them the freedom to do so if they want to.

I will quote the manual again with some key words in thick:

"Creative Freedom affects the tendency of your players to attempt the more difficult and ambitious. The slider ranges from Little to Much, and in short, the more creative freedom you allow your team, the more unpredictable they may be. A higher setting may see your players occasionally ignore your tactical instructions and attempt to do their own thing, but the degree of success depends on the technical prowess of your players. Given they’ll be attempting the more difficult stuff; they need to be of a sufficient caliber to make it count. Therefore, it may be advisable to limit this on a team basis and allow it for the more talented player(s) in your team."

This suggests that the players will only attempt the more flamboyant if they feel like it and if they decide to do so. On the other hand the manual also says it will increase the "tendency" of a player to attempt the flamboyant which does suggest they will play with more flair and attempt the more technical plays.

I'd say the truth lies somewhere in the middle which would result in the slider behaving somewhat like this:

If increased a player will be more free to disregard your instructions and instead make his own decisions. The player will also be more free (maybe even encouraged) to attempt flamboyant and/or technically advanced plays.

If decreased it will obviously have the opposite effect.

Different approaches to creative freedom

-The first option and the most strict is to give the whole team low creative freedom. This approach is based on the team working like a well oiled machine of instructions and players who are (or should be) specifically selected for their job. If the tactic is well made and tailored to the players this machine will be very effective in defending and scoring but it will be very one dimensional. Every player sticks to his instructions to play to the strengths of the team and create the most favorable chance for the most favorable player to slot it in. Often the route from goal to goal and the chances created will be very similar which is both the strength and weakness of such a tactic. It will be highly effective if the instructions are working but if there is a kink in the cable or the road is blocked the tactic quickly comes undone as the strictness will hamper the players in finding other options and be unpredictable.

In real life this would be the approach some of the tactical geniuses would take. Giving precise instructions to his players to create specific goal scoring situations and counter specific opponent threats.

-The second and probably the most common approach to adjusting this slider is the role/player specific approach. The manager will give his team normal or low creative freedom and then select a few players in his team which are tasked (or maybe more appropriately "set loose") to give the team some attacking spark and unpredictability. The team functions as a solid unit which will support the free player (who is often the playmaker) and get at the end of his moves. The team supports (and sometimes compensate for) the free player(s) in the defensive and buildup phase and when the ball is played to the creative player(s) the team will feed off the unleashed creativity and technical skills to score goals. This approach is more unpredictable than the first as there are players who can open up the game with their unpredictability and flair but it won't be as direct in their route from goal to goal as the more strict and mechanical approach without "free" players.

In real life this is how most managers would manage their side, having some players with clear roles and responsibilities and others who are given few instructions and are free to move and play as they see fit.

-On the other end of the spectrum there are managers who will give the whole team creative freedom. Every player is given the freedom to attempt the flamboyant and as such every (technical) player becomes a danger to the opponent. At the same time every player becomes a liability to the team as they may decide to disregard your instructions at any moment and attempt what they think is right (or what they want!). This creates an interesting dynamic in the team. When you give your players creative freedom it means you trust (or have to trust) your players. You give them the freedom to play how they wan't to play in the hope they return your trust by giving you solid performances with the occasional creative spark. The attacking benefit is clear in more unpredictability and more attacking threats on the field. At the same time your attacking can become uncoordinated (and thus less focused and effective) and your players may be liable of giving the ball away or messing up when they attempt the more technical plays while they are not technically gifted.

In real life this would be the approach that the more motivational managers take who have a basic positional system and gives a few instructions to his players but is mostly occupied with man management and motivation.

Note that giving players creative freedom will not make them go ape**** and attempt all kinds of crazy plays, it will give them the freedom to do so. If they don't have a lot of flair or creativity you might not even see any change in behavior at all. If you ask a player to dribble a lot and he lacks confidence or the ability to do so he might dribble less because he doesn't want to. It's not as simple as all your players becoming unpredictable and flamboyant. They may become unpredictable and more flamboyant. What always happens is that your players will start playing more like how they want to play. If a player has low flair, the ppm's "plays short simple passes" and "does not attempt through balls", low technical skills and a high decision attribute he won't become flamboyant or unpredictable. Depending on his instructions he might become more cautious in his passing and attempt less technical moves as he disregards his instructions to do so in favor of his own decision making and knowledge of his abilities.

MOAR freedom?

Creative freedom is not the only way in which you can make your players free to draw their own plans and decide themselves what the best option is when playing. Creative freedom might for some players actually be the less favorable option when trying to give the player freedom as they might try to play above their capabilities. The other option for giving players freedom is setting his instructions to a more neutral position (for example setting the players "run with ball" to sometimes). If you tell a player to sometimes run with the ball he won't look for opportunities to run with the ball but when he sees an opportunity and thinks it's the best option at the moment he won't shy away from running with the ball either. If you do this for all his instructions that control an "affinity" to one option over another (for instance run with ball, cross ball, passing style and cross from) you take away any tactical bias in the players behavior leaving the player to do as he wants.

Recently the approach of giving your whole team freedom by giving them high creative freedom instructions and putting all or most of their "on the ball" instructions to sometimes while still giving the team instructions in their mentality, movement and defensive approach has become very popular which is in large part due to SFrasers magnificent threads on his management style which gives his players a lot of freedom. Inspired by him I adopted a similar approach, I was always a fan of the creative freedom slider but never really considered how effective the more neutral slider position was in regards to giving players the freedom to make their own and often better decisions.

At the moment I'm actually thinking of reducing the amount of creative freedom of my players a bit and only use more the more neutral instructions to give my players the freedom of choice on the field without increasing their tendency to try more flamboyant options. This takes away the need for technical ability when assigning creative freedom to your players and makes this approach far more feasible for lesser sides. I would almost say it gives lesser sides the freedom to play with freedom but I'm not funny enough to play such an obvious word joke right?

