My case against <G14>

(Note to readers: I know this post is long! There are a lot of things wrong with this rule, in my opinion… if you’re planning to respond, or even if you’re not, please try to read the whole thing, or at least the end. That’s where I tried to put the meat of my argument.)

For those who haven’t yet memorized the rulebook (shame on you!), here is the rule I am referring to:

In plain terms: If you “double up” in one match, you lose one cell in your next match. “Triple up”, and you lose both.

Anyway, as you might have guessed, I don’t like this rule. In my opinion, it is a bad idea, badly thought through and badly implemented. There are way too many things that can go wrong with it and very few things that it does right. I’ll lay out my objections in detail:

-What happens if an alliance scores zero? I guarantee it will happen at least once. Boom, three teams are screwed for their next match, having done absolutely nothing. Yes, an alliance could score on themselves, but that is certainly not professional and far more insulting then gracious. This is what I mean by “badly thought through”.

-“Shenanigans” are far too easy. I don’t hope or believe that they will happen, but even in FIRST there are some “bad apples” who may take advantage. I’m sure you can figure out how to yourself, and there are probably other threats about this as well. But even if it doesn’t happen, there will naturally be speculation, and we really don’t need that.

-Some of the most exciting events at any FIRST competition are when an alliance reaches a milestone. I remember in 2005, my rookie year, when our very good 'bot was paired with the always extraordinary 254 and another good team I have forgotten since then. The other alliance put up a good fight, but we managed to complete a “clean sweep” and cover every goal, and when the final tetra was placed at the buzzer the entire crowd went wild. Of course, if we had had this rule that year, we would have had to stop halfway through and throwing blue tetras on top of ours. Good luck seeing any high scores this year; I imagine that half or more of the endgames will end up with Super Cells being purposely witheld or own goals being scored just to avoid this rule. Try explaining that to the random spectators-just a reminder, they do exist, and they are crucial to FIRST’s growth.

-Imagine this scenario: Rookie team 3456 has had a lot of trouble scoring or playing defense due to a reluctant powertrain and balky gripper, which prevents them from grabbing any Super Cells. But in their next match, they are paired with two expert teams, both of which are agile enough to avoid being scored upon (or they have the mythical trailer cover!). Happy that they finally have a chance for a big score, they send their coach over to the strategy meeting, where teams 123 and 456 are almost ashamed to tell them: Sorry guys, you can’t score too much, or we’ll have a <G14>… Or think of the rookie team member who designed some part, or the veteran that wants to go out with a bang, both prevented from seeing their robot act out to its full potential. Or the human player (many teams use rookies as human players) who has to be told not to score, not too much, possibly while being watched by friends, or family, or simply wanting to have fun and make the most of their competition.
What I’m trying to say here is that there should never be a rule that prevents teams from taking an opportunity to score. I’m not a big fan of the “ranking score” system (where higher opponents’ score=good for you) in the first place, but at least that encourages offense (good for spectators) and allows smaller teams to do more. This rule, by contrast, encourages lower scoring and the shutting out of “minnow” teams.

-A team should not be punished for something they did not do. Seems simple, right? But not this year-if you’re paired with a powerhouse team, and they don’t get their score quite right (maybe the scorers messed up? Maybe the other team got a penalty? Who knows?), you take a penalty in your next match. How is this fair, and what purpose does this serve? Of course, there is no way to figure out individual scores, and no way to make this rule fair, which is probably a good reason it never should have happened in the first place.
Even more unfairly disadvantaged are ~six~ teams that lose one of their alliance’s cells just for having the audacity of being partnered with a team that scored a lot the last match. Does this sound wrong to anyone else?

-The entire idea behind the rule-that blowout winners are somehow doing something wrong, and need to be punished, or that the playing field of what appears to be a close game needs to be artificially leveled-is, in my opinion, horribly wrong and misguided. That idea might get some traction in the lowest levels of Little League, or JrFLL maybe. But come on, we’re dealing with high school students here. There is just as much to be learned, if not more, from a blowout, devastating loss then from a big win. A loss can inspire a team to action, teach them what they did wrong, and give them a glimpse at what to do to become really successful. And I’m don’t subscribe to the theory of “students are inspired by watching big money, engineer-built robots crush them”, but trying to essentially keep the scores down until the finals doesn’t help anybody.

