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Is FM a simulator or an illusion?

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Thanks Svenc and wwfan for your elaborate answers!

I'm impressed if it really is true that the matches are simulated from scratch, pass to pass. That is a great accomplishment! Although if they simulate an entire match in 1/8th of a second then I question the complexity of their algorithms a bit. Also somewhat disappointed though, that I still don't see the characteristics of each player shine through in their playing style that well. Yes, it is often reflected in their statistics over a season, but to me the players seem quite anonymous on field (except for guys with high flair doing some showing off). But of course the difference in playing style isn't that obvious in real life either...

But I still don't agree that my test in meaningless. The talk about having to consider so much else I don't buy. It is possible that the tactical changes do have effect, but that effect is in any case a lot less than what is to be expected, according to how the strategies are explained in the game. The only outside factor that I can agree could cause the results I got, assuming that overload and contain really are as extreme as they are explained, would be if the opposing team counters my overload with contain and my contain with going overload. And perhaps that is what happens?

Does any of you guys have an idea how to experimentally figure out how much impact tactical decisions really have?

A quick calculation does not mean a lack of complexity.

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A quick calculation does not mean a lack of complexity.

As each player has a vast number of options to evaluate at every instance, I would expect the number of calculations to be enormous. I am a programmer with quite some experience in optimizing real time critical algorithms, so I know what I'm talking about. But perhaps I overestimate the depth of each player's decision ground. SI has probably found some short cuts that works well without sacrificing too much realism.

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They don't simulate an entire match in an 1/8th of a second. Match calculations happen every 1/8 of an ME second, meaning a match has roughly 45000 time related calculations, in which other simple and complex player calculations will be taking place. Simple calculations relate to the movement of players not involved in the immediate action. They have to be simple or the processing requirements will be huge. Complex calculations relate to the players involved in the immediate action. Whilst the ME is showing your match, FM calculates all these actions for all the other matches that are being fully simulated in your game.

Strategy in itself really isn't hugely important. It merely provides the player with a guide to how many risks they should take. It doesn't set team shape (formation, roles and duties) or determine a style of play (philosophy and shouts). In order of importance, it would be (in my opinion):

  1. Shape
  2. Style
  3. Strategy

If you get the shape wrong, you'll hinder your own play too much to ever be fully effective, making results bad or random. If you get the style wrong, your attacking, transitioning and defending will never be fully effective, making results bad or random. A shift in strategy in such scenarios won't really help that much. It's really only a last throw of the dice.

There are various ways you can approach tactics. You can decide to focus on the strengths of your team and devise a system of play that maximises them. This is a good way to play if you have a dominant team for the level. You can decide to counter the tactics of your opponents and change things up to deal with the weather, which is a good way to play if you are an average team for the level. You can devise a system of play to minimise your weaknesses, which is a good way to play if you are a poor team for the level. Within this is the opportunity to make dynamic changes within a match to react to what is happening on the pitch. Until you can manage games in the manner explained in backpackant's post, you won't appreciate the degree to which in-match changes can influence games that seem to be slipping away from you. All the best FM tacticians have become the best because they have learnt from the mistakes they made, when bad or unmade tactical changes have cost them matches.

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Well it's not real-time at all per se, but personally with my few basic Java skills I vaguely remember back from college I don't know either how it is set up. It can't be miracle, but it probably says a lot that SI have prevailed with this even when they only had their basic 2d view and were competing against Konami, Electronic Arts and Codemasters trying to get some share by throwing multi-million FIFA/PES assets around. :D It's kind of weird thinking about it, but I think even the 2d match view was released but ten years ago from today, previously it was all text...

A couple years ago I was wondering similar, and PaulC slipped in to go into some details. http://community.sigames.com/archive/index.php/t-97539.html

edit: Ooops, that was Ov, sorry.

The ME simulates play in 1/8th of a second calculations, from the first to the last kick of the game.

Isn't the current iteration past that? The 1/8th of a second thing used to be thrown around in interviews for years before. FM 2013 can see significantly more passes than 2012 and prior, and on default settings the clock ticks in real-time, rather than slightly compressed. One of the more common complaints was that the ME wouldn't be realistic as -gasp - you couldn't possibly re-create the exact number of passes that Barca had, well it is roughly is possible now. Not sure if there is technically a relation, but this is the very first ME iteration in which the clock behaves that way. Taking a look at a watch and holding it close to the in-match clock, and compare it to FM 2012 and prior, you'll see what I mean. Additionally, saving a pkm and opening it in the match viewer, which doesn't cut short stoppage play, you can in theory kiss exactly 90 minutes of your life goodbye (previously more like about 60). On default speed settings, I mean.

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As far as I'm aware, it's still 1/8th of a second. One of the significant changes in the FM13 ME was "ball in play" time. Previously, it was far too low, which was why many of the stats didn't match up (from memory, it could be up to 10 minutes short of in play time a game). In FM13, the ball is play roughly for the amount of time it is in reality, which is one reason why the stats are so much better.

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All the OP has illustrated is that if you only focus on one or two aspects of tactics, in his case strategy and philosophy, you won't dramatically influence results. If you are holistic and make logical and dynamic decisions pertaining to strategy, philosophy, adjustments, roles, duties, OIs and shouts you will overachieve tactically. If you pay attention to morale, motivation, training and logical player acquisition, you will overachieve across the board.

but shouldn't it influence results dramatically? this is the central question here. you all respond with something like "it's more complicated, you need to take into account all other variables". that doesn't answer the question.

if this game is a simulator, you would think that if the manager said to the team to go all out attack, it would have a significant effect.

i would suggest a clearer tactical hierarchy. if i don't make any individual changes and only uses the team tactical menu, then i would expect a clear cause and effect if i set the team to "overload". i would expect to let in goals more easily, but also to score more goals than if i set the team to defensive. if other things affect this so much that it actually cancels out the difference, then there's a problem here concerning realism. realistically, the players i have, the formation, or if my moral is high or pitch conditions etc, are variables that should not be strong enough to consistantly cancel out my overall strategy of balls out attack.

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It's been shown to have a significant effect in the goal spread. It hasn't had a significant effect in winning matches. That's because simply deciding to attack or defend with no other tactical thought is not good enough in itself. And nor should it be.

