One of the new features of GD 3.0 is the "advanced" settings, which give coaches much more controlover getting the right players on the field. However, it can be intimidating and first, and it seems at first glance to be a rather complicated process. It's not really, once you understand the process flow. To turn on Advanced mode, go to the Coaching Menu, choose the Coaching 101 tab, and scroll all the way to the bottom.

It CAN be time-consuming, even when you do understand the process. Fortunately, most of the heavy lifting only has to be done one time, which you can do during the recruiting season. The first piece of advice I'll offer is to NOT try to do all your playbooks at once. THAT would be a mind-numbing exercise. Do one, take a break from it, and come back and do another.

The second piece of advice is to think about what you want to do ahead of time, and perhaps make a list ahead of time of the kinds of playbooks you want. On offense, you might have these game plans:
1) BASE - for use against SimAI teams
2) West Coast - a short-medium passing game
3) Smash Mouth - a more traditional running game
4) Chew Up the Clock - for when I have the lead late in a game
5) Two Minute Drill - for when I need to come from behind in a close game
6) Blowout - play the scrubs

And on Defense you might look something like this:
1) Balanced D
2) Stop the Run - sell out to stop the run
3) Prevent - drop everyone back in coverage
4) Blitz - pass oriented but bringing more pressure
5) Blowout - play the scrubs

As you think about each game plan, think about the kind of plays you want to use in each one. If you have an idea in your head about what you want before you get started the process will flow much quicker and easier.

In this tutorial, we'll set up the BLOWOUT playbook on offense, and we'll look at another offensive playbook that uses the same formation in multiple ways. The process of creating a playbook is the same, no matter how many different formations you want to include.

Position roles are really nothing more than advanced depth charts, and if you are creative with them, you can come up with all kinds of ways to make use of them. You don't HAVE to set up formulas in the different position roles, but it will make filling out depth charts faster if you do. I'll explain that a bit more in the next section, which covers depth charts.

The default formulas are an OK starting point. I like the GUESS settings better (obviously) but you may have your own formulas. If you haven't looked at the position roles yet, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with them, and think about where you would want to use each role. We're going to save the USER1 role for our special case, the Blowout playbooks, so you don't really need to put a different formula there unless you want to do so.

Here's as good a place as any to make a couple of notes about how the game works. First, there's no concept of left / right, or strong side / weeak side as far as the game engine is concerned. It's either Inside or Outside, Middle or Sideline. So there's no need to worry about putting your best OL at left tackle. Which leads to the second note - the offensive line plays as a unit. While there are position roles for T and G/C, there is at current no functional difference in how these positions are used. For the OL, there are really three ways to rate it - Pass Blocking, Outside Run Blocking, and Inside Run Blocking. Pass blocking uses BLK more than STR. Run Blocking uses more STR than BLK, and for outside runs, ATH takes a higher role. To take advantage of this knowledge you could set up your OL postition role rating to be based on a pass blocking formula, the T role to be based on outside runs, and the G/C to be based on inside runs. (You can use them in any order of course, but this makes it easier to remember how you've set them up - Tackles are on the outside = outside running, G/C on the inside = inside running.)

Depth Charts and Custom Formations are the keys to getting the most out of the new engine. Used in combination, they give you unprecedented control over which players are on the field, where you want to target your passes, and who you want to target. Whether you've entered your own formulas, or are using the default ones, you can sort on the ratings generated by them to help adjust your depth charts. Just click on the column header to sort by that rating.

Unlike previous versions of GD, all players at a position can (and should) go into the depth chart for each position role. What I normally do is click the option to SAVE RECS ALL, and then adjust as needed. As mentioned earlier, we are going to set up a playbook to use during blowouts, so we will use the USER1 depth chart and put our players in reverse order. We'll create a custom formation next that uses this depth chart, and then put that formation into a playbook for use in a gameplan.

This is the point where the real work begins. Even though our blowout playbook is only needs to use a single formation, we're going to look at multiple ones here, because that's where you really start to exercise control over your players. The first decision of course - one that you should have made back in your planning stage - is which formations to include. For this exercise, we're going to go with I-Formation.

Go to Formations, select I-Formation, and click New. Here you can enter a set name ('Blowout') and we'll set each position to it's respective 'User 1'. As you make each selection, you'll see the image of the formation change with the updated depth chart. Also to note, while we're here: the numbers for Rushing and Passing set the distribution for who is the ball carrier (for running plays) or the initial target in each zone (for passing plays.) In this example, you can see that for medium zone passes, RB1 will get the first look 20% of the time, WR1 will get the look 40% of the time, and WR2 will be targeted first 40% of the time. It's important to note the Blocking checkbox, for TE and RB2. If these are checked, they will ALWAYS stay in to block, will NEVER catch a pass (from this custom formation) even if the distribution is set to target them first 100% of the time. The "In" and "Out" for blocking, as far as I know, are not really used in the game engine and can bee ignored. (You can't change them anyway!)

So how is this so powerful, you might ask. I won't go through the set up of each one, since it's the same thing as described above, but here's a look at the Pro Set formations I use for the "Base vs Sims" playbook under my alternate account. As you can see, one is designated Passing, another Speed Rush, and the third Power Rush. Notice the different personnel sets - position roles - used in each one. I have modified the passing distribution on the Pro:Set Passing formation but not the others, because in this case, I don't plan to pass out of the other two sets. Also to note Blocking is not set for TE or FB in either of the two Rush sets - the TE is running a route. I *believe* RB2 is still blocking, but I will update this once I hear back from WIS. (No, you can't keep both RB in to block - maybe in a future release if enough people ask for it.) Also note that I changed the Rushing Distribution for my Speed Rush formation to 100% RB1 - since this is going to be used for outside runs, I want to make sure my speed guy gets the ball all the time.

Now that we have our formations in place, it's time to put them in a playbook. The playbook determines how often and in what situations plays are called. This really isn't much different than it was in previous versions of the game, but we'll run through it quickly.

Go to Playbooks, and at the bottom you'll see an option to Create New. You can also import your 2.0 playbooks, or Edit/Copy an existing playbook, but that's beyond the scope of this tutorial. Click the Create New button, and you'll see a screen that looks like this:

We'll enter the name ('Blowout') and a Description if you want. I usually give the playbooks descriptive names so that I don't have to put much in the Description box, but it's up to you. I'll just put in "Play the Scrubs" so that it's clear what the playbook is used for.

There's a tab for each down, and three "situations" based on yardage and field position. I normally re-define Long / Medium / Short because long yardage on first down is completely different from what I would consider long yardage on third down. It looks like a lot to have to fill in, but there's some shortcuts to make it simpler. Also, notice the "(Manage)" next to the Set - that's a link that will open the formations page in a new tab or window.

For our Blowout Playbook, we're going to use the one formation we created earlier. Obviously for most game situations you're going to want a mix of plays and formations, so I'll show you some of the settings I use in the "Base vs SimAI" playbook I mentioned before. For now, under the first Set in the Long section, choose our custom formation, I-F: Blowout. Because it's a blowout, I don't really care to adjust the run/pass ratio here, or the pass length settings, but for a "normal" game plan I would probably want to tweak these. (You'll see examples in the Base playbook when I show that to you later.) Since we're only going to use the one set, clear the check box for Active on the other two sets. Currently you can't enter any percentages on how often you want a particular set to be used in each down and distance. If you have all three sets populated, then there's a 1 in 3 chance it will be used. You can do some things to weight this, for example using only two sets to make it 50-50, or using the same set twice to make it 2 out 3.

Notice the two boxes under our Set dropdown. The one on the left copies the settings for this entry, and the one on the right pastes whatever is in memory (if anything). So, to save time, we'll click the Copy under Long, and the Paste under the Medium and Short sets to paste those settings (which you could still tweak afterwards if you want. Note that you have to do each of the three available plays separately - you can't just copy the whole "Long" section and put it into "Medium". Once you've finished the first down, you can copy the entire down settings (see the boxes on the right side of the page even with the "down" tabs) and paste them into second, third, and fourth downs. Again, for this particular playbook, that's all that required, but in a real playbook, even if you want to keep the same formations in use, you'll likely want to adjust some of the settings. Once you have all four downs set up, click Save All at the bottom of the page, and your Playbook is ready to use in a game plan.

However, let's take a look at a more "realistic" playbook, to see how our different formations can be put to use. Here's that 'Base vs SimAI' setting for First and Long.

Note the Rush/Pass distributions are extreme, you probably won't want to use settings like this normally. But as you can see, I've set up this situation where I pass always out of my Pro:Passing custom set, I run Inside always on my Pro:Power Rushing set, and run Outside always on my Pro:Speed set. I always have the personnel set up to do what they excel at on each call.

Here's the play set for 3rd and Medium from the same playbook.

Notice I am using Trips, but I'm just using the default formation. I haven't modified this in any way, so it's using the "Base" position roles for all players. It's mostly a pass set, but there's a bit of running tossed in to keep things honest.

The Playbooks are all ready, so now it's time to implement them. Game plans allow us to put in the plays we want to run, depending on the situation. You have one game plan when you're ahead late, and another when you're behind. This is how you set it up.

As you can see by the image shown, I've set up several game plans for specific situations.

The first is our main plan, Base vs SimAI. I've set up a plan that runs the "Base" playbook most of the time, another designed for chewing up the clock when I have the lead, and another that passes all the time when I'm behind. I have another plan that's more passing oriented, but doesn't abandon the run, for when I'm trailing at the start of the second and fourth quarter, and the blowout plan we created earlier. On the defensive tab (not shown) I'll have a base plan, a stop the run plan for when I'm behind, and a stop the pass plan for when I'm ahead. Add in a defensive "blowout" plan and we're set up!

As you develop your custom formations and playbooks, you'll find yourself using some of the elements over and over. That's what's great about this system, it's really building blocks that let you take little pieces and turn them into bigger ones.

I hope this has been helpful. Feedback is welcome. If something isn't clear, or needs further expanding, please let me know and we'll see what we can do to help.