3 on 3 - Mid-Competition Thoughts

In an effort to divert some attention from some hot-button topics, I thought I might start a thread about the 3 on 3 aspect, now that it’s been several weeks into the competition and we’ve actually seen it pan out.

Since they modified the player stations, I assume that 3 on 3 is here to stay, so after a few weeks of actually seeing it in action do you still (dis)like the idea?

Is it too hard to follow gameplay with so many robots on the field?
Do you like getting extra driving time and experience?
Is there more room for game strategies with more alliance partners?

Post away!


I appreciate how it values all alliance partners. Everyone plays and everyone contributes to the match. It’s a system that doesn’t cause one partner to be undervalued or overvalued when really, it’s the combination of the teams that leads to success.

The field elements are very simple this year and there is a lot of space to move around even with 6 robots. However, keeping track of all robots on the larger field does prove to be a daunting task for any coach. Or, to rephrase, it’s harder to decide what to do if you didn’t have a strategy before going into to the match, which makes that so much more important this year. The extra number of teams don’t make for more strategies since it’s pretty much offense, but it does make it more fun.

More matches = better system for teams. More robots on the field = more excitement for spectators. I like 3 team alliances and I hope they stay for years to come. The more teams on an alliance the more important communication is before and during the match among them. It might hurt rookie teams who don’t know about strategizing, but I’m sure they’ve been learning quickly from the veterans.

What a great topic, Matt.

Here are my likes/dislikes:


  • more matches = more driving time for the drivers and more time for the robot.
  • makes it important to have three good robots.
  • there is always some action on some part of the field.


  • sometimes too much action => difficult to follow the game.
  • de-emphasizes a good robot - qualification matches is less likely to allow the good teams to rise to the top. Some good teams still rise to the top, but I’ve seen situations that really have me scratching my head (more so than in past years).
  • more likelihood of a disaster for an alliance. In other words, we are 50% more likely to have a robot malfunction or other problem that affects the entire alliance.

Overall, I’m still evaluating. I can’t quite make a call on if I like it or not.

I love the 3-on-3 aspect of competition. In fact, I think this is a great game in general. And I think most people agree with me, because the biggest argument we are having is over the wording of a single rule.

Is it too hard to follow gameplay with so many robots on the field?

It is harder, but not too hard. Most spectators I’ve talked to really enjoy the competition. From the perspective of team coach, yes it makes the game harder to follow, but that only adds to the fun. It also makes the coach position far more relevant than last year.

Do you like getting extra driving time and experience?

I can’t speak for drivers, but my guess is they do.

Is there more room for game strategies with more alliance partners?

Yes, and again this adds to the fun. It also makes the game less predictable, because an inferior team can beat a superior team with good teamwork and strategy. It also adds an extra variable to alliance selection, because you are picking a three-robot team. Some scouts rank robots on compatibility (I do too), but you can’t rely entirely on those lists in alliance selection after your first pick. You want three bots, each of which plays their own role in your alliance, occupies their own niche. Your second pick should be to a great extent a function of your first as well as your compatibility ranking.

I will be surprised if FIRST does not carry 3-on-3 over into next year’s game.

I agree with Chris’ Comments above and just wanted to add a dislike.

A no show robot is a greater handicap. In 3 on 3.

Overall I like this change but I have to agree with Chris’ comment I was in confusion by the rankings because I didn’t think they necessarily reflected who the strongest teams were (yes many strong teams were still highly ranked). Scouting became much more important to knowing what any robot’s true capability was.

I have been around for a long time and seen almost all the games. I would say 3 on 3 is great. lots of things going on.

With this I hope they change the way a team has a impact on the alliance. What happens is a good team gets a lot points and another teammates can take them away as fast or even faster than you can get them.

What was great this year was we did not have the same partner. the problem we have is we have a very low team number (61) what that does is pair us up with a very high number and a middle number.

This wouldn’t be to bad. but with the rules as they where the high number teams kept taking point away from us.

Overall I think FIRST has a great game this year. Made easy for the rookies

In short, 3 on 3 in my opinion is great and should stay. :cool:

To add to the more teams = more matches idea, I thought it was great to have the extra matches, but it also requires even more attention to making robot that can handle the abuse of competition. Last year there was often 1.5 to 2 hours between matches to make repairs. This year it wasn’t uncommon to have 30 minutes or less before queing for the next round. This also adds more possibility for shows of GP–team 1437 would like to thank 1435 for their help when our entire lift assembly came apart (we fell over while fully extended and the top extension hit the side railing). With the two teams working together it was less than 20 minutes to re-rivet, re-bolt, re-wire, re-route cabling, and re-just-about-everything-else, with just enough time to take a breath and shake hands before we were back in line again.

