2019 Alliance Interests

Hello to all!

2019 has come and gone, and so have the specific game strategies. There was strategy in every perspective, from scoring, communicating, and alliance selecting.

Say for instance you are an alliance captain at a season event. What do you look for in other teams? Does it all depend on ranking? What about the finals schedule? What does your team prioritize in alliance selection?

Now, imagine you are a selected robot. What are your interests in other teams? Does it all depend on the captain’s choice?

And lastly, what makes up the perfect alliance? Is it all teamwork and relations? How about the upcoming matches, or the other alliance’s selection?

Please feel free to comment or question on this topic, as I would like as many perspectives and ideas as possible.

Thanks CD!

In simple terms, you look for who can score the most points while complimenting your robot (ex. 2015 two bots who need the same loading station for their bot to work will end in a bad time since one of the bots will always be doing nothing)

Ranking doesnt matter. Anything can happen during an event and with as little as 8 matches at events ranking never properly shows the whole story. Having actual scouting data will help a ton in seeing who is doing good/bad despite their rank.

Prioritizing will depend from event to event and from team to team. For a district team, the goal (for the most part) should be to maximize district points. Winning isint as important when you dont need it to advance to the next level. For a regional on the other hand, its either winning or going home.

The goals should always be a team that compliments you. If you have two great cargo bots, maybe you need a hatch scorer. Picking a 3rd cargo bot will just be limiting your options since you lose over half of the scoring options in a match before the match even starts.

Being able to work with other teams is important. If the captain is unwilling to listen to other data or at least discuss their decision, then youre probably in for a bad time.

A perfect alliance scores well and works well. For 2019 specifically, having 2 bots that can knock out rockets and fill the cargoship, and then all 3 climb HAB L3 is “perfect”, but actual matches are never that nice. Working well together reaching your score ceiling while also keeping the other alliance below theirs should be the goal, and I would consider the “perfect” alliance in my mind from event to event, regardless of if it actually wins.

Actual strategies will go a lot deeper than this (and I think thats what you wanted) but tackling this at a high level will give a much better idea IMO on things teams should replicate than to just ask top teams “what did you look for” when they have a triple climber and your event has 3 total climbers. What they will look for and what you will look for will be wildly different, even from event to event, so having some basic idea of what to be focusing on and then figuring out strategies will work much better for teams in the long run.

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This was the first year I and another teammate were in charge of strategy, but im going to give this a shot and answer it the best I can. By no means was this the best way, but it’s what we did in order to try to find what worked.

Im going to give you something others may not at first thought of this question. One of the biggest priorities this year with alliance selections (BattleCry and Robot Rumble specifically, because we were captains there) was communication between teams. There may have been really good teams, but if we knew we didn’t work well with them, or we noticed they didn’t stick to a match strategy, we would most likely move them lower on our pick list. Communication Good communication between teams both before and during a match is vital for success.

Not at all. While that is a good starting point for most, that is not all selection should be based off of. Match scouting is important for this. My team didn’t really get into match scouting until the offseason. And boy am i glad we did. Our match data allowed us to find and pick out teams who were good with their game pieces, or defense, but who may have not been the best ranked. This was especially prometent this year with all the defense bots. Due to not being able to score, defense bots may have been ranked lower than most. But good match scouting data will prove their ranking wrong.

Not quite sure what you mean here :thinking:

This year, our interests were whatever we and our alliance captain couldn’t do ourselves. During the offseason, we became a strong cargo bot, therefore, if we were picked by a cargo bot, we prioritized finding a hatch bot. If they did hatch, we either looked for more hatch or defense. It depended on the situation

Not quite sure what you mean here, but im going to respond in how i think you meant it.
Our interests in other teams does depend on the captain’s choice in the sense that it matters what they can do. If we can do cargo, and our captain is also a cargo bot, we’re going to want to definitely choose a hatch bot. If our captain’s are a strong hatch bot, we might look for a good defense bot to be well rounded.

There’s really no perfect answer to this. It all depends on the robots and the teams on the alliance. Generally though, you want good communication and well rounded robots. Well rounded robots meaning all three bots dont do the same thing. If all three robots placed cargo, well, good luck. You want to make sure you have a good relationship with your alliance, and constantly keep each other updated on strategy and robot status before, during, and after matches. If your robot breaks and you lose functionality, tell your alliance partners. Dont be afraid to admit your robot broke. Chances are, they will be more than willing to jump in and help you, and would understand if it wasnt able to be fixed.

Everything really depends on the situation. Personally, I have not been on an alliance I did not enjoy or that I regretted. Each alliance was built given the circumstances, and each alliance performed to the best of their abilities. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to “the perfect alliance”. @MikLast mentioned it as well,

I hope I was at least somewhat helpful. I’m still learning too, but feel free to reach out to me if you have any other questions about what I wrote.


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Here’s our strategy, posted on another thread. We only look at rankings from a relative drafting position and potential opposing alliance formation. We will sometimes draft a team first to break up a potentially stronger opposing alliance.


At a regional event in a field where the #1 alliance appears dominant do you say no to the 5th captain if you are slated to be the 6th or 7th captain? Is the perceived easier path to the wildcard a consideration?

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I know for districts this is a huge consideration for teams because it can be the difference in 20 district points if you play the first seed first round or last round.

