First Week Regionals *Merged*

Doug G is right. Our alliance thought we could win by having 2 fast cappers and a defensive robot. It seemed to work well for a while until we got to finals and came up against 3 high cappers. We had the weakness that even though we capped really fast and reliably, we couldn’t cap the small goals more than 2 high. Even with that weakness, we went undefeated in the qualifying rounds (11-0-0, 9 avg pts) mainly because of strategy.

Coaches are big this year. The driver and myself (the operator) were too busy avoiding our teammates and bashers (which there are quite a few of this year) to think about where to go next. Our coach scoped the field and we did the work.

Communication between coaches is key also. Have a predetermined plan and try to stick somewhat to it, but also be open to adaptation at any point. We sometimes would cap 5 goals and then go and play defense for the last 30 seconds.

Getting back to home zone for the 10 points in not worth it unless the entire team in unable to cap (i.e. not designed to do it or flipped). Say you own your entire side, the entire middle, and a corner on your opponents side. You shoot back with 20 seconds remaining. In those 20 seconds, an opponent could cap the center goal or a middle side goal, thereby taking away 2 rows and 20 of your points. It seems to me that it is more important to keep capping till the end, it will net you more points and will keep your opponents from stealing from you.

The big thing to do in autonomous this year is to cap a corner goal with the starting tetra which also knocks down a hanger, thereby scoring you 4 points. When we were paired with 254 once, we owned the entire back line at the end of autonomous. We knocked down our hanger, they knocked down theirs and they capped the center home goal.

Another key point for strategy is to only cap where it helps you. It is pointless to cap your home corner goal if you already have a tetra in the base unless that makes it so your opponent cannot take it from you. Once you own the entire field, then you can start capping over your own goals, not before.

Penalties are huge this year. There were three big ones. Hitting your opponent while loading (30 pts), having the human player not stand in the triangle while loading your robot (10 pts), and not having your robot in the triangle while loading (10 pts). Many teams tied zip ties across the front of their robot so they would touch the triangle rather than trying to maneuver a wheel on. It ended up being iffy. For the most part, they got penalized. Either the judges couldn’t see the zip ties well enough or (more likely) the judges were looking for a wheel/tread to be on the triangle. So, if you were planning on doing something like this, talk to a judge beforehand to see how they interpret the rules so you don’t get penalized.

In my opinion, the game is much easier to score on the fly. Well, aside from penalties that is. A quick glace at the field will normally tell you who the winner is, or who is winning at the time. It is also much more fun than last year’s game since defense is much bigger. Before, you really couldn’t take away your opponents points. This year, you must be constantly aware of who owns which goal, how you can easily break an opponents line, and where everyone is. There were many times when we would cap a goal and then go on defense, pushing other bots around.

There’s another point. Robots that capped well and had a strong drive train dominated since they could play both offense and defense. Multiple-speed transmissions didn’t really make a difference this year, but maneuverability did. The 6-wheel design was quite popular. We found it to work very well for our team. It allowed us to have plenty of grip for pushing with an incredibly small turning radius due to a center wheel lowered 1/32". It seemed that about 60% of the teams used the kitbot gearbox, and I don’t blame them. The stock gearbox has a great gear ratio to give you both speed and torque. We, unfortunately, couldn’t use it due to the way we had to have the shaft go straight through our gearbox and have the motors be opposed to each other for our direct-drive transmission. I don’t know about the other alliance, but in our alliance for the finals, no one had a stock box.

As for robot damage, anything requiring repair was self-inflicted for us. Mainly, we forgot that steel rivets will stretch aluminum holes. And we just wore our treads down due to overuse (and due to burning a 8 square inch hole in the carpet). I saw many broken arms. There’s a lot of torque required to accelerate an 8.5 pound object held 8 feet our from your robot. 701 broke their arm a couple of times, but fortunately they could repair it. Others were not so lucky.

Well, thats about all I have to say. I hope some of this information helps those of you competing in the weeks to come. Good luck everyone and, for those of you going to SVR, I’ll see you shortly.

-Tony K

our arm fell almost fully extended holding a tetra onto one of the side rails :(. It unlinearized our linear bearings, sigh. We also went with the 6 wheel design and liked it. We had a custom gearbox with shifters, but didnt shift a lot.

Also realized just how important strategy is this year, i cannot stress this enough. Our plan that let us, 245, and 766 go lossess in elims was the result of 2 hours of thinking friday night at the hotel. When we had started qualifiers on friday, we originall were ranked 3 at lunch. However, teams figured out that our big capping capability was neutralized by a moderate pushing bot. So every match in the afternoon we faced alliances which sent their worst capping bot at us, with a decent amount of success that had dropped us to 14th by the selections on saturday. However with a strategy that our team got down from playing lots of rounds together we were effective in neutralizing pushing bots against us. Strategies like this were so effective against pushing bots that we really had no troubles getting pushed around in elims. So for other regionals, teams GET A GOOD STRATEGY!

At Finger Lakes I was surprised to see that most of the teams went to the human loader. We were one of the few teams that always went to the auto loader (229 also went exclusively to the auto loader). Many teams got pretty fast at the human loader, but the auto load robots were still faster (exception was 1507 which was a very fast human loader).

