Teams breaking the game

Dear Firsters, I’m wondering what you guys think are the best examples of teams that have broken the competitions over the years. This means teams that have figured out the game so well that they are almost impossible to beat, like what happened in 2002 with team 71.

469 in 2010 is a pretty solid example. It took some lucky breaks for their opponents on Einstein to beat them.

469 in 2010 fulfills this perfectly even though they lost on Einstein. They had a chokehold strategy that was almost impossible to outscore.

Any details/videos/pictures of 469’s robot?

Nobody ever gives specifics in these discussions… :wink:

It caught soccer balls after they dropped off the return rails and then routed them down channels to the goals. They could switch which goal the balls were going towards, just about at will.

This was after wedging themselves into the tunnel and locking to the tower–and kicking a couple of balls into the goals themselves to start the cycle.

If they had a sweeper and a striker on their alliance, they were just about unbeatable.

179 in 2012. Shame it wasn’t used more often.

Also, had it been deemed legal, 118’s orginal bridge lift in 2012.

And any direct-drive minibot from 2011.

Here’s a video of 469

And here’s 71 in 2002, they’re the robot that immediately contacts the goals:

Sorry for that. If you are familiar with the 2010 game, you will remember that there was a ball return that passed over the alliance wall to the center of the field. Once an alliance scored a ball in the goal, that same alliance gained control of it and had to pass it quickly through the ball return.

469 would score 2 balls in auton and then drive to the center of the field where the ball return emptied and park there for the rest of the match. They wedged themselves under the tunnel and I believe applied some sort of brake and then allowed the balls to fall into their robot and then it would roll down a slide on their robot and redirect off of the colored bumps that separated field zones. The trig was worked out so that that redirection would roll the balls into the goals. The team would then put them into the ball return and they would fall back into the robot… do you see where this is going?

Ignore that the match is 6v0, that is an entirely different discussion…

Could someone give a quick summary of the objectives of the 2002 game, for those of us not familiar with it? I’m assuming it was worth more to move the goals into one of the specific zones, as opposed to trying to score the balls? Very cool design/strategy from what it looks like; not letting the starting configuration rules limit an ingenious design.

Archived 2002 mini-manual.

In fewer words, robots scored points by being across the line closest to their driver station. Goals scored points for an alliance by being in the middle-ish zone on the opposite side of the field. Balls in goals scored for an alliance if the goal was on the opposite half of the field.

In short, if you could control all the goals, you could almost completely deny your opponent any scoring opportunities. The only scoring they’d have left is robots in home zones, which was weighted equal to a goal, so wasn’t enough to win.

Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure 2002 was the last year you could completely deny scoring to your opponents and win. 2003 had an… interesting strategy where an alliance losing in the eliminations could completely descore their own points and deny the “winning” alliance points necessary to win the 2 of 3 matchup. Which was the last year we had to deal with that sort of game design fail.

Really, the only team to really “Break” a game has been 71 in 2002. Everyone pretty much agrees that Hammond broke that game. With that said, I think the GDC has done an extremely good job since then of ensuring that games can’t be “broken.” Yes, 469 in 2010 came as close to what you might call “breaking the game” as possible without doing so, but I would argue that their strategy - however difficult to defeat - was not unbeatable, and as such can’t be accurately called a game breaking strategy.

What made 469’s robot so special in 2010 was that they weren’t a one-trick pony. Even if they had no balls cycling, their robot was so well designed that they could still outplay probably a vast majority of teams conventionally. No, they weren’t in the same conversation as teams like 67 or 1114 in terms of pure ability, but they could certainly hold their own until they got their cycles going. And obviously given what happened on Einstein in 2010, they certainly weren’t unbeatable - so, given all of that I don’t know that any robot besides Beatty’s 2002 machine can be called “game-breaking.” And I’m sure that the GDC will see to it that it stays that way.

That said, I think that 469’s strategy in 2010 was one of the most unique and powerful strategies I’ve ever seen employed in an FRC game, but certainly there have been more and will continue to be more. That’s what makes FRC so amazing!

I’m hoping some old-timers show up to regale us with stories of some of the pre-2001 games. I swear I’ve heard a story of a game breaking robot in 1995 that could score an unbeatable number of points once they got their hands on a ball by cycling it round and round one of the poles of the field goal.

