Football Manager...Should I Buy? (Soccer Video Game)
October 7, 2013 5:37 AM   Subscribe

Just wondering if I should invest my time/money into this game (having NO experience with it in the past).

Greetings all -

To start, I should say that I have never played (or even viewed) one minute of any of the Football Manager games. The extent of my video game football experience has been the FIFA series through console games. Since I got rid of my Playstation a couple of years back, I am wondering if I should get into Football Manager for my PC. Just looking to get some opinions.

I have been doing some online reviews over the past few weeks about FM2013 and a lot of people seem to think that they should have waited a while before they was buggy, had to wait for patches or updates, etc. Is this normally the case? Should I consider buying FM2014 when it comes out? Or should I wait a couple of months until the testing and updates have finished? Should I buy FM2013 instead?

Also, is it a sim that is fairly easy learning curve? Again, I have NEVER played any iteration of the game, so everything will be new to me (vs. people who have been playing it a while). Just wondering if its worth my month and time to invest. Thanks in advance.

posted by dbirchum to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total)
Football Manager doesn't have a fairly easy learning curve but once you get the hang of things, prepare to spend hours, days playing the game. FM2013 and 2014 offers Classic mode, which is kind of a plug-and-play version of the more in-depth Career mode.
posted by iceberglettuce at 6:00 AM on October 7, 2013

Best answer: It's true that many avoid the 1.0 release of each year's FM iteration. As a newcomer, the problems might not be as concerning to you -- it's never so much game-crashing bugs as it is problems with the match engine (eg, "too many goals scored from the wings outside of the box" or "centerbacks marking poorly on corners"). Personally, I've never been much bothered by it. I pretty much empty my gaming calendar from November to February because I know I'll be doing very little but getting lost in a spreadsheet.

Regarding the complexity, FM is exactly as complex as you want it to be. You can control your squad down to training regimes, encouraging people to learn new moves, ultra-fine tuning tactics, scouting youth squads all over the world... or have your assistants do as much of that for you as you want. With the FM Classic mode they've added it's even easier. A coworker finally heard enough of me raving about the game to buy it, got his feet under him in classic, then switched to the full mode with all advisors on, turning them off one by one as he got comfortable with more aspects of the game.

Will you enjoy it? That's up to you, some folks it just sinks its teeth into, and others it doesn't. If you think you'd like a detailed combination of strategy game, RPG, and management simulation, with a layer of sport on top, it's worth giving it a spin. If you don't like it, you're only out a little money. If you do, you'll soon find yourself totting up hundreds of hours of play, making it one of the best bang-for-your-buck gaming purchases you can make.

(Also, if you look around, SI released Championship Manager 01/02, which many consider to be the best of the "old school" version of the franchis, for free. It's very different from the current game, but it's easy to learn and might give you an idea of you'd like this sort of thing, as long as you keep in mind that it's over a decade old and the modern game is much more user-friendly, if more complex)
posted by jammer at 8:45 AM on October 7, 2013

I was pretty tempted to buy it after reading the links and comments in this mefi post. Definitely worth reading all of that I think.
posted by jacalata at 10:46 AM on October 7, 2013

As noted above - if you are new to the series you won't likely notice a lot of the 'bugs' that are introduced into the match engine. I played it from day 1 and was always able to play and succeed. Nothing as game breaking as reading the forums would indicate.

A lot of people take the game /very/ seriously.

That said, for someone who has never played FM before, it likely wouldn't matter if you purchased FM13 or FM14. It's a very mature game and while it's improved year over year, FM13 was plenty good by the time it was completely patched.

If you can find FM13 at a great discount price, I'd grab it. If you love it, get 14 in a couple months.

The game is awesome and addictive.
posted by ChrisManley at 12:18 PM on October 7, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks guys. I am completely sold. I am getting it. I like how with the Classic Mode, it will be as complex as I want it to me. I love what jammer said about his co-worker playing classic mode, and then the full mode eventually turning off the advisors once he became more comfortable; that's what I will plan on doing.

I live in Canada. Do you actually buy this as a physical copy? Or is it a digital download. I would like to have the physical copy, but I can't see any retailers here carrying any copies of it...
posted by dbirchum at 3:26 PM on October 7, 2013

I don't think they sell physical copies any more, and even if they do they use Steam for DRM. You're better off just buying it from Steam; you'll be involved with it anyway.

Glad you're going to jump in! Mail me here once you're rolling if you'd like advice on mods and add-ons, or have any general questions.

/r/footballmanagergames on reddit is a good resource too.
posted by jammer at 5:06 PM on October 7, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks jammer!! I will certainly fire you an email! Thanks for the offer, as I am sure I will have some questions!

Can I ask what is Stream??
posted by dbirchum at 5:36 PM on October 7, 2013

Steam; it's one of the largest digital download software vendors: They have account-based DRM, which SI started using a year or two ago. As far as DRM goes it's pretty non-invasive. I certainly prefer it to most of the other methods various publishers use.
posted by jammer at 6:12 PM on October 7, 2013

Response by poster: Awesome! Thanks for the info!

Can I ask a really dumb question? I know this is a tactic game (which is what I am looking for). However, after watching a lot of YouTube video's on FM 2013 (and earlier versions), I noticed that you can watch the game (game engine?). I noticed that in the earlier versions, it was a bunch of dots moving around and last year (FM2013) it looks AMAZING.

So here is my question - do you 'watch' the game when you set up all of the tactics, etc. I mean, do you sit down and watch a 90 min game?? Or highlights? Otherwise, how else do you know how your team does (besides looking at the stats)?

Again, be easy on me, I haven't spent one minute in front of this game (and I am REALLY looking forward to it now after reading these answers....)
posted by dbirchum at 6:40 PM on October 7, 2013

I've been playing quite a bit of FM13 lately, and played a couple hundred hours each of FM11 and FM10. I still suck. If you're starting out with an understanding of the various positions and such, you may do better than I have.
By default, it shows the highlights of the game, so a 90-minute game takes five or ten minutes--like many things in the game, it's adjustable, in both the amount of the match it shows and the speed at which it shows the match.
I have noticed some bugs, like occasionally having "[%name%]" in place of someone's name, but I think it's much less buggy than FM10 and FM11.
If you want to start out with a team that will win dependably, leaving you to concentrate on other aspects of the game, I suggest the Scottish team Rangers FC. They recently got dropped from the top Scottish league to the bottom one, for financial reasons. They still have most of their high-quality players, so they'll probably win most of their games for two or three years in a row, unless you make huge mistakes.
posted by Tool of the Conspiracy at 9:12 PM on October 7, 2013

Best answer: You can control how much of the game you watch.

If you want a full understanding of how your team is performing, you tend to watch more of the game. If you want to see how your tactic is working, how your players are transitioning, who is getting pulled out of position, where holes are opening - you need to watch more than just highlights.

You can (and should) adjust your tactics as the game progresses. To beat teams that are better than you, you'll need to find holes in how they're playing and try to exploit them.

On the other hand, if you're clearly the favourite, you can switch to just view highlights and watch yourself score some pretty goals.

The game has a wealth of complexity. But, they've also done a good job allowing the AI to deal with aspects you're not interested or ready for yet.
posted by ChrisManley at 6:22 AM on October 8, 2013

If I may latch onto the OP's question: I don't have much free time that intersects with having access to a computer where I can run games... However I carry an iPhone 5 with me at all times. Is FMH2013 worth the time?

I know I won't get the videos, but I spent way more time that I care to admit one summer in the early 90's watching my AC Milan squad play matches that looked like this, so that's actually a plus in the nostalgia department for me.

I mostly would like to delegate most actions and concentrate (at least in the beginning) on tactics and matches, just like I did in 1-Nil Soccer Management way back when.

So any comments regarding FMH vs FM?
posted by fjom at 7:25 AM on October 8, 2013

Response by poster: Ok, I read a LOT of reviews on the various iterations of FM last night. A lot. And virtually 100% of them are positive, which is great. However, there are a couple of reviews that really have me concerned. And they are much like 'Tool Of The Conspiracy's" comments above.

