i know early on many people were doubting the abilities of low-goal only ball herders. now that we are almost done with regionals, how do people feel now? have you seen any ball herders that have really stuck out? how often did you see the outcome of a match greatly affected by a herder?
we here at 1504 are a low-goal ball herder and we just finished up our 2nd and final regional in wisconson. we were the 7th seed alliance captain in detroit and ranked 5th in wisconson (chosen by 3rd seeded alliance). we could easily put in about 30 balls a match in wisconson and were very effective defensively.
At the end of the seeding matches at Buckeye…The first seeded team 965 (I think that’s their number) choose team 123. Both these two teams are dumpers. When it came time to choose the last of their team, all they could choose was the Scarabian Knights 120 as the best shooter of who was left, and the shooter barely made any points at all.
The teams took the first matches by storm and ended easily on the platform, we thought we didn’t stand a chance. But the dumpers have one very big flaw…they can only score in the lower goals. Thus, 272 and 174 stuck ourselves against the goals while 494 picked up balls during the times where the dumpers had offence. We took offence and all three of us too to the goal and loaded in about 40 points, and took to the goals again to block for the final period. By that time, there would be no chance for the extra 25 point bonus to even count.
I’d say a dumper is nice to have, but use caution when chooseing one.
actually… we also fell victim to this during the seeding matches. 2 out of our 3 losses during seeding rounds occured because we were paired with 2 other dumpers, and they didnt allow us to score after autonomous because they just sat infront of both the goals.
2Train Robotics (395) is a herder/dumper bot. They won 2 regionals, Pitt (#1 Alliance Capt) and NYC (#2 Alliance Capt). They are very consistent during qualification matches with good 10 ball auto mode. They have good scouting and form very good alliances for eliminations. In both regionals they picked the best shooter (1038 and 375) with their first pick. I never thought that a dumper could be so successful this year, but they have changed my thinking.
At the beginning of the season, our team thought dumpers would be too easily blocked, inneffective… so we went with a shooter. Well, at Phoenix, we saw how effective dumpers are in autonomous. Our shooter can pan and tilt, so we can easily miss three or four balls, but many teams (dumpers) just went to the side goals and got a quick and easy ten points!
I disagree. At the Florida regional, the second place alliance was 357-1523-1902. 357 was a dumper (fifth seed - not bad) as was 1902. Since 357 picked balls up off the ground and 1902 was a very effective human loader, they both were able to score to their fullest potential. This alliance with two dumpers beat (in only two matches) the first seed alliance in the semifinals that was led by team 233 (who has just won the Boston Regional). What is more, the three robots they played against (233, 190, 744) were all very good shooters.
I believe at the UTC regional, team 195 had the best 1pt bot, followed by team 716. Team 195 ended up captaining the 6th seed alliance, and 716 the 2nd. I put 195 first because their robot was more robust in my opinion. I was really expecting more of those robots to show up, but I guess us New Englanders don’t leave much to the imagination when the game name is “Aim High”…
in pittsburgh the first 3 top seeds were dumpers. i never even considered dumpers to be so effective, but there’s some proof right there. also 868 at BMR was a dumper and they dumped like 20 at times, probably even more than that all at once, usually making their alliance win.
i agree that having a 1 point score bot on your team is a great advantage. for the most part, they guarantee you 10 points in autonomous. this kind of robot that stuck out and the Finger Lakes Regional was Chuck 84. they went over, got on their ramp after autonomous, and fill up with easily 20 balls. then they sprinted across the field and dumped all of them in under 2 seconds.
Dumpers are only effective if they can push the shooters around. Penalties also play an important role in dumpers effectiveness. At our regional (SPBLI) only 1 penalty was called, and it was an offsides violation. therefore dumpers were allowed to do whatever they wanted. They constantly went into the goal, which should be a disqualification, and they repeatedly flipped other robots that were not even attempting to score. If penalties were enforced i believe that dumpers would have been significantly less successful.
In a well balanced alliance, the corner goal is often the key to victory. “Well balanced” has many different variables, depending on the exact capabilities of teams (such as the 357, 1902 example), but it almost always includes at least 1 shooter. An alliance dependant on the corner goal (just as an alliance entirely dependant on the center goal) can be easily defended, or starved of balls (in theory, in your opponents are scoring 100% in the center goal, they only have to return 34% of the balls you scored back “into play” in order to win).
In my opinion, the ability to score both the center and corner goal rapidly and consistantly is the key to victory (along with winning autonomous).
I found that while the “dumpers” were very valuable, that they were also very much ignored. We were only defended against once at Detroit (when both of our partners broke) and very late in the day on Friday at Milwaukee. People are so busy watching the shooters and the balls flying through the air that they don’t notice machines like ours dumping in 30-40 balls a match. It was the funniest thing to me when, after the match where the other alliance was able to effectively defend the 2 lower goals our kids were like, they’re giving us the compliment that we’re good enough to defend!
I think it is important to distinguish between dumpers and herders.
Being a dumper was good when you could hold a lot of balls and score them quickly and effectively. You would also have to play very good defense as a dumper and be able to put the 10 in during autonomous.
Being a herder was probably the best thing you could have on a robot. One particularly good one at SBPLI was 358 (happauge eagles). They were a very good shooter but i think the reason they did so well was because they could harvest balls like nobody’s business and then turn around and put them into the goal. During one match, there had to be at least 20 balls next to a corner goal. Any team that could have scooped them up and put them in would have one that match. Being a herder is what is going to separate the great scorers from the good scorers.
//slight thread hijack
My team 1546 was at the SBPLI regional and I believe we pretty much played the game the way Phil seems to be grudgingly describing it. Our team prided itself on our defensive prowess (seeing as how our offensive capabilities were extremely low). This game is a physical game, teams were going to get tipped and teams that were capable shooters were going to be dogged all game long. I know many teams didnt like it, but our team’s autonomous load was simply to interfere with the capable offensive modes of other teams. Many teams werent happy about our bot crossing the field at a decent speed in order to interfere with other bots. But the head ref put it the best way " I need an intent to harm." No robot at our regional had an intent to harm any other robot. We had an intent to win. And when you have to win your matches on defense, its going to get a little bit physical which is why FIRST emphasized building a robust robot.
I wasn’t discounting dumping robots defensive capabilities. In some matches you guys gave us hell and we had a hard time shooting. I was just saying that flipping other teams or blocking them during their defensive period is illegal, flipping us while we are trying to shoot is totally legal. But if were only collecting balls flipping us intentionally isn’t allowed. thats all i was saying.
At NYC, herders were very important, with 395 and 348 taking the lead for much of the competition.
There weren’t many reliable shooters there (there were some), and in autonomous, having herders dominated-- since shooters had to shoot 4 in the center goal in order to beat out a successful dumper (12 to 10), which I didn’t see often. Also, the dumpers weren’t easy to block as the shooters were, shooters sat there, so a quick ram did it-- but the herders were easily able to drive over to the corner goal to unload before anyone opposite them could get to 'em.
Also, the shooters were easily blockable from shooting in (unless you’re 25 of course ), while unless you had the goals jammed up the entire round, the dumpers usually were able to push through and do their thing because of pin rules (I remember seeing some robot pinning 395 2Train as they had just loaded up from the human players and the referee was just counting pin time with his fingers, and the pushing bot had to constantly back away. Slowly the count required the duel to go beyond the corner goal/ramp area and 2Train began to be double teamed before it managed to get away and rush to the side goal to relieve itself of the 10 or 15 balls it was carrying.)