Category: House Rules

I was Hagi in the haze of a drunken hour

Hagi arrives

So I’ve only gone and got Hagi.

He’s not in PES2015 at all, as far as I know. I did it myself – added him myself – as a special treat for my final furlong on PES2015.

I created my own version of Hagi in the Editor, and signed him from the Created Players list within my ML save.

I found Hagi’s PES stats in one of the many online databases, deducted 5 points from each global stat, and fashioned a 20-year-old bizarro version of the man who ended up as a 91 OVR:

Hagi Edit

No, he doesn’t look anything like the original – his skin colour alone should be a shade or two darker. I haven’t quite got the stats right.  And that position coverage is wrong. He was an all-round attacking midfielder. I’ll be heading back into the Editor for another tinker before he actually kicks a ball for my side. Maybe I’ll bring that OVR rating down a few points.

No guilt. No worries about ‘purity of essence’. I did a similar thing in PES2012, when a stale Master League was revitalised by the injection of 5 or 6 Classic Players.

PES2015’s ML isn’t stale by any means, but it is winding its way to an end, if not this season then the next, or the one after that.

I devised a House Rule Consequence for getting Hagi: I had to release – not sell: release – one of my uber-superstar top players. Hagi would then be a replacement for that player.

I released Drogba. The former World Player of the Year. The out-and-out powerhouse. A 26-year-old at his 97OVR peak.

It was either him or Forlan, and I went for Drogba because he’s slightly the better player and the more frequent goalscorer by a long margin. He’s also a 97OVR player and releasing him hurts. I’ve never done anything like this is a Master League before and it feels strange.

Hagi won’t arrive until mid-season and I’m not actually there yet. Friday’s post should see him with a few matches under his belt and hopefully a goal or two. I’m excited about this.

I’d like to get a free kick or two to try him out. A free kick like this one, from PES2012:

I still haven’t scored a single free kick on PES2015, which isn’t surprising when you consider that in around 700 Master League matches I’ve had maybe 5 free kicks in shooting range. Literally. About FIVE free kicks.

It’s a disgrace, it’s wrong, and I hope it’s fixed for PES2016. It probably won’t be fixed. The online multiplayers don’t see it as a problem. Their hyper-aggressive style accumulates plenty of fouls already. Football games are calibrated to cater for online multiplayer as the first priority. Those of us who play solely against the AI (depending on playing style) see few fouls per match or – in my case – more often no fouls at all. An unintended side-effect of the focus on multiplayer, doubtless, but a very real side-effect nonetheless. No-fouls football gaming is here to stay, people.

I beat Barcelona in the last Champions League group stage to take the runner-up spot in our group.

Season 13 beating Barca

A dour, grinding win. I was deliberately holding on for the 0-0, denying possession to the CPU, which seems to work, and I snatched a goal for the win in classic fashion.

Season 13 CL group final table

In the league, I’m not as close on the leader’s shoulder as I’d like to be, but I’m still in the chasing pack. With just over half the season remaining, I’m confident I’ll be there or thereabouts. I’m still in the FA Cup, needless to say. This Treble is still very much on.

Season 13 after 18



Let’s do lunch

Right, so I’ve finally started a new Manager Mode career in FIFA09 with Coventry City. I’m playing on World Class difficulty with a mixture of semi-assisted and manual control settings. The last time I tried a career with CCFC I was sacked—and that was on Professional difficulty. This is going to be tough.

Play on Valkyria Chronicles has had to be suspended until the weekend. I’m in the middle of a very intense battle at a key moment in the story. I can’t wait to find out what happens next. But I will have to wait. My average play-session on Valkyria Chronicles is roughly 3 hours. I just don’t have that kind of time throughout the week.

Who’d have thought growing up would prove so disappointing in so many ways? I remember being 14 and taking all of a lazy half-term to read The Lord of the Rings. Couldn’t do that now. And I remember being 17 and spending every waking moment of an entire weekend playing the Ultimate back-catalogue on the Spectrum—again. Couldn’t do that now.

I also remember being 28 and blissfully unemployed and playing Civilization II on the PS1 for the first time. I stuck it on late in the evening just to see what it was like, and ended up playing for 14 hours straight, all the way through the night and until 1 p.m. the following day. I definitely couldn’t do that now.

So Valkyria Chronicles will just have to wait. This is the only way I can play these ‘proper’ games nowadays: in bits and pieces, over a long period of time. It’s frustrating for me, as there are so many great games in my backlog.

Football games are ideal for playing in short bursts. Four or five matches per day fits neatly into my schedule. (It depresses me that I have a schedule…)

My new Coventry City career on FIFA09 has started very badly. Played 4. Lost 3. Drawn 1. My job security has already slipped into the red zone. I’ve already had the warning from the board.

I’ve decided not to operate any House Rules on the transfer market or in the staff upgrade screen. I’ll buy who I want to buy. I’ll upgrade the staff as much as I like. The World Class difficulty and semi-assisted/manual control settings are already tough enough.

