As any seasoned player of the game knows, you can add and remove leagues to the setup of your savegame. If you have used this feature yourself, you can probably relate that at times the game adds too good, fully developed regens to teams in a newly activated league. The addition of too talented players creates an imbalance in the game world, not to mention the vast potential for human player exploits. Those of you with dastardly motives should pay attention.
Strategic manipulation of the game is the point where I come in; this article will feature a few ways to game the adding and removal of leagues within your savegame. I present to you an introduction to the wonderful, majestic yet dastardly world of leaguescumming.
First of all, the basics and mechanics of the matter. When you click on the FM menu, there is an option “Add/Remove Leagues”. These additional leagues won’t appear until the new season in the nation you add ticks over though. You can only add countries that were in the database you used when you started the save though; you can’t add downloaded nations/leagues after the fact.
When you add a league, the game simulates a season for that specific and adds it to the playable leagues at the start of a new season. Where possible, the game reverts to its default database to add as many real players as possible. When these original players have retired the game replaces them with newgens. The entry of newgens into the game makes this interesting, as this unbalances the game.
The number of superb newgens far exceeds what one would expect for specific leagues. The bigger teams often produce players that can instantly walk into the starting line-up of all but the most elite teams in world football. The tendency that newly activated leagues are somewhat overpowered has all been somewhat of a gut feeling. To back up this feeling with facts and numbers, I ran three simulations and collected the data.
In the first simulation, I started a new save and ran all the big leagues in Europe; England, Germany, Spain, Italy, France. On top of those leagues, I added the Bulgarian, Croatian, Greek, Polish, Romanian and Serbian leagues.
This save was my baseline measurement; it provided the starting variables. There were almost no newgens present to influence the data.
In the second simulation, I started with the big leagues and added the smaller leagues after four seasons, so these newly added leagues would begin at the beginning of season 5. At this point, there were quite a few newgens in the database. In the third simulation, I repeated this process but added the new leagues in season 9, so the start of season 10 was the measuring point. At this point, newgens made up most of the league’s populace.
I started extracting data from these leagues, to compare how the overall quality of the league changed in terms of current ability (CA) and potential ability (PA). I extracted the data using Genie Scout, searching for all the players based in a certain country, not for players of a specific nationality.
I focussed on specific CA and PA categories in my research. For CA, I looked at 120 and higher. A player with a CA of 120 is a decent squad player for most teams in the world, barring the absolute elite teams. Players with a CA of 130 or more starters for all but the very best, while 140+ players walk into just about any team in the world. For the PA research, I went with 130 and higher with the same underlying rationale.
I know the sample sizes are way too small for this research to be anything but indicative of a possible pattern but humour me.
In Bulgaria, we can see a steady growth in quality. As more newgens enter the game, the overall quality of the league improves. There are more high CA and more high PA players present in the first season after adding the league. In time, these players will most likely all leave Bulgaria but it makes for a lucrative scouting endeavour.
Interesting enough, there were quite a few decent non-Bulgarian players spawning in the league, including players who walked into their respective national teams after they moved to a club outside of Bulgaria.
Croatia shows a similar pattern to Bulgaria, though with less of a spread between the teams in the league. The very best players are all clustered at Dinamo and Hajduk, whereas the spread between teams was more varied in Bulgaria.
Greece was the odd duck in the experiment. While there is a growth between the five-year group and the ten-year group, the initial numbers are quite a bit higher than the outcome after ten years. My reasoning for this is the default database causes this. In real life, a fair few ageing stars have gone to Greece to cash a few more fat paychecks and see out the last few years of their career. These players still have high CA and PA. The AI generally does not repeat such transfers, so that will impact the numbers.
Focussing on just Greek players was out of the question however. The Greek league does spawn decent Albanian and Balkan players at times. If I focussed solely on Greek players, I would discount these newgens.
Poland fits the previous pattern. The starting database showed very few prospects, whereas the league has considerable targets when added at a later stage, when more newgens have become active.
Romania has a lot of decent CA players to start with because of the default database but the projected growth seems to follow the model of the other leagues. I am especially impressed by the high number of top CA and PA players in the later stages of the game.
Serbia fits the trend as well. As more and more newgens enter the save-game, the overall quality of the Serbian league increases exponentially. In terms of overall quality, the Serbian league has been one of the more interesting leagues in this experiment.
So far, it seems that the leagues from nations with a high youth rating, as expected, spawn the best newgens. Leagues with tough restrictions on foreigners spawn (almost) exclusively their own nationals, leagues with more relaxed, mellow rules spawn more diverse players in terms of their nationalities.
Looking at this data, it backs up a long-lingering gut feeling that something was off once you added leagues to a long-term save. Topsides from added leagues often started overperforming in continental competitions, right up to the point where the big-money sides swoop in to pick them clean. When you add the leagues at a stage in the savegame where newgens make up most (or all) of the save’s populace, the game (or its mechanics if you’re being a particularly grating smart-ass) grants the top sides in a league fully developed players in their prime. As the reputation of these clubs and leagues is relatively low, the reputation of the players starts low as well.
This combination of low reputations across the board means these newly spawned players in their prime can fly under the radar of Europe’s best and wealthiest. Money does not buy brains, and the AI often scouts on reputation first, skills later. This particular weakness makes the newly added league an exciting target for any manager worth his salt.
Quite a few decent new players have been added into a smaller league, making them relatively dirt cheap and ready for the picking, often unopposed. The potential is there to make money in a way that makes the money tsunami from Duck Tales look like pocket change.
You can game this particular unbalancing trait of the mechanics of the game. Add one or two new leagues every year, scout and pillage and remove them. Add one or two different leagues the next year. Rinse and repeat over the course of the next five to ten years. Those are a lot of talented newgens coming through, to be used for either impact on the pitch or flogging for profit.
Relying entirely on dubious concepts like “morals”, “ethics” and “realism,” some notorious killjoys will insist on spoiling everyone’s fun by pointing out that this is cheating at worst, twisting the game’s mechanics at best. They are entirely right. Since it’s a single-player experience, however, this bothers no-one but yourself and should concern no-one but your good self. It can kill the immersion of a save, that’s true. It can also give you access to a veritable influx of ready-made, cheap talent. Plot your own course.