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It's been shown to have a significant effect in the goal spread. It hasn't had a significant effect in winning matches. That's because simply deciding to attack or defend with no other tactical thought is not good enough in itself. And nor should it be.

This. Do people really just use one tactic and switch between Control, Contain and Overload without role/duty changes at all and expect it to work properly?

Contain is way different from Overload. You can't just use the same tactic for both. The space available to you is very different. So is the tempo and the point of the strategy themselves.

Contain you're trying to keep the ball, defend deep and not commit too many players forward. Overload you're pushing a lot of players up quickly trying to score.

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Thanks Svenc and wwfan for your elaborate answers!

I'm impressed if it really is true that the matches are simulated from scratch, pass to pass. That is a great accomplishment! Although if they simulate an entire match in 1/8th of a second then I question the complexity of their algorithms a bit. Also somewhat disappointed though, that I still don't see the characteristics of each player shine through in their playing style that well. Yes, it is often reflected in their statistics over a season, but to me the players seem quite anonymous on field (except for guys with high flair doing some showing off). But of course the difference in playing style isn't that obvious in real life either...

But I still don't agree that my test in meaningless. The talk about having to consider so much else I don't buy. It is possible that the tactical changes do have effect, but that effect is in any case a lot less than what is to be expected, according to how the strategies are explained in the game. The only outside factor that I can agree could cause the results I got, assuming that overload and contain really are as extreme as they are explained, would be if the opposing team counters my overload with contain and my contain with going overload. And perhaps that is what happens? EDIT: But on the other hand I remember that the stats (shots, possession etc) were quite even in the games I played myself, so I'm not sure I would buy that scenario either.

Does any of you guys have an idea how to experimentally figure out how much impact tactical decisions really have?

I agree with this. SI certainly got some work to do here. This also extends to team playing style differences as well as country playing style differences. Everything looks like English football!

And the only way I know of to figure out tactical sensitivity is soak tests, and SI does that already. The manpower and computer power needed to balance the game is huge considering all the variables - and as I said your test only dealt with 2-3 variables and will therefore also only be useful to check those 2-3 variables, not the game as a whole. This is a game so it needs to be balanced, and since there are hundreds (or thousands) of possible input variations any single variable will necessarily have little impact.

If you consider the ME as a numbers generator (which it is), changing the input from Zonal to Man Marking may not even be visible on the field, but in theory Man Marking puts your player closer to the opponent he is supposed to mark. so the difference may be A) an increased chance of successful tackles, B) an increased chance of successful anticipations, C) a decreased chance of passing attempts to the marked player, or D) an increased chance of the opponent exploiting the space left behind when your player follows his guy. None of this might be visible on the pitch even in general play, and it might be difficult to spot in the statistics as well at least in a single match comparison. But now and then you are likely to get a goalscoring chance because A) and B) or have your defence break down because of D). Then consider that you are very unlikely to actually see C) happening unless you watch full matches. In other words situations generated because of a specific tactical choice, but only happening once every tenth match - or more often, or less often... we don't know.

Another example is Finishing 18 vs Finishing 14 for the same striker. The occasions where mr. 18 gets to use those extra 4 points will be rare because even at the top level most scored goals aren't caused by the shooter having high finishing. Finishing isn't even the most important attribute for scoring on one-on-ones, like many people think.

Take a look at this goal, for instance (it is the most recent in my current save):

If you look closely, you'll see that he not only lobs it past the keeper, he also curls it into the far top corner using quite a bit of force (he has the Shoots With Power PPM). This is what I consider a "Finishing-goal". The kind which is more likely with a good finisher than without one. This was a one-on-one with the keeper but usually I get this kind of goal out of nowhere. So the game calculates that there is a small chance that Finishing causes a goal to be scored on its own, and now and then it says *bing* and you get one. Extending this to the whole game things makes more sense but becomes much less football-y. For instance, can Mr. 14 above score as many goals over a season as Mr.18? Yes of course he can. But would a 14 Finishing 20 Composure version of the 17/20 in that video score that goal? Unlikely. Could he score on that chance? Certainly, but so would Mr. 17/20.

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I agree with this. SI certainly got some work to do here. This also extends to team playing style differences as well as country playing style differences. Everything looks like English football!

Which is extraordinary given the number of complaints that even Stoke look like they are playing tika-taka!!

The one constant on these forums is people conflating their own personal experience to a coverall theory of everything that happens in FM for everybody.

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Which is extraordinary given the number of complaints that even Stoke look like they are playing tika-taka!!

Isn't this reinforcing the point that playing styles don't shine through?

If Stoke play too short and Barcelona too direct, or in other words both team's passing styles are closer to the mean average, it means style differences aren't apparent enough in the game.

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I don't think the AI is good enough in producing an extreme range of tactics. That's not to say that they aren't obtainable. It's perfectly possible for the user to produce an extremely direct GB style tactic and a pass and move continental style tactic. The AI management is limited (which might or night not partly relate to research procedures), not the ME.

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I have absolutely no doubt that every decision I make influences the result as I have an uncanny knack of making things worse. If I go on holiday, my team goes on a great winning run. Once I've been sacked, my successor can do things with my old squad that I could never hope to manage.

I can build a squad of players that gel together. I can keep morale high, no problem. I can keep players fit and injuries to a minimum. However, as much as I understand the theory, I can't get things to work on the pitch.

If tactics made no difference, then my rubbish tactics would work too, right?

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It's been shown to have a significant effect in the goal spread.

ok, then. it's all i wanted to know. i haven't seen any evidence of this. but i suppose it's true.

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Strangely enough the match engine is the one part of the game where I have the least doubt as to the illusion or simulation question. As in I think it actually does something as opposed to only pretending to. What I am convinced about more and more with every title in the series, however, is that most of the other things are indeed just smoke and mirrors.

Concepts like training, staff attributes... these have never really been fully actually explained.

We only have vague, seemingly obvious or common sense answers. But no idea if those are right. Sure there are people who took the time to test certain elements of the game and have arrived at some conclusions, without any official input. I.e. DDM influences rating stars – but then the question arises what exactly in terms of game mechanics do those mean? Or take, I don't know, adaptability. There is a sort of hivemind that perpetuates the idea it does this or that. Because that is what adaptability means when you look it up in a dictionary. Heck, it might even say so in the manual, vaguely. But does it actually do that in the game? If so, how?

