Power Cell Match Flow Analysis

The following analysis got pretty long… but I think it’s super interesting to think about how various matches will play out, and worth sharing/discussing. I’d love to see what others think about this topic as well!

Levels of Play:

  • Low Tier
    • Early/Small Event Quals
  • Mid Tier
    • Early/Small Event Playoffs
    • Late/Large Event Quals
  • High Tier
    • Late/Large Event Playoffs
    • Championship Level Quals
  • Elite Tier
    • District and World Championships Playoffs

Autonomous:

  • Each Team Starts with 5 Power Cells in their Alliance Station
  • Each Robot has 3 preloaded PC’s
  • There are up to 10 “accessible” PC’s available that could be scored in addition to preloads
    • 7 in the Trenches
      • 5 in your Trench Run
      • 2 in the opposing alliance’s Trench Run on your side
      • It’s unlikely your alliance will be able to access both of these in a given match
    • 3 in the near side boundary of the Rendezvous
  • Low Tier:
    • Given that all teams need to do is manually line up and activate their shooter, and many teams will have a shooter, I think it’s fair to guess that an average alliance in quals should get between 3 and 6 PC’s scored in auto
  • Mid Tier:
    • Later in the season and at stronger events, more teams should have the ability to score in auto, and some teams will be able to score more than 3 in auto. As such alliances should range between 6 and 9 PC’s scored during auto
  • High Tier:
    • At high levels of play, it would be the expectation that most teams can shoot and make their 3 shots in auto, with many teams running 5-6 PC autos. Alliances at this level of play should be looking at 9-12 PC’s in auto
  • Elite Tier
    • I would expect a captain and first pick at a championship level event to have complimenting 5 and 6 ball autos. More than likely the third robot is shooting their three pre-loads. That adds up to 14 PC’s scored after auto
      • 5 Ball auto would come from the opponent’s Trench
      • 6 Ball Auto would come from your own Trench with the assumption that the far side balls have already been taken by the opponent


Image for Reference

Early Teleop Notes:

  • After auto, any number of PC’s scored over 10 will need to be immediately returned to the field
    • These balls should be a top priority for one alliance partner due to their close proximity to your Ports, and the fact that the opposing alliance needs to cross the field to get back for them
    • Any additional balls scored immediately after auto are likely to force a flood since the opponent’s alliance station is at max capacity
    • Another high priority for your alliance should be getting back to your Loading Zone to relieve the pressure from your opponent’s auto
  • If less than 10 PC’s are score as will be the case most of the time, there will be no overflow and your most efficient source of PC’s will be either in the boundary of the Rendevous (2-5 PC’s) or more likely in your Loading Zone
  • At all levels of play, picking up your own autonomous misses as well as your opponents’ is a smart play as it works to your favor both as defense and offense - the fewer PC’s on my side of the field, the less opportunity my opponent has to create a short scoring opportunity

Teleop Scenarios:

There are three generalized teleop scenarios to consider for Infinite Recharge:

  • Big Cycling Advantage
  • Evenly Matched Cycling
  • Big Cycling Disadvantage

I believe you need to play this game differently in each scenario due to the expected flow of Power Cells during the match. Let’s take a look at each scenario and consider how it will impact the flow Power Cells, and their eventual convergence to various locations on the field.

Big Cycling Advantage:

Let’s start with everybody’s favorite… you’re going into a match that you know you should win by a large margin. After auto, you likely have a lead, and are putting more pressure on your opponent’s flood capacity than they are on yours. As teleop begins both you and your opponent will race back to your Loading Zones to ease some of the pressure off of them. Cycling will begin and there will be a point when Power Cells start to congregate on your opponent’s side of the field. How quickly this happens will depend on the cycling advantage, as well as the head start in auto. The bigger the advantage, the earlier PC’s will shift to your opponent’s side of the field. This will generally shorten your average cycle time and increase your opponent’s, making matter worse for them. When this tipping point is reached, it’ll be really hard for the opposing alliance to overcome, and it’ll make the Stage 3 Ranking Point much more obtainable, which should be the goal in these types of matches at sufficiently high levels of play.