Finding the balance

In the end you have to decide how you approach your team and manage them to success. Do you give them the (creative) freedom to play how they want to? Do you create an ingenious tactic tailored to your team (or the other way around) that turns them into a goal scoring machine by telling them exactly how to play? Or do you go for the middle road with maybe a few play makers with more freedom and some with less? They are all valid approaches but it is important to realize what approach you take, why you take that approach and what it means for you as a manager.

If you go for a more strict approach it is important to realize that if you give strict instructions to players on what to do and what not to do you better get those instructions right and be ready to change them if the opponent shuts you down. Do you have what it takes to become the next tactical mastermind that gets the very best out of your team and make them into a goal scoring/defensively tight machine? If not you might want to give your players a bit more freedom to make their own decisions and become more flexible.

If you give your players freedom and tell them to just play some football you have to realize that you must trust your players. Each player will play his position differently (more so than when you give strict instructions) so deciding on who plays together and against which opponent becomes more important, each player becomes a weapon you have to learn to use. Man management will perhaps play a bigger role as players don't have a well defined tactic to stick to when they are nervous or angry. It's also hugely important that you do give some instructions to your team to make them work as a unit. These are mostly movement, positional and defensive and mentality instructions. If you can use those to make your team work as a unit while giving them the freedom and motivation to play to their strengths and you have the right eye for playing the right player in the right spot at the right time than your on your way to leading your club to glory. If you don't trust your players with a lot of freedom, have trouble keeping your side confident and motivated or you find it difficult to get your players working together without clear instructions this approach may not be for you.

Conclusion

The main difference between giving your team freedom or not is how organized, predictable and "focused" your team plays. It's important to realize that there is no wrong or right here. I have used a more free approach in my last 3 saves and there have been enough times when I wished I'd given the unorganized mess some clear instructions on how to play some bloody football :p but than at other times they reward me with some truly beautiful play and all is well again :). Try to find the balance that works for you and most importantly think about why and how you give or not give your instructions.

I just hope I have given some of you some insight in the different ways to give or not to give freedom to your players and made you more aware of the different approaches there are so you can make a thoughtful decision on how you want to manage your squad.

Maybe it will only make a few more people consider the balanced option, the middle ground and maybe someone might actually tell that poacher to sometimes run with the ball or a winger to sometimes cross or give that center back some creative freedom and then see the small improvement it makes in the players behavior. I know I did and I know it made me a happy man(ager) and if this helps others that would be great :).

btw. Sorry for the lack of pictures to look at while going through this wall text :p.

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That's a brilliant post, it really is. You have covered so much of the bits and pieces of the important details of pretty radically different styles of play, and put it together in a very logical and well thought out explanation of these different styles. I don't think there is anything I would disagree with, and more. You have contrasted the philosophy I have taken to whole heartedly with a philosophy I am aware of and have messed about with but don't find anywhere near as satisfying to employ, and so I don't think something like this thread is something I would be able to write.

I think it is a very worthy thread, because it's been my experience that the prevailing forum concensus for a long period of time is the Creative Freedom is Bad and I think a lot of wannabe managers getting to grips with the game unconsciously cut themselves off from a different approach to their football. It's possibly to put together some genuinely, and regularly awesome displays of attacking football, even if you don't win.

But as you rightfully say simply cranking up the CF slider to max and chucking out 11 players is not going to achieve this. You need to keep some semblence of a logical team framework for your players to express their abilities, indeed certain systems are better than others when it comes to playing free flowing, expressive football.

But free flowing, expressive football is very, very possible in FM and it is very, very awesome to watch. When your players come out fired up, in good conditions, with the right team selected and the right balance of instructions, this type of football is as undefendable as it is gorgeous.

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Good post mate,

I will just react through sharing my view. I'm on the side that CF is basically "flair modifier" ie affects natural tendency of the player (flair). But I don't think it can "increase" flair and the creative freedom would be a % of how much he is using his flair, 20 would be almost 100% of his flair is used. In other words you can't expect from Vidic to play like Berbatov for ManU fan, or Mavuba Like Hazard for LOSC fans.

Flair is part of tendency attributs like teamwork, bravery, agression, workrate, etc...it is not "how well" attributs but "how likely" attributes. For example a player with 1 teamwork is less likely to pick the pass that benefit the whole team. A high flair player is more likely to pick the flamboyant and ambitious option, a long shot, a 40yards assist or something unexepected to outplay defenders' anticipation. A poacher is an out and out striker, he is expected to put the ball in the net efficiently, but he could predictable if he has a low flair attribute. If he has a high flair he may pick the first time shot out of target. So, I usually like flair and creativity for my strikers and then restrain them using creative freedom to find the sweet spot for goals/shots ratio.

And for "ignore" the tactical instructions things, that's a side effect of a high CF. Basically, by increasing creative freedom, flamboyant options are more likely to be picked; For example, if you have instructed him to play short and safe passes, by increasing CF, long and ambitious passes look more attractive to him, so he may ignore more often your short pass setting. Usually, creative freedom is good to use with flait and creativity players, anticipation is a most to gather information. Creativity means he is seeing a lot of options, that backheel in front of the box, he has the desire to attempt that backheel, if he has enough creative freedom (ie make that choice the most attractive for him), he is very likely to choose it and unlock the most packed defence. He may succeed due to others attributes, like technical one or so.

In my team, as I gave a lot of freedom in instructions, it doesn't make sense for me to restrict them using CF, on the contrary I expect from them to do the unpredictable and outplay opponent anticipation, but from the players i can really expect to be successfull. Hope it is understandable

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Good post mate,

I will just react through sharing my view. I'm on the side that CF is basically "flair modifier" ie affects natural tendency of the player (flair). But I don't think it can "increase" flair and the creative freedom would be a % of how much he is using his flair, 20 would be almost 100% of his flair is used. In other words you can expect Vidic to play like Berbatov for ManU fan, or Mavuba Like Hazard for LOSC fans.

Flair is part of tendency attributs like teamwork, bravery, agression, workrate, etc...it is not "how well" attributs but "how likely" attributes. For example a player with 1 teamwork is less likely to pick the pass that benefit the whole team. A high flair player is more likely to pick the flamboyant and ambitious option, a long shot, a 40yards assist or something unexepected to outplay defenders' anticipation. A poacher is an out and out striker, he is expected to put the ball in the net efficiently, but he could predictable if he has a low flair attribute. If he has a high flair he may pick the first time shot out of target. So, I usually like flair and creativity for my strikers and then restrain them using creative freedom to find the sweet spot for goals/shots ratio.

