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Video Game / Hattrick

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Hattrick is a free, browser-based MMO Football management simulator, developed and started in 1997 by Swedish programmer Björn Holmér and his development company ExtraLives AB. It can be seen as a direct competitor to the Football Manager series, especially Football Manager Live. Currently in its 58th season (each season lasts 110 days), the game boasts over 800,000 users from almost every country on Earth.

The game has examples of the following tropes:

  • Anti-Grinding:
    • The amount of training a player can get per week is restricted to 90 minutes of playtime. Thus fielding the same player in both league match and friendly is counter-productive, as he's hogging the spot that could be used for training another player.
    • Skills are both harder to train with age and more importantly, start to randomly decay after certain point. Any player above 21 starts to visibly train at slower rate, while above 28 the skill decay kicks in. Trying to level up the same player indefinitely eventually becomes not worth the hassle or outright impossible.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Bot teams assign players according to a very basic algorithm, which leads to sub-par performance.
  • Attack Pattern Alpha: There are ten different possibilities for formation, putting specific number of players on specific roles, thus making defense, midfield or forward stronger (or weaker). Each of those formation must be first trained, preferably playing friendlies, or the team will suffer from confusion when using something they aren't familiar with
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Hattrick Supporter used to give a lot more stats than regular version, but it still took player's knowledge to use them accordingly.
    • After 2012 changes non-Supporters are given far more informations than before - the game became much more newbie-friendly.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • While personality of players can affect their performance, what matters more are their actual skills. You can have a complete Jerkass in your team that is still extremely competent and valuable player.
    • Set pieces Taker can be whoever, as long as they come with high Set pieces skill. This includes your goalkeeper, as long as he doesn't have to defend in the same time.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Zig-Zagged. Players can't get permamently disabled, but as they age, their injuries take longer and longer to heal, while also become more and more common. Eventually this starts to seriously weight on their overall performance, as they simply spend most of the time unable to play.
  • Competitive Multiplayer: Of the Player Versus Player variety. Each season 8 human-controlled teams play against each other to see who will advance to higher division, stay where they are or will be dropped to lower one.
  • Crippling Overspecialization:
    • Played with. In lower divisions, all that takes is having a team with decent main skill and nothing else, easing the training and keeping wages lower. Eventually however, improving of Passing and Set Pieces becomes mandatory.
    • Goalkeeper coaches were Exactly What It Says on the Tin. They eventually got merget with regular training assistants due to their extremly narrow specialisation.
  • Death Is Not Permanent: But firing is (though some can come back as coaches, PR managers, and even referees).
  • Diminishing Returns for Balance: In the old staff system, it was possible to hire up to ten training assistants, each with half the effectivness of the previous one: a 50% bonus, 25%, 12.5% and so on. It was scrapped once staff system was reworked.
  • Endless Game: Well, except for the seasons, just like real football.
  • Forced Tutorial: Downplayed. Tutorial is very short and brief, but the only way to unlock all the game features (and thus gain a manager license) is to finish all its objectives. Additionally, doing so nets in total equivalent of 250 thousands euro, which means a lot for a starting teams.
  • Home Field Advantage: Players perform slightly better on their own turf. With proper set-up and right team, this can make victory (or scoring extra goals) much easier.
  • Idle Game: For the most part, the game is perfectly possible to be played with just twice a week check on match and training results, along with adjusting for injuried players.
  • Lifesaving Misfortune: One of the players in your division stopped playing? Sad. His team now being led by a bot, giving you a guaranteed win (or maybe even two)? How wonderful! And bots are always first to be dropped to lower division, regardless of their record so far, so this might save you from down-grade or even help advance to higher division.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: It's an international game about managing a football team. Which means there are millions of players, along with coaches, scouts, assistant trainers, medics, financial directors... and then there is the youth league.
  • Long Game: Any half-decent player will plan ahead all the actions for at least entire season and then adjust accordingly to random occurrences. Patience is pre-requested to even try playing the game at all.
    • Best exemplified with getting new young players, either by scouting or Youth Academia training. It takes about 4 seasons to finally start getting real benefits and generating quality players. That means year and a half of real time.
  • Magikarp Power: Defending takes forever to rise, but high enough, it can stop cold any kind of offensive action, making it virtually impossible to score a goal for attacking team.
  • Master of None: Vast majority of youth and young players tend to be this, having either no particular skills and/or all of them on low level.
  • Metagame: Aside knowing the game from practical side, it also takes about two weeks of extensive reading of (professionally written) manuals to truly understand how to train your players and make money on it. You will bankrupt yourself or end up perpetually stuck in mid-tier league without that knowledge.
