Cycle Time vs. Cycle Efficiency

There is an aspect of this game I am still unsure about. Normally cycle time is straightforward, faster cycles mean more points and more wins. However, because of alternating possessions, you could score 5 balls quick, they score 5 balls methodically, you score quick … you are just trading possessions. If that is the case, it seems like you should take your time and maximize your 5 balls with inner shots and eliminate missed shots that lead to turnovers (Cycle Efficiency).

Of course, if you take too long you could become the victim of a feed forward loop and be forced to dump calls on the field.

So what do people think will be the dominant factor to win games?

  1. Cycle Time - Score as fast as possible, flood the other side of the field with balls and try to force opponents to load loose balls on to the field to be snatched (feed forward loop).

  2. Cycle Efficiency - Try to maximize points per ball with your possessions, take your time and maintain possession, avoid turnovers and maybe try to force turnovers with defense.



Easy Math

1,2,3…1 is base score 2 is 100% improvement 3 is 150% improvement.
“Take time” does not seem like a good idea with 135 seconds to score and hang

Humans make mistakes…the more PC’s they have to deal with the more likely mistakes will happen. Max pressure in stressful situations causes more stress combined with low vision and blind spots … you get the idea.

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If previous years are any indication, cycle efficiency will be the factor that wins more matches. Doing something fast is pointless if it doesn’t get you any points.

That being said, the inner goal/outer goal functionality is different than anything we’ve had in the past. Typically (2012 & 2013) you had to choose whether to shoot at the 2pt goal or the 3pt goal. This year, you always shoot at the 3pt goal and if you miss by a small amount, you still get 2pts.


At low levels of play cycle time will be the dominant factor. As the level of play increases cycle efficiency will grow in importance, but never be as important as cycle time.


If you are the only robot on the field, then yes absolutely. But with defenders and other teammates getting in your way, wouldn’t scoring quickly in the outer goal (not straight on) or even the low goal be more beneficial than maneuvering around defenders and teammates and wasting cycles trying to get inner goal shots?

I know it is all situational, but I think it will boil down to having drive captains that are aware of the status of the game, especially with unlocking the stages to maximize the game pieces scored to unlock the stages and Control Panel.

Well this is where you need to look at the entire field. Having a robot that does fast cycles low/feeding a high shooter helps you just overrun the opponent with Power Cells. If you keep as many cells on your scoring end as possible you can have your most efficient scoring robot score slow and steady while your low/less effective bots run around like maniacs just controlling the game pieces.
The best alliance will have an accurate high shooter, a speedy little (probably trench) bot and a defender. The defender can work to control power cells or smash face at the enemy high shooter. At least in the initial weeks of competition.


In previous seasons, I’ve observed that cycle efficiency is a good way to rack up lots of RP in quals and seed high, and then get upset by a well-constructed underdog alliance with quick cycling. Why would this happen? Well, cycle time is in large part a measure of your programming, drivetrain quality, and driver skill, while cycle efficiency is a measure of your scoring mechanism quality and reliability. When the playoffs start, the defenders come out to play and your driving skill becomes a lot more important.

The one thing going for efficient cyclers this year is that I think it will be difficult to pick up and score rebounds quickly. Alliances doing a spray-and-pray strategy may end up with a bunch of balls spread thinly across the opponent’s sector, where it would be time-consuming to retrieve them. If you score 100% of your shots, balls will end up clustered more densely either in front of the opponent’s HP station or in front your own.


Well in 2013 cycle efficiency was probably the second biggest factor (next to luck) that helped us win champs. There were only a limited number of discs that didn’t recycle back into play, and we saw plenty of full-court-shooters who shot less then 50% accuracy, where our alliance could cycle all the disks. This game is different with the balls recycling back into play.

I’m most interested to see the cycle times between great robots running full field to pickup from the HP station, and cleaning up with their ground pickup. In most games in the past it was actually quicker to load from the HP station then ground pickup. But with a single HP station this year I wonder if that calculation will change.


I believe you are looking at this wrong.

Instead of looking at it from a cycle perspective, look at it at a points per second perspective. You should then look at where cycle time and efficiency get the most points per second.

It’s not an either/or situation, and it is much more of where the balance between the 2 is (for your robot). and will probably change with your alliance pairings and opponents.

Playing defense should also be calculated in, because if you can remove more points from your opponents than you could score, it would be beneficial to your alliance to play defense.


I agree, if you can get to the point where you you have more of the power cells on the offensive end of the field, you can get to point where their robots are spending far more time trying to cycle those power cells. Then you can overload the corral and force the opposing alliance to feed the PCs back on to the field for your alliance to shoot.

It makes me wonder whether a very valuable defender would be a robot that could quickly cycle from the chutes to the trench run and then just roll them under the control panel to a robot that is positioned at the end of the trench run to intake them and shoot them. Such a defender would be able to tilt the tables in terms of where the PCs are such that you can get the feedback loop going on the offensive end and anything that the opposing alliance does cycle back to there end could be quickly shuttled back to the offensive end by this defender.

