1678 Strategy Off Season Training Prompt

Hello Everyone!

Over the past few years, Citrus Circuits has been developing our own strategy trainings for our strategy subteam. Here is our refined training template, broken into three sections.

First, we have our students read the game manual and watch the game animation before holding a subteam meeting. At the subteam meeting, the strategy members discuss their findings in small groups. Each group has a veteran member who has studied this game and can provide support or clarify rules. Having done so, the groups fill out the Game Brainstorming questions to the best of their abilities, which are then checked by the strategy mentors and strategy subteam lead.

Once the students have received feedback and edited their responses, they move onto the match strategy section. Each group starts by planning 2-3 auto routines they believe will be advantageous to use, and explain their reasoning behind it. Once these have been approved, the group moves on to completing the match strategy, discussing the specific roles of each robot and the overall goals of the alliance. Once this is complete, the strategy subteam lead and mentors provide feedback to the students on their play designs.

Finally, the students are assigned a homework of selecting three match videos from specific sets of competitions to analyze. Out of each of these, they select one to present to the strategy subteam as we watch and analyze as a subteam. We encourage anyone to speak up to point out actions or ask questions to learn during this process.

This year, we ended our off season by implementing a new mock picklist meeting to prepare our students for picklist meetings at competitions. We simulate a picklist by having everyone watch a selected set of videos prior to the meeting and using our scouting data from a previous competition. This year, we used our 2018 Newton data, where we seeded second.

I hope you enjoy using this in the future, and feel free to ask any questions!


Really appreciate you taking the time to release this to the community. For some context, I have a few questions:

1: How large is your strategy subteam?
2: What are the “limits” to what the strategy team is responsible for?
3: How does your strategy subteam fit into team work at kickoff? Through the season? At competition?

From the post I can guess at some of these teams, really I just have questions about how you’re organized!

Again, thanks a lot for putting this out there.

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How do you have all the students read the entire manual on day 1?

Our subteam is on the larger side of about 20 students each year with two strategy mentors. As a secondary subteam, everyone has a primary subteam of Hardware Design, Hardware Fabrication, Hardware Electrical, Software Scouting, Software Robot, and Business and Media, but the majority of our members come from one of the two software subteams.

During Build Season, the strategy subteam is currently in charge of developing match strategy, thinking of auto ideas, and determining what info we will need the Software Scouting subteam to collect to be strategically successful at competitions.

During Competition Season, the Strategy subteam analyzes how well our match strategy works, and what we need to update. After each competition, we debrief about our matches, as well as comparing what data we thought we would versus what we actually needed to be competitively successful. By updating this list, the Software Scouting subteam is able to update the scouting system for future competitions. We also assign each student to watch different regionals to determine what other successful teams are using as match strategies to determine if we need to modify our strategies and autos.

During Kick Off, the strategy members are divided evenly amongst our Kick Off groups, and can provide more insight to answering our kick off prompts since they are similar to the off season training prompt, but most of them are limited to that. The rules test that we release each year, however, is created by the subteam leads, and 1-2 strategy members document the different robot requirements that the entire team decides on as a group.

I believe I answered what the Strategy subteam does during the Build and Competition seasons, but let me know if you have any questions.

At competitions, we have a total of 6 student strategy roles: 1 pit strategist, 2 stands strategists, and 3 objective scouts. The pit strategist works with Mike, our Drive Coach, in creating the match strategies at the competition and communicating the plans with our alliance partners before each match. They also pit scout the each team on the practice match day. The stands strategists are the trained strategy members in the stands who record data not captured by our scouting system including subjective measures such as defense and the reason for incapacitation. These members report their data regarding alliance parters and opponents to the pit strategist and drive coach on the first day, and edit the picklist on the second day of competition. Finally, the objective scouts (formerly known as super scouts) are a special type of scout who use an app to record qualitative, ranked data on robots, such as speed and agility. Their primary focus is objective scouting, but they also take notes and report to the stands strategists if needed.

All six of these students attend the picklist meeting and provide insight on the teams that they have taken notes on while analyzing the scouting data.

The Strategy subteam was formed in 2018, so it is still relatively new and going under development, so the Build and Competition Season tasks and competition roles may change in future years.


Instead of having students read the entire manual at a meeting, we have our students read the entire game manual before our subteam meetings, and watch the game animation together. After this, the students begin working on the prompts in their groups.

If we have a rules test from that year, we have the students discuss the rules for 15 minutes before taking the rules test individually. Instead of having our members pass with 90% (our Kick Off requirement), the veteran member assigned to the group reviews each answer with each student. The students then answer the strategy prompts.


I really appreciate you taking the time to answer me so thoroughly. I’m always fascinated to hear people from other teams describe how they function, especially a team that has had as much success on and off the field as 1678.

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If this is what you want to do, it can be done. But this is not what you want to do. Trust me.

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I tend to agree on this.

What I WANT the students to have day 1 is a broad sense of the game (Game, Field, Logistics sections of the Manual). This requires some skimming not necessarily reading.

Personally… well, I try to have the whole thing at least skimmed if not depth-read before the start of Day 2. But some say I’m crazy. Then I’ll pick up on the rest of it by answering CD posts.

I can’t bring myself to read the manual thoroughly after i found put that there were updates and the updates could change drastically from the manual of Day 1. Ever since i found CD, i just follow all the threads that mention anything about the manual.

No, that’s not the takeaway. Please read the manual. I just don’t expect everyone to read it cover-to-cover on Kickoff day. Chief is a good secondary source for seeing reactions and interpretations, and might point out a detail you missed. Chief should never be your primary source for information about anything.


If this IS what you want to do, which is what we on 4414 want to do, then I recommend a silent manual read for ~40 minutes. If you ingrain it into you team culture, yes you can get every kid to read the manual.


Nope. Nope. Nope.

You read the Manual. Then you learn when the updates come out (twice a week), and read them. 75% of the time, it’s a clarification not a major change. The other 25% tends to be Update 1 and immediately following Week 0.

I personally read the full Manual, the Team Updates, AND I somehow find time to be caught up on the Q&A system.


On kickoff day, our approach tends to be to only focus on the parts of the manual that affect the overall team strategy, and skim over the parts that primarily just affect drive team (we read them but don’t quiz on them). We encourage people to read the full thing in their own time. The issue is that people often don’t do this. I know because this year I fell into the trap myself of not knowing things like if some things were tech fouls vs. fouls, or the specifics of the penalties in the trench vs. the target zone, until a day or two before competitions when I suddenly realized I hadn’t read the full manual. I know I wasn’t the only one who did this.

I have no idea how the 2021 kickoff is going to work, but in 2022 we may try @jjsessa’s idea.

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Here’s the structure we follow, credit to 3309 for creating the system: http://www.team3309.org/2019-first-deep-space-kickoff/

We are a much smaller team than both 3309 and 1678 so we tend to hit both strategy, design discussion and even some prototyping on the first day, but I encourage teams to follow this format at a pace that is right for them (slowing down if it means giving everyone a opportunity to think and speak)

As additional incentive, We also make the kids AND MENTORS pass the 1678 rules quiz before they can get some pizza.


Yeah… its terrible to read at around week 3.

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YMMV. We did this successfully on my high school team: (upper-)middle class, native English readers. When I use a similar ~40min reading period (hard for anyone to focus longer than that) with non-native speakers at a title 1 school, I make sure different people are reading different sections & leverage discussions to share out the highlights - with the assumption no single student has read everything.

By the end of the week, I’ve read the whole manual. By the end of 6 weeks, some of my students have read the whole manual :slight_smile:

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