For some people, they admit that this game is entertaining, but insanely hard. And even after hundreds of hours plugged in, they aren't getting anywhere. This is what concerns me. I mean, I never grew up playing football/soccer. I was a hockey guy. I always appreciated the game, but never sunk my teeth into it, until I started to watch all of the Liverpool FC matches over the past 3 years. Now I love it and want to learn more about the game, which is why FM appeals to me.

However, having said that, I fear my lack of tactical knowledge will really hinder my experience. I mean, I might not know that my wingbacks are giving opponents too much space and I should adjust some things.

The classic mode is appealing to me, but I fear it might not be enough. I mean, is this game still appealing to someone with limited (very) football tactic knowledge?? Just curious.
posted by dbirchum at 11:15 AM on October 8, 2013

I didn't know anything about Football when I started.

I usually have decent success.

You shouldn't make a career out of the game, but the Tactical Theory forum on the Football Manager website has excellent threads year over year.

They have simple guides on how to structure tactics to achieve decent success.

They have deep guides on how to try more radical / fun things.

And reading some of those you can soon start to understand how the game works and make your own changes and tweak things to be best for your team.
posted by ChrisManley at 11:22 AM on October 8, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks Chris.

I am certainly going to buy it, but I was getting a bit worried, it might be a little over my head...
posted by dbirchum at 11:28 AM on October 8, 2013

If it helps, FM made me a soccer fan, not the other way 'round. I sunk way too much time into Out Of The Park Baseball, and wanted to try some other sports management sims. Everywhere I looked I saw references to FM as the king of the genre, so I decided I'd take a shot at it, in spite of being your typical American soccer ignorer, and just view it as an abstract strategy game.

Soon I was reading more about positions and tactics and the evolution of the game -- just to play better, mind you. Then one day I decided to try to watch a match on TV and for the first time it clicked. The knowledge I'd gained playing FM overcame a lifetime of apathy and helped me actually appreciate what was happening. Now I'm a huge fan of both the sport and the game.

(And even coming from that background I can usually take over the worst team in the lower divisions of any given nation and get it promoted at least twice in three or four years, putting in a good cup run or two along the way.)

There's an initial hurdle or two to get over if you don't already have the sport in your blood, but the game really is good about helping you make it as simple or complex, as easy or hard, as you want it to be.
posted by jammer at 5:31 PM on October 8, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks jammer. I am totally sold. I am getting it and I just hope that my experience is positive. The thing is, I WANT to get immersed into this game. I look forward to sinking months into it!

Does the game ever get discounted? Or is it just as well to purchase the game when its released?
posted by dbirchum at 4:54 AM on October 9, 2013

It will get discounted eventually.

/Maybe/ you'll see a 20%-30% discount during the Steam Winter Sale. That usually occurs the week of Christmas.

But, I can't promise anything.

FM13 was pretty heavily discounted during the Steam Summer Sale. But, obviously that won't be until next July sometime.

I've been keeping my eyes open, but haven't seen much in the way of early sales for FM14 yet.
posted by ChrisManley at 6:04 AM on October 9, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks Chris. Do you buy the digital download, or buy the physical copy of the game?
posted by dbirchum at 6:45 AM on October 9, 2013


Steam was mentioned above. That's really the way to go.

I'm honestly not sure if it's sold in physical boxes.
posted by ChrisManley at 6:50 AM on October 9, 2013

Response by poster: Perfect. Thanks.

And if its released on Oct 31st, like it says on the website, I don't mind waiting until around Christmas if there is a discount. I will be super busy in November and early December and won't get my time to sink my teeth into it until around mid-December anyway.

Plus, I fear if I purchase it when it comes out, I will neglect what I have to do for a couple of months getting into it!!
posted by dbirchum at 6:52 AM on October 9, 2013

Sure thing.

I can't promise a discount. But, if it will happen at any point, it's during that sale.

(Though, I just looked it up, and last year FM13 was not put on sale during the Winter Sale. Read into that whatever you want!)
posted by ChrisManley at 6:57 AM on October 9, 2013

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