2023 Game reflection

Now that the official season is over and we have seen the highest level of play, what are your thoughts about this year’s game? What did FIRST do good and what could have been designed better?

I disliked the game having a max score (team update 21 tried to fix it). I think games should be designed with a potential to have infinite score (like 2020 or 2022).
On the other hand, for a non-shooting game I think it was rather interesting to watch. I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first, but after the first few competitions the variety of robots and strategies made this game quite fun to watch (especially in the highest level).
Also, I think that the use of a field element for auto and end game (the charging station) was nice, although I am a bit sad it wasn’t an endgame that introduced a new mechanical challenge (all you had to do was drive on it).

What are your thoughts?


I’ve loved this game from the start i do think in heinsight the challange was too easy but the addition of super charged nodes makes the game feel incredible.

The speed at which teams were pushed and how accessible it was for a team to do good. Anyone who has enough stick time and smart driving could take the whole thing.

Im sure to keep this in my back pocket when pushing for simple fast robots that dominated here. Who thought teams like 1923 and 1561 would be first picks in crazy competative divisions, Milstein and Archimedes respectively, leaving teams like 27 and 33 previous world champions to be 2nd picks which is unheard of apart from the 2008 1114 217 148 sweep.

Dont even get me started on the viewing experience and the strategy and planning going into each and every match. 10/10 would take more games like this probably my favorite of all time.


Agreed. Maybe in part because this game was probably designed pre-covid, but i think the skill ceiling was too low before update 21. It was pretty low compared to older games too- the last placing game was 2019 where the max score was for 40 game pieces - that’s more cycles than even an alliance of elite teams could really be expected to do, and that’s in a game that had heavy defense.

Maybe it’s because i didn’t really get into it, but i didn’t enjoy watching the game that much. The last minute climbs were tense but most of the teleop was kinda just watching robots cycling without much else. Also if a robot tipped over or disconnected that alliance was done for- no one could win a 2v3 in this game, which also killed any incentive for defense. In a way the game was “too balanced” in that way. I wish they made another game with a 2018 scale like element which makes alliances fight over the score, rather than just racing each other.

The robot variety was really good. The challenge was very unique and honestly i’m surprised they came up with something this special for a placing game. The game managed to force geometries a lot more complicated than just the usual 2 stage elevator we’ve gotten used to in placing games. I really like games that have a lot of robot variety, and it has been kinda lacking in recent years.

On the one hand yes, on the other hand it’s time teams took a break from making climbers. I certainly think future games should be a bit more mechanically challenging since the floor has been raised so significantly.

Overall it was pretty cool, good at some things not so good at others.


The engineering challenge was good but the game was mediocre at best. It’s basically just cycling with minimal strategy and little potential for effective defense (which may have more to do with the robots than the game, but is still an issue). The “supercharged” change was, in the end, necessary, but it leaves a bad taste in the mouth that it needed to come to that. FIRST repeated mistakes they made in previous years that led to that.


The lack of defense is very much a result of game design. The protected zones were too large and prevented defense from being effective unless the opposing drivers were bad. Teams playing defense couldn’t really push teams around as the team being defended will use the protected zones to penalize the defending bot. You try to do anything, you will get pushed into a protected zone and get the penalty. The increase of swerve makes defense hard to play, but defense can still be reasonably effective even against swerve bots if a game is designed well.

The choke points, loading station, and scoring area on the field were in protected zones which prevented defense from being very effective. Anything else is wide-open field where the only objective is to drive as fast as possible to the next place of interest, which is really hard to defend against. Games that had effective defense typically have at least one of the three things not be in a protected zone.


From an alumni’s POV, very mixed opinions on this game.

The good:

  • Like other commenters have said, the way this game was designed allowed for robot designs that differ wildly from each other to be equally successful. Definitely made watching individual robot performances more fun, especially compared to last year when it seemed like everyone had a swerve base with the same shooter and the same 2 or 3 climber designs. I also feel like the generally simplistic design of this game put emphasis on the coordination skills, mentality, and talent of a drive team, something I think is an underrated element of FRC.

The not-so-good:

  • As @benjierex said, robots tipping over or having any other issue would basically kill any chance that alliance had of winning. This issue is further compounded by just how easily robots can tip over given the design of the charge station and given how easily robots can tip each other over. I reckon this is why the ‘tipping over a robot = red card’ thing exists, but like this thread discussed, it is way too easy for a robot to tip another robot over given that the game design disincentivizes defense, leaving 6 robots blasting full speed across the field with barely any room between them.

The nitpick:

  • This isn’t really an essential part of the game, but I can’t see a connection between the game’s ‘energy’ theme and the actual game being played. This has been the case since 2020 IMO and is something that I’ve gotten used to, but compared to games like Stronghold and Steamworks, newer games (and this game especially) don’t have the themed elements that added just that little bit of immersion and fun. Again, very trivial complaint, but I wanted to get this one out.

I started following FRC closer again after a bit of a hiatus during my first year of college. Overall as a person who cares about robot hardware the most, this game did give me the enjoyment that I wanted due to the sheer variety of robot designs. However, I do think that there are some important lessons that have been learned from the way this game was designed. This game is no Recycle Rush, but I feel like there can be improvements made in future games regarding ease of play and scoring.


