Human Player Strategies

Now that our season is over, I’d like to share some of the human player strategies we picked up over the course of the season. I think human player skills are more pivotal this year than they have been in any of the other games in the last 10 years.

  • The most obvious, but also most crucial, tip is to not amplify until a note is confirmed to go into the speaker. The note takes a few seconds go into the speaker and hit the sensor before being scored. The optimal timing can be found through experimentation and careful observation of the score counting and the speaker, but there’s no reason you should amplify and then not score notes because you whiffed.

  • Stealing from your opponent’s source is quite viable this year, so it’s generally inadvisable to drop more notes through the source than your robots need immediately. Talking to our human player, coordinating to the other human player at the source about who was going to drop a note was often quite difficult.

  • Dropping the notes at the right timing and so that they consistently land flat immediately is very important to minimize cycle time. A poorly dropped note can take 3-5 seconds to settle. Robots often can’t intake a note until it’s flat, and since not many teams have feed station receivers, if there isn’t a note there or it’s wobbling, they have to stop, back up, start again, etc. We picked the importance of this up from watching 2056 cycle at their first event. Their human player always drops the note right when their robot hits the opponent’s wing, and the human player gets a perfect note landing 80-90% of the time. The method we used to accomplish this was spin with a slight push forward I believe (our human player experimented with it for an hour on our home element with an HDPE sheet taped to the top of it, and adjusted at comp).

  • 3501 at CVR would have their amp HP run around the back of the alliance station after amplifying and give an extremely loud countdown to their drivers. I can’t say how many times we wasted time because our drive team didn’t all realize the speaker was amplified and we tried to adopt this strategy after I saw it.

Does anyone else have human player advice?

P.S. Another 2056 strategy is that they have only a driver and a coach behind the glass so that they can have a human player at both the source and amp.

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the human player at the amp who throws the note to spotlight should throw immediately, as its easier for the robot to target the chain with a note, then for the player to target the high note with a robot.

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The human player at the amp can direct traffic.

  • They can direct bots to the amp or the speaker with hand gestures
  • They have a better view of the near field than any of the drivers. They can point out notes on the ground that should be collected for short cycles.

The highest scoring matches that I’ve seen have one thing in common: a highly engaged and effective human player at the amp.

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We found the opposite was better for us. We prefer the human player to throw as late as possible, because we find that, while there is a low chance of the high note landing on the microphone, there is a high chance of a mostly orange high note momentarily confusing our driver who thinks it’s a scorable game piece, and we lose precious time we could be getting one last cycle in. I really wish they were a different color entirely.

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I made a similar thread before noticing this one, so I’ll drop my thoughts here instead:

Source

  • Throw Notes at the right time - Few things are more frustrating than sitting at an empty Source waiting for a game piece. Most teams I’ve spoken with using ground intakes want you to throw the Note roughly when they cross the center line of the field. This makes sure it’s settled on the ground by the time your robot gets there while minimizing the risk it gets stolen by the other alliance.
  • Know who is feeding which robot - My team had a match where our HP was not in the Source. Both other HPs saw us coming and threw a Note from adjacent slots at the same time. The Notes fell on top of each other and we accidentally grabbed both and jammed, earning us penalties and rendering us useless for much of the match.
  • Watch the space in front of the Source - Later in the same match mentioned above, a HP tossed a Note almost directly into our robot, not realizing we were there already holding one. I’ve also seen cases where a Note falls out and lands against a wall at a funny angle, making it more annoying to pick up. In this case, throwing out another one would be a lot easier to manage.

Amp

  • Understand the timing of the Amp - The rules state that a Note scored in the Speaker takes about 3 seconds to process. Because of this, the best time to amplify is once you see the Note is fully in the Speaker, rather than when a robot is about to shoot. This way, you guarantee at least one 5-point shot.
  • Keep the Amp exit clear - Sometimes Notes will collect right at the exit of the Amp. Take a second to move them so future Notes don’t get jammed. If you don’t and the Amp experiences scoring issues, it may be considered the fault of the Human Player by a ref.
  • Practice those High Note throws - It’s not worth much in terms of points, but every now and then it opens the way for a bonus RP or swinging a close match. My team’s HP spent his down time practicing throws. He prefers to throw them basketball style to make it easier to direct them where he wants. In one match, he managed to hit all 3 High Notes. It didn’t score any points, but it was still pretty hype.
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I think the back of the number signs show a countdown during amplification but there isn’t an easy way to tell if the amp is full. Someone on my team suggested I wave a high note in the air when the amp is loaded up so the drivers know to switch to speaker cycles. It’s much more visible than hand signals or the lights on the amp.

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My human player told me to add “dropping notes in the center lane of the source jams up the source area when there are multiple robots approaching the source at once, so avoid using that lane when possible.”

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A working strategy I ended up making while human playing at source:

You have two people at the source, and they never use the middle slot.

The person standing closest to the opponent driver stations would drop notes for our robots that came from around that far side of the field and underneath the opponents stage.

The person farthest from the opponents driver stations (the edge of the carpet basically) would drop notes for our robots that came straight down that side of the field, along the wall.

This strategy faired well at regionals where cycles in quals matches were often kind of messy, so I don’t know how well this would hold up at worlds with alliances having more organized cycles.

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It’s generally a good idea to have a human player stationed on the amp. A robot can hit the amp/cooperate button once, but they’re disabled for the rest of the match. A human can hit the amp button multiple times. We found having a human on the amp can really alleviate this bottleneck.

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A strategy that upped my game was to discuss with the alliance on when to drop the note. Some robots are really fast and you can drop them notes when they’ve just dropped the center lines and others it was better to drop them later. Also obvious but know if the robot picks up from source or from ground, lost some cycles with that confusion.

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as a human player, i tried to not have the middle spot occupied because robot traffic was highly likely, especially for quick cyclers who would come back often. not having bots cross paths was important also, it was also along the lines of making sure drivers knew their routes to not ‘get in the way’ of other bots’ paths.

as a source human player, I find it important that there isn’t more than a note (maybe 2 for quick cyclers) on the ground at any given time. if you aren’t careful teams can very quickly swipe away from you if your bot is too slow, getting defended, etc.

even though stuff like this can be planned out in drivers meetings, I find it highly effective to communicate to the other source human player directly (in a lot of instances they weren’t at drivers meetings) and re-establish the strategy while we wait for the match to start. sometimes things happen during matches that don’t go according to plan, but any communication between HPs i consider very valuable to make sure everything goes as predicted.

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