Infinite Recharge is going to be ruined by these Game Pieces

In the spirit of my hot take post from last year, here is what I am most worried about heading into Week 1.

Infinite Recharge really seems like it is a great game, it’s going to be a really fun game to play no matter how these game pieces survive an event. However, after seeing how destroyed these balls get after a couple of days on our practice field testing with multiple robots running around I am very worried that FIRST won’t have enough supply at events to keep up with damaged balls.

As most teams have probably discovered is that these balls are really easy to run over and cut up, and the shooting characteristics of balls that are cut and damaged can change dramatically. This game could be really fascinating strategically at the higher levels of play with teams being able to shoot from behind the Trench (DJ Booth), but once these balls get damaged those shots become exponentially harder to score.

Teams will need to tune their shooters to the state of the balls, however if new balls are suddenly introduced for eliminations that will cause chaos for teams (this happened during the eliminations at the 2012 Champs).

So what I am asking of FIRST is to be very clear on a couple of things:

  • How many balls do they have available for each event?
  • How are they going to decide when to replace damaged balls?
  • Are they going to reserve some balls for eliminations?
  • Will they let teams know if they have run out of replacement balls during the event?

We need a new set every match and a MSC (Match Setup Committee) to review every power cell before it returns to play. Fun fun new volunteer job,


Members of our team have taken to smelling balls in order to determine their age. We joke about holding human player tryouts and crowning one member “power cell connoisseur”— a human player who will sit behind the glass smelling power cells and deciding which balls to feed our robot and which to leave racked.


I heard that there were 72 balls being shipped to each week 1 event, with plans to introduce 24 additional balls each subsequent week. I think it will be close as to whether this is enough…

On one hand I feel like game piece wear and tear is a part of the challenge. On the other hand I’m similarly terrified that events will make wholesale changes between quals and playoffs. I think doing that would be a big mistake, but I haven’t heard anything suggesting that that’s the plan.

I suspect given the limited number of additional Power Cells, we’ll see some pretty damaged game pieces on the field before they’re swapped out. I don’t believe that this will ruin the game… but it makes some strategic elements (The Long Shot) significantly harder.


Regarding specifically the comments about the viability of The Long Shot, I don’t see why FRC needs to cater to a particular strategy. I especially doubt they want to cater to The Long Shot in particular, given that they already banned true full court shooting.

The degradation properties of the ball have been known since early in the season. We know FRC’s policies on game piece replacement from 2016. Any team designing around a long shot could have accounted for this. The people claiming 80-90% accuracy in The Long Shot thread definitely should have accounted for this. I don’t see why we’re complaining about it now.


I don’t see many people complaining necessarily, more so just wondering what the impact will be. Teams will have to live with the fact that at times there will be bad balls on the field that shoot different, there is no avoiding this. I’m willing to bet most teams doing the long shot can also shoot from close, but other than this i’m not sure how you can account for different compression on the balls on that far of a shot, there are already so many variables.

Edit: More people are complaining then I realized. I’m more so referencing to conversations on other platforms, and I expect that will find it’s way into this thread soon.

uh…you did read the title of this thread?


To clarify, I am talking about specifically comments regarding the impact of ball degredation on accuracy. @Jonathan_Norris’s comments about running out of balls at an event may be valid, though quite fixable by FRC if it becomes an issue.

1 Like

How does the availability of replacement game pieces in 2020 compare to 2016 and 2012, proportional to supply? Did fields only get nine new balls a week in 2016?

I think it’ll be a lot like 2016 in terms of damage and such.

1 Like

My concern is that it will be much worse than 2016, as there are many more balls on the field at one time, and teams trying to index 5 balls at a time vs 1. These balls also won’t only get stuck in your wheels, I’m sure we will see a lot of balls stuck inside robots indexing mechanisms.

Just to be clear I am not complaining that the long-shot might not be viable as a strategy, we will learn to play the game. I’m more worried that we saw way more damage to these balls then we expected on our practice field, and that FIRST might not be prepared for this.


Perhaps they are prepared for this, and their definition of “damage” may differ from yours?

It will be interesting, for sure.

I’ve not seen a Power Cell in person yet (I’m one of those weirdos who just volunteers at competitions), but this thread has me rather curious: For those seeing a lot of damage on the Power Cells in their practice area, is it just that the ball is getting “wear and tear” by repeated use? Or is it that a lot of robots are “gouging” or “tearing off pieces” like the G26 blue box defines as a violation?


I think the official authority for when to replace fuel cells is:

  1. Any field reset volunteer can swap them
  2. Field manager can over rule a field reset person
  3. FTA can over rule the field manager.

The FTA will probably have better things to be doing and will leave it up to the field manager.

My guess is what you will see is if a power cell is publicly destroyed it will get replaced. Otherwise the power cells are going to be allowed to wear. At the breaks (lunch/night/lunch) someone may do through and swap out the worse ones. The biggest thing that is probably going to get power cells cycled is when teams accidently take them with them.


FIRST should allow teams to pre-load their robot with their own new balls (official balls only) so long as that ball enters official play for subsequent matches. That way teams with a big bankroll can improve the quality of gameplay for everyone.


This can happen very often with balls in the rendezvous area:

Throw some defence and multiple robots in there and it can be chaos trying to avoid driving over balls.

ISR #1 here - field people already said they don’t really have much spares. They couldn’t even put some in the practice field.


How are the power cells holding up through qualification matches?

1 Like

Every match starts with volunteers holding damaged balls, looking confused.


My guess is if the cover has a major rip (like a third of the way around the ball), the PS will be replaced. And not until.

Q136 has been answered. Tears, gouges, missing pieces = replacement. Changes in non-visible behavior, e.g. compression, will not be assessed by field staff and will not result in game piece replacement.