ZenGM Hockey Manual
ZenGM Hockey is a completely free sports management simulation game. You are the general manager of a hockey team, tasked with building your roster to compete for a championship while managing your finances. As of now, your goal can be whatever you want: winning the most championships, making the most profit, developing players from rookies to stars, etc. You can make an unlimited number of different leagues from the dashboard, each one with a different set of random players.
From within a league, the most important user interface element is the Play Menu, which you can access with the big green Play button at the top of the screen. Any context-dependent action, like playing a game or moving from one phase to another, is done from the Play Menu. Everything else about the user interface should (hopefully) be self-explanitory.
Each season of the game is divided into several phases:
- Preseason. Players develop/age (i.e. their ratings change). Young players tend to get better, old players tend to get worse.
- Regular season. Regular season games are played, at the pace you choose through the Play menu.
- Playoffs. Teams that made the playoffs progress through the bracket until a champion emerges.
- Draft lottery. After the playoffs end, the draft order is set with a lottery.
- Draft. Teams pick players to add to their rosters from all the young players entering the league.
- Re-sign players. Before free agency starts, you get the opportunity to re-sign your players with expiring contracts. Some players may refuse to re-sign, based on your team success, facilities spending, city size, and difficulty.
- Free agency. Players who are not re-signed become free agents and teams can sign them.
League rules are generally similar to the NHL, but simplified.
You can customize many of the league rules by going to Tools > God Mode within a league.
The salary cap is $80 million. This is a hard cap, meaning that if you are over the salary cap, you cannot sign any more players. However, to make it so you don't get yourself stuck without a full roster, you are always allowed to sign free agents to minimum contracts ($500k)
There is also a minimum salary limit of $60 million. If you are below this limit, then you have to pay a penalty equal to the difference between your payroll and the limit.
There is currently no minor league, but the default roster size is larger than the NHL to allow you to keep prospects on your team while waiting for them to develop.
The maximum contract amount is $13 million per year and the maximum contract length is 5 years.
The minimum contract amount is $500 thousand per year and the minimum contract length is 1 year (or, until the end of the season, if the season is already in progress).
When a contract expires, you have the opportunity to negotiate a new contract with the player. If you don't come to an agreement, the player becomes a free agent.
Rookie contracts are not guaranteed until the regular season starts. That means if you release them (from the Roster page) before the regular season, you don't have to pay their contract. For all other players, contracts are fully guaranteed, and a contract still counts against your budget and your salary cap even after releasing a player.
Each player has a combination of "mood traits" that influences how he views your team. This influences contract negotiation, both the probability that a player will negotiate with you, and the amount of money he asks for.
Player ratings for a variety of categories (stickhandling, checking, , etc.) are on a scale from 0-100. The whole scale is used, so a typical value for a rating is 50. Roughly, the overall ("ovr") player rating means:
- 90+: All-time great
- 80+: MVP candidate
- 70+: All League candidate
- 60+: Starter
- 50+: Role player
- 40+: Backup
- lower: Bad player or prospect
However, the overall ratings aren't a guarantee of performance. The particular mix of ratings plays into success, as do a player's teammates.
The potential ("pot") rating is also important. This is an estimate of the player's future overall rating. Just like in real life, most players never reach their potential, but some do reach it and some even exceed it. (Potential is calculated by simulating career arcs for a player and picking the 75th percentile ovr, so on average a player should exceed his pot 25% of the time.)
Also, you might notice that the height ("hgt") rating is not always proportional to the height in feet/inches of a player, because the hgt rating also includes wingspan and standing reach - basically how much a player's height/length impacts the game. The hgt rating is what's used in the simulations. The heights in feet/inches are just for show.
The displayed ratings are not the real ratings. They are estimates from your scouts. Increase the scouting budget to see more accurate ratings. This is a gradual effect over 3 seasons; you don't instantly see more accurate ratings by increasing spending.
Finally, little symbols you see next to a player's name like PmPwGES represent the key skills a player has. This is designed so that you can just glance at a player and easily take in that information. It has no impact on gameplay. A player who barely misses getting a skill symbol will be about the same as a player who barely gets it.
To see what a symbol means, hover your mouse over it or consult this list:
- Pm: Playmaker
- Pw: Power
- G: Grinder
- E: Enforcer
- S: Sniper
Go to Team > Lines to see your lines. There are 4 lines of forwards (1 center and 2 wingers in each line) and 3 lines of defensemen (2 players in each line). Your top lines play the most, but all of your lines will play in every game, so depth is very important. Any skaters outside of your lines will only be used if there is an injury.
For goalies, typically only one goalie will play an entire game. However it is important to have depth at goalie too, because you backup goalie will play roughly 1/3 of the games in the regular season.
You can do crazy things if you want, like putting a goalie on as a forward. Just don't expect that to go well! You can also auto-sort your lines, which is the default setting.
There is no real way to "win" at ZenGM Hockey. The game never ends. Your goal may be to win as many games as possible, or to make as much money as possible, or to draft a player and win him as many championships as possible, or anything else you can think of.
Regardless of your goal, you probably want to win some games. And there are also multiple ways to do that! Think of how NHL teams are run. Tanking is a viable strategy, but risky because your draft picks might be busts. Freeing up salary cap space to sign a big free agent can work, but if your team performance suffers too much, a star might not want to sign with you. Veterans can be available for cheap, but their abilities may decline rapidly. Ultimately, it's up to you to find the best strategy to meet your goals!
By default, all players are completely randomly generated. You might be able to find some custom rosters people have made on Reddit. You can also make your own: click here for more info about custom rosters.
Advanced League Editing in the Worker Console
If you run into a problem, please see the debugging instructions for more info.
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