No Team Should have to Resort to a D-bot (and how to avoid doing so)

Hello CD,

As teams settle into their robot strategies, I’d like to throw this out there:

I am a big fan of competitive regionals. I’m a big fan of teams realizing their potential. I’m a big fan of helping teams.

I’m not a big fan of box-bots (you know, the robot that can only drive). Instead of bringing down the best teams, I want to bring up the bottom teams and work to eliminate box-bots.

I wrote a blog post that’s relatively long but fairly informative. It doesn’t give you drawings or designs, just basic robots concepts that will be fairly competitive in this year’s game.

If your team is thinking of building a purely defense robot, read this. Please.
Anyone else, you’re welcome to read it as well. Maybe pass it on to a team who you think could benefit from it.

If you do take my advice or are already following a similar path, let me know. I want to keep tabs on you.
If you think it’s awful, I respect that and would appreciate feedback from you as well.

42 Days Until Ship (or Stop Build Day)!

Defensive bots(that are built well) can be a huge game changer. Often times defense decides who wins. Now i’m not a big fan of box-bots either but saying that every team should build an offense bot isn’t necessarily a good solution.

A good compromise, I think, is building a defensive robot(if that’s the rout a team wants to take) but incorporate some feature that allows it to score points, say in the endgame. Last year a defensive robot with a good minibot was very competitive, this year a defensive robot that also allows for easier balancing could be very competitive.

To put it simply: It is too easy this year to build a good defensive drivetrain. The GDC knew that and added tiers to the game. Strong incentives to score high but subtle bonuses for scoring low. The end game has a must do element to it because of the high value. Too many teams will basically have trouble getting past the Kitbot on Steroids because they have no mechanical help.

If you are reading this, you have more help than you could imagine. Ask questions, after reading the rules. Try things, then show the world and ask for help. Communication alone will take you to the eliminations of this competition if you are willing to work harder than you may have ever worked.

Don’t be stupid, read the rules, build something better than a pure defense robot. It’s week 1. Don’t give up on offense yet. It’s too important. But keep your traction wheels at the ready.

I love this game.

I think that the OP makes the mistake of directly associating defense bots with box-bots. It is true that simple box-bots made with little more than the kit-bot are not very competitive, which I think is more what the OP is trying to say. I think a strong defensive bot needs to be capable of starving the other team of balls and/or be very good at balancing to be called such, which will take active design beyond the kit-bot.

I do have to agree with the OP, though, that offensive bots will be more competitive than similarly strong defensive bots, more and more in these games, a strong offensive has been able to overwhelm even the strongest defense. A good defensive bot might be able to get you good standings at a regional, but it won’t go nearly as far at championships. Many of the qualities that will make a strong defensive bot will also make a good offensive bot, so why not implement a design that can be both?

Any way you look at it, simple kit-bots are going to be the least competitive and it is good to show people that it doesn’t take much to get beyond that.

Hopefully that all made sense, I’m pretty tired right now

Quoted for the Truth!


When you consider the fouls that are in place for this game, a brick-bot likely isn’t going to do very well in this game; a robot that gets blocked as it gets closer to the hoops to score will just retreat to the safety of the key. Playing defense on them there won’t work as well as you might hope, as touching them gives the other team points and, as per the rules, their robot can be taller than yours in their scoring zone.

If the brick-bot would like to block another robot as it crosses the bridges with a payload of balls for scoring, they’re SOL there as well, because touching a robot while it is touching its alliance’s bridge gives it points too.

All in all, brick-bots will do poorly this year. They are not a good idea and all teams should aspire to not build one.

Even if a defensive bot catches and pushes an opposing bot around they have to be careful which direction they are pushing them. If they end up pushing them into the key they get a penalty. Not only should the Key be a robot free zone but he re should be an aura of distance so you don’t get tapped and get a penalty because a part of the robot is still in contact with the Key. Shots could be hard to come by this year so getting penalties is giving it away for free.

FRC 3630 made a table that went over Qualifying Points and how you can get them here. That might be something to add?