How to Play it:

Your first moves in teleop should be no different than they would be in an even match. You need to first create the positive feedback loop before you can benefit from it. Once the loop is created, your alliance’s movements should drastically shift to your opponent’s side of the field. You should have as many robots on your alliance taking advantage of short cycles as possible depending on your alliance makeup. In most cases it probably makes sense for your two strongest scorers to operate primarily in your opponent’s sector, with your weakest robot preventing overflows on your side of the field, and moving PC’s to the opponent’s side of the field through either cycling or long shots from just outside your own Sector. Once the pressure is solidly on your opponent, put your foot on the gas, it might just lead to a Ranking Point.

Evenly Matched Cycling:

The most common type of match in FRC, the “tossup”. Alliances are generally evenly matched and things could go either way. In this scenario, it’s extremely unlikely that any sort of positive feedback loop is created, and thus the strategy for the match shouldn’t change drastically as the match progresses.

How to Play It:

The answer to this question is very dependent upon alliance makeup. If you have three low goal dumpers you’ll need to play it very differently than if you have three accurate long distance shooters. There are too many variables to determine the best way for every possible alliance combination to operate. One general principle doesn’t ever change though - the more Power Cells there are on your opponent’s side of the field, the better off you are. Again, this theoretically shortens your average cycle time and increases your opponent’s (depending on ground intake quality and a bunch of other factors…). So however you do it, whether by cycling, long range shooting into the Ports, long range passing to your own alliance, etc. the faster you put PC’s in your Port the better off you are.

Big Cycling Disadvantage:

These matches are tough. You’re going in knowing you’ll need to play things perfectly to pull an upset. The dynamics at play aren’t a mystery… When you had the advantage you saw how things worked… now those Power Cells are starting to congregate on your side of the field… what can you do?

How to Play it:

If you’re being overloaded with PC’s and can’t keep up with your opponent, you’re in a rough spot. If they start gaining access to PC’s from your Loading Zone you can pretty much kiss the upset goodbye. There are a couple options for how to play things… the first thought that comes to mind is to bring two, or even all three of your robots back to your own Sector to help clear things out… the only problem with that is that you’re falling into the trap of running significantly longer and less efficient cycles than your opponent. This seems like a recipe for disaster. Alternatively it might be a good idea to use two robots to stake out your Loading Zone to hoard Power Cells in there, taking turns launching the PC’s to the other side of the field. The only way for the opposing alliance to get to them would be for them to roll out of that zone, or for none of your alliance robots to be near it. This isn’t a winning strategy, but it might slow the bleeding a bit to keep the match close enough that a missed climb can steal you a win. If you have a robot with a long shot, another option would be to have them patrol the Loading Zone, taking 5 PC’s from there and launching them to the other side of the field as quickly as possible. This tactic may prevent the opposing alliance from forcing you to flood, and enable short cycles for your alliance robots on the far side of the field. The theory here is that a cycle from the Loading Zone to just outside your Sector and shooting an inaccurate shot will be faster than two or three robots full field cycling and aiming for their Ports. Ultimately though, I believe the best way to prevent a superior alliance from generating a positive feedback loop is to play some hard nosed defense. The best spot to play defense is between the opponent’s Loading Zone and their Trench Run. This enables you to defend against long shooters, as well as the most congested part of the field for the opposing alliance. It’s the best place to prevent PC’s from leaving your opponent’s side of the field.

