I’ve been writing up some tactical advice to go into the rules booklet for Counter Attack and now I’m seeking some help! The advice I’ve written is below. Whilst I realise you haven’t played the board game, imagine the game mirrors real football: what would you change about these instructions?
Counter Attack is a simulation of a real football match. The game has been designed based on a few too many hours of watching, studying and playing the sport. As such, tactical principles that apply in a real game of football equally apply in Counter Attack. What follows is some advice that might prove useful from time-to-time, but bear in mind there is no formula for success, as many a football manager has discovered…
Deciding where to position your players
Study your squad’s skills carefully to help you decide which players to leave on the bench and where to position the starting 11. Players with a low score for tackling are probably best kept away from your defence. Likewise, you don’t want a player with a poor shooting ability up front.
Where will you position your fastest players? A quick striker could be useful for running behind the opposition defence, while a fast fullback can effectively contribute to both defence and attack. Slower defenders will need teammates nearby or else they could be easily bypassed with some clever passing or dribbling. Midfielders tend to have average abilities at everything. However, be sure to have some decent tacklers in the midfield if you plan to win the ball back high upfield.
The typical modern football formation favours defence over attack. The 442, 433 and 532 starts with a solid base of defenders. Even when attacking, teams will try to ensure they leave more players near their own goal than there are attackers. As a game of Counter Attack unfolds, your players will be dragged out of position, which is something the opposition can exploit. However, you as the manager have the ability to cover any gaps your maurading players leave behind. Try not to leave opposition wingers isolated in space – a quick long ball can unleash a dangerous counter attack.
Consider also the gaps between your midfield and defence, and between your midfield and attack. Large gaps can become problematic, giving your opponent space to play in, or making it difficult for you to sustain an attack.
Attack with as many players as you can without sacrificing your defensive duties. The more options you have in the final third of the pitch, the more thinly spread will be your opponent’s defence.
When attacking, try to make the pitch as wide as possible by keeping players close to the touchline. This gives the defending team two choices: (1) either leave these players unmarked, meaning you can pass the ball to them comfortably, or (2) mark those players and leave gaps in the middle of the pitch.
If you have an attacker with a high heading ability you should look to cross the ball into the box for that player. Crosses can be made from anywhere, but remember that a high pass can only travel 11 hexes. Typically, crosses will come in from the wing, as there tends to be space on the wing for such a pass to be made.
Fast attacking players can ‘play on the shoulder’ of the last defender. Reach these players with a well-positioned standard pass into space, then let your speedy striker run onto the ball.
The first-time pass is a classic way to unlock a stubborn defence as it gives you a quick new angle to make a killer pass. In the example to the left, it’s impossible for Red 3 to pass to Red 9 or Red 10, but a pass to Red 7, followed by a first-time pass into space can create a shooting opportunity for Red 10.
Try to ensure you have more defending players than there are attackers, or you could be in trouble. One way to ensure this is to keep your eye on your defence while you are attacking – use some of your player movement to reposition your defence even when you are in possession of the ball.
If your defenders are faster than the attackers, consider pushing your defence high up the pitch as your opponent will find it difficult to reach any passes played behind your defensive line. Use the offside rule to your advantage. However, a slower defence should drop deeper so they can’t be caught out by pacey opponents.
You don’t have to commit to tackles – use your defenders to block your opponent’s path to goal and to try to block any passes or shots at goal.
You don’t need to commit lots of players to attack, especially if you are winning the match. It’s perfectly legitimate to ‘park the bus’!