Some of these are niggling little issues. Others are not. But when you have a rule that does this many things wrong, it needs to have a pretty compelling reason for inclusion. I cannot think of one. FIRST cannot honestly believe that spectators or team members will respond to the false excitement that this rule attempts to generate. And my idea of “strategy” is not sandbagging or scoring own goals. Those correspond better to my idea of a game that is a joke. What ever happened to recognizing excellence?

will make the game less exciting, less pure, less legitimate, and take away the learning that is supposed to be inherent in this competition. I presume that the GDC thought it through and found some reason it deserves inclusion in this year’s rulebook, but I would much prefer if it was one of the victims of the first Team Update. If anyone wants to chime in with their idea of a reason, I’d be glad to hear it.

EDIT 4: This post has been revised, so to speak. I’ve added a couple things and tried to reorganize it a little bit.

Sure it seems like a semi-feasable idea to level out the field, but there should be no rule, ever, that prevents teams from showing their true strength, then recieve a penalty for it. I firmly believe that this rule will cause MAJOR sandbagging, and will cause teams to not “shoot for the moon” with their robot designs. I would be really happy for this rule to be either obliterated or drastically changed, maybe only involving personal scores and the only penalties distributed are individual.

My case against the rule regards the points that you can score with a EMPTY CELL (2). As the rule states now,

If the assigned ALLIANCE score for the last non-surrogate MATCH played by the TEAM was more than twice (2x) the opposing ALLIANCE score, then one EMPTY CELL or SUPER CELL will be withheld from the initial set of GAME PIECES made available to the PAYLOAD SPECIALIST for the TEAM.
What I would like to make note of is the OR between EMPTY CELL or SUPER CELL. If you 2x in your previous match and the refs take a SUPER CELL, no big, your can score your EMPTY CELLS as regular ol’ MOON ROCKS for 2 points a pop. But, if the refs take your SUPER CELLS you are at a loss for not only the SUPER CELLS, but also the opportunity to score the EMPTY CELLS…

I have a few problems with this post.

Yes, an alliance could score on themselves, but that is certainly not professional and far more insulting then gracious. This is what I mean by “badly thought through”.

I really do not see how it would be insulting to help the other team score points. If you’re losing that badly, everyone knows it and the other team should understand that it is purely strategic and “big picture” thinking.

“Shenanigans” are far too easy. Yes, most teams here will behave graciously professional and avoid such temptations, but it is just too easy. Score a lot to disadvantage a team you don’t like, or even the a team who will be partnering unliked team in their next match. Or, if you’re going to lose, keep your score low to disadvantage everyone on the other team.

While this might be “easy” to do, as you said, it would not at all be graciously professional. I do not foresee teams purposely losing matches so that a team they dislike has a slight disadvantage in the next match.

I’m not a big fan of the “ranking score” system (where higher opponents’ score=good for you) in the first place, but at least that encourages offense (good for spectators) and allows smaller teams to do more.

I believe the system is the way it is because it shows somewhat the caliber of the opponents played. Obviously if team A’s opponents score 50 points per match but team B’s opponents score 10 points per match, team A has had a tougher schedule. If two teams have the same number of qualifying points, why shouldn’t the team who played tougher opponents get a higher rank? The system seems good to me (until the 4th tiebreaker of electronic coin flip:p ).

Overall, I disagree with your philosophy regarding the rule. I do not think it will keep teams from scoring a ton of points. The matches will not be less exciting simply because teams are afraid of the 2x or 3x score. Also, it will be very hard to lose all super cells. All 3 teams in an alliance would have had to have won by 3x in their previous match for there to be no possible configuration of human players which could get a super cell in play.

