New match engine: More balanced results and two fixed tactics

From Hattrick
Hattrick.png This is an official Hattrick Editorial originally published in 2009-12-07 10:00:00.

In an editorial earlier this year, we laid out our development plan for Hattrick, promising improvements to the core game experience. Since then we have been working on just that. Today we present a major update to the match simulation itself.


This new match engine mostly deals with the chance distribution, how chances are created and distributed on the pitch. It also contains important changes to the counterattack and pressing tactics.


The new engine will be used in friendlies for the rest of this season, and in all senior matches starting next season.

Our aim with this new match engine has been to reduce variance (what some call random) and also to make the match engine more balanced. As with any changes it should also follow our Hattrick principles which we explained on editorial space in July. When it comes to the match engine it’s especially important for us to keep things simple.

This new version of the match engine mostly deals with how chances are created and distributed between teams on the pitch. By changing the way this works, we will make Hattrick more balanced - with more close and exciting games, and fewer "extreme" results that are hard to explain. Included in this new engine are also changes to the counterattack and pressing tactics, explained further down.

The new match simulation

In the new engine we will replace some of the existing chances - the ones that are won at the expense of the other team - for a new type that is exclusive to each team. Your midfield still has to compete against your opponent’s midfield and “win” the chance in order to convert it to a scoring opportunity (just like the old chances). But if your midfield doesn’t win the chance, it just means the chance is wasted. Your opponent can never get your exclusive chances and you can never get your opponent’s ones.

This means some of the chances in a match are “open” to both teams and some of the chances can only be taken by you (and some only by your opponent). The number of exclusive chances is the same for both teams.

This also means that there is no fixed amount of regular chances in a match anymore (but there is a minimum and a maximum), as it may vary depending on how many of the exclusive chances that are converted into scoring opportunities.

Reasons for a new engine

Today, the two teams on the pitch use their midfield rating to compete for each potential goal scoring chance. These chances are, as you know, limited in number and "open" to both teams, which means a chance won for one team is a chance lost to the other team.

This is logical enough, but creates some unwanted effects. For one thing, since we only have 10 regular chances in the game, even a minimal edge in number of chances won (6-4) gives one team 50 % more chances to score (and the second minimal edge (7-3) gives one team 133% more chances). Special events can offset this, but we prefer that the regular chances can be split more near-even (such as 5-4).

The current system also means that the variance - the range of potential outcomes in a game - is quite high. Now, the strongest team wins on average just as often as in real football. But compared to real football there are fewer draws in Hattrick and also more big wins (and thus losses).

Core features of the new engine

The new engine deals with the “problems” mentioned above. One can say the new engine enables these new “features”:

  • Near-even splits of chances (such as 5-4 for example) become possible
  • Reduced variance; more close games and fewer extreme results
  • Better live experience, as you don’t know how many attacks there will be
  • Better handling of the counterattack and pressing tactics (details below)

Now, it's worth remembering that the variance has been reduced and we’ll see fewer “extreme” results from now on, but it doesn’t mean there will be no surprising results at all. Because there will be. And I’m sure there will still be threads in the forum about very unlucky losses and extreme results too, and perhaps just as many as today.

It’s pretty common among us human beings to notice what’s not normal (such as extreme results), but not noticing everything that is normal. As about 1 million matches are played every week, some surprising results are bound to happen – even though there will be less than before. However, it’s simply impossible for us to know how much of the reduced variation that will be felt by you. We naturally hope you’ll notice it, but we can’t really tell to what degree.

When all comes around, surprising results is after all a part of real football and perhaps what makes it so charming. So, naturally there should be surprises in Hattrick too. The strongest team is simply not guaranteed to win every match - but the strongest team in a series usually finishes first. Your task as a manager now and in the future is simply to do everything in your power to increase your winning odds.

A major change, but no major change

This new match simulation is indeed a major change, and it’s a also change in the very core of the engine. But still one can also say it’s no major change at all. All underlying mechanics are still the same - to score a goal you will still need to win the midfield battle for that chance and then beat your opponent’s defence, just as always.

As mentioned our aim with this new engine is to make Hattrick more balanced – not anything else. Thus, we don’t want and we don’t expect a huge impact on games (apart from more close and exciting games, and fewer extreme results, of course). So from a game perspective this is a major change, but from a manager perspective it’s not as major.

Changes to counterattacks and pressing

Today the chance to get a counterattack gets lower for each counterattack you’ve had (and the same goes for pressing). This made it quite easy to get one such event, but much harder to get many.

In the new engine, the chance to get a counterattack (or to foil an attack through pressing) is more or less the same through the whole match. The engine just slightly modifies that chance depending on your tactical skill and how many events you’ve already got earlier in the match. Overall this means the chance to get many counterattack/pressing events is increased, but so is the chance to receive none at all.

For both tactics the level of the tactical skill will become much more important, very high levels will give better results (and low levels will give worse results). It should also be noted that pressing has been made significantly stronger than before (but not for very low tactical levels though), if your team is good at pressing you will on average foil more attacks from now on.

Both tactics work on all type of regular chances (both open and exclusive) in the new engine.

New engine valid from next season on

As mentioned in the beginning, the new engine will be used in friendlies for the rest of this season, and in all senior matches starting next season. Youth teams will still use the old youth engine.