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The "Next Month" Screen
If you click on the calendar button at the top left, you will get to see some boxing action or move to the next month. I've scheduled fights for both of my boxers as you can see on the right:
The left side gives you some details about yourself and how well you're doing as a manager. Your skills are at the top. Supposedly they can have minor changes throughout your career, but I'm not convinced. Underneath you can see what kind of fights you're having, wins by KO, TKO, judges decisions, and things like that. You'll eventually be getting title shots and it keeps track of how many championships your boxers win and defend.
The "Go" button will take you to the next month of your career, but you cannot do it unless all scheduled fights have been accomplished. You go to the fights on the right side, and you may do them in any order that you wish. You don't have to do them all at once, you can have a fight and switch back to other things, then come back and finish your fights, because it's all in the same month.
On the left side of a scheduled fight you see the icon that looks like an eye. If you choose that, you will play the match interactively, you get to make decisions between rounds about what your fighter does, as well as see how he's doing as the match progresses. If you choose the icon with the computer monitor on it, you will instantly simulate the match and you simply get the results.
Which is better? Most of the time interactive mode is the right one, although it makes the game last a lot longer (be prepared for many hours to accomplish even one career). In interactive mode you can react to your fighter and help change the outcome of the fight. If he needs to back off and fight defensively, you can arrange for it to hopefully keep him from getting KOed. If you just get the instant result, that decision might have been different and all you get is the loss. You can improve your fighter's morale in interactive mode, while with a result it will always remain the same.
So in my book it is only good to start simulating matches at a certain point. When your boxer is already happily motivated and he has a very good chance of beating his opponent, that's when you want to be simulating matches. Otherwise you'll be much safer making every little decision yourself.
Let's Get it On!
I have chosen the interactive mode for Heggadon's 10 rounder, so we are brought to the round screen:
You get a lot of information about how your fighter is doing and how he is going to fight, so let's go over them. On the left you see your fighter's health in individual areas, the eyes, nose, mouth, and torso. As he gets hit in his various parts, they will start to go down, the bar underneath will start erasing towards the more ominous colors and the pictures will change to show the damage. As they get close to red your fighter becomes likely to suffer a TKO on account of the referee, because he won't want your fighter to be irreparably damaged. So if they are getting dangerous, you'll want to step back and have some defensive rounds so he can recuperate.
To the right you see the Boxer Condition, which is a summation of his fitness and morale. He will be able to fight regardless of where they are, but higher is of course better. Fitness can actually be raised during a fight if your doctor works on him and he doesn't get too much. It'll go lower if he gets hit a lot and your doctor can't keep up. Morale will go up if you work on motivating your boxer, and at this time doesn't come down unless he has a tragedy in his life.
Below that you have your options for what you do in between rounds, where your boxer will aim to hit his opponent, his aggressiveness, and whether you will focus on motivation or healing your fighter.
The top is his strategy – will he go to the body, head, or try to hit anywhere? You will generally change strategies throughout the fight, depending on how much you hurt your opponent and how many rounds there are. The first round is usually a feeling-out type of round, since you haven't fully sized up your opponent. I recommend starting with either body punching or mixed. The old formula for boxing is that if you go to the body, the head will eventually come to you. Headhunting is good in the late rounds, especially if you can damage him and get the ref to stop the fight. However, individual fights may need slightly different strategies. Mixed is the safest way to go, I often spend most of a fight on mixed and then switch to headhunting. Another strategy is four or five rounds of body, a couple rounds of mixed, then finish with the head.
Fighting style is next. You can have him fight in an offensive manner, defensive, or with movement. Fighting aggressively will cause him to hit his opponent more, but will also mean that he gets hit more, plus it uses the most energy. Unless your boxer has a world-class chin and plenty of energy, he probably can't be aggressive for an entire fight.
Defensive fighting has him pick his spots to punch, dealing less damage but also taking less. Defensive fighting is good when you need a round or two to recover energy and patch up the wounds. If you're fighting someone who really can't mount an offense, you can sometimes cruise through a fight staying defensive, working on health and motivation. I usually start a fight with a defensive round unless I could tell that my fighter is going to outclass his opponent. You don't want him coming in from the first round nearly finished off, it might take several rounds to recover, costing you the fight. If you're going to lose, you might as well lose with the least amount of damage dealt to your boxer. Besides, who knows if your opponent gets sloppy, you might catch a break.
Fighting with movement would be called "running" in real life, but there are times when it's the only way to avoid being knocked out. Your boxer will try to avoid his opponent and will only throw a few punches in the round. Unless he scores a flash knockdown he is likely to lose the round, but it might get him enough of a rest to continue fighting. If the opponent is a lot faster than your boxer, this tactic might not work at all,
The bottom button is for motivating or healing your boxer. If you choose incite, his morale will rise a bit but the doctor will do nothing for him. If he has a rough round it'll cost him dearly in his health, but he'll be fighting a little bit better. If he doesn't get hit a lot, his health will stay about the same and you'll have won the gamble. If you choose heal, he'll get the best medical coverage, but his motivation will remain as is. Normal will accomplish about nothing in my estimation, attempting to do a bit of healing and a little motivating. Don't bother with it.
Your choice here will have tremendous effect on your boxer. You need to get his motivation all the way up, but not at cost to his health. If you have a relatively easy fight for your boxer, a combination of defensive fighting and motivation will help him to gain his morale while still winning. If he's in tougher fights you can alternate healing for two rounds and inciting for one round so that he will slowly gain in motivation. It will probably take a few fights to get him to the top of his morale, while it takes only a couple rounds to wreak his health. Once his morale is at its best, leave it on heal permanently unless something happens to break his morale.
The middle of the screen is where you can see estimates of the scores, what round is going to be next, and your choices for watching the fight. The ring girl never changes or gets prettier, sorry.
Note: There will be some fights when your fighter just doesn't have it. For all the skills and motivation, he just won't be able to bring it like other times. It's part of life, and you have to hope he can overcome his lousy night.
Watching the fight in normal mode shows you the ring and lets you watch the fighters move around and swing, which is more entertaining. Watching the fight as text gives you a commentary on their punches and any psychological advantages one fighter may have. Here is a view of normal mode:
When you're watching the fight the only thing you can do is speed up or slow down the simulation, your fighter is on his own. On the left you get to watch the guys duke it out, you see their swings, connects, misses, and where they are in the ring. Lighter guys will be smaller, heavier guys will be bigger. When someone is hit, the number of damage floats up from his body of the same color as he is. You can see here that my blue fighter took 5 damage from the last punch.
Below that is your "expert" commentator who says useless things, much the way people often think of real-life boxing commentators.
The right side gives you all the information about what's happening in the ring, and finally you get to see just how good or bad your opponent really is. Your fighter is always blue and on the right, your opponent is always red and on the left.
At the top you see the punch tallies and knockdowns in the round. The top figure with a white flash is the number of swings and misses the fighter has thrown. Below it with the yellow flash is the number of connects. The bottom with a green arrow is the number of times he has been knocked down in the round. Expect to see a lot more misses than hits, for even the best of the pros only get about a 50% connect rate.
Below that is the bell with a red bar going across. This shows you how must time is left in the round, remember it goes for three minutes.
Below this is the summation of skills for each fighter, you can see that they are actually fairly evenly matched. The first set is indicated by lightning and is the boxer's punching ability; the average of his strength and technique. The heart shows his chin and is his overall strength and endurance. The shoe is his speed, the quickness and agility.
As punches are thrown and damage is dealt, all of these head down over the course of the fight. There is some rejuvenation after a knockdown and between rounds, but they will have an ultimate shift towards zero. The chin rating is the toughest to read, because a fighter can be knocked down with seemingly plenty of energy left. If he's hit just right a flash knockdown can occur, and he may run out of energy for the round while still having long-term stamina. When it gets low, however, expect an imminent knockout. Occasionally a big punch will just drain a fighter like happens in real life, adding excitement to the match.
Once you know how your fighters match up, you can make better decisions about what to do. The question marks from when you were arranging the fight have been replaced with real knowledge of your opponent's skills.
Down at the bottom you have the arrows to choose how fast the round moves, it simply speeds the whole thing up. I find the fastest setting to be the best, as it can really drag at slower speeds.
I have finished the round, let's see what we have now:
You can see that I took the calculated risk in inciting my boxer for the first round, and because not a lot of punches were thrown I got away with it. The fitness has gone down a bit, but the morale has gone up a little so I will now need to switch to healing to avoid him getting hurt. His eyes and nose took just a bit of damage but nothing major.
Now you can see the scoring for the round and the entire fight. Since it was an even round, we got 10-10. Consider this to be an estimate and not set in stone. Close fights will be draws or split-decision victories or losses. The best way to make sure you win is to see at least a four point difference by the last round, or of course, score a knockout. The judges will disagree with you from time to time about how a round went, but their view is what counts. Overall they tend to get the scoring right as the fight progresses.
Now let us view a round in text only:
You now get to read everything that happens, including the psychological factors. About halfway down you can see that the opponent seems to fear my boxer, which is a good sign. You have to click after the round is done in this mode, giving you extra time to assess your situation. Both guys are a bit worn down, but mine is holding up a little better. Both landed 5 punches, but my fighter threw more often. He should probably get the round because of his aggression. Let's see if I'm right:
Yes I am right, he took the round. However as I sat here writing I forgot to switch to heal and have paid the price in fitness. I'll play out the fight for a bit to see what I can show you.
In the fifth round my fighter scored a knockdown, although the opponent was not badly hurt and got up again:
Now comes a fun decision. If I switch to aggressive fighting, I may very well get the knockout next round. But because my fighter is also hurting, he could get knocked out himself for the effort. Because my fighter is in control of the fight in terms of scoring, I will stay conservative.
My fighter faded in the second half though, and entered the last round needing a big finish to win. I switched to aggressive fighting and paid the price, he got knocked out after a beautiful flurry from his opponent. Had I stayed conservative I probably would have at least pulled a draw.
When the fight is over you get returned to the "Next month" screen where you can do the other fights, move up a month, or switch to other screens.
When you switch months you generally get a tip, a warning of an expiring contract, or a random event. The events don't happen very often, you have two good ones and two bad ones. Sometimes you get an anonymous donation, and occasionally a boxer increases his potential skills a bit. Other times a boxer has an accident and his health bottoms out, forcing you to wait a few months before he can fight again. Or his girlfriend may break up with him and his morale drops to zilch, so you have to work him back up.
Careers last a long time, I believe until you are 55.
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