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.