A Game of Luck: Is the Game Engine Against You? | @KingOfTheRooks

Philip is having a well deserved week off so we’ve let Andrew loose for this one off special…is the game against you?

You’re probably wondering what on earth this is all about, well…last year we ran a test on ability vs. stats (you can re-read it here) and that’s all well and good but…what impact does luck have on a save? Have you ever had the perfect squad, but things just go against you (like getting beaten by a terrible side)? Annoying, isn’t it? To test this theory that the random winds of change are stacked against you at times we’ve gone wild…

Ten identical teams, each with a squad of identical players and identical AI managers (down to preferred tactics and style etc.). Given the exact similarity you’d expect them to make the same decisions. The same external variables will equally impact the sides (opposing leagues being higher in standing, available signings…I could go on). FC Identical 01 will take the Champions League spot and FC Identical 02 will take the UEFA Cup spot.

As starting points go…9 of 10 managers have listed EXACTLY the same attacker:

Except for one cocky individual (‘Identical Manager 03’) who has listed one of his three world class ‘keepers (oh yes, these players are the best in the game I should have added!). We appear to have already broken the game as all 10 clubs want Bierhoff so the text has gone black:

There are immediate squad differences in fitness:

Form:

And Moral:

Clearly the game makes some choices from the off that will impact your start to a season. Also, worth noting…given the teams have been made the same (same City/Location) there will be games every 5 days as they can’t all play on the same day.

After a quick scan of the first match and, despite the club and manager setup for 442N PASS, away from home the sides seem to be alternating to a 5-3-2 Attacking which is surprising.

Interestingly, the players the AI Manager has chosen in positions 11 and 7 CANNOT operate in the positions those arrows end at. The engine games continue…

Early doors and the table is wide open.

FC Identical 02 had to wait until 13th September for their 1st and only game so far! It’s hard to say much. 01 have signed Alfonso, Henry and Corentin Martins. 02 won the ten-way battle for Bierhoff (but haven’t played him) and 04 have signed Pires. Transfer decisions of these managers could be key. In the Cup, equality doesn’t mean a broken game engine…the luck of penalties persists:

First trophy in the bag as FC Identical 05 win the League Cup (on penalties after a 0-0, which there have been a lot of!):

More brutality from the game engine:

Injury proneness of ‘1’ clearly means little. And the strangest transfer yet takes place…

By the end of February, well, I’ve never seen a league so open:

9th place could climb a mountain (or 2nd place could fall down one…you pick). Middlesbrough have been a big beneficiary of manager decisions to sell the world’s best players…

MVP of the originals goes to:

For the rest of Scotland the season is over…

…but due to having to all play on separate days the season is extended by a whole month! And so, it ended on 12th May 1998. It’s worth noting that – given everyone played at the same stadium every fixture was marked as home (‘H’) unless in a cup at a team not in the same division!

Teams finishing in the top half of the table averaged 5 less games in the season and did not get as far in the domestic cups (except for FC Identical 10 who won the FA Cup still playing 13 games less than FC Identical 01 and 6 games less than FC Identical 02). Additionally, teams in the top half typically received 10% less disciplinary points than those in the bottom half (unsurprising given less games) and therefore received less suspensions than those in the bottom half – probably leading to them using more players and suffering greater disruption / using out of form players. No team used their full complement of 27 players.

So, what have we learned? Or are we just even more confused! Simply put, it looks as though less disruption breeds league success. More games lead to tiredness and disciplinary problems. Changing the squad dynamic too much, impacts the ‘blend’ of the squad detrimentally. All of this seems unsurprising. Could it be that, using your whole squad to ensure form, fitness and moral can reap dividends? FC Identical 01 tried to play almost 60 games with just 18 of their 27 players!

The main thing here to remember at the outset, identical clubs, identical managers, identical players – the game decided the course of events.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this ridiculous save. I’m off for a bit now, to cook up something crazy again!

You can follow Andrew on twitter: @KingOfTheRooks

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