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Unread 03-20-2017, 07:39 PM
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Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

This past weekend in the Northern Maryland District, I was drive coach for Team 612. We were the 2nd pick for the #1 seed alliance and were tasked with putting on an effective defense. After witnessing several alliances scoring 4 rotor matches we knew we had to find ways to block out the gear game.

Among other more traditional defensive play, we employed an interesting strategy and coined the term for it: "ball pitting", where we released the field hoppers, collected a significant number of balls into our 65-ball hopper, then ran the intake in reverse in front of the opposing alliance's gear intake zone and in front of opposing robots.

The results were amazing! Robots who relied on human player intake couldn't reach the gear ramps, floor-intake bots were getting balls jammed in their intakes (and gears rested on balls at awkward angles), and we managed to high-side robots onto balls and get them stuck for significant periods of match time. As a result, multiple semis and finals matches did not even see a 3rd rotor spinning and scores were kept low, resulting in out alliance winning the event!

Now to figure out how to prevent a team from doing it to us...
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Unread 03-20-2017, 07:44 PM
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Re: Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

Well if you have an intake yourselves, it can't happen to you. You can remove the ball pit by running around with your intake.
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Unread 03-20-2017, 07:47 PM
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Re: Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

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Originally Posted by seg9585 View Post
Now to figure out how to prevent a team from doing it to us...
Well, at the event we were at, a team got a G21 yellow card for employing this strategy.
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Unread 03-20-2017, 07:47 PM
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Re: Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

Is this legal, considering G21?
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Unread 03-20-2017, 07:47 PM
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Re: Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

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Originally Posted by pmattin5459 View Post
Well if you have an intake yourselves, it can't happen to you. You can remove the ball pit by running around with your intake.
Well sure, but a large number of robots have intakes on the opposite side of their gear mechanism (or do not have ball intakes since they did not take on a fuel approach)
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Unread 03-20-2017, 07:49 PM
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Re: Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

This is a very obvious violation of G21.

Quote:
G21. GAME PIECES: use as directed. ROBOTS may not deliberately use GAME PIECES, e.g.
GEARS, in an attempt to ease or amplify the challenge associated with other FIELD elements,
e.g. BOILERS, HOPPERS, or ROPES.
Violation: YELLOW CARD.
Also activating hoppers to make loading harder has been around since week one Purposefully shoving balls into their loading zone though...
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Unread 03-20-2017, 07:50 PM
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Re: Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Bottenberg View Post
Is this legal, considering G21?
Here's the relevant rule:
Quote:
Originally Posted by G21
GAME PIECES: use as directed. ROBOTS may not deliberately use GAME PIECES, e.g.
GEARS, in an attempt to ease or amplify the challenge associated with other FIELD elements,
e.g. BOILERS, HOPPERS, or ROPES.
Violation: YELLOW CARD.
I would say this strategy is pretty clearly using the balls to "amplify the challenge" of intaking gears and driving around the field.
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Unread 03-20-2017, 07:53 PM
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Re: Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

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Originally Posted by BrennanB View Post
This is a very obvious violation of G21.



Also activating hoppers to make loading harder has been around since week one Purposefully shoving balls into their loading zone though...
I disagree. Our robot never entered their loading zone. Balls were collected from the center of the field and rolled into the gear retrieval lane. The higher density of balls in the retrieval lane caused gear-collecting robots to push those balls further into their own retrieval zone. This method would not be a violation of that rule.
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Unread 03-20-2017, 07:55 PM
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Re: Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcarbon View Post
Here's the relevant rule:

I would say this strategy is pretty clearly using the balls to "amplify the challenge" of intaking gears and driving around the field.
Opposing robots are not a field element. Putting balls in front of other robots collecting gears on the floor is not changing the difficulty of accessing field elements. Games pieces and field elements are not defined as the same thing.
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Unread 03-20-2017, 07:56 PM
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Re: Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

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Originally Posted by seg9585 View Post
I disagree. Our robot never entered their loading zone. Balls were collected from the center of the field and rolled into the gear retrieval lane. The higher density of balls in the retrieval lane caused gear-collecting robots to push those balls further into their own retrieval zone. This method would not be a violation of that rule.
But you were putting balls into/near their retrieval lane, no? In such a way that they made the challenge harder, no?
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Unread 03-20-2017, 07:57 PM
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Re: Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

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Originally Posted by seg9585 View Post
I disagree. Our robot never entered their loading zone. Balls were collected from the center of the field and rolled into the gear retrieval lane. The higher density of balls in the retrieval lane caused gear-collecting robots to push those balls further into their own retrieval zone. This method would not be a violation of that rule.
I guess we should clarify some things, firstly the penalty has nothing to do with you entering or not entering the loading zone. What do you mean by "retrieval lane" If you mean, not in the RETRIEVAL ZONE, you skim a fine line that might be legal depending on the ref. If you are literally dumping balls in the retrieval zone, it's pretty clearly illegal.
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Unread 03-20-2017, 07:58 PM
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Re: Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

Quote:
Originally Posted by seg9585 View Post
I disagree. Our robot never entered their loading zone. Balls were collected from the center of the field and rolled into the gear retrieval lane. The higher density of balls in the retrieval lane caused gear-collecting robots to push those balls further into their own retrieval zone. This method would not be a violation of that rule.
This is one of those intent things where you can pretty easily pretend it wasn't your intent but do it anyway. One of qual alliance partners advocated for and did this, and I was fine with it because this rule didn't occur to me. In the future, I will be suggesting to our alliance partners not to do this. I don't like taking advantage of intent rules. I think it sets a bad example (it's saying it's fine to break the rules as long as you can get away with it; would you be fine with it if teams did this for bag & tag?).
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Unread 03-20-2017, 08:02 PM
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Re: Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

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Originally Posted by seg9585 View Post
I disagree. Our robot never entered their loading zone.
Irrelevant. The quoted rule mentions nothing about where your robot is located.

Quote:
Balls were collected from the center of the field and deliberately rolled into the gear retrieval lane in an attempt to amplify the challenge associated with other FIELD elements
I added the stuff in bold, for clarity.

Quote:
This method would not be a violation of that rule.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Basel A View Post
This is one of those intent things where you can pretty easily pretend it wasn't your intent but do it anyway.
Corollary of Zera's Law: once you realize that something you've been doing is actually illegal, you will be yellow-carded for it.


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Unread 03-20-2017, 08:03 PM
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Re: Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

It isn't illegal if you just trigger the hoppers near the opposing hoppers though. We did this several times at South Florida and Orlando and both were quite effective against teams that had narrow gear openings.
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Unread 03-20-2017, 08:04 PM
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Re: Very Effective Defense Strategy: "Ball Pitting"

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Originally Posted by EricH View Post
But you were putting balls into/near their retrieval lane, no? In such a way that they made the challenge harder, no?
How far do you want to take this? Isn't deploying hoppers at all during a match in which no robots are capable of shooting the same thing? Teams deploy hoppers to slow down their opponents all the time.
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