Just wondering how many teams out there have had a chance to simulate real-match quality defense yet?
Team 610 has been running Open Practice sessions for Toronto area teams for the past two weeks, and we’ve had the pleasure of having several teams run both with and against us.
This past weekend was the first time we felt the robot was “ready” to go up against near-competition-level defense. We had our good friends at 4476 match up against us, as well as our alumni driving our 2013 World Championship robot “Taz” on defense.
What we learned is that defense can be really effective this year, even to the point that it could negatively impact the enjoyment of the game - both to participants and spectators alike. I like defense in games, but this year seems to be on a higher tier than most.
I’m not one to make predictions, but I can see a savvy defense robot posting a disturbingly low GAA (Goals Against Average - for you hockey fans), especially during early week quals. I can see a robot like this shutting out all but the absolute best, elite level robots at a competition. Think: having a competition with 40 teams, and say only 4 of them can actually score any boulders if quality defense is played against them.
We often measure a robot/team’s effectiveness by their net effect on score. Stopping the opponent from scoring points is just as impactful as scoring points for your own alliance. Seriously disrupting opposing boulder points from being scored seems… well… pretty easy.
Lastly, breaking defenses alone is proving to be very hard on the robots. When adding tough defense robots into the mix, I think a lot of teams will have difficulty keeping their robots functioning for an entire competition. This isn’t the same kind of bumper-to-bumper contact we’ve seen in past games. Even with really good teams/drivers/robots, we had robots driving into/onto/over each other. So many drivetrains are built to tackle the tall and bumpy defenses, inadvertently driving over an opposing robot’s bumpers and into their robot was definitely something that happened too often.
I’m a bit worried that small events might struggle to field a full complement of working robots for the elimination rounds. Robots with fully working drivetrains might be rare on the backend of the serpentine draft.
I’m a bit worried that boulder scores might be awkwardly low in any match where there’s a defense robot - unless one of the elite teams is on the field.
Is anyone else as worried about defense as me? Or am I the only one?