Trench run capability

Something my team has noticed over the past week is that many, if not most, of the Ri3D (or similar) robots don’t have the capability of going through the trench run. Since it is still early in the season, I’m sure more variety in capability will arise, but are teams deciding that it doesn’t hold strategic value? Is it more worth it to use the trench run for fast cycle runs, or is it better to disregard the trench and gain more space for mechanisms on the robot?


My post-kickoff gut reaction was that the trench run seemed important for cycling game pieces. With further strategy discussion in my team and watching previous season’s games I’ve moved away from that. I expect in playoffs that the trench will be occupied by a stationary high goal shooting bot. My take on it now is that the added occasional cross-field path may not be worth the trade off of making the climb more complex.


Ri3D has three days , easier to build a taller robot. I myself am 50/50 and so was my team twice it came down to a third mentor vote.

I suspect tall will be beneficial until later weeks , and then the elite trench runners will catch up and may even surpass in worlds and the difference will be in auto and cycles. The way I put it , do you want to win early or late?


If driving through the Trench Run hinders your ability to play every part of this game effectively (intake from ground, climb, spit out/shoot balls) then you should not be building a short robot. You’re better off building a tall robot, finishing earlier due to the fewer packaging constraints, and using that time to refine your mechanisms and do drive practice.

There are very few benefits to designing to go through the Trench Run, many of which can be ignored through particular match strategies.


I would imagine that trench runner robots will become obsolete, the highest level (that we’ve discussed) would be robots that are efficient at “passing” the power cells to their teammates through the trench, with robots at the human player station and the scoring area.

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At the highest level, there will be no power cells to pass they will all be on the other end .


Its all supposition at this point. Until we see 3 vs 3 matches play out we’ll never be sure if trench runs are worth it. When’s the MCC scrimmage?

My own opinion on the matter is that if there are not balls being entered onto the field right next to my scoring ports, and I need to drive across the field to get some, I want it to be the quickest path with the fewest chances of running into a defender. And the trench provides that: no boundaries and tech-foul protection for 1/3 the field length.


You’re assuming the other team will not be scoring at all?

I think there will be a positive feedback bias early that’s hard to overcome effectively limiting the value of going off to the side for trench passing (plenty nearby) . The trench is off to the side and its quicker to use the middle third as a passing lane if even needed closer to the goal despite the barriers.

The balls don’t ricochet so the back wall can be used as a deliver point, the barriers are not stopping the 7" balls when they can easily go over bumpers

I think trench cycles (defined as Human Player loading 5 balls and shooting from the trench zone) will be common and valuable at every level of play. However, since multiple robots can’t really do those without getting in each other’s way, there is certainly a role for robots without that capability.


True… unless they’re REALLY narrow… which is unlikely to happen.

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My team has decided to build a robot that is capable of going through the trench. We feel that there will be lots of traffic and defense going on in the center, and that in order to ensure fast cycle times it is very beneficial to be able to go through the trench.


I agree. We’re building just short enough to pass through the trench, but still not hamper us on the climb or in manipulating the Control Panel. It’s a close balance, but we think our strategy will make us valuable in more ways than one and adaptable to different tactics depending on our fellow alliance members.

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The more I think on it, the more I believe that a short trench-running bot is going to compete for space with a far zone-based bot which shoots into the outer goal from the other side of the R2D2 wheel.

Should a far cycler cede way to a short bot? It’s the end of week 1 of build season, so it’s too early to tell - but I have my doubts.


Short robots can still drive over the boundaries. I think what I’m arguing for is having the trench run as an option is a good idea. I’m sure many short bots will be required to go down the center of the field under conditions.

Being short is something that will be beneficial based on the number of short team. Less short robots means a short robot is more valuable. It’s quite dependent on what everyone chooses.

My concern for most teams with building a trench runner is that at most, trenches shave a few seconds off a cycle, but the added complexities of designing a trench runner might put a team behind in their design process, which would lead to a much more complex robot that can’t cycle very quickly anyways.


I agree with everything stated here and think that this post is correct but for arguments sake:

Lets say you are in a match where you have alliance partners with 0 power cell capabilities. Both can drive, both have climbers, one can handle the roulette wheel. Ignoring the RP (for now) your best bet is to have them both play defense (until the wheel can be spun/positioned) or counter defense. In said match between your two alliance partners you are left alone.

If you are tall you run 14 second cycles (average) meaning over the match you can pull off 9 cycles for a maximum of 135 points (if all are 3) and you get through 45 power cells.

However if you are short you can do 12 second cycles (cutting off 1 second there and back) and now you can do 11 cycles in the match meaning 165 points and 55 power cells

Now all of the above are strictly hypothetical but even making auto the tall bot does not get the Extra rp as they were 1 cell short (assuming a standard 3 cell auto). The short bot can miss 9 of its shots and still get the RP.

Now I want to make something clear, teams need to take an honest look at themselves before taking my above comments to mean that everybody should be going short. I am not saying that. In fact I will bet more teams who go short would have benefited from going tall then tall teams who should have gone short.

The best game to look at for most teams this year is actually 2017 (Steam Works) and it is not for the 40kPa it is for the 4 rotors RP. Teams needed to run about the same number of cycles to get 4 rotors as they do to get the Energized RP this year with the added challenge of shooting at the end of the cycle. 8.8% of all matches got the 4 rotor bonus, however this number is inflated by later competitions in week 1 it was 0.32%, week 2 0.35%, week 3 1.19%, in week 4 it becomes 3.31% after week 4 it jumps up a lot but it is being influenced by District Championships and a higher percentage of teams competing being at a second or more event. I am worried that the energized RP will follow similar numbers this season

What I am saying is there are merits to going short. Like I said at the start of this however the benefit does not outweigh the risk/complexity for most teams (>90%). The problem is most people don’t want to admit that they are most teams, if you want an honest test if you haven’t qualified for worlds via robot performance (Regional Winner/Wildcard, District Points) for atleast 4 of the last 6 years you should probably go tall. Even if you have then going tall still isn’t the bad or wrong choice.


We’re building a trench-running robot that can vacuum (not literally!) balls off the ground, hold 5 and quickly score them in the low goal; hang reliably; and manipulate the color wheel (that is our last priority, might not be done for the week 1 competition but we’re doing pretty good so far). No regrets. We can cycle balls through the trench, score them or deliver them to ‘high shooters’ on the ground or if they have an intake at the low-goal height, directly into their bot, hang and spin the wheel. We think we’ll be valuable!!

Perfectly worded.

To give context, almost all the comments I make are for the bottom 99% of team. The top 1% don’t need my advice.


Definitely a strategic question; there’s no one right answer. I expect that few trench runners will be selecting for eliminations, so you need to think about how you will be of benefit to an alliance.
If you do decide to go trench runner, the big thing to being an attractive alliance partner is being able to quickly cycle PC from one end of the field to the other. This means speed, which is far more effectively reached through light weight and plenty of driver practice. After you get the PC runner working and the drive team practicing, figure out how to get either a climber or control panel manipulator working - and preferably a climber, as that will be more important for eliminations matches.

TLDR: If you go trench runner, be wicked fast and climb or [second choice IMO] manipulate the control panel.

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