I’m sure some of you have noticed that I’m not posting a whole lot and part of that is due to me just not playing MMOs much recently.  However I have still be gaming (as you may have noticed from my Raptr profile), as I’ve found a new addiction thanks to the crew over at LOTRO Academy – Football Manger 2012.  Part of it is the gameplay fits in well with my life right now, but I’m also very much caught up in the recent excitement in the soccer world with the amazing end of the English Premiere League and the current Euro Championships.  For those of you who haven’t heard or seen this game (and are still reading since I’m not talking about MMOs) FM2012 is more like a soccer simulation then a twitch based sports game like any of the EA versions.  Both have their places, but for some reason I’ve never been real good at console based versions of games like soccer and hockey.  What FM2012 excels at is all the details around setting up and managing your team, while the actual game itself is a “hands-off” simulation based on how you’ve set up your team.  Now you can make changes and micro-manage during the game, but you can’t actually control any of the players.  Not only do I really enjoy these kinds of simulations (I’m also a big RTS fan) but this also fits really well into my current gaming availability that consists of many interruptions.

This post will essentially walk through how I approach this game and the various settings in it.  So if you’re not a soccer or FM2012 fan you might not be terribly interested in this particular post Smile

For the actual game itself, I’m mainly working on two different versions both managing my favorite club Everton out of the English Premier League. I think my tie to this club is partly due to the American stars that have played well for them (Howard and Donovan) as well as the general underdog spirit of the club as they always seem to be low on funds when compared to the other bigger clubs.  Like I mentioned, I have two current, one being more of a “fun” one in that I will firmly admit I’ve cheated quite a bit by saving before kick-off and re-loading if I don’t get the result I want.  This was primarily during the first couple of seasons as later on (I just finished season 7) my team does pretty darn well for the most part.  I look at this game as more of my learning curve where I’ve tried to understand how things work and what the various options are. There are tons of options and after reading various sites I’ve actually started to realize that many of the settings and tabs I never touched can actually be quite important.  Specifically, I started toying around with Training pretty early on, but I’ve come to realize not only how important it is but the keys regarding timing and workloads.  In my reading I’ve figured out that I’ve quite possibly been over-training not only in my schedules but in how I handled match preparation.  I tended to get quite a few people complaining about their training workloads and I also did WAY too much match tactics preparation early on in the season.  I’ve grabbed one of the popular training routines off the web and have tweaked it a little bit to match my personal preference.  I’ve also taken on the suggestion to start off with very low match preparation early on in the season such that I get the most out of my primary training.  With regards to match training, the other aspect I learned was that you can use Teamwork as the secondary focus and then switch the day before a game to maximize your match preparations.  I’ve noticed this has made quite a difference especially when I’ve switched from things like attacking to defending.  Overall in my “cheat” I did try to stay with mostly English players, but picked up a number of international stars as well.  I mainly tried to only bring in a couple of players per transfer window as not only do I not have all that much money but any more seems to really flip the club on its ear.  Some of my most notable signings were:

  • Ryan Shawcross
  • Rafael
  • Nigel de Jong
  • Kaka
  • Dimitar Berbatov (on a free transfer)
  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • Andre Shurrle
  • Edwin Bakker
  • Mario Goetze

The last couple were a little ridiculous as I just built up a nice $100 million warchest based on my success.  Not to mention that this last year, Fellaini requested a transfer as he was bored with winning win which brought in an additional $62 million.  I did get my new stadium built this year, but as much as I have enjoyed this particular game-save it does feel a bit hollow.

With that game more or less on hold, I’m starting up another Everton game this time not “cheating” and really trying to focus on English (or at least UK) players mainly.  Although I have to admit I’m going to try to sign Shurrle as early as I can since he scored almost 150 goals in two years for me :)  The actual setup of a season takes quite a bit as I need to clean out some of the current players (sadly I just can’t get rid of that dead weight Junior) via transfers or loans as well as clean up the staff.  There’s a lot of fluff there and quite a bit of people that just aren’t all that good.  In this game training is SO important so I try to get the best staff I can early on.  I also ask the board early on for training/youth upgrades in addition to getting a feeder club. I’ll admit I probably don’t use feeder clubs as well as I should but I mainly use them as a place to bury people who are un-happy or if I have too many young guys to deal with that I can’t get time on my reserve team.