And for "ignore" the tactical instructions things, that's a side effect of a high CF. Basically, by increasing creative freedom, flamboyant options are more likely to be picked; For example, if you have instructed him to play short and safe passes, by increasing CF, long and ambitious passes look more attractive to him, so he may ignore more often your short pass setting. Usually, creative freedom is good to use with flait and creativity players, anticipation is a most to gather information. Creativity means he is seeing a lot of options, that backheel in front of the box, he has the desire to attempt that backheel, if he has enough creative freedom (ie make that choice the most attractive for him), he is very likely to choose it and unlock the most packed defence. He may succeed due to others attributes, like technical one or so.

In my team, as I gave a lot of freedom in instructions, it doesn't make sense for me to restrict them using CF, on the contrary I expect from them to do the unpredictable and outplay opponent anticipation, but from the players i can really expect to be successfull. Hope it is understandable

I agree fully on how flair works and your explanation on how creative freedom "restricts" the flair attribute is a very likely explanation in my eyes. I might have indeed been incorrect when I assumed that if more conservative players are given more creative freedom they will only play more conservative due to that being their natural behavior. It might be that they actually become a bit more flamboyant as their already low flair attribute is less restricted. I'm not 100% sure on that part.

In retrospect I should probably have put more emphasis on the later part of the post on how neutral and moderate instructions can free up your players without having to give them creative freedom. It's difficult to balance your post while you get new insights while making it. I already had the feeling that creative freedom might indeed be more about increasing the players tendency to attempt the flamboyant (or not restricting him from attempting the flamboyant depending on how you look at it) and less about giving the player more freedom to disregard your instructions. Still the general consensus of the post stays true only the way to create a free or strict system changes a bit. I might edit the OP a little because I did basically say that creative freedom is about giving players the freedom to disregard your instructions when they want to and I might very well be wrong on that part.

It might have actually been better to make this thread about giving freedom to your players through their full instructions instead of starting the tread with creative freedom and moving on to the player instructions later on. Still I feel creative freedom and how many players you give creative freedom is a big part in what approach you take.

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I have always thought about CF according to the italian tridente classical setup. You've got a prima punta (poacher like, aim to score goals like Inzaghi), a secunda punta like Vucinic for example, a very direct type of player, dribbling, run at defenders, shooting from range, and a trequartista as the main creative outlet, Roberto Baggio, Cassano or Totti, the "fantasista", the man who do the magic part of the move, not necessary joga bonito like brazilan players but they try move that nobody expect because they have seen it (creativity), they have the natural tendency to do so (flair) and they have the freedom to do so (high creative freedom, I don't restrict the magic). And creativity and flair are the two main attributes when it comes to CF. It makes sense in the tactic creator as well, poacher's CF is below an average targetman attack CF to reproduce the out an out/ no nonsense striker behavior, the trequartista has maximum creative freedom, this where the magic will come.

I don't know for sure if CF is roughly a % of player flair, I just recall a quote from PaulC "basically a flair modifier" or something like that. Then in my opinion, if it is a natural tendency, I don't see how you can get further than it. I can picture a manager restricting Nani or Hazard from ambitions and flamboyant options, but I can't see a manager asking/expecting some magic from Terry to be fair, he is not the right man. And moreover, if a player has 20 flair, what would mean CF 20? An "equivalent" of 25 flair...I don't know for sure.

And to be fair the important bit part of your post is not the mechanics in my opinion, but the concept of how to spread CF in your team like you explain, which players could have max CF, which one you are restricting, etc...that is the main part of your post in my opinion, and it has makes me think about my creative freedom philosophy. I'd like to be able to design a specific framework for CF independently from the mentality framework and inside the Tactical creator logic of shouts and quick changes...would be awesome.

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I agree that you can't increase a players flair. It's just that he will play like he has more flair because previously his flair was restricted so you could say it increases the tendency for the player to try the flamboyant while in fact it is only that he is less restricted from trying the flamboyant. So saying that a player will tend to play more flamboyant or with more flair when you increase the slider is still true as he is free to "use more of his flair attribute".

I agree that the mechanics are not the important part. It would make the post rather meaningless as we can only speculate about mechanics but we can discuss and understand when we talk about football. How you translate the football into the TC is definitely good to understand but in the end the football part is the interesting part and the translation into the TC and the match engine is ultimately down to SI and shouldn't be our main concern.

It's in my opinion one of the main strengths of SFrasers threads how he can talk in football terms while still saying things that make complete sense in the game without going into specific game mechanics. It also says something about how far this game has come in terms of approaching real life football.

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One thing that I personally take a look at when I am assigning creative freedom to my team is to check on the Decision attribute. I'm not sure if it the most reliable method of doing things but I put Decisions higher on my criteria list than Creativity or Flair. I don't see much point in having a shed load of Creativity or Flair if he can't back that up by making the right decision. You might be able to see every pass available on the pitch but if you tend to make the wrong call then there is little use in having all of the vision and flamboyancy. One of the worst combinations in any position is to have somebody with low decisions and high flair. It's a recipe for disaster and these players are difficult to use. Do you reign in their creative freedom at the expense of them not being able to provide that flamboyant move which they are capable of pulling off or do you let them at it and hope for the best?

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One thing that I personally take a look at when I am assigning creative freedom to my team is to check on the Decision attribute. I'm not sure if it the most reliable method of doing things but I put Decisions higher on my criteria list than Creativity or Flair. I don't see much point in having a shed load of Creativity or Flair if he can't back that up by making the right decision. You might be able to see every pass available on the pitch but if you tend to make the wrong call then there is little use in having all of the vision and flamboyancy. One of the worst combinations in any position is to have somebody with low decisions and high flair. It's a recipe for disaster and these players are difficult to use. Do you reign in their creative freedom at the expense of them not being able to provide that flamboyant move which they are capable of pulling off or do you let them at it and hope for the best?

