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.