The Secret Rules of Destination: Deep Space

As a number of other threads stated, the number of G20 yellow & red cards issued to teams playing defense has skyrocketed this weekend. It does not appear that the amount of defense being played has increased the order of magnitude required to fully explain this huge spike in violations. Since Team Update 19 made no changes to any rules, it appears that there was a sweeping change to how referees have been instructed to call G20 violations. There are threads to discuss the rule itself and its implications on gameplay, but this post is not about that.

I have a number of concerns regarding wide-reaching changes being made to the rule that are 1) not being revealed to teams and 2) not even announced to teams.

Teams are being penalized for actions that they had no reason to think were illegal under the canonical interpretation of the rules that was used at most events earlier this season. Imagine spending an entire event playing legal defense, doing nothing differently at your second event, where the rules are exactly same, and BOOM, yellow card! While this does occasionally happen to teams due to varying interpretations of the rules between events, this is wide-reaching and systematic. This is not inspiring. This is not a good team experience.

Additionally, there is an unfair advantage for teams whose drive coaches or drive team mentors are referees. These teams may have access to information about the rules that other teams do not. While this information about interpretation is apparently meant to be private (and not disclosed to teams), I would be surprised if it does not subconsciously impact the advice some referee-mentors give. What self-respecting mentor would recommend their team play a strategy that they have reason to believe would give them a yellow/red card?

Changes to the rules as significant as this one should not be secrets. I know that HQ and the overwhelming majority of refs have the best interests of the students at heart, but this is not equitable and negatively impacts student experiences.



for the absence of doubt, I’d include changes of interpretation of the rules or clarifications to the interpretation of the rules as changes to them.


Rules change event to event because the ref mix and robot inspector mix changes… years ago we finished SD with 3 climbs in San Diego with whipped ends only to go to Ventura and were told our previous inspected whipped ends were not whipped by a robot inspector only to be overturned later on that second event by the lead robot inspector… was there a “whipped ends” NDA update? Who knows all I know has it cost use three games…we still went to elims and the "whipped end " issue was no longer an issue.

This notion that having a ref on your team gives your team an advantage is a non-factor. This notion of knowing NDA updates is also non-factor…it all depends on the crew at your event and how they call it. Play above the inconsistencies you may face.

Teams need to play above the rules when unevenly applied and find ways to not violate them IMO

It’s really surprising the GDC didn’t expect this heavy a defense after they tested the game.


lemme know how to play above the rules when things that aren’t even in the Game Manual are being called as red cards.



g20 is literally a crapshoot on what is a foul now.

Multiple examples this weekend of bumpers going into a bumper cutout of another robot, NOT THE FRAME PERIMETER, and receiving red cards.


In certain events…

1 Like

Should be consistent across the board


uhm… exactly.


Yes, this is what great teams do. They strive to be so dominant that subjective referee calls have a minimal impact on their game. However, it isn’t fair to expect everyone to reach this level. Most teams will never reach this level. It isn’t fair to tell these teams to play above the rules. We should strive make the refereeing and rules as consistent as possible. Just because certain teams can overcome inconsistencies doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything about them.

1 Like

Yes , it should have you ever had consistency with different groups?

Pretty certain all calls could have been avoided

Yes, and no. But there should not be this much of a variance between groups. That is the issue.

Blue Boxes are very important to interpretations of rules.

I think FIRST needs to update their Blue Box for G20 to accurately communicate the way that they feel referees should be calling G20.


Slow expansion is my suggestion

How is this an argument? I can avoid calls by e-stopping my robot on the hab. Obviously exaggerated example, but teams shouldn’t need to change gameplay based on inconsistent rule interpretation between them and the referees.

I agree however a G20 Tech+Yellow should be avoided…there are correct ways to play defense ensuring you don’t foul and that starts with robot design. Thinking a generic robot can play defense at a high level well without fouls is problematic as evidenced

I too love getting carded for bumping a team with open frame corner bumpers.


My biggest issue with G20 is that it’s being called on offensive robots. If I have an arm and I’m trying to score in the cargo ship, and I turn to line up and accidentally whack a defender, I get a yellow. IMO that is not the intent or current wording of the rule, and thus should not be called.

1 Like