My take on Positioning, and Strategy for the highest levels of cycle efficiency

This is my take of how basic strategy in scoring points will occur at the highest level of play. This is only conjecture. It is based only on my understanding of the games, and the robots competing in it before any major competitions have been played. Feel free to deliberate on my idea, contest them with yours, or offer different strategies altogether.


Blue Alliance: They are the team in the best position to capture the most amount of points possible, and likely have faster cycle times than the Red alliance

Blue Robot 1: Blue Robot 1 would be a feeder robot. Example of Feeder Robot The role of the feeder robot would be to send balls to Blue Robot 2. This Robot could send balls Blue Robot 2 in multiple ways. It could give balls by launching directly into Blue Robot 2’s hopper or rolling them with some dispenser or dropper into Blue Robot 2’s intake. This Robot should be able to consistently get every ball from the Loading Zone to Blue Robot 2 with very little time loss.

Blue Robot 2: Blue Robot 2 would be a long-distance, high cycle speed robot that would shoot from behind the Color Wheel to reduce the time it would take Blue Robot 1 to be fed balls. This robot would be able to hit 2 pointers consistently with the occasional 3-pointers; however, its main goal is to complete all three stages, including the actuation of the Color Wheel. This robot would be able to make the trench run or very quickly cross the rendezvous bars. For optimal efficiency, its intake should be on an opposing side from their shooting line, as to be able to pick up any missed or dropped balls from Blue Robot 1.

Blue Robot 3: Blue Robot 3 would serve as the 2nd scorer for the Blue alliance. It would take any lost balls traveling from Red Robot 1 to Red Robot 2, and score those balls with a high degree of accuracy. It would play defense against Red Robot 1, attempting to block balls traveling from the Loading Zone to Red Robot 2, either by Red Robot 1, or rolling across the field.

Red Alliance: The goal of the Red alliance would be to play a counter-strategy against the Blue alliance, scoring points over Ranking Points.

Red Robot 1: Red Robot 1 would fill the position of the feeder bot, feeding balls from the Loading Zone to Red Robot 2. It would likely move across the field instead of being stationary, dropping balls into the trench, under the color wheel to Red Robot 2, it would avoid having balls stolen during travel from Red Robot 1 to Red Robot 2, but their cycle time would increase as a result. This Robot would have to be able to feed balls into the trench to build a bank for Red Robot 2 to draw from.

Red Robot 2: Red Robot 2 would take the balls dropped into the trench by Red Robot 1, and shoot them at a closer distance, as to increase accuracy. It would have an intake opposing their shooting line, and would be able to quickly intake balls, and then send them into the 3 point goal. Its goal is to gain as many points, by shooting with a higher accuracy than the other team.

Red Robot 3: Red Robot 3 would act as an aggressive defense, blocking Blue Robots 1&2’s lines of sight. It would attempt to force Blue Robot 1 to drive over to Blue Robot 2 to dispense balls. The lower angle and ball speed required to send balls from Blue Robot 1 to Blue Robot 2 would make them easy to intercept. Red Robot 3 would send balls over the ever accurate Red Robot 2, unless it was also capable of making 3 point shots consistently. Its main goal is to slow down the cycle time of the Blue alliance and allow their team to catch up in points.

Results: Blue alliance has a higher theoretical point and ranking point output, as it can score a large number of cells, matching the likely-to-increase number of cells required for the levels of Regional and Internation Competitions. Red alliance has an opportunity to win if they can score 3-point shots significantly more consistently, and their Red Robot 3 can slow down the cycle times of Blue alliance. Red alliance’s strategy of creating a bank of balls for Red Robot 2 to draw from would lead to more consistent cycle rates. By making a ‘bank’ of balls, Red Robot 2 could have access to more than 10 balls in one cycle (5 on Blue Robot 2 + 5 on Blue Robot 1). Blue alliance would be pressured by Red Robots 1&2 to not make an attempt to take from their bank in fear of incurring a one-sided penalty.

Notes: The theoretical ‘Ultimate Alliance’ would be able to consistently score 3-point shots without compromising on cycle times, and with their Robot 3 taking a great deal of the flooded balls to score additional 3-point shots.

I didn’t focus on autos or climbs, as there is likely to be a hard limit that many alliances will hit. Climbing is also fairly cut-and-dry; spend as much time scoring over climbing, then score a balanced, 3-robot climb for maximum points and ranking points.

Robot 2 (either alliance) Likely won’t ever be worth guarding against, as you can’t go into the opposing alliance’s pit, and the arc on most teams’ shooters makes it either impractical or impossible to actually block the shot. I suspect most of the defense will be around making Robot 2 useless by cutting off their supply of balls, and forcing them to move into a more vulnerable position to the blocking of shots, or simply slowing down their cycle times.

I am open to criticism if there is a gaping hole in my strategy to predict the last month of FRC competitions. Also, it’s like 1, I didn’t proof-read this. lol.