3 on three makes for an exciting match, and there is always plenty going on. but i think that there are some teams that do a lot better than they deserve, and some teams, by no fault of their own, are lower in the rankings. its hard to have a perfect system, but that how it works sometimes.

Quite honestly, 3 on 3 is what makes Triple Play exciting and interesting. If it was just 2 on 2, the game wouldn’t be nearly as exciting. 3 on 3 gives teams more bang for their buck too - more matches = a really good thing. It gives teams more opportunities to move up in ranking, and more opportunities to show other teams what they’re made of.

Three vs Three is awesome… I wonder if we’ll ever get up to 4 vs 4 :]

I’d have to say that I’m in favor of 3 on 3, but it makes it much harder on the pit crews. At the NYC regional, there were at least 2 or 3 rounds where we literally had no pit time between matches, we had to queue right after we got off the field. (When you only have 32 teams, half of them are queueing at once).

The most interesting aspect of it, i think, is that it allows teams to focus on a single robot specialty, rather than trying to do everything at once, as you can expect that at least one alliance partner will be able to do what you lack. Great for rookie teams to still be highly effective.

I found 3-on-3 to be very exciting this year and would like to see it stay. The complex give and take of capping and recapping kept the advantage swinging from alliance to alliance. The field was jam packed with action and I found the scoring to be almost secondary to the overall exciting play. After all the hard work of the build period it’s nice to have the additional playing time 3-on-3 gives us.

The qualifying alliance matchups were pretty good this year. We didn’t continually play with and against the same teams as happened last year. Kudos to the alliance generation algorithm.
As always the qualifying alliance parings can be good for a team and bad. Good alliance picking is very much dependent on good scouting rather than rankings, and based on the good teams I’ve seen sitting out the elimination rounds I’d say there are still a lot of teams that don’t practice true scouting. It can be very disheartening for a good team to be ranked much lower than a team who hasn’t shown up to a match all day (I saw this happen several times).

[font=Verdana]I much prefer having all three alliances play all the time rather than having one sit out a match, but I also realize the increase in risk and the impact on the whole alliance of a single robot failure.[/font]

On the aspect of more matches I discussed this with John-V-Neun at FLR. I was really hoping for 15-18 matches for each team and was dissapointed that FIRST capped the amount of matches at 12. John pointed out to me that as a coach he was glad it was only 12 because if it was 18 it would be like a 12 minute turnaround and that was just headspinning to consider. So I guess 12 is fine.

The 3v3 was definitely great. In Philly we managed to get in 11 qualification matches. It was definitely good times, having all those matches. But like was mentioned earlier, with 2 staging areas, and the field, that is 18 bots that aren’t in the pits at a time. In Philly there was 40 some teams, so almost half the teams were either in a match or waiting for a match at all times.

Busy? Yes. Too much? no. I liked how fast it moved this year. But I think that 4 vs 4 would be a little excessive this soon. Definitely stick with 3v3 next year.

I love this format. Lots more action, lots more excitement, and all those other things the fine people above me said.

As for the number of matches, before I read Ed’s post, I was all for a lot of matches. Then I recalled The Oregon Trail (which many of us college students, and probably a lot of students played in elementary school). And then I thought of when I changed the pace to Grueling.

Thanks for capping it at 12, FIRST! :smiley:

scouting is a lot more difficult when matches are 3v3 - on my team, two members have to scout three teams each, and when teams are up so often, it’s really hard to sit down and enjoy the competition!

at the new jersey regional, however, my team was not competing, and i was there to observe. the matches were packed with action due to the increase in the amount of robots on the field, and it wasn’t really difficult to figure out was going on, even with all of the movement. i didn’t think competititions could get more exciting, but they did! :wink:

the 3v3 setup is especially good when a team is having mechanical problems - last year, when there were two robots per alliance, if one robot was having problems, the alliance was cut in half. this year, if one robot is malfunctioning, there are still two robots with the ability to score for the alliance. it helps teams focus on teamwork, trying to incorporate the skills of -three- robots into a winning strategy. :slight_smile: