Marking players can have a big impact on the game and the coach that can utilise it the best way during a game will often benefit greatly. It can dictate what your opponent likely can and can’t do, or at least attempt to do during their turns. The more predictable you can make their turns the better you can plan and deal with what they do. If you can see the likely strategy they will try to employ during their turn, then you can use your turn to make that as hard as possible, by forcing them to use players who wouldn’t be their first choice. Or you can force them to change plan completely, which they often won’t be in a position to easily do. This is something that applies to both the offence and defensive sides of the ball. Knowing how to best mark players out of the game, will allow you to be aware of how to best position your players to stop the reverse happening to you.
This is something that you are probably already doing anyway without really thinking much about it. The very basic level of marking an opposing player simply involves moving one of your own players into base contact with theirs. That forces their player to either dodge away to where they are needed, or get blocked free by a team mate doing a block or blitz. If you hadn’t marked that player they would be free to do whatever they pleased without having to roll those extra dice. Any time you are forcing them to roll extra dice, it is an extra chance you are giving them to turnover.
Moving on from that somewhat simple explanation there are certain things you should look out for with regards to who you actually mark. The obvious drawback from marking opposing players is that they can just hit your player next turn if they wanted to. This means you need to consider why you are marking that player, what benefit it gives you and if you mind them hitting your player in return. Obviously you are pretty much always going to mind them hitting you, but does them hitting you give you a greater advantage in the game in terms of positioning and what both you and your opponent are able to do in the following turns.
Some players are also easier to mark than others, those with low agility (AG1 or AG2) are usually going to be stuck next to your player. Some may be stronger and have Break Tackle letting them get away, or are usually going to be better at blocking. Either because they are stronger, or because they have more blocking related skills. Average agility players (AG3) will also on the whole try and avoid dodging unless they really need to and have no better options. High agility players (AG4+) won’t usually care too much and if just marked by one of your players can usually move away fairly easily anyway. It still forces them into another dice roll which can fail though, so don’t disregard it. You can also make it harder for them by using more than one player to mark them with.
Why Are You Marking Them?
As I’ve mentioned already, marking a player gives them a chance to hit you, not so much of a problem if the player you are using to mark theirs is stronger, but most of the time this probably won’t be the case. There are a number of reasons why you would mark players and they vary depending on the type of player you are marking, pretty straight forward really. I already mentioned that marking a player will mean they have to roll a die in order to do anything, so in line with that the more players you mark, the more dice they will have to roll. Don’t over commit though and leave the overall position of your team in a weak situation just cause you wanted to mark all of theirs!
Keep Them Away From the Action:
This is usually the reason you mark the strong, slow and low agility players, often using someone of less use to your own team, like a Lineman. If you just run a Lineman up to them, sure they can hit your player, but they aren’t likely to dodge away and you also stop them moving somewhere more useful for his own team. If you can position your marking player away from where the action is heading as well, then if they follow up after blocking they are just getting further away from where they are most useful. They won’t always knock your player over which means if they didn’t follow up, you can either mark them again, or run off somewhere else you are needed (usually being able to outrun them as well). If you did get knocked down, then hopefully you can just stand up and mark them again, keeping them out of the action for yet another turn.
The trade off for marking their big hitting players in this way is that hopefully the rest of your team can better cope with playing against the rest of his team. If the opposing coach tries to keep the action around his better players until he can get them free and move the action along with them, then this isn’t bad either as it helped stall their progress down the pitch.
This situation also works for any player who has useful skills that they need to help with their blocking game. For example a Dwarf Lineman with Guard (or any low agility Guard player) being kept away from their team mates will render their Guard skill somewhat useless.
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