I see where your coming from and I agree that decision is a highly important attribute especially when you give your players more freedom. Flair however works kinda together with decision in a strange way. Decision governs a players ability to objectively weight different options and see which is the best one. Flair then looks at those options and steers a player towards the more flamboyant move. As such a player with 20 flair and 15 decision might make a lot of similar choices as someone with 20 flair and 10 decision (if both are given full creative freedom). Other attributes will also come into play off course but flair will actually somewhat cover up some of the bad decision making attribute as players with high flair will more often not make the "objectively best" decision but instead make the more flamboyant decision. It doesn't help that a player has low decision making skills but it doesn't get much worse when he has high flair as well. The thing that does make it difficult is that generally players with high flair are the players you want to "set free" and give a lot of options and giving that freedom to someone who has problems evaluating options is far from optimal.

It can still work really well tho if you for instance have a highly technical player with high flair and low decision making and give him loads of freedom you can't count on him making the right decision but you can count on him doing something crazy. If that is what you know this and put him in a spot where this is a good thing and he can use his magic and technical skill for that one moment each game where he skins the whole defense and curls it to the far post your set. You just have to live with all the stupid decisions he makes throughout the rest of the match. It's not someone you wan't in the center of your midfield but I wouldn't mind having Hatem Ben Arfa on my wing or AMC position.

If decision making also comes into play when deciding what the most or best flamboyant option is than decision making does become MUCH more important for creative players.

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A relevant quote popped into my head just now, from Bill Shankly:

"If you are inside the box and don't know what to do, stick it in the net and we will discuss your options later".

Decisions is an attribute that is generally important, but when it comes to making a definitive impact on a football match there is no contest between high Decisions and high Flair. Infact one of my high Flair young strikers tore up the Championship on loan precisely because all he ever did was try to score.

There is a difference between always making poor decisions, or usually making the right one. However a player that usually makes the right one is about all you really need. 20 Flair by contrast is an almighty weapon to have in a player. Combine it to a bunch of "15's" for key Mental and Technical stats and you have yourself an absolute weapon of a player.

I wrote a thread a while back about the marriage between Creativity and Flair. If you can combine high levels of these two attributes to decent attributes elsewhere you can simply see things others can't and have you have audacity to try and pull them off.

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Would it be fair to say that this is a discussion for managers of high-end clubs only? When managing a lower league club where mental and technical attributes are low, should the manager avoid CF at all costs, or, if his squad's mental and technical attributes are relatively good compared to that division, should he increase CF?

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Would it be fair to say that this is a discussion for managers of high-end clubs only? When managing a lower league club where mental and technical attributes are low, should the manager avoid CF at all costs, or, if his squad's mental and technical attributes are relatively good compared to that division, should he increase CF?

I agree that it is mainly for top level clubs. When playing LLM, you may have a squad that are mentally and technically better than other sides in your division but chances are they are still pretty poor in those departments. Restricting them and telling them what to do rather than letting them make the decisions themselves is a superior option in my opinion

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Would it be fair to say that this is a discussion for managers of high-end clubs only? When managing a lower league club where mental and technical attributes are low, should the manager avoid CF at all costs, or, if his squad's mental and technical attributes are relatively good compared to that division, should he increase CF?

I think the key consideration is not whether a player's mental attributes are better than his peer's but rather, whether his mental attributes are better than the system he plays in. The key rationale underlying the high creative freedom/everyone does whatever he wants system is that no manager can possibly tell his players exactly what to do in every possible situation so he instead relies on his player's own intelligence to come up with the correct course of action. This works beautifully for teams blessed with intelligent players but can be a disaster for lesser teams because the lower intelligence of the players means they will be much more prone to make ill-advised moves that they wouldn't have even considered if they had simply stuck to the manager's instructions.

Basically, if your tactics mean that a specific player makes the situationally correct move %50 of the time then you only benefit from giving him the freedom to deviate from your tactics if his intelligence allows him to chose the correct move more than %50 of the time. Now obviously this is not something you can mathmatically evaluate in the game but I think it does illustrate the general premise.

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I think the key consideration is not whether a player's mental attributes are better than his peer's but rather, whether his mental attributes are better than the system he plays in. The key rationale underlying the high creative freedom/everyone does whatever he wants system is that no manager can possibly tell his players exactly what to do in every possible situation so he instead relies on his player's own intelligence to come up with the correct course of action. This works beautifully for teams blessed with intelligent players but can be a disaster for lesser teams because the lower intelligence of the players means they will be much more prone to make ill-advised moves that they wouldn't have even considered if they had simply stuck to the manager's instructions.

Basically, if your tactics mean that a specific player makes the situationally correct move %50 of the time then you only benefit from giving him the freedom to deviate from your tactics if his intelligence allows him to chose the correct move more than %50 of the time. Now obviously this is not something you can mathmatically evaluate in the game but I think it does illustrate the general premise.

I agree that players with low mental attributes will often play better if given clear instructions. Still I think this approach is very viable in for lower league sides. It won't give you the constant good performances a more disciplined approach can give in the lower leagues but If you can motivate your side, inspire them and give them trust by giving them some freedom they might just pay you back on the field. If you create an outline with some basic instructions with the aim of putting your dangerous players in dangerous positions even most mentally less gifted players can figure out what to do. I played half a season managing the brave African Warriors and I used the more fluid approach similar to SFraser's and I found that although my side often looked a bit aimless and at times even clueless there were enough inspiring moments to compensate and we managed to get a good run going. From a football perspective I'd say it is actually a quite common approach in the lower leagues while in the higher leagues it's used less often (although Redknapp is a prime example).

Also lesser players with low mental attributes won't just forget how to play football. They might not make the best decisions but they won't just start picking up the ball and playing some rugby either. In the lower leagues there is definitely more potential to get out of more disciplined tactics and turning your squad into a machine but I think there is still room for a free approach or at least a middle of the road option.

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Right, I'm about to start pre-season friendlies in the BSC, so I'm going to try it out. I already have nearly all the sliders in the middle in my TC team instrucs so it won't be too radical to nudge up the CF. I've only got about 3 squad members with Flair above 8 (and not first teamers at that), so we'll see how it goes.