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Hi Ben. I’d be happy to take a stab at your questions. My full opinions and advice about alliance building can be found in this guide @Katie_UPS and I put together:
Gettin' Picky: A Guide to Alliance Selections (Part 1: The Picklist)
Gettin' Picky, Part 2: Alliance Selection

I look for partners that will maximize our chances of achieving our goals for that competition. If we are at a regional and we have yet to qualify for Champs, that goal is a win or a wildcard. If we have qualified or are at Champs, our goal is to win.

To maximize your chances of winning, you must consider all possible ways to 1) maximize your score and 2) reduce your opponent’s score. From here, choose a strategy to go about this based on your robot’s strengths and weaknesses. Based on, make a list of needs and wants for robot abilities and characteristics for each pick.

Our robot was pretty good at both game pieces (especially hatches) and could level 3 climb, so for our first pick our list looked like:


  • Reliability
  • Consistency
  • Able to score lots of a single kind of game piece, ideally cargo
  • Able to score under defense without getting shut down


  • Able to score both game pieces well in teleop
  • Level 2/3 climb
  • Scoring in sandstorm, ideally hatches

For second pick:


  • Reliability
  • Consistency
  • Tank, swerve, or if mecanum, demonstrated ability to play very good defense.
  • Driver skill, either demonstrated by defense or scoring


  • Level 2/3 climb
  • Scoring hatches in sandstorm (or cargo)
  • Teleop scoring ability

If we are choosing between two similar robots, we will prefer teams who we gave a history of working well with (in quals or past events) and avoid teams that we have had issues with in the past.
It’s worth noting that we were the #1 seed or #1 pick at all our events (except Battlecry) so consistency was an incredibly high priority for our picks. If we were to be a low captain (like we were at Battlecry), consistency would become a lower priority in favor of adding more scoring potential to the alliance.

Rankings are an essentially meaningless indicator of robot ability. At Central New York, we chose the dead last ranked team, 395, as our second pick and they played fantastic defense.

However, rankings are a major factor influencing what alliances will form. Remember that your goal isn’t just to pick the best robot, your goal is to win/finals/wildcard/etc. Be mindful of the top of the rankings.

I have two relevant stories. At Robot Rumble a couple weekends ago, we considered the four best robots at the event to be

  1. 2791
  2. 2168
  3. 20
  4. 6328

And the rankings were

  1. 2791
  2. 20
  3. 1493
  4. 6933
  5. 6328
  6. 250
  7. 5943
  8. 2168

We could have picked 2168, and while we believed them to be the best robot available, this allows a 20 6328 alliance to form, which would have a serious shot at beating us if something went wrong on our end or they had a better third robot. If we picked 20, we essentially guarantee that 2168 and 6328 will be on different, much weaker alliances, giving us a much easier path to the win.

This logic doesn’t always work this way. Going into Saturday of Central New York this year, 694 was #1 on our picklist, partly because they were the #2 seed behind us. However, as the day went on, 195 got a lot better, and our list looked like:

  1. 195
  2. 694
  3. 2607

For a while, we considered picking 694 anyway, because it would split 195 and 2607 up because the rankings were:

  1. 2791
  2. 694
    A few teams
    Many more teams

But then something big happened: 2607 slipped into rank #3. At this point, if we picked 694, 2607 would pick 195. If we picked 195, 694 would pick 2607. If we picked 2607, 694 would pick 195. So at this point, we just picked our top choice, 195.

Once we are chosen by a captain, our goal is to pick a robot that not only complements ourselves, but also our captain. We will do our best to persuade the captain about who we want, and we generally get them by explaining how they would complement our alliance, though we have had captains who were more and less collaborative during alliance selection. The only way to guarantee avoiding uncooperative alliance captains is to seed higher than them.

The optimal alliance is built on doing four things right:

  • Choosing the correct strategy to build an alliance for based on your own strengths/weaknesses
  • Choosing the right needs/wants for executing that strategy
  • Choosing the teams that best represent those needs and wants
  • Having situational awareness about the rankings and potential opponent’s/threats

Most failures during alliance selection can be traced on a failure on one of these four tasks.

If you have any more questions or want me to elaborate on any of this, feel free to ask here or DM me. I love talking about this stuff.


This isn’t really for you because I’m sure you already understand this, but I’ve seen many people that don’t so here goes:

An alliance captain has no obligation to listen to their 1st pick when choosing a 2nd pick. Don’t let a 1st pick bully you into choosing a different 2nd pick if you are confident in your picklist and decision making.

Also, a captain that doesn’t pick the 2nd pick you want them to isn’t necessarily “uncooperative”. They are up on the field for a reason and they have their own priorities. It is their right to pick the team they want for a 2nd pick, and any advice taking from the 1st pick is entirely discretionary.

That being said, both the captain and the 1st pick should be willing and prepared to discuss the 2nd pick and come to a mutual agreement. Two heads are typically better than one, and agreeing on the 2nd pick will make for a better alliance dynamic. Even so, the final decision is for the captain and the captain only.

We’ve tried to keep it pretty simple–seed as high as possible, and try to be the robot that everyone wants to pick first. If you have credibility, it’s more likely a team picking you will take your input on the 2nd pick. Most teams are pretty easy to work with if you manage the relationships well off-field.


To shorten a longer answer, I look for the team that will likely give the biggest net gain of points.

Same thing as above, except now we have to be prepared that the captain may not go with our advice.

254 something something…

Or just taking the most optimal teams based on net points gained for each of your alliance selections is “perfect” enough for me.

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