[FiM] 2017 Season Preview

I’m back with a quick season preview! I didn’t expect to have time to write much this year, but happened upon some time this week. No guarantees that happens again. I hope you find this post insightful!

How do I win
At early districts, even winning alliances rarely have a third alliance partner that can contribute much. As such, there are essentially three possible alliances:

  • Gearbot/gearbot - This strategy hinges on getting the fourth rotor (but if they do, that’s basically a trump card).
  • Gear/ball - the safe and most likely strategy. Gearbot gets the third rotor, ballbot gets the 40 kPa bonus.
  • Ball/ball - this alliance doesn’t seem to make much sense, but there’s a few compelling reasons to go this way. The first is if there’s only two great ballbots, and they don’t want to face each other. They could also feast on overflow balls once they get a flow going. Finally, realistically most good ballbots can do gears well too, so you may still be able to get three rotors and big ball points.

Obviously the matchups will depend on just how good each of those ballbots and gearbots are. There are three big questions that define how the early weeks will play out:

Can two gearbots be good enough to guarantee the 4th rotor?
Honestly, probably not. Maybe you can make an alliance that would average 16-20 gears when undefended. But when your opponent throws the kitchen sink at you, that’s probably not enough. You might end up winning until you match up against a good ballbot. Ballbot gets 40 kPa and 2 rotors, other two opponents play defense all match. They hold you to three rotors, they win. This changes later in the season when your third robot contributes more (but the matches will be more interesting if I’m wrong from the get-go).

Since I think the answer to the above is no, that means most alliances will be getting the exact same number of rotors (three). Therefore, winning comes down to balling or climbing.

How good will ballbots be?
Sure, we’ve all seen the spectacular shooters. They provide a big net score, comparable to an extra climb. Unfortunately, my impression is that most shooters won’t be able to get that 40 kPa bonus, let alone more than 50 net points (i.e. a climb) compared to your opponent. It seems to me so far that a few ballbots will be spectacular, most will be baaaad, and there’ll be a few in the middle. Since that’s mostly inconclusive, it brings you to the final question of what’s going to win the early events.

Did you cheesecake a climber onto your third team?
If you didn’t, you should have. Climbing is too easy and too valuable a task to NOT cheesecake a climber onto your partner that can’t climb. Since climbing is a task that’s usually hit or miss in early weeks, I think climb consistency is more likely to decide finals matches than balls (unless you’re dealing with a superstar ballbot situation).

I guess I should talk about teams a bit so nobody gets upset. Most teams haven’t revealed yet. 33 showed off a nice shooter, but you have to think that they’d have shown off more if there was more worth showing off. 2054 showed a swerve bot and a pretty brave strategy, going without a high shooter. Bold move Cotton, etc. This is always a pointless time of year to be a prediction account, to be honest, so I’ll just tell you where to watch to see how Michigan’s top teams will perform.

The key events are Southfield and St. Joseph. At Southfield, you’ve got 33, 67, 548, and 2137, plus 107 coming over from the west side. The Michigan St. Joseph event has 85, 1918, 2767, 3620, and 4967. Two Michiganders were apparently too scared of the Michigan St. Joseph and figured the same-named event in the same week in Indiana would be easier. Look in that direction for 2054 and 2771’s debuts.

27 is headed out of state too, making their 4th trip to Northern Lights in 5 years. Coming off a state championship and shooting twice as hard, they should have a shot at winning it for the first time. Meanwhile, the Martians are splitting up to Kettering 1 and 2 (they’ll meet up later at Lansing). 1023 and 3641 debut at Ann Arbor in Week 2.

Finally, a few top teams won’t play until week 3. 2834, 217, and 1718 debut at Gull Lake, Pittsburgh, and Waterford, respectively. Jumping into a stacked Waterford event (a partial Southfield repeat) will be tough for 1718.

Best of luck to you at your events!

I think you err on the side of optimism and generosity when you speak of 40kPa & 4th rotors (especially at early events). I have had the honor of seeing many of the aforementioned robots in their pre-season form, and I don’t think it would be too presumptuous say that most of us are struggling to put much as much fuel into the boiler as we had envisioned a month ago.

Personally, I expect the early successful playoff alliances to spin 3 rotors and climb 2 bots consistently. The difference will come down to fuel (largely from preloaded charges in autonomous, since teams will be too focused on hanging gears to deal with fuel at 1/3 point per ball) and whether or not the 3rd partner can climb (not too likely at early districts). We will soon find out.

I hope you can find the time for more posts. They are insightful and well written.

Thanks and sorry about that. On bag day it was between making an unveil video and working on autonomous - auto won the day. We’re looking forward to Southfield though!

