Football Manager’s latest match engine in FM16, is the most interesting m.e. I’ve played thus far. We’ve already done one article earlier on my broad approach to the game. There’s also a video on BusttheNet called FM16 Mastering the Match Engine, Part 1, I plan to do a few more videos and I hope my particular approach helps.
It took me a long time to understand the engine, and like I explained in the first blog post on this topic. The FM16 match engine develops iteratively. It took me a while to understand it, and trying to explain it in 1500 words or less is more than challenging, its impossible. What I plan to do is to give you the broad strokes as well link you to other articles I’ve written that work to explain the match engine. The game has not changed that much, unless they tell us the shape of the ball has changed, we will still apply the same rules to understanding the game.
Now if you lack of football knowledge is a hindrance, then I suggest reading up, there are a lot of good blogs and resources out there, and I won’t be going into that now, but promise to do so in the near future. For now though, if you need more information you can also find stuff on this blog:
Tactical Zen, finding the balance – Its all about spatial awareness and control and understanding heat maps.
Spatial Control – An article from FM15 that is still very relevant
You may find some of the information contained in the blog posts helpful. A lot of what’s written is still relevant today. How I determine what needs to be done is based on that information. Spatial control is central to success in FM.
In the first YT video, I used broad strokes to establish the methodology I use when trying to understanding the match engine. Some may find they already know much that’s written, and I am glad you stuck through the video. In my second video I look at specific tools that I employ in the game, the Prozone feature to be more precise. When I was playing the beta I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at it, but once things didn’t work the way I expected them to, I started exploring it.
Specifically I wanted to identify why the 4312 played differently between FM15 and FM16. My expectations of the 4312 are fairly well documented in this blog. Changes were apparent with FM16, defensive lines seem to be a bit higher, the midfield strata’s interaction with the attacking third has changed, and, of course the exposed fullback. Personally I don’t see the fullback as an issue anymore because there are tactical workarounds. If SI do decide to fix this, it could throw the engine out of whack altogether. For now I will show how I adapted. And to do that I had a fixed expectation of what to see.
a. My 4312 is narrow, therefore my midfield strata MUST control space. They need to tackle
b. My exposed fullbacks cannot over commit. If they do they expose the whole defence.
With that in mind, I start taking a look closely at the Prozone feature in the game.
Prozone is a new feature that gives you to statistical information that has been rendered graphically so that’s it’s easily understood. Heat maps and conversion rates are now available inside and outside match day.
This empowers us to make decisions a lot more quickly than we otherwise would have done. For instance if I wanted to analyse heat maps, and analyse my team’s performance like I did in this article, Tactical Zen, finding the balance, I would spend hours poring over the information. That time has now been drastically reduced.
Where I would have take hours, my analysis of our performances now take me minutes. I verify what I see on the game with reports from Prozone. I can look at my team or an individual, so in the case of my 4312. I would first take a look at how my team took to the pitch and their relative positions with or without the ball. Its immediately clear to me that the front two strikers need slightly different roles so that the spacing between them increases. Presently, they were too close. Furthermore, an analysis of the passing patterns indicated that I would be better served with a “water carrier” in midfield. Visually I knew we were taking too long with transitions, so we needed a change.
I now had to find out whether specific players were doing their jobs well. I have explained that its vital for my midfielders to win possession. In this game however and in a few after, I noticed that James Milner had some issues with tackling. He could miss important challenges in vital areas of the pitch. Was it the player or the system? In order to find out I headed to Prozone again.
So I went into the game and looked for missed tackles from Milner and clicking on them showed me that these wasted challenges happened near the middle of the pitch. A really vital area. When I click on the dot on the map, it would take me to the specific highlight in the game.
You can clearly see that Milner is there for the challenge, but he’s too slow to put it through, by which time the opposing player has already spread the play out to the left flank. Here I can clearly see that Milner has done the right things by being in the right spot, but his attributes cost him. So its not the system. You can use Prozone to verify information you suspect and if want to see specific incidents, Prozone saves a lot of time.
Now its time to see how it helped with looking at my fullbacks. In the same game we conceded some sloppy goals because the fullback decided to overcommit.
The fullback has to go forward, thats the way the AI has been set up. If no player is close, the fullback needs to take control. When he does go forward it leaves behind a yawning chasm. Drilling to Prozone, I notice quite a few goals in preseason as a result of this. I have several choices:
- Change to a 442
- Raise Dline, go for early interception, risk = big penalty if we miss.
- Drop the Dline, opposing player needs to travel further before being engaged.
I decided to drop the dline and tell my fullbacks to play less risky passes. I really want to play counterattacking for a change with Liverpool, and I feel we can manage that this year. So far the few changes I have seen will not be game-enders, in fact for once I feel really handicapped playing a narrow season.
So its already obvious to me what small changes I need to make for FM16, I can play the same way as I did in FM15, but I need to accept the fact that SI have made it better, by adding a penalty to sides that don’t protect their flanks well. And this works both ways. You can catch more on BusttheNet, my Youtube channel where I cover this as well in the second part of Mastering the Match Engine.