Deep Space is going to be ruined by Defence



It really wasn’t all that hard, the rocket is small and easy to defend, once an alliance has committed to scoring on one to try and get the RP, parking a robot in front of it and getting in the way of any scoring robots makes getting the RP practically impossible. You really don’t have enough time to switch to another rocket once you have started scoring on one. If the offense bot tries to switch to the cargo you are feet away from hitting them while they try and score on that side of the cargo ship.

Because of how small the rocket is, it is easy to grab the corner of robots and push them away from the face of the rocket. It’s very different than 2017 where the size of the airship and the flaps between the scoring stations really helped, and limited defence.

I look forward to creative mechanisms and strategies to deal with defence, if anyone has secret methods please share :slight_smile:


I wonder how holonomic drivetrains will handle this year’s game. Sure, they make placement easier, but will they really increase cycle times when trying to survive defense against a 6 pneumatic wheel WCD? I will be very interested to see how top level teams who traditionally run swerve handle it this year.


Even with all of the strategy in the world, a single defensive bot can pretty much only cover a single opponent. Teams will eventually get good enough at scoring such that it will become very difficult for a single bot to effectively stop two or more primary scorers. I suspect the main impact of this year’s defensive game will be a shift of the balance toward more evenly-skilled alliances, as a single star primary scorer will easily be keyed upon by defenders whereas a tandem of two or three decent performers will be more difficult to stop.




I’m going to call this the tall robot fallacy. I’ve heard it a number of times from many different sources saying something along the lines of “defense will destroy tall robots this year” or “we’re going to see so many tall robots tipped over by defense”… defense doesn’t discriminate this year… I have little doubt that “low robots” will similarly be destroyed by defense.

Not all tall robots are top heavy and not all tall robots will be as susceptible to defense as a lot of low robots. Certainly some will… but I think that number will be lower than most are thinking. I’d be a little more concerned about defense as a low robot honestly… tall robots have more easily available options when it comes to scoring where the defender isn’t. And that’s the key to scoring against defense this year… be where the defender isn’t.

One robot on an alliance might honestly be defensive fodder this year while the other scores undefended. This game could come down to a lot of 1 v 1 situations where the fastest robot wins. The defender can only be on one half of the field at a time…


G19. Don’t tear others down to lift yourself up.Strategies aimed at the destruction or inhibition of ROBOTS via attachment, damage, tipping, or entanglements are not allowed.

My interpretation of this rule is that you can’t intentionally (or accidently) knock over an opposing bot when playing defense or accidently break a mechanism on the opposing bot by purposfully tipping. Just raise up your elevator and you essentially can’t be hit without risking a red card.


With the way the field elements are laid out and the forms of defense that can be effective, the advantage may actually go to the lighter, more agile defensive robot that is better at “getting in the way”. Even if a lighter robot loses a pushing match, they have won because they lengthened the cycle time.

The field layout also makes it harder to play effective anti-defense.


Yeah, we often have reason to talk about this. I do think last year there was evidence that many tall robots were outscored by short bots that could score quicker, though short bots were more of a “great partner” to the most effective tall scorers, rather than being the tops seeds themselves. This year, though, the scoring zone is open for defensive contact, and it’s a much smaller area (both in terms of surrounding footprint and in terms of how large the scoring target is). I’m prepared to be proven wrong (as usually happens), but for now I think this is more reality than fallacy for 2019.


This is not the common interpretation of the rule in my experience. A single hit can take down a tall robot, but that single hit is not a “strategy”. There is some responsibility on the team to design a robot that is durable enough to play the game.

See this thread: 2789 - 2013 Highlight Reel

In the attached YouTube clips, there’s at least one toppling of a robot. But, 2789 received 0 red cards that year.

Now, repeated hits, that’s a different story.


Just like the Red card given in this match? (I saw 2016 was your Rookie year and it reminded me).

The point is that historically cards have been given for only exceptionally egregious tippings (e.g. putting a robot flipping spatula on your bot). I doubt any penalties will be assessed simply for running into the bumpers of extended robot.

Edit: 1:20 if the timestamp doesn’t work


bumper to bumper contact is legal and will cause a lot of robots to tip over. Remember how many robots fell over last year just trying to score on the scale… imagine that with defence.

