Tactical Manager 1 logo

There are many football fans who would like to take issue with the title of this game. No doubt Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United fans will be reasonably happy with the tactics of their respective managers but the majority of us are left to ponder the gaffer's idiosyncratic team selections and tactics. I've got words to say to Howard Wilkinson - Eric and Cantona. Doh!

Do I not...
Tactical Manager has been around in various guises for some time now. Originally called Football Tactician, it built up a solid following through mail order sales and has now been re-written, revised and packaged for general sale.
But does the market really have room for yet another football management simulation?

The top 30 games chart in May had four footie sim entries and one must wonder how much more you an actually do with the point and click football stats medium.
Well, for a start you can add even more statistics.
Black Legend are releasing four versions of the game: English League (Premiership and First Division), Italian Serie A and B, Scotland and German Bundesliga. This version contains all the Premierships and First Division teams.

Unfortunately, you can't walk straight inot a top job - you start with a rating of three and you can only get past with a team of the same rating or less which basically means donning the managerial shell suit at any First Division club, apart from Crystal Palace.

There is a fair amount of information to digest and out of all the sims available, Tactical Manager is the most text-based. So you have to be a serious fan of the genre to take this on board.

All the usual management options are here including piles of players stats, access to all the info at other clubs, transfer markets and a useful editing system, whereby you can update names and stats as and when they change.

Player profiles are a tad random (Paul Ince hasn't got one though lesser stars have) and some of the info is rather odd - Leeds' Gary Kelly earns more money than teammate Gary Speed here. If you're a popular chap, it's possible to have up to 46 players on the go at once.

Although the information is quite detailed, Tactical Manager is well-designed, easy to play and runs at a decent speed. The matches can be watched as a series of comments, highlight comments or just as goals. A marker on the pitch enables you to see where the ball is during play.

Like that
Strategy and tactics are based on a number of styles such as Sweeper System, Through Balls, Rough Playing and Heavy Marking. They take a while to get the hang of but you basically find a system to suit the strengths of your team and adjust them depending on your opponents.

Tactical Manager is probably the most detailed management sim around. There are enough stats and options to suit the anorak-sporting fanatic but some may find the barrage of text a touch bland. It's not a game for the casual fan, but Tactical Manager should satisfy even the most committed Fergie wannabee.

Der Trainer logo

Zittert Ihr mit, wenn Beckenbauer & Co. am Spielfeldrand um ihre Schützlinge zittern? Dann hat Black Legend die richtige Zitterpartie für Euch - eine Fußball-Simulation der etwas anderen Art!

Bei den Briten erfreut sich der "Football Tactician" ungefähr der gleichen Beliebtheit wie hierzulande der "Bundesliga Manager" - es ist bereits die dritte Auflage des sportlichen Dauerbrenners, die nun auch auf Bundesligaverhältnisse übertragen wurde.

Der deutsche Titel läßt den großen Unterschied zum hiesigen Soccer-Evergreen schon erkennen: Werbeverträge, Stadionausbau und andere Fragen der Wirtschaft bleiben der Vereinsführung überlassen - als Trainer von echtem Schrot und Korn hat man sich um eine Mannschaft zu kümmern und redet höchstens bei den Spielertransfers ein gewichtiges Wörtchen mit...

Nicht weniger als 38 vom Fußballvirus infizierte Amiganer dürfen sich hier auf die Teams der ersten und zweiten Bundesliga stürzen. Die Spitzenvereine kann man am Anfang aber gleich wieder von seiner Liste streichen, denn wer als Coach noch ein unbeschriebenes Blatt ist, kommt nu bei einem der schwächeren Zweitligisten unter.

Doch mit dem Erfolg steigt auch das Ansehen, und früher oder später darf man dann endlich Top-Teams wie die Roten Teufel vom Betzenberg zu Ruhm und Ehre führen.

Der Weg dorthin ist allerdings mit harter Arbeit verbunden, denn in puncto Realismus läßt sich Der Trainer von niemandem überbieten!
So wird etwa jeder einzelne Ballkünstler durch satte dreißig Parameter charakterisiert, wobei neben den gängigen Standardwerten auch die negativen Eigenschaften eine große Rolle Spielen. Kicker, denen es an Selbstdisziplin mangelt, riskieren z.B. öfter mal einen Platzverweis, was man schon bei der Aufstellung und der Wahl der Taktik berücksichtigen sollte.