The next big key will be settling on a formation and tactics and I think I’ve settled upon a 4-3-3 with 2 wingers, a defensive midfielder, and a defensive minded central midfielder.  This seems to fit pretty well with the starting personnel as there are quite a few wingers (Osman, Barkley, Gueye, Pinear) and not all that many folks that can play down the middle.  I mainly plan to play with Cahil as my attacking central midfielder, Rodwell as that defensive CM, and Fellaini as my defensive midfielder.  This not only puts some of my best talent on the field but gives my young guys as chance to grow very quickly.  Rodwell especially shoots up quite well if he’s played early on.  I’ve tried to play a pretty fluid and roaming style but I may have to dive a bit deeper to see if that really fits best with my players available.  When it comes to tougher games, I also have a slightly different 4-3-3 trained which has 2 DMs and one CM, without the Attacking midfielder, that’s very defensive and rigid, but again I might switch that up a bit this time but it did seem to work very well in clogging things up as well as providing some good counter attack options.

Another aspect I’ve started to look into this time around are the various shouts that are available during the game.  I’ve never really used them, but I’ve set up a couple of combinations to use while trying to hold a lead or come from behind.  It seems as though these are better of your overall teamwork then swapping out completely different formations.

The last aspect I’m just now starting to play with is the Opposition tab of the pre-match setup.  I had NO idea you could actually change stuff here and change how you play your opposition.  Essentially on this tab you can decide to mark closely, harass, push onto a foot a particular player if that makes sense.  This allows you to do things like focus on their key playmaker or if there’s someone weak you can try to force mistakes.  The usage of this tab also assumes you’ve set it up for one of your scouts to do pre-match scouting :)

Speaking of scouting, this is one area that I know (in addition to the opposition tab) that I’m not utilizing all that well.  I pretty much set them up and let them do their thing but I have a feeling I could get more out of them if I tried to do more stuff with them.

One of the main things I’ve realized as I’ve played through parts of many seasons with different teams is that you can play this game to whatever depth you want to.  You can go super micro-manager and get involved in all the details, which is sort of the route I’m walking down.  Although I have to admit I more or less fast-forward through the actual games themselves :)  Or you can focus on the games solely and leave the rest to the “defaults” and play it more as an action game.

As for my hopes for this upcoming game, I’m hoping for at least Euro qualification although I’d love to sneak into a Champions league spot if I can get some help from the other teams.  Hopefully my third season will see me strong enough to actually do some damage in the champions league such that I can help fill the coffers a bit.  Much of this hinges on how well I can hold on to my core players as Baines, Heitinga, and Fellaini are all in high demand and I may be forced to deal someone without being able to grab a decent replacement.  In one of my games Fellaini put a $30 mil buyout clause in his contract and you just can’t easily find a replacement of his caliber at that dollar amount.  If anything, that’s one of my complaints with the game is that the dollar amounts for players seem to be skewed towards the AI managers.  Although I guess that does add a degree of difficulty to the game, so that’s not a terrible thing :)  I’ve also found that in many cases it helps to hop in when there’s a bidding war for players as you can then see their bids (sometimes) which usually are MUCH lower then what I can usually get players for.  Of course the other cloud hanging over Everton is the always present fear of a buy-out and coaching change.  In my other games, I’ve been able to successfully navigate buy-outs, but there’s always the possibility of the buyers brining in their own management team.

As this season progresses I’m sure I’ll have some updates, and you’ll notice quite abruptly if things in my life change such that I’m playing MMOs more frequently ;)

If you’d made it this far in this post, you either enjoy soccer or FM2012 and I’d be very curious what you think on either subject Smile