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Right, I'm about to start pre-season friendlies in the BSC, so I'm going to try it out. I already have nearly all the sliders in the middle in my TC team instrucs so it won't be too radical to nudge up the CF. I've only got about 3 squad members with Flair above 8 (and not first teamers at that), so we'll see how it goes.

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict "badly".

Your players just wont have the abilities to play a game based on intelligence and ingenuity. Passes will go astray, players will stand still near the centre circle for about five minutes, your striker will try to score with headers from twenty yards because he can't see anyone to knock it down to.

I would stick to playing percentages in the BSC. Once you start travelling up the leagues then you will be able to build teams based on more flamboyant attacking styles of football. 9 Composure, 8 Anticipation, 12 Creativity, 10 Teamwork and 10 Workrate is not a lower league version of Paul Scholes. It's a player that needs his arse kicked and told what to do.

I would wait until you reach a level where you can pick some OAP's with brilliant mental stats balanced by their less than impressive physical stats. You just wont get anywhere near the level of key attributes in the BSC to play a creative style.

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High CF in the Conference had amazingly good results for me. The players were better than others in the Conf but on a level footing the next year when they won League 2 so it wasn't just a matter of being better players than those around them. They didn't have great mental stats (not many golden oldies) but they always had the best flair in the league - this is the only explanation I can come up with and I'd never really thought of it before.

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Responses came on time (won't be able to fire up my save until the weekend anyway).

furious - you say your boys are the flairiest in the division - mine are below average.

I might faff about for one friendly, but I'll follow SF's points. To be fair, I've always kept CF low because it seemed logical, but I just wondered in the light of this thread if the received wisdom might be challenged.

Basically, I'm nurturing a squad of kids. We started in Level 7 with an average age of 16; now the average age is 18. My most senior player is 24. They all have high determination and workrate, but otherwise, their mental attributes are going to be below average for years to come. This discussion is not for me.

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So, which attributes are linked to this creative freedom ? Creativity, Flair, Decision.

Perhaps can we add "technique" cause to see ambitious option it's one thing, but you need technique to be able to execute correctly ?

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I see it very much linked to the prime attributes of anticipation, creativity, decisions and technique as well as the 4 background attributes of concentration, determination, work rate and teamwork. The background stats help to define a match event and the prime attributes help to decide the decision making process. I had always thought that flair would extend the options whilst tactical instructions constrain the options to decisions you want players to make. Your tactical constraints don't always match with the best option at any given moment but high levels f cf allow players to ignore tactical instructions and choose the best available option that they see, note that 'low vision' players won't see all the options but will still have a decision to make

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Attributes linked to giving your player freedom are all attributes that help him in or influence his decision making and all attributes that give him options in his decision making. In short that's all attributes. Some like Creativity, Flair and Decision are obviously a bit more important but in the end you have to look at a player as a whole.

From my original post:

"Each player will play his position differently (more so than when you give strict instructions) so deciding on who plays together and against which opponent becomes more important, each player becomes a weapon you have to learn to use."

If you give your players freedom you have to know how they behave, you can't just look at a players creativity, flair and decision making and decide from there how he will behave when given creative freedom. You have to know how he want's to play, what he is capable of and how he will behave under different situations. You can get a great general picture from studying a players attributes (and this is what I do when I scout players for my team) but in the end you have to look at your player on the field to see how he approaches different situations and what he is capable of bringing to your side. I don't believe in attributes being linked to instructions. I believe in players who you can influence with you instructions but will always stay the same player. The question is do you wan't to set this player free or do you wan't to influence him and guide him in a way that benefits your team as a whole.

I'd say the players you play together and where you play them plays a bigger part in a tactic than the instructions you give them. If you give your players freedom this only gets amplified and if I wan't to make a change in how my side plays the only thing I have to do is make a few changes to my side.

btw. It's also important to distinguish between giving your players freedom through the creative freedom slider and giving the freedom through neutral slider settings and instructions. The former will also give your players the freedom to try the flamboyant while the later will only make them free to decide what to do without changing how conservative or risky they play. If you use them in combination you can both steer players towards trying tricky moves or not and steer players towards a specific behavior on the pitch or not.

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I don't believe in attributes being linked to instructions.

hmmmm, let me remind you that it's a computer game coded in a language software, so basically behind everything in this game, you can find numbers....If the game itself, show you some attribute for each individual instruction, I can imagine that there is a big formula, more complex for sure, behind each instruction.

My way of thinking in this game is that for all instructions, you have the right adjustment according to your player, to the link between your 11 players, to the opponent, to pitch condition, weather etc.....I know, there are a lot of parameters to take in account not only the player attributes and the same instruction can be different from match to match due to attrition.

But too much and the player accumulate errors, too little and the player is making error also or is playing with the hand break. If you find the perfect adjustment to individual instructions for all your 11 players, you get the perfect game.

I understand that we cannot take in consideration all attributes but can make a list of important one, (like you said Creativity, Flair, Decision).

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hmmmm, let me remind you that it's a computer game coded in a language software, so basically behind everything in this game, you can find numbers....If the game itself, show you some attribute for each individual instruction, I can imagine that there is a big formula, more complex for sure, behind each instruction.

My way of thinking in this game is that for all instructions, you have the right adjustment according to your player, to the link between your 11 players, to the opponent, to pitch condition, weather etc.....I know, there are a lot of parameters to take in account not only the player attributes and the same instruction can be different from match to match due to attrition.

But too much and the player accumulate errors, too little and the player is making error also or is playing with the hand break. If you find the perfect adjustment to individual instructions for all your 11 players, you get the perfect game.

I understand that we cannot take in consideration all attributes but can make a list of important one, (like you said Creativity, Flair, Decision).

