Karthik: Effective FIRST Strategies 2019 - Detroit Championship

It’s baaaaaack! For the first time since 2016, I will be delivering my Effective First Strategies presentation at the Championship Conference in Detroit! Here are the details

Date of Session: Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Time of Session: 5:00PM - 6:50PM
Room Location: 250BC

This year, FIRST has graciously given us 110 minutes (the longest ever!) to present on this topic, which will allow us to cover some topics at a much more in depth level than the past, as well as covering some topics specifc to the 2019 season and Destination Deep Space, presented by the Boeing Company.

In the past, this presentation has always been given in a conference room that got a little crowded.

So I recommend you get there early to make sure you get a good seat!

Here is the thread discussing the previous edition of this seminar, which also links back to many of the older editions as well.

Along with video of the 2016 version:

Here’s video of the TEDx talk that was inspired by many of the elements of this presentation:

And the abstract:

This presentation focuses on three major areas, Strategic Design, Match Planning/Execution, and Scouting. Rather than spending time on equations and detailed calculations, the Strategic Design gives a more high-level overview of how to design an FRC robot. This portion of the presentation includes sections on such often neglected strategic design areas such as Game Analysis, Chokehold Strategies, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Task Prioritization, and Tradeoffs using a case studies from past games. The Match Planning/Execution section of the presentation discusses effective habits and strategies that will help lead a team to victory. This is a must for those who enjoy the strategic aspects of FIRST. The Scouting section deals with effective techniques to collect information on your partners/opponents, and how to make the most of this data. Advanced statistical metrics analgous to “Sabermetrics” in baseball will also be discussed. The presentation is filled with entertaining and insightful historical FIRST anecdotes from the past 21 years. With the information in this presentation, you can turn your team from a mere competitor to a perennial powerhouse!

If there are any topics you’d like to discussed in detail, or questions you’d like answered, post them here and we’ll be happy to address them during the presentation. One of my favourite parts of this presentation is the interactive nature of the whole thing. If you’re looking for a straight lecture on all the topics, I suggest you watch the webinars we did this fall as part of the Simbot Seminar Series. The Championship edition varies in that the presentation contains more anecdotes and stories from the past, as well lots of live feedback from the audience.

If you’re really into FIRST strategy, looking for personal inspiration, or just want some good FIRST related laughs (or off topic conversations about the NBA playoffs or Avengers Endgame), this is a presentation you won’t want to miss.

You can find more info in the FIRST Championship App or on their website.


[cries in Houston]


Will you be signing autographs?


Super excited! Can’t wait to see this presentation live again— it had a transformative impact on me as a student in 2012 and I can’t wait to share that with the current students on 2220.


I love your presentation. I’ve never had the chance to see it in person but your slides and videos are an invaluable resource!

Questions I’d be interested in having answered are related to the bag going away. How might that shake things up? Either with your presentation or teams and their process. What should teams be thinking about that they’ve never had to think about before? Within the realm of “Effective FIRST Strategies” of course.

Edit: I know we hardly have any information for how no bag is going to work so it might be hard to answer questions on that topic.


Any word on an official recording / posting this online afterward?


Sweet, will someone be recording it with proper audio from the source mic this year? It seems like there are some recording issues with pretty much every recent-ish version that make it hard to share with new students.

Edit: I actually do have the equipment around to do it but I hope someone with more experience would be willing.


I would offer to take care of recording audio and video if I knew we were going to make it to Detroit, which is not looking super likely at this point. But definitely, this is a worthwhile session in any of its iterations. I was fortunate to have been in the audience when Karthik presented in St. Louis in 2015 (Recycle Rush).

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On the topic of archiving the video, there are no finalized plans as of yet, however talks are in progress to try and get the entire session streamed, which would hopefully lead to easy archiving. I’ll follow up with details if this happens!


Even if Karthik were to just use his phone to record his own audio, it is trivial to overlay that on any existing video.


Last year FIRST promised to release videos of selected conference sessions, but I don’t think they were ever released, which was super disappointing. So, hopefully someone preseves a video of this session for all those who can’t make it!


Don’t cry Andrew. I’m packing a soapbox and will be giving impromptu TED style talks in Discovery Green.


Tom I’m holding you to this.



The one you gave in 2012 really helped me have a deeper understanding of the way we should approach the build season and competitions, they’re really awesome talks! If we can get some good luck at Hartford and DCMP, I’ll make sure I stop by!

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Can someone link me to these please? Sounds like I’ve got some catching up to do.


Ahh, thanks! After I posted I knew I should have probably checked again.

On that note, I know the last thing they want to do after a busy season/Worlds is to post those videos, but I hope they post these sooner than 5 months after the event this year. For those that don’t make it to Worlds, some of conference videos could help teams with their off-season/summer plans.

Trust me, Caleb, it’s the rest of FRC that has to catch up to you :wink:

This is just referring to any of the analysis that’s been done of the past 15 years to breakdown scores into to projections of calculated contributions. I was hoping using the common baseball term would draw catch the eyes of FIRSTers who weren’t aware of the data analysis that many teams are using.



These presentations have done a lot to influence my strategic understanding and analysis in FIRST. I’m delighted to hear that it’s coming back and you’re getting even more time!

I hope to see some discussion on removal of the bag and how that affects strategic analysis from the bottom to the top tiers of teams in FIRST. That’s obviously a big change for the 2020 season and I’m sure you have a lot of insight!


Not Karthik. I am certain he has a lot of insight; however, I don’t expect he will have any inside knowledge of new rules for 2020.

I am thinking about C5 (Compete with only one ROBOT) and section 10.4 Budget Constraints & Fabrication Schedule, especially R19 through R23. There are a lot of details in there that Frank and the GDC still have to work out, and the details are important.

Back on the original topic: it is impossible to overstate the value of Karthik’s strategy seminar. Teams at all levels of competitiveness, from the greenest rookies to powerhouses with multiple Einstein appearances, can all take something away to help them reach their next goal.