Considering how easy an official explanation of issues like these would be, yet we haven't had any, I do lean towards them having either zero influence, or the difference between their various values being negligible. Neither of which is good.

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Which is extraordinary given the number of complaints that even Stoke look like they are playing tika-taka!!

The one constant on these forums is people conflating their own personal experience to a coverall theory of everything that happens in FM for everybody.

Yeah Stoke plays like Barcelona, Barcelona plays like Stoke. It is like when Indians have trouble distinguishing R from L because they don't have either in their own language; to an Englishman they sound like they are switching the two but in reality they are pronouncing neither.

Well, that was what my professor said in any case, when speaking about how most Norwegians would pronounce just about every English sound slightly "off"...

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I must say that I don't much notice a difference in play styles in AI teams at all except for the obvious D-Line, Width and focus play options. I do notice slight differences in players though. I notice the Workrate 20 player tracking back a lot more than when my Workrate 10 player plays in the same position and role. I notice how my one midfielder takes longer on the ball because of his poor first touch and agility, where my more technical midfielders have no problems. I certainly notice my short striker getting on the end of crosses (set on "default") with his 20 Off The Ball, but my "better" striker with only 18 Off The Ball can not do the same.

I notice these things, but they're not crystal clear. Maybe it's because I watch matches in full at normal speed? PPMs have done a great job of setting some players apart from others. Regens, I feel, should come through with PPMs already "assigned" based on attributes, because going beyond the real life players, players seem pretty much the same.

Take a look at this goal, for instance (it is the most recent in my current save):

If you look closely, you'll see that he not only lobs it past the keeper, he also curls it into the far top corner using quite a bit of force (he has the Shoots With Power PPM). This is what I consider a "Finishing-goal". The kind which is more likely with a good finisher than without one. This was a one-on-one with the keeper but usually I get this kind of goal out of nowhere. So the game calculates that there is a small chance that Finishing causes a goal to be scored on its own, and now and then it says *bing* and you get one. Extending this to the whole game things makes more sense but becomes much less football-y. For instance, can Mr. 14 above score as many goals over a season as Mr.18? Yes of course he can. But would a 14 Finishing 20 Composure version of the 17/20 in that video score that goal? Unlikely. Could he score on that chance? Certainly, but so would Mr. 17/20.

I agree with this, but I think technique plays a part as well, which I'm sure you know.

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Strategy in itself really isn't hugely important. It merely provides the player with a guide to how many risks they should take. It doesn't set team shape (formation, roles and duties) or determine a style of play (philosophy and shouts). In order of importance, it would be (in my opinion):
  1. Shape
  2. Style
  3. Strategy

You are right. Strategy is obviously just a fine tuning within the formation. Too bad that the in-game description says otherwise.

I played another overload and contain match, now watching the game play more carefully. With the same formation, it is not easy to guess which strategy I'm using. Sure, overload makes the offensive players a little bit more eager to run forward, but it's not obvious. And when I played contain my players were still offensive enough to make a mistake on the midfield and be counter attacked!

To get to the behaviour which I would call overload, I had to switch formation to 3-3-4. So I did another test run of 5 matches, formation 3-3-4, strategy overload, style very fluid:

0-3

5-2

1-2

0-3

0-2

Now at least I mostly lose, which I expected. But I don't produce any goals?! Except for the second game when everything went in. Still I had >50% possession in all matches and better passing percentage than my opponent. Weird thing is that shots are surprisingly low, between 6-15 shots per match (my opponent had about the same number of shots). I usually produce that many shots with 4-4-2 and contain. Why don't I get more shots going overload and having most of the ball possession? Do I have to tell my forwards to shoot as well?!

So it is as you say. To go overload you have to change formation, change a few playing styles, do a few shouts, and then if you feel like it, although it is not necessary, you may add the overload strategy. But still, I have yet not seen any evidence that this will increase my chances of scoring a goal... Life's a bitch.

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It's almost like you're entirely disregarding massive swathes of the simulation, focussing on a small part of it and using that to try and rubbish the match engine...

I'm sorry if this seems harsh, but you appear to have little clue about what you're talking - you just can't dismiss everything else. You don't understand how it works.

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Going overload or attack (and leaving the roles that have auto duty available on auto, which provides an immediate link between strategy and shape), I had a match with barely a shot that went off by my team. I was facing Bayern with Mainz, and whilst there may have been more urgency to get that thing going, Bayern were easily able to mop up any attempts, plus they were standing right on the toes of the Mainz CBs already when in possession.

Quality of opposion, home advantage or no and their approach has a massive influence on this.

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Rock Bottom, here, take a look. This is a CL match between Munich and Malaga, re-played two times. Both times I didn't change the formation. I did, however, change the strategy. In the first attempt I employed a very attacking one straight through all match. With duties set to auto, this means the FBs are encouraged to make forward runs ASAP and join the attacks, one of the CM's is encouraged to do likewise, and the width of the pitch is utilized fully. A typical attacking shape thus looked like this: http://s1.directupload.net/file/d/3386/xyuljxhx_png.htm This is actually the sequence of play that saw the opener of the match, with Boateng overlapping Alaba, Alaba exchanging play with Boateng, and Boateng soon thereafter providing the cross that eventually led to Gomez making it 1-0. As you can see, playing that way exposes yourself mightily (I think the AI isn't clever enough to really efficiently exploit anything though, its decision might be logical, but exposing you is more by chance at least partly, against a human player that might be a tad different). Still you're dealing with probabilites. Maybe you will get hit successfully on the break, maybe you won't. It is important to recognize and know what you are encouraging as such, however, as it won't necessarily always show in the basic statistics, or the scoreline. The match ended in a wild 4-4 draw, btw. But none of the Malaga goals came from direct hits on the break as such, btw.

