Difference between revisions of "The ABC of Tactics"

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* for teams playing with 3 attackers AIM is often an interesting alternative, unless the opponents have the mid defence to match
* for teams playing with 3 attackers AIM is often an interesting alternative, unless the opponents have the mid defence to match
* for teams training wingers and playing them offensively, games with midfield dominance will be candidates for AOW
* for teams training wingers and playing them offensively, games with midfield dominance will be candidates for AOW

Revision as of 20:53, 2 April 2006

I intend to add a Wiki version of The ABC of Tactics here soon, but until it's complete, you will have to cope with the old static version at ABC of Tactics



The following contents are based on the opinion of Hattrick users — which means that their veracity and accuracy have not been confirmed by any official statement, and consequently they do not necessarily reflect the game reality. Please take this into consideration!

The purpose of this guide, The ABC of Tactics is to provide a foundation for understanding and mastering the tactical part of Hattrick. Tactical part refers to the part of the game where you from an actual squad and a known opponent select your best formation and tactical orders before a game. This guide is not about trading players or economy, these facets of Hattrick are covered elsewhere here in the Wiki.

Some of the guide's material is covered in other Hattrick Wiki articles, but this guide is intended for start to finish reading, so this is a necessary consequence.


This guide has been around in a more static version since 2002, and still exists as such. The static version also has several translations, as opposed to the all English Wiki version. The contents of The ABC of Tactics is hereby handed over to you dear Wiki community, make the best possible use of it!



Here's a summary of the standard team formations in Hattrick with their most important variations. The discussions in this section assume that the teams have fairly balanced players, since it's really all about team ratings in the end.

4-4-2, normal

General: This is the standard tactic that's also the one that 99% of all coaches will pick for their first game. It has the advantage that no players need special instructions, thereby you get the maximum performance from all-round type players.

Strengths: Good homogeneous defence, strong attacking wings and a good central attack.

Weaknesses: Weak midfield.

Best counter-tactic: Playing three inner midfielders and defensive wing defenders takes the edge off this tactic, and then attacks are preferrably made on the wings.

4-4-2, 3 inner midfield players

General: A variation of 4-4-2 where position changes leaves you with three inner midfield players at the expense of one winger. This tactic is a very strong defensive alternative for a coach normally using 3-5-2 och 3-4-3.

Strengths: Good homogeneous defence, strong midfield, one strong attacking wing and a good central attack.

Weaknesses: Abandons one attacking wing, not as strong a midfield as the tactics with 5 midfield players.

Best counter-tactic: Since the tactic leaves one wing you can have a weak defence here and also try attacking on this wing. Of course, a skilled opponent will make it difficult for you to guess which wing...

4-3-3, normal

General: One winger moved into the attack

Strengths: Good homogeneous defence, one strong attacking wing, very strong central attack

Weaknesses: Very weak in midfield, abandons one wing

Best counter-tactic: The opponent has a very strong central attack. Use three inner midfield players to stop them from getting so far and pack your defenders into the middle. If you can foresee what wing the opponent will abandon, use that defender in a more central position.

4-3-3, 3 inner midfield players

General: Both wingers are moved into forward position and a forward is pulled back to inner midfield.

Strengths: Good homogeneous defence, very strong central attack, fair midfield

Weaknesses: Abandons both wings

Best counter-tactic: A very central tactic, defend centrally and attack on the wings. Pack the defenders into the center of the pitch.

4-5-1, normal

General: One attacker moved into inner midfield

Strengths: Using strong inner midfield players, this is one of the most solid tactics in the defence. The number of opponent attacks are reduced with a strong midfield and the few occurring attacks are met by a strong homogeneous defence.

Weaknesses: Weak attack, especially in the center

Best counter-tactic: Against this tactic it may be wise strengthening your midfield with an offensive central defender, since the opponents central attack may be weak. It's all about trying to gain control of midfield and attacking on the wings - you'll need a lot of attacks to score.

3-5-2, symmetric/asymmetric defence

General: Symmetric: a central defender moved into midfield. Asymmetric: a wing defender moved into midfield. This is Hattrick's most common formation for a good reason, with its offensive/defensive balance and strong emphasis on midfield. It also lets the manager vary the attack and defence greatly.

Strengths: Very strong midfield and strong attack

Weaknesses: 3 defenders are bound to leave a weak spot somewhere.

Best counter-tactic: Try to attack where the opponent is weak and try to balance your defence against the opposition's attack. Many 3-5-2 coaches play with a winger towards the middle, some are kind enough to always play the same wing into the middle ;). Finally: if you succeed in beating a 3-5-2 team in midfield, the game is practically won...

5-3-2, normal

General: One winger moved into central defence.

Strengths: Very strong central defence, fair central attack.

Weaknesses: Very weak midfield, abandons one attacking wing.

Best counter-tactic: Try to gain possession using three central midfield players. Try attacking on the wings, in the center it's bound to be crowded.

5-3-2, 3 inner midfield players

General: Both wingers moved into central defence, one defender moved up into midfield.

Strengths: Very strong central defence, fair central attack, fair midfield.

Weaknesses: Abandons both wings.

Best counter-tactic: Another very central tactic, defend centrally and attack on the wings. Pack the defenders into the center of the pitch.

3-4-3, normal

General: One defender moved into forward position, the most attacking standard formation.

Strengths: Very strong attack.

Weaknesses: Weak midfield and (similarly to 3-5-2) one weak spot in defence.

Best counter-tactic: Win possession or lose the game, it's as simple as that! Your opponent is very dangerous so try to move play into his half of the pitch. Then adapt your attack according to the advice in the 3-5-2 section.

3-4-3, 3 inner midfield players

General: One defender is moved into midfield position and one winger into the attack. A very strong attacking formation. If you are superior to your opponent, this formation will guarantee a large number of goals and goalscoring opportunities (but you do lose attacking strength on one wing). You might even consider using an offensive wing defender too, to strengthen a wing attack.

Strengths: Very strong central attack and one very strong attacking wing. Strong midfield.

Weaknesses: One weak spot in defence and abandons one wing.

Best counter-tactic: Concentrate your defence on the centre and the attacking wing (if predictable). Try to attack in the weak spot. If you can't control midfield, 4 defenders would be a good idea.

5-4-1, normal

General: One attacker moved into defence.

Strengths: Rock-solid central defence

Weaknesses: Weak midfield and attack, especially the central attack.

Best counter-tactic: Like 4-5-1 it may be a good idea to use an offensive defender. Defend your wings carefully if your opponent doesn't use his wingers towards the middle. Try to win possession and attack on the wings.

5-4-1, 3 inner midfield players

General: One attacker moved into midfield and one winger into central defence. One of the strongest defensive formations in Hattrick.

Strengths: Rock solid defence, strong midfield.

Weaknesses: Weak attak, especially the central attack and the abandoned wing.

Best counter-tactic: The opponent is rather weak in his attacks. Use this to gain control over midfield, an offensive central defender has never been more appropriate. Attack on the wings and prepare for 0-0...

Choosing a Formation

Studying the summary above might be a good guide to selecting team formations, but there are many factors to consider. This "checklist" may be of some help:

  • Experience is in reality the most governing factor when selecting a formation, resulting in many players selecting one formation and sticking to it for a number of seasons. The most imaginative managers may train up experience on two formations and alter between them and 4-4-2 variations. The experience gives an inertia that makes every formation selection a long term decision. The dependency on experience may be reduced with routine - an experienced team captain can give you the opportunity to change formations far quicker without having team confusion.
  • The coach's preference. It's your choice whether you choose to use your coach's offensive/defensive preference to balance your tactic - i.e. using attacking tactics with a defensive coach and vice versa - or to enforce your tactics - i.e. using an offensive formation with an offensively minded coach and vice versa. Balancing may be used to keep wages low in defence or attack. Enforcement may be used to get a high class attack or defence at a reasonable wage cost.
  • Your players are a classic parameter: "play the cards you're dealt" is a rule many IRL managers live by. This is not the way I would recommend you to act in Hattrick! Pick a formation and buy players that are suited for each position is a far better solution. Having specialized players fitting your formation requirements is definitely the most cost (wage) efficient. Part of the efficiency is reduced since you also need specialized (and hence a few more) reserve players, but that's a small price compared to having a number of all-round players in your squad.
  • Team attitude. When playing MOTS you will hopefully play most of the game on your opponents side of the pitch, a good reason to put more effort into offense. The opposite goes for Play It Cool.
  • The opponent's formation and tactics. Cf. the advice in part 1a.
  • The opponent's squad. The opponent's formation is important, but what you really need to consider are the area grades (the midfield, right side defence etc.), where you clearly can see the weaknesses and threats of your opponent. This also includes player skills. E.g. in my latest league game I played a team with a strong midfield but with a tendency to always use the same formation (there are a lot of those in lower leagues in Sweden). They play 3-5-2 asymmetric and always attack on the same wing and abandons the same side of defence, readily available information from area grades. So I attacked on their weak side and defended their strong wing. In spite of losing possession by 57/54% (away) and having equally strong teams we won 2-0. At home it ended 5-0.
  • Home/away is similar to team attitude. Away you need to strengthen your defence and vice versa.
  • Training type is an important parameter for many managers, one reason for defence training being popular is that the 5-3-2 and 5-4-1 formations allow you to efficiently train 10 defenders at once. The has become even more compelling when the defenders got their wages reduced season 16, but an increased supply will probably also lead to lower prices. I don't select my formation considering training types, bur many managers far wiser than I do.

