Private Leagues: Yes
* Free to play
* Despite that, there’s a prize pot including £15,000 to the winner.
* Easy private league setup
* Teams can enter up to 5 mini leagues
* No cap on players from individual clubs creates unrealistic and “block” teams
* Initial Formation choice set for entire season
Thankfully the rules have gone through a series of changes for the 2008-09 season with almost all areas of the scoring system get some attention.
As always you must select 11 players for your side, although this season you can also select a substitute which gets swapped in if one of your players fails to take the field in a given week. For this season, The Metro have done away with the idea of choosing a manager that scores points for you – a good thing.
Like previous seasons you have to choose a formation from 4-4-2, 5-3-2, 4-3-5 or 3-5-2 . Your chosen formation is set in stone for the entire season. You can then make 4 transfers per month once the season is underway but cannot shift your formation. Transfers are limited to 16 before December 29th, after which you are given another 16 transfers.
The scoring system remains a little complicated. Despite the fact that you no longer score points for a manager, players still earn points for victories and draws by their real-life teams. So any player (who plays) and achieves victory with their club scores you 3 points, with 1 point awarded if they draw. You also get 2 points for any player completing 90 minutes and 1 point for a player coming off or on before 90 minutes.
Elsewhere, this game has introduced points for assists for the first time with 3 points being awarded for a “key contribution”. As for goals – Keepers and Defenders get 10 points per goal, midfielders 8 and Forwards 5 points. Clean sheets offer 4 points to defenders and keepers – a big increase on previous seasons.
Points are deducted from Keepers and Defenders for goals conceded as you would expect. The game has also altered it’s point deductions for ill discipline, with 2 points deducted for bookings and 5 points for red cards. It used to be 3 and 10 points in previous seasons.
This is also the latest game to introduce the concept of a Captain. As in other games, your elected captain scores you double points for a given gameweek. Unlike the Fantasy Premier League game however, you can’t change your captain each week. Instead you are limited to 5 captain changes before December 29th and 5 after that date.
Points are scored for matches in the English Premiership and the FA Cup.
The Metro Game has gone through a vast number of rule changes for the 2008-09 season – most of which are beneficial.
The removal of the manager from the scoring system is a good thing as is the inclusion of a sub that automatically gets swapped into your side. Strangely, while this will help the more casual fantasy manager, the inclusion of Captain scoring you double points actually contradicts this by rewarding “hands on” management. Even though a captain can only be changed 10 times over the season, that’s enough to give those more attentive managers the edge.
The fundamentals of the scoring system have also been improved having a major impact on the balance of the game. There are bigger rewards for clean sheets for defenders and keepers and the inclusion of key contributions makes a big difference. Previously this game was very biased towards goalscorers but with key contributions and a bigger reward for clean sheets, suddenly wingers and defenders can offer a lot more.
Another major plus is that the classification of players has improved greatly for the 2008-09 season. In previous years this game has suffered from some serious anomalies in terms of misclassified players. This season however, I’m struggling to see a major blooper. In addition, the player list is now available as a sortable table rather than a clunky text file. A massive and long overdue improvement.
There are still some concerns I have with this game however. The overall balance is still upset by the fact that all players get points for their real-life teams victories and draws. It’s one of the few games to include such a system and in my view it adds a bias towards players from the big four clubs. This combined with the lack of a cap on the number of players you can select from each team, creates a lot of block teams – teams made up of 6 or 7 players from one club. It also means that peripheral players at the big clubs like Darren Fletcher, actually become decent buys, which I’m struggling to come to terms with.
Also, despite a further and very welcome increase in the number of allowed transfers to 4 per month, the game still puts a little too much emphasis initial team selection, particularly when your formation is set for the season. The designers should really look to remove this restriction to open up the flexibility available for managers that little bit more.
In conclusion, there’s no doubt that the Metro game has taken major strides this season. It feels more balanced in terms of its scoring system, it’s included a substitute to help casual players and has vastly improved its player list in terms of classification and accessibility. As I’ve mentioned, there are still some issues to be ironed out but there’s no getting away from the fact that this game is now a decent option, particularly for private league play. For solo play meanwhile, it’s one of the only free games to offer a prize pot for the winner. That alone, makes it worth consideration as a second or third option for your fantasy football attention span this season.