How Many Power Cells to Hoard:

I’ve been surprised at the number of people who have answered this question with “As many as you can”. Intentionally hoarding Power Cells is a dangerous game to play at any level, against any opponent. If you aren’t prepared, your opponent may end up using your hoarding against you to generate short cycles. In my opinion, the best number of Power Cells to have on my half of the field is 0. If every PC is on my opponent’s side, they have long cycles, I have short cycles, and I don’t need to worry about them forcing me to flood. There is an argument to be made for keeping 5-10 PC’s behind in alliance station, especially if you have an efficient long shooter on your alliance… Getting rid of Power Cells in a way that leads to an easy score for your opponent is always a bad thing, and should be avoided at all costs. It makes sense to hoard Power Cells when that’s your alternative. However, if I’m able to lower the number of Power Cells in my alliance station and ensure they don’t go to my opponent in an advantageous way, I should do that every time.

TL;DR: You don’t get one. Read it or don’t :slight_smile:

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Do you think G22 (Don’t collude with your partners to shut down major parts of game play) with regards to shutting down access to ALL power cells will ever come into play?

I’m also worried about 1 team running interference so that their partner can grab power cells from an undefended opponent’s loading station and G22 being called.

I do like your suggestion of closing up your loading station.

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This is certainly a consideration… these types of penalties are always really tough to call and very ambiguous. I would generally be concerned any time I’m playing a starvation game with the opponent. I’d have similar concerns about hoarding Power Cells in my Trench Run… which will be a very real tactic this year in addition to the tactics I mentioned above.

if you’re at a big cycling disadvantage, I think if it’s possible to dump balls while your opponent is shooting you may get lucky and have them roll either into your trench or at least across the field. Have some testing to do to see if that would really happen or not though.

When I realized this was possible I thought it was going to be a very interesting maneuver at mid to high levels that teams might pull out in the playoffs to surprise an opponent who hadn’t thought about it.

After thinking about it more I’m wondering if we’ll see a defensive autonomous mode by a short trench bot at the elite level to counter this. If I can sprint across the trench in high gear can I reach a robot that has to reverse direction and intake balls before it gets out of the trench? Can I save those two balls? Is hitting my opponent for a Tech Foul and to potentially throw off their 5 Ball autonomous worth it to sacrifice a known 3 scored (if you can manage to not hit the other balls in the trench)?

I like the analysis. The game will play very differently in even matches with lots of cycling or passing vs unbalanced matches which will focus on short sprints to chase down game pieces overflowing. I wonder if some highly ranked robots will struggle come playoffs with the shift - teams that have spent most of the event using the overflows to short cycle are going to see their scoring drop quite a bit when they have to cycle through the rendezvous zone and trench against better competition.

The opposing trench on the other half , won’t matter if the other 17 balls are scored that you can get to on your side . Opposing two on your side first sweep the rest…other side under pressure all game

Re: power cell hoarding.
Does it make sense to hoard more power cells the larger a disadvantage you’re at? If you’re out-cycling the opponent, you should be dumping them quickly to keep your alliance fed. If you’re swimming against the current, you should be hoarding to keep balls out of your opponents’ reach. For middle of the road matches, keep a small amount on-hand so that the human player can help control match flow to your advantage.

Does that sound right?

Independent of game flow, being at 15 power cells means you’re forced to drop power cells any time the opponent scores.

If you want to fill one of your robots, you’ll need 5.

There are few instances where you’ll want to get less than 5 (and they all include all 3 of your robots not requiring the loading station).

Any number higher than 10 allows a single opponent robot to force when you deliver power cells. If you hoard as many as you can, this ensures the other alliance gets to dictate you provide them more power cells JUST as they emptied their robot so they’re free to collect.

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This issue is being debated in this thread and on Q&A now: Stage 3 Ranking Point Hack

The nuances are, yes. But, that general idea isn’t. Though, I do love nuances so I’ll gladly hop over =)

Your login used to be Citrus Dad, correct? I’m not just going crazy here? (other places, sure)

If your end of the field is being flooded, you just need one robot to reliably receive PCs from the LZ and shoot them low through your trench. Should be able to clear 10-15 PCs pretty quickly, and hopefully put most of them in your scoring area. A turret shooter would be best in case an opponent tries to block your shooting path.