Starting a discussion post on this because @XaulZan11 and I have been discussing a bit since the championship and found many cases where maybe the forks might have actually had an adverse effect on match results. (reducing cycles due to earlier climbing)
I want to preface by saying i was very impressed with all of the “side climbs” we got to see this year and my team before champs was a bit disappointed we never got one thrown onto the robot, we loved seeing all of the awesome ideas/designs different teams used. Hopper has 2 side climbers on the SAME alliance and it was a beautiful thing seeing them pull that off in the playoff matches.
This is in no way a dig at any strategy or coaching just an interesting observation. Anyone else come to a similar conclusion after seeing everything shake out?
Yes they did, but the real question is how much they helped. They helped the fork team stay scoring, but the times when it allowed an additional cycle were very limited. If a 3 balance takes 10-12 seconds, and your side balance is a citrus Circuits fast 3 or 4 seconds, can you run an additional cycle in that 7 or 8 seconds remaining? Maybe…
I think the forks are “cool” but only help the single team with the forks. Everyone else needs to be already balanced with like 5-10s left for the forks to be used, and that’s 2 robots wasting time not scoring. I see it sort of as a gimmick this season.
But then again, a fork robot went to Einstein and I didn’t so…
I guess my question is more execution, because people were planning for the fork climbs did they not take advantage of the additional cycle enough? Many times I saw one robot going up as early as 20s left whereas with a standard 3 robots drive up climb they could’ve easily supercharged another node.
I think a good alliance could triple in 5 seconds doing it the “standard” way
We have forks and didnt use them at all this weekend. We triple balanced most matches.
I would say they were not worth using in most cases and it was just better to triple balance side by side. The only flexibility it did allow was if the other 2 robots happen to be really wide, then it could be useful. This was pretty rare though.
We intended to not use any forks that may have been attached to robots we selected in elims this year. We felt they forced 2 robots to balance earlier than necessary, taking them away from our alliance’s scoring.
My observation with the “fork climb” this year was that I felt they were far more valuable in qualification matches to help ensure you got that extra RP.
As other mentioned, I dont know how often it allowed teams to get an extra cycle in, especially in higher levels of play.
What it did enable though, was having your other 2 partners balance earlier on (lets say hypothetically you had 1 or 2 partners that weren’t the most effective at scoring this year), while the robot with the forks kept scoring in the last 20ish seconds, before racing in to slide their forks under for the triple balance.
I definitely don’t think our forks had a negative effect on our alliance. The ability in to have a climb that required very little coordination and everyone back at the right time I think was very beneficial. being able to run those last few cycles is crucial but you never want to risk missing the climb and guaranteeing a loss.
That being said, we were one of the fastest forks this year; would that still be the case for teams that weren’t as fast on it? Probably not besides in quals. The threshold I came up with in my analysis was 8 second approach to climb time. This is because I don’t think I would have ever wanted us to do the 3 coordinated robots coming up at 3 seconds left like I saw a lot of alliances doing. I would much rather one robot push for an extra cycle or two with the ability to opt out of the climb than all 3 push and then risk getting a dock.
I’d echo this. The benefit for us was certainly more clear-cut in quals.
Teams generally were able to execute a double balance easier than a triple, which means it’s a good idea to just do a double balance for the RP (assuming dock in auto) so long as you don’t need the extra +8 delta over the two+park for the win.
With the forks, we were able to have a mostly static strategy for our alliance partners: both go and double balance at some time. If there needs to be a triple balance, we can come on after and make it happen. If not, we’ll do another cycle and park. There doesn’t need to be an entire alliance call and coordination of how robots get on the bridge if we want to change between a double and triple, which I think decreases the risk.
Basically, we’ve found that good alliance strategy and coordination is actually harder in quals than in elims. The teams only get one go playing together, and there is less time to work on that coordination. Forks certainly made that coordination easier, which made mistakes overall less likely.
We didn’t have forks, but it seemed to me like the main advantage was the ability to triple balance with larger teammates, and working with weaker teammates where you could have them safely double balance early and you come in at the end to fork climb.
Forks were on my radar as a potential championship improvement since 7407 showed them off in their OA blog during build season. Initially, I thought they’d be a slam dunk net positive until around mid-season and saw how quickly alliances could triple balance the normal way. Coming into the championship, I was very skeptical if they provided any value during playoffs. Based on somewhat casual viewing of playoff matches, I still felt they didn’t really help, but that’s based on small sample size and prone to confirmation bias.
So, I tested my hypothesis and watched all 226 triple balance attempts (27 with forks, 199 without) during playoff matches on all 8 divisions and Einstein. I recorded when each robot started their balance and if they were successful.
In terms of success rate, forks vs normal climbs were pretty much the same:
In terms of total time spent balancing, normal climbs were over 9 seconds faster:
In terms of time spent by the last robot on normal climbs vs the fork robot, normal climbs were over 1 second faster:
I do agree forks made qualification match strategy easier (“you two balance with 10 seconds left and we’ll join you if we need it”) and could open up possibility to pick larger robots, but in terms of it being quicker or allowing the forked robot an extra cycle, the data doesn’t really support that being the case.
I would say that the forks provided more reliability and consistency in the end. It’s much easier to coordinate balancing for two bots than three, and then the fork bot just takes advantage of that without disturbing it. The only problems were when the wheel spacing didn’t match with the forks (a situation we discovered at SVR).
Anyways, from the forks we never really found them to have adverse effects (other than when we lifted our partner up off the charge station - oops ). We had one match at DCMP where we tried another cycle but ran out of time, so we used them instead of the regular climb. What we did find helpful is the reliability. There is no having to make sure the station is balanced after you are on it. 2046 having a side climb also made things pretty interesting - only one robot had to go up first making things pretty easy. They didn’t have to climb that early, and the safety of only putting one robot for balancing made the forks worth it in this case. Anyways, if nothing else, gotta make endgame more exciting somehow right?