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Tricking the Wizard – Guide for Understanding the Tactical Creator Dynamics

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I’ve only been on this forum for a couple of weeks, but I’ve already read countless posts from people either asking for or giving advice about tactical systems created and tweaked in the wonderful game that is Football Manager.

The problem, I think, is that most of those people seem to be overwhelmed by the Tactical Creator. What I mean by that is, the information given in the game about tactical instructions, roles and duties is a little… simplistic, to say the least – let alone ‘misleading’ sometimes. So many people find themselves blindly and helplessly hitting every instruction they feel would be beneficial to their vision of a system. And fail. Others come here to ask for help and blindly and helplessly follow someone’s advice about their views of the Tactical Creator. And then either succeed, or fail, depending on a number of factors.

Well, we can’t blame anyone for that. I myself was extremely confused for a long while before really taking the time to analyze what I was really doing. The Tactical Creator is almost a science in itself, and though I certainly wouldn’t claim to know all of it (far from it!!!), the aim of this thread is to demystify some abstract notions for people who just can’t seem to understand what it all means. I have spent a couple of weeks trying to piece this article (and visual examples/graphics) together, while also trying to ‘create’ a parallel - and hopefully more usable, clearer - terminology for some of the most confusing terms and instructions available in the Tactical Creator. I hope it can help at least some of you spend more quality time creating your tactics and maybe enjoying the game more as a result!

Let me say right away that all of this is a work in progress, mostly formed from my opinions and experiences with the game, and designed to outline some core principles and mechanics within it. This guide will be exactly that – a guide. Not a dictator. And if someone wants to contribute, I’ll be happy to listen to any comments/suggestions, however there will need to be at least some sort of evidence/discussion about what could/should be changed or added.

TERMINOLOGY

Okay, for the sake of saving some precious “screen real estate” and “life time”, I will be using a lot of abbreviations and common terms throughout the guide, therefore I am going to clarify exactly what those terms refer to, right here.

First, the abbreviation TC will refer to the Tactical Creator (which, for our discussion, will imply all the screens and tabs contained under the ‘Tactics’ screen in your team menu). ‘TI’ means Team Instruction(s), and ‘PI’ means Player Instruction(s). ‘Game’ means Football Manager, ‘Match’ means a football match played between two teams.

ME : The Match Engine, which simulates your matches, bringing your tactics to life.

User(s) : We, the human managers who scratch our heads in front of the TC.

Player(s) : The football players who form your squad(s) and other teams’ squads.

First Team : Best 11 of a given club/team.

Squad : All players in the first team squad, including subs and unused guys.

The rest of the common terms used will be explained as the article goes on.

A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY

FM14 has undergone significant changes to make the game arguably more immersive. Among them, the ME has been overhauled, so tactical instructions are depicted somewhat differently than in previous versions. Another thing of interest for our thread is, the TC has been completely redesigned. BUT… its overall dynamics haven’t changed much, and to help us better understand this year’s TC, I believe it is worth to go back to an earlier FM. We will use FM13, which is the most likely to have been played by a relatively high number of users in here, and arguably the closest to FM14 in terms of tactics.

The reason why I want us to take a look at last year’s TC is, IMO, our tactical changes were easier to ‘see’ in that one (although the new TC is arguably more realistic, it is less precise and “graphic”). After a quick overview, we are going to have a better ground for translating tactical dynamics in FM14. We will even get back to FM13 very often in this thread to match tactical changes and help us really see what happens behind the scenes.

Okay, after removing the dust from my FM13, I started it up and created a test save with Bayern Munich. Here is what the TC looks like (for now, we will focus on general team and player instructions) :

Re2Cz1S.png

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Very different looking than the FM14 TC, as you know by now. In the end, though, most of the options that were available in FM13 are still available in FM14, but implemented in a different way. Last year, we had sliders scaling from 0-18 for most things, drop-down lists of 2-3 options for others, check boxes, etc. And as we shall see in our first example below, changes we made were much more ‘graphic’ and easily identifiable, whereas this year’s version does not provide us with such luxury. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and I’m not saying one is necessarily better. They are just differently designed.

Let’s focus on the 2013 TC for now. I will first change Bayern’s team ‘Strategy’ to *Attacking* and see what it does on the surface :

Cz5Fp6G.png

See, it automatically changed some TIs. *Defensive Line* from 11 to 16, *Width* and *Tempo* from 9 to 15, plus considerably reduced *Time Wasting*. Those notions will still apply when we make the same changes in this year’s game, though we won’t be able to see it as clearly. (Side note : exception here as the TC also automatically introduced *Offside Trap*, which does not happen anymore in FM14)

Great!! Done. Wait. No. The strategy change also affected a lot of PIs, and we have to be aware of that. For now, just have a look at how the DCR’s instructions have changed compared to the above. We are going to come back to that sort of stuff later on, but I want you to keep this in mind as we switch back to FM14 : One instruction change does a lot more than just one change.

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UNDERSTANDING FORMATIONS AND SHAPES

Now the fun begins :) I have launched FM14 and started another test save, this time with Borussia Dortmund. I wanted to have a team of similar calibre, but not the same team, for reasons that will be explained later.

2BvVZ7n.png

When designing or changing a tactic, we all have to ask ourselves the infamous question : ‘How are we going to play?’ However, it is a large question and many will find great answers to that, having great tactical ideas and great plans according to the strengths and weaknesses of their great (or not so great) squad.

The real question that we are going to (try to) answer in this thread is, ‘How am I going to set the TC up so it tells the boys to execute the plan I have in mind, and play like we want to play?’ And for that, we first have to understand the concept of ‘formations’ and ‘shapes’. Let me define those, according to my vision of the thing :

FORMATION is simply the way you spread your players on the pitch of the tactics screen. In the first test tactic we are going to create, Dortmund’s formation will be a 4-4-2. You can have only one basic formation per tactic.

SHAPE is the way your players are positioned and moving on the pitch, at any given point in the match. Every tactic has a lot of different shapes, including the defensive shape, the attacking shape, the att-def transition shape, the def-att transition shape (those are the main 4). In our first test tactic, Dortmund are going to defend as a 4-4-2, but they are NOT going to attack as a 4-4-2 (more on that later).

What I want you to get right now is that your ‘formation’ will dictate how your team defends, and that’s about it. Transitioning + attacking shapes and movement will be affected mostly by your tactical instructions (including TIs, PIs, player roles and duties)… in those movements, your formation will only play a small part. So, what does it all mean? Look at this shot I took from FM13 :

igQJ9eL.png

I put players in as most different positions/roles as I could in a formation and drew some ‘defensive’ rectangles. The players in the red rectangle, because of their ‘formation’ positioning, are more likely to stay ahead of the ball and not contribute much in your own half. The players in the blue rectangle will always be there to defend (except in very specific situations, such as set piece counterattacking, for example). The players in the yellow zone will usually be there to defend too, although it can be altered in certain situations and phases of play. Notice, however, the green-ish rectangle in the squad list : With a Standard-Balanced tactic, the ML and AMR, being on the same role and duty, have exactly the same mentality (all their other instructions are the same as well) even though they are not in the same strata. That means they should behave about the same way in our other ‘shapes’, such as the attacking movement shape. Be aware of that when you choose a formation. (I forgot the wingback in the picture, but the same mentality principle would apply to a wide defender vs. a wingback who have the same role and duty).

So, defending is affected by formation. Good. For now, know that it is also affected to a big degree by other tactical instructions, roles and duties (e.g. closing down, tackling, marking, tempo, width, depth).

Transitions and shapes could be a subject for another huge thread, so I won’t go too far into detail, but I just want you to know that those will MAINLY be affected by your players’ roles, duties and individual/team mentalities/instructions. And much less by your choice of formation. To clarify that, let me just show you a first screenshot of FM14. This is our base formation with some generic roles given to the players. (G<d>, FB<s>, CD<d>, CD<d>, FB<a>, W<s>, CM<a>, CM<d>, WM<s>, TM<s>, AF<a>)

L0UYDFV.png

We are going to have a closer look at player roles later, but for now suffice it to say that we are going to have a DL and a MCR who are going to bomb forward at every occasion (DL only when the ball is on the left, overlapping the ML in the process). When the ball is on the right, we know it’s our MR who will go forward and wide, especially with the ball at his feet. In the last pic, I’ve highlighted the zones that ‘should’ be covered by all the players during the game, especially in possession. Now, a couple of in-match screens.

Ef9tybY.png

Here is one showing Dortmund in transition from defence to attack. Remember when I said we would NOT attack as a 4-4-2? There is also a different set of shapes for the team when they lose the ball, going from attack back to the defensive 4-4-2 shape, e.g. :

tmI8Y8w.png

In this scenario it looks like a sort of 4-2-4, but this will vary depending on where the team loses the ball, which opponent wins it and a number of other factors.

Okay so that was a quick overview of ‘FORMATIONS’ and ‘SHAPES’ and how they are NOT always related. When you watch matches, I suggest that you keep a close eye on how your team transitions, as this is a huge part of what makes a formation (and an overall tactic) successful or not. Here, Dortmund won the match 7-1, but I felt there were a lot of things that would go wrong against stronger clubs … And I saw that from watching it, not simulating it.

REDEFINING TI ‘MENTALITY’

Now that formations are better understood (or at least we know how they work), it’s time to go to two of the most misunderstood concepts in the TC. Team Instructions ‘Mentality’ and ‘Fluidity’. We will start with ‘Mentality’.

‘Mentality’ was called ‘Strategy’ in FM13, and you have 7 choices, ranging from ‘Contain’ to ‘Overload’. It is not a very well defined instruction, and as you saw in our Bayern example changing this changes a lot of instructions, not just one. I personally think the in-game explanations are misleading, considering what they actually do to your tactics. Therefore I tried to find a way to better describe them and here is a quick overview of it.

‘Mentality’ = ‘Approach’

‘Contain’ = ‘Terrified’

‘Defensive’ = ‘Cautious’

‘Counter’ = ‘Patient’

‘Standard’ = ‘Normal’ (well, Standard if you like)

‘Control’ = ‘Adventurous’

‘Attacking’ = ‘Aggressive’

‘Overload’ = ‘Mad’

The reason for a different terminology here is that a Mentality change does change everything. Passing style, tempo, closing down, tackling, d-line depth, width, roaming, running, etc. So, to me, it’s much more than just telling how ‘offensive’ or ‘defensive’ you are. It is your overall approach to a match or matches. A lot of people tend to think that by going more ‘attacking’ they should get more goals, and vice versa, however it is not always true (though you often need to be more aggressive to get more goals, and more cautious to concede less). I think the scale I have created represents what happens on the pitch much better, and while I don’t think you are required to use it too, I would like you to keep those words in mind as we go through.

***A FIRST FORAY IN THE INDIVIDUAL INSTRUCTIONS – Individual Mentality and Creative Freedom

Before moving to ‘Fluidity’, we have to understand the main instructions it will affect : Individual ‘Mentality’ (different from team ‘approach’ defined above), and ‘Creative Freedom’. We’ll start by the latter since it is the easier one to comprehend.

Simple. Creative Freedom is the extent to which a player is allowed to deviate from his tactical instructions and express himself. You knew that. Let’s move on.

Mentality affects how likely (and how fast) a player is to be going forward and joining the attack. Overall, mentality shapes how a player plays. To put it extremely simply (there is much more to it than that, but), higher mentalities will be goal scorers, lower mentalities will defend more and stay back, and medium mentalities will look to link up play and create chances mostly.

UNDERSTANDING FLUIDITY

Fluidity (called ‘Style’ in FM13) is a wildly misunderstood and misused concept. I remember reading a couple of threads which explained it very well, but still people don’t know what to do with that instruction and how best to use it.

To put it simply, fluidity is the level of specialization from your individual players. It determines what phases of play your players will participate in. Having read the above explanation, there is thus no surprise that Fluidity affects individual Mentality. How it affects it is another thing that we are going to look at now.

For the sake of comparison, just go back to the top and watch, in our Bayern example, how changing from *Standard* to a more *Aggressive* approach raised our DCR’s individual mentality from ‘5’ to ‘9’. Actually, it raised every player’s mentality by four increments.