I am barely stringing two passes together. The Coventry players are so poor compared to my Atletico squad that it’s like playing a different game. This could be a very short-lived second attempt at cracking Manager Mode. If I do get the sack (which is looking likely), I’ll just restart and if necessary keep restarting until I get it right.

Doctoring the House Rules

I’m really not impressed by some major elements of FIFA09’s Manager Mode. The transfer market for one. It is completely broken. It might as well not even be in the game. As long as you have enough money to pay the transfer fee and/or wages, you can get any player. It doesn’t matter what club you are, or what division you are in. There are no exceptions.

Starting with any lower league team you pretty quickly have the kind of bank balance that’d be the envy of many a top-division club. Sponsorship money is ridiculously inflated. You can sell any of your rubbish players straightaway for their full market value or greater. If a low offer comes in, you just reject it and wait another week—the higher offer invariably arrives. By the end of the first January transfer window in the first season, you can virtually replace your entire First XI with good or even great players.

No, FIFA09 is not Football Manager—and I wouldn’t want it to be. But I’d at least like it to be on the same level as PES’s Master League, where the much-maligned transfer system is actually hyper-realistic when compared with FIFA’s dismal effort.

And the transfer market isn’t even the half of it. There are many other issues. There are no night matches in Manager Mode, ever. (I know about the menu trick to get night games. It doesn’t count.)

EA’s publicised reason for this is that some of the stadia in the game have no night versions, and thus it would be inconsistent to have midweek games played at those stadia in broad daylight. This excuse utterly dumbfounds me. I find it hard to believe that presumably dozens of otherwise professional, sober games developers decided it would be more consistent for there to be no night matches at all in a 15-seasons-long career mode. For a game that would like to be reborn as every footy gamer’s favourite simulation, this is laughable. My genuine personal belief is that they just couldn’t be arsed with enabling Manager Mode night games—or that they simply forgot it. The whole ‘consistent/inconsistent’ argument reeks of the kind of spin put on things after the fact to make a silly oversight more palatable to the punters.

If FIFA2010 appears without a radically transformed Manager Mode I’ll be very disappointed. In fact, even at this early stage I’d have to deem it either make or break for me. The transfer market is only part of what needs to change. Just give us night matches, dynamic weather effects, realistic transfers and injuries (injuries! don’t get me started on injuries!), and that’ll be the current generation of football games all but sewn up.

Now that I’ve worked myself up into this frenzy of moaning, there’s another thing.

I’m bloody irritated by FIFA09’s North American-style treatment of football teams as being singular entities. In Europe, or at least in the UK segment of it, we would say (for example) Coventry City are through to the Cup Final. But FIFA09 would say Coventry City is through to the Cup Final. The goddamn verb is just plain wrong! It makes me double-take every time I see it.


After all that solid-gold moaning, here are my House Rules. I’ll be applying them strictly to my current Coventry City career. The rules are deliberately straightforward. I could draw up complex tables and graphs and computational charts designed to tell me what to do every time I want to make a substitution, but I’d prefer to get on with the game.

I can sum up the meat-and-potatoes of my House Rules in three paragraphs:

  • Transferring players in and out. I have to maintain a squad of at least 24 players. No selling off of the youngsters willy-nilly. No buying-in of superstars, unless it’s realistic for them to come. My transfers must be appropriate at all times. I can never buy players way, way above the average ability level of my squad. If and when I make it to the Premier League, then I can start picking up better players.
  • Staff upgrades. Just like my transfer policy, my staff upgrades must run in parallel to the growth of the club. At the moment, down near the bottom of the Championship, I can only upgrade my Attacking, Midfield, Defensive, and Goalkeeping staff to the 4/10 level. If I get to the top half of the table and hold steady there, I can go to 5/10. If I get promoted, 6/10. And so on.
  • A special case here is the Fitness coach. Upgraded past a certain point, your players never get tired between matches. So the maximum I am ever allowed to upgrade Fitness to is 4/10. At this level, I’m forced to practise Master League-style squad rotation from match to match. If I win the Premier League with Coventry City, I can go up to 5/10. But no further than that, ever.

And that is all. The rules are subject to change at any time, depending on how realistic or unrealistic I want to make things.

I’ve already played a number of games in my first season. Things have not gone well for Coventry City, who are down near the foot of the table. So far, then, yes, it’s all proving very realistic…

Singers FC: pre-season negotiations 2009

The first week of negotiations immediately presented me with a dilemma. Two CPU teams made bids for my players. One bid was 5000 points for Ruskin; the other bid was 7800 points for Altintop.

Both players were key members of my squad, especially Altintop with his burgeoning talent. What to do?

Okay. I’ve been thinking about doing this, and I’m going to do it: I’m changing my House Rules to include a rule that I heard about elsewhere.

From now on, “if a higher-ranked side comes in for a player, and offers the listed price or greater, he must be sold.”