    • If one is using scouting rather than youth academy for getting young players, then picking them for goal-keeping is much more reliable. There are only two skills needed for that job and it always picks players more or less suitable for it. If picking players for the field, then they could be whatever and their skills tend to be all over the place.
  • Morale Mechanic: Ho boy
    • Team spirit affects relationships between players, management strategy and recent changes in the player list. It affects midfield performance, which in turn is tied to chances of scoring goals in the first place. Transfer a low agreeability player to your team and watch as the team sours instantly. Each season the team spirit is reset to default value and is then affected by leadership of your coach, team performance and new players
    • Confidence ties with how good the players are with using their scoring chances, representing their own believe in success. It predictably rises with streak of wins and sours badly after defeats (especially heavy ones). And players can get overconfident, which might lead to sudden and unexpected defeats when they ignore their opponents.
    • Both sponsors and supporters have their own mood, based on team performance. This translates on how much money they are shelling on the club and ticket sales for matches, along with post-season supporter passes and size of fan-club. While sponsors are pretty stable and think long term, supporters will get easily affected by both victories and defeats and especially promotions to higher and relegations to lower leagues.
  • Nice Guy: When player with Agreeability of Pleasant or higher get transfered into the team, they don't decrease Team spirit.
  • No Stat Atrophy: Averted. Skills start to decay after certain age, stamina and form require at least minimal training dedicated to them (and are harder to maintain with age) while morale, confidence and moods are all fluid statistics. The only thing that can't be removed are specialities, like playing with head or being atheletic.
  • Nonstandard Skill Learning: Before season 35, a so-called osmosis training existed. Players not fielded in any game were still gaining miniscule training from the fact they were in the team. This was abused by skill-traders, who were buying promising players, filling their team to the maximum (50) and then just sit them on a bench for few weeks until their skill increased, selling them right after that.
  • Not Playing Fair With Resources: Bot teams filling rosters of bottom leagues can't get bankrupt. Not that they need money for anything, but still. And if said team is replaced by human player, it will reset all the accounts, even mid-season.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Although reduced in later seasons, early on the team that had the stronger midfield usually won, meaning that the Playmaking stat was pretty much the only one that mattered. It was considered strage if someone wasn't playing with 5 players in midfield.
    • Set pieces, with proper team set up, turns into this. If the disparity is high enough between attacking and defending team, every single situation involving set pieces will lead to a goal. And there can be a lot of set pieces situations during a match. And unlike every other skill, they can be easily trained regardless of age.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Starting teams are always randomly generated and always crap. Expect to have handful of players above 30 and general level of competence not exceeding solid (7 on 1-20 scale), with entire team suffering from Crippling Overspecialization. If one is really unlucky, the only players worth anything at all will be the old-timers, leading to additional issues.
  • Reality Ensues: Players have three different sub-stats to describe their personality. If they are dishonest and aggressive in the same time, expect them to foul on regular basis.
  • Required Secondary Powers: No matter how good the main skill of the player is, if his Passing is crap, it's almost as if the main skill itself didn't exist. Set Pieces are similar in this regard, just not as important.
  • Stat Grinding: There is a soft limit on how good young players (either scouted out or trained in youth team) can be, so the only way to improve their performance is training. Not counting Set pieces, it takes anywhere between 3 to 10 weeks to rise a skill, depending on skill and training. This is further affected by players' age, coach skills and training intensity and there are only this many players that can be trained at once in given skill, depending on their position on the field. Since rising a skill by just a single notch (the scale goes from 1 to 20) is almost meaningless, this goes usually for few seasons to have any serious results.
  • Violation of Common Sense: The best strategy for new managers starting in the bottom divisions is not to buy new, young players for training, but instead aged old-timers with high skills. They will cost pocket change due to their age, but their stats will allow to completely dominate the division, along with providing fantastic captains, helping rest of the team. If they are used as forwards, expects absurd amount of goals, futher bolstering morale, fan moods and sponsor donations for good overall performance.
    • This can be further exploited when looking for new coach. Even if stats of such old timers will decay almost weekly, after being members of the team for entire season they can be then promoted to new coach. There are two stats important for coach conversion: Experience and Leadership. Fishing beforehand player with Experience exceeding maximum level of coach skill (so higher than 8) will provide a discount to conversion. Normally, getting coach with maxed out stats costs around 20 million euro. Conversion of old-timer bough solely for this purpose allows to cut the costs of the conversion well below 1 million, which is about the price of getting coach equal with the starting one.

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