Question to all who competed or attended Week One region events, Is this year’s game design /w RFP leveling the competition so that there is not dominating robot design? Has the surface and bumper envelope restrictions resulting in scoring being dominated by HP and robots getting caught in the corner?
I’ve watched only a few dozen matches from DC and now OKC and I don’t observe dominance from traditional powerhouse robot teams. Can anyone add to or shed new data/observation to my hypothesis?
The concept of “leveling the playing field” is a complete joke.
The usual suspects are still making things happen. No one came close to 45 all weekend in DC. So long as those veteran teams have their adult coaches who’ve been there and done that and their scouting and organization they’ll continue to be successful.
Why would changing a couple of things make it otherwise?
From what I have seen on the webcasts the “chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link” to a greater extend than in the past. 1 amazing robot cannot overcome two poor alliance partners in this game if the opponents use appropriate strategy IMO.
Having said that, the teams that have traditionally done well will continue to do well this year, as Ed said, this type of success results from having the complete package as a team.
I will add one note.
After spending hours watching multiple regionals at the same time all weekend, there were a lot of rookie teams and teams 2xxx and above that did outstanding.
Championships on Einstein will definitely have a rookie team on there this year LEADING an alliance.
At NJ, we didn’t see this at all. The winning alliance was 2753, 1923, and 2344 (Note the lack of teams under 1000). From my observations, the ‘leveling’ effect wasn’t so much directed towards experience as it was towards gameplay. The sole strategy that seemed to evolve was pin and dump. In the end, it made matches pretty predictable, which was disappointing to watch.
I agree with much of the above but I must add that the real leveller of the alliances was the alliance random assignment during seeding. It seemed that some teams ranked pretty high because of lucky pair ups and some of the top teams really didn’t seed very high (ex:1923) because they succumbed to rounds where a dead or poorly functioning robot on the field destroyed the chance of winning. In this game a single robot really couldn’t compensate for dead robots on the floor and they were sitting ducks and auto didnt offer much reward if you mastered it but you were screwed if you didnt move…
The smash and dump nature of the game was kind of fun to watch. The initial rounds looked like old ladies dancing with walkers. But the action got faster as the elims got further. I can live with this game …
It’s not quite a death sentence (at the regional level) always, although it is incredibly hard to overcome. Wise defense and quick scoring allowed for some of the top teams to win a qualification match or two (albeit closely) with a dead or almost dead partner. 2199, 1727, and 836 even managed to sneak out a QF match victory when 1727 lost drive power. They needed a penalty to do it, but the fact that 1727’s trailer was essentially full forced the other alliance to score on the other bots. Most importantly, because 1727 was stuck, it became painfully obvious where the other alliance was going to score, so their alliance reacted properly and scored on the bots scoring on 1727.
As for leveling the field, yes and no. It’s not so much a leveling the field effect as it just made making a dominant bot that much harder for everyone. The top level teams have been sunk down, so they are no longer immortal, but the bottom level has also fallen and often provides easy targets for the elite teams to feast upon.
The statement that rings the most true is that each alliance is only as strong as its worst member (assuming the other alliance isn’t blinded by the strength of their good bots, which is often the case, and doesn’t strategize properly). If the alliance has one bad bot, they will get eaten alive. If an alliance has three quality machines, they can make life difficult for the top teams, although not always beat them.
The pin game is huge this year. We were able to win OKC using effective pinning at the end of matches and the whole reason is because of the flooring. If a bot lost any sort of momentum they were screwed. In about 4 of our elimination matches we held an opponent down for at least 45 seconds at a time, which worked really well for the last 30 seconds. I will say though that the ultimate game changer is the empty/ super cells. If you can’t get one in the trailer, you’ll probably lose based on the matches I saw first hand. A good HP with a couple of super cells can decimate a teams chances of winning.
The value of super cells is going to depend on the alliance you’re facing. 45, 234, and 620 used several to win, but they benefited a lot more by the other alliances trying to use them. They would decimate teams who were doing “empty cell runs,” especially by pinning them in the corner when they were exchanging them. There’s a very definite reason why the trailers of 176 and 118 were full (both of whom did empty cell duty against that alliance during the eliminations).
Proof is in the pudding. Analyze the xml data from FRC spy and you’ll see the same powerhouse teams at the top. And yet - two of the absolutely top teams, teamed together, got beaten in the quarterfinals by the eighth seed.
Good teams still can do well. But there has been a broad evening across the board. For the top teams - this will be a tough adjustment. You can’t simply destroy the other alliance anymore. There’s a big chunk of luck involved.
The whole idea of leveling a playing field is pointless. No matter how much you change the conventions and toss out an entire teams CAD library making them start from scratch, there are always going to be elite teams who have the smarts and resources to overcome anything you can throw at them. Every year it is obvious at first week regionals that some teams do start off way ahead of the pack and as the weeks progress they gain just as much experience as everyone else. Some will catch up after repairs and tweaks but some don’t stand a chance to close the gap by the championship. Although it does get more exciting and competitive as the season rolls on it becomes kinda predictable.
I agree that empty cells are a risk because you are vulnerable to pinning but from what I saw in OKC it’s hard to beat a quick thirty points. A lot of teams here were wide eyed amateurs who couldn’t block empty cell delivery as well as some of the lower number teams, so I’m sure we’ll have to mix things up a bit when we get to Atlanta.
At the Peachtree (GA) Regional, using the serpentine selection with this year’s game seemed to give an advantage to the lower seeded alliances.
With the exception of Alliance 3 vs. Alliance 6 in the Quarter Finals, every elimination was an “upset” (the lower seeded alliance defeated the higher seeded alliance).
One possible explanation is that the higher seeded alliances would have two really good robots, and one that wasn’t so good that got scored on a lot, and cost their alliance the win. Unlike previous games such as Overdrive (2008) where two good robots could easily outscore three below-average robots, in this game one bad robot will get scored on a lot and drag down the alliance.
This year, an alliance is only as good as their weakest team.
What has been neglected so far in this discussion is the impact that defense has played on the game. From what we’ve seen so far, many, although not all, of the offensive powerhouses are veteran teams with much experience. However, in the elimination rounds, there seems to be a good market for defensive tanks to pin and neutralize the opposing scorers. That means that any team with a hefty chassis, good drivers, and maybe a solid human player is a viable third alliance partner. Many rookie teams have seized that opportunity to become an integral part of a winning alliance, even if their human player is the one scoring instead of their robot.
So far, there’s no doubt that the veteran teams are seeding higher, scoring more, and playing better during the qualifying matches. I do think though that the strategy change we’ve seen in the elimination matches (defense starts to matter) has left the door wide open to many different teams to be successful, including newcomers.
I know what happened with our alliance at Peachtree which was the #1 seeded alliance, was one of our robots broke in 3 out of the 4.5 quarterfinals matches. Our alliance was set up with one purely defensive bot that couldn’t score, 1 scoring robot that ran empty cells, and 1 very high scoring robot. When the second scoring bot went down and couldn’t move we couldn’t win. Even with only 1 scoring robot, we managed to tie one match and only lose by 4 points in another match. The one match we were all functioning, we one by a very large margin, invoking the wonderful G14 penalty.
I guess the moral of the story is that no matter how good an alliance is or how good of a robot you have, there is still a great deal of luck involved in this competition.
From what I have seen the field really hasnt changed much. Teams that traditionally do well have continued to do well. The only big difference has been the influence of the human player. Now, teams with a so so robot can end up seeding very highly due strictly to an amazing human player.