First of all the chance of finding the perfect set of instructions is very very VERY small and the chance of finding them through taking all those parameters into account is even smaller (as the chance of misinterpreting one of the parameters is huge let alone getting them all right). Secondly instructions only guide or push the player towards the behavior you wan't from him. In the end it's the player that decides and his mental attributes together with what he is capable off will have a major impact on how he will behave on the pitch. Thirdly I agree that a player with high dribbling, balance and agility will be very good at running with the ball but that doesn't mean that giving him a high run with ball setting will benefit the whole team. Maybe it would benefit the team more if he ran a bit less and played a pass instead even tho he only has a passing attribute of 10 while his dribbling is 18.

It's just not as simple as giving players with high dribbling a high run with ball instruction and players with high stamina and tackling a high closing down rating. In the end the players should play in such a way that benefits the team as a whole and not just to their own strengths. You can try and find the "perfect" set of instructions for a player but the chance is high that a. there is no perfect set of instructions and b. the instructions won't make sense in regards to the rest of the team. I think your better of just forgetting it's a game and approach it like real life football. There are too many parameters, variables and too much "randomness" to try and "crack" or "beat" the game or even to find an optimal tactic. The game has grown enough that if you give instructions that make the team play together in a way that makes sense and play players that can fulfill the role they are given you will get good results that are conform real life expectations.

It's also much more enjoyable than trying to come up with "rules" on how to set the sliders that don't make any sense what so ever and are only used to find something to hold on too in the wide and dangerous world of making a tactic. I think it's rather stupid to base slider settings on player attributes instead of on how you wan't the player to play. There is also nothing wrong with asking a little more or less of a player than what he is capable off. If you ask more of a player he might just surprise you with a stellar performance and if you ask less of a player he might play in a way that benefits your team more instead of only being based on his strengths. I'm not saying it will never go wrong and I'm not saying that you shouldn't let your players play to their strengths but I do think it's not as cut and dry as basing all the sliders on player attributes and hope everything will fall into place.

In the end I think it's sometimes best to forget it's a game and give instructions based on football logic and how you wan't your team to play.

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In the end it's the player that decides and his mental attributes together with what he is capable off will have a major impact on how he will behave on the pitch.

hmmm right in IRL world.....But here it's a strategic computer game with a football theme skinning. it's not the player who decides, it's a complex Mathematica formula linking to attributes and your instructions added with teamwork attribute also that makes the player move this way or this way.......It can be a tank in a war game or a knight in a medieval game, it's the same process.

So you need to adjust things like the game expected to be. you need to adjust things to get better results. For example, why my players are finding goal target better if I reduce creativity ??? it's not an IRL rule, it's a FM computer game rule. That's why assistant manager advice are here to help us. You need to adjust things to be in phase with the match moment, with the statistic used in the game.

But to be positive, I think that is the strength of this game, that when you play, a lot of people forget that it's simply a game and think that they are a real football coach. The illusion is powerful and it's the mark of a great computer game.

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hmmm right in IRL world.....But here it's a strategic computer game with a football theme skinning. it's not the player who decides, it's a complex Mathematica formula linking to attributes and your instructions added with teamwork attribute also that makes the player move this way or this way.......It can be a tank in a war game or a knight in a medieval game, it's the same process.

So you need to adjust things like the game expected to be. you need to adjust things to get better results. For example, why my players are finding goal target better if I reduce creativity ??? it's not an IRL rule, it's a FM computer game rule. That's why assistant manager advice are here to help us. You need to adjust things to be in phase with the match moment, with the statistic used in the game.

But to be positive, I think that is the strength of this game, that when you play, a lot of people forget that it's simply a game and think that they are a real football coach. The illusion is powerful and it's the mark of a great computer game.

The greatest achievement of this game is that you can not only think you are a real coach but you can actually approach this game like it's real life football and get good results. Thinking in real football terms has actually helped me a lot when playing this game and yes in the background it's all mathematics but the goal of the game is to reward you for approaching it in football terms instead of mathematical terms. That is a big part in why this game is so enjoyable to play for me.

I know that because in the background it's mathematics you could "crack" or "beat" the game but because of the complexity it's easier to just play the game like it's real football and I get more enjoyment out of it this way. So if you think about giving you players creative freedom or any instructions at all I would not just look at a few attributes and "calculate" what the best slider position would be for the player but instead look at the whole picture. Look at the player as a whole, what he is capable of and what he can bring to the team and then think what instructions would help you get him to play to the way you wan't him to play. It's a lot more involving than putting the creative freedom slider at X notches because a player has X creativity, X decision or X flair etc.

btw. I'm not saying you should disregard attributes when making setting instructions but I think it's better to look at the bigger picture and the player (and your team) as a whole instead of picking out a few attributes at a time.

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Yes its mathematics under the hood but you could say the same about the human thinking process (in fact, many people have made huge scientific advances by taking this exact approach to modelling human decision making processes). The crucial thing for scientists or for computer scientists is the emergent behaviour which emerges from the interaction of variables. The FM decision making process is no longer constrained to X,Y,Z but rather to a series of behaviours that each player can choose from. Possibly the only restrictive hard-coding is in the initial player formation which is why all shapes in FM are fairly rigid and shapes such as 4-2-3-1 are hard to emulate in FM. It's the choices of behaviours from a complex interaction of variables which creates emergent behaviour which is often surprising and unforeseen (sometimes annoyingly so). When looking at attributes you can't just say that a player is creative because they have 20 in creativity, that would also need to be in union with high stats for decision making, anticipation, concentration as well as the technical attributes to use that creativity and the physical attributes to be in a position to deliver.

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Furiousuk, It's not at all what we are talking about. Nobody said that a player is creative because he get 20 in creativity. Like everybody said in this post, it's a complex harmony between lot of attributes who are linked each other....The question is, that we need to understand how the game is working to play this game. So it's normal to think about which attributes is used the most for each action of a player.

In FM, Messi is not playing in such a way because it's Messi like in the IRL....but because of his attributes, personality all defined by SI games database and altered by user tactics and user instructions.

It's like for example, your defensive line...you didn't put the line following your knowledge of IRL opponent. You put the line because you have scouted attributes of the opponent striker, your DC attribute, and personality of the opponent Manager.

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I completely agree that, of course, the decision making is driven by the attributes as you've been saying. I'm also saying that the emergent behaviour is a blend of the different attributes that an FM player has and that harnessing that emergent behaviour can be achieved in a number of ways.

