A video guide to playing shutdown defense in Stronghold

This past weekend S.W.A.T. 1806 Competed in the Oklahoma regional where on one occasion during quals and then continuously during elims we had an alliance partner play defense. We also experienced defense played against us on several occasions often to the opposing alliance’s detriment as the penalties were often costly. I’ve put together some video evidence that should give teams some insight into playing defense successfully.
During qualifications we were ranked #2 and in our second to last match had the opportunity to face off against the #1 ranked 4587 Jersey Voltage who was also undefeated at that point. We knew that we had a pretty tough matchup ahead of us, and there was a good chance that 4587 would both breach and capture as they had already achieved this feat a couple of times in previous matches. They were paired up with 3592 who also had a couple of previous breach and captures running low goal, and we knew this combination would be difficult to outscore. Luckily for us our alliance partner 2461 was setup as a defensive specialist.

Video of 4587 without defense being played on them

Video of 4587 being defended by 2461

After this match 4587 went on to add a mechanism that allowed them to low goal, and went on to win the regional never really seeing defense this tough played against them again. 2461 despite the great defensive showing wasn’t selected as teams must have been looking at different strategies for playing the game.

For elimination rounds S.W.A.T. 1806 selected team 5098 as our final alliance partner and they assumed the defensive roll for our alliance.
The following videos shows 5098 defending against the 5th seeded alliance who had breached and captured in both their QF matches to move into the semifinal matches.


Unfortunately in the finals 4522 had connection issues that were never resolved so the following videos show 5098 defending against the #2 seeded robot 3507 who had an OPR of 51 for this event, and their alliance partner 1448. I’ve included a video (first one) of 3507 without defense being played against them for comparison.


Last, but not least here is a video of defense being played against us while we were parked in the outerworks

Fortunately, defense was not played against us in our playoff matches. If it was, the plan was to switch to shooting low goals, as we can’t shoot from the Outer Works yet.

The plan for Champs is to calibrate the Shooter to shoot from the Outer Works to give us some protection. We still can’t shoot over a high bot right in front of us. But, being in the Outer Works helps there because they can only get so close. If we back up in the Outer Works, we should be able to get enough height for a robot a safe distance away. If they try to get too close, then we move forward and contact them while the rear bumper is still in the Outer Works.

From what we have seen a good defender will significantly slow down both low goal scorers and any high goal scorers that can’t shoot from the outerworks. it seems that having a member of your alliance play defense during qualifications isn’t happening much, but strategically should maybe be happening more. We think it is a must for eliminations, and will specifically be selecting our last robot to perform that task.

1405 this past weekend at the Finger Lakes Regional has played the best lights out defense I have ever seen. A member of the 5th alliance they shut down the number 1 alliance knocking them out in the semis with the upset then proceeded to come from behind and shut down the number 3 alliance in the finals beating them in 2 matches. Once videos are uploaded you should watch any of the elimination matches with 1405 and also watch the elimination matches where the teams they knocked out were playing another alliance without the lights out defense from 1405

The Finger Lakes Regional Thread also mentioned 1405’s excellent defense, but I can’t seem to find any video’s. Did anyone who was there film matches for scouting that they could share?

MI Lansing was a beautiful event for defense in eliminations. After my team (1684) broke in quarterfinals (we were the #1 seed too! And now we probably won’t go to states! I hate my life!) and my rookie team (5460) got their drive train broken by the same robot that beat us in semifinals, I gave them a pep talk to fight fire with fire and to just spend the entire match shoving back the defense robot. After losing the first match in semis, anti defense worked wonderfully as they went on to win two quite decisive victories. (Sorry to 5222! It looked like we did quite a bit of damage ::rtm:: ). 3327 in the finals match against us proceeded to play no defense whatsoever :smiley: but some mechanical issues caused one robot to fail to get on the batter and we lost 2 of the 3 matches by a slim margin that we would have won if we had the capture bonus.

81 district points? Relax. See you at MSC.

It surprises me that teams didn’t see this coming week 1 and come up with a mix up to stop it.

Almost no one is playing defense during Qualifications, but when teams play good defense during qualification it really disrupts the other teams as many aren’t expecting it, and most teams aren’t shooting from the protection of the outerworks. It is also really crowded in the courtyard with a defender and 3 robots trying to score.

Yeah but there is still counter play to having a robot camp the courtyard it isn’t hard to overcome.

5222 in Lansing was a tough defender. If they had gotten to finals we had a plan, but the plan involved using the low gear (also known as “able to push a car gear”) and just shove them back where they came from. We can’t really be pushed too easily unless we are on the batter shooting.

Did you watch the videos? 4587 (an excellent high goal scorer) went from scoring 4-5 high goals per match to only scoring 2 with defense played on them. Defense forced them to play the role of outerworks shooter which they weren’t used to, and they only made one of the two outerworks shots they took.

Defense against a robot that doesn’t regularly shoot from the outerworks significantly disrupts their offensive flow and forces them to play the game in a way that they aren’t comfortable with.

4587 was constantly scoring 3-4 RP per match with no defense played against them and scored 0 RP when 2461 defended them.

I guess I’m not understanding how good defense is easy to overcome if you don’t shoot from the outerworks, most of the videos in the OP show otherwise.

