Defensive Free For All


That really depends on the game. This year, there’s only two loading stations, only (up to) six null hatch cargo bays, and some real possibility for congestion on the sides of the cargo ship. In somesituations, you may get the same or even better offensive production out of two robots than you would get from three robots trying to share that space (let alone 4 if the opponent sends a defender). This is especially true if multiple robots on your alliance are cargo focused, as you can quickly run out of bays on the cargo ship and knocking cargo loose on the loading area tends to significantly slow many hatch loaders.

Granted, I played in plenty of 3 offensive team matches this past weekend at Westtown. There were a bunch of teams that didn’t plan on being able to retract into their frame perimeter, so they couldn’t be asked to play defense. There were other times when we were more confident about being able to share loading areas, knowing teams had specific dimensions or drivetrains that could work in corners together.


The edit tracking feature is rather handy! I love it!


agreed :slight_smile:


In Florida defense is practically a way of life on the field. It’s just how we play, if you can’t take a beating it’s not durable enough. If you want to see some shut down defense watch this weekend and I can almost guarantee it!


Nothing in that Quarterfinal match showed any malicious intent in anyway. As much as you “want” less defense there will always be teams that play defense. I remember our first 3 years (2004-2007), my freshman to junior years, we explicitly built a robot to only play defense and went to Worlds once. I love seeing a good battle between teams with some good defense thrown in.


I’m very impressed with the responses in this thread thus far. Other than the OP’s comments, this thread has remained level-headed. :slight_smile:


Just as a comparison to kickoff first-impressions, here’s a link to the pertinent thread.


I’m not sure why you’re offended. I understand how you’re feeling. I felt the same way in my first season as a mentor. Since then, I’ve encouraged our students to come up with robust designs and to ensure everything is well secured. This year we built our robot to score and to play the game. Our robot has a 4’ elevator; it’s definitely not a defensive bot, but our alliance captains asked us to play defence. Our drivers came into the pit and said “is our robot up for defence?” and we said “give 'er” and they obliged. The hardest hit came when our robot travelled across the field in front of the alliance wall intending to go around the cargo ship and a bot on the opposing alliance backed up in full reverse (intentionally? Not sure). The two robots collided at their aggregate full speed. The opposing robot shot parts 15 feet away from the collision. Our robot survived and continued to play the match. No parts flew off our robot and there was no damage.

The collision happened not directly as an act of defense; it just happened as our robot was going somewhere to do defense.

I’m going to repeat what everyone else has said. You should build your robot to anticipate high speed collisions. In the real world, I write my software defensively too.


We were in a elim match, still no video, and the defender hit our partner hard enough to cause their elevator to list 20 degrees. The only reason a yellow card was issued, NOT RED, was because they got inside the frame perimeter.

I’m guessing that the refs are flagging G19 as a red card if the incapacitation occurs with a robot part becoming removed. Hitting a bot and causing a wire to come loose isn’t being treated the same as hitting a bot and knocking a battery out of the bot. But if you hit a bot, go inside the frame and they are incapacitated, then expect a red card.

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.
Violation: TECH FOUL and YELLOW CARD. If harm or incapacitation occurs as a result of the
strategy, RED CARD

For example, use of a wedge-like MECHANISM to tip ROBOTS is a violation of G19.
MECHANISMS outside the FRAME PERIMETER are particularly susceptible to causing
such damage, drawing this penalty, and/or drawing penalties associated with violations of
Teams are encouraged to be cautious in their use of such MECHANISMS when
engaging in ROBOT to ROBOT MATCH play.

G20. Stay out of other ROBOTS. Initiating deliberate or damaging contact with an opponent ROBOT on
or inside the vertical extension of its FRAME PERIMETER, including transitively through a GAME
PIECE, is not allowed.
High speed accidental collisions may occur during the MATCH and are expected.
Generally, ROBOTS extend elements outside of the FRAME PERIMETER at their own
A ROBOT with an element outside its FRAME PERIMETER may be penalized under G20
if it appears they are using that element to purposefully contact another ROBOT inside its


You still need SOME distance, but for teams optimizing around sprint distances of ~15-20 feet they should be hitting top speed in fairly short distances.

My point is, this isn’t new. The drivetrain arms race has been a thing since before I started and it’ll continue. Only through effective game design can we REALLY stop this sort of destructive play.

The real reason I care isn’t because I can’t build a robot that can handle it, it’s because a LOT of people don’t like it. I was sitting with my fellow judges in Arkansas last week and some teams were playing VERY aggressive defense. Many of them remarked that it was crappy because we wanted to see teams playing the game not trying to break other robots (when a team is backing up and ramming repeatedly into another robot and has tied their manipulator inside their frame, they aren’t playing the game… doubly so when they are an alliance captain).