SI contend that their FM Messi will play like RL Messi because the attributes of the FM player match with the RL attributes of the player as close as they can work out. Of course, FM is a computer game and is hence vastly simplified by breaking down a complex set of behaviours into a behavioural set that can be managed by around 45 attributes (plus the other variables). You could argue that the RL Messi makes his decisions based on a set of mental attributes that make up his consciousness and that his decision to dribble and where to dribble is made by a combination of abilities that he has learnt and by his memories. This is, of course, all done rather automatically.

If you want to play FM as if it is RL then this is perfectly plausible and its a great way to play. I'd argue that to do otherwise would be to vastly decrease your enjoyment of the game but thats just an opinion. The difference with FM (for most of us) is that we use the attributes as a judge of the player, most of us don't have the time, skill or inclination to watch each match in full and make our own decisions on how physical, technical or mentally astute a player is which would form a large part of a RL managers job.

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I use attributes and I watch 100% of my match in full mode with normal speed....The match we see, it's not an IRL match, it's a 3D representation of a match engine coded for a computer and lot of people who complain about it, forget this point. If your striker misses 15 goals before scoring one, no need to shout on the forum that is unrealistic....it's the game, you need to understand what you see (3d representation) and what you read(assistant advice and all the data and stats available) to understand why your striker misses a lot before scoring one and how to adjust his and/or team instructions to avoid this trouble.

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If you want to play FM as if it is RL then this is perfectly plausible and its a great way to play. I'd argue that to do otherwise would be to vastly decrease your enjoyment of the game but thats just an opinion.

I think that many of the posters here will confess, somewhat sheepishly, to having to converted, to a greater or lesser extent, to the Gospel According to SFraser. His path over the last couple of years has led him AWAY from perceiving the game as a computer program to outsmart, TO a simulation of real actual football. He says that this shift in perspective has greatly enhanced his enjoyment of the game, and I'm sure that many of us would endorse that view from our experiences too.

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Well why do we play FM in the first place? To be what most dreamed of being as a child or "crack" the game? I know which side I'm on.

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I think that many of the posters here will confess, somewhat sheepishly, to having to converted, to a greater or lesser extent, to the Gospel According to SFraser. His path over the last couple of years has led him AWAY from perceiving the game as a computer program to outsmart, TO a simulation of real actual football. He says that this shift in perspective has greatly enhanced his enjoyment of the game, and I'm sure that many of us would endorse that view from our experiences too.

I completely agree.

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is this still a creative freedom topic?????seems like its turned into a whole new thread.to get back on topic CF rocks,although i have toned it down for my loan striker(poacher)as he had started to drift out of games to often.

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I think that many of the posters here will confess, somewhat sheepishly, to having to converted, to a greater or lesser extent, to the Gospel According to SFraser. His path over the last couple of years has led him AWAY from perceiving the game as a computer program to outsmart, TO a simulation of real actual football. He says that this shift in perspective has greatly enhanced his enjoyment of the game, and I'm sure that many of us would endorse that view from our experiences too.
I completely agree.

I too agree.

Great thread by the way Marsupian, another one that keeps a body awake at night in thought :thup:

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The easiest way that I look at creative freedom is, what a player likes to do on the pitch agaisnt what you want them to do on the pitch. That seems obvious but it is. For instance, if you give a creative freedom setting of 20 to both Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes in the centre of midfield with every other player instructions set to normal/global you will see different results. The reason is because you are given the player the freedom to do what he likes to do on the pitch or what is in his nature i.e player preferred moves. You will see Scholes pinging long difficult passes more, Giggs will be playing more killer through balls and running with the ball through the centre. Now, these players will still do this with a lower creative setting but not to the same degree or consisentcy.

You could, in theory give all your players high creative freedom because creative freedom effects the player's natural tendency to try the more ambitious play, but if the player is a more defensive minded player( low flair rating, tries short simple passes) then it's not much use as it goes away from what is his comfort zone or what he does best.

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The easiest way that I look at creative freedom is, what a player likes to do on the pitch agaisnt what you want them to do on the pitch. That seems obvious but it is. For instance, if you give a creative freedom setting of 20 to both Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes in the centre of midfield with every other player instructions set to normal/global you will see different results. The reason is because you are given the player the freedom to do what he likes to do on the pitch or what is in his nature i.e player preferred moves. You will see Scholes pinging long difficult passes more, Giggs will be playing more killer through balls and running with the ball through the centre. Now, these players will still do this with a lower creative setting but not to the same degree or consisentcy.

You could, in theory give all your players high creative freedom because creative freedom effects the player's natural tendency to try the more ambitious play, but if the player is a more defensive minded player( low flair rating, tries short simple passes) then it's not much use as it goes away from what is his comfort zone or what he does best.

Completely agree with this. In each situation a player will have a number of decisions to make which will be influenced by your tactical instructions, low CF will force players to use your tactical instruction whilst high CF will allow a player to decide whichever decision he feels would be best - as you say, Giggs may prefer to run in a neutral situation whereas Scholes may prefer to pass because their attribute set favours these decisions. Note that this decision to either run or pass may not be the decision you would take as manager and that is the decision you, as manager must make.

If you like to see different players playing positions differently then give the side plenty of CF, it can be frustrating but it can also be amazing. For me the players are kings, they must be given the freedom to express themselves whether in RL or FM (I actually think the difference between individual players is more obvious in this years ME). As a manager your job is to create an environment the players can feel free to express themselves in.

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Would a striker with high technique and high creative freedom try more outlandish finishes successfully regardless of flair?

I have a feeling technique is very important as with poor technique the flair won't come off. How many of us have tried to play like Maradona as a kid without the technical ability? Is flair a representation of ability or a personality trait of trying? Presume the latter and creative freedom lets the players play their own game with low technique and decisions a penalty.

However, this could be a positional or attribute thing. High creative freedom on a winger is likely to be very different to a striker. I'd be happy for the Brazilian Ronaldo trying any kind of finish he likes but I'd want Jermain Defoe to focus on just hitting the target. I'd want Aaron Lennon to run to the line and cross but Cristiano Ronaldo can do 50 step overs of he pleases.