Cheers, Bryan

There are actually 10 Michigan teams coming to the IndianaFIRST St. Joseph district to play, which was easily checked on a handy site called The Blue Alliance. Check it out sometime: https://www.thebluealliance.com/event/2017inmis

We’re looking forward to the competitiveness that Michigan can bring, and welcome our friends from the north.

The Indiana St. Joe Event actually looks interesting from the teams competing. If it wasn’t the same weekend as FiM’s, I would have tried to convince my team to attend it (and it is also very nearby).

Overall I am looking forward to competing at St. Joe once again this year, it’s my team’s local event and it’s always good to see some very good teams from throughout the state attending, and also catch up with some local friends.
Southfield may be an event I’ll have to live stream this year, it’ll be interesting to see how the alliances all end up, and the strategies performed by some of these higher level teams since it’ll be one of the first events for Michigan.
Good luck to all of you teams competing this weekend!

The FIM St Joseph event actually looks interesting as well.

It has been great seeing our northern areas and Michigan’s southern areas working together to make sure both events will be awesome.

I think the Indiana event is going to be way more difficult than your average Michigan district event. Looking at teams such as 1501, 1747, 3590, 135, 71, 3147, and 461 to have highly functional robots. As someone that has been a mentor in both areas I expect it to be a lot of fun and a fierce competition come semifinals.

Step 1: Rank Michigan teams by some arbitrary metric and take the top 20
Step 2: Tell people where those 20 teams are going for their first event
Step 3: ???
Step 4: [strike]Profit[/strike]People get all mad

Sorry Caro, Indiana was too easy a target. FYI by the same metric, Indiana is actually the strongest state* for FRC. Why do people get worked up about little things?

*with an appreciable number of teams (more than 20 or 30)

You’re probably right about fuel, Wayne, but I think a lot of mid-tier teams (the teams that don’t get a lot of attention) focused on gears, the same way a lot of mid-tier teams in 2013 focused on cycling. A team like 862 in 2013 could get 3 rotors on its own. Some of the low goal cyclers from last year come to mind as well. I envision a few of those stupid simple robots at every event. There’ll be a lot of matches, even in week 1, where the 4th rotor is within the potential of an alliance. Whether or not they get it, or if their opponents allow them to get it, that’s debateable.

While I doubt 24 teams will climb in qualifications at a district, I think you forgot your cheesecake.

We didn’t forget about it. We just don’t have any room on our plate for it right now. Our goal is to seed high enough to pick a team that brought some.:smiley:

Interestingly, a pretty good defensive bot (albeit not often seen in the early districts) this year is as valuable as a climber bot. If they can harass a slow climbing bot for 15 seconds or so denying the opposing alliance the 50 points, that’s worth the same as if they climbed themselves … [even better of course if after the harassment, they could then run back and quickly climb their own rope]

I would hardly call 2 district wins and an Einstein appearance a “mid-tier team”. Also I appreciate the effort you are putting into these posts and hope they continue each week. Good luck to all teams in week 1!

Teams I’m excited weekend in FIM:

Kettering 1: 70, 245 and 5460
Lakeview: 830 and 4003
Southfield: 33, 67, 107, 548, 573, 1025, 1250, 1701, and 2960

I think 2 district wins and an Einstein appearance is more than you’d typically expect from 862 & similar teams, especially because this was before extreme growth diluted the strength of Michigan districts*. They accomplished it because they built simple and clearly had practice. I think teams of similar caliber could find similar success this year through that same method, especially in early weeks.

*“Michigan events are strong” is a popular and very wrong sentiment. Michigan events (except MSC) have been pretty average for the past few years. Growth slowed this year, and if that continues, the strength of Michigan events will go back up.

Very good point for slow-climbing opponents. Just don’t touch the rope!

Cheesecake with a motor is a lot different than passive cheesecake…passive proves itself hard enough for teams.


I think you could cheesecake a few mechanisms with motors pretty easily and that you will probably see it as soon as week 2…::rtm::

Or 1.

Can’t wait to see it. Many teams have this plan but very few carry them out with success. I hope you guys get it going!


Does anyone know if the matches will be archived on the FIM Youtube page again?

…yeahhhh good call. Looks like getting 4 rotors consistently takes (a) two great gearing robots and (b) at least one of them getting significant gears off the ground. Driving will get better, but the congestion in the lanes adjacent to the airship won’t, so we may never see an alliance get 4 rotors purely off cycling. On the fuel side, how can fuel teams make the leap into relevance (i.e. getting the RP) if they’re heavily incentivized against using or practicing their fuel capabilities? Looking forward to seeing how the game changes the next few weeks.