I agree, but I am sure FIRST can come up with an end game that is both mechanically challenging and doesn’t require a climber.

Looking back at older pick-and-place games, the rules tends to minimize defense in those type of games. I think it’s due to the fact that the picking and placing locations are constant and it can become almost impossible to score while being defended in the pick or place areas. I would love to see a change in that aspect some day but I am not sure if it would be possible.


2022 makes more sense under the Game Changers (active play) theme. 2023 makes more sense under the transportation theme. The replay of IR pushed the game designs out of sync with the season themes/title sponsors.


I originally thought the exact same thing as you. You’re absolutely correct about Rapid React being the original 2021 game, but I’ve talked to several members of the GDC, and they’ve all told me that Charged Up was designed specifically for 2023. These days, they try to make the theme fit the game rather than the other way around.

I thought this was a great game for a few reasons. Mainly I liked how it upset the “usual order of things” and gave every team a shot at the brass ring. You could play a lot of this game with a simple robot, but you could also go all in on automation and fancy mechanisms to cut cycle times. The “wild” rankings at a lot of events bore this out.

The key to this game was communication and coordination with your alliance. Everything from coordinating auto routines, to use of loading/scoring lanes, etc. required alliances to talk to each other and have a plan going into each match. It was not possible for a single team to carry an alliance, and everybody had a role to play in any victory.

For me the biggest surprise was how much I missed seeing aggressive defense in playoffs. I generally prefer to see robots play the game instead of trying to prevent others from doing the same, but the energy level of the playoffs seemed more like ballet and less like opera if you will. I wanted to see just a little bit more drama in the finals matches.

And that endgame was a nail-biter every time!


Approve of a game that seemed to me designed to get teams “out of their comfort zones”. This was not a game you could play with a credit card and swell COTS parts. Well, apart from the swerve drive modular revolution. The April tags also added a nice new twist.

And the part that seemed less good. Pretty hard to play this game without swerve. And that means the resources - cash and programmers - to make it happen.

I’m hoping for a terrain field next year and something really out there for game pieces. I think FRC has not encouraged crazy, start a business in your garage innovation sufficiently in recent times.


Totally agree, especially with the idea that this was a game that enabled new and low-resource teams to compete successfully. We saw this in the way even rookie teams could do well with not much more than a pancake bot. While it did give more sophisticated teams plenty of room to experiment with all kinds of complex mechanisms and programming, it didn’t require that to do well. I think that’s an ideal that the game designers need to carry forward into all subsequent game designs.

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This game was, like, 80% strategy. Traffic flow and smart game piece placement was what separated the good alliances from the great alliances. Alliances that objectively had lower firepower than their opponent could easily win by creating good, clean traffic flow for their alliance while congesting the other alliance.


I see this sentiment quite a bit and don’t really understand it. Well played defense absolutely swings matches in most years. If knowing that has a potential to swing a match in your favor and implementing it well isn’t playing the game, why would an offensive bot be playing the game? They’re different strategies that are both actively playing the game. In both instances, one bot is trying to prevent the other from executing its strategy. It’s a bit of a double standard to only apply the logic in one direction.


That’s not strategy, that’s coordination. Strategy, in a head-to-head competition, is something you do to react to your opponents. Something you do to win a match, even if the schedule RNG put you at a 30pt defecit.

Charged up was more like a gymnastics event than a head-to-head sport. All teams could do was try to run their “perfect routine”, and hope the other side screwed up more.


It’s awkward to suggest strategy is reactive rather than proactive.

The best strategies tend to be proactive. You may have ways to respond to various things you’ll see included in that strategy. But, reacting generally isn’t strategic.

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I honestly liked the fact that all 3 robots had to score to have an effective alliance. It balanced out the alliances a lot, since a lower alliance with 3 good scoring robots could beat 2 great scorers, leading to a lot of upsets at worlds.


Diction aside, the point still stands that cycling isn’t “everything”. Smart, coordinated traffic flow has the capability to beat out pure firepower.

I thought it was an ok game, lower half of all the games I have seen. I thought it interesting that at pretty much every level of play things were even enough that the best robots could be beaten.

I think it was the kind of game where, if we were to replay Worlds again with everything starting exactly the same, I think more than half of the robot on Einstein would be different. Matches were so close and very minor differences made the difference.

It was a game that swerve dominated, which is disappointing because I think FRC is becoming very difficult to start a new rookie team, and swerve is expensive and difficult. I worry about FIRST’s ability to expand the number of teams in the future.


Needing a strong third robot scoring to be competitive at the highest level was great. Lower alliances who had priority in second round picks got a serious fighting chance against the high seed alliances, and that was reflected in who made Einstein in 2023:
ARC - a6 / CUR - a2 / DAL - a5 / GAL - a1 / HOP - a1 / JOH - a1 / MIL - a2 / NEW - a3

or, at least, as opposed to who made it in 2022
CARV - a1 / GAL - a1 / HOP - a1 / NEW - a3 / ROE - a3 / TUR - a1