Stacking fast was definitely the key. In a few matches, the ability to stack over four tetras on the center goal was important but it was definitely not the norm.

237 had, by far, the coolest auto mode. They consistently got to the vision tetra (if a partner wasn’t in their way). They were about 70% in grabbing the tetra they way they wanted and 70-80% in getting to the goal. Their trouble was they would get too close to the goal and actually place the tetra under the goals. I am confident they will get it working by their next regional.

Getting the hangers gave teams an advantage in the finals because they owned most of their row before human control started. The best combinations had two hangers down and the center ready to cap right at the beginning of human control.

I am now convinced that 3 good stackers can beat 2 great stackers and a pure defensive robot (I wish I had this revelation Saturday morning). The latter strategy works great in qualifying, but in the elimination rounds 3 stackers is the best way.

As far as damage: all the robots at Finger Lakes were exceptionally reliable and no alliance used a spare robot that I recall. We took minimal cosmetic damage and some bent wheels.

The end zone strategy was not used that much by the top teams. Stacking at the last minute seemed to have more of an impact.


Auto/Human Loader – The human loader was more popular at Finger Lakes. There were many teams that would attempt to load at the auto loader and receive a penalty for it. The most common penalty for the human loader was the human player loading the robot without having both feet inside the triangle box.

Stack High vs. Stack Fast - Many matches were won with a robot that could stack a lot of tetras in a short period of time. Occasionally there would be high stackers vs. high stackers and a “Stackfest” would happen at the tetra goals in the middle row of the field.

Strong/Fast Bots - I think speed became a non factor during the main play of the game. The only reason to have a fast robot was to run across the field and stack at the very end of the match or to drive back to your end zone in the last seconds of the match. Strong bots were more important during the elimination rounds. They really helped most alliances win match.

Autonomous Mode - 237 came very close to stacking a vision tetra in autonomous mode. Our major problem was the placement of the vision tetras at the beginning of the match. Most auto modes delt with knocking down the magnetic tetra or starting with a tetra and stacking it on a goal using dead reckoning. I heard that at Finger Lakes 5-6 CMU vision cameras were destroyed and left in many pieces on the field
6 Robots on the field** - I liked the 3 vs. 3 game play for this season. There was a lot of space on the playing field to move around in as long as you planed your strategy right.

**What happened vs what you planned - Most strategies worked out well if they were planned well. The game play of the match would change every couple of seconds. You really had to pay attention to what happened on the field and then act accordingly to make your strategy work.
Robot Damage
- Most robot damage happened on the base area of the robot. Most robots were protected well and suffered minor damage.

Scores - Most scores were in the 20 to 40s. Penalties really decided who won or lost the game in most cases.

How fast is the setup/take down of every match – Setup and take down of the match took about 2 minutes on Friday. On Saturday during the elimination rounds it took longer since they triple checked the score of each match.

Auto/Human Loader – The human loader was more popular at Peachtree. among the better bots, auto/human were both used. very few used auto only

Stack High vs. Stack Fast - fast. the highest i remember was about 4 and that did not happen often. it was more impt to own a row

Strong/Fast Bots - fast was only useful to get back to the side in time for 10 pts, but strong was best because alot of robots played defense and if the robot wasn’t strong, it didn’t stand a chance

Autonomous Mode - i recall only one robot that actually found a vision tetra…but it did nothing afterward. most just brought the robot out and raised the arm. there was one team that capped with the starting tetra in auto mode and maybe a handful that got the hanging tetra. it was really boring actually.
6 Robots on the field** - there was space but i didn’t like it personally. there was too much luck (on alliance matchups) involved
Robot Damage** - robots received alot of damage towards the end…things got rough but not out of control. one team’s motor exploded and another team’s bot started smoking. but other than that, nothing major

Scores - scores ranged ALOT. there were 0-0 ties and scores like 81-10. then, there were matches that were 26-25…it really depended. alot of times we noticed that penalties taht should have been called weren’t…but there’s only so much you can pay attention to with 6 bots on the field

and merging in another thread winces is sorry

Is there a number for how many robots fell? In 1/4th of the matches did a robot fall? More? Less? Did you get a domino effect?

How many robots expanded to a five foot base? How many of these lost large numbers of pieces? Were there any designs of robots other than your basic base and a stacking arm (such as a large blocking robot). How did these do? Were things like omnidrives and turrets useful?

How fast did the volunteers reload the loading zones?

I was watching the Peachtree regional webcast and once I saw a field attendant not place a tetra on the loader until a robot came to get one. Maybe there was an unsafe condition or something out of camera shot I didn’t see, but from what it looked like to me, it seemed totally wrong.

Possibly, but more likely they just got caught up with the robots…If the field staff forgot we (refs) tried to remind them or just did it ourselves…there were only a few times where it was unsafe to load a tetra on the auto loader because the teams were pretty good at staying on the field…

The strategy we developed in the hotel was for the last two rounds of the seeding rounds. Team 766 deserves the credit for our elimination strategy. Also, although we did get a lot of pushing because Spark was such a huge “hit me” target, the major improvement was in driver strategy rather then global strategy. Patrick Wang gave us some good pointers on driving Friday night that we really appreciate. Thanks Patrick!