Example:Team A, B, and C are aligned for match 100. Team A won 97-17 in its last match, team B won 30-8 in its last match, and team C won 50-20 in its last match. Teams A and B both lose 2 of their non-moon rock playing pieces. Team C only loses 1. Therefore, team C could position its human player at either of the fueling stations and the alliance would have one super cell still possible. This is assuming they could not somehow get a super cell which the other alliance introduces into the crater and score it before the game ends. Sorry if this message seems to be rude or inconsiderate on my part, I just want you to see that perhaps it is not such a big deal and in fact might add an interesting element to the games.

I agree that it is not such a big deal, but I want to point out that if indeed you loose 3/4 EMPTY CELLS, you loss 15x3 points for the SUPER CELLS you cannot acquire and 6 points for scored EMPTY CELLS… I understand that with 120 balls on the field loosing 3 is like a flashlight in a cave, but three balls is still a loss.

I think you misspoke there, note my correction! But honestly I don’t think it’s a big issue. An EMPTY CELL is only two points, same as a moon rock, and you have, what, 30 of those? And I don’t believe the refs decide what to take-my interpretation is that wherever your PAYLOAD SPECIALIST sits for the next match, he loses one ball.

I really meant patronizing more then “insulting”, but I agree that in the context of this game, I agree that the losing alliance would probably realize the purpose of the winning alliance’s actions and not begrudge them for it. But do we really need a rule so convoluted that it is a necessary strategy to score on yourself? And how does it really help the psyche of the losing alliance, or the perceived evenness of the game, if teams are scoring on themselves just to avoid falling outside this rule? Does the GDC think the spectators or losing teams will not notice this or something?
(Note: This isn’t directly in response to your post, but I keep coming up with new reasons this rule is bad all the time… :frowning: )

Teams taking advantage of this rule was really more of a minor concern of mine, and I believe as you do that none will try it. But there shouldn’t even be the opportunity, and even if it doesn’t happen, team members (and spectators “in the know”) will speculate whenever some team has a problem, and we don’t need that.
As for your point on the ranking score as “strength of schedule”, I honestly hadn’t thought of that. I guess it could work that way, but using opponent wins would probably be better, and the manual even says:

…thus my idea that the main intent of the rule is to discourage defense. I really don’t have a problem with that-I was more comparing the rule to this one.

No problem at all :smiley: The whole purpose of boards like this is for debate, after all! And by the way, I have edited my first post (and will be doing so again right now, argh!), so you might want to look at that…

I agree that it is not such a big deal, but I want to point out that if indeed you loose 3/4 EMPTY CELLS, you loss 15x3 points for the SUPER CELLS you cannot acquire and 6 points for scored EMPTY CELLS

I refer you to G14 (my bolding to emphasize)

<G14> CELL Count Modification – If the assigned ALLIANCE score for the last non-surrogate
MATCH played by the TEAM was more than twice (2x) the opposing ALLIANCE score, then
one EMPTY CELL or SUPER CELL will be withheld from the initial set of GAME PIECES
made available to the PAYLOAD SPECIALIST for the TEAM
. If the assigned ALLIANCE
score for the last non-surrogate MATCH played by the TEAM was more than triple (3x) the
opposing ALLIANCE score, then a second EMPTY CELL or SUPER CELL will be withheld
from the initial set of GAME PIECES made available to the PAYLOAD SPECIALIST for the
TEAM.

You cannot possibly lose 3/4 of the empty cells due to the fact that each team can only lose two of its cells. This is a big deal if your team’s payload specialist is in a fueling station because your opportunity for super cells is lost. However, if your team’s payload specialist is in the outpost position, he or she will always have at least two empty cells at his or her disposal. Also, I remind you that in discussing what the opportunity cost is for losing an empty cell, it is the 15 possible points from the super cell acquisition and score, not those 15 plus 2 for the empty cell possibility because once an empty cell is exchanged, its two points will never be scored.

I don’t really like this rule eather. My thoughts on it is that one teams outcome in a match shouldn’t have any effect with them on their next match. It also say that it punishes the next two teams in the allience with something that they might have had nothing to do with.