Team 365 had a similar strategy to team 71 for that 2002 game. They had two massive arms that grabbed the outside goals and rubber pad they would put on the floor as a brake. A difference from 71 is that the arms remained rigid after contacting the outside goals. They were rolling over the competition until our match. During autonomous we sent two robots at the same outside goal, wrenched them around and dislodged the goal before they could set their brake. With the other outside goal still attached they were too out of balance to drive anywhere. So I guess we broke the robot that broke the game :slight_smile:

I’ve heard of another game-breaker, this one from 1997. Sorry, no pictures that I know about (though I’m sure Andy Grady or the TechnoKats will be able to dig some up eventually), but this one is one of the few machines that directly created a rule. 71 (yes, those guys again) would stack a bunch of tubes on a part of their robot and put it on top of the scoring structure, then detach it and score some more with the rest. To this day, mechanisms cannot be intentionally detached from robots without a penalty.

469 in 2010 was NOT a chokehold strategy.

Frankly, I’m getting tired of people calling it a chokehold. A chokehold strategy is not “almost impossible to outscore,” it is literally impossible to outscore. When executed properly, a chokehold strategy CANNOT be beaten. A chokehold strategy is one in which is mathematically impossible to be beaten. Being able to successfully control all three goals in 2002 was a chokehold strategy, because regardless of the opponents scoring, it was impossible to be beaten. Redirecting balls in 2010 was NOT a chokehold strategy, because the opponent could simply oustcore you. A chokehold strategy cannot exist in any game involving “recycled” game pieces (2006, 2010, 2012), since the theoretical scoring limit is infinite.

You’re totally right, it wasn’t technically a chokehold strategy. You could win against them by out scoring them (or blocking both goals). I think most people call their strategy “chokehold” because colloquially, a chokehold has come to mean a strategy which can generate large numbers of points essentially independently of opponent actions. I suppose by this same colloquial definition a FCS would be a “chokehold” strategy. It’s hard, but not impossible, to beat a FCS, and good ones can essentially depend on scoring huge numbers of points.

2002 is the only year I’ve heard of that had a real chokehold strategy. I think the GDC has tried to eliminate true chokeholds from games in recent years, so I doubt we’ll be seeing a true one again in the near future. That doesn’t mean teams shouldn’t looks for strategies like FCSs or 496 in 2010 that are able to generate large numbers of points in unconventional ways.

Last year’s VEX game had one robot that could perform a perfect chokehold. 2W, from Gladstone Secondary here in Vancouver, could expand and form a wall blocking off just over half the goals. Assuming they had a partner who could score 100% of the points that were exclusively available to their alliance following the “block”, 2W was mathematically guaranteed a win.

They did the math on this around Christmas time, played out their season and qualified for worlds with a “regular” robot, then showed up in Anaheim with a brand new machine.

It did poorly in qualifying, as they didn’t always have a partner able to take advantage of their defensive dominance, but they were selected to an alliance of two outstanding “scorers”.

They won the world championship (defeating another Gladstone team in the final) without ever having scored a point in the entire tournament.

Oh, yeah… Gladstone did okay this year, too… finishing on the #3 alliance.

But it was a classic chokehold, planned intentionally, and launched without warning or time for other teams to adapt in any significant way.


I am surprised no one mentioned our robot, 111, from 2003. I am pretty sure that robot is the main reason they have rules against blockades and appendages for damaging robots as when our robot got on top everyone would tip over

Off the top of my head:


-365 (similar in concept to 71, but a bit less robust)




*68’s original 2003 machine was without a doubt one of the best examples of a ‘true’ game breaker in FRC History. So much so that the rules were adjusted/tweaked/interpreted to make it’s strategy of preventing the movement of bins (and robots) from one side of the field to the other impossible. Essentially, 68’s machine was a mobile field barrier capable of segmenting the field into two halves trapping the game pieces in the zone that they were in.

Correct. Glad someone else was thinking the same thing.

Closing the loop in 2010 would be the similar to having an FCS in 2006 or 2012, where as a ball is introduced into the field it’s basically headed towards the goal. In 2010 closing the loop was more deadly/effective than similar years because you were responsible for returning your own scored game pieces.

That being said, I’d say closing the loop in 2010 like 469 did is ‘Breaking the game’ or pretty dang close to it. Playing 469’s version of breakaway required a very specific approach that was more or less unique to their robot/style or robot. (Watch some videos of 2010 and you’ll see what I’m getting at.)

Wildstang’s 2003 machine was definitely one of those robots that was made to play in the grey areas of the rules, but was by no means ‘game breaking’. That’s not to say it wasn’t really effective, just that the strategy wasn’t all too out there.