PS: Obviously the robots sent to play defense wern’t the “worst bots”, they were very effective in stopping us for half of friday, and were valuable to their partners. I’m curious what role they’ll have as the strategies evolve and gameplay changes.

What did you all do differently during the elimination rounds?

I’d say they were equally used. Some teams have been more effective at the human station. Gael Force and TJ both enjoyed exceptionally skilled human players, and Gael Force’s player repeatedly performed a slick maneuver that had their robot double stacking.

Lots of penalties early on for human players being outside the triangle, though.

Stack High vs. Stack Fast - Which of these seems to be the predominate game plan? Whats the highest stack you have seen? Was there any particular scenarios where a team that could stack high did better or worse in a match? …Why?

Stack fast. No doubt. The benefits of high volume easily outweigh the benefits of high…um…height.

The most successful strategy revolved around assembling tic-tac-toes from a large amount of tetras. Getting a tic-tac-toe is like getting a strike in bowling: 10 points, plus the combined sum of however many tetras you scored.

Strong/Fast Bots - Has there been any pushing in matches? Has having a tough robot stuck out as something vital to the game? On the contrary, how fast is too fast? From the few practice matches I watched from VCU, it seems teams aren’t jetting across the field very quickly… am I wrong?

Both are important, as always. The later rounds were quite a pushing match. You really need a robot that is strong AND fast.

Autonomous Mode - Have you seen any robot successfully stack a vision tetra in auto mode? If so, on which goal and how long did it take? What are some other big autonomous strategies that don’t involve the vision system?

No on the vision tetra at BAE. Even the most advanced robot could rarely stack a preplaced tetra on the center goal during autonomous. Lots of teams knocked over the hanger or did nothing at all.

6 Robots on the field - Do you like it? Too Crowded, too hard to see?

A bit crowded, but doable. Prefer 4, really.

Everything changed. We went in with an active gripper, a plan to do the vision tetra, storage on our robot, and high hopes. By the end of Thursday, we had a passive gripper (just a pole), no storage, no autonomous, and no hopes.

Robot Damage
What are major issues to watch out for in terms of robot damage? Is ramming an issue? Have arms messed up wiring? What sort of action is the most damaging to your robot? How was significant speed affected this?

Lots of ramming in the later rounds. Watch out for your pneumatic umbilical cords. Buzz was injured in the finals–don’t know what happened, but they had to call in backup.

There were a lot of predictions going around about scores. What do you see as realistic trends?

Highest we saw was 79 to something. Lowest was 3 to 0. On average, I’d expect 25-40 points per team once they get cooking. Never saw much higher than 40–we never saw a score in the fifties or sixties, just two aberrations in the 70’s.


We took advantage of the fact that defensive robots have to react to us, not the other way around. Basically we moved around more and used the loading zone to discourage people from touching us.

-At FLR-
We only tipped once, and we have a solid max dimension drive base… we also have a 5 foot tall tower that shuttles up and down… we tipped with the shuttle up (Sorry Paul!)

We accidentally tipped 494 once and 747 (I think) once. Both were unintentional. Some how, 494 got back up and came after us :smiley:

In one of the elims, 229 was tipped directly onto their arm but managed to get back up (boy was that exciting)

As a driver, I didn’t get to watch many matches so Im sure there were a few other tips, but nothing as high as a 1/4 of the matches.

They were almost always fast and ready at FLR. There was only one occasion where the auto-loader guy “fell asleep”. It was kinda funny cause Paul tells me and my driver to go the autoloader. Then he starts shouting “AUTOLOADER AUTOLOADER!” and we were just like “hey we’re goin we’re goin!”. Then we realized the guy wasnt paying attention and Paul was trying to get his attention.

Random question that doesn’t deserve its own thread…

What time did the awards ceremony wrap up? My team was wondering for travel planning purposes, and I can’t remember when things finished up last year. Thanks.

answers based on peachtree–
Is there a number for how many robots fell? In 1/4th of the matches did a robot fall? More? Less? Did you get a domino effect?
umm, i’d say a robot fell every 5 matches…give or take. no domino effects though. alot of purposely pushing and a few tripping over things and a few going to quickly.

**Were there any designs of robots other than your basic base and a stacking arm (such as a large blocking robot). How did these do? **
a few robots had an arm but were designed to be on defense and used arm as a last resort. they did okay. i would say that the best robots were those that could stack quickly and be able to defend if need be. but during the finals, there was alot more stacking than defense. of the stacking, there were effective “flipper” robots (flipped the tetra on to the goal) and then the stereotypical arm.

How fast did the volunteers reload the loading zones?
as someone mentioned about peachtree, there were mistakes but usually they took about 2-3 seconds. it depends if they were paying attention or not. but yes, there were times where there SHOULD have been a tetra replaced and it took a few addtl seconds for that person to realize they needed to reload…

i don’t remember what time award ceremony ended…sorry. it was atleast 5, i know that. =\