I did up Luca Modric's creative freedom in central midfield and suddenly he was making runs with the ball at the opposition when his run with ball slider was at rarely.

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Would a striker with high technique and high creative freedom try more outlandish finishes successfully regardless of flair?

I have a feeling technique is very important as with poor technique the flair won't come off. How many of us have tried to play like Maradona as a kid without the technical ability? Is flair a representation of ability or a personality trait of trying? Presume the latter and creative freedom lets the players play their own game with low technique and decisions a penalty.

However, this could be a positional or attribute thing. High creative freedom on a winger is likely to be very different to a striker. I'd be happy for the Brazilian Ronaldo trying any kind of finish he likes but I'd want Jermain Defoe to focus on just hitting the target. I'd want Aaron Lennon to run to the line and cross but Cristiano Ronaldo can do 50 step overs of he pleases.

I did up Luca Modric's creative freedom in central midfield and suddenly he was making runs with the ball at the opposition when his run with ball slider was at rarely.

I think Creative freedom is a positional and a attribute thing, aswell as affecting a player's preferred moves. Using Wayne Rooney as an example from last season to this, last season he was a poacher/finisher instructed to stay high up the pitch more. To do this, you need to lower the player's creative freedom to get him to fill out the role you ask of him. However, this season he was more of a deep-lying forward/playmaker asked to come deep and dicate play. For this, Ferguson gave him more creative freedom asking him to do what comes natural to him.

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Would a striker with high technique and high creative freedom try more outlandish finishes successfully regardless of flair?

I have a feeling technique is very important as with poor technique the flair won't come off. How many of us have tried to play like Maradona as a kid without the technical ability? Is flair a representation of ability or a personality trait of trying? Presume the latter and creative freedom lets the players play their own game with low technique and decisions a penalty.

However, this could be a positional or attribute thing. High creative freedom on a winger is likely to be very different to a striker. I'd be happy for the Brazilian Ronaldo trying any kind of finish he likes but I'd want Jermain Defoe to focus on just hitting the target. I'd want Aaron Lennon to run to the line and cross but Cristiano Ronaldo can do 50 step overs of he pleases.

I did up Luca Modric's creative freedom in central midfield and suddenly he was making runs with the ball at the opposition when his run with ball slider was at rarely.

Alright, there's a lot here so forgive me if I miss something. Flair represents the player's inate preference for unpredictable/audacious moves. It does not have an effect of the player's ability to actually pull off said moves; that is controlled by a host of other attributes that vary depending on what exactly the player is trying to do. With this in mind, we can generally expect players with high flair/high creative freedom to attempt more outlandish moves and players with low flair or low creative freedom.

As far as a low flair + high skill player goes, I would imagine he would continue to play a relatively conservative game regardless of his creative freedom setting, however, he may still attempt more aggressive plays from time to time simply because his higher skill level dictates that he will have a fairly good chance of pulling off the move (under the assumption that a player with an elite level long range shot won't feel that hitting the upper corner from outside the box is particularly outlandish).

There is some level of positional dependence in the CF/Flair determination. A 20 flair CB with full creative freedom probably won't go for that many long shots simply because he spends most of his time 60 yards from the goal and even the most audacious player will realize that shooting from there isn't a recipe for success. At the same time, midfielders and forwards will generally have a fairly wide array of options presented to them so giving them a lot of CF is going to produce a lot of action that will contradict your instructions because most actions aren't obviously wrong (while a run from deep may not be what you want from a player in your system it's not as obviously harmful as, say, shooting from 60 yards out).

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The easiest way that I look at creative freedom is, what a player likes to do on the pitch agaisnt what you want them to do on the pitch.

This is a very impressive statement.

FM might have 12 or so Technical attributes but a player only uses 2 or 3 of these in any move. However a player is likely to use most or even ALL of his Mental attributes in a move and atleast half of these define choices, depending on your definition of choice.

Players themselves are about two things: What they can do and what they want to do. I like to build teams where players can do amazing things and want to do amazing things, this means 17+ in Technique and 17+ in a couple of technical attributes, then as much Mental goodness as I can find.

The quoted statement is easily one of the true mantras of today's FM.

Would a striker with high technique and high creative freedom try more outlandish finishes successfully regardless of flair

No, he will hit good shots.

If you have an amazing Inside Forward with awesome Technique, Dribbling and Long Shots but 7 flair then you will need to give him RWB Often, Longshots Often, Cut's Inside and low CF + Low everything else.

He will Cut Inside, do simple dribbles, and hit well struck simple longshots.

If the same guy had 19 Flair and you gave him bags of CF and neutral instructions, then he might try an ambitious looping volley into the top corner. What else he would try would depend on his Vision and his decision making attributes. He might be a rubbish passer with 20 Teamwork and 20 Creativity and keep trying to play in the other inside forward in bags of space on the other flank, but perfectly strike the pass straight off the Linesmans head because his accuracy in the pass is rubbish.

The game is monsterously complex but it is also entirely football. Training your eye to see the Football in stats and ratings and attributes and everything else is a mighty task, but once you achieve it FM becomes a trully awesome football virtual world that is a lot less difficult than it seems at first.

The key is learning how to see the football in the game. I reckon if I could explain to people how to glean football information from a players media handling style and so on then a lot of these guys would kick my ass in online play.

Playing FM isn't hard, infact it's absolutely amazing. There are no adjectives that can adequately describe the quality of FM as a game for a football fan. The hard part is seeing the football.

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Agreed SFraser, the hard part of FM is indeed seeing past the UI and seeing the "football" in the game through the small things like a player's Favoured Personnel. That's why I love it when the Regens come through and you get to know them as Footballers and Personalities you interact with. It's an immense game.

I never understand people who race through the game, there is too much depth for that personally. I watch every game on Full Match 2D and really get into man-managing my players and enjoy watching how tiny things like selling a Rotation player who is popular in the dressing room affects everything. Even seeing who reacts to what I say in the Media and how they react is fascinating often.

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