Rookie Team Strategy

This is the rookie year for my team and we have a pretty solid robot so far. We will be able to do all low level hatch panels and cargo we are also working on a way to get to the level three habitat. We are trying to stay away from pneumatics because it is our first year, making this level three climb rather difficult. We have a design, but I don’t know that it is legal, as of right now anyway. My question is this: to be counted as a level three habitat climb there cannot be any part of the robot touching below the level we wish to be on, correct? So, if we grabbed the sides of the habitat we would have to let go before the end of the match with all of our weight/bumpers above the level three platform?


Correct, except for the last word weight. It should be clear and unambiguous to the refs that your robot is only being supported by the top surface/L3 platform; not touching is the surest way to achieve this. The bumpers must be above the L3 platform. You may have weight lower, provided it is supported by the top of the L3 platform.



When you say “we have” do you mean planned and to-be-constructed, or already built? While having robot that can do L3 is awesome, I’d recommend focusing all your time and energy on practicing the lower hatch and cargo scoring. If you’ve got time to prototype a non-pneumatic gripper climber after that, go for it.

If you’re already good on chassis, mechanisms, and practice, just disregard my message.


^^ This. Get drive practice going first even if it’s on a slightly different chassis.

I would be cautious about biting off more than you can chew. The issue that most younger teams have is going too complicated, too quickly. Especially since you are a rookie team, building a simple robot that can actually play the game (i.e. driving and scoring game pieces) should be your priority.


Yes, we just have to finish our cargo mechanism, but we are waiting for parts… Driving is different though. We are ready to go, but there was a hiccup in coding. How much time would you recommend to save for driving practice?

As much as you can have.

Having time to test your drive code and cargo/panel mechanisms is key to having a functional robot. Your mechanisms will break and that’s okay. Learning the weaknesses of your designs early gives you time to fix them rather than figuring it out during competition.

Great teams fail just as much as everyone else. They just fail earlier during build season and had time to fix/iterate their designs.

As soon as you have your mechanisms put on the robot, jump into practice/testing.


At this point, I would not wait for the parts before beginning drive practice. Get your driver working on how to drive up to the loading station and scoring hatch panels. This maneuver is going to require a lot of practice to do quickly and accurately. It will likely also be the same maneuver as you will need to score cargo.

1 Like

Are your drivers already selected? Once you have a driving chassis, set up obstacles to represent locations of field elements and make students drive a predetermined path over and over. This can happen while others are finishing a mechanism. When the machanism is built, slap it on, test it, and have the drivers practice using it.

If you can, as a rookie team, get a full week of drive practice with NO mechanical work being done on the robot you’ll be better off than those teams working to stop build hour and a bunch of complicated untested mechanism.


I agree with ant146. As a 2nd year team, i advise to not be to advanced. Just stick with simple things this year and move up a little by little. I would advise sticking with what you have and perfect it.

1 Like

Honestly I believe a good team strategy especially in the first couples years of the team should mainly be to try to appeal towards the really good teams, examples of this would be great at cooperating and ability to try new things with the teams. Another good thing is try to be outstanding at one thing and do it repeatly

1 Like

Once you are able to get a few practice sessions in, ask teams nearby if you can scrimmage with them. Even if you can get with just one other team, it will be beneficial for you both. You can learn how to play defense and how to work around defense. Just as important, you can learn how to work with another team so you don’t get in the way of other teams on your alliance.

A rookie team that drives smoothly and with authority is likely to get picked before an established team that is still figuring out how to drive their robot.


This is one of the things that we’ve always struggled with. The years in which we build the simplest, most reliable robot with a lot of driver practice are the years that we have done the best. Last year as a disaster for us because of not getting enough driver practice and using an overly complex mechanism which we finished on stop build day. Even though this is our 9th season, we still find that focusing on reliable mechanisms with lots of drive practice is the formula for success. :smile:


For a rookie team focus on a lower level task. If you focus on this you can work on making it fast and reliable. In alliance selections the more experienced teams can do mostly everything on the field but will focus on the higher level objectives. And they will be looking for a team that can do the lower level objectives fast and reliable. If you robot is breaking down every other match they dont want to pick you. This past 2018 power up season my team wanted someone that could defend the switch and fill the vault. While us and our other alliance partner focused on scale and far side switch. A team that really focused on doing lower level in power up (7179 crossfire). They focused on what they could do well. They filled their roll on their alliance and made it to semis on the turing division at the houston champs as rookies(very impressive). I would highly recommend watching their behind the bumpers episode on first updates now.

If you start driver practice and programming now, your odds are very good of being an alliance captain at your regional. With copious driver practice and taking some time to beat up on your robot now and iterate, you will likely be able to perform very consistently in your matches. Consistency is the single most important part of seeding high and getting picked early.


This year especially, the level 3 climb is hard to implement after the bot has begun construction, this is due to the difficultly of this type of climb, in other years it is easier to add a winch on top with some type of arm or elevator. The only climbs that have been made public have all had the robots built around the climbing apparatus. Take this into account on not to sacrifice drive practice for a very difficult part of this game.

1 Like

I would suggest that rookie/younger teams take a look at Is specialization a viable strategy for Deep Space?

We are discussing the validity of specialization and how it applies to this years game. In the past rookie teams have made it to Einstein finals by specializing. As in the case of 5136 in 2014. All they did was inbound the ball and spit it out to their alliance member for the assist.

5136 also had a goalie pole and could play very effective defense (since those were the reasons why we picked them as a back up to 1114). We had them at the top of 3rd pick list before we built our 2nd pick list. (Sorry, Austin, but you missed that marathon session…)

Looking at these suggestions, I’d summarize these as:

  1. Focus on the most valuable single teleop task and minimum tasks for the Sandstorm and endgames. While cargo scores more points, its dependent on a panel being placed already. As Anthony suggests, read the “specialization” thread. For Sandstorm, be able to cross the habitat line–placing a panel on the front of the cargo ship will be a bonus. (Be careful driving off Level 2 as you will need a very durable drive train for two dozen plus trips during a season.) For the endgame, be able to get to Level 1 is a must. A climb to Level 2 (not 3) is a plus. The top alliances very likely will have a bot that can get on Level 3 and there’s not a lot of room for another bot.
  2. Get your robot done early and practice driving like crazy! If you can afford it, build a second drive base and throw cement blocks on it to get to your final weight. Use that for practice after bag day. A good driver is more important than a good bot.
  3. Be sure that your bot is ready to run BEFORE you get to your first event. You need to be on the practice field the moment it opens. If you accomplish that alone, the top teams will take notice of your competence and start watching you more closely. It’s always a thrill to be able to move a young team up our draft list.

If you have ANY questions please reach out to me or ant146 and we’ll do what we can.