Playing the System: NHL 13 Forecheck Strategy Tutorial

Hey everyone, my name is Kory Wielenga and I’m an EA SPORTS Game Changer. Hockey is an incredibly fast game. NHL 13 does a great job in recreating the intensity and speed of the sport with True Performance Skating and gamers have done a great job adapting and learning the intricacies of the new engine.

With the game moving at such a quick pace, it’s easy to forget that strategies play a big role in how your team plays on the ice, even more so with NHL13. The dev team spent a large amount of development time building better A.I. and this is really noticeable when strategies are adjusted either using the new Build Your A.I. feature or on the fly using the D-Pad on your controller.

The problem with these strategies is that it can be tough to decide what strategy is best to use when you’re cycling through the various strategies in-game. In this blog, I’m going to break down each forecheck and and will talk about neutral zone strategies in part two.

Let’s start with forecheck strategies:

Weakside Lock

The name comes from the defenseman which is not directly involved in the actual pressure on the forecheck, but how the defenseman stays back to cover the weak point and essentially – locking out the zone.

When to use it: This is a fairly aggressive strategy. Want to show your opponent that you’re coming out strong? Use this at the very beginning of the 1st period – but let up on the pressure if you continue to turn the puck over. Down by 1 or 2 goals going into the 2nd period? This is an aggressive forecheck, which can leave you vulnerable – but it’s still safe to use when you’re also trying to stop the other team from running up the score.

1-2-2 Aggressive

The 1-2-2 implies that 1 forward will aggressively pursue the puck while the defensemen hang back behind center ice. The two remaining forwards will stagger their positioning in the neutral zone with one forward slightly outside the zone while the other is at center ice. This forecheck is meant to use the aggressive forward to force a breakout pass from the opposing team. The staggered forwards in the neutral zone attempt to force the neutral zone turnover, while the defensemen stay well back of the play to put a kink in the plans of any play that does make it through your forwards.

When to use it: This is an ideal forecheck to use throughout an entire game if you’re unsure of how to adjust your strategies to better stack up against other users online. It allows you to be somewhat aggressive but also doesn’t leave you wide open to odd-man rushes.

1-2-2 Passive

This is also a great forecheck to use when up by only a goal or two, and you want to pad your lead. It puts forwards on alert for turnovers, and tells your defense to hang back and watch for odd-man rushes.

Much like its aggressive cousin, the passive version of the 1-2-2 puts one forward in the zone to attack the puck carrier and force a breakout. The main difference between the two is that the more passive version tells the defense and the remaining two forwards to essentially ‘clog up’ the neutral zone and attempt to break up any attempted breakout from your opponent. Once again, the key to this strategy is to only control one player at a time during the forecheck and try not to drag any of your players out of position.

When to use it: If you’re up by one or two, this is a great way to frustrate the other team in their attempt to break out of their own zone. They may gain some momentum when they get through your aggressive forward, but the four remaining players in the neutral zone will be in position to oppose any breakout.

3-2

This is the most aggressive forecheck. Three forwards will attempt to completely stop your opponent from exiting their zone. This makes you extremely vulnerable to odd-man rushes, and it also brings your defense in very tight to the forecheck. This means if a speedy forward from the opposing team happens to get by, he can easily catch a defenseman in transition and get the step up on him. It’s a dangerous strategy to use, but it also can pay off. It puts an enormous amount of pressure on the team trying to leave their own zone, and it often causes them to make errant passes which can lead to quality scoring opportunities.

When to use it: Only use this if you are desperate for a goal. If you’ve pulled your goalie in an attempt to tie the game, this is the forecheck you want. When combined with the ‘Full Attack’ (Offensive Strategy) this is your best chance at getting a goal. It comes with a price, however, and remember that it leaves you extremely vulnerable and one slip up can most certainly lead to a goal by the other team.

In the next blog, we’ll be talking neutral zone strategies. Stay tuned! Visit the EA SPORTS Game Changers website for more tips and blogs.