Dark FRC, show me your secrets

My older son has a “commanding presence” that he used when pit scouting. He would talk to the teams in a very businesslike manner,asking about their strengths and capabilities. He would then ask them what their weaknesses were. About 1/3 of the teams would answer him. He then gave that information to our drive team to use in their next match against them.


They weren’t that busy. They also didn’t have to be rude.


FWIW they weren’t the only ones to redirect the balls on entry; even just from FIM 2337 and 51 come to mind as well. They just happened to be the most effective at it.

Their fault for not doing even basic “counter-scouting,” that is, looking at the match schedule.

On the other hand, the “Pick them and turn them upside down” gives me pause. If it was a scout hyberbolicly blowing off steam internal to the team, ok, I get that. Sharing it outside of internal team rants is unnecessary, and actually doing it is definitely un-GP.


Pretty anti-GP.


There is a fully legal*, very situational way to draw fouls in Infinite Recharge that requires really fast Human Players and a less-than-attentive opponent.

In theory, if an opponent had created the positive feedback loop of cells and was waiting at your Loading Station for more (think an open-hopper loader that needs to be right up against the wall) there is very little to stop all three Human Players from loading more than five Power Cells across the three center loads, dropping 2 per chute at the same time.

There’s a lot of rules that look like they would interfere with this, namely C8, but there’s a couple of workarounds and technicalities that make this admittedly unfeasible strat legal.

C8. Don’t expect to gain by doing others harm. Strategies clearly aimed at forcing the opponent ALLIANCE to violate a rule are not in the spirit of FIRST Robotics Competition and not allowed. Rule violations forced in this manner will not result in an assignment of a penalty to the targeted ALLIANCE.

On the surface, this seems like a straight shutdown of the strategy, no ifs or buts about it. But in the handy little blue box below this rule, there’s a bit of explanation:

C8 does not apply for strategies consistent with standard gameplay, for example, a Blue
C8 requires an intentional act with limited or no opportunity for the TEAM being acted on
to avoid the penalty…

There’s two things working against the opponent in this situation:

  1. With the positive feedback loop, your alliance HAS to get rid of the Power Cells and make room for incoming ones. In that sense, your hand has already been forced and complies with standard gameplay.
  2. As long as your alliance is not physically restraining the movements of the opponent, you are allowing for opportunity to avoid the penalty. There is very little reason your opponent cannot get out of the way during this time.

The other rule that seems to be in direct conflict is G8:

G8: POWER CELLS: use as directed. ROBOTS may not deliberately use POWER CELLS in an attempt to ease or amplify the challenge associated with FIELD elements.

Though this seems to be a misuse of the Power Cells, the rule clearly states that it must be a robot executing the action. Unless you’ve fielded your robot behind the wall, this is not relevant.

Is this possible to achieve? Sure, but it’s unlikely.
Is it GP? Probably not.
Is it interesting to think of ways to get around the rules? Absolutely.

*all rules and interpretations have been run by a friendly neighborhood Head Referee.

At offseasons where there are rules against picking teams within the top 8, teams intentionally playing inexperienced drivers or intentionally throwing matches so they drop out of the top 8.


…and you know this how? Did you ask them if they were busy, and did they reply with “no we aren’t that busy we are only a little bit busy but we still don’t want to talk to you right now?”


Umm we didn’t actually build a robot to do that. It a was a just joke.

When half of the students in the pit are on their phones…


…and you checked all of their phones to make sure they weren’t frantically trying to search CD or vendor manuals for a solution to a problem they were having?


Instead of having a team safety captain, we relied on a “decentralized, self-correcting safety captain mesh network” where each member would serve as their own safety captain in the area they were working in. This can also be referred to as having common sense.

Needless to say, the UL reps were not pleased. “all around us” is apparently not an acceptable response to “Where is your safety captain?”


People reading manuals or looking for solutions on CD usually aren’t giggling and laughing. I stated in my original post that this team has a reputation for doing things that make people upset at them.

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While I understand you didn’t actually do this, I wanted to make it clear to future readers that your proposed “strategy” was clearly illegal. (I have read a staggering number of posts that were more than 10 years old.)

By the time 2014 Einstein Final 3 rolled around, everyone but 469 had run out of their canned air supplies. I remember 469 passing canned air around to all the other teams as we got our robots set up for that last match. Good times, and very cool of 469.



This was us at SVR last year, and one of our least safe design leads gave the safety talk to judges. He distinctly remembers the judges marking “not safe” on some of their categories.

And we aren’t a team that focuses very much on safety. We have teams that put up safety posters and gives out baking soda, and you have our team where the entire driveteam was on the field without glasses and got yelled at by the referees.

Regardless we won runner-up. I have absolutely no clue.

Haw, Haw, haw!


On a related note, always swap breakers (PDP and main) when they trip and relegate them to the practice robot. They’ll trip at a lower threshhold each time, exacerbating your problem. I’ve also seen teams just completely swap breakers between finals matches for both that reason and thermals.

My general understanding of the safety award is that it went to whoever doesn’t completely blow off or avoid the UL reps, which could often be a majority of the teams at a comp.


We developed an extremely dark arts strategy at the start of 2017 that we never implemented.

As a refresher on that game, you only could score rotors by placing gears, and you could only get extra gears by having HPs pull up the lift with a rope. Well, you could have relatively easily designed a robot that year to go over to the opponent’s airship and pull all of their ropes down onto the field. This would have eliminated the possibility of any additional rotor scoring as there would be no way for opponent robots to get gears up to the HPs.

This strategy was later unintentionally invalidated by a re-design of the lift system (adding the pvc ring), but early in the season this dark strategy seemed to be legal, viable, and very powerful. After doing this once or twice on unsuspecting opponents, it may have developed into a tug-of-war between the HPs and the robot. Which obviously would have mandated a rule change as that would clearly be unsafe. That was our main reason for abandoning it.

Really would have liked to see the confused opponent HPs though the first time this happened, they look down and all their ropes are gone, leaving them helpless.