I am totally getting ahead of myself here, but how early will top defence robots get picked? End of the first round in some cases?


We shall see who was right!


impact - I see what you did there.


I had talked about this very early on in the season where I commented on the disadvantages of having an elevator because when extended you would be super easy to tip. Even “regular” defense without any intention to tip you could easily cause a robot to get tipped. I think that a good defensive driver with just a chassis could get pretty far if they have good strategy. Honestly tho I don’t think it will ruin the game. 1 robot on defense will be fun to watch imo but it will be a large deviation from the norm of how competitons have played out these past couple years.


If a defensive robot has a strong sandstorm, and quick level 3 climb, and is actually good at defense, I could see them going as early as 3rd or 4th overall.


Even if a robot with an elevator does not tip over, a series of slight nudges would probably totally frustrate them. Just watch all the reveal videos showing scoring in the top Portals. Many of those robots are wobbling around on their own without anyone playing defense on them.


Coming from a team that went low in 2018 and did score more total cubes than most tall robots last year I completely get where you’re coming from. I also fully agree that going low this year is more strategically advantageous than going low last year by a significant margin.

Maybe it’s just the limited number of robots I’ve seen so far (maybe 50 in person at week 0 events, and probably over 100 in videos online) but I haven’t seen many well implemented low bots. 1816 is an awesome example of a low-only robot that is faster at scoring than most tall robots… I’m failing to name another low-only robot that can outscore the tall robots I’ve seen. The top teams seem to have gone high this year like usual and as such I think we’ll see more of the same with a lot of tall robots selecting tall robots come playoffs.

I would also note that the design tradeoff of staying low didn’t seem to help many of the teams I’ve watched in terms of cycling speed versus the tall robots I’ve seen. Could be because teams learned from last year how to build tall robots and the learning curve was shortened, further reducing the advantage of going low.


Counterpoint: I’m worried that the lack of defense may ruin this game.

What makes games interesting is interaction. Robots need to work with and against each other for there to be any real strategic challenge, otherwise there’s no point in even having multiple robots on the field.

And in every competitive sport, card game, and video game I know, strategic depth comes mainly from how players/teams react and block the strategies of their opponents. The same applies to a good FRC game - without a good metagame where alliances have to react to and counter their opponents’ strategy, is it really a competition?

Now, I definitely agree that this game poses greater risks to the robots involved. It’s definitely why the GDC brought back the one-defender-at-a-time rule from 2016, which I have no problems with. But by moving all the loading and scoring zones to the same side of the field, there’s no reason to even approach another robot in the course of normal gameplay. I’m worried they went too far in that, and now most matches will take place with zero interaction and robots simply trying to score as fast as possible. Two alliances playing solitaire that just happen to share a field.

Solitaire is not fun to watch. I had to watch it in 2017, where there was usually little reason for robots to interact, and it was boring. Matches came exclusively down to which team could score the most (and I hear in 2015 it was even worse). The engineering challenge isn’t supposed to be thought of in a vacuum, either. Robots are designed to operate in the real world, where unexpected and annoying things try to impede performance.


Yeah I 100% agree. And as people had pointed out earlier too this game requires a ton of precision. Something I haven’t seen many people talk about but might have just missed is how much congestion this would cause. Sending 1 robot on your alliance for defense not only prevents 1 robot from scoring but also creates a ton of congestion that will lead to significantly slower cycle times for all of the opponent robots.

The only reason I don’t see defense being heavily implemented this year is because people generally want to look good to other teams who might potentially pick them however I think any team will take the 2 rp over “looking good”.


There is a way this ruins the game for some teams.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a game where scoring manipulators had to be outside the frame perimeter to score. Also, it’s been a while since we’ve had a game where you can be actively interfered with while attempting to score.

So…how many hatch mechanisms will be broken off robots when they are placing (even on the cargo ship) and get hit from the side by an opponent. (Insert earlier point about holonomic drives here.) I suspect there could be a lot of teams that run into frustrations with damage like there were in 2014, the last time we had an open field with no protected game piece scoring zones* and manipulators outside the frame perimeter.

*Clarity: 2019 has protection in the HAB, but not the game piece scoring locations