Fluidity, on the other hand, will adjust mentalities on a player by player basis. Take a look at how changing from a *Balanced* style to a *Rigid* style affected our players’ mentalities (I replicated the Dortmund tactic with Bayern for this example) :

NP167wG.png

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In terms of individual mentality, the full backs are closer to the centre-backs, and the MCR has also dropped considerably. The three other midfielders, however, have gone up a little bit, and the supporting striker is now much more ‘forward-minded’. Here are screen shots of mentality changes for the three other Fluidity settings (thanks, FM13).

tjGwok8.png

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Note that going more ‘Fluid’ DOES NOT mean going more aggressive. For example, in our setup here, the back four all have the same mentalities on *Fluid* as on *Very Rigid*. On another level, look at the very fluid settings. Our CDs have the same mentality as our more attacking players (MCR, MR, close to STCL, more than STCR). This DOES NOT mean that they are going to surge into the box trying to score. It just means they are going to be more aggressive in their play, maybe trying more killer passes, closing down more, support the attacks, etc. Individual mentality unfolds differently from player to player according to the position each one is played in.

The other big thing with Fluidity is, it affects *Creative Freedom*. Basically, the higher the Fluidity, the higher the Creative Freedom. This leads to a lot of users believing that going more fluid will make their players forget the game plan and not follow the rules. This is not true. In fact, looking at the FM13 TC, we can see that going from *Balanced* to *Fluid* gives every player a boost of 2 increments in creative freedom. 2 increments, out of 19, is not a lot. And actually, we are going to see why, IMO, the increase in creative freedom is needed (and the decrease in more rigid setups).

Let’s look at those last 5 pictures again, without the strikers’ mentalities. It tells us what fluidity does, and it’s simple.

Very Rigid = 4 ‘banks’ of mentalities : the d-line, the d-mids, the mids, the a-mids.

Rigid = 3 banks : central defenders, wide backs + d-mids, mids and a-mids

Balanced = No banks : every player’s individual mentality is increased or decreased according to their role and (perhaps most importantly) duty.

Fluid = 2 banks : all defenders and d-mids, all mids and a-mids

Very Fluid = 1 bank : all players

Strikers will complete with different mentalities, and their individual mentalitiy will, to some extent, depend on formation. In a formation with more than 1 striker (as you see here), overall attacking strikers will always have a higher mentality than all other players, and supporting strikers will usually be between the ‘d-mid’ mentality layer and the ‘a-mid’ mentality layer (again, this does not mean they will ACT like a midfielder). However, with a lone-striker formation, the said attacker's mentality will be somewhere in between, no matter what their role and duty is. For example, here with Bayern if I dropped my STCR in the AMC slot, the AF(a)'s mentality would drop by a couple of notches. This would lead to him being less isolated and a little more involved in the buildup play (again, this does not mean he would stop doing the advanced forward actions or always act like a supporting/holding striker).

Now, as you go from more ‘banks’ of mentalities to less, you have less and less players doing specific actions, and IMO this is why you need more creative freedom, so to compensate and let players contribute to more phases rather than staying stuck in their given role and duty. Vice versa. For example, in a very rigid fluidity you will have defenders on the lowest mentality asked mainly to win the ball. Then d-mids asked to link defence to midfield; mids to pass the ball and speed up or slow down play; a-mids to create plays; strikers to score. In such a setup, you don’t need your players to be very creative and you can ask a lot of specific things from each of them. However, in a more fluid setup, their roles will be less defined. For example, in a very fluid setup, players are all asked to win balls, link up play, pass, create, and score. However, if a player is (say) a BWM(d), his role/duty tell him to only win balls and pass it short to other teammates. That conflicts with the very fluid thing, so he needs creative freedom to be able to deviate from his role/duty when it is called for and make his own decisions about the flow of the match. If we want him to have less freedom, there are ways around that and we are going to have a look at them later.

One final word about *Fluidity* which is unknown to many users (I just realized it myself) : it slightly affects pressing. More fluid tactics will increase ‘Closing Down’ for every player by small amounts (probably so they act more as big fluid units), and for a reason still unknown to me the ‘Very Rigid’ fluidity also slightly increases closing down. Note that this was seen in FM13, maybe it’s not the case in FM14 anymore.

Just for fun, let’s choose the best (for now) Mentality and Fluidity for my Dortmund first team. I know I have one of the best teams in the Bundesliga and I usually like such a team to impose its will on every opponent. Yet, I don’t want to be over-aggressive with my main tactic, so I will choose *Adventurous* (Control).

Now, for Fluidity, I started with balanced but felt it didn’t quite work well. My DL seemed not quick enough when he went forward and was often ‘in-between’ and occupying the same space as my ML, so I would like them to be more separated in overall mentality (ML more aggressive, DL more cautious). Also, I felt my MCR was too enthusiastic going forward and that left a huge gap in midfield, also partly due to the fact that my MCL was sitting too deep and being too cautious when we attacked. The rest was okay, but I felt my STCR could have gotten involved a little more in the attacking moves, so I thought maybe making him more aggressive would do the trick. Based on the above pictures from FM13 (and my knowledge of the TC), I thought Rigid would be the best choice here, but of course I will have to watch other matches to make sure it really is.

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THE INDIVIDUAL INSTRUCTIONS – OVERVIEW

Okay, now we have a base formation determining our defensive shape, and affecting our transitions, which are also impacted by roles, duties and instructions. We also have decided on an adventurous approach – this has increased by a small amount the team’s defensive line positioning, the tempo, the width, the pressing (closing down). And it changed individual instructions. Let’s go back to the top and watch that Bayern’s DCR example. By going more aggressive, his *passing style* was reduced, allowing him to take more risks in possession instead of just clearing the danger or launching hopeful long balls. He will hold the ball more and try to build from the back more. On the other hand, had we looked at the strikers or more advanced midfielders, we would have seen their passing style INCREASE when going more aggressive – in order to allow them to make more passes in behind the defence, into space or just generally dangerous passes, instead of slowly building up play in the opposition’s half waiting for an opening.

Again I repeat, changing global approach makes different changes to different player instructions. We have to be aware of that when we then add other TIs and PIs to our tactics so they don’t become conflictual or just overkill. We’re gonna take a quick look at what the player instructions have been and explain them briefly, plus give FM14’s associated instruction(s) for each.

GENERAL

*Mentality* (scale)- The overall aggressiveness of the player’s game and his tactical priorities. The Hand of God made a wonderful thread about player mentalities elsewhere on this forum, I strongly recommend that you read it. -FM14= PI ‘Get Further Forward’

*Creative Freedom* (scale) - Explained earlier. The amount of latitude given to a player to do his own thing. FM14= Tis ‘Be More Expressive/Disciplined’

*(Swap Position not available anymore in FM14)

*Roam From Position* (yes/no) - Lets the player drift around and look for space or swap positions with a teammate. FM14= PIs ‘Roam From/Hold Position’, Tis ‘Roam From/Stick To Positions’

DEFENSIVE

*Closing Down* (scale) - How likely and how fast a player is to close down the ball carrier. FM14= Tis ‘Hassle/Stand Off Opponents’, PIs ‘Close Down More/Less’

*Tackling* (easy, normal, hard) – how likely a player is to dive into a tackle or attempt an early challenge when in position to win the ball (easy=unlikely, hard=very likely). FM14= Tis ‘Get Stuck In/Stay On Feet’, PIs ‘Tackle Harder/Ease Off Tackles’ (FTR, FM14’s tactical familiarity takes tackling into account by putting it in the ‘closing down’ category, but tackling does not really affect closing down)

*Marking* (zonal/man) – self-explanatory (can’t change that in FM14, but during matches you can make a player mark a specific opponent using the ‘Mark Specific Player’ instruction)

*Tight Marking* (yes/no) – tells a player to stick particularly tight to their opponent. This doesn’t mean that they will man mark all over the field (if you want that you will have to use ‘mark specific player’ during matches), rather that they will position themselves closer to players who have come into their area of marking. FM14 = TI ‘Use Tighter Marking’, PI ‘Mark Tighter’

OFFENSIVE

*Passing Style* (scale) – how a player will play the ball to their teammates. Very high figures on that scale will see the player launch long balls over the top, and very low figures will see mostly lateral and back passes. Most players should sit in between. FM14= Tis ‘Go Route One/More Direct Passing’, PI ‘More Direct Passing’ (increase)… Tis ‘Shorter Passing/Retain Possession’, PI ‘Pass it Shorter’ (decrease)

*Run From Deep* (rarely/sometimes/often) – tells if the player makes forward runs without the ball with the intention of receiving a pass in a more dangerous area. (Can’t change that in FM14 except with roles/duties combinations)

*Run With Ball* (rarely/sometimes/often) – self-explanatory. FM14= TI ‘Run at Defence’, PIs ‘Dribble More/Less’

*Long Shots* (rarely/sometimes/often) – how likely a player is to take a shot from outside the 18-yard box. Note that if a player is not in a good position to take a long shot, he probably won’t. And even if a player has ‘rarely’, he might still take long shots if he has a very good opportunity. FM14= Tis ‘Work Ball Into Box/Shoot on Sight’, PIs ‘Shoot Less/More Often’

*Through Balls* (rarely/sometimes/often) – how likely a player is to make a dangerous pass to a more advanced teammate. FM14= TI ‘Pass Into Space’, PIs ‘More/Fewer Risky Passes’

*Cross Ball* (rarely/sometimes/often) – how often a player crosses the ball.  FM14= PIs ‘Cross More/Less Often’

*Cross From* (drop-list) – the main point from which a player will be looking to send crosses in.

*Cross Aim* - self-explanatory.

*Wide Play* (hug line/cut inside) – how a player behaves in wide areas. FM14= PIs ‘Run Wide With Ball’, ‘Cut Inside With Ball’

*Hold Up Ball* (yes/no) – a player instructed to hold up the ball will often look to shield it and keep possession by himself using his body while his teammates get into better positions to attack or receive a pass.

You probably knew all of that, but shortly we are going to take a look at how those instructions change as we make tactical adjustments to our systems, because in FM14 we can’t see it clearly and you might be surprised (or not) by some.

THE TEAM INSTRUCTIONS – AND HOW (NOT) TO USE THEM

Okay, so let’s go back to playing matches and watching what happens. First few minutes of my next friendly see my changes taking effecting the way I wanted. Thanks to the rigid fluidity (hmm, funny phrase), my DL doesn’t venture too far forward too often anymore, same for my MCR. Our main attack-defense transition shape has changed from a 4-2-4 to a sort of 4-1-3-2 :

rv5BEn1.jpg

Watching the full match (got away with a short 2-1 win) also confirms that our players are playing higher, faster, closing down more, being overall more aggressive than with the earlier ‘Standard’ approach. However, the problem that developed is, now that my STCR is more forward-minded, and my MCR more transition-minded (thanks to the rigid fluidity), my two strikers are very isolated, and the gap that was in midfield in last game is now in between midfield and attack. This is problematic in itself. But add to that the fact that because of the more adventurous team mentality, Dortmund are playing wider (supporting mids even further from the strikers), faster (looking to get the ball in the final third more quickly), and their midfielders have seen their passing style increased (less short passes, more passes towards the forwards). So what happens? Well, on a long pitch such as this one, two forwards isolated trying to receive and control long passes against a group of defenders who are probably playing very cautiously since they’re against a top club. It could work, but it’s asking too much of my strikers for my liking, so I’ll have to do something.

UmI5TZo.png

So, what to do?

Well, there’s a huge number of things we can do here, and all will have a different outcome in the way we play. What would you do here?

1st option : Go back to a Standard approach. This would reduce the aggressiveness of the strikers, make them drop a little deeper. It would also reduce the width of the team, as well as the tempo, so passing would be a little easier to pull off. It would also reduce the d-line, and I think this could be a good thing since we allowed a couple of chances from long balls in the last match. But it would reduce closing down and the overall adventurousness that I want to keep.

2nd option : Go back to a Balanced fluidity, and maybe change some player roles. For example, I could put my DL and MCR on a support duty, and change my wide mids to attack duties. For now I will not do that though, since I liked the way the ‘rigid’ fluidity worked up my MCL and our defensive transitions.

3rd option : Use Instructions! That’s what they’re there for. Making adjustments to the style THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN SHAPED by our selection of Mentality and Fluidity. In this section we’re going to take a look at the Team Instructions, what they do and what they don’t, how they affect all the players in your first team, and for fun we are going to fine-tune our Dortmund tactic.

*Go Route One* Greatly increases passing style for all players. Also greatly increases the team’s tempo accordingly. Moderately increases width.

*More Direct Passing* Moderately increases passing style for all players. Also moderately increases tempo and width accordingly.

*Retain Possession* Greatly reduces passing style for all players. Greatly reduces tempo. Increases the likelihood of players holding up the ball. Moderately reduces width.

*Shorter Passing* Moderately reduces passing style for all players. Moderately reduces tempo and width.

*Pass Into Space* Increases ‘Through Balls’ (risky passes) for most players (those who were on ‘rarely’ go to ‘sometimes’, those who were on ‘sometimes’ go to ‘often’). Increases runs from deep for most players.

*Work Ball Into Box* Reduces ‘Long Shots’ for all players (OftenSometimesRarely)

*Play Out of Defence* Moderately reduces Passing Style for all defensive players (including d-mids)

*Pump Ball into Box* Greatly increases passing style for all defenders including d-mids, increases holding up the ball and crossing from the wide players. Increases ‘Run From Deep’ for central players. Reduces ‘Through Balls’ for defenders.

*Clear Ball to Flanks* Greatly increases passing style and reduces through balls for all defenders including d-mids, increases holding up the ball from central players, increases runs from deep for wide players.

*Hit Early Crosses* Asks players to cross more often, and from deep.

*Float Crosses* Asks players to float their crosses. This will increase the number of (but not limit your team to) crosses sent to the far post.

*Drill Crosses* Asks players to drill their crosses. This will increase the number of (but not limit your team to) crosses sent to the near post.

*Run at Defence* Increases ‘Run With Ball’ for most players (note that attacking players and players with a higher mentality are more likely to run with the ball, no matter what instruction they have)

*Shoot on Sight* Increases ‘Long Shots’ for all players

*Exploit The …* Increases mentality and forward runs for all players in the exploited corridor, decreases forward runs for other players. Increases through balls and holding up for players not in the exploited corridor. Also somewhat focuses passes down the exploited corridor.

*Look For Overlap* Increases mentality, runs from deep, runs with ball, crossing and shooting for full-backs, but decreases mentality, forward runs and runs with ball for other wide players. Also increases the likelihood of a wide player holding up the ball.

*Play Wider* Increases width. Players make more passes down the flanks.

*Play Narrower* Decreases width. Players make more passes in central areas.

*Much Higher/Higher D-Line* Greatly/Moderately increases the positioning (depth) of your d-line, and thus your team as a whole.

*Drop Deeper/Much Deeper* Greatly/Moderately reduces the positioning (depth) of your d-line, and thus your team as a whole.

*Stick to Positions* Prevents all players from ‘Roam From Position’

*Roam From Positions* Allows more players to ‘Roam’. Note that defenders and generally more defensive players will not be allowed to roam even if you use this.

*Hassle Opponents* Greatly increases ‘closing down’ for all players.

*Stand Off Opponents* Greatly reduces ‘closing down’ for all players.

*Get Stuck In* increases Tackling (easynormalhard) for some players.

*Stay On Feet* decreases Tackling (hardnormaleasy) for some players.

*Use Tighter Marking* Allows ‘Tight Marking’ for more players.

*Use Offside Trap* If you’re still reading, you’re interested. And if you’re interested, I suspect you know what the offside trap is.

*Take A Breather* Greatly reduces tempo. Reduces forward runs and runs with ball. Greatly reduces mentality for all players. Reduces passing style. Reduces closing down and tackling.

*Much Higher/Higher Tempo* Greatly/Moderately increases tempo.

*Lower/Much Lower Tempo* Greatly/Moderately reduces tempo.

*Be More Expressive* Greatly increases ‘Creative Freedom’ for all players.

*Be More Disciplined* Greatly reduces ‘Creative Freedom’ for all players.

*Allow Wide Players to Swap* self-explanatory.

So, as you see, some TIs change many different instructions, while others change only one. In our Dortmund case, I had raised a couple of new issues : strikers too isolated in transition, passing too direct and/or too quick to the strikers, d-line maybe a bit high, team maybe a bit wide. For the moment, I do not want to make too many changes as the last match was just one match (in which my players were not fit, and on an oversized pitch). However, I want to see if one quick change can fix those problems. From the list above, *Shorter Passing* seems like a pretty good idea (reducing passing style, width and tempo). I will add that and see what next fixture offers me. (One thing to note, it is a general misconception that you simply HAVE TO add ‘Lower Tempo’ when you add ‘Shorter Passing’, otherwise too many passes would be missed. As we know now, we CAN add ‘Lower Tempo’, but ‘shorter passing’ already reduces the speed by itself, so we might not NEED it… same thing for width changes).

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PLAYER ROLES AND DUTIES – WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT (OR LESS IMPORTANT)

I watched the next friendly, which was against weaker opposition once again, but I was still able to see my changes in action. And you will see them too. Compare this heatmap to the earlier one :

SzUvVhX.png

You can clearly see that my players played a little bit narrower, and although I didn’t change my strikers’ roles or duties, they are a little closer to their partners. Yes, Shorter Passing did that. Playing short passes is one thing, but to receive a short pass, you have to be close to your partner. Logic. You can also see that Dortmund won 5-0, which is a terrific improvement from our 2-1 of last match. We scored 2 from corners, but other than that I thought the short passing plays were very good and resulted in some lovely goals. So I’m gonna keep ‘Shorter Passing’ for a while.

However, I was again a little concerned by the team’s depth. We gave away a clear cut chance from a ball played behind the defence and they had a couple of other threats that were blown out for offside. I’m worried about how playing so high will do against better teams such as Bayern or Bayer or Wolfsburg or any of the good teams in the Bundesliga. I’ll have to keep an eye on that.

I was also slightly disappointed that my wide midfielders looked much less dangerous in that game, especially the one on the right side. I can’t really blame the player, Marco Reus, so I have to dig deeper to understand why he was good, but not great.

Maybe he had a bad game. Possible.

Maybe it’s his role and duty that fit a little bit less with the ‘Shorter Passing’ instruction? Probable. Time to look at player roles and duties, how they interplay with each other, and why some roles suit some styles better (although I believe almost anything can work well). We are going to do it quickly with this Dortmund 4-4-2, but I’m sure you can experiment at home with other roles and other positions as well (if you have FM13 it’s even easier to do tests!).

Okay, so currently my tactic looks like this :

Gy0qG1Y.png

In the first match, my DL (FB<a>) was going forward too much and was not efficient, so I changed to a ‘Rigid’ setup. As we recall, it dropped his mentality lot and now he stays deeper and only goes forward when a good opportunity presents itself. That’s what I want. On the other side, my DR (FB<s>) has the same overall mentality, but since he’s on a Support duty, he almost never goes forward. The difference between them is of course the duty, since the ‘Attack’ duty will ask a wide defender to make ‘Runs From Deep’ ‘Often’, and a Support duty, ‘Sometimes’. The other main differences are that the attacking duty full back will play longer passes and more crosses while being a little more creative than the supporting one who will, on the other hand, play more through balls and long shots. The FB<s> is also asked by default to cross from deep rather than ‘mixed’. Knowing all that, I feel like I could try swapping my fullbacks’ duties. The latest heatmap also confirms that the average positioning of my MR is slightly higher than that of my ML, and I feel like swapping the backs could help in two ways : separate my DL and ML who seem to be too close to each other, and reduce the gap between my DR and MR, the latter of which I feel could use some help down his flank. Crosses from deep also seem to me like a better idea if they come from the left side (if I don’t change my mid/forward setup!).

For now, my DCL and DCR are playing how I want them to so I will not make changes to that. My MCL also needs to stay on a <d> duty so to have at least someone to protect the defence and link it with the mids. Currently he is a CM<d>. The only two options would be DLP<d>, and BWM<d>, and looking at the player instructions for each in FM13, here are the changes made from one to the other (still, these are related to ‘Control-Rigid-Pass it Shorter’):

nrtF1Zw.png

Nba4YlT.png

jYr8XA0.png

Not one of them is totally bad. But to me, CM<d> seems the logical choice here, because I don’t want the player to launch too many long or through balls, or be too creative(DLP) (notice DLP also has a slightly lower mentality and I’m afraid it could be problematic)… And I don’t want the guy to close down too much and tackle too hard either (BWM) since I want him to act more like a protector in front of my back four. And even if I don’t want him to be a playmaker, I still want to leave him some creative freedom to make the right decisions in-match. So, CM<d> it will be for now.

My ML has played fairly well so far but I haven’t had the time to analyze his play in the first three games so I will leave him as a WM<s> for now, though we might make changes later on.

In the first match, my MCR (CM<a>) was going forward too much and leaving too much space exposed behind him. We changed to a rigid fluidity, it reduced his mentality, and he did it much less in the next match. However, I noticed in the last match he didn’t do it at all. Sure he went forward a couple of times, but only in counterattacks or set pieces. Certainly not what one would expect from a CM<a>, which is asked to make ‘runs from deep’ often. On the other hand, we scored 3 goals from the run of play in that match and my 2 MCRs combined finished with two wonderful assists and 1 key pass on those goals (let alone first team MCR’s 2 other assists on corners goals…). Seems like the fluidity change made him a provider more than a runner-goalscorer. I will keep a close eye on that in the next few matches, because if he is definitely a provider, then I might be better served by changing his role to that of a supporting playmaker (or not!).

The MR is currently a W<s>. Basically, a winger is usually asked to stay wide, run with the ball at his feet, cross a lot and chase misplaced wide balls. In the last match, I suspect he was less effective because of the ‘Pass it Shorter’ instruction that made him play narrower and slower (two things that conflict with the winger role). Giving him an attack duty would see him make more forward runs and try to surge into the box regularly to get on the end of plays. That notion sounds appealing to me since I want him to be more involved than he was in the last match, but I’m still worried that he might not quite play at his best because of the role. It would also mean I would have 3 attack duties out of 5 players on the right-hand side and I’m afraid it would make things a little less balanced in transition. But since we are here to understand the TC and not win matches, I will try it. The other thing I could have done is change his role to a WM or a DW, but I would really like to see him play as a winger if possible. We’ll see what happens.

For now I really enjoy the interplay between a Target Man at STCR and an Advanced Forward at STCL (and how it makes the whole team play), so I will not be making any changes.

Watching the match made me realize that, indeed, my MCR had become a passer. He almost never got forward and instead looked to play his teammates into goalscoring opportunities. So, I will try to give him a little bit more creative freedom and wider passing range by making him an AP<a>. I could change that to AP<s> later if I feel like he has too much creative freedom. I was also quite happy with swapping my wide defenders’ duties, but the right winger thing did not work at all. He did not provide good crosses and never attacked the box looking to score. It seemed like he had too much creative freedom and did everything but what he was supposed to do. For now, I will try something different. I will make him a WM<s>, just like my ML. And later I might add some PIs to adjust his playing, but we’re not there yet.

Couple of other things I noticed with my team is I felt like we were passing too quickly and not making the most of dribbling opportunities, so I added the TI ‘Run at Defence’ which will make almost everyone make more runs with the ball. I also felt like we were still passing a bit too direct. Even if most of our defenders and mids now have a short passing style (thanks to the earlier tactical changes). This is mostly due to the fact that I am using a supporting Target Man up top. Of course, a Target Man acts exactly like its name suggests, as a target for the other players. Therefore his teammates will be looking to find a Target Man quicker than, say, a Defensive Forward or another supporting role. For that reason, even though we won the game and my STCR had a fine game, I will try to make him another supporting role. It could be CF, DF, or DLF.

F7RiaKg.png

dxauWv5.png

xrzIIAU.png

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Looking at how those roles changed the instructions in FM13, I chalked off CF (would run with ball more, risky pass more, roam and be more creative, which are all things I don’t want). DLF resembles TM in a lot of ways, but again the default role allows a DLF to roam and I don’t want that. In the end, I also felt like a DF’s instructions could really add something to my current tactic, which now looks like this (I have also added ‘drop deeper’ to try it since we allowed more scoring chances by being too high) :

M5pUUIT.png

Now, some would say my tactic currently lacks attacking threats, and that would be true. A playmaker (or trequartista) on an attack duty does not behave like other ‘Attack’ duties on a team. They will be more like ‘supporting’ players. So that leaves me with only one guy ‘really’ attacking up top, and one making runs out wide (my DR). I could try putting my ML on an attack duty or something like that, but I’ll wait to see in further matches how my tactic works out as it is now before making any further changes (I have already made many after this match, enough for now if I want to see how my changes work).

PLAYER INSTRUCTIONS – AND HOW (NOT) TO USE THEM

Next fixture is against FCP, so it will be the tactic’s first real test.

Watching that match reminds me that some Tis and PIs affect how your team plays without necessarily affecting instructions. For example, ‘Drop Deeper’ naturally makes my team defend differently. Yes, the team is deeper, but what the TC doesn’t necessarily tell you is that by dropping deeper, opponents will be more likely to pass more in front of that defence, rather than behind (or in line with) it. This will generally see your team win the ball more through headers and interceptions rather than tackling and strength, and usually press much slower (result of being further from their opponents) . Aside from that, I’m sure most of you already know the pros and cons of defending deeper, and in my case I thought it worked well.

I was also thrilled with the way my wide mids played. The WM<s> duty combined with the TI ‘Run at Defence’ made them the perfect hybrid between the classic winger and the more diminutive, standard wide midfielder. They ran with the ball a lot, provided crosses and were all over their respective flanks, yet they were also able to slow down play and defend better when needed. However, this leaded to another small issue. My MR had found his game back and played very well in the first half (although his crossing was pretty poor). The problem was, because he was instructed to run with the ball often and had little creative freedom, he always ran at the byline with the ball, completely ignoring the DR overlapping him. This can also be due to cohesion and communication between players, but I felt it was a little bit annoying so after 20 minutes I made an interesting change. Not in the MR’s play. In the DR’s play.

I thought, ‘Well, if he never gets the ball down the right flank because the other guy is too selfish, it’s useless having him there. Right? So I could make his role or duty more cautious. Right? No. I still want his contribution in the attacking phase. So, ha-ha! Maybe he has the right mentality, but is just in the wrong place.’

I went to his players instructions and added ‘Cut Inside With Ball’. In practice, this makes a player cut inside often, but not only with the ball. He will also cut inside OFF the ball and that’s exactly what I wanted him to do. After having scored a lucky goal, we went up 2-0 before HT and look how it happened :

l37BZec.jpg

First, the MR ran with the ball down the flank and passed to the DF who had come in support (probably to receive a short pass). That’s what happens and DF is in position to try and cross the ball in the box. MCR and ML promptly attack different areas of the box to help STCL who was already there. Here, the DR ‘Cuts Inside Without Ball’ and gets in a very good spot to receive a possible second ball (short clearance, poor header, whatever). Seconds later, he’s there :

0JRpsE9.jpg

Curiously, he also has a small round object at his feet, that was “headed to safety” by an opponent. DR proceeds to cut inside even more, creating an advantage in numbers. He plays a great one-two with ML at the edge of the box and feeds a wonderful assist to the advanced forward who had stayed in the box, feeling the opportunity.

Apart from that, I felt the changes from last game were good. The DF wasn’t extraordinary, but at least much better than the TM in that there were much fewer direct passes that I didn’t want. I also felt the change from CM(a) to AP(a) benefitted our overall attacking play. For now, I will not be making any more changes to our roles and duties, but I will fine-tune individual players’ actions by adding PIs (even if we won 2-0 against a very good team and we performed very well).

Understood? I will readjust their game from how it is at the moment, not how I want them to play generally. For example, I want my DCL and DCR to play short passes out of the back, not launch long balls forward. So I should add the TI ‘Play Out of Defence’ or at least give them the PI ‘Pass it Shorter’, right? NO!!!! As stated (much) earlier, the combination of the Adventurous Approach (Control Mentality) and the fact that their role is ‘Central Defender’ will make them play short already! Plus, we added the TI ‘Pass it Shorter’ which further reduced it. So you see (and you would see from watching matches too) that we don’t need to decrease their passing style again. If anything, it would create problems by having them dwell on the ball too long or not knowing what to do when no option would be available.

For central defenders, PIs available are :

*Shoot More Often* -- don’t need them to take long shots

*Pass it Shorter* -- as said before, don’t need to reduce their passing range further, it’s already very short

*More Direct Passing* -- If I felt it was too short, I could add that, but I don’t

*More Risky Passes* -- Through and Long Balls from my defenders are not needed for my system right now, but at some point I might consider adding it to a player like Hummels who is a great passer.

*Close Down More* -- I will leave the closing down job to someone else than my DCL and DCR, who are there to protect the space between ball and goal.

*Tackle Harder* -- could lead to unnecessary challenges, and I don’t want that, especially around the box

*Ease Off Tackles* -- could lead to not making a vital challenge, and I don’t want that, especially around the box

*Mark Tighter* -- depends on personal taste and style, but I don’t want my defenders to be drawn away from their positions by quickly moving attackers

So in the end I’ll add nothing to my centerbacks. And it’s okay! I don’t need to. There are a lot of individual instructions available for all 11 of your players, but what I want you to understand is that they are already playing a certain way, that is shaped by everything we have looked at above in this thread (and you know there’s a lot of ‘above’). So, PIs are there for fine-tuning only, adding a little touch to what your players do, or as a last resort to fix a little issue with a particular player. If you are adding too many PIs to get where you want, consider changing player roles or duties instead. Or maybe change your Tis. Or change your overall approach.

Here are the PIs I added and why.

DR - *Cut Inside With Ball* for the reason you saw above.

MR - *Run Wide With Ball* - even though he mostly ran wide in last game, because he’s not an out-and-out winger he also cut inside at times, and since I want my DR to be the one to cut inside, I compensate by making sure the MR’s movement will mostly be directed towards the touchline. Why not ‘Stay Wider’? Because that one would only affect his positioning off the ball, making him more difficult to find with short passes and not necessarily preventing him from cutting inside alongside the DR.

MCR - *Shoot More Often* - Advanced playmakers have their ‘Long shots’ set to ‘rarely’ by default. I want someone to be taking a long shot from time to time to cause panic in the defence, and my MCL will be too far down too often to do that. And, my wide players will usually be too wide for that even if they are asked to take long shots ‘often’. So I add *shoot more often* to my playmaker so he occasionally tries his luck. (and on top of that, he scored from a long shot after a corner in last game)

STCR - *Hold Up Ball* One of the reasons I kept the DF after last game was I liked the fact that he put a lot of pressure on the opponent while the rest of my team stayed deeper, ready to intercept moves. The defensive forward and shadow striker are the only two roles that will be allowed to close down that much. But I missed the way the TM<s> held up the ball and brung his teammates into play. So I will try to add hold up ball in the hope to replicate that.

STCR - *Shoot Less Often* I also ask him to shoot less often, since I don’t want him to waste possession after he holds up the ball, and mostly I don’t want him to be my main long shot threat. But the main reason is, in last match he took too many long shots to my liking.

STCR - *Move into Channels* Finally I give him this instruction in the hope that he can draw defenders out of position during buildups and leave more space for the AF, the AP and even the cutting-inside DR to make and finish plays. Not sure about this one, but it’s worth a try. I might end up giving it to the other striker instead, or just removing it altogether.

It is vital that you do not overuse PIs or use them for nothing. For example, in my case, I don’t need to use ‘Dribble More’ on my wide mids, they are already running with the ball a lot because of the combination of their roles and the ‘Run at Defence’ TI.

Most of the PIs are pretty self-explanatory or are related to the instructions I detailed earlier in this thread. However here are some other important and arguably more intricate ones, and what they do :

*Get Further Forward* Doesn’t change forward runs or anything else except Mentality. Moderately increases Mentality, possibly (but not invariably) resulting in more forward runs and more generally attacking play.

*Hold Position* Will prevent a player from drifting into space or swapping positions by telling him to stay in his general area when the team is in possession. When defending, the player will follow his defensive instructions according to his role and duty.

*More Direct Passing / Shorter Passing * Increase/decrease the length of the passing for a particular player

*More/Fewer Risky Passes* increase/decrease the frequency at which a player will attempt through balls, long balls or other dangerous low-percentage passes.

Update : Watching the next match, a couple of things quickly became apparent : 1st, whereas I thought the DF was not allowed to roam, he was. And I did not want that because I wanted him to replicate in some ways the movement of the Target Man. So I gave him the PI ‘Hold Position’. I also realized that the ‘Move Into Channels’ thing was isolating him too much, and not really helping the team’s attacking movement, so I removed it. Those are the only two changes I made and I made them at half time.

Dortmund won 6-1, with the said DF getting 4 goals in the second half. Who said ‘defensive’ forward? And who said giving him the ‘Shoot Less Often’ PI would make him less dangerous offensively (or more a passer)? Again, TC explanations might be unclear but you have to go further than what the TC tells you. I explained you the reasons why I chose this role and those PIs for the guy, and in the end he doesn’t have anything ‘defensive’ to him.

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THE SYSTEM – AND WHAT IT IMPLIES

There are a zillion of other changes you can make to a tactic, during or after a match, from analyzing your players’ performance. The important thing is that you simply have to know how it’s going to affect how your team plays. Hopefully this thread has made at least some of the notions a little bit clearer. Let’s go back to our example to finish things off nicely.

Now, I have a tactic that I feel is good enough to be a base for my Dortmund team. Hopefully you are starting to have ideas for your own too, and even more hopefully you are starting to understand how to implement those ideas. Next, I am going to try to replicate our Dortmund 4-4-2 in FM13 with our Bayern team. First, to see if it works similarly, and second, to be able to ‘see’ the results of our tactical tweaks more easily.

Since Tis were “in-match ‘Shouts’” last year, after replicating the formation, roles, duties and general instructions I started the intra-squad friendly and shouted ‘Run at Defence’ and ‘Drop Deeper’ to see what happened. ‘Run at Defence’ increased the ‘Run with ball’ instruction for both wide mids and the STCR. Others (DL, DR) stayed at ‘sometimes’, (STCL, MCR) stayed at ‘often’, or (DCL, DCR, MCL) stayed at ‘rarely’.

Drop Deeper reduced the slider for ‘Defensive Line’ from 12 to 9.

After the match I will manually adjust those instructions (and the PIs equivalents) in the TC so to try and have our base tactic as close as possible to the Dortmund one. Of course this is a hazardous practice, because not only has the TC changed since last year, but the ME changed too. Many roles, duties, instructions and actions have been redesigned and made to be depicted or implemented differently. However, I believe most of the basics have remained the same and we can get a very similar tactic if we can translate the FM13 language in FM14, and vice versa.

A depleted Bayern side (you have already seen most of Bayern players are unavailable due to being on holiday) won against a strong Bayern II side, 2-0. Defensive Forward (Daniel van Buyten, lol) scored. As expected, things did not play out exactly like in FM14, but this is not only due to the differences in the ME. It is also due to the differences in the players and the teams who play the matches. In the end, you can have a wonderful tactic, but if you don’t have the players to fit in it, you won’t have success. And this does not necessarily mean having the best players in the world at every position. Personally, for example, I have always had more success with players rated as being ‘not good enough’, simply because they had the right attributes for my tactics, and also because other teams weren’t targeting them as much as the world-class players. Fitting players into tactics is very difficult, and fitting tactics into squads is very rewarding. In our examples here, the Bayern MR who had the same instructions as the Dortmund MR in FM14 was 100x less effective, in a very similar setup. Why? Well, you guessed it. Probably player attributes or general style of play that doesn’t fit as well with this particular tactic. In the end, if the tactic still works I won’t care much, but if I want this particular MR to be involved as much as the other one, I will either have to make more changes, or else change the tactic completely. The TC helps you create systems. When you understand it well it is a powerful tool. But it doesn’t win you football matches – your players do. So find the right players, or find the right tactic to get the most out of (most of) your players.

Okay, so with the aforementioned changes made, here are a couple of screenshots from FM13 that enable us to ‘see’ the current tactic more graphically.

QFPIzm7.png

Mentality : Notice the 3 ‘banks’ of mentalities (except the STCL, much higher mentality). If you can find a screenshot above from a ‘Balanced’ style, you will see that the Rigid one here is much more ‘structured’, which can be good or bad. In my case it’s what I want so it’s good. Notice just how different it is from a ‘Balanced’ style though.

iyko0Lx.png

Creative Freedom : Here, we can see that the team doesn’t have too much creative freedom, but are not ‘choked’ either. The players who should be more creative, are. Note that player roles and duties affect creative freedom a lot.

FCiCQuP.png

Passing Style : The passing range goes from ‘Short’ to ‘Mixed’ for all players, with the only player asked to play a little bit more directly being the furthest forward on the field (not sure, but I don’t think he will launch many long balls forward… the directness of his game will be mostly through balls at the edge of the area and quick passes spread out to the flanks). Notice that the DCL has shorter passing than the DCR. I’m not sure if this still happens in FM14(!!!), but here it is due to the fact that the player above the DCL (the MCL) should be positioned closer to him than the MCR will be from the DCR. So the FM13 TC compensates by shortening the DCL’s passing even more. To conclude, if I played a possession style I would want to see lower figures than those, and if I played direct football I would want to see higher figures, especially for the defenders. But I play a system that is somewhere in between, so I’m happy with the sliders I am seeing.

raNLYnx.png

Closing Down : The ‘Control’ Mentality makes us pretty aggressive, and the DF is the person who closes down the most, exactly what I want. At some point I might consider adding a PI ‘Close Down Less’ to my MCL, making him play more like an Anchor Man, sitting deep and waiting to disrupt the attacks rather than closing down almost as much as his midfield partners. But for now everything seems good.

esoZfVH.png

Tackling : Everyone tackles ‘normal’, but here I feel like my adventurous tendencies would like to see one or two of them be a little more forceful in their challenges. However, I will not give it to everybody. I know I want to keep a solid midfield structure since I only have 2 players in there, and I know I don’t want my defenders to get caught missing a tackle. My defensive forward seems to be a candidate of choice for hard tackling, and since he’s on the right side I will also add one to a guy on the left, either the STCL or the ML. Here I chose the ML.

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Run From Deep : Everything seems in order here. Notice how roles and duties affect this.

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Run With Ball : effect of replicating the ‘Run at Defence’ TI. Note that in FM14, if I want to make one of those sliders drop (and not all of them), I can add a PI ‘Dribble Less’ to the player I want to be more conservative.

uI5L0fL.png

Long Shots : same changes as in FM14’s PIs. Look at the MR and ML, they have their Long Shots set to ‘Often’. Maybe this has changed in FM14, but I haven’t seen my wide mids take too many long shots except for when there was a really good opportunity. The main reason, I believe, is their wide positioning do not allow them to see much of the goal very often, so they don’t shoot from distance. I will leave those instructions as is until it really bugs me (and not change them just because, ‘”Long Shots are BAD!!!!!”’)

jVPiYZ8.png

Through Balls (risky passes) : yes, exactly what we want. Not that I would really want Diego Contento to play through balls often though (hahaha).

sDn1RNM.png

Cross Ball : good. I could ask my wide mids to cross more, but I feel they are already crossing enough (if not too much) from watching matches. So I’ll leave it like that. Also, I want my DR to cross the ball as often as possible when he is not cutting inside, so it’s good that he crosses ‘often’.

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Wide Play : Added Cut Inside to the DR, and Hug Touchline (somewhat equivalent to Run Wide With Ball) to the MR. Other guys stay on default. Look at the STCL, he has a wide play instruction to ‘Move Into Channels’. This is not exactly the same as the FM14 ‘Move Into Channels’ and I’m not going to go in too much detail, but I believe in FM13 moving into channels was really a wide play thing, whereas in FM14 it seems to be a more ‘central’ instruction.

4me6khQ.png

Marking : The marking pattern satisfies me. And it’s very satisfying to be able to see it clearly in the TC.

rOXuKvx.png

Roam From Positions : as you can see, by default some players are allowed to roam, and some aren’t. Some will never be even if we use the TI ‘Roam from Positions’.

iYTyUvc.png

Hold Up Ball : usually, defensive-minded midfielders will have this on by default in FM13, but not always in this year’s version. For example, in our 442 the MCL cannot be allowed to Hold Up Ball. That’s why I removed it from the MCL in FM13. Also added it to the STCR, as I did in FM14 with a PI.

eeRKGY6.png

And finally, the general team instructions, with d-line, width and tempo all being around ‘medium’, which is what I aimed for in that tactic. Great, we’re ready to dominate the Bundesliga!!!

(All I need to do before the tactics are the most closely matched is to go back to FM14, and add the PI ‘Tackle Harder’ to my ML and my STCR – well, defensive forwards having been redesigned the latter already had tackle harder activated!!)

FINAL WORDS – FOR NOW

As you see, creating or tweaking a tactic requires time, patience and analysis. Only a small change can alter many different settings in the TC, and doing too much can be detrimental. Doing too little can also be detrimental. You have to find the right balance, and especially the right way to make your team play how you want it to. Hopefully this guide hasn’t been too hard to digest (I know, it was long and probably confusing at times) and has at least led you to some thoughts about how to adjust your own tactics.

Bottom line, don’t do too much. Do what is needed, and your tactics will work. Some would look at the Dortmund tactic I just created and say, “Wow, that’s way too simplistic to even be called a tactic!! Only 3 Tis and 7 PIs!!” Well, it’s not more simplistic than any of your ‘12 Tis + 39 PIs’ tactics. The same elements are at play, only you mess with them a lot, and I don’t. And in the end, if you have FM13, compare that first base tactic we had at the top (442, standard, balanced, fbs,cdd,cdd,fba,ws,cma,cmd,wms,tms,afa, all instructions on default) with the one we have right now, a couple of thousands of words later, and you will see that although the formation, roles and duties have not changed much, a lot has been going on through those 3 Tis and 7 PIs. And the truth is, the tactic does work with the players I had at my disposal. Which is the goal, every time.

I would love some feedback, writing this has been exhausting and I hope reading it was not!! Thanks very much!

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Fantastic thread, I've had a quick read through and it looks like its some great indepth stuff. I'll have a proper read once I get the time but after a quick glance its looks like top work.

Just one note though, the sliders actually went to 20 not 0-18.

Hopefully it doesn't turn into a moan thread about how they miss documentation etc as those have been done to death and we all agree more needs done, no need to keep going over it every few weeks, SI already know they currently fail at this. Hopefully people will use this thread for what it is and not a way of starting that debate again as it would ruin the thread.

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Excellent thread. I do think you highlight an important point, that much of the visual aspect of how we set up our team, because of the loss of sliders and the ability to look at the individual PIs for your team as a whole, have been lost in the transition from FM13 to FM14. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting the sliders should be brought back, but we do need the ability to see more clearly the PI for our team as a whole and how philosophy impacts on the way each player fits into the side. I hope SI will correct this for FM15 because this has been a glaring failure in FM14.

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Really excellent stuff and massively need IMO. I have only skimmed so far, and read the first part in detail, but will read it in full shortly.

Its great that someone has taken the time to go into such detail and "de-crypt" the TC. There has to be, i think, some feedback here for SI in just how much more difficult the TC has become in FM14. Making the game more difficult is one thing, making the ME more difficult is one thing. Creating a UI (and background code) which makes it so difficult to even put you ideas into practice really isnt what the game should be about.

It should be hard to "execute" strategies. You should be able to fall into a trap of trying to implement something which just wont work in practice for a multitude of complex reasons. What you shouldnt really be able to do, is to not even be able to implement the thing that you think you are, because of a number of hidden "knock on's" and poorly worded and explained TC/UI.

Again, brilliant work and sorts my lunchtime reading for today :)

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Terrific thread. I'm looking forward to giving this a more thorough read and, hopefully, I can provide some useful feedback. :)

One quick note:

One final word about *Fluidity* which is unknown to many users (I just realized it myself) : it slightly affects pressing. More fluid tactics will increase ‘Closing Down’ for every player by small amounts (probably so they act more as big fluid units), and for a reason still unknown to me the ‘Very Rigid’ fluidity also slightly increases closing down. Note that this was seen in FM13, maybe it’s not the case in FM14 anymore.

This is because closing down uses central defenders' mentality as the baseline for the entire team, and there are three baselines:

Positionally Cautious Defenders = Rigid/Balanced

Positionally Moderate Defenders = Very Rigid/Fluid

Positionally Aggressive Defenders = Very Fluid

One of the things mentality affects is how quickly your defenders push up in attack, so the [theoretical] idea is that the likely higher position at the moment possession is lost means the team should be slightly more willing to execute a higher block.

Personally, I think there should be a bit more flexibility here to better represent the varying emphasis that different tactical cultures put on keeping shape (especially outside the extremes of Hassle and Stand Off), but that's the theory behind it. :)

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Excellent thread. The way you talk about shape, is something I try to drum into people's head they build an attack. One of the things I and a few other mods would like to see is a way to visualise all 4 phases. It's actually something that has never really existed in a true state in FM.

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Excellent read mate! Any chance for a pdf version? I think some of us might want to print it :p

Again, very nice info and thank you for doing this.

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By far one of the best threads ever started here!

The part about mentality/strategy is so important I hope people take note of that! That was the biggest part of my improvements within this game, was understanding how to properly use mentality/strategy. Hopefully SI will address the descriptions, as I find yours to be absolutely SPOT ON.

One question. Did you come up with those mentality/strategy names on you own or did you take a look at AI manager profiles? For instance, if you check out an AI manager's profile it will list their "playing mentality" and you'll find things like: "very cautious" / "adventurous" / "attacking" / "normal" / etc

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By far one of the best threads ever started here!

The part about mentality/strategy is so important I hope people take note of that! That was the biggest part of my improvements within this game, was understanding how to properly use mentality/strategy. Hopefully SI will address the descriptions, as I find yours to be absolutely SPOT ON.

One question. Did you come up with those mentality/strategy names on you own or did you take a look at AI manager profiles? For instance, if you check out an AI manager's profile it will list their "playing mentality" and you'll find things like: "very cautious" / "adventurous" / "attacking" / "normal" / etc

I've always looked at the mentalities as levels of risk. Perhaps that's why I've never really had an issue with it. Not a huge fan of the current names, but getting the names right is probably easier said than done, when there is so much you can do with a particular mentality.

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Rarely sign into the SI forums these days, but this one was worth it to give you a big ol' thumbs up (and also to 'bookmark' this thread for me :))

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Really excellent stuff and massively need IMO. I have only skimmed so far, and read the first part in detail, but will read it in full shortly.

Its great that someone has taken the time to go into such detail and "de-crypt" the TC. There has to be, i think, some feedback here for SI in just how much more difficult the TC has become in FM14. Making the game more difficult is one thing, making the ME more difficult is one thing. Creating a UI (and background code) which makes it so difficult to even put you ideas into practice really isnt what the game should be about.

It should be hard to "execute" strategies. You should be able to fall into a trap of trying to implement something which just wont work in practice for a multitude of complex reasons. What you shouldnt really be able to do, is to not even be able to implement the thing that you think you are, because of a number of hidden "knock on's" and poorly worded and explained TC/UI.

Again, brilliant work and sorts my lunchtime reading for today :)

I don't think the TC has gotten more difficult. People just try to think too far and do too much. The only real misconception I see is that some people don't realize that adding instructions on top of each other makes the instructions more extreme (shorter passing, retain possession, control strategy, slower tempo all used together because they all sound like the way you want to play but it all adds more of the same making your instructions really extreme).

Apart from that it's just people trying to make things too complicated and trying to influence players using instructions they can't follow (shoot less while the reason the player is shooting is because he doesn't have any other options so the change should come from how you set up the team around him instead of instructing the player in question).

If you keep it simple and just use the info the TC gives you (and are aware that adding endless instructions will add the effect together making the change more extreme) you will almost always make a solid tactic.

Usually people have trouble with tactics because they focus too much on the small things instead of the big things (how do I defend, how do I score goals) and making sure your smaller decisions are made with the larger decisions in mind to create a congruent and solid tactic. My best tactic yet that is performing way better than I expect to be able to perform and uses 2 team instructions and 3 individual instructions. The TC is simplified to steer people in this more intuitive and simple direction but obviously that isn't working out too well and now those people are only getting more frustrated by the lack of information.

btw. Lets try to not derail this thread with arguments on whether the TC has gotten more difficult or lacks information. SI is already aware and this thread is better served by people discussing the application of the information presented and examples of how other users implemented it.

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I've always looked at the mentalities as levels of risk. Perhaps that's why I've never really had an issue with it. Not a huge fan of the current names, but getting the names right is probably easier said than done, when there is so much you can do with a particular mentality.

I agree that's probably why you've never had an issue with it, makes sense to me!

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I don't think the TC has gotten more difficult. People just try to think too far and do too much. The only real misconception I see is that some people don't realize that adding instructions on top of each other makes the instructions more extreme (shorter passing, retain possession, control strategy, slower tempo all used together because they all sound like the way you want to play but it all adds more of the same making your instructions really extreme).

Apart from that it's just people trying to make things too complicated and trying to influence players using instructions they can't follow (shoot less while the reason the player is shooting is because he doesn't have any other options so the change should come from how you set up the team around him instead of instructing the player in question).

If you keep it simple and just use the info the TC gives you (and are aware that adding endless instructions will add the effect together making the change more extreme) you will almost always make a solid tactic.

Usually people have trouble with tactics because they focus too much on the small things instead of the big things (how do I defend, how do I score goals) and making sure your smaller decisions are made with the larger decisions in mind to create a congruent and solid tactic. My best tactic yet that is performing way better than I expect to be able to perform and uses 2 team instructions and 3 individual instructions. The TC is simplified to steer people in this more intuitive and simple direction but obviously that isn't working out too well and now those people are only getting more frustrated by the lack of information.

btw. Lets try to not derail this thread with arguments on whether the TC has gotten more difficult or lacks information. SI is already aware and this thread is better served by people discussing the application of the information presented and examples of how other users implemented it.

Any reason it cant be both?

The OP demonstrates perfectly why its gotten more difficult. In 13, i could make a change and then go and see the impacts it had on every instruction for every player. Now i have to what, remember all this off by heart? Go in to each player individually, before and after? The sheer fact that the OP had to screenshot 13 to explain this shows that something isnt right. I dont think we should avoid constructive feedback and discussion, such as what could be done to make it more user friendly (whilst accepting "go back to sliders" isnt the point to make).

Which brings me to one of my points around implementing this, and maintaining it. Its incredibly difficult for me to always be aware of the numerous knock on's of every single change, as a manager. I could keep refering to this thread of course, but would have to find the relevant point.

I wonder how possible it would be to create a (admittedly very large) Matrix with some of this information. I would need to play around with the concept, but some kind of pivot table of information showing me that if, for example, I am set to Standard/Balanced, and i add shorter passing and move to Rigid, what the effect is on each of the TI and PI (assuming i dont touch them at all as part of the change).

How, for example, in the name of the hand of god, would i ever have known to remember that by moving from Standard to Very Rigid, my centrebacks would suddenly be set to close down more? Where would i ever learn that? A guide would probably he huge and unwieldy given the sheer volume of info, but it is a nice thought.......

There is a good mix here though, of very important stuff like that, and the more hollistic, higher level principles of how you view mentality and fluidity - Huge amounts to absorb and learn from that.

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Super excited about sinking my teeth into this.

But first of all I would like to say thanks for using Imgur to upload the screens!. Much easier now to enlarge the images. Top bloke.

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Any reason it cant be both?

The OP demonstrates perfectly why its gotten more difficult. In 13, i could make a change and then go and see the impacts it had on every instruction for every player. Now i have to what, remember all this off by heart? Go in to each player individually, before and after? The sheer fact that the OP had to screenshot 13 to explain this shows that something isnt right. I dont think we should avoid constructive feedback and discussion, such as what could be done to make it more user friendly (whilst accepting "go back to sliders" isnt the point to make).

Which brings me to one of my points around implementing this, and maintaining it. Its incredibly difficult for me to always be aware of the numerous knock on's of every single change, as a manager. I could keep refering to this thread of course, but would have to find the relevant point.

The idea behind removing that info is that you don't need to know how the sliders change to make an informed and logical decision. You don't need to remember how it changes smaller settings beneath it as it's all a logical result of the larger change and works well together. What SI is trying to accomplish is that you don't think in small settings and sliders anymore. Instead SI want's you to look at the bigger picture, see how the game plays out and then word the possible instructions in such a way that the outcome is intuitive and logical.

Basically instead of thinking in terms of slider settings and tick boxes it wants you to look at the match or your current tactic and then give you intuitive instructions you can give your team to make them play how you want. Why would you need to know how a slider setting changes? How do we even know the meaning of a couple of notches on a slider? How is that related to football?

How, for example, in the name of the hand of god, would i ever have known to remember that by moving from Standard to Very Rigid, my centrebacks would suddenly be set to close down more? Where would i ever learn that? A guide would probably he huge and unwieldy given the sheer volume of info, but it is a nice thought.......

You don't have to remember that. The logic behind it is that if you want to set up Very Rigid the increase in closing down will aid that approach and philosophy.

I do get where you are coming from and when first picking up FM14 I also found myself trying to remember how a role/duty/strategy/philosophy change translated to settings like Run From Deep and Roaming. However as I played on I found that I didn't need to know and I could just read the descriptions and look at the game to make a logical decision.

Basically I agree that more info would be an improvement (maybe more detailed descriptions that explains all facets of a role/duty etc.) but I also think that removing the sliders/boxes etc. and instead only talk in football terms is a step forward and makes the game more enjoyable.

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This could go down as one of the best posts in the history of FM14.

Well thought out and well relayed with excellent screenshots.

If anyone is still struggling this is the thread that should close the gaps for them.

Thank you for this.

B

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brilliant post, well done.

It has give me some motivation to create a spreadsheet of sorts that may help identify what team/player instructions are effected. Week off work, why not.

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Outstanding thread. Very in-depth and particularly loved the coloured ovals to indicate movement patterns. A superb piece of work.

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Terrific thread. I'm looking forward to giving this a more thorough read and, hopefully, I can provide some useful feedback. :)

One quick note:

This is because closing down uses central defenders' mentality as the baseline for the entire team, and there are three baselines:

Positionally Cautious Defenders = Rigid/Balanced

Positionally Moderate Defenders = Very Rigid/Fluid

Positionally Aggressive Defenders = Very Fluid

One of the things mentality affects is how quickly your defenders push up in attack, so the [theoretical] idea is that the likely higher position at the moment possession is lost means the team should be slightly more willing to execute a higher block.

Personally, I think there should be a bit more flexibility here to better represent the varying emphasis that different tactical cultures put on keeping shape (especially outside the extremes of Hassle and Stand Off), but that's the theory behind it. :)

Thanks for this as it partly explains a slight problem I've been having with my team not engaging with the ball as much as I'd like when I play a balanced philosophy.

Just to clarify.

If I have mentality as, for example, standard. Then, as a follow-through example, a team playing very fluid will push up more quickly than one on Rigid/Balanced, even though mentality and all other TI's and PI's are the same?

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OK, had a thorough and careful read now. Great work, always fun and interesting to read about someone digging into the depths of the game and putting their own interpretation on it.

The way all instructions are relative to the baseline settings of mentality is definitely something that needs to be conveyed more clearly. My personal preference is to introduce more textual descriptions that respond and change automatically to the settings you choose. The problem with bringing back sliders is that it's not always obviously clear what they mean, and people tend to interpret them as absolute rules when they're really just modifying tendencies. Individual sliders can't really just be viewed in isolation, so it would really be less misleading to conceal them and just focus on the complete picture made by all the different TIs + PIs. Of course, again, that picture needs to be better conveyed.

Another point to consider is that, for the most part, people didn't really keep track of the slider settings in the TC. The whole point of the theory behind the TC is that all the settings are subtly interconnected and that something like the TC was necessary to prevent people from having to adjust dozens of individual settings to account for the slightest real world instructions. Above, Jambo98 asked how he's supposed to know fluidity would affect closing down, and the point is that you don't really have to know that. It's a subtle balancing adjustment that, pre-TC, almost certainly would never have crossed anyone's mind. The idea to make that adjustment automatic was the product of extensive thought and testing, and the TC was made to prevent people from having to do that on their own.

With that said, it's still vital that people are aware of the basic interactions in the TC, and ideally, future interfaces will touch upon many of the concepts you address here. :)

Anyway, a few minor notes on specific parts:

As far as I'm aware, "Offside Trap" is still activated on more aggressive mentalities, though one of the shortcomings of the current UI is that it doesn't indicate when these automatic TIs and PI are activated. The way roaming instructions are assigned is another example of this. IMO, for the interface, this is the #1 priority to be addressed for FM15.

I wouldn't say the mentality names are necessarily misleading; rather, it's more an issue of not giving you the full picture. They're presented as stylistic presets (which they are) to let new players jump right into the game with a clear-ish idea of what the default settings do, but as you note, these presets correspond to more generic baselines that can be adapted to create many other styles. Both presentations have advantages, and it's not entirely surprising that SI went for the more clearly defined and accessible approach. However, finding a way to convey both interpretations would be ideal, but it's tricky to find a middle ground with limited UI real estate. Finding a way to integrate more stylistic presets that work off the current core five is something that would help a lot of people get more out of the game, IMO.

Striker mentality is highly variable depending on the fluidity setting and whether you're using a lone ST or multiple STs. Basically, lone STs are always encouraged to hold off a bit and be more involved than an attack duty ST in a two ST system, so on any fluidity setting, a lone ST will implicitly be expected to be more versatile in his contribution to the rest of the team.

Again, terrific work and a great read.

Thanks for this as it partly explains a slight problem I've been having with my team not engaging with the ball as much as I'd like when I play a balanced philosophy.

Just to clarify.

entality,

If I have mentality as, for example, standard. Then, as a follow-through example, a team playing very fluid will push up more quickly than one on Rigid/Balanced, even though mentality and all other TI's and PI's are the same?

As a whole going forward? No. The d-line reacts to the movement of the midfield, it doesn't push it forward, and on a lower mentality, they'll be more inclined to exercise caution, holding a deep position longer but potentially exposing space ahead of them in the process. As always, there are a number of factors at play. Mentality, d-line, roles/duties, opposition striker settings will all affect how it plays out in practice... which, again, underlines the point that looking at an individual slider was never a good way to ascertain the whole story.

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Hey, thanks to everyone for the really kind words/comments, they are really appreciated.

To answer bababooey's question, I came up with the terms for mentalities on my own. They are my vision of the thing and are not meant to 'replace' the ones that are already there, rather complement them. You can come up with your own words if you want to, but the idea was to point out the fact that 'Attacking', for example, does not only increase player mentality and forward runs, but changes the system as a whole. And ThoG is right, the explanations are not completely misleading,... however I believe it leads many users to use them in ways that are not suited to their tactics or their teams.

Thanks, ThoG, for clarifying some things such as the closing down / fluidity relationship. Also, yeah, Offside Trap gets played more as you go more aggressive in the team approach (I even once had a group of defenders who had such great chemistry they played the offside trap no matter what their instructions were), but I simply meant that the UI of this year's TC doesn't automatically add the instruction to your tactic (graphically). But thanks for making that crystal clear.

Also, I completely forgot to write that the strikers' mentalities are largely affected by formation (lone striker vs. multiple strikers and their duties), so thanks for chiming in. I will try to update the guide to add that in the near future.

Thanks to all for reading, I'm glad you are enjoying it!

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I know a few people have replied to my point about "how would i know that X impacts Y" and the answer is "you dont, you shouldnt have to as its done for you".

My issue with this, and it is very much a polar issue, but this effectively means the TC has decided for itself what my own interpretation of certain terms/instructions is. For example who is to say that i agree that fluidity should impact Closing down? The TC has this inbuilt so that users dont have to go in and adjust multiple settings, but by definition there you are creating "pre-sets" which not everyone would agree with.

A second example there in the mention of sole strikers. If i play a sole striker, i would quite like it to be my choice as to whether he is asked to get more involved and hold the ball up more? You might say "but of course he has to, otherwise your team wont be effective/player wont be involved" - To an extent, that is true. 95% of sole strikers should have the things you mention set. However there is always the 5%. Of the top of my head, Kenny Miller for Scotland was a sole striker who seldom held the ball up in the traditional sense - He was all about running the channels, pestering defenders, challenging them for everything.

I guess what i am getting at, is that utopia would be that each user can set their own "presets" in the TC and apply them in the same way the current TC does. So i should be able to select the 4 or 5 things that should change with a change in fluidity or mentality (within some parameters perhaps). However, i do appreciate that is both incredibly complex to build/implement, and quite possibly open to just as much confusion by users as the current system!

On an unrelated note, but might be worth adding, i just noticed that the shout "Waste time" is only available when "Mentality" is on Defensive or Counter. I suppose this is somewhat logical (Although personally i think maybe it could be included in Counter, but can see the argument against). It therefore follows that moving your mentality up from Defensive to anything "above" will auto remove this instruction.

NB - Actually just noticed this shout isnt actually mentioned in the OP?

Again, superb work. I have now read it twice, once initially without the game open, then again now in conjunction with creating a tactic.

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Actually, I forgot *Waste Time*. To answer your questions :

Time Wasting functions similarly in FM14 than last year, with more time wasting as you go down the approach scale, and to some extent also affected by tempo. Time Wasting is also dependent on match situation, with more experienced and intelligent players more likely to recognize those situations where they must waste more/less time. Time Wasting would logically be used only when you are barely hanging on to a game, and thus IMO it makes no sense to waste time when you're using a more 'normal' mentality. Personally, when I want my players to "waste time" (more like, take fewer risks and don't be too enthusiastic), I will find a way to lower the tempo, shorten the passing, something like that. I really like 'Take A Breather' for that.

The TC helps create tactics that are already somewhat well integrated without changing too many things, and that's why it gives the feeling that you are creating 'presets'. In a sense, this is good since the immersion in the game can be made more quickly for beginners... and in a sense it's frustrating for long-time tacticians who would like to be able to really fine-tune instructions as much as they can. The truth is, you are not forced to 'agree' with the TC. The only thing is you have to understand it, to help you happily disagree with it. If you think Fluidity shouldn't impact closing down, then adjust accordingly!

For the striker thing, ThoG meant that a lone striker will GENERALLY be ENCOURAGED to be more involved. Of course, his tactical instructions will always depend on his role and duty anyways, and he will not necessarily become a target forward as a result of being sole up top. For example, a lone AF(a) would have a lower mentality than an AF(a) in a two-striker setup, but he would not stop doing the AF actions as a result. The TC would help the lone AF(a) have success in a lone striker setup by dropping his mentality by default...

The lone striker actions also depend on how much support he has. For example, if you play a 4-3-3 (41221, 451), your sole striker will be more isolated than if you play a 4231 dnmk with an AM(a). This would not necessarily affect the player's mentality, but it would affect his positioning, and thus the actions he performs. In the case of the Miller example, just watch his games and see how much support he had when he did his stuff. And notice what he did when he didn't have support vs. when he did. That being said, in FM14 if you want you can increase your lone striker's mentality by using 'Get Further Forward', although as with any other instruction success is not guaranteed.

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I know a few people have replied to my point about "how would i know that X impacts Y" and the answer is "you dont, you shouldnt have to as its done for you".

My issue with this, and it is very much a polar issue, but this effectively means the TC has decided for itself what my own interpretation of certain terms/instructions is. For example who is to say that i agree that fluidity should impact Closing down? The TC has this inbuilt so that users dont have to go in and adjust multiple settings, but by definition there you are creating "pre-sets" which not everyone would agree with.

A second example there in the mention of sole strikers. If i play a sole striker, i would quite like it to be my choice as to whether he is asked to get more involved and hold the ball up more? You might say "but of course he has to, otherwise your team wont be effective/player wont be involved" - To an extent, that is true. 95% of sole strikers should have the things you mention set. However there is always the 5%. Of the top of my head, Kenny Miller for Scotland was a sole striker who seldom held the ball up in the traditional sense - He was all about running the channels, pestering defenders, challenging them for everything.

I guess what i am getting at, is that utopia would be that each user can set their own "presets" in the TC and apply them in the same way the current TC does. So i should be able to select the 4 or 5 things that should change with a change in fluidity or mentality (within some parameters perhaps). However, i do appreciate that is both incredibly complex to build/implement, and quite possibly open to just as much confusion by users as the current system!

On an unrelated note, but might be worth adding, i just noticed that the shout "Waste time" is only available when "Mentality" is on Defensive or Counter. I suppose this is somewhat logical (Although personally i think maybe it could be included in Counter, but can see the argument against). It therefore follows that moving your mentality up from Defensive to anything "above" will auto remove this instruction.

NB - Actually just noticed this shout isnt actually mentioned in the OP?

Again, superb work. I have now read it twice, once initially without the game open, then again now in conjunction with creating a tactic.

Good points.

My response to that would be that if you give your instructions to your team as a manager aren't you also only able to use pre made presets? The only presets available is the common tactical language you have with your players. Basically it is pretty realistic that a lone striker would look to get more involved with the play automatically in real life as well no matter what you tell him (and your example can still be pretty accurately created with this TC I think).

Basically the presets are not there because someone thought they would be pretty good instructions. They are there to reflect how actual players and teams would react to what you tell them to do on the pitch. The extra closing down on defenders when changing philosophy is not there because it works well for some people. It's there because it is a realistic change in behavior you would see in real life.

Also don't forget that if you think your defenders are closing down to much when watching a game you can still change that through individual instructions or other means. It's not like the TC forces you to play a certain way.

Your suggestion that everyone can make their own presets is basically how FM worked in the past (I think pre FM10 or something) where it was all sliders, no roles, duties etc. The reason the FM moved away from this is that it was not intuitive to use, too complicated for many players and it didn't encourage thinking in football terms but instead lead many users to search for some "magical" slider settings that created unbeatable tactics. It had little to do with football and just lead to endless experimentation to try and game the system. I am very glad FM moved away from this and pushes me to think in football terms.

That doesn't change the fact that currently the TC is very light on the info when making changes (not showing me which players are allowed to roam, who are given more creative freedom etc. being the most obvious issue in my opinion).

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Excellent article.. thanks Jpcote09

I am starting to view TI/PI as change slider/ticking boxes in FM13.

Rather than read for what they say.. like direct passing is increase passing range on my players and might increase tempo a little bit..

I hope more players realize this.. however on the other hand we do need better explaination from SI.. like what if some1 never played FM 12/13 so on.. when we move to FM15.16 or whatever.

Anyway huge effort for writing this and thanks a lot!!!

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Thanks for reading, Jenesis!

Actually, what the TI/PIs do is exactly the same as what 'Specific Instructions' and 'Shouts' did in FM13. They change instruction(s) by a fixed amount. (For example, when you use Pass it Shorter, it will reduce the passing style for every player by 'x' units). Contrary to FM13 though, we can't ask the team to play very very short and just 'tick a box' to ask one player to play only long balls. If we want that, we now have to work harder with roles, duties and our overall system.

And if you want my view on it, it's great. Honestly, what would a player do IRL if you told him, "you will play with a passing range of 12/19 and close down 8/19" ? Exactly, he would probably laugh or not get it. I think this year's TC is much better in terms of having you find a style that works by using only rough approximations for those instructions. This year it's much more realistic in that you have to find the right combination of roles and tasks to assign to your guys instead of just mathematically compensate for everything with robotic sliders.

And IMO as I said in the OP, it would be nice to be able to 'see' how the changes we make in the TC add up to affect the players' game in the end, but I personally think it's much more realistic and fun to find out while watching matches and analyzing our own tactics.

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I agree slider is un-realistic.. and this is the 'better' approach.. but a lot more information needs to be provided.

both on field feedback.. .Like i dont want to just apply direct passing when my assitants tells me then win games.. but a lot more is needed...

And off field (purely when we are on tatics creator)... we need to understand what does each option do and better...

It might be fine for you or cleon or anyone who is willing to analzye your play and watch full game every now and then (if not more)

but I am seriously dobuting this is good for the more casual base fan out there and a lot of fans who do not have a huge amount of tatical knowledge in football..

FM is already a very niche game.. i dont think narrowing it down even further is a good idea... after all a game can be only sucessful as it is more popular..

So i hope SI can find a better balance.. both by keeping this 'simplistic/realstic' style of tatics .. but also provide user with enough easy to read and understand feedback..

Like i would love to see my assistant telling me X player has no one pass to and is isolted from the team.. or Y player is passing through ball to our left wing a lot we need to man mark him out of the game or drop deeper...

I know current assitant do this to some extend and we have all the data in analysis tool bar.. but again i come back to this FM need to lower the cruve..

I mean facts doesnt lie.. a huge amount of old fm12/13 players are struggling on FM14.. maaybe they will be fine after spending 200 hours wathciing full game and keep trying to understand the game.

But in all honesty.. i cant be bothered doing that.. and i doubut a lot of players will..

If you want to say FM is not hte game for these people then fine... but I will be seriously worried about future of this game then...

We are in a such fast paced world already.. people have less patience..

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I agree slider is un-realistic.. and this is the 'better' approach.. but a lot more information needs to be provided.

both on field feedback.. .Like i dont want to just apply direct passing when my assitants tells me then win games.. but a lot more is needed...

And off field (purely when we are on tatics creator)... we need to understand what does each option do and better...

It might be fine for you or cleon or anyone who is willing to analzye your play and watch full game every now and then (if not more)

but I am seriously dobuting this is good for the more casual base fan out there and a lot of fans who do not have a huge amount of tatical knowledge in football..

FM is already a very niche game.. i dont think narrowing it down even further is a good idea... after all a game can be only sucessful as it is more popular..

So i hope SI can find a better balance.. both by keeping this 'simplistic/realstic' style of tatics .. but also provide user with enough easy to read and understand feedback..

Like i would love to see my assistant telling me X player has no one pass to and is isolted from the team.. or Y player is passing through ball to our left wing a lot we need to man mark him out of the game or drop deeper...

I know current assitant do this to some extend and we have all the data in analysis tool bar.. but again i come back to this FM need to lower the cruve..

I mean facts doesnt lie.. a huge amount of old fm12/13 players are struggling on FM14.. maaybe they will be fine after spending 200 hours wathciing full game and keep trying to understand the game.

But in all honesty.. i cant be bothered doing that.. and i doubut a lot of players will..

If you want to say FM is not hte game for these people then fine... but I will be seriously worried about future of this game then...

We are in a such fast paced world already.. people have less patience..

You make very good and valid points, to which I mostly agree.

It's true that we need more self-explanation from the game, however I do believe that SI are well aware of it by now and I have faith that they keep working on that sort of stuff. At the same time, I acknowledge it has to be very difficult to keep things simple for beginners AND provide more info to more advanced users, all while keeping things tidy from an interface point of view. (example, if the game said : More Direct Passing - increases 'passing style' by 3 steps for every player... beginners would surely say, what's that? and purists would say, what does that have to do with football? ...) So in a way it's hard to keep everyone happy while trying to make the game more realistic. The best idea I could have at the moment would be a sort of 'toggling' between simple and more intricate explanations of game tools and instructions.

Funny that you say that, I watch every game in 'Full Match'. Except when I am reaaaaaaally bored or the game is really unimportant. Which is, almost never.

I agree that FM is not necessarily a widely-known game, but it's not for everyone either and while I get your point, I don't agree that SI are narrowing it down even more. Having watched that game evolve in the last couple of years, I think SI have done a good job at taking feedback from and trying to please their community of faithful players, and at the same time making the game hopefully more enticing to the masses (the new TC and its IMO neater and simpler interface is a testament to that). They have also developed FMC, which is perfect for the casual player who doesn't have enough time or interest in immersing themselves in the game as much as someone like me does. Unfortunately most people just don't get FMC and sadly try to play FM, the FMC way. I really believe those two games should be sold separately with perhaps an option to switch from FMC to FM at a low cost if someone feels bored with FMC.

I'm not saying FM is not for you, far from it. I just learnt that to make the most out of FM, you really have to invest a lot of time and patience, and really be passionate about it. This is perhaps more true in this year's version, and I'm not sure if SI intended that or not. For people like me who are so passionate for soccer that they almost dedicate their life to it, it's good to see that FM is getting tougher, more realistic and more challenging than ever. But I understand that it might be frustrating. And whether SI intended it or not, I think it 'might' slowly start a trend of movement towards FMC for more players.

Totally agree that we are in a fast-paced world and people want results, fast. And that's why FMC was created. Now, the debate could go on as to whether there's a problem with people in the world making unrealistic targets for themselves. For example, losing 30 pounds in 1 week, or having great success in Football Manager without actually playing it as intended.

???

EDIT : Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to defend SI, as I do think there are still a lot of improvements to be made to the game, but I'm trying to be as neutral and empathic as possible, and watch the thing from a greater perspective.

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When you start mixing layers of instructions (team, player, mentality, fluidity, roles) you get a tactical box of mystery. I would suggest that only player-specific instructions are implemented in a way that allows the player to fully understand what is in this tactical box of mystery. Team instructions muddy the water a bit, but I agree something team-based is required to make quick global adjustments to width, defensive line, etc. But fluidity...that has almost become a pick and hope instruction. I feel like fluidity fudges our player and team instructions to the point where it is difficult to know for sure what we have told our players to do.

If it requires lengthy guides just to figure out what you have told your players, then the process for instructing players is too convoluted.

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One specific i would be quite interested in delving into a little, is the "Long shots situation".

As the OP highlighted, there is both a TI "Work the ball into the box", which reduces long shots on everyone, and also the PI "Shoot Less Often". I had often presumed, and i think its alluded to in the OP that the PI was just the individual version of the TI, and would simply reduce the player in questions "long shots" (in old money terms).

Came across this interesting post explaining that actually the PI isnt quite the same as the TI. Suggestion is that the PI encourages the player to do things like put his foot on the ball in situations rather than shoot.

I found that quite interesting news. I am trying to get my mind round what this PI would mean (In terms of what else is it altering "behind the scenes"). Is it adding something like "hold ball up" or increasing "creative freedom" (to encourage him to do something different) or is it effecting mentality?

I had assumed it was reasonably clear cut, because "long shots" are classed as outside 18yards, so if i altered this instruction my player, when outside the box would be less inclined to shoot and more inclined to either dribble or pass.

Interested to hear views or experiences? My own thought, upon reflection, is that by asking someone not to shoot you are inherently asking them to do something different like put the foot on the ball, or dribble. However that still doesnt explain why the TI and PI would do something different, and what specifically they would do different?

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Thanks for this, jpcote! Now all I have to do is memorize this, then memorize THOG's fluidity thread, and I am all set.

A question of interest here is whether this FM14 system allows you to make the most out of your players and target the opposition's weaknesses. I think it doesn't do that very well. Maybe it is a good system for applying distinct styles of play, but it is nearly impossible to focus on specific players.

A note on "Look for overlap". It definitely affects play through the middle too. One way to reproduce the effect: play 4-1DM-4-1 counter-attack with "exploit the middle" against an attacking 4-4-2. You will see your players execute the counter-attacks through the middle in a distinctly different manner when "look for overlap" is on.

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Thanks for this, jpcote! Now all I have to do is memorize this, then memorize THOG's fluidity thread, and I am all set.

A question of interest here is whether this FM14 system allows you to make the most out of your players and target the opposition's weaknesses. I think it doesn't do that very well. Maybe it is a good system for applying distinct styles of play, but it is nearly impossible to focus on specific players.

A note on "Look for overlap". It definitely affects play through the middle too. One way to reproduce the effect: play 4-1DM-4-1 counter-attack with "exploit the middle" against an attacking 4-4-2. You will see your players execute the counter-attacks through the middle in a distinctly different manner when "look for overlap" is on.

Look for overlap has nothing to do with play through the middle, what it changes under the hood is;

Look For Overlap – Your fullbacks or wingbacks will be given a more attacking mentality, run from deep often, cross ball often and be asked to cross from byline. While your wingers will be given a more defensive mentality, run from deep rarely and hold up the ball.

It has no bearing on anything to do with play through the middle at all unless I've misread what you mean, in which case I'll apologise :)

When you activate 'exploit the middle' then you are asking the players to attack different due to it changing;

Exploit The Middle – None defensive players will have their run from deep increased to often. Tells your team to focus their passing through the middle and any defenders and defensive midfielders will have their mentality changed to a more attacking one and be told to do through balls often.

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Look for overlap has nothing to do with play through the middle, what it changes under the hood is;

Look For Overlap – Your fullbacks or wingbacks will be given a more attacking mentality, run from deep often, cross ball often and be asked to cross from byline. While your wingers will be given a more defensive mentality, run from deep rarely and hold up the ball.

It has no bearing on anything to do with play through the middle at all unless I've misread what you mean, in which case I'll apologise :)

When you activate 'exploit the middle' then you are asking the players to attack different due to it changing;

Exploit The Middle – None defensive players will have their run from deep increased to often. Tells your team to focus their passing through the middle and any defenders and defensive midfielders will have their mentality changed to a more attacking one and be told to do through balls often.

Cleon, you haven't misread what I 've written. I know what the description says, but it is just misleading. I 've given the steps to reproduce the effect on middle play above (counter atack+play through middle+overlap vs counter attack+play through middle in 4-5-1 against 4-4-2), so I have nothing to add really.

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Speaking about the general dynamics, another important thing of note is that a lot of this also reacts dynamically to player's traits and attributes (which is a good thing). The extent of which I personally realized after making experiments, like editing a side to be completely lazy to the extreme. Such as here, for instance:

The line (and the team along to it) doesn't drop off early any, but despite the aggressive encouragements nobody closes down, giving the opposition tons of time to play through balls and balls over the top of the defender's heads.

As stated by SI, various measures also directly affect and modify attributes in dynamic ways such as condition, match preparation, tactical fluidity, etc. Setting match preparation to attacking set pieces for instance would dynamically boost off the ball attributes during set pieces, for instance. So to get the most out of your plans, you are thus adviced to look for the right players as well. Your players aren't robots, and you're just a manager.

Interesting read. Not a huge fan of any guide still refering to instructions that are out of the game for good though and hopefully with the current direction the game is heading in the references won't be needed anymore one day. :)

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Cleon, you haven't misread what I 've written. I know what the description says, but it is just misleading. I 've given the steps to reproduce the effect on middle play above (counter atack+play through middle+overlap vs counter attack+play through middle in 4-5-1 against 4-4-2), so I have nothing to add really.

There not descriptions though, those are the actual settings that change, its not a description. How is it misleading when those are what actually changes behind the hood? Sorry if I'm being thick here and missing the point :D

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There not descriptions though, those are the actual settings that change, its not a description. How is it misleading when those are what actually changes behind the hood? Sorry if I'm being thick here and missing the point :D

Oh, right, I lost focus for a moment there.

Well, apparently they cannot be the only settings changed. Listen, you don't have to believe me. Try the following:

1) Play 4-1DM-4-1 or 4-1DM-2-2-1 against 4-4-2 (or any other light central midfield). Make sure your opponent will let you counter-attack through the middle a lot so that you can see the effect. Use Counter mentality and Balanced fluidity. Shouts: Play through the Middle.

2) If "Look for overlap" is used, your central midfield will overlap each other several times in a row while counter-attacking. If "Look for overlap" is off, then they won't overlap (or maybe just once).

That's about it. Note that I am not necessarily advising for this to be used as weapon, it is just something that is there for some reason and I discovered it accidentally.

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When a counter attack is on though all settings are changed for those players in the counter attack regardless of what settings they have. Tempo and mentality are set to max so maybe this is what you are seeing?

I can guarantee you 100% there is no hidden changes that I didn't mention. SI helped me do a thread about shouts and what actually changed under the hood for FM13 and they all still work the same way. The thread can be viewed here http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/305067-The-Full-90-Minutes-What-I-Do

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When a counter attack is on though all settings are changed for those players in the counter attack regardless of what settings they have. Tempo and mentality are set to max so maybe this is what you are seeing?

I can guarantee you 100% there is no hidden changes that I didn't mention. SI helped me do a thread about shouts and what actually changed under the hood for FM13 and they all still work the same way. The thread can be viewed here http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/305067-The-Full-90-Minutes-What-I-Do

Does it matter what is changed under the hood during a counter-attack for the difference I am mentioning? I think what matters is that the counter-attack plays out differently with overlap on and overlap off.

Right, I have already seen and enjoyed your thread. But even if it were the coder himself who provided the info, it makes no difference to me. I mean, the effect is right there for everyone to see.

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Does it matter what is changed under the hood during a counter-attack for the difference I am mentioning? I think what matters is that the counter-attack plays out differently with overlap on and overlap off.

Right, I have already seen and enjoyed your thread. But even if it were the coder himself who provided the info, it makes no difference to me. I mean, the effect is right there for everyone to see.

Well no it doesn't matter because a counter attack overrides what's set and the maxed tempo and mentality makes players do things they wouldn't normally do and be more aggressive in their approach. That's kinda my point though, this could be the reason why you see it happening differently on counter attacks.

Not sure how you would know more than the coder though who designed and integrated them into the match engine? You can actually use FM13 and see what it changes on the sliders anyways. Not arguing with you though but there is another reason for it happening. Pointless me continuing the discussion too as you said it makes no difference to you what the coder or myself thing as you have your own mind made up.

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One specific i would be quite interested in delving into a little, is the "Long shots situation".

As the OP highlighted, there is both a TI "Work the ball into the box", which reduces long shots on everyone, and also the PI "Shoot Less Often". I had often presumed, and i think its alluded to in the OP that the PI was just the individual version of the TI, and would simply reduce the player in questions "long shots" (in old money terms).

Came across this interesting post explaining that actually the PI isnt quite the same as the TI. Suggestion is that the PI encourages the player to do things like put his foot on the ball in situations rather than shoot.

I found that quite interesting news. I am trying to get my mind round what this PI would mean (In terms of what else is it altering "behind the scenes"). Is it adding something like "hold ball up" or increasing "creative freedom" (to encourage him to do something different) or is it effecting mentality?

I had assumed it was reasonably clear cut, because "long shots" are classed as outside 18yards, so if i altered this instruction my player, when outside the box would be less inclined to shoot and more inclined to either dribble or pass.

Interested to hear views or experiences? My own thought, upon reflection, is that by asking someone not to shoot you are inherently asking them to do something different like put the foot on the ball, or dribble. However that still doesnt explain why the TI and PI would do something different, and what specifically they would do different?

I've thought about this while writing the guide. The experience I've had with 'Shoot Less Often' is that it will mostly reduce shots from range by reducing their 'long shots'. As you say, sometimes it seems like it encourages the player to vary his play in the box as well, but I haven't seen it consistently so I can't really say anything about it. When it did, the player in question would shoot less often from tight angles and poor positions in the box. Instead, he would try to cross or pass for a teammate, sometimes holding up the ball in the process. But in the end, I think that when a player has the ball in the box, what he does is mostly affected by his decision-making.

Speaking about the general dynamics, another important thing of note is that a lot of this also reacts dynamically to player's traits and attributes (which is a good thing). The extent of which I personally realized after making experiments, like editing a side to be completely lazy to the extreme. Such as here, for instance:
The line (and the team along to it) doesn't drop off early any, but despite the aggressive encouragements nobody closes down, giving the opposition tons of time to play through balls and balls over the top of the defender's heads.

As stated by SI, various measures also directly affect and modify attributes in dynamic ways such as condition, match preparation, tactical fluidity, etc. Setting match preparation to attacking set pieces for instance would dynamically boost off the ball attributes during set pieces, for instance. So to get the most out of your plans, you are thus adviced to look for the right players as well. Your players aren't robots, and you're just a manager.

Interesting read. Not a huge fan of any guide still refering to instructions that are out of the game for good though and hopefully with the current direction the game is heading in the references won't be needed anymore one day. :)

Yeah, definitely. That's why I wrote at the end of the guide that tactics don't win games, because in the end you have to have the right players. And of course the dynamics interplay with player attributes, otherwise there would be no point in having player attributes :p

True, hopefully one day we don't need that sort of 'guide' anymore. I don't really like guides either but I felt it would be a good idea here instead of repeating the same concepts to so many people asking for help (for example, saying shorter passing, retain possession and lower tempo all add up to a very much lower tempo). The idea here was not to 'tell' people how to play, rather help them understand the dynamics 'under the hood' and make more informed decisions about how they want to play. Using FM13 was graphically the best option to do that IMO, but I agree it's not ideal having to go back to features not in the game anymore.

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Does it matter what is changed under the hood during a counter-attack for the difference I am mentioning? I think what matters is that the counter-attack plays out differently with overlap on and overlap off.

Right, I have already seen and enjoyed your thread. But even if it were the coder himself who provided the info, it makes no difference to me. I mean, the effect is right there for everyone to see.

Are you sure that its only your 3 CM players (Dm and 2 x CM from what you said) that you are seeing the effect on. I just did a quick experiment there on a similar tactic, and what i saw was a slightly interesting reaction to it. I found that my CM players were getting ahead of the ball quicker when my WM picked it up. It was almost an inverse overlap (i have fullbacks set to defend, so increasing there mentality might not have been enough to push them forward).

The reason i was seeing that, I believe, was due to the reduced mentality on my WM when i added (Look for the overlap). The CM behaviour hadnt actually changed, it was just now different comparative to the WM.

If you think you see something different, might be interesting to see some screenshots or a PKM?

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Well no it doesn't matter because a counter attack overrides what's set and the maxed tempo and mentality makes players do things they wouldn't normally do and be more aggressive in their approach. That's kinda my point though, this could be the reason why you see it happening differently on counter attacks.

Not sure how you would know more than the coder though who designed and integrated them into the match engine? You can actually use FM13 and see what it changes on the sliders anyways. Not arguing with you though but there is another reason for it happening. Pointless me continuing the discussion too as you said it makes no difference to you what the coder or myself thing as you have your own mind made up.

No problem.

Right, a lot of things change while counter-attacking, but that's my point too, "look for overlap" is taken into account by the ME during counter-attacking through the middle.

The coder may have forgotten about it, may have deemed it unworthy of mentioning or it may even be a knock-on effect that he didn't think about. I 've done coding myself so none of the above would surprise me. Why don't you just try it next time you get a chance, Cleon? You 'll see it.

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No problem.

Right, a lot of things change while counter-attacking, but that's my point too, "look for overlap" is taken into account by the ME during counter-attacking through the middle.

The coder may have forgotten about it, may have deemed it unworthy of mentioning or it may even be a knock-on effect that he didn't think about. I 've done coding myself so none of the above would surprise me. Why don't you just try it next time you get a chance, Cleon? You 'll see it.

I have, I don't see what you say you see :)

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