The second match I played far more defensively, and with the FBs on auto, they were encouraged to provide cover. A typical attack looked like this: http://s14.directupload.net/file/d/3386/g89audtd_png.htm As you can see, the FB's stayed behind, always provided cover (not ideal for any attacking play, btw.), there was better cover in the midfield, play is much more narrow. This is actually the sequence of play that led to the 2-1. With Ribery who cuts inside from the left, compressing space into an already crowded box, and short of options, it is Kroos here in possession who, not the worst in long shots in the game, will take the opportunity and hit home a screamer from a couple yards out. With more protection on the back, more men kept behind the ball, and generally less forward pushing play, Malaga had a good deal of shots and possession - but half of them from miles out and only two of them on target. Apart from Kroos' screamer (Man of the match) what caused Malaga mightily trouble were the many successful runs/dribblings from Ribery also influenced by his PPMs (four is a lot per match, but space opened by individual play is what you often get from fielding the likes of Ribery, Robben, Ronaldo, Messi, good regens et all - as argued, having a bunch of superior players you can do not that much wrong in FM). Marked in this shot is the dribbling move that lead to a foul and penalty that opened the scoring and immediately shifted the favors mightily more towards Bayern (as going behind usually means the opposition AI will open up and then there is also motivation / confidence affected): http://s7.directupload.net/file/d/3386/8lcn79ha_png.htm The match ended 3-1.

Similarily, I might have actually gotten more chances in the Mainz game talked about above if I pulled back, soaked up the apparent applied pressure and tried to hit the opponent on the break. Decisions, decisions. But none of them black and white, but each of them dealing with probabilities. As long as you don't know what you are roughly encouraging or stop looking at things this simplistically, you're doing things willy-nilly though, and it will always be more random and frustrating. I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but you can see likewise that it's just not that overly simplistic. It could be only if there wasn't actually any opponent on the pitch, if at all. Going 3-3-4 and still getting the better of possession looks like you're always playing at home against opposition who either don't want to or can't put you under pressure in your likely undermanned midfield, for instance. That's not guaranteed that this is the case, but with half of the team always in a position where they won't find time and space, and not many options deep, that looks like one likely cause. And additionally, if your opponent keeps men back (big IF, we don't know), you won't find many people who would encourage you to play this risky and attacking. Going battle-ram in particular in this case won't produce goals galore. Breaking down teams sitting deep has been a problem for many users for years, as often a different, more patient approach is suggested. You will need to work out space by encouraging movement, letting players from midfield and defense move between the lines and forwards "dropping off" into space (duties! duties! duties!) as well as encouraging a bit of a more patient play. Simply putting four men into the opposition's penalty area or thereabouts and booting the ball towards them isn't guaranteed to do that trick, in particular if the opponent has defenders who can cope with that. That's the kind of last resort attack which for instance Dortmund applied on Wednesday night around injury time, with Subotic booting tons of balls up-field in a desperate attempt to snatch a late equalizer. It's a last resort for a reason, as it relies on chance, rather than build up.

That's not going to work in this case. Unless those four parked up-front are Ribery, Robben, Ronaldo, Messi, that is. :D

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Look at it this way. In the real world. Let's say that England meets France in a quarter final in the WC. The score is 1-2 and there are 10 minutes to go. What would England do? Push the team forward, maybe get another attacker in, get the ball into the penalty area as much as possible, etc. What we call overload. Why would they want to do that? Probably because that is the best way to increase the chance of getting an equalizer. It will of course open up their defenses, but that is a risk worth taking.

Can we all agree on the scenario above, or is that where I have gotten everything wrong in my head?

So if we established that going overload is the best way to increase the possibility of scoring a goal in the last 10 minutes of the game, why wouldn't the same be true for the first 10 minutes of the game? You might want to say "because overloading only works when the opposing team has switched to contain to defend the score". But that would imply that the best way to neutralise an overloading opponent is to start attacking yourself. I have yet never seen that happen in a real football match. The leading team always wants to play as safely as possible during the last minutes.

Let's say that England instead faces a superior team like Spain or Brazil (okay I'm ducking for all the thrown bottles now :D). Wouldn't they still try the overload tactic at the end of the game? Because that is still the tactic that gives the best odds of getting an equalizer? Or if they were facing an inferior opponent like Ireland. Still overload, right?

So if I put together those statements I get to the conclusion that overload SHOULD increase the possibility of my team scoring a goal at all times against all opposition. Yes, it should also increase the possibility that I get even more goals in the back, but that is another thing.

With this background I am surprised that my overload scenario resulted in me scoring fewer goals than normally. I don't see how it could "depend" on a lot of other factors that I have not taken into consideration. Maybe FM is more complex than real life? Have you lived with FM so long that it is completely natural with cause and effect phenomena leading to the conclusion that contain is sometimes the best way of getting that equalizer in the last minutes of the game?

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So basically, you think Overload is meant to be a score goals button?

Like I said before, your view of football (both in game and in real life) seems massively simplistic.

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With this background I am surprised that my overload scenario resulted in me scoring fewer goals than normally. I don't see how it could "depend" on a lot of other factors that I have not taken into consideration. Maybe FM is more complex than real life? Have you lived with FM so long that it is completely natural with cause and effect phenomena leading to the conclusion that contain is sometimes the best way of getting that equalizer in the last minutes of the game?

You still haven't provided any context of your scenario, that was, like the entire point (I hope). F'r instance, in my reload above, the second match, looking at the 3 goals scored you'd think Bayern by your logics played fairly attackingly. But all the key situations came from inidividual play (Kroos screamer, Ribery's dribblings), not from players all advancing and providing angles and attacking opportunity and options as in the situations of the first match (which is the point I hopefully got across). They frequently weren't much options. All the most important scenarios relied on individual player quality of a few key players, which might have resulted in no goals at all on an off-day or with a bit of bad luck. You're still only providing score lines, no more no less.

Was this recent attempt again a re-load? Is the opposition any good? How good is your team? Did the shape of your team match what you had in mind before? Is one of your four forwards encouraged to drop off into space and provide a link between attack and midfield or is it your static shape making you easier to defend than needed be? Did you encourage a more direct style and/or lots of balls whopped straight into the box that might better your chances of a formation so heavy up front being utilized successfully? There's so much more than just clicking the strategy, which is a big misconception fueled by lack of documentation as well as the in-game descriptions of the strategies. In SI's defence, it explicitly states for most roles what changing duties affects in terms of positioning and movement, for instance, such as FB's pushing forward when on "attack" and providing cover when on "defend", etc.