Everybot is looking really good right about now!


One thing to remember is that every ball that gets returned has already been scored by the opponents, so they opponents are already ahead, if you think about it that way. It’s really more about the initial balls that are up for grabs on the field, and getting to those first.



Also remember that as the season goes on the number of Power Cells needed to get different stages activated is likely to go up, meaning that those small trench robots value actually increases as the season progresses. As the high shooters shoot accurately faster they need the Cells faster.
Small simple trench bots can both starve the enemy of quick refills while giving allies faster refills.

It is not so simple. As the game goes on both sides need to continue scoring cycles as fast as they can. If your alliance is able to take all the Power Cells the opponents scored as well as retrieve some of the Power Cells scored by your alliance (that were forced on the field by your rapid cycle times) you will win.

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I agree with this point. Every ball retrieved from own loading station represents a past failure (opponent score) that you are now trying to recover from. Cycling this ball quicker is great, but it also returns the ball to the other team to score back on you. You may be just trading points. It seems the way to gain an advantage is to:

  1. Score more points per ball than opposition, 3 > 2 > 1
  2. Force misses, gather rebounds so you can break the scoring trade off and score back to back with a given set of balls.
  3. Force feed forward loop so you can again get back to back to back shots on same balls.

Cycle time is important to advantage #3, but cycle efficiency (making upper shots, no misses) seems more important to advantages #1 and #2.

All of this is only a discussion of teleop power cell point differentiation between alliances. Auto scoring, penalty points, color wheel bonuses and climbing will probably swing more games than the teleop power cell scoring.

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Any strategy that involves having one robot feed balls to another needs to score more than if those two robots cycled independently.

If the play is to have the high goal scorer parked in the trench all match, you’re just having two robots doing the cycling work of one robot, with a possible small gain in cycling speed and shooting accuracy (along with the risk of having both robots getting taken out of the match if a defender intercepts the feeder robot).

If the play is to let the high goal scorer pick up balls while another bot is dumping them off at the trench, then you are just trading the full (presumably one-point shot) cycles from the feeder robot for the possibility of the getting twice as many cycles from the high goal scorer (and having the risk of both robots getting taken out of the match if the high goal scorer is intercepted by defense).

In either case, I don’t see this strategy being faster than the more straightforward alternatives (both cycle, one defends, etc.) unless you had two robots with very specific and peculiar sets of strengths and weaknesses.

I think the strategy would be to have one, or more than one shooter move around between the opposing alliance’s loading bay, the trench and collect whatever balls were available and shoot them. The defender bot would cycle between your alliances loading bay and your trench to move balls from the defensive end of the field to the offensive end of the field. The goal would be to get well over half of the balls at the offensive end of the field. this would mean that the 2 shooters would not have to cycle back to their own loading area and would instead be collecting power cells that were put on the field by the opposing alliance because there were more than 15 behind their wall. Those could be collected and shot so quickly, that they would need to return more to the field to collect. If you can get to the point where one of the shooters is collecting what gets dumped on the field and the other is collecting what the 3rd robot is cycling through the trench as well as collecting some of the balls that are returned to the field by the opposing alliance, then you can be shooting those with a much quicker cycle time. This is the positive feedback loop that others have talked about.

Obviously if that 3rd robot is able to shoot, then it gets even better, but if the cycle time to drive all the way down and shoot allow the opposing alliance to collect some of the balls that are returned to the field by your own alliance, then they start to get into the positive feedback loop as well. I really think that 3rd robot might be most effective if they can prevent the opposing alliance from getting the positive feedback loop going by quickly moving them to the other side of the field and into a protected zone.


its probably already been said but im to lazy to read all this lol
im pretty sure cycle time will be more important during qualifications. the faster you can get to through the stages the better.
however during eliminations the efficiency will be more important as at that point theres no ranking point or bonus for completeing stages. just grab as many points as you can.

I’d say that looking at the week 0 matches, your Cycle Time is greatly dependent upon the Cycle Efficiency of your opposition as well as your own alliances Cycle Effeciency. A robot that can quickly pick up missed shots and score them, a “Rodman” bot could be the difference after climbing.

I saw several matches where long shooters had no power cells close by to pick up because the opposing alliance weren’t making shots and the shots that were missed were scattered all over the field.

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This is why cycle time is an overrated metric for this (and most) years. Having a “good cycle time” is way too dependent on situation and having powercells near where you shoot.

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I absolutely disagree. There are a number of factors within your control. You should know what your cycle time is based on those factors and use this knowledge when making both design and game strategy tradeoffs.

Obviously if the other team is not effectively shooting, you will run out of CELLs to get from your feeder station. However, you will either have lots from the ground (their misses) or will be setting up a short feedback cycle getting them from their feeder station. Assumably you will have game plans for all these situations, and should have projected cycle times for each.

How else are you going to make tradeoffs unless you are one of the elite teams that is building a successful godbot?