This means I had to sell Ruskin and Altintop, right now. It hurt, but I did it. Away they went.

The point of this kind of House Rule is to make the transfer market more realistic. In reality a team that finished 6th from bottom of a league’s lower division (as I did last season) would never be able to keep a player that a better team wanted to buy. Even if the club declined the offer, the player himself would most likely rebel and the team would be unsettled. So in most cases it’s best to sell such players. That’s how the dynamics of the transfer marketplace operate in the real world, and now it’s in my Master League career as well.

But… I’ve got to include a personal caveat with the new House Rule.

Master League, for me, is immersive and compulsive for many reasons. One of those reasons is being able to get young players with average abilities and grow them over many seasons into superstars. I would sorely miss this aspect of Master League if I had to sell my best youngsters as soon as they showed a spark of a talent.

So I won’t sell them. Not all of them. I’m going to designate three members of my squad as protected players—they don’t have to be sold if bids come in for them. Two of those three players will be Camacho and Maldini.

And the third protected player will be… Mathieu.

I finally got him. Flush with cash from the sales of Altintop and Ruskin, I made two straight bids (just money, no exchanges) for Mathieu and a decent-looking striker called Cassano. Both bids were successful.


Throughout my first ML career as Coventry City, for five full seasons, I tried and failed to sign Mathieu, even when my team ranking was ‘A’ and then ‘S’. I have no idea why I’ve suddenly been successful in getting him this time around.

For the past three PES years, Mathieu has been the rock upon which I have built my teams. I’ve never played him as a left-back (unless injuries or suspensions have forced me to). Mathieu’s best position in PES is his alternate DMF position. Not even the likes of Gerrard has played better for me as a DMF through all the years.

Here’s Mathieu on the pitch in my first pre-season friendly, wearing the sky blue of Singers FC. I could hardly stop cackling with maniacal glee…


I hope Mathieu will be as good for me in PES2008 as he was in the last few versions. I’ll file a full report on his progress toward the middle of the coming season. If he’s anything like his illustrious counterparts in PES5 and PES6, I should have scored a couple of super-long-range blockbusters with him by then. Here’s hoping.


I bought a versatile WF called Melengue in a trade deal that saw Recoba depart from my squad. (Good riddance to Recoba: a good player, but absurdly unfit almost all the time. He only ever played about 1 game in 6.)


I also plucked a celebrated PES name out of the Youth list: Kompany, a CB. Both Melengue and Kompany are pictured to the left. Melengue has the most ridiculous hairstyle of any player I’ve seen on PES2008 so far. Kompany merely looks a bit camp. (Or kamp?)

I’ve never actually played with Kompany before, so I don’t know what to expect. At least the name ‘Kompany’ is rich in punning possibilities. If he has a couple of poor performances that materially affect my results, I’ll go straight for Bad Kompany, no messing.

I also picked up a decent young CB from the Rookies list called Serrano. Hiding in the Unbelonging list (always a must-see list for the stingy-minded ML manager) I found a great Brazilian left back called Marcelo. I needed a replacement for Ruskin. Marcelo and Bale will swap the left-back position between them.

I could have got plenty more players. Most of the cash from the Altintop and Ruskin transfers is still unspent. I’ve still got an excess amount of Default players in the squad. I could’ve gone mad on the transfer market if I wanted to. But I’m happy enough with the players I’ve brought in. I don’t want to buy new ones just for the sake of it. I’ll save my money to strengthen my squad in the mid-season period if necessary.

Here’s my new First XI and my 25-man squad in full:


Maldini drops to the bench, but he’ll still play in almost every game at either CB or SB. PES2008’s ‘quirky’ fitness and stamina modelling guarantees it. Caracciolo takes Altintop’s place as lead striker. Cassano displaces Kmolo. (And something occurs to me: 9 of my 25 players—over one third—have names that end in -O. I could easily assemble a novelty team made up entirely of such players. That might be one to think about for the future…)


Pre-season friendlies. I only played the two matches that were chosen for me. Usually I like to skip pre-season friendlies completely, but when you have a lot of new players it’s always best to play a couple of meaningless games to enable them to settle down quicker. It still takes many more games for Teamwork levels to come up to scratch, but at least with two friendlies you’re getting a head start.

My friendly opponents were Lokomotiv Moscow and a South American Stars selection. I drew 1-1 with Lokomotiv. I was able to field most of my new signings from the start. Marcelo and Melengue are both very quick down the left side. Mathieu seems just as solid as ever, although I didn’t get any clear-cut chances to test his famous long-range shooting. They’ll come.

In the second game against the South American Globetrotters, I took a pounding. I was 0-3 down at half-time. Kompany was sent off as my frustrations grew. Somehow I prevented them from scoring any more goals, and then I noticed that their goalkeeper was taking all of their corners and free kicks. Near the end of the game, I got a consolation goal after one of their corners…


And so to business. There’s real talent in this squad and I plan to challenge for the title, not just push for promotion. Plus I’ve got Mathieu at last…