Maybe you're actually not England trying to go gung-ho on France at all, but rather Romania trying to unrattle Italy (who quickly take the opportunity to mop it all up and hit you on the counter), and maybe you cannot translate your idea of really overloading an opponent into the TC's instructions and concepts. Again, strategy is but strategy, there are also shouts/team modifiers influencing style, and duties influencing shape for instance, which is really crucial. It's borderline impossible to tell without any context. Hopefully at least that much has come across. :)

edit: For what it is worth, which is only so much, currently doing your gung-ho 3-3-4 overload test with my equally limited and flawed "test bed" from above, and this boasted some of the most bonkers results I've ever had on FM ever on that level: such as 4:3 or 5:1 results at half-time etc. Not all matches are of that calibre, far from it, and obviously with such a formation it is hard to control possession against a 4-5-1, but there wasn't a single match where Bayern didn't score multiple times. But then they are quite stacked in attack even with Robben injured and favourites, Malaga often doesn't last 5 minutes without conceding the first.

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So basically, you think Overload is meant to be a score goals button?

To put it simply, YES!

The whole meaning of the concept OVERLOAD is to maximize the possibility to score an offensive goal in the shortest period of time possible! And now I'm talking about the real world concept of overload, not the FM concept which clearly is something completely different.

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You still haven't provided any context of your scenario, that was, like the entire point (I hope).

In my view the context should not matter. Did you have any objections to my reasoning with the England-France example? Because if you do, then we are getting somewhere. There I tried to show that overload (again, real world context here) should maximize the possibility to score a goal in any context.

But if you insist:

I play Real Sociedad against Osasuna on away turf. They are a rival team which I often have problems with even though I have somewhat better players and the odds are in my favour. Historically we have been quite even (I'm in 2015). They play 4-4-1-1 if I remember correctly. I play 1 center back, 2 offensive wing backs on auto, 2 central midfielders on support (defensive playmaker and a runner), 1 offensive midfielder on attack, the forwards are 1 poacher, 1 complete forward on support and 2 wingers on support (I Think).

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In my view the context should not matter. Did you have any objections to my reasoning with the England-France example? Because if you do, then we are getting somewhere. There I tried to show that overload (again, real world context here) should maximize the possibility to score a goal in any context.

But if you insist:

I play Real Sociedad against Osasuna on away turf. They are a rival team which I often have problems with even though I have somewhat better players and the odds are in my favour. Historically we have been quite even (I'm in 2015). They play 4-4-1-1 if I remember correctly. I play 1 center back, 2 offensive wing backs on auto, 2 central midfielders on support (defensive playmaker and a runner), 1 offensive midfielder on attack, the forwards are 1 poacher, 1 complete forward on support and 2 wingers on support (I Think).

You play with ONE centreback?? Who else is going to do any defending?

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You play with ONE centreback?? Who else is going to do any defending?

Come on, I am testing overloading tactics. I don't use this kind of formation in a normal game.

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To put it simply, YES!

The whole meaning of the concept OVERLOAD is to maximize the possibility to score an offensive goal in the shortest period of time possible! And now I'm talking about the real world concept of overload, not the FM concept which clearly is something completely different.

This line of thinking has been failing since the first England v Scotland international in 1872. You're 141 years out of date.

You'll have too many players beyond the ball and a bunch of static targets all standing in the defensive comfort zone. Overloading relies on luck instead of maximising your players abilities by exploiting space. It's percentage football that will fail the majority of the time. However, when you have been tactically out-thought and have no other option left, with five minutes to go a 20% chance of success is better than 0% - which is why it is sometimes worth the gamble.

In your first test, you improved your results when you switched to Very Fluid. In your last test, you were simply looking to get more players further forward. In other words, when you improved your shape you won, when you prioritised territory over shape you lost.

Until you understand the value of shape and space in tactics, any test on the effectiveness of tactics is flawed.

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In my view the context should not matter. Did you have any objections to my reasoning with the England-France example? Because if you do, then we are getting somewhere. There I tried to show that overload (again, real world context here) should maximize the possibility to score a goal in any context.

Not sure now. Let's try it this way. You claim that context should not matter. Take a look at this match-up, the side employing four forwards was encouraged to go strategy: "overload". This is but a pre-season friendly, which has further influence in FM. Still, take a look:

http://www.pic-upload.de/view-20778693/stats2.png.html

What in your opinion should happen?

Now, did this outcome match your expectation?

http://www.pic-upload.de/view-20778696/stats.png.html

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In my view the context should not matter. Did you have any objections to my reasoning with the England-France example? Because if you do, then we are getting somewhere. There I tried to show that overload (again, real world context here) should maximize the possibility to score a goal in any context.

But if you insist:

I play Real Sociedad against Osasuna on away turf. They are a rival team which I often have problems with even though I have somewhat better players and the odds are in my favour. Historically we have been quite even (I'm in 2015). They play 4-4-1-1 if I remember correctly. I play 1 center back, 2 offensive wing backs on auto, 2 central midfielders on support (defensive playmaker and a runner), 1 offensive midfielder on attack, the forwards are 1 poacher, 1 complete forward on support and 2 wingers on support (I Think).

Where you are going wrong is simply put that when clicking on Overload you expect your team to actually accomplishing it. There is no such guarantee. Your tactic might be good when on Control, decent on Contain but absolutely rubbish on Overload because your players cannot pull off what you are telling them to do.

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If these tests showed that Overload always resulted in more goals, then that would suggest the match engine was based on fairly simplistic calculations.

It's actually because the match engine is a complex simulation that considers so many different variables, that results are not predictable based on one or two key settings.

It reminds me a bit of Kevin Keegan as England manager.

Frantically waving your hands and telling players to overload the box often won't really help if the underlying strategy is still flawed :)

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Its a complex enough simulation to resemble chaos, I would say :-)

Remember that some factors are by their nature 'on the pitch' - you can't see these in the results:

Substitutions - Did you use these? Did the opposition?

Weather/Pitch - did you pay attention to these?

Opposition changes - did you react? These are often determined by the timing of goals, and can be a critical factor.

Luck - The biggest factor of all, as it should be. This is why you have to watch the games.

Sometimes a player is playing brilliantly, but I'll take him off because he's hit the post twice :-)

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OP: I ran this test of changing a single parameter and the result is not what I expected. Therefore, the game behaves completely random and I have no control over the outcome and might as well not bother.

Everybody else: The methodology is flawed and you didn't test what you set out to test.