Playing the batter shot was, what we thought would be the quickest, route to success. Thus, we never practiced in competition as a outer works shooter. If you ever see this happen make sure to play strong defense because it surly disrupted us.

Something I noticed from the videos - you guys didn’t really try to get shots from the sides of the castle. It seemed like the defensive robot just kind of sat near the middle batter and it disrupted your drivers.

Is your robot able to make side batter shots? I think that the defense wouldn’t have been so bad if you guys tried the sides.

I agree with the OP. Defense is very important this year. Here is 2907 putting on a clinic, and preventing the 1st seed alliance from getting the capture:
https://youtu.be/5edWvowIbIg

We can make it from the sides but without having practice with a defense bot our drivers didn’t know what to do to over come the defense.

Let’s run a mixup!

Lets say that in Q72 a mixup was run where instead of immediately taking shots with boulders the blue alliance focused on breaching, BUT every time they crossed a defense to weaken it they also took a boulder and just plopped it in the courtyard. Until they are done with the breaches 2461s current strategy which is heavy batter defense is useless because points are still being scored and they aren’t slowing anything down they are literally sitting doing nothing.
This accomplishes 2 things, it gets the breaching out of the way for those RP or in elims gives that nice point cushion and it also pressurizes the courtyard for a nice little explosion as soon as breaches are done.
As soon as those breaches are done though its 2461s time to shine by blocking shots right? Well kind of… You will notice in the flow of the match 2461 has time to posture properly for defense because the opposing alliance has to go retrieve boulders from the neutral or wherever it ended up in the courtyard. If you run the mixup where the boulders are flooded in the courtyard you give 2461 a lot less time to posture and be in the right place at the right time to block the right goals. 2461 only really had to block one robot at a time.
Do you notice how much time 4587 spends having to retrieve a ball and then park and then shoot? Can you see how much time they save where instead of having to constantly cross the outerworks they could just take a shot move a few feet pickup another ball and take another shot? Welcome to volume of fire where accuracy matters less because you have more to start out with. This is when you cash in the pressure and your 3 free robots start rushing shots into goals. You have 5 goals to choose from and one robot to defend them all, and that robot can’t be everywhere at once and 1 defensive robot vs 3 offensive robots can get pretty ugly.
Thats only half the fun of creating that pressure though. If at any point in the match the red alliance finds that the only boulders left on the field that they need to take shots are in their courtyard they run into an interesting predicament. Only one robot is allowed in their own courtyard at a time and currently that robot is busy trying to stop a team who is spraying and praying with boulders.

What can the red alliance do?
If they try to regain control by taking boulders out they have to do it one at a time and they have to risk sending in one of the scoring robots into the courtyard where they can be pinned and suppressed by the 2-3 opposing robots.
If they try and respond by breaching then they are just trading time since the blue alliance has already done the breaches they need.

What would you do in this situation if you were on the red alliance?

TLDR: If you choose to play someone at the game they designed for expect to lose.

Yeah I think you’re overestimating the skill of the robots that play this game. Sure in a perfect world where robots can consistently pickup and spit out balls while also crossing defenses quickly your strategy would work. I just don’t think that many alliances this year will actually have the capability to score 5-6 boulders in the low goal in like 60 seconds while also leaving enough time to challenge the tower. Your strategy assumes 3 relatively perfect offensive robots in terms of consistency, time and shooting accuracy, and simply put that alliance will almost never come together at any point in time this year especially at the regional level.

I also want to add that there was no point in time where red actually lost control of the match. They scored 8 high goals including 2 in autonomous, which was enough to weaken the tower and secure the capture. If your strategy relies on sacrificing the points of high goals to score low goals in order to weaken the tower then so be it, but don’t expect to beat a team that consistently scores high goals.

There’s some stock footage with the link in the FLR thread. I am having our sweet video team put up their footage of our stellar defense soon. In the mean time, they put together a recap video. It shows some of the big hits and all. http://youtu.be/XdksEhzAD0E

A large part of the time we were actually hitting and stopping two robots at once. Sometimes even all three, rarely one robot. It was great to see my driver do so well and play so smart. Over all the eliminations (6 wins, 0 loses) we only received two penalties.

Actually no I was assuming two strong offensive robots and one robot running secret passage to low bar to make sure the excess boulders in the castle don’t go to the opposing alliance. That alliance where two fantastic robots are together with a third robot that is flexible is whats generally known as the number one alliance (standard serpentine pick 1 rank team picks 2 rank team and their third pick is usually a good drive base with good drivers). Again the strategy trades accuracy for volume of fire and if you run a low goal high goal combo every missed shot a high goal takes can be cleaned up by the low bot if the high goal shooter is being defended on (at which point the low goal robot has a free courtyard to run those 5-6 low goals). As for red losing control of the match I posed “what if it happened” not that it did and the point still stands if the mix up I proposed was executed and at any point the side with the defensive robot lost resource control what would you do? I also at no point said you only score low goals in fact if we want to add kiting into the strategy we can have tons of fun where we run a low goal robot to the secret passage low goal which makes it that juicy robot that if it accidentally enters the secret passage can get tagged for points, and a high goal robot shooting closer towards the spy box with the human player to assist with aiming (which is a major threat) at which point you are hitting two sides of a tower and a defensive robot can’t cover both the low goal of one side of the tower and the remaining goals on the opposite side of the tower.