Was Aerial Assist Better than Ultimate Ascent?

I know after last season many people were singing the praises of Ultimate Ascent as the best FRC game ever. As I think back on this year, at least from my perspective as a drive coach, I found the depth of strategy this year to be second to none. I thought at the highest levels of play, Aerial Assist was a blast to watch, and offered a lot of nuances that teams took advantage of. That said, I’m still not sure if those aspects make up for the field and refereeing issues that plagued the early season.

I haven’t made up my mind yet, but I’m curious what others think. How would you compare Aerial Assist to Ultimate Ascent?

Arial Assist turned out better than I thought it would but it doesn’t even show up on the radar compared to Ultimate Ascent or Rebound Rumble for that matter.

It was the most strategic game and was a blast to watch at high levels. Once the bugs were fixed it was going pretty well.

Absolutely not

Nope. Worst game in the last 3 years that I’ve been involved.

Worst is such a strong word. I’d call it the lesser of the 3 most recent games which were all pretty amazing.

I still think its the worst game since Lunacy.

Also known as worst?

Up until division eliminations, there were still teams that could barely contribute. Yes that happens every year, but it wasn’t nearly so devastating as this year. All other problems with this game aside, that was the killer.

At first, I didn’t really like Aerial Assist, with it being such a break from the norm and whatnot. However, as the season progressed, it grew on me and I became more tolerant of it as I saw the strategy involved and the teamwork of good alliances. It did have definite flaws (subjective rules and fouls, lesser robots dragging alliances down, etc.), but overall Aerial Assist is my favorite game of the last three. Rebound Rumble and Ultimate Ascent were both great games, but I personally feel that Aerial Assist was superior in terms of strategy, teamwork, and entertainment.

hides under desk

All the dislike of the game aside I cannot wait to see this game on display at IRI. The qualification rounds won’t suck there.

What strategic play did you see, besides defense/evasion? I’m curious. I’d really like to see two balls in play for each alliance at IRI, since that’d actually open up strategic tradeoffs like parallel scoring vs assisting, defense vs inbounding a second ball, etc.

I found the game itself to be much more fun than Ultimate Ascent from last year, but that is likely due in part to our team’s strategy towards this game. We went for a robot that could shoot the high goal and truss this year and were successful with that strategy, whereas last year we designed a climber for a 50 point climb and dump.

While we did manage to get the climb and dump down to about 20 seconds before our final competition in the offseason, it was more fun from a driver’s perspective this year where there was always something for me to do that directly affected the outcome of the match. With the safe zones last year defense wasn’t quite as effective as this year, which led to some periods of time sitting and waiting to disrupt their cycles while they traveled to their preferred shooting location.

Even if you disregard all the terrible bugs, and the parts of the game design that didn’t seem to be thought out from a teams perspective (Gee, what if a robot breaks with a ball in it! Gosh, what might robots want to do if they can’t help score at all?) this was still a bad game. You routinely got screwed over by your alliance partners, despite your best attempts to help them out and “raise the level of competition.”

This game would have been much cooler if it had two balls (or safe zones, or something else). It would have basically been an offensive shootout where the assist points would have been basically just bonuses. There would be something for teams to do besides defense in most matches. You would no longer see 3+ team scrums in the middle of the field preventing scoring from happening essentially every match.

In UA, if you built a good robot, you could put up a lot of points and put on a good show, no matter if you were paired with bad people or not. Fancy that, better robots winning matches…

In concept, I think Aerial Assist is the superior game by far. A game that actually required an alliance to function as a team in every part of play is a change I have been waiting for. Ultimate Ascent had some great gameplay, but it was nowhere near as exciting as Aerial Assist once you hit top tier play- which brings about the fundamental issues in Aerial Assist. We shouldnt have to wait for Elims or Champs to consistently see a game played well. While this happens every year, it was far worse this year.

Aerial Assist was amazing in how it forced coopertition between different teams. It really raised the ceiling for what an alliance can do- but it also raised the floor. Robots were far more valuable this year, and a non functional one was a near-insurmountable handicap. Aerial Assist was a huge wakeup call, in that we need to start paying more attention into improving not only ourselves, but the teams around us too. In addition, the plague of rule issues and the overwhelming responsibility put on the referees really killed the game at times. The game itself was brilliant, but it was dragged down by the rules, refs, and community being unprepared for it.

Ultimate Ascent on the other hand, didn’t suffer anything close to the degree of issues that plagued Aerial Assist. Teams could win on their own if they needed to, as weak alliance partners didnt necessarily kill any chance at a win. The rules were also pretty sound, and the absence of enormous technical fouls added to smoother match play. Combine this with fast paced scoring and a captivating endgame, and you have a great game.

The strategy aspect of Ultimate Ascent was weaker though. I’m going to miss the deep strategic interaction every alliance had to go through before each match. Teams felt a lot more connected out there on the field, and. I found Aerial Assist far more engaging than ultimate ascent.

In real practice, Ultimate Ascent was better on an overall level. It just went smoother over the whole season. We were ready for a game like ultimate ascent, because it didnt diverge too far from what we as a community are used to.

Tl;Dr The good parts of Aerial Assist (coopertition, gameplay) were some of the best FIRST has ever released. Aside from teams not being ready to cooperate, the other issues like badly written rules could have happened to any other game. Ultimate Ascent didnt have those issues though, so it wins in practice.

Yes, by a large margin.

After experiencing how much more interesting/exciting this game was to watch and to play than the previous structure of “seeing which set of three robots can score the post points in parallel,” I hope Aerial Assist signals a fundamental shift of focus to games requiring teamwork and cooperation for success.

Waaaaay better than last year, except for endgame.
Watching Ultimate Ascent was like watching 6 little scoring matches going on all at the same time. No teamwork or coopertition was particularly involved. It was pretty much the same at every level to watch.

In eliminations, it was far better. In qualifications, it was far worse. For me, they’re about equal (though I liked the 2013 season a bit better for obvious reasons :P)

That question depends on who your partners are.

Because AA is no fun with 2 boxes. It’s a lot of fun with even alliances

This year was a lot more interesting overall. Last year scouting was pretty easy as it was all point based, there were no ‘other’ factors. This year you have to consider defense, different autonomous programs and versatility.

As a spectator sport this was much better, as last year it was a bunch of frisbees flying with no one knowing who is winning. This year every shot count and crowd reactions were extremely noticeable. The crowd was stunned when the Cheesy Poofs swerved to avoid 1114’s goalie arm this year.

I think robot design was a little bit easier this year, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just shifts the focus of the team more towards strategy and scouting, which are important aspects.

The main reason people hate this game is because it is a truly team-oriented game. You have to rely on your partners, and that doesn’t suit people.

Barring all technical issues and with this game played like it should be, I love this game probably more than I love Ultimate Ascent which I thought got stale.

I was in Anaheim at VEX Worlds this week so I wasn’t able to catch any of the streams of CMP which I will do when I get home.

But the entirety of this game, from the low floor to the logistical issues definitely make the game less enjoyable.