3 Rotors, 3 Climbs, More Fuel

With the conclusion of week 1 events, I think we’ve learned a lot more about STEAMWORKS and in my opinion found that the game has some crazy exciting matches. Lake Superior and Northern Lights were insane in the playoffs despite some pretty poor alliance selections.

The common theme during the playoffs was 3 Rotors, 3 Climbs, and More Fuel. There was 1 fluke match on Northern Lights where a robot broke down allowing for 4 Rotors for the opposing alliance, and there was a perfectly executed match with light defense (unrepeatable) on Lake Superior that resulted in 4 Rotors. Long story short, I don’t think you can bank on getting 4 Rotors as an effective strategy.

I think this theme will continue as the level of play increases. My thinking is that as teams get better at Gears, they’ll also get better at defending Gears (especially the final 2-3 Gears on the 4th rotor).

Having all 3 robots climb was definitely a common sight in the playoffs and that will only become more common as the game progresses.

Assuming the above statements are true, both alliances will have 3 Rotors, 3 Climbs and the differentiating factors will be Auton, Fuel, and Fouls. 3 Gears in Auton isn’t happening in most cases. It’s hard enough for the human players to score the first delivered Gear in time, let alone placing 3 of them and spinning the rotor for 2 seconds. I also think it’s fair to say that single Gear auton will become the standard for all playoff alliances. So auton differences (discounting Fuel) won’t break the tie.

You also can’t plan to acquire more Foul points than your opponent going into a match and bank on breaking a tie that way. So while Fouls will often break ties, it’s not a viable strategy.

So the only remaining way to break a tie is Fuel. You need to reliably score more Fuel than the opposing alliance to ensure a win. The most efficient way to do this is with a Hopper auton followed by a dedicated Fuel scoring robot that can place their starting Gear on the spring quickly.

Fuel might seem undervalued (and I still think it is) but its true value doesn’t lie in the actual number of points you get. Its true value lies in the fact that you need more than the opposing alliance to win.

You hit the nail on the head! Perfectly said. This is why 305 was a score seen often at regionals during week 1.
That last paragraph is exactly why we won Palmetto or had the highest potential to win. Teams played way more defense knowing their best offensive performance wasn’t going to win in elimination matches vs a team with a dedicated fuel shooter.

Agree 100% with what you said. After watching matches today with my teammates we came to the same conclusions: fuel is the tiebreaker.

Semifinal 1 Match 2 at FIM Southfield today shows that perfectly. The Killer Bees and their alliance won the match by 1 point, which was because of 1 fuel scored high in auto.

What about the 25 foul points?

How much match time can you afford to spend on a tiebreaker?

15 seconds in autonomous.

How long does it take your alliance to get 3 Rotors? In most cases I’d say it’s happening with around a minute left. Faster if you’re better, slower if you’re worse. What do you plan on doing with the rest of the time except for putting yourself in the best position you can to win. As outlined above, the activity that best does that is scoring Fuel. Or you can choose to dedicate 1 alliance member to focus on nothing but Fuel and finish your Gear cycles with minimal down time before climbing.

I think specialization is huge this year.

The other thing to think about is autonomous: Most playoff teams will have 2+ bots with auto gear. It gains no points to do a second gear in auto so why not hit a hopper and shoot then? Even if your alliance can do 3 gears, it’s quite difficult to get those gears up in time to spin the rotor so often it will fail.

I completely agree. I make the same exact argument in my first post in this thread.

All point values this year (outside of fuel) come in nice multiples of 5. If you and the other alliance land on the same multiple of 5, congratulations fuel matters.

Okay, maybe that’s not quite the case, but I think we are seeing (and are going to see) far more matches decided by a failed climb, a dropped gear, or a mysterious quantity of penalty points, than fuel. Complete those three rotors, get all of your robots climbing, play a clean match, and then start to worry about throwing stuff into the boiler.

If the blue alliance had completed the third climb in 33’s semis match we wouldn’t be having a discussion about the “1 point” that beat them.

One surprise to us was that you can get a technical foul by being forced into the retrieval zone. I would have thought that C08 applies, but apparently not.

That was our conclusion Glen. We knew there would be 3 or 4 alliances that could auto+3 rotor+3 climb. Fuel would differentiate. The field was full of climbers and gears. 359 was the best shooter (also one of the best at gears) at Palmetto and therefor our #1 pick. Thanks for making the trip to Palmetto.

South Florida Semis 1 tiebreaker was a perfect tie twice (auto gear+3rotors+3 climbs) before teams missed their climbs in the third (fifth) match. In both ties, the alliances were furiously trying to score fuel at ~45 seconds left, knowing it would be the tie breaker, but were unable to deliver. In the second tie, the blue alliance scored 2 fuel high in teleop… 1 more and they would have won then and there. They ended up winning anyway, but still, fuel can be an important tiebreaker if everyone is consistent.

We were heavily looking at gear robots as our first pick for South Florida, and this whole thread is essentially the reason that we chose 125. Even though they haven’t perfected their shooter they were able to score about 10-15 shots in auto, giving us that slight advantage. I honestly had no idea they did gears when we selected them :stuck_out_tongue:

If only one of the alliances can shoot and they put a fuel point on the board early, the other alliance is in a tough spot. They can try to play defense to prevent the shooters from getting their third rotor, but it’s pretty hard to hold a decent alliance to just two rotors.

The defending team has a tendency to stay on defense too long and run out of time to successfully climb themselves.

On the other hand, if the non-shooters don’t play tough defense for as long as possible, the shooting team simply scores their final rotor early and has plenty of time to climb for the win. The shooters can play defense if they feel like it, but if their climbers are decent, they don’t really need to bother with the risk of getting a penalty.

The defenders have to hope they can make the 3rd rotor take enough time to cause one of the shooting alliance’s teams to run out of time for their climb. I suppose the strategy should be to put your fastest climber on defense and let them race back to your side for a last second climb.

Cheesecake is back. And it’s here to stay this season.

Not just Cheesecake climb mechanisms.

The hour between drafting and the first playoff game is going to be crazy busy for the alliances that want to get to Einstien.

Of course, they may have to install a cheesecake climber and perhaps a cheesecake gear holder. But the bulk of their time will be developing auto programs for their partners. Get that mobility bonus (easy). Get that easy auto gear (pretty easy). Maybe get a “hard” gear if only your alliance only has one hard gear robot. Lastly get as much fuel in the boiler as they can in auto before the Fuel Discounts make a hard problem even harder.

In parallel with the building and coding, they will have to get their two pilots to work with breakneck speed and near perfect efficiency.

Those 20 extra points for a 2nd rotor in Auto are going to be the difference (at least how I see it). Is it going to be hard, sure, but the alternative is going to be harder still: building up a 20Kpa pressure lead.

From my point of view, winning or losing the pressure battle is going to be more or less a random number generator for 9 out of 10 alliances. Things will line up one match and the next they’ll roll snake eyes.

That’s why 2 Rotor Autos are going to become the norm as the season progress. It is 40 points you can count on (20 over your lesser opponents) and it is the more reliable path to bringing home a blue banner.

My 2 cents.

Dr. Joe J.

Just my 2 cents on the matter:

It should be noted that this feat is presumably easier when your robot can release its gear without needing a pilot to pull it up and out, because it’s one less thing to think about for the pilots. And judging by the webcasts, some time is often spent struggling to pull the gears up. So, from an efficiency standpoint, it will be way better if you have the ability to release your gear, so I think a lot of the cheesecake you’ll see mechanically will be in improving or adding robust, active deploy gear mechanisms to alliance partners.

In week 1 I came away with this much more than how important fuel is. 8th seed won Hub City because they more consistently got 3 rotors and 3 climbs than the other alliances.

As teams get more consistent at scoring fuel this game can evolve for it to matter. The crossover point is when an elims alliance can be built that can consistently score 40kPa, at that point the 60 elims points you get is enough to overcome being down a rotor or climb to your opponent (but not both, so you still need an effective gear or climb game to stay competitive). The big question is how many weeks will it take for teams to get there, or is there simply not a critical mass of teams with fuel capability to ever get there?

Yes, they had to overcome that.

In autonomous, The Bees missed the hopper and only got one ball in. Plus Automation Nation’s auto gear fell off the peg while being lifted.

The number one alliance was down 59 after auto and it looked like they were going to lose – especially after they were tagged for a G13 tech foul.

They didn’t though, 548’s strap got tangled up in their climbing mechanism so th

Ugh. I am getting PTSD here.

To everyone who is looking at the competitions this weekend and keeps thinking, “Fuel is going to matter.” I have two words for you: Zone Zeal.

Everyone kept saying balls matter, they have to matter, okay, they don’t matter NOW but they will eventually. BALLS ARE GOING TO MATTER.

I say this as a mentor on a team that was a pretty reasonable ball team that year. We kept looking for a way that balls were going to eventually become the deciding factor.

But the Beattys and the Las Guerillas* of the world just ate our lunch over and over again.

Will fuel matter? For most teams, no. Just no. Your best play is to

#1, activate that touchpad, every time, no kidding, never ever miss those 50 points (even if you are among the top tier of the top tier in FIRST you cannot afford to not hang – I am looking at you 118 – I love you guys and I know you are still hurting but you know I’m telling you the truth).

#2, gears in the morning, gears at noon time, gears for dinner.

#3, Gears in Auto – again, never miss, do the hard gears if you can manage it.

#4, if you have those all perfected and can not squeeze one more % point of reliability out of your robot and drive team. Then you are going to win a lot of matches. Good for you. Oh, your team is bored and wants to give yourself a slightly higher percentage chance of winning matches? Okay then, spend some time getting some fuel in the boiler more effectively.

Of course the top 5% of teams can actually do that 4th point, but they don’t need me to tell them. They are the top 5%, they don’t listen to an old man shaking his fist at the clouds.

Dr. Joe J.

*Just between you, me, and the rest of CD, 469 was the fastest/bestest goal grabbing team on the planet that year – imho they would have easily beaten Beatty to the goals, I believe they “deserved” to be World Champs that year (if ever there was a team that deserved World Champs).
They were partnered with 121, Naval Undersea Warfare, a “balls matter” team. In an early part of the playoffs, 469 had two goals in their home zone, effectively sealing the match only to see Undersea Warfare go on a joy ride with their goal, filling it with balls that were of no account if they had just remained with their goal in their home zone. 121 had a malfunction and time expired with them just outside of their home zone – game over. No World Championship for you… It turns out balls DON’T matter if you take care of business in other departments.