Since formation experience is so governing you are forced to alter between the formations you have experience of and 4-4-2, but this is enough for beating most evenly matched opponents, good luck!

The Basics of Player Selection

Player Selection Using Formulas

Formula Examples

Individual Orders

Tactics Settings

The tactical settings have been around for some time now, and have added quite a lot to the depth of the tactical game. There are opportunities to beat an opponent with superior midfield, something that was quite difficult before the new settings...

Counter Attacks

The counter attacks setting is probably the most exciting new tactic, but also the most overestimated! It's not the ultimate solution to be used in any game where you don't believe in your own team.

What happens is that you give away some midfield strength (always a bad idea in HT) to get the chance of getting a counter attack each time the opponent attacks and your defence over-powers them.

Use counter attacks only when:

  • you're certain to lose midfield, when you win midfield you will get no counter-attacks (note that midfield strength may vary during a game due to stamina, red cards, injuries and substitutions)
  • your defence is significantly stronger than your opposition's offence, or you will only concede goals
  • your offence is strong enough to take advantage of any counter-attacks created

If you fail to meet any of these requirements, counter attacking is not for you!

People who successfully play counter attacks play previously forgotten tactics like 5-3-2, 5-4-1 (too poor offence in my opinion), 4-4-2, 4-3-3 and even extreme ones like 5-2-3. For extreme counter attack teams midfield is completely omitted so the confusion that comes from 5-2-3 is no problem. But, like I said at first: this is the most over-rated new tactic setting, used without causion you will invite your opponents to easy victories!


This setting is basically for keeping the numbers down in a game. It's not a tactic that will ever get you a victory (OK, occasionally you will get lucky) but a tactic that might get you a draw now and then, and keeps your defeats down. Your players will chase down opponents all over the field and keep the number of scoring opportunities down, effectively eliminating chances that your opponent, or you yourself(!), would have.

Use it when:

  • you are pretty certain to lose otherwise
  • you lose midfield, or you'll be eliminating your own attacks (if your attacks are really poor it may still be a good idea though)
  • your midfield has good stamina, otherwise you will lose possession in second half, granting your opponent more attacks than they would have if you played normal

These are the base requirements, but in order to be really successful you should:

  • have a lot of defensively strong players on the field, line-ups with 4 or 5 defenders are a good idea
  • keep in mind that supporters prefer a team that loses 2-5 to a team that loses 0-1...
  • have high stamina on all players (they all contribute to the pressure)
  • for extra efficiency you may use powerful players, that contribute a lot more to the destruction of play

Attack Directions

There are two settings here, attacking in the middle (AIM) or on the wings (AOW). They are two sides to the same coin. Attacking in the middle only means that you get slightly more attacks in the center of the pitch and slightly less on the wings. Attacking on the wings works the other way around. The settings do have another drawback though: you lose some defensive strength accordingly! E.g. if you attack in the middle, you will lose some wing defence strength.

The base rule when to use attacking directions is to use it when you have more to gain from the redirection of attacks that you lose due to defence weakening. If you make 1 more goal from the wing that won't do you much good if you concede 2 extra in the weakened mid defence...

Use the attack directions settings when:

  • you have better chances at scoring in the middle (AIM) or on the wings (AOW)
  • you have some possession (if you don't create any chances, there's not much to distribute and you will lose some sorely needed defensive strength), generally you should dominate possession or the defence weakening will cost you too many conceded goals
  • you can afford losing the defensive strength, e.g. if you have an extremely solid defence compared to your opponent's offence, or if you have a high possession

The settings should be decided on a match to match basis, but there's some general cases when they are extra interesting:

  • for teams playing with 3 attackers AIM is often an interesting alternative, unless the opponents have the mid defence to match
  • for teams training wingers and playing them offensively, games with midfield dominance will be candidates for AOW