Example: “Team A” wins with a 2x score, but in their next match “Team B” and “Team C” on their allience had close score in the previous match. But yet they are the ones in the end that are taking the hit with “Team A”. It also can go agienst a team during team selection during elemelnations. Who would want to pick “Team A” to go with them to elemanation when they lost a SUPER CELL from a previous match.

I have always believed that no match should exchange guidlines onto your next match. You can have a 2x blow out prevention rule to let them know that thats not the intentions of the game, but to punish them onto the next match. I don’t think thats right.

The thought of losing a potional SUPER CELL isn’t what really concerns me as much as what I stated above. Learn from a misake in a match but don’t cury the misake onto the next match. More of a… Learn from previous mistakes, but leave the past behind you.

Perhaps I should ask something else-what is the good that this rule does?

Many people have suggested that it “adds strategy” to the game. Sure, I won’t deny that. But does this game need the added “strategy” of sandbagging? Sandbagging is never fun to watch and less fun to do, especially for team members enthusiastic to show off what they made. And scoring on yourself? I mean, come on. How are you going to explain that to drop-in spectators or NASA TV viewers? (They do exist, you know. They’re also one of the most important audiences FIRST needs to target.) And I don’t know about you, but I’d feel better losing 50-10 then if the score was 40-30 and 20 of those points were own goals.

As for the “preventing blowouts” rationale, my thoughts on that can be found in the initial post. We are all mature enough here to take a big loss and consider how we can use it to move forward.

Outscoring my opponents by 2x… this is a problem I’d like to have.

I would feel more comfortable if a minimum was placed on this rule for exceptionally low scoring matches.

There is also the chance for abuse by surrogates. A surrogate could run up the score and hurt their alliance partners in the next rounds without being affected themselves. But then again they could just throw the match if they really wanted.

GDC one fix that needs to happen, if a team is penalized from a previous match and they are a surrogate for the current match, their penalty should be postponed until their next non-surrogate match.

Say your next match was very important. You are currently up 65-30, do you take a penalty to avoid doubling? Encouraging penalties should never be the result of a rule.

That is another of the deranged “strategies” that is encouraged by this rule… or what if you are down 40-65, and against insert your region’s dominant team here? I would hope that FIRST teams would not do this, but it would be really easy to accidentally throw a Super Cell over a bit too early…

And hopefully there are more people on now (as opposed to 3 EST :ahh: ), so I’m eager to hear an actual reason why teams that win by a lot should be punished.

I agree. <G14> is, in my opinion, not in the spirit of FIRST. When has the game not encouraged us to do the best we possibly can? Also there is a possibility of double penalizing a losing team. Think about this teams 1,2,3 play teams 4,5,6 and the 1,2,3 alliance triples the score of the other alliance. Then the following match the alliance 1,2,6 exists: team 6 has just been PENALIZED for LOSING, because two of their partners are out 2 game pieces. Then we consider the possibility of that alliance losing and the additional consequences there. There are too many possible negative ramifications of this rule.

The 0 score argument is interesting as well. What if an alliance has 12 points and you have 20, but they were penalized twice during the match. Their score is now 0 and yours is 20 and that sucks, because you’ve tripled their score with 20 points :confused:

It was made to even the playing field which is in the spirit of FIRST, but since FIRST uses competition as means to achieve it’s goal… It is a paradox, well lets solve the paradox and delete <G14>.

Alright, I really am hoping that you can all get every empty cell to the fueling station and then introduce every super cell EVERY match. As I said before, it will be extremely hard to eliminate all four super cells and impossible to eliminate more than half of the empty cells for a match. In that case, you have three aligned teams who all dominated their previous opponents. Perhaps you design a strategy which does not require the use of super cells or empty cells as a key component. That way, you will be zero-cell-proof.

One could argue that “deranged strategies” are encouraged by our society too. I’m sure everyone here listened to Dean’s speech very closely. The emphasis on why we do what we do. I’m sure everyone listened closely to Woodie and Dave as well - before the game was unveiled.

