Monday, December 7, 2009


So, I've decided to start with my personally favorite manager game: BuzzerBeater.

This one is a basketball game, and is one of the first manager games I started playing. Now in its 10th season, the game recently underwent a major overhaul in both it's makeup as well as it's Game Engine.

(The "Game Engine" is, in simple terms, the program that these Manager Games use to play out the games. They basically work on a series of formulas that determines the winner of a game, and then, in most cases, spits out a play-by-play account of what happened.)

What We Like About This Game- The biggest thing we like about this game is that it's very easy to pick up and begin to play (and begin to play well), but is not so simple as to get boring. That makes it a great Manager Game to get yourself "onto-the-scene" so to speak.

Another thing that had me hooked is the playoff system at the end of the season. In most of these manager games, championships are based only upon regular season record, as is more common in European sports leagues. BuzzerBeater, however, has an 8 team playoff (in a 16 team league), where the winner gets promoted. They also have a relegation series. The bottom team in each "conference" from each league gets demoted, but for the other 2 demotions, there is a 3-game playoff, and the loser moves down.

What I like about BuzzerBeater National Team system is that it is very accessible, even if you're not a super-expert on the game. There are lots of ways to get involved: either by coaching, scouting, offering tactical suggestions, training players, or just talking about it. Unlike some of the other manager games, people will consider your opinions, even if you are not a part of the "inner circle". It is also very possible to train one of your players to be on the national team. In some games, the National Team players are all concentrated on a few teams in the highest 2 divisions. In BuzzerBeater, you can find National Team players as low as the 4th and 5th divisions.

I also like the training system. You play 3 games a week, and your goal is to get 48 minutes for a player to train. This system is not unique, but BB does a good job of listing out how many minutes your players have at each position, to make the training minutes easy to track.

What We Don't Like- Recently, the transfer market has become inflated, meaning that buying even an average player takes more than a full-season's worth of income. The Developers claim to be trying to manage this by allowing some players from abandoned teams to hit the transfer market, but as of this posting, it has not yet corrected itself.

Also, I have a little beef with the 1-team promotion from each league. These manager games are usually set up in a pyramid system- For example, in BB, there is 1 Top division in each country, 4 second divisions, 16 third divisions, 64 fourth divisions, etc. In many of the games, the top 2 or 3 teams can promote to the next division. In BB, it is limited to the top 1. The reason we dislike this is that it becomes very discouraging for managers if, even though you have a very good team, you happen to get stuck in a league with a few other VERY good teams, you can get stuck in the same division for a long time. This happens, and then you get a bunch of bot teams.

Other Game Notes- This game has a draft system, where once a season you get a couple of new, young players added to your team. Most of the manager games have a "youth academy" where you scout out players, who at first train under a youth coach, and then can be promoted to your senior team (again, harkening back to the European system).

Player Salaries are often used as a way of rating players' abilities, but beware: salaries are only updated once a season, so especially young players can be way better than their salaries indicate. DMI as a rating of a player's quality is not very useful, as game shape is strongly reflected in DMI.

Players are not penalized for playing out of their position, and the positions are more of guidance to where that player's skill set best positions them. Many, if not most, managers tend to ignore position when making their lineups. Also, height has no bearing on how a player will perform in a given position. A 7'4 player with a guards skill set will perform as well as a guard as a 6'3 player would. The height, however, does affect training. A taller player will train post skills (rebounding, shot blocking, inside defense, and inside shot) faster than a short player will, and vice-versa.

The Verdict-This is our favorite manager game that we've found so far and is a great place for anyone to start manager games.

Hints for Getting Started- Hire a good coach, sell off your best players that you start with, and invest in a lot of 18 year old players. It's much easier to train your own players than to try and buy players who are already good.

Train all guards or all post players, and then when the trainees get to be around 22 or 23, when training drastically slows down, sell them off and buy good Centers and Power Forwards with the money. Of course, you can't just ignore your inside players until then, so make sure you buy at least capable inside players (with no regard to age) to tide you over until your trained players are good enough to be sold.

Under the new game engine, the prevailing theory is that, if you don't have an ideal small forward, play a perimeter player there instead of an interior player.

Don't ignore game shape! Many managers (including myself) ignore game shape when they start playing, and get creamed because of it. Try to keep your players between 55-70 minutes per week to maintain good game shape, because without it, your team will be terrible.

In the training system, you can choose to train 1 position, 2 positions, 3 positions, or the whole team, depending on what skill you're working on. The fewer positions you train, the better your training your players will get. We've found the most success with, at the beginning of your tenure, training 2 positions, and 5 players a week. When your team matures, you can begin experimenting with training fewer/more positions. Remember, you need 48 minutes per week in the trained positions for a player to get full training.

Make sure you schedule a scrimmage every week! This is a great opportunity to get more players above the 48 minute plateau and make your team better. Schedule your scrimmages early on so you're not scrambling at the last minute.

Read the Game Manual page about tactics. This will be very helpful to you in understanding how to set your tactics for the games.

Use your enthusiasm wisely. If you think you're going to win for sure, use "Take it Easy". Don't use "Crunch Time" unless you are in a must-win game, because it will cost you for several games in the future.

Good luck, and be sure to post a comment if you have any questions or need any help!

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