OP: Ok, but I will ignore that and repeat my initial assumption and go on to theorize that the match engine does exactly the opposite of what it actually does.

Everybody else: We actually know for a fact that the match engine does the opposite of what you think it does.

OP: Fine, but I invested so much time in this test and the thread that I don't want to believe it was pointless. So my new conclusion is that the parameter I changed should do something different from what it does.

Everybody else: if that parameter would do what you want the engine would actually be much worse.

OP: But in real life that's what it would do.

Everybody else: Nope.

OP: I'll just keep digging. Agree to disagree, etc etc etc

Yep, pretty much follows the standard template...

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Not sure now. Let's try it this way. You claim that context should not matter. Take a look at this match-up, the side employing four forwards was encouraged to go strategy: "overload". This is but a pre-season friendly, which has further influence in FM. Still, take a look:

http://www.pic-upload.de/view-20778693/stats2.png.html

What in your opinion should happen?

Now, did this outcome match your expectation?

http://www.pic-upload.de/view-20778696/stats.png.html

Sigh.

Does anyone even understand what I am saying? English is not my first language, so maybe I have a problem expressing myself. Yes, It was very expected that Newcastle would crush Accrington. I haven't said otherwise. If you play ten times with Accrington on overload and 3-4-4 and then ten times with contain and 4-4-2, then my expectation would have been that the 3-4-4 formation should have gotten more shots and more goals than the 4-4-2 formation. My expectation is also that the 3-4-4 formation would lose bigger.

Let's recap this one last time with short sentences:

1. Overload is a concept that means to push forward as much as possible to maximize the probability of scoring a goal.

2. The FM startegy "overload" did not do this to any greater extent, because strategy is apparently overruled by formation and other things.

3. I tried to set up a new formation to get a behaviour that at least looked like the team was doing overload, i.e. 3-4-4.

4. The probability of my team scoring went down instead of up.

Nr 1. is the cornerstone of my argumentation. It may be faulty, but I base it on the fact the real teams actually try to attack when they are down by 1 and just a few minutes left to play. I have never seen a team falling back to a defensive formation waiting for a mistake from the opponent to make that last minute equalizer (except for teams that are too tired to push forward). Actually, would it be wrong to claim that "overload" is the definition of "try to make a goal at all costs"?

Nr 4. counter proofs nr 1. This can mean one of four things:

a) Nr 1. is faulty.

b) My setup still lacks a setting for getting the simulator to understand that I want to overload. From the stats it looks like I am missing the command "Shoot when you get the chance".

c) The statistical set of 5 matches is too low. Maybe the results would tune in better with more matches.

d) The probability engine does not work as expected.

And for all of you that believes that I am trying to prove that overload is a good match strategy to win matches. Please don't respond.

All I am trying to do is to figure out if there is any understable logic behind how the probability engine responds to tactical orders. Because frankly, it is very fuzzy. To do this, I started out with the simplest and most straightforward test that should give the most impact on result. Comparing overload vs contain. It failed, and the general feedback I get here is that the ME is too complex to test the impact of single orders. That actually just feeds my feeling that much of FM is an illusion. It's like when religious people defend their faith with comments like "the lord works in mysterious ways and we are not wise enough to understand his full intention".

I still hope I'm wrong though. But this far I have not received one useful advice on how I could/should test the ME in a scientific way, so I am starting to believe that there isn't such a way.

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OP: I ran this test of changing a single parameter and the result is not what I expected. Therefore, the game behaves completely random and I have no control over the outcome and might as well not bother.

Everybody else: The methodology is flawed and you didn't test what you set out to test.

OP: Ok, but I will ignore that and repeat my initial assumption and go on to theorize that the match engine does exactly the opposite of what it actually does.

Everybody else: We actually know for a fact that the match engine does the opposite of what you think it does.

OP: Fine, but I invested so much time in this test and the thread that I don't want to believe it was pointless. So my new conclusion is that the parameter I changed should do something different from what it does.

Everybody else: if that parameter would do what you want the engine would actually be much worse.

OP: But in real life that's what it would do.

Everybody else: Nope.

OP: I'll just keep digging. Agree to disagree, etc etc etc

Yep, pretty much follows the standard template...

The bolded part I must have missed. So the general consensus is that overload as a concept is not the same as "try to make a goal at all costs"? Because if that's true then I have misunderstood football gravely and that would explain everything.

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Look, it's a simple enough explanation but not a simple test to conduct. What you are actually trying to test is whether or not tactical decisions you make have any meaningful impact on the results. You reduce that premise to something completely different by using a proxy measure that doesn't work that way. Flipping a single switch to overload vs contain doesn't test what you want and neither does setting the formation to 3-4-4 if you ignore everything else.

So first of all it was pointed out to you that a better question would be whether or not tactical choices have a meaningful impact on the behavior of your players, not on the result, and not even on stats like shots on goal because that takes some other variables out of the equation that just muddy the waters. You argue that this should directly translate into the scoreline but it does so quite indirectly and it takes a long run of tests before those stats start to make sense. Simply put, there are too many other factors that you are not controlling for that dictate whether or not you are going to get shots on target, let alone score.

If you can accept that seeing your instructions are implemented on the field in a meaningful way would be enough to believe it's not merely smoke and mirrors, then test that instead of continuing to stress the point that you believe your test should produce different results. It would be a much better test. So how to do that you ask? Watch the match in full time, change things around and watch your players closely. The proof is in the pudding. Different tactics will produce different on field actions, but it's a very complex mesh of interacting variables.

The one thing that seems to keep tripping you up is your definition of overload. In order to achieve your goal of having a tactic that attempts to score all cost you need to change more around than the overload switch or player position. A kamikaze tactic like that is possible and maybe you can argue it should have been thrown in there as a preset to choose from.

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If you play ten times with Accrington on overload and 3-3-4 and then ten times with contain and 4-4-2, then my expectation would have been that the 3-3-4 formation should have gotten more shots and more goals than the 4-4-2 formation. My expectation is also that the 3-3-4 formation would lose bigger.

Then your expectations are unrealistic.

A good tactic gets more shots on goal (or a higher ratio at least) and more goals than a bad tactic. That's the ultimate truth. When you change a tactic's strategy from, say, Standard (one that is proven to work well), to Overload and Contain without making sure that the resulting entirely new two tactics also works, you have basically accomplished one thing only: you have made two bad tactics.

