The Defensive forward is a player with a particular combination of scoring, passing and playmaking skill to help boost midfield and contribute to attack ratings as well.
In addition, forwards with defensive order that have the technical speciality gain an additional boost to the contribution of their passing skill to central attacks, and they will gain a minor contribution to wing attacks from passing skill.
The defensive forwards were created after the editorial New life for defensive forwards (21/12/2005) when their contribution from passing skill was increased by 30% and players with technical specialty gain an additional boost from passing skill to the contribution of their passing skill to central attacks and wing attacks.
The interest in DFs grew after changes in training speed (08/10/2007) that make possible to build a real multi-skill player.
Last changes were announced in 2010 editorials (ex: 19/03/2010) when bonus was extended to all kind of defensive forwards while technical players (who, now on, make less use out of their passing in the middle) were added a bonus on the wings.
Today defensive forward (not technical) contributes:
to central attack by 58,3% of his Scoring and 58,3% of his Passing to side attack by 10,9% of his Scoring, 12,4% of his Winger and 21,5% of his Passing to midfield by 40,6% of his Playmaking
Depending on the skill levels of the player, a TDF may produce more attack when played defensively than when played normal. You can see that you team gains a midfield level every 2,5 playmaking levels (2,5 x 40 = 1,0).
Even more interesting is the contribution to the attacks: the team gains one level in central attack every 1,7 passing or scoring levels, but the passing contribution is double in side attack, compared to scoring. This means that passing is the most important skill for a DF.
A Technical Defensive Forward (commonly abbreviated TDF and also known as Trequartista) is a forward with technical specialty who is played defensively.
The contributions are the same with the DF, with the difference that his Passing skill contributes:
to the side attack with 27.9% instead of 21.5% (as it is for the non-technical defensive forward)
The technical specialty significantly increases the contribution of his passing skill to the attack (see section 4 of the manual).
The thinking behind this is to help simulate the real-world option of the withdrawn forward (a central player between midfielders and forwards) who uses his sensitive foot to deliver great passes (from editorial).
Keeping playmaking training as reference, in the time you can give a defensive forward 1 Playmaking level, you can give him 1.1 passing level. It may look like a small thing, but put it this way: every time the player gets 2.5 PM more the team grow 1 midfield level, but every 2.6 passing to player is 1.12 in central attack and 0.56 in side attack.
Additionally you can train wing, with an improvement of 0,91 in side attack (2.6 x 0.3514) or, obviously, scoring as a normal forward. The best thing is to train a DF in passing, but since PM is a slower training than passing, is important to prepare PM and scoring when the player is still young. Another aspect very important is the wage. As a multi-skilled player, is useless to train just a single skill.
Example of DF wages:
PM/PS/SC wage 14/10/10: 30 K 11/10/11: 9 K 13/10/10: 18 K
No matter how developers try to lower the importance of the midfield rating, it remains the esiest way to win (when you don't play CA). Having multi-skilled players with Playmaking skill will help you to have a better midfield rating and DFs are the perfect tool to possess the midfield and they can do it manteining a high attack rate with lower wages!
To achieve the same result you need Defenders with PM, Wingers with PM, Inner Midfielders with passing (which will cost a lot of money to buy).Il DCO, Remember that a central defender offensive gives a lower contribution to the midfield than a DF: 33.97% in place of 41.67% (almost 20% less).
Tactically speaking, one DF can be used as additional forward in 3-4-3 (helping scoring without losing midfield) or as backing midfield booster in 3-5-2. These are the most suitable formations, but all formations with 5 IMs are good: 4-5-1 as well as 2-5-3.
An example of 2-5-3: 3 DF with worldclass passing and outstanding scoring (at every level PM, not important now) contributes:
to the central attack by 28.26 [(10.89 x 3) – 13.5% malus] to side attack by 15.00 [(5.77 x 3) – 13.5% malus]
Which is like 2 supernatural normal forwards and two titanic offensive wingers (monoskilled). But in case of 2-5-3 this effects are added to the normal contribution of wingers and IMs passing!
Formations like 5-4-1 and 5-3-2 are instead not right: the only way to use a DF is to try to boost the midfield.
The Ercanto Strategy
This is a rare case of formation named after the hattrick manager that brought it to success, the spanish user ercanto.
Basically is the perfect way to push to the limit all DF characteristics on a 3-5-2 formation: since two technical defensive forwards (better with wing skill) boost the side attacks and the midfield, you can totally give up central attack and play attack on wings.
At this point you can also play with IMs without passing or use winger with high playmaking skill as midfilders toward wing. Wing backs are offensive or normal, the only defender must have good playmaking too. The key player are the wingers, which must have high skills and keep the team together.
See for example: Hattrick Master semi-finals 2010