Bei den Begegnungen selbst werden dann all diese Faktoren zur Berechnung jedes einzelnen Ballkontaktes herangezogen - auf dieselbe Weise knobelt der Rechner im Hintergrund gleichzeitig die Resultate der übrigen Spiele aus. Die entsprechenden "Matchprotokolle" lassen sich prima zur Vorbereitung auf die nächsten Spiel nützen, so wie man hier überhaupt unendlich Möglichkeiten hat, seine Gegner zu analysieren.

Trotz seiner unglaublichen Optionsfülle und Lebensnähe steht das Game komplett im Speicher, erstaunlich. Nicht mehr ganz so erstaunlich, wenn man weiß, daß sich Grafik und Sound auf das Aller-notwendigste beschränken: Meist blickt man auf Tabellen, Statistiken und übersichtlich aufgebaute, mit der Maus locker und leicht zu bedienende Menüs.

Nach dem Anpfiff ist dann (ähnlich wie beim ersten "Bundesliga Manager") im oberen Teil des Screens ein stilisiertes Fußballfeld zu sehen, darunter erscheinen wahlweise Texteinblendungen zu allen Ballkontakten, Höhepunkten oder auch nur den Toren der jeweiligen Begegnung.

Und so muß Der Trainer einzig und allein durch seine spielerischen Gehalt überzeugen - doch das gelingt ihm voll und ganz, denn nie war Digi-Fußball komplexer! (st)

Tactical Manager 1 logo CU Amiga Screen Star

The football management war starts to flare up this month. Tony Dillon reports live from the scene.

With so many titles appearing every year, it amazes me that the football management simulation market is as strong as it is. This is a real fanatic's market, the punters who buy these games will, quite happily, buy every single one that comes out. Why? What's the attraction? I do it myself and I can't tell you why.

But why do they all look so similar? Well, there are only so many jobs a manager can do. To succeed in any game you have to put together a squad of excellent players, all of whom gel together and are coordinated well enough by you on the pitch so that they form a strong offensive line with a consistent backline.

So how does Tactical Manager improve on the plethora of football management simulation games already out there? Well, Cammie Maertens, TM's programmer, seems to have cracked it. Anyone who religiously plays football management games will already know that Cammie is the man behind the successful Football Tactician series of games, a mail order only set, hailed by many as the most realistic available.

The reason they are so realistic is that the whole thing really is feasible. All the teams in Tactical Manager are set up as they are in real life, and the highly-detailed player statistics are as close as you are likely to get. The end result is realistic scores between teams, and authentic-looking transfer deals. TM isn't about having a lot of money and buying the best players, unlike most you could care to mention. It's more about using the team and the limited finances you have to come top of the league.

TM features a multi-player system which allows up to 42 human players to play at once (any player can step in at any time to perform the actions they want) so no more tedious messing about with turns with computer players filling all the gaps. It's your job to win every single league and cup you can, while raising your own profile. Each manager has a rating, and that rating decides the level of team you can manage. You won't be able to load it the first time and manage Manchester United, for example, but after a couple of seasons, if you've played well enough, your rating should be high enough for you to apply for the job.

This game has more menus and options than I could easily mention here, but you'll already know that if you've played this month's coverdisk. You'll also know that the matches are presented in such a way that you actually want to watch them. Three levels of commentary let you in on the action. The simplest, and fastest commentary shows you the goals only. The second commentary gives you all the match highlights and the third gives you ball-by-ball action. The highlights work best, as far as I can see, especially if you enter the 80-minute point a goal down. As you are only told the interesting parts, with a small rectangle moving up and down a drawing of a pitch to show the position, things can actually get quite gripping. Try it for yourself, it's true!

Tactical Manager might not be everyone's cup of tea. It doesn't have the smooth and flashy presentation of many games, and it's simplistic layout may put some people off. However, underneath all of this it has a superb management engine grinding away. Overall, TM is a very absorbing tactical game - one for the kit bag.