Just because we CAN do something doesn’t mean we SHOULD. If you are choosing to do something just to “win” even if you may think or know it’s not the “right” thing to do, then I guess you’re missing the point entirely.

…and spare me the talk of, “but the other guy might do it and that’s not fair…” because, again, this too is everyday life in our culture. The stuff we’re supposedly working at changing, regardless of the adversity along the way.

If you want to actively change the culture for the better, then, in the face of all this perceived and potential “wrongdoing” and adversity you’ll find a way to do the “right” thing without judging others at all - it’s just wasted energy anyway.

Is all of this unfair? Sure. If I’m suggesting that we shouldn’t expend energy pointing fingers of others’ wrongdoings doesn’t that mean I’ll have to work that much harder to succeed? Yup, probably.

Listen, folks did you ever think that these type of items, the ones that nag the teams every year for the same “fairness” reasons is the REAL game we need to pay attention to? How many times do some of us need to hear our founder and national advisors talk about competing like crazy and treating each other well in the process, winning in a way that values your opponent, etc.

If we’re going to be cultural change agents we need to get comfortable with the notion of working harder than we ever have before without caving into our personal desires to “win” or get what we think we “deserve.” The journey is the reward - REALLY. this is a hard challenge, REALLY.

I’m absolutely flabbergasted at the time people think they have to discuss this in such painstaking detail when there’s a huge problem to solve and lots of sharing to do in a very short period of time.

I admit the game if fun, but we all need to remember why the heck we’re doing this. Dean, Dave, and Woodie try to hit us over the head with the important messages every year so let’s make this the year we keep all of that foremost in our minds, even during robot build and game play … please?

The 'game" exists as a test to us as designers, but more importantly as positive culture-changing people and organizations.

namaste,
rich

Along those same lines… Lets say your robot alone, at it’s best, can score 10 points for your team. Your two alliance partners in one match each score 60 points and, as an alliance, you triple the other teams score. The next match you play you’re penalized, even though you contributed only a small portion to your previous alliance’s amazing score.

First of all, I’m an alumni (as noted on my profile) and sadly not yet a mentor, so I truly have nothing better to do then post here :stuck_out_tongue: Anyway, I think you may have misunderstood the point of that post. I am not encouraging teams to take advantage of <G14>, or even stating that it is likely to happen. I was rather pointing out the many and varied ways that the rule ~could~ be taken advantage of. This is, in my opinion, one of many, many flaws the rule has, and not nearly the biggest one.
I’m honestly not sure I really understand your post. Are you simply trying to respond to my saying that teams could game the rule, or are you trying to say that we should stop worrying about the game and worry about the other parts of FIRST? I agree, in a way, but you have to remember that without the game, there isn’t much else to FIRST. I believe that takes away a lot of the learning experience that is, IMO, one of the most important “other parts” of all. And I have still not read a real reason why the rule is there in the first place.

I asked in the other thread and i’m asking here. How do i explain this rule to students and parents? Not the rule but the reason for it? How do you explain that you might have to NOT do your best? Where in the real world do i point to for an example? What will the kids learn from this?:confused:

Anyway, I think you may have misunderstood the point of that post. I am not encouraging teams to take advantage of <G14>, or even stating that it is likely to happen. I was rather pointing out the many and varied ways that the rule ~could~ be taken advantage of. This is, in my opinion, one of many, many flaws the rule has, and not nearly the biggest one.

I think what Rich was saying is that we can only police ourselves. If other people will do any “sandbagging” as you called it, then they will. He was just saying that all we can control is ourselves and that by doing so in a graciously professional manner, perhaps others will try to emulate us.

As far as the reason for the rule, it seems to me the same reason why we switched to a serpentine style alliance selection process. It will bring some added excitement to the games by making them more even. I was in FIRST for 1 non serpentine draft and the elimination matches did not compare to the ones we get to watch now. #1 Alliance used to win a lot more than they do now. FIRST went out on a limb back then by trying to even the field a little and IMHO, it worked out incredibly well. The people running FIRST are pretty smart, let’s give them a chance to show us that a rule like this is a good thing.