This is what all the other guys have been trying to tell you all along.

I also said so in #83 but you ignored that. Clicking on Overload ensures that your team will -try- to overload, but it will never ensure that they actually manage to do so.

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The bolded part I must have missed. So the general consensus is that overload as a concept is not the same as "try to make a goal at all costs"? Because if that's true then I have misunderstood football gravely and that would explain everything.
It is not the same. I'm not a real life manager either, but to me overloading means getting more players in the box so that long balls into the box have a higher probability of reaching one of your own players, either directly or through a lucky bounce. In order for that to happen you still need to get the ball in there first and whether or not you're successful at that depends to a great deal on the opposition. It is used late in the game when you have run out of other options, which should tell you that it's not very successful at actually scoring goals. It may not even be very successful at getting shots on target either, if the opposition defends well against it, or manages to prevent crosses, or keeps the ball away from you. So even with a tactic that perfectly mimics what overloading does in real life, you may not actually see that reflected in the stats of shots on goal. It will probably be reflected in the number of counter attacks launched against you though. Note that this is a completely separate discussion from what you said you want to test, which is whether or not tactical changes realistically influence the match or not.

P.S. In the Accrington example, this means that I would not necessarily expect 3-3-4 to get more shots and more goals than the 4-4-2 formation. A much stronger opponent will not have any difficulty at all defending against your pushed up men and simply exploit the weakness in the back, dominating possession and probably trouncing you. You never even get a chance to shoot. The more balanced 4-4-2 may well give you a better chance at scoring against the stronger team. So yeah, context matters.

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A good tactic gets more shots on goal (or a higher ratio at least) and more goals than a bad tactic. That's the ultimate truth.

Uhm, not really. A good tactic gives you higher probability of beating your opponent than a bad tactic. That is necessarily not the same as getting more shots and goals compared to the bad tactic. A defensive tactic against a better opponent might give you a 1-0 win, while an offensive tactic could give you a 2-5 loss.

I also said so in #83 but you ignored that. Clicking on Overload ensures that your team will -try- to overload, but it will never ensure that they actually manage to do so.

And I mean that even if they fail to succeed with the overload, they will still have a higher chance of scoring if they try than if they just sit back and wait. That's just plain common sense.

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It is used late in the game when you have run out of other options, which should tell you that it's not very successful at actually scoring goals.

Why? It only tells me that the chance that the opposing team scores increases more than the chance that your team scores. But the chance that your team scores still increases. It's the same thing when hockey teams take out their goalie in the last minutes of the game when they desperately need a goal. It will increase their chances of scoring. But they don't do it all match, because then they would lose big time.

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Uhm, not really. A good tactic gives you higher probability of beating your opponent than a bad tactic. That is necessarily not the same as getting more shots and goals compared to the bad tactic. A defensive tactic against a better opponent might give you a 1-0 win, while an offensive tactic could give you a 2-5 loss.

And I mean that even if they fail to succeed with the overload, they will still have a higher chance of scoring if they try than if they just sit back and wait. That's just plain common sense.

Then as suggested don't understand shape and space. The above attempt did produce 3 measly shots, not a single of which FM classed as "scoring opportunity" in the analysis tab. Apparently four League 2 forwards were completely unable to unrattle whatever Premier League defenders Newcastle bothered to keep back at bay whilst attacking, if so far up and the team undermanned in midfield they saw much of the ball at all that is. And the few opportunities in which they got their hopes up of of being through, they were flagged or put offside, which with such a packed front line and balls hit into their general direction, happend quite frequently. Granted, the chances were slim. But there's little chance of the above tactics working against such opposition. Newcastle defenders laughed that off.

It would have had a bigger chance if the forwards actually were able to outmuscle the defenders, and the defenders frail to get unsettled, say you'd had a load of physically superior forwards causing trouble and encouraged plenty direct balls coming their general direction. It'd still be fairly battle-ram, see The Amazing Dale Watkins. But then we might be talking. And now we're talking "context" which in your opinion should matter none. Osasuna frequently weren't unsettled a single bit, at least looking at your score lines in your latest test. But then you were exposed before that by fielding but a single CB and not one real holding midfielder, which is bound to cost you dearly. This is just an estimated guess, but them having home advantage on tops, this results in them going up in say 8 out of 10 games, which in turn might make them committing less men forward and thus making life harder for your four forwards who find themselves in even less space -- that immediately hurts any chance you have right there, and putting five forwards up there who will find even less space wouldn't rectify that. There's a reason why we see formations with not a single true forward appearing, whilst when football started out five or more of them were the norm.

b) My setup still lacks a setting for getting the simulator to understand that I want to overload. From the stats it looks like I am missing the command "Shoot when you get the chance".

There actually is something build into the TC that enables you to encourage such. It is in the shouts, with which you can influence the style of your play - exploiting the flanks, going through the middle, encouraging to shoot on sight, dribble less, dribble more, etc. Shooting on sight however still means that you have to actually get players in sight of the goal first that have some time on the ball and space to finish something off, preferably players who are of some calibre when it comes to shooting. Four forwards, perhaps all advancing into the box and little space whatsoever likely aren't your best bet for getting those off, a central midfielder encouraged to move forward and arrive at the box might do better (again, movement=duties). In any case, similarily to changing your formation to a marauding four up-front and pushing "overload" or any other option in the game, just pushing this button will do nothing good whatsoever by itself. In parts I agree that some of that should be more linked to the strategies, as they are described in the text anyway. For instance, even going contain, by the description drastic and but a means to not concede, it won't encourage the wingers to stop their quite frequent forward runs with the ball. But there are shouts for that and more too. It all sounds mightily complicated, and it seems as if you'd need to watch every single match and detail to get the foggiest of this. But this isn't the case, it's as simple or as in-depth as you want it to be, at least if you have a basic understanding of football..

Let's see how FM 2014 fares in this, as it will look differently in instructions. Above the misconception regarding the TC, which I can sympathize with as it really isn't documented well: The answer of whether FM would be a simulator of football or just an illusion will still always prove a disappointment for you, as there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of how football is being played.

