The Not So-Secret Secret End-Game

Aerial Assist is one of the most technically boring challenges we have had so far, and with the smooth gradient of difficulty each year as the league matures. This simply does not make sense, it is clear there is something missing.
Our team first picked up on this during this video in which Woody says

“We are doing this a bit differently this year, making changes from kickoff to championships this year”

Now this would be normal, if it wasn’t for this year being one of the most cookie cutter to date. No major shifts in origination, challenge, or league size. It is weird that this would be mentioned if there was not something further to back this up.

Our suspicion peaked further when we looked at the massive Truss eliminate. Keep in mind this has to bear no burden (as is), it serves the same purpose as rope would. However, this is not some weak little rope, at the Drexel Hill kickoff we had several people hanging off of it. The truss did not sag with three, healthy, adult males hanging off of it. Again, in the video we see an adult male sitting on it. According to this spec-sheat, this thing can support 1726 lbs.

We really knew we were onto something when we looked at the rules about the goalie. The Goalie has little or no purpose in this challenge, with the 6 inch limit playing defense is nearly useless. Along with articulating movement at the other teams shot being counted as a foul (I believe, as we are redirecting their ball). Why would they go into so much detail for such a little feature, that defeats the purpose of the task (no tri-assists with a goalie)?

We believe it is because we have not heard about the full game yet. The only real challenge thus far is team coordination, the rest is just reused code, and driver twitch skills. Now, think back to last years end game. We sucked at it collectively, what was meant to be a race to the top resulted in single level hangs for most of us. It was a collective disappointment (learning experience), and certainly not fun to watch.

Now, think about it. This truss can bear the weight of all six robots, is low enough that it can be grappled if the height limit was dropped, yet not high enough to be above most people for risk of dropping and injury, and is out of place in the easiest challenge thus far.

Removing the height limit during the endgame means that teams can grabble the truss and attempt to raise onto it. With all the talk of changes, it only seems fair to see a mid-season addition.

I, personally, think that we have not seen the last of the hanging endgame.

Team 4269 picked up on this as well. Wonder if it has anything to do with FIRST completely redesigning the 2013 game (Ultimate Ascent), and this was recycled from the original 2013 game. So to make up for lost time, FIRST threw out this generic game with the intention of adding something halfway through the build season.

Just a thought though…

If you notice 2014 is much the same as 2013, it just feels like a better edition of it. High scoring top values, lower scoring low ones, a climbing challenge, vertical elements that (attempted) stopped long throws. 2014 feels like it improved on all the aspects 2013 was missing, an achievable endgame, a real motivation for teamwork, and the end of full field launchers.

Another point:
These lighting trusses can’t possibly be very cheep; lots of welded aluminum cross bracing. Why would FIRST buy a bunch of these if they are only to be used for a ‘volley ball net’.

This seems highly possible to me. It would make sense of the pointless 6" cylinder that can extend upwards

Seems like a strong possibility to me too. During the kickoff I remember Dean talking about trying things over or having to redo certain parts of the robot. I can’t remember exactly when. Or maybe my memory is just blurd from the big morning

Much of our team has a similar opinion – that Aerial Assist seems rather bland and marks a departure from the design elements of the games in the last few years:

  • FIRST has been attempting to move to games that are easily accessible to an arbitrary audience – like Rebound Rumble or Ultimate Ascent. This was in response to the inexplicable Logomotion where a person not in FIRST had a hard time understanding or getting excited about the game.
  • FIRST has been moving towards more and more live scoring and penalties and it seems like a direct step back go back to referee scoring
  • The last few games have seemed very well put together (Pyramid doubles as end game and lining up device, top of pyramid had climbing goals and shooting ones etc…) but this one has “missing pieces” – There has to be another point to the truss and the goalie as the OP mentioned.
  • Rules last year were very well written with few inconsistencies, this year we have quite a few weird things (what happens if a robot dies while holding the only ball? Not to mention the absolute mess that is the definition of possession that the poor referees have to call)
  • Aerial assist does not do a good job of describing the game. What is the aerial part?
  • The gamepieces are not very common or easy to get; they are also quite expensive.