The thing is that playing defense is playing Deep Space. Designing without keeping defense in mind when the game has several obvious chokepoints is just irresponsible. As a student in FIRST, I find it really awesome that I have the ability to beat a team who is strictly “better” than mine is, if I outthink them before the match, and I play the game better than them.

If every year was a scoring race a la 2015, then I know I wouldn’t have stayed in FIRST and I doubt that the program would be anywhere near the size that it is. The most popular competitive sports all have contact and competition in every match. There’s a reason that football or hockey or soccer or what have you is more popular than sports where someone just plays against the objective. Defense and competition is what makes the game more interesting.


As the mentor of a team that zip-tied our manipulator inside our bot to ensure we didn’t receive fouls, I can assure you that our team “was playing the game”. I can also assure you that playing defense by backing up running into another team repeatedly, is not trying to “break other robots” but is required unless you want a foul for pinning. Whether or not a team is an alliance captain is not, has no bearing on whether they are playing on defense or not. If your two alliance selections are better at placing objects than you, and you can climb, and the other team can scored faster than your team, it makes strategic sense for the captain to play defense.

The defensive element of the game does change the way game is played. Personally, I liked to see the defense and the way good drivers can adjust. If the concern is about multiple impacts and collisions, maybe the 5 second pin rule could be examined in the future. I think it is fine the way it is.


Just on the note of civility: this is one of the most civil threads I’ve ever seen on CD where there’s a disagreement. Heck, I’ve seen less civil threads where everyone is agreeing.


I am remarking on comments I heard. You can’t change how your actions are perceived by others merely what your actions are.


Sounds like a great opportunity for you, as a longtime FRC enthusiast, to set the record straight with these judges that this was a team doing what it thought was in the best interest of its alliance.

I’ve never worked with the team in question, but I’m quite confident in making the assertion that they did not design and create this mechanism with the intent of tying it back in eliminations. What I would choose to see is a team acting AS CAPTAINS and giving their alliance its best chance to succeed.

This program is all about changing cultures. If the judges think this is another science fair, then they won’t fully appreciate the program or the subtle strategies employed by teams.


I’m not sure if they were referring to our robot specifically, but we, 4087, were an alliance captain who played defense.
It’s how we got to become an alliance captain; by playing defense and climbing hab 3. Our alliance members were much better at scoring game pieces than us, and we were much better at playing defense, as we had an extremely agile drive train, robust build, and great driver.
Here’s the thing, though: we lost because of effective counter defense. It was possible. It’s how the game is played. Defense is a part of it, and overcoming defense is also another part of it. It is “actually playing the game”.


I believe a good question for the FIRST community, is “How do we want the perception of the audience/judges to be influenced by how the robots interact on the field.?” As this game is designed, defense is without a doubt going to be played. If our audience/judges seem to be under the impression that a team “is not playing the game” or is intentionally trying to “break other robots” how can FIRST educate the audience/judges that a team playing defense (and possibly tying a manipulator up) is actually playing the game as the game is designed?

I know we didn’t really want to tie up our manipulator to play defense in eliminations, but the statistical analysis clearly indicated that if we wanted any chance to win, that was the strategy that had to be employed. We are completely redesigning our manipulator so we can place faster at our next event, but if the stats show we need to play defense, you better believe we will play defense.

I know at some prior year’s events teams were interviewed post-match on the big screen. I am wondering if such interviews would help the students explain and promote what is going on with defense and strategies? Personally, I would like to hear post-match interviews with teams if they are willing to talk, a whole lot more than listening to the Cupid Shuffle or Cotton-eyed Joe for the 100th time.


Indiana = basketball (still defense but no missing teeth or concussions)
South = football
North = hockey


I used to play basketball. A “non contact” sport.

Concussion, broken arm, sprained ankles, dislocated fingers, broken ankle, stitches, bruised ribs, broken ribs and a fractured vertebra are among some of the injuries I sustained. I’m sure I could come up with a few more minor events that occurred.

The fractured vertebra and the broken arm were caused by being undercut while up in the air playing offense. That would be a red card on the defense.

The other injuries listed were created by playing aggressive defense or just playing the game. I was called for many fouls. Never received a technical. No yellow or red cards.

Getting injured did not stop me from playing once healed or playing hurt when able, nor did it stop my love of the game.

Defense is part of most games, from professional sports to the simplest. You play defense in tic tac toe, at least I do.

Defense wins Championships is a very common phrase. Defense is a part of life, just as offense is a part of life.

FRC is a game, as with any game it has many different strategies, that would include both offensive and defensive strategies.

May the best alliance win!


Those of us who knew the rules explained that it was legal. Doesn’t change that they didn’t like what they were seeing.

Do I think it’s a team problem? Nah, I don’t think less of the team in question, and I don’t think others did either.

Do I think it’s a GDC problem? Absolutely.