According to the FML development team at Sports Interactive, more skill points have been spent on tactics skills than on any other. So, they must be important, right? Well, I suppose that all depends on when you spend them, why you’re spending them and if you’re spending them in the right way.
Jordan, here, doesn’t have any tactics skills and he’s flying at the top end of his game world. He’s managed to put together a reasonably cheap, American side with pace to burn in a classic 4-4-2 formation. He lets the players do the talking, allowing them to run themselves in to the ground and nicking goals on the blistering counter attack. The defaults work for him – but why?
The thing is that the default tactics in FML are pretty good. And at least in the early stages of the game world everyone will be using them. So there’s not much room for tactical manoeuvre within the classic sliders and check boxes. In a lot of cases, the only real weapon you have is substitutions and team selection, bringing on a pacy striker in the dying moments against a tired defence or playing your 6’ 4” bruiser in central defence to combat their aerially dominant centre forward. Since everyone’s in the same boat (and a good number of teams may well choose to stay this way), are you really gaining an advantage by spending your first season learning the tactics skill to five stars?
Also consider if you really know what you want to do. Time is precious in FML. If you’re looking to produce a brilliant youth team, do you really want to take days out of your schedule that you could be using to scout and train your 15 year old wunderkinden? What do you need specifically to get your team playing the way you want? Do you even understand tactics that well? Will having 20 degrees of control over individual creative freedom really help your side perform much better? Or would signing a better striker do exactly the same job?
There are plenty of guides on the web as to what to do with tactics. Since the FML engine is pretty much the same as the FM09 one, you may want to check out the major tactical guides (FM-Britian’s TT&F is probably the best place to start), but always bear in mind that while you do have loads of options in FM09 you don’t always have to use them – in fact, most people don’t. But if you don’t or didn’t really use tactics very much in the previous incarnations of FM, or you used to download other people’s tactics and then just import them into the game without questioning how they worked, then consider for a moment whether going willy nilly for cool sounding skills such as “attacking corner settings” and “individual player forward runs” are necessarily what you should be spending your crucial early skill points on.
Of course, if you do know what you’re doing, tactics can give you a real advantage over less astute managers. Being able to combat a side, neutering them and exploiting their weaknesses can turn close defeats in to wins. Similarly, if you know you don’t have the best players, but can utilise their specific skills as a group to win games, then being able to get the best out of your tall target man or nippy winger can be key to success in the game on a very low budget. This can enhance your rank, reputation, income and allow you get better and better players: all the while getting them to play to their fullest potential of course.
The most important thing to remember is this – the default tactics are quite good. They are a base level from which to work. If you spend time learning tactics skills then you need to put together a better tactic than the original ones. Otherwise, there’s very little point. So think: what doesn’t work in my team when I use the defaults? How can a stop that from happening? What tools do I need to get that to work? Sometimes, the answer may be “I can stop losing so many games if I stop conceding so many goals from corners – I’ll learn defensive corner settings”. Sometimes it may simply be that you made a massive mistake signing Titus Bramble, and now need to buy a new centre back. Whatever the answer, just think: do I need to spend time learning, or is there another way round this?
|Written By Gareth Millward
"Millie" is a long-standing member of the FM community and a co-founder of Gameworld One.Com. As part of FM-Britain, he was a contributor to TT&F and involved with the new tactical interface in FM2010.