Back at an FRC Live! I went to, Bill said the GDC keeps a game in backup in case they run into a major problem with the game they were planning to play (ie supply problems). I feel like this is a backup game from circa 2010/2011. They definitely had something more in mind with the truss but cut it for some reason; I assume it was the part that was supposed to be aerial – maybe a skyhook reverse ascent (descent) from the truss to the ground to start the match.

Changing the game sure would be a game changer, by definition.

I would like to point out there is a rule stating that a robot cannot extend past 60 inches unless they are in the goalie zone. So I highly doubt that would be the case.

This is just to prevent a traveling goalie. If something so drastic as an added endgame was to happen, I am sure extending this rule to the endgame would be so stretch.

Our team holds a similar opinion, this game feels like a remittent of an earlier first. In a couple of ways, it even feels like an improvement of last years game, as I listed above. I wonder if the light up bins are part of the game we could have seen this year, they are odd to include, and expensive. For simply providing us with permission to grab the ball, they seem really complicated.

Wow. That DOES seem to make a LOT of sense.

The 6" cylinder seems completely useless to me as a defence mechanism – simply playing physical defence on the shooting robot seems much more effective, given the large width of the goal.

The truss is additionally way overbuilt for its stated purpose, and 2014 would be the first year since 2000, and possibly earlier (I was a rookie in 2003, and have only a loose grasp on the 2000-2002 games), for an FRC game to be without an endgame. That seems really unlikely.

The point is that since adding a “secret” endgame would require changing the rules anyway, the GDC could change the 60 inch rule as well.

This screams crazy conspiracy theory to me. (Like many other Chief Delphi theories.)

I’m currently on the road, but is there anything in the manual similar to the past two years that says FIRST can adjust points by X amount prior to Championship? This was in the manual for the last two years for endgames. I don’t recall seeing it on my initial readthroughs.

G10 The following actions are prohibited with regards to interaction with FIELD elements (excluding BALLS):
A. grabbing,
B. grasping
C. grappling
D. attaching to,
E. damaging,
F. becoming entangled
Violation: FOUL. If the Head Referee determines that further damage is likely to occur, DISABLED. Corrective action (such as eliminating sharp edges, removing the damaging mechanism, and/or re-Inspection) may be required before the ROBOT will be allowed to compete in subsequent MATCHES.

They could add something but hanging from the truss…based on G10 I don’t think so…

In my mind this may be what FIRST has come up with to throw a spanner in the works for the Ri3D and Build Blitz groups. I’m sure that someone at FIRST would have taken note of how similar many of the mid level robots were. Changing the game, while really sneaky, is probably one of the best ways to make things more interesting without doing anything to the build groups. You can still have the three day builds that teams can take as much as they want from, but when the “end game” is released, teams are on their own to come up with an effective mechanisim. Not to mention it will space out the team who engineer their robots more flexibly and can adapt and change mechansims easily.

I for one really hope that your prediction is real, just to see some of the crazy changes teams will make, and to see CD’s reaction!


As competition at the FIRST Championship is typically different from that during the competition season, FIRST may alter each scoring value at the FIRST Championship by up to ten (10) points.

They can adjust the rest of the scoring values instead. (Blue box below Table 3-2)

It’s a blue box. They say they can change the scoring values by up to 10.

Also, in reference to Woody’s comment, it may be worthwhile to go read through the Tournament Section this year. There are some changes to Championship Alliance Selection that I think is AWESOME. Fourth team part of the alliance. 3 Robot Lineup that is unchangeable unless there is a timeout. All 4 teams have a rep in the Driver Station

There are a lot of fluff points this year. The mobility points are a joke, along with the low goals being worth nearly nothing (without a combo-assist). There are a lot of balancing to do for this not to be a horrible challenge (all the same design, cookie cutter bots). Sadly, I think my tinfoil hat is the only one talking at this point.

The game does feel incomplete, but I’m not sure FIRST would go so far as to add a whole new endgame. Also, I don’t know if anyone else has pointed this out yet, but the team version drawings definitely aren’t as strong as the actual game element. It can’t be hanging because the team drawings use wooden planks for the bottom of the truss not aluminum tubing. Unless of course they decide to change the rules AND the team version drawings.

On a different note, it wouldn’t be overly difficult for a 60" robot to pop a wheelie so that part of the robot is above the lower 62" part of the truss.

Just gonna leave this here… :stuck_out_tongue: