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Football Manager Live

The latest hot stuff on SI's MMO - and win a beta key!

PC Gamer have secured 3000 keys for the Football Manager Live Beta and it's your chance to get an early play of what looks set to be one of the biggest MMOs around.

To win a beta key, click yourself this way to the competition.

We've been playing in Gameworld Three of the FML Beta since late November, and PC Gamer UK FC currently boast a formidable frontline of Adriano and Cassano, with a spine of Aquilani and Alex.

It's taken plenty of thrifty saving to assemble this team and some old-fashioned good luck, mainly down to being online at the right time when people wanted to sell players in positions we were looking to fill.

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We play a tweaked Christmas tree formation or a 442 depending on the opposition and whether we're home or away, and the squad is short on real quality with back up to the first team provided by players drafted in from our youth squad.

You can, of course, play whatever formation and tactics you like - use a sweeper, do a Brazil '70 - but it helps to have the right players for the positions, something which may dictate your tactics early on.

Competition for players is fierce and the scouring of the gameworld for suitable additions never stops. Auctions can be tense affairs as you wait for them close, nervously hoping no-one will swoop in and outbid you. Private bids and loan deals can help take the uncertainty out of the process, but searching and haggling for players soon becomes one of FML's chief pleasures.

Whilst tactics and player acquisition are two parts of the FML trinity, it's the third that brings them together and the one that really gets the pulse racing - the matches themselves. Whether challenging available gamers in the lobby to a friendly, blooding youths in an under-21 match, or competing for honours, there's always something to play for.

Reading the game, through a combination of stats screens and simply watching the 2D matches closely, should start to show both teams' strengths and weaknesses, and you can adjust your tactics accordingly to chase a result or hold on to a lead, everything you'd expect from the ebb and flow a football match.

A recent addition to the Beta has been the learning of skills. This RPG touch gives you five broad categories of skills to choose from - Coaching, Scouting, Physiotherapy, Management and Learning - each of which, once selected take anywhere from 40 minutes to nearly a month of actual time to learn.

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There are multiple levels to every skill too and they unlock further skills which can, say, provide training boosts to improve individual attributes, help your players recover from specific injuries quicker, and increase the number of players you can 'see' in the database.

Ultimately, it's your fellow gamers that truly make the FML experience, though, with 6-0-6-style banter in the chat rooms, sporting (and not so sporting) comments during matches, transfer negotiations, and even helpful souls who give noobs tactical pointers.

And as the Gameworld you'll be playing in will be rich with PC Gamer readers, they're sure to be people of the highest pedigree because, well, you are, aren't you?

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