Stage 3 Ranking Point Hack

Energizing your Shield Generator is impossible right?
Stage 1: 9 Power Cells
Stage 2: 20 additional Power Cells and Rotational Control
Stage 3: 20 additional Power Cells and Positional Control

That’s 49 game pieces and two trips to the wheel of fortune. No way anybody is getting that Ranking Point! What was FIRST thinking?!

How many of you have heard of a positive feedback loop? Basically when “Action A” is happening and that causes “Action B”, and Action B accelerates Action A which accelerates Action B and so on.

FIRST built a positive feedback loop into the game this year. Basically if I get significantly ahead of my opponent in terms of cycling, (15 Power Cells to be exact) my opponent will be forced to start throwing game pieces out of their alliance station wall whether they’re ready to intake them or not. Conveniently for me, those game pieces are right next to my goal, and ripe for the picking. This enables me to shorten my cycle time, score more Power Cells, and put more pressure on the opposing alliance.

If you’re generating a positive feedback loop against your opponent, you’ve likely already won the match. However, in matches with a large skill gap, the positive feedback loop will make scoring 49 game pieces significantly more feasible. I suspect we’ll see more than a few matches in which positive feedback loops contribute to an alliance’s ability to acquire the otherwise exceptionally difficult Stage 3 Ranking Point.


Our team has taken to calling this strategy ‘overloading’ the alliance station. However, it does have its flaws; a single robot from the other alliance that uses the loading bays has a significant advantage in picking up the balls.

Also, it’s uncertain how quickly the human players have to release balls; given that there’s a driver station between the corral and the loading bay, the human players can walk slowly for “safety reasons” and wait for their robots to come back to the loading bays before releasing the power cells in significant amounts.


I think that was a game changer in our conversation today when we realized that too. If you can reach that tipping point, I think it’s totally possible that things can get out of hand pretty quickly.

I think what may be interesting is going to be how that affects opponent strategies.

If we’re alliance A and have the capability to go triple O to (as ChefOiu says) overload the station, now alliance B needs to potentially focus more on clearing balls out so alliance A can’t take advantage of that positive feedback loop. Does that make them switch a defense bot to one ferrying power cells to the other side? Scoring them? sending them in some way? What if their third bot doesn’t have a good ability to transport balls?


If your opponent is in this position I would argue it’s already too late for them.

I’m convinced this is what they should be doing anyways…

Then their third bot significantly screwed up their strategic design priorities.


What if the third bot was a good climber and color wheeler? Just not made to herd balls?

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I’m stockpiling my extras in my trench run. Come and get them :wink:


I hope this isn’t a common robot archetype. If I’m not capable of building a highly effective scoring mechanism, I’m not likely to have any use for the Control Panel. You need 29 Power Cells before the Control Panel becomes relevant.


I should clarify, I’m saying 3rd bot in quals or elims. I’ve seen plenty of teams show up to competitions with kitbots. With Everybot it’s becoming less likely. But I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon.

I think that like usual it’ll be interesting to see how defense comes into play. Granted if you get 15 balls ahead with someone already playing defense…that robot was probably not an effective defender to begin with.

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Any word from 118?


Score 9 cells and the control panel get you +10 points for a few seconds of spinning. I’m not saying this is a strategy to win a competiton, but if a team had to choose between building an ineffective shooter or an effective dumper + color wheel, I think the latter is the way to go.


I thought it was you have to score 29 balls before you can go for the control panel? We’re still a little confused but if I’m not wrong you can only go for the panel twice right?


You’re right. I’ve been skimming over that and hadn’t looked at the exact timing details and order of operations. I’d been assuming rotation way doable as soon as you were in Stage 2.

ROTATION CONTROL: Rotate CONTROL PANEL at least three (3) (but no more than five (5))
complete revolutions in the same direction. If the CONTROL PANEL is rotated more than five (5)
complete revolutions, the count resets to zero (0). The TRENCH light turns on once Stage 2
CAPACITY is reached (i.e. the CONTROL PANEL is ready for ROTATION CONTROL).

This plus the flowchart below it in the manual indicate that the FMS won’t start counting rotations until after Stage 2 capacity is reached. The field tour makes it especially clear:
Field Tour: Control Panel


Good catches. Though I haven’t had time to what the field videos, just trying to read the rules (I guess minus a figure or two). They really need to clean that section up. Like don’t say “you may” do rotational control when the 2nd stage capacity, say “you can only do it after 2nd stage capacity is full”.

The thing that could be frustrating is that any cell in the port above 29 but before rotational control does not count (at least not to capacity for stage 3 – not sure about scoring). Also, you better finish 49 cells with enough time for color control.

edit: I am still not sure, because they talk about scored and charging. Are they the same thing or not. They do say, “The bottom four nodes on either side of the OUTER PORT always fill at a rate of one (1) node per POWER CELL scored”. But also that it won’t start charging (and presumably the node not light up) until the control panel is activated.

The question ends up being if you score 29 cells, but are unable to move the control panel, is that all you can score in the ports, or does it keep tallying points while not being activated yet?

We are posting a “robot will” list tomorrow.


POWER CELLS scored after a stage is at CAPACITY generate MATCH points but do not contribute to the next stage’s CAPACITY. POWER CELLS scored after Stage 3 is ACTIVATED continue to generate MATCH points.

Keep reading/read more carefully.

If I score 12 shots in the Inner Goal during auto, I get 72 points+ Stage 1 when Teleop begins. I then need to score 20 shots in any goal before I can Activate Stage 2. Counting from beginning of Teleop, if shots 21-24 go into the Inner Goal then I get 12 points… but once the Control Panel is turned, I need to score another 20 shots (25-44) in order to try for the Stage 3 Activation. Once Stage 3 is activated, shots 45+ are points-only.

Does that help?


The part about nodes with scoring is still wrong.

It probably should go in the Power Port scoring rather than after the blue box on the Shield Generation.

Uh… What?

You’re talking about the light nodes chart, Table 3-1, currently located on Page 23 with the Power Port scoring, under Section, correct?

Edit: All right, let’s see if I understand you. Bear in mind that I think we both need some sleep here.

Your first line about the nodes with scoring–that refers to the lights around the Outer Goal. Those lights have zero to do with the actual score–they are strictly used for Capacity, used to move the Stages, and only for tracking not for accurate count. Capacity is what charges the Shield Generator. It’s in the Field Description. Nodes are mentioned nowhere else in the Manual. They’re referenced as “lights” for tracking, yes.

Your second line–well, the Nodes are up there already. I think what you MEANT to say was that the part that I directly quoted should be up one section from where it’s at–I can’t say that that’s incorrect, but I would say that it makes sense in either place; the primary purpose of the Power Cells is to generate Capacity, not score points, so what they’re saying is that once you’re done with the primary purpose, you can have at scoring points if you want to.

This is a good example. You have Stages 1 and 2 instead of just Stage 2 (with 29 balls) because of auto.

FIRST seems to think (and I am in agreeance) that 49 cells are totally possible (10 complete cycles among the alliance seems very reasonable) since they state after the capacity scoring chart:

“As the season progresses, the CAPACITY required for each Stage of the SHIELD GENERATOR may increase. While Stage CAPACITY will not change between weeks of Regional or District Competition play, the Stage CAPACITY may be changed for District Championship and/or FIRST Championship play. Teams will be notified of changes in Stage CAPACITY no later than the scheduled Team Update prior to the date of the event.”