Since I received the review code for Football, Tactics and Glory, I’ve been conflicted about how to position it. Although Football, Tactics and Glory is presented as a football management game, it is in fact nothing of the sort. It is, in fact, a tactical combat game, dressed more than just loosely in the sheepskin jacket of the footballing world.
The leagues (albeit without licenses) are present, as are the teams (with their names abstracted) and so is all the fanfare that a “proper” management game might include. You can buy and sell players, you can invest in training, you can choose your team and level them up when they succeed, and you can ascend through the ranks to international greatness.
The trick is not to treat Football, Tactics and Glory as a contender to something like FM20 Touch, but to think of it more as something like one of the classic PlayStation One tactical combat games — a Vandalhearts or Tactics: Ogre for example. The gameplay is turn-based, the objective to score goals based on the difference in probability between your attacking player(s) and the opposition defence.
Every on-field action has a probability, most of which are clearly displayed when the player considers performing said action. A short pass between competent players, for example, will not need a check at all, but a lob across the pitch will have several. These may include checks for the playing making the pass and the player receiving it, plus the possibility of interceptions for any opposing players in between.
The same is true for shots on goal — a player will have a basic shooting capability, modified by range and the skill of the opposition goalkeeper, plus any nearby defenders. Some defenders excel at blocking shots and can put attackers under pressure, whilst strikers can gain skills that allow them to shoot more efficiently, or head a cross towards goal without spending an action.
On that note, I should mention that because Football, Tactics and Glory is turn-based, each player will perform a basic three actions per turn, with some player skills allowing additional actions (such as the header example) to be taken for free. Some successful skills even add additional actions, allowing the very best teams to string multiple moves together as you would expect.
Off the field, you’ll manage fatigued players (by swapping them out for rookies or backup players) and train them to improve their stats (which affect all base actions) or skills (which give actual new actions and abilities). A transfer system features, although it is hugely simplified and, dare I say it, pretty dull. Contracts must be elongated or terminated, as needed depending on your financial position.
And here’s one of the first problems I encountered, because with the rock-bottom club I chose, there was simply not enough money to get through a season, let alone go on to succeed. Football, Tactics and Glory can be bloody hard at times. Your only hope at the beginning of your new career is to bring your team of no-hopers up to the right standard, whilst slowly reinvesting winnings in young talent to then train, sell and repeat the cycle.
But in general, things work how you’d expect them to. Field your best team and you’ll often have a good chance of winning since by using your players as efficiently as you can, you generally create opportunities to score and then put the ball in the back of the net. Move up the leagues too fast, however, and you’ll likely not have enough money to keep pace with better teams, and nor will your players develop fast enough for it to happen naturally.
Football, Tactics and Glory can be quite the time sink then, for several reasons. Firstly, if you do enjoy it, there’s a lot to do — several leagues to fight through and numerous cups to win. The buying and selling, contract, training and team management etc all take a while, and whilst matches can be simulated, you’re unlikely to want to leave your fate in the hands of the AI too often since results are as hit and miss as always in such simulations.
Even if you don’t like it that much, Football, Tactics and Glory has a “just one more match” factor that is hard to ignore for at least the first few times you boot it up. You may ultimately decide it’s not for you, but it’s such a quirky and unusual system that it does draw players with even the slightest interest in football in without too much trouble.
With no multiplayer and with unlicensed teams and leagues, I’m not inclined to think that there’s too much to get excited about here, but I think some players really will enjoy it. Others might see it as a slow burn — a lack of real players and teams therefore giving it an “evergreen” appeal that doesn’t age.
When all is said and done, Football, Tactics and Glory is more or less unique, or at the very least unusual. It’s not amazing or revolutionary, and in many ways it’s strange, but it’s also surprisingly deep, often clever, and genuinely addictive. I feel that I’ll return to it from time to time for a while to come yet.