Scouting only half the field

I am a member a relatively small team that has never made it into elims. This year we will attempt scouting for the first time (as far as I am aware). Since our team does not have a ton of people to spare I was wondering about the possibility of only scouting a single alliance of each qualification match. This would mean we would only need to have 3 scouts working in the stands at a time. Is this a terrible idea? And more importantly, if we only scout a single alliance color through the day, should it be blue or red:p?

It seems like it would work, in theory. You’d cover every team eventually, and color wouldn’t matter. Keep in mind, though, that at an event with 10 qual matches per team, you’ll probably only get 4-6 matches per team, which might not be enough to get an idea of how good any given team actually is. If you can, contact a local team that scouts and ask if you can scout with them. This will allow you to get a more complete set of data, and hopefully learn the ropes of scouting from an experienced team.

If you focus on one half of the field, I’m sure you could potentially see all of the robots that are at your competition, but the benefit of scouting all six robots is seeing how alliance members on one side respond to the actions of alliance members on the other side.

Plus, scouting one side might mean you only get to see a robot once throughout a competition, and that’s it. Then, you might judge that robot based on their performance in only one match. It helps to get as much data as possible.

Maybe you could scout one side of the field throughout the day and have a camera filming all of the matches on the other side of the field.

You could always record matches, and make copies for your scouters in the stand. That way they would have the ability to pause matches, and they could use the field setup time to keep watching videos instead of waiting to watch the next match.

Definitely work with another team for scouting. Since you’re new to this, you can learn a lot from them, and I have no doubt many teams would appreciate three more scouters. Whether your main goal is to understand how to scout better or to get quality information, with a limited number of students, working with another team would fulfill the goal.

If you just want to get started on the experience of scouting, can’t work with another team, and don’t expect to pick, then scouting either side of the field wouldn’t be a bad idea. You would see every team at least once, but it might not be representative. It won’t give you the most information, of course, but won’t require as many scouters either.

I would not recommend scouting any side just based off of the alliance color. If you made a list of teams to scout in each match to make sure that you covered every team that could work, however I would recommend just finding another team to scout with. We did joint scouting last year with 2996 when we were short on scouts and it worked out great.

While that is technically possible, it is extremely unlikely that you will not see about half of a team’s matches if you only looked at one alliance. This is because the final step of the matchmaking algorithm is to swap the alliances’ colors in matches in order to balance the number of red and blue matches for each team.

Scouting only half the teams in a match will have the negative consequence of having half of a sample size, though with limited scouting this is inevitable. However, you should expect data to be skewed if you scout one color only since the two sides of the field will usually have small flaws. This means that, for example, a shooting robot might play less than average on the blue side due to a defect in the goal sizes. However, other types of robots will not suffer the same issues, and you will have skewed data. You should not scout a particular alliance for that reason.

I recommend you think about why you’re scouting in the first place and then set up your scouting strategy around your objectives. You say you’ve never made it to the elimination rounds, so that seems like a pretty good goal to start with. That means you really want to have a solid enough robot that one of the alliances pick you as a partner–sorry for the assumption that if you haven’t made it to the eliminations that you won’t be an alliance captain. As an alliance captain it’s a completely different approach.

So, use your scouting to improve your alliance performance during the matches. One way you could do this would be to look at your team’s upcoming matches and figure out who your alliance partners are. Then watch and write down their performance to determine what they’re good at. More importantly, it’s key for your team to know what you’re good at and be honest and realistic about it. It really hurts a team’s credibility if they say “we can shoot 90% in the top goal” and then they maybe get a single shot in the top goal.

Use the scouting to build your team strategy–who’s going after the defenses, who’s shooting, is it realistic to collect the extra ranking points, etc… Most of all–have fun and be a good alliance partner.

Best of luck.
Scott

Feel free to PM me what your scouting sheet looks like. I can send you a link to what our sheet is for Cyber Blue this year. Something that we find is that we collect a lot of data and only use a little bit. If you “dumb” down your data sheet and make it only consist of a few categories, it would be pretty simple to have 1 person scout 2 robots at once. Then you could cover both alliances with little problems. Last year, I was able to scout all 6 robots at once with my version of the "dumb"ed down version of our scouting sheet. Of course, last year it was a simple game to scout but even this year, scouting with a simplified sheet won’t make scouting super complicated.

For your 3 scout team, I’d suggest doing quantitative data (numbers) for most of the matches. Then as the day goes on, do a little bit of qualitative data (descriptions). Note what defenses teams can cross and stuff like that. Even though you may not be an alliance captain, I find scouting fun and it’s good practice for if your alliance does become an alliance captain at an event. Like i said, feel free to send me a message, and I can show you how we scout and how it could be simplified to a 3 member scout team.

The Winnovators (is that how it’s spelled?) is a team that does something similar. They develop a scouting app and they let basically anyone use it as long as those teams that use it share the data they collect. They are a small team and they don’t have to have scouters necessarily. Many teams big or small would be happy to have three more scouters. From the scout teams I’ve met at events, they tend to be friendly. Try to find a team at each event to work with. Odds are, they’ll let you have their data if you are supplying half of the scout team.

There’s always the option of assigning two teams to a single student. I’ve seen teams that had their scouts watch an entire alliance. However, I think it would be more beneficial to work with another team.
We’ve done this in two different ways. You can either work together at the competition, scouting together and then making copies of your sheets so you both have them. The problem we’ve run into with this is that you have to use the same sheet. This requires one of your teams having to learn a completely new sheet (if at a later competition), or making a combination of the two. We did this at the Michigan Championship where two fields made things quite interesting. It was definitely nice to have a larger scouting force, and we’ll probably end up doing it again this year.
The other way we’ve worked with other teams is by having a scouting meeting together. We scouted individually throughout the day and then came together that night. We compared notes and gave teams a letter ranking. Then we made our own pick lists separately. This was nice because we had two separate pools of data. If there were glaring inconsistencies, we could go back and figure out where we went wrong as opposed to just assuming our information was right.
I would suggest reaching out to teams that are in your area and will be at your competition. Under your circumstances, I think scouting all day with another team would be more beneficial, but either system works.

Real talk doe, check your messages I planned on going diet scouting this year and if you guys need spare hands I’ll see what I can arrange.

I would agree with this. There was a time when our team was so small there was no scouting. The drive team had the best idea of who was capable of what and I would sit in the stands with a list of all the teams and just make notes on each as I could. Mostly what robots performed very well and which ones failed spectacularly. So make sure your drive team and pit crew are talking to as many teams as possible and remember to enjoy the fun!

In 2015 we had only 4 members on our team and we made it to the finals in both of our regionals and we won one. One way to scout successfully with almost no scout team is actually asking questions in person. Also family is a very good resource.

You had only FOUR members on your team? While it seems hard to believe, that would mean that excluding the three members of the drive team, you would have a grand total of one non-drive student…
Either way, to answer the OP’s question - it’s fairly easy to scout with a limited number of people. Our team last year regularly had 20-25 scouts, with roughly 12 people scouting at any given time. The minimum number of scouts required to scout an entire tournament is 10 IMO, with one student per team per match, leaving room for constant alternation.