By Thomas ‘T-Pat’ Paterniti

Hello everyone, my name is Thomas Paterniti (Discord: tpaterniti). I am planning to write a series of articles about various topics pertaining to player building, team building, and coaching. Hopefully you will find them interesting and useful. The ultimate goal is to improve the knowledge base of the community in all aspects of simulation football, which I truly believe will increase both the strategic element of the game (teams will win by employing better strategy rather than simply by having fundamental knowledge that others lack) as well as the overall quality of games. Hopefully, when readers feel they understand more about what they see happening on the field, they will get even more “hooked” on the league as well!
My credentials, briefly, are that I won 2 championships as an owner and coach with the Minneapolis Maulers, a now-disbanded team, and I have coached two other very successful organizations still in the league today; the Tallahassee Pride for a season, and the Baltimore Crabs/Vultures, where I am currently a co-owner.

The Vultures currently sit at 8-3, fighting with Queen City for supremacy in the Eastern Conference.

I was also a high school football coach for 3 years. I began as a WR/DBs coach with scouting responsibilities, then moved to O-line, and ultimately was named assistant head coach. I plan to make the articles relevant to the time of year in the SFL, so there will be some on player building, some on team building, and some more technical articles on playcalling and gameplanning strategy. With all that said, let’s get started!

Player Building
In football, there’s a saying: “It ain’t about the X’s and O’s, it’s about the Jimmies and Joes”. If you don’t have great players, the plays you call can only accomplish so much. This edition of Coach’s Corner is therefore aimed at discussing the strategy surrounding making a good rookie player.

The Basics: Attributes vs. Animations
Every player “build” consists of two components: attributes (e.g. speed, agility, stamina, strength”) and animations (special abilities that may allow a player to make circus catches, or break tackles more easily, or make bone-jarring hits). Solid attributes are the core of every good player, but animations can add that extra “oomph” to a player that makes them very effective or extremely difficult to defend. You can practice building your player at https://simulationfl.net/player-builder/ . Just select the position you want to build in the drop down box, and go to town! You will see that every player has major attributes, which contribute most to his success on the field and are more expensive (i.e. they add a lot to the player’s overall ranking), and minor attributes, which are less impactful and less expensive. Each player also has “high value animations”, which are very impactful to a player’s build and tend to be very expensive, and “low value animations”, which are less impactful and less expensive, but still more expensive than adding attributes.

Indianapolis quarterback Tom Pepper is a good example of a player who’s silver contract value is based around animations, with primary attributes such as ‘Pass Accuracy’ and ‘Pass Strength’ being at a base level.

The Basics: Tiers
Every player is given an overall rating based on the total value of his attributes and animations. This rating allows players to be grouped into tiers, which generally signifies how good of a player they are. The four tiers in the SFL are gold, silver, bronze, and copper. The number that corresponds to each tier is different for each position, and is always higher for high impact positions. What this means is that a very good wide receiver will have an overall rating in the 90s whereas a very good linebacker will have an overall rating in the 70s. The reason this is done is because teams have a total rating cap that they must get under (it was 890 this past offseason), and weighting positions differently reflects the different impact a very good player at that position has on a team’s performance (e.g. a very good receiver contributes much more to a team’s success than a very good ‘backer, so a very good WR has a higher overall rating than a very good LB). Make no mistake, however, even copper and bronze level players can make a significant impact on team success. Free Safety Giovanni Bolt leads the league in INTs as a bronze player, for example.

St. Louis’ strong safety Ethan Kye is another player who has excelled on a modest contract. The rookie has nearly 100 tackles to his name and 7 interceptions

The Basics: Progression
Every player is able to progress during the season and either improve his attributes, add animations, or do some combination of both. You “earn” progression by playing in games and by contributing bits during Twitch broadcasts, and you indicate each week what you wish to add (or if you are saving progression) in your team’s “player changes” channel on Discord. Each week you have three options: you can either save your progression for a greater benefit later, you can add an attribute point or points, or you can add an animation. The higher your tier, the slower your training. So copper and bronze players are able to add something each week if they earn progression. Silver players can add something every other week at minimum if they wish, and gold players can add something every third week. Again, for most tiers, waiting and saving progression yields a greater benefit.

Strategy: Attributes vs. Animations, Tiers, and Progression
So should you add animations early or not? This depends on many factors. Certainly, sacrificing attributes to add three or more animations is a bad idea. Your player will be highly rated because of the animations he has, but will not play up to his rating because of his low attributes. The question becomes increasingly thorny in the area of adding one or two animations. On one side of the debate, for most positions animations are “icing on the cake” – they elevate a good player to great, they turn a superstar into an unstoppable force. So you must think to yourself, If I have a receiver who is not fast, not agile, and doesn’t have great catching or route running attributes, how effective will giving him three high value animations make him? The answer is “More effective than he would have been otherwise, but not as effective as a player with fewer animations but higher attributes.” There is a point of equivalence where lower attributes + more animations = higher attributes + fewer animations, but this is subjective and each player, owner, and coach must decide for themselves where this point is.
On the other side of the debate is the “lynchpin” idea, which states that certain animations are critical for a player to be effective at all. There are certain positions, notably running back, where certain abilities seem to dramatically improve the player’s performance and make them very effective, whereas they were only moderately effective before. If you feel that this is the case for your player, you could make a good argument for adding one or two animations early. On the whole I would say, when in doubt, add attributes first and animations later.

Tallahassee have done a great job in developing Jaye Eniola from Season 10 through to the end of Season 11. Eniola has gone from a solid, mid-tier ‘back to the premier standard in running the ball

What is the impact of making a mistake by adding too many animations early? Remember that animations tend to be expensive, in the sense that they greatly increase your player’s overall rating. That means they are likely to bump your player into a tier higher than his ability to perform on the field. For example, a wide receiver who has attributes commensurate with a bronze player who then adds three high value animations may end up with a gold overall rating, but he will not play like a gold; rather he will play more like a bronze or low-level silver player. More importantly, since progression is dependent on a player’s tier, a gold player will not be able to progress very fast and will find it difficult to improve his attributes over the course of a season. Usually it is better to emphasize attributes first, start at a lower tier, and add animations over the course of a season. Keep in mind, however, that each offseason owners must “get under the cap”, which means your owner may at the end of the season ask your player to drop an animation they added, or drop some attribute points in order to keep the roster below the cap.

Closing Thoughts
I hope this was a useful introduction to player building from a coach’s and owner’s standpoint. I am planning future articles focused on specific positions (e.g. “Better Know a Position: QB”) where I can get more into the nitty-gritty of each position. So get excited about chatting, “bitting”, and making the next SFL superstar! #loadinglegends