The Level 2 Trap

I’ve heard a lot of discussion about teams building mechanisms to get onto Level 2 of the Platform. This post is an argument for why that is wasted effort.

Ending the match on Level 2 of the Platform is worth 3 points. The manual might say it’s worth 6 points, but it’s really only worth 3. 99% of robots will be capable of scoring the 3 points from Level 1 of the Platform, and it doesn’t take a significant amount of time, or a special mechanism to do it. 3 Points is equivalent to a single Cargo Pod cycle. If the difference in time between your mechanism getting you to Level 2, and just driving up to Level 1 is longer than it takes you to do a Cargo Pod cycle, your mechanism is a waste of time.

The other major reason to design for a Level 2 climb is to enable more opportunities for your alliance to get the end game Ranking Point. The theory is that if you can match up with enough Level 2 climbers, you can keep up with Level 3 climbers in terms of End Game Ranking Points. How often do you tend to trust your qualification alliance partners to accomplish a critically important and difficult task? If you answer that question and still believe you’re able to keep up with a Level 3 climber in terms of Ranking Points, you have more confidence than I do.

The other big question that factors in is how many other reliable Level 2 climbers are there at the event? If the answer is “a lot” then it’s likely that the climb Ranking Point will be relatively common for alliances (edit: this would make the Ranking Point even more critical to seeding high, and would put you in a more precarious position as a robot that requires another skilled robot to earn the RP). If the answer is “not a lot” then your odds of running into a lot of them to get Ranking Points is low. Either way, the Level 2 Climb isn’t giving you a significant boost in the rankings.

If Level 2 doesn’t help you to rank high, then you’ll need to be picked to win the event. The top picks will be the teams that can score the most points (wherever those points come from). Those teams will almost always be the fastest cyclers available. The fastest cyclers will have the most practice, best driving, and best manipulators. You know how to get all of that? Prototyping, iterating, and practicing. You know what takes time away from those things? Engineering time spent on a Level 2 climb mechanism.

A slow level 2 climb isn’t worth your time. Mechanisms to “tip up the front of your robot” aren’t worth your time (edit 2: unless they are fast/efficient). There is no efficient finessing onto Level 2. You just gotta send it if you’re going for it.

There is a small window where it makes sense to prioritize a Level 2 end game. That is the intersection of teams that can do it more quickly than they could do another Cargo Pod cycle (just sending it up there with pnuematic wheels aka WCP Maximum Competitive Concept), and the teams that are already high level cyclers and will already be drafted early for their cycling ability. For this small group of teams, adding the Level 2 capability is worth it.

I’d love hear reasons why I’m wrong. I’m sure there are a lot of teams out there that are either designing a Level 2 mechanism or are going to convert their failed Level 3 mechanisms into Level 2 mechanisms. Tell me why it’s worth your time.


[citation needed] for every claim made in this post.


Can we use “doesn’t play in CA” as a citation?

I suspect most L2 climbers will be intended as L3 climbers that either don’t work as planned or run out of time to make L3.


Cargo requires a hatch panel. So TWO cycles of placing a game piece should be weighed against driving atop a 6in ledge.

I doubt there are level 3 capable teams saying, “Nah, lets just do Level 2. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of others doing level 2, as well. We’ll get that three robot dependent RP for sure!” Level 3 capable teams are building level 3 robots.


Does anyone else think that a large number of level 2 climbs will be flying leaps? I do.


I used basically all these reasons in this post to try and persuade my old team to avoid going high for the rocket RP, because if you look at it and think about it they’re pretty much the same reasons. Alas, I failed with my convincing. Hopefully others can learn and be successful.


Anything in particular you disagree with?

Obviously I haven’t seen a bunch of completed robots. I haven’t seen the game played at a reasonable level. These are predictions based on what I have seen and my game analysis. With that said, I don’t think I made any outrageous claims.


If you want to get off level 2 gracefully in the sandstorm, the system you design for this can potentially be used in reverse to get back up in the endgame. This makes such a design worth a “true” six points, in addition to the RP consideration.

I’m personally more excited for the leaps of faith in sandstorm than the slow transitions though.


Pretty much every point you made in that post either goes against the strategic logic from my understanding of the game and how it’s played or goes against the prototyping findings from teams I know as well as my own.

I think getting on level 2 should be a relatively easy task for the average team provided they decided to do it during their initial analysis kickoff weekend.

it’s just a marketing snafu. no deceit.


Have these leaps of faith proven to be a reliable way to get up on Level 2?

I think we’ve all seen robots that can do these (Ri3D, WCP, etc.), but when trying to send it in the closing seconds of a match, I imagine that we’ll see a fair number of misses.

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I agree and disagree with this post, but in my opinion, getting the 15pts/RP in the habitat is more important than an extra 3pts (unless that 3pts decides whether I win the match or not, therefore earning me 2RP for the win)

Basically, I’m prioritizing the RP’s


In general, I agree with you, from a game scoring perspective, the marginal 3 points isn’t worth it. By the time you’ve factored in the changes needed to the drivetrain to make that “jump” it’s almost certainly weight and time that would be better spent on the manipulators for hatches/cargo or making the drive base faster and more precise.

If it’s worth it because of the ranking point is trickier. Assuming you have a L2 climb that’s 100% successful. First you have to account for the number of qual matches where you won’t have 3 robots running at the end. I’d call that 15%. Then you have to factor in the percentage of robots that also have level 2 climbs and their success rate. If say 50% of the robots are capable of getting on level 2 and the average success rate is 60% that works out to.

.85 * .75 * .6 which works out to about 38%, or put another way, your RP average will increase by .38

Of course, if your L2 success rate isn’t 100% or any of the other numbers are overly optimistic then it’s lower, potentially much lower.

(Edit: you also have to factor in the number of partners who might make successful level 3 climbs. That’s probably not a lot, but if it’s just 20%. Then your level 2 climb potential only increases your ranking in 80% of matches.)

You would have to compare that with the alternative, which is to ignore the L2 climb, to ditch the pneumatic wheels and Dukes of Hazzard suspension concentrating on making the cycle faster. If the extra 4.5 points you get from 3 more cycles causes you to win 20% more often then from a ranking point perspective that raises your RP average by .4 which is essentially what you got from the level 2 hab climb.

Now, you can put whatever numbers you feel appropriate in those equations, but there’s no question that there’s a trade off.


You don’t have to match the level 3 climbers RP for RP to make it worthwhile. Last year, especially at more competitive events, there are a ton of solo climbers that seeded higher than buddy lifts.

Bruh we are just gonna send it and hope our robot gets on level two. Same for getting off level two, full speed ahead and use vision once we get to the rocket/cargo ship.


seeing as thats really all it takes, yea.
thats what were doing as of right now. if we have extra weight/time we might add something to climb a little safer, but thatll do for now. un safe? are you guys silly? were still gonna send it!

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I still think they should have allowed starting on level 3. It would have given us great material for “Top 10 FRC Sends 2”!


There is something else to consider, the potentiality of certain teams (I was thinking medium-high range but who knows) putting a buddy climb on the second level to get to the third. I mean think about it, that would be easier to make, at upper levels they’ll know that teams will be able to use them, and it will be easier for them to spot the teams that they want to partner up with. Not necessarily an ideal system, but it would certainly work. And this is just a theory, and definitely something to think about.

this post is useless without a poll



If you come a little short, maybe your partner will shove your rear end up there while they’re driving onto level 1.

Just send it.