The tactics creator

Since being introduced to the game in Football Manager 2010, the tactics creator has been a very helpful tool for players to design systems. Whilst the sliders were mostly simple enough to understand and gave a lot of freedom, it wasn’t very user-friendly and the options had very little to do with football. Now we have this immense system that has the sliders underneath but uses football terms to describe the options.

We’re not deciding between MCd’s and MCa’s any more, we’re choosing between deep-lying playmakers or advanced playmakers. Likewise we’re not choosing between “Rule of One” or Global, we’re choosing between Rigid and Fluid. That has been, if not one of, then the biggest change SI have made in the last few years.

Another change that came with the tactics creator is the Touchline Instructions. Shouting “Retain Possession” or “Get Ball Forward” is so much better than changing the passing style slider. It’s also so much easier than doing it individually for every player, it saves time, uses football terminology and is, by and large, a much better system.

Once you have a little read of all the options and understand what they mean, you don’t even think about what’s happening to the sliders underneath. You see your team are playing against a very narrow formation so you play your fast wingers and shout “Play Wider”, as a real manager would.

However being the awkward person I am, I still want to be able to use the sliders. I want the user-friendliness of the tactics creator and the football terminology, but I also want control over my players and, despite me loving the shouts, the ability to lower one player’s Through Balls without shouting “Pass Into Feet” and everyone’s Through Balls being lowered. That kind of freedom is not allowed strictly using the tactics creator and it’s doubtful it ever will be.

I began reading around and found something on the SI official forums that I took on. I change all the instructions apart from the ones with 20 notches (Mentality, Creative Freedom, Closing Down and Passing Style). It should look like this:

How my player instructions screen looks

Here I can change the main things without getting it wrong and messing up mentality structures or closing down. I leave that entirely to the tactics creator and focus on running with the ball, movement, long shots and marking.

The instructions I don’t control are all ones I can change in the Team Instructions or by using shouts. I can use shouts like “Get Ball Forward” or “Hassle Opponents” to alter a player’s Passing Style or Closing Down. I can change these things game-by-game and it’s a very simple method. I control the easy things and can see the more difficult things and influence them.

My team instructions screen:

How my team instructions screen looks

I will come back to the “General strategies” and “Playing style” later on. As you can see I’ve only ticked Counter Attack and Play Offside. I can use “Push Higher Up” and “Drop Deeper” to change the defensive line, “Play Narrower” or “Play Wider” to change width, “Retain Possession” or “Get Ball Forward” to influence Tempo and “Exploit the Middle” or “Exploit the Flanks” to change focus passing.

As shown there, the shouts are still incredible useful to me. I can still “see your team are playing against a very narrow formation so you play your fast wingers and shout “Play Wider”, as a real manager would”, I just have a lot more control over that fast winger and the team around him. I can change the role to get the right Mentality, Creative Freedom, Passing Style, Closing Down and Tackling, then alter those with shouts and team instructions, then I can change the other options manually, giving me a lot more control but it’s the same principle, getting the best of both worlds.

This is ultimately the sweet spot between the Tactics Creator and the classic slider system. I can use the shouts to influence the team as a whole, without affecting the way players function individually, giving me a whole new level of control, and making match-by-match changes that bit easier.

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