How to win Steamworks? (Weeks 1/2)

Now that everyone is starting to get a more realistic feel for what their robots can do, here are a few questions about what you think the typical winning Week 1/2 alliance will look like:

  • What roles will its members play/what will the overall strategy be?
  • Will there be a dedicated defender or will all three robots be primarily offense-focused?
  • Will it be able to score all four rotors?
  • Will higher-ranked alliances be more or less favored than usual?

I see the most likely winning alliances for the early weeks pretty much like I did at the end of the first week of build:

  • One fuelbot (full robot width floor intake plus ability to get from hoppers)
  • One gearbot with floor pickup, consistent and likely fast
  • One passive gearbot that is fast with a good/great driver

At least two, and likely all three, will climb.

This alliance will be able to score both the fuel40+kPa and four rotors against light defense.

As weeks go by, the mix will move towards two fuelbots and one gearbot, or a fuelbot, a gearbot, and a defender.

I agree with this, except for the 40 kPa. I think I
it will be close, but will not result in the extra playoff points. I think getting all four rotors up and turning is more plausible
, because many passive gear bots can make about 6 cycles in 2 minutes
Edit: also many alliances will likely have multiple autos so they can get 3 gears on the pegs before the 15 second auto period ends, giving the alliance an even greater chance of winning( because of the massive amount of points) and it will bring them even closer to starting up all four rotors.

I don’t think we’ll see a lot of dedicated defenders outside of those deemed not suitable for other tasks by their alliance partners. Instead, alliances will likely use more hit-and-run tactics to try to disrupt their opponents without going too far out of their way. Alliances that finish their gears or fuel before their opponents will often opt to play defense.

This year, I think many mid-level alliances will do very strongly. This is a year that requires 3 fully-competitive robots on each alliance. First and second seed alliances that are forced into picking less-than-competitive partners will struggle greatly to compensate, especially because powerhouse teams will likely be shooter-focused. No reasonable amount of fuel can account for not getting 4 rotors turning.

Personally I think any alliance worth their salt will get their rotors turning, likely with some time to spare. If I’m misjudging how difficult the rotors will be, alliance will be wise to invest more robot time into the task. In playoffs, is red alliance gets 4 rotors turning and blue does not, red will win the match almost all of the time.

-Strategies are not worth much speculation as it will depend heavily on the teams involved in a particular situation
-See above
-Getting 4x rotors turning in weeks 1 and 2 will be a rare event. In all of 2016 the eliminations tower capture average was about 30%… I expect the average of 4-rotor success will be significantly lower than 30% for weeks 1-2 of Steam Works.
-Top ranked alliances will be a mixed bag. Teams that can rank effectively may not always have the potency to survive in eliminations. Their effectiveness will depend heavily on getting a 3rd pick that can reliably climb. Other top-ranked teams will transition nicely to eliminations and dominate, even with a weak 2nd pick.


Looking at what is often predicted on CD vs the actual results in years past I am highly skeptical of the optimistic predictions in this thread.

I’m fairly certain that this is how the playoff winning alliances will be:

  • Three (possibly only two) teams all capable of doing Gears. Point values – especially the 100 in the playoffs – dictate this.
  • Four rotors will almost always be spinning in the playoff rounds (I fully expect in well under a minute in the Michigan state championship). Its very difficult to win if you don’t get this.
  • After the fourth rotor, those gearbots will also be able to shoot high to get (at least) the remainder of the 40kPa.
  • The 3rd alliance choice will probably be a defensive bot to stop the other team from shooting. Depending on how good the other two are at gears, this third team may play defense the whole time.
  • Finally that third bot might not even bother attempting to climb. Since preventing a climbing bot from getting to the rope to climb is the same value as climbing yourself.

Kelley Cook

Not a chance this happens in under a minute EVER. The coordination of 3 robots scoring gears, because it’s going to take 3 robots scoring gears to get 4 rotors the fastest, isn’t going to allow it to take less than a minute. Not to mention how much driving is needed.

I think there will probably be about 2-3 alliances per event that are capable of getting 4x rotors, while pretty much all the other alliances will be capable of doing 3. I think we’ll see some killer defense from the 3 rotor alliances to prevent the 4x alliances from getting 6 more gears on.

The 4x alliances might not even be the high ranked ones. Considering that the second pick of each alliance will be the only team with a good view of the loading zone, teams that get an earlier second pick due to serpentine might be at an advantage. There will most likely alliance captains and 1st picks that can utilize cameras well, but they will probably be focusing on fuel for the first ~1 min of the match to get 40kpa.

Another week 1-2 prediction:
Really bad gear control from some teams. A lot of teams are going to show up with sub-par, ill tested passive gear mechanism. Combined with the fact that 2/3 of the teams on each alliance will not have a good view of the loading zone, and most of these teams will probably not have a camera, we’ll probably see a lot of dropped gears in quals.

Having an alliance of 3 gear-focused robots and at least 2 climbers will definitely win you any week 1/2 event.

Since you need 12 gears, and presumably 3 less because of auto programs, you need only 9 gears to finish all the rotors.

At a cycle time of 12 seconds, it should take around ~40 seconds for three organized and efficient gear-focused robots to finish all four rotors. This means that 40 seconds into the match, they have 602(auto) + 402(teleop) + 100 (Playoff Rotor Bonus) = 300 points.

This means that you have 95 seconds to play extremely hard defense on the opposing alliance to stop them from finishing their rotors, as it’s basically impossible to make up the score difference by scoring fuel.

With 2 hangers, you can increase your scoring potential to 400.

TL;DR: If you finish your rotors and your opponents don’t, you win the match. Fuel doesn’t matter.

If there is an alliance that scores three auto gears, they only need to score 3 gears each for the 4 rotors, or 20 second cycles for each robot to make it in 60 seconds. While definitely extremely unlikely, it could happen once or twice a season if teams try to make it so.

How to win:

  • Start 3 rotors
    • Even if other alliance looks like they can get 4
    • 4 rotors pretty much requires 3 bots to focus on gears (at least for most week 1 and 2 events)
    • If the other alliance is focusing on gears, they probably won’t score more fuel than you.
      -After scoring 3, have your second pick play defense (best view of the other teams loading zone)
    • Try to prevent the 4th rotor from getting on. Even if this team racks up 50 pts of fouls, as long as they prevent 140 pts for the other alliance it’s fine.
  • If both alliances get 3 rotors it going to come down fuel and climbing.
  • Have two bots focus on fuel the entire match (one can assist the gear scoring bot, so that they can start playing defense earlier).
    -ensure that you outscore the other alliance in terms of fuel.
  • Alternate strategy would be to have all 3 robots go for gears in the beginning of the match to get 6 rotors earlier.
    -The earlier you get 6 rotors up, the earlier one team can start playing defense.
  • Have 2-3 robots climb at the end
    • Climbing this year seems much easier than last year, I think we’ll see a lot of 2-3 robot climbs in weeks 1-2.

20 second cycle is what the elites are going to do. It’s not going to be something that an average 3 team alliance is going to do. Not to mention any defense will slow it down.

That’s true but an alliance of that level shouldn’t be wasting time trying to get all 4 rotors in a minute. If they can do it that fast, they should be mixing in defense or scoring fuel throughout the match instead of just the last minute.

I said it will only happen once or twice in the season. I was merely pointing out that teams would only have to run 20 second cycles to make it so, in any one of the thousands of matches this year.

I would predict that at least one week 1 event will be won by teams without a shooting robot. By week two your primary gearing robot will need to pick up some slack to free up a potential shooter, but most of the points will still come from gearing. Shooting won’t be a major difference maker except in odd situations until later in the season.

3 rotors (1 auto) and 2 hangs.

This is accurate.

I think everyone is underestimating the challenge of placing the gear on the peg. Especially in week 1-2 there are going to be many dropped gears.

I think shooting fuel will win events for early regionals and district events.

I think you are way underestimating cycling times. We have an extremely fast robot (18.5 fps) plus an active gear mech that is also very efficient. This weekend during driver practice we were getting at the very least 11 seconds per cycle, but most were more like 15-16 seconds. Our chute was a lot closer than the real field, so I would add 5 seconds at the very least to that. I highly doubt you will get three gearbots that are that fast on an alliance. Most teams gear for around 14 fps. There is also the problem of traffic with all three robots cycling gears which will add at least another few seconds onto that. I would think 25 seconds is a reasonable estimate for a real match.

You can watch our robot cycling in this video.

I’m not saying 4 rotors won’t happen. I really think it’s feasible, but it will take the better part of the match.

Also, having three robots with a gear auto is going to be rare. The center peg is relatively straightforward (pun intended :p) but the side pegs are not. They either require vision tracking or very precise encoder/gyro code. Not something that every team has.

The alliance with three consistent hanging robots that also score at least 3 rotors will be enough to win the majority of week 1/2 events.