I’ll do my best to pass along through GOFIRST. Thanks for the write up and analysis I know at least one of my teams will check it out.


Boxes with wheels never play the game how it’s meant to be. Most teams never set out to make that driving box but we always end up with a few that just drive. The common ones I see are the robots that were over on weight so they ditch the big gun they had. More than once, you’ve seen a piece of robot left there cause of weight or it just didn’t work.

That being said a Team setting up their alliance is gonna consider a box robot that might only be able to drive for one reason: Bridge.

Fitting three bots on the bridge full size is not easy, not fun but it is doable. If you got a box bot that can do something consistently and well in addition to drive with a small footprint, a Box with skill might have it’s ticket into the tournament.

If you’re planning on a box bot, you’d better darn sure be able to balance well on that bridge. I just can’t see the actual playing of defense being as useful this year, unless the team is really skilled and avoids penalties.

I think that good defense will have a very strong showing in this game, but good defense is more than just pushing!

This is similar to Breakaway… you could play defense with a box on wheels, but it wouldn’t be all that great. The good defenders were able to get balls and clear them out to the other side of the field where their offense could use them. It’s all about ball starvation/control!

I agree with Katie and many others here, but simply put the rules allow for a significant amount of defense and that’s what you’re going to see, period. IMHO I see three type of teams that become defensive oriented:

  1. a team that builds and develops strategy that way from the start
  2. a team that runs out of time during build and never gets to the manipulator time-wise (no matter how much “help” there is in the community, the resources (time, human, etc) just aren’t there to build and test it)
  3. a team that shows up at an event and the manipulator just doesn’t work well (design flaws, bit off more than they could chew, etc), so they “turn into” a defensive team during the event.

In my mind, until all of those factors can be addressed in both game design and in team development/planning BEFORE kickoff, you’re going to get what you’re going to get.

Will a thread like this sway a few? Sure. Do I like the concept presented here? You bet. I just don’t think that it’s going to make a significant enough difference to address Katie’s (and others) concerns.

Good defense in this game is going to be getting balls that are missed or neglected and moving them to your side and closer to being scored. And you’re already part way there to scoring them yourself! You also only need to drive well (with some enhancements perhaps) to score in the “end game” if you could call it that, the bridge.

Let’s make these matches exciting. A match with 6 robots that can’t score isn’t any fun, especially for those participating. If you’re here, don’t hesitate to look for help if you need it. If you are in a position to provide help, don’t hesitate to find teams who need it.

Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.

But a Brave Little Toaster (like the Kitbot with no further work except to make it legal) is not necessarilythe most effective defensive robot. Sure, it’s got 6 weeks of driving… but not anything to set it apart defensively.

I agree, in past years most of the “defensive” robots were ones that were broken in some way and in the final matches no alliance in the regonal i was at choose a “defensive” robot as an alliance partner.

However, the best alliances were made up of 3 scoring robots, but two of which were obviously able to rack up better points, and then the third would defend not by pinning the enemy, but by using its scoring mechanism to get balls downrange and away from the enemy.

I imagine that this game will be very similar

one thing i have not liked about the past two games is that KOP robots can’t score… overdrive they could drive for points, lunacy they ran away from other robots and pushed balls into the human player stations, breakaway they could score in the goals by pushing balls in… last year and this year they can only play defense.

This year, they’re worth between 10 and 40 points apiece. Depending, of course, on how many of them are crammed onto a balanced bridge and which round of competition you’re talking about.

I’ve always split robots into three categories, instead of the traditional two:
Offense - Tries to score points Defense - Tries to be a nusiance on the field inhibiting the other team from scoring
Utility - These are the bots that have some special feature that makes them valuable regardless of their other capabilities (Las Gurrillas 2010 is sorta the prime example of this)

Playing good defense is very hard, and to do it notably you either have to build in utility elements, or be very very good at messing up other players by some special means (possibly very powerful pushing while being mobile). General kitbots need to find some way of being special other than pushing people. As has been said a billion times already: anyone can do that.