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Why? It only tells me that the chance that the opposing team scores increases more than the chance that your team scores. But the chance that your team scores still increases. It's the same thing when hockey teams take out their goalie in the last minutes of the game when they desperately need a goal. It will increase their chances of scoring. But they don't do it all match, because then they would lose big time.

It is amazing how you manage to consistently home in on the least important point of an argument. Did you even read the rest of the post? And no, it is not the same as a hockey team pulling their goalie. The equivalent of that would be a football team making their goalie run into the box, which - lo and behold - does happen. Pushing everybody into the box does not necessarily result in more goals as I have pointed out in the part you ignored. There are also fundamental differences between hockey and football, for example that it's way easier to get the puck in the end zone than it is to get the ball into the box, and that it's way harder to hold the puck in your possession than it is for a skilled team of footballers to hold possession of the ball, especially if your opponent seems to have assembled far away from the action, in your box.

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So first of all it was pointed out to you that a better question would be whether or not tactical choices have a meaningful impact on the behavior of your players, not on the result, and not even on stats like shots on goal because that takes some other variables out of the equation that just muddy the waters. You argue that this should directly translate into the scoreline but it does so quite indirectly and it takes a long run of tests before those stats start to make sense.

The only reason to change your tactic is because you want to affect the score. If a change don't reflect in the score/stats, then it's worthless. But you are right that the effect might be so small that you need a vast number of statistical samples (matches) before you can draw any conclusions. I have admitted all along that 5 matches is too few really. But I ventilated the results anyway so I could get some valuable feedback before I wasted too much time on it. And it was a good thing because at least I learned that the strategy setting is not as powerful as you would think when you read the in-game description.

I want to avoid judging anything by "looking at the match". Mainly because it is not measurable and takes too much time. But a little bit also because it may be a part of the "illusion" that I often get the feeling FM is showing off. I don't know how many times I feel like I have been "destined" to lose a match. Quite often I can say after 15 min, after three framework hits and two 1on1 misses, that this will be a game where I dominate the stats with 25-3 in shots and still lose the game. That prediction comes true uncanningly often. I can also quite frequently spot in a beginning of a highlight that it will end with a goal, because of the extraordinary beautiful sequence of passes that precedes it. It might just be in my head, but it all adds up to this nagging feeling that something is not right.

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Okay let's end this thread. It doesn't lead anywhere.

I just did another test that I want to share though before I leave you. I tried another five matches with my normal formation and everything else set to default. The change I did this time was to swap players and let everyone (except the goalie) play on a "red" position. Forwards as defenders and vice versa.

The results were:

1-1

0-1

1-1

3-2

1-1

So obviously the player's familiarity with the position is not super important either. There was one big effect though. The opponent consistently had the most possession, best passing percentage and overwhelmingly more corners (all of which my team usually wins). But the shots and goals were even as always. I have no doubt that it is better to play a player on its favourite position, but just as with trying to overload, the effect is way much smaller than what I would have expected. I'm sure you have some kind of explanation for this as well. But as with religion I think we are better off keeping our conclusions to ourselves.

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If these tests showed that Overload always resulted in more goals, then that wo

It's actually because the match engine is a complex simulation that considers so many different variables, that results are not predictable based on one or two key settings.

It reminds me a bit of Kevin Keegan as England manager.

Frantically waving your hands and telling players to overload the box often won't really help if the underlying strategy is still flawed :)

Can you please help the non hardcore player understand which settings to change then. I understand the fun is in figuring out those settings ourselves but I don't thinnk the game provides any tools since even replaying the same match five times tells you nothing.

So how am I supposed to figure the settings out then ?

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The only reason to change your tactic is because you want to affect the score. If a change don't reflect in the score/stats, then it's worthless.

Ultimately yes, but you're actually trying to increase the probability of scoring, so changes that aren't reflected in the score aren't necessarily worthless. You have still tried but failed to make a measurable impact. There comes a point in a match where the manager thinks that whatever they've been doing so far has a lower chance of success than the alternative. Sometimes the change works, sometimes it backfires, and sometimes it doesn't do a damn thing.

But you are right that the effect might be so small that you need a vast number of statistical samples (matches) before you can draw any conclusions. I have admitted all along that 5 matches is too few really. But I ventilated the results anyway so I could get some valuable feedback before I wasted too much time on it. And it was a good thing because at least I learned that the strategy setting is not as powerful as you would think when you read the in-game description.

It's actually quite possible to reasonably infer that tactical changes have a realistic effect on the match with a sample of 5 matches or less. But you have to manipulate the right things and look at the right stats. For example, instruct a fast and skilled winger to run with the ball and cross frequently and look at the difference in stats of attempted crosses. If you also make sure that the ball gets to him in the first place, you will see a difference in the stats right away. If you want to test the effects of overloading the box however, you will have to look at something other than shots on goal or goals.

I want to avoid judging anything by "looking at the match". Mainly because it is not measurable and takes too much time. But a little bit also because it may be a part of the "illusion" that I often get the feeling FM is showing off. I don't know how many times I feel like I have been "destined" to lose a match. Quite often I can say after 15 min, after three framework hits and two 1on1 misses, that this will be a game where I dominate the stats with 25-3 in shots and still lose the game. That prediction comes true uncanningly often. I can also quite frequently spot in a beginning of a highlight that it will end with a goal, because of the extraordinary beautiful sequence of passes that precedes it. It might just be in my head, but it all adds up to this nagging feeling that something is not right.

You can also use the heat maps to see effects of tactical instructions if you don't want to watch the game. That other feeling is indeed just in your head and is called "availability bias", in which vivid or memorable events lead people to overestimate the frequency of occurrence of these events. In other words, we tend to remember the unusual outcomes while forgetting about all the times the expected thing happened because the unusual ones are much more salient in our mind. People complain about the great FM conspiracy all the time here, and half of it is just mis-remembering the complete stats, and the other half failing to take into account things like the quality of chances, psychological effects like loss of confidence, and other tactical subtleties not reflected in the shots statistic. There's also a fair bit of confirmation bias at work here, which I'll leave as an exercise to look up on Wikipedia.

I'm the last one to claim that the ME would be a perfect realistic representation of an actual football game. It is however far from the smoke and mirrors show you so desperately want it to be. Spend some time in the Tactics sub-forum if you're curious exactly how tactical changes affect gameplay.

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