6 Likes

Seems Red 3 can take the time of two Blues the entire game . WIn

Blue planned, Red won

The ultimate alliance never has a single way to play

First of all thanks for the quality post. I really enjoy reading detailed analysis of the game from someone else’s perspective. Full disclosure, I would love to try this in an actual match with our robot. In our reveal video, we even teased this with 3674 playing robot 1 and us playing robot 2.

I think there are several critical things that have to align for the strategy that you’re laid out here to be a winning one.

First of all there are several key robot characteristics that each position must possess.

Robot 1, to be effective needs to be able to shoot out one side and accept from the other, which is not that rare, but Robot 1 in my mind is the least capable robot on the alliance and is therefore usually missing either key functionality or consistency.

Robot 2 needs to have a hopper and be able to hit 2s from a location that Robot 1 can shoot into. The combination of these characteristics, while not uncommon, may not exist on any given alliance.

Robot 3 needs to be a decent overall robot capable of hitting 3 pointers and picking up off the ground, hopefully every alliance has such a team, I don’t see this being a rare robot.

Secondly, even if you did have the robots that you’ve laid out up above, I think that a straight offense strategy may win. I’m certainly not the first person to point out the similarities that 2013 has with this game and if you look at the alliance that was most successful at the highest levels it wasn’t a full court shooting composition. https://youtu.be/fnVXMZNi1nk?t=232 This is Einstein Finals in 2013, and shows how the highly accurate quick cycling blue alliance was able to win against a full court shooting red alliance. That followed a simpler version of the strategy above. The 2 big caveats with the comparison to 2013 are that there were three loading stations, which made sure that each of the three cyclers could load at will, and that there was no Frisbee return overload condition. I think those caveats are offset by the difficulty of loading your Robot 2 with Robot 1 and the higher reward for accurate shooting.

I hope that we see some alliances try this, I think it would be super fun to watch something that requires that much coordination be successful.

5 Likes

It’s great to see more people posting about strategy! This is a super interesting game overall and it’s awesome to see what others think.

I definitely believe this idea is a decent theoretical approach to a high level of strategy. Here are some suggestion I would add for you to take into consideration.

Playing the Same
Every time a driver runs a route, they become better at it. If a best strategy significantly diverges from a norm strategy, it tends to go less effective as before.
Non-reliance
It takes a very special alliance to coordinate robots together. It’s almost always easier to have robots doing their own thing independent of each other, and this game makes it very easy to do so.

3 Likes

Take football as an example. If the quarterback is hiding in the pocket you might blitz. If the quarterback is concentrating on quick passes, you might go into a max coverage.

My point is there are different strategies to balance each opposing strategy. At the highest level of play, you are going to taylor your play to counter the opponents. At the highest level of play, no one strategy is sufficient.

Just my opinion.

I don’t see the point in the feeder bots. It appears that they are dead role and would be more useful as another offense bot that could play defense aggressively and ball starve along with the other main shooter. This would also move congestion to their side of the field and allow the other scorers to have a more open field to work with.

I actually see the feeder bot as having a higher priority than the long shooter (unless the LS is VERY good)

But they HAVE to have an effective ground pickup. Their goal is to keep their end of the field as dry as possible. If the other team has a good shooter, do everything you can to increase that bot’s cycle time. Small bumps during alignment (you don’t have to push, just misalign) and long travel for PCs do that.

Feeder bots have to overcome three very large obstacles that many people overlook.

  1. They have to consistently deliver the game piece to their partner.

  2. Their partner has to consistently pick up the game piece.

  3. Both feeder and partner have to be on the same page as to how the game pieces are going to be delivered.

Mess up any one of the three and you end up with game pieces scattered all over the field.

This is great advice

Personally, given the choice between a feeder bot and an everybot-ish low goal specialist, I’d take the everybot. In my mind, a killer playoff alliance is:

  • A top-tier shooter playing close up to the goal, keeping the feedback going and scoring the largest share of the points.
  • A competent long shooter keeping the net flow of balls moving in the correct direction
  • A low goal robot that can intake and score quickly, to either help the long shot robot to move balls the right way, or to help the close robot sustain the feedback loop. (Depending on the match difficulty)

I think a robot feeding the long shooter is wasting some potential, since the cycle time in that area isn’t all that long to start with.

3 Likes
  1. no - to their partner or the other end of the field (there are 2 scorers in the above scenario)
  2. yes
  3. only if you drop it right in their hopper

What I described was a feeder and get rid of the PCs bot

Ty…Frank
tailor…taylor

1 Like

I think that you will find as the season goes along that teams will have better/faster cycle times of picking up five power cells at the loading station, driving to the other side of the field and shooting from the trench than a team that is searching to collect five power cells scattered around loading station and then shooting.

Here’s the problem with Blue 2: The quality of the power cells.

In our experience, once the cells get tears in them - which happens easily when intakes punch holes in them or they get run over - the balls compress easier and the shooter can’t shoot them as far.

We also found (for our bot) that as you get further away the grouping of the shots gets too wide. By the time we get to the control table, the spread is too wide to make it worth shooting from there. Watching matches from ISR indicates this may be generally true.