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Tactical expert and moderator on the SI forum, wwfan, has put together 12 handy tips on how to get the best out of the FM13 Match Engine. If you’re finding the new game a challenge, this is a very helpful resource.

The Twelve Step Guide

1: Be prepared to admit you have a problem and need to change your approach. Until you do, nobody can help you.

2: Unless you are 100% sure you know what each and every slider does and how they interact, abandon them. Don’t manually tweak a single setting. Embrace the TC (at least in the short term). Only use the playmaker and target man checkboxes to specify them and the TM’s supply type (should you wish to).

3: Become aware that the strategy names are more plastic than they seem. The defensive strategy still attacks on the counter, whereas the attacking strategy can still be defensively solid. Bar the two extremes (Contain and Overload), each strategy is both defensive and attacking. A good rule of thumb is that if you want to play with a lot of deep midfielders and a short passing game, choose a less attacking strategy, whereas if you want to have high, effective wingers and a direct style, choose a more attacking strategy. Choose and save three core strategies for your trained tactics, but don’t worry about the reserve ones or how well trained they are. Just focus on a specific style and use that as your base tactic in all matches until you are becoming more confident about your decision making.

4: Focus on roles and duties in the TC. Make sure you have one Attack duty in defence, one Attack and one Defend in midfield, and one Support in attack (especially if you have a lone FC). Make sure you have at least one no-nonsense, hard-working midfielder role. If you want to use a PM, will he be in the best position to hurt players, or will your approach see him isolated (see point eleven). More detail here.

5: Look at the team comparison page to determine how strong / weak your team is to the divisional average. Use the tactical adjustments to take advantage of / cover for this (e.g. if you have a very slow or lazy team, stand off more, whereas if they are quick and hard-working, press more)

6: Use the shouts to develop and save a favoured playing style, which should also suit your team strengths / weaknesses. For example, a highly technical team can sit deep and counter at pace, so using retain possession, pass into space, run at defence with a counter strategy may be worthwhile. A less technical but more physical team might want to impose themselves in a different way, so consider using get ball forwards, hit early crosses, get stuck in with an attack strategy.

7: Before each match, look at the weather conditions and the opposing team’s formation to determine your match strategy. It can be very difficult to counter attack on a heavy, chewed up pitch, so you might have to abandon your preferred style and play an uglier game. You might want to expose an opponents lone wide player formation and exploit the flanks or look for overlap. You might be happy with your starting system.

8: Look at the opposing team formation or player condition / skills and use OIs to counter them. You could use OIs to counter dangerous players or stop crosses coming in, or to target unfit, slow or cowardly players.

9: Play the match. During the game, don’t be afraid to change things up through shouts and strategies if things are not working. Do it logically rather than willy nilly though. For example, you might think that sitting deeper and countering will produce more chances than becoming more aggressive, as it will pull the opposition out a bit more. Once you’ve scored, decide whether you want to push for more goals or hang onto a lead and change things / keep things the same based on that decision.

10: Realise that teamtalks are contextual. They do not relate to the scoreline, rather how expected the scoreline is versus the quality / reputation of the opposition and the football you actually played. Sometimes you can be delighted at 0-0, at other times, if you’ve scraped a 2-0 lead with very few chances against a poor team, warning the team against complacency is required. React to what you think should have happened, not the scoreline.

11: Never stop learning. I recently worked out why my pass into space strategy wasn’t working when I employed an attacking staretgy. Watching through the match after a dour 0-0, it became obvious to me that everyone was rushing so far forward, that my main deep creators were my BWM and FB/S. Not ideal. However, with a less aggressive strategy, my main deep creators were my AP and W/S, which was what I wanted. Hence, I abandoned the attacking strategy and played on the counter as a standard approach, changing my roles and shouts if I ever decided to play more aggressively (usually because of the weather / pitch conditions).

12: Finally, if you get stuck and frustrated, rather than posting in GD to complain, come to visit the tactics forum and explain your problem. As long as you are clear and detailed, then it is very unusual for us not to be able to help.

Good luck and play well. Remember, we are here to help. We all want you to enjoy FM13 as much as we are.