Week 1 Impressions of Rack 'N Roll

What do you think about the actual regionals that you have seen, the web casts and the other aspects of the game in competition this year along with how everything is presented and done this year? Also what do you think about how the regionals have played out so far and do you think that the later regionals will be similar or dissimilar in the amount of points scored on average. What do you think the highest scores will be this year based on what we have seen?

Currently, my view on the state of the game is disappointment. What seemed to potentially lend to a fast paced, strategy dependent game(for better or worse) has, from the webcast’s anyways, become, currently, another volume based game, but hugely shifted towards one side in most matches. I’ve been disappointed in the amount of rack scoring, defensive initiative (from what I’ve watched), and seemingly moderate use of ramps.

As for alliance scores, most are ~ 30 points or less, with a few that jump out, like 116’s matches. However, there is not a good point distribution for everyone else- that 60 points is a big, attainable point raiser that doesn’t seem to been attained often- though I concede that this is for a variety of challenging reasons.

At VCU, most matches I watched had a ramp bot for both alliances. If you started the match with a bot 12 inches up, and left the other robot to play defense for most of the match, then got them up with a liberal amount of time left, it appeared that ~80% of the matches could be won. With close to zero effort. Matches are slow, matches are clumsy, matches are kinda boring.

Now, I’ve gotten down on the regionals too much at this point. It’s the first week, which always needs some time to get up to speed, and I think game dynamics are playing out in a different direction for alot of people than originally anticipated. And BAE and NJ seem to be having a better go at it as well. But in my opinion (after watching a large portion of VCU and a bit of NJ), we are not nearly up to the speed that we were at in 2005 during the first week. I’m confident that finals will pick up tomorrow!

What I’ve been most surprised about is the lack of spoilers. I haven’t seen a single spoiler placed all day (although I haven’t seen that many matches, being in the pits and all). Even in matches with several good scoring bots, I saw a team allow a row of 7 without even entering a spoiler on to the field. They simply added another to their own row, where a well placed spoiler could have changed the score from 128 to 16.

I’m going to have to agree with Heib, the lack of spoilers on the rack is astounding. In the one match were 25 had the wrap around, and then some…a simple spoiler placed in the right spot could’ve been very detrimental.

I think during the elimination rounds we’ll see more spoilers.

i would definitely have to agree as well…we personally thought the spoilers were going to be a great thing, but now we are seeing that nobody even picks them up! i do believe that you’ll see them used in finals…i mean if 3 scoring teams were able to get a wrap around, or maybe even a double wrap around…a spoiler or 2…or 3 or 4…could really kill them

I will also agree. I believe there will be more used tomorrow as the matches get later into the rounds. If will become more important to knock out big rows of rings. Our team is starting to plan spoilers into our plans for things. They will really help.


From the NJ regional, one thing that was interesting is that the game play has really varied throughout the day. At first no one was playing defense and you had all offensive matches like the 260 and our 236 match. Then, it was just defense in the middle of the day, no really high scorers. Finally, the offense kicked back in at the end of the day, since teams were going out and blocking the defenses.

As far as spoilers, since most of the matches are fairly low scoring (i.e. <100) It appears to be better to score another ringer instead of spoiling the opponents. I think at the nationals with 6 very good offensive robots and a nearly full rack, the spoiler will decide some games.

It’s unfortunate that first impressions can often leave negative lingering feelings. These are only first week regionals! Remember when we said last year how no one was scoring any balls during week one, or how two years ago no one was scoring many tetras or three years ago how no one was hanging?

Like a great wine or cheese, let this game age to perfection. It’s definitely got a lot of potential, and only needs time for teams to gain enough drive team experience to make it fun and enjoyable. By the time week three or week four regionals come around, there will probably be much different opinions of this year’s game. :wink:

Here are some stats from the regionals so far: (gotta love Excel)
NJ Regional:
Average Score per Match: 22.027 points
Average Non-Zero Score per Match: 29.369 points
Standard Deviation: 38.422 points
Five Highest Scores: 260, 236, 128, 98, 76

Average Score per Match: 15.731 points
Average Non-Zero Score per Match: 21.521 points
Standard Deviation: 19.558 points
Five Highest Scores: 108, 84, 64, 64, 62

Average Score per Match: 19.490 points
Average Non-Zero Score per Match: 23.116 points
Standard Deviation: 26.733 points
Five Highest Scores: 128, 128, 128, 100, 66

PNW: (only limited data set of only 16 matches available)
Average Score per Match: 18.031 points
Average Non-Zero Score per Match: 22.192 points
Standard Deviation: 19.435 points
Five Highest Scores: 77, 60, 45, 34, 32

Edit: No results from BAE available.

The thing about spoilers is that if an alliance notices an opponent with a spoiler, they are going to play merciless defense. It will be quite a feat when a team is capable of scoring a ringer, especially when you’ve got multiple robots pushing you to the side or into the rack.

Thats what I was asking myself today when the time was ticking down and alliances needed to play catch up. Hopefully we will see the spoiler come into play more tomorrow? One can only hope…

By the way, seeing as this is my schools first FIRST FRC competition ever, I would like to say I have no regrets about ever joining the robotics team. :slight_smile: All of you guys out there make it an amazing event and definitely a great time. I really wish we can go to other regionals or maybe nationals. :slight_smile:

My Impressions After A Day At GSR:

  1. The bottom row is almost all that matters, game after game after game. This makes a lot of sense if you think about it; it’s the easiest way to significantly alter the score of the game. It takes almost no time at all to lift a tube 2.5 feet, and there’s no risk of collapse.

  2. Lifting is about the only way to make the bottom row not matter… much. As far as I could tell, a successful 12" lift won every match that it occurred in… except for once (and my team was on the alliance that beat the lift :smiley: ). Unless an opposing alliance scores more than a 5 in row, 30 points is generally enough.

  3. Lifting is hard and rarely successful. It wins games, but it’s hard. Only robots that have well thought out lifts have been successful, and lifting 2 robots (enough to outright win nearly every game played today) has happened maybe 1-2 times in nearly 50 matches. Additionally, if an alliance doesn’t devote significant time to getting over to the lifting bot, they’re liable to be blocked from ever getting to the home zone.

  4. Spoilers don’t get used. They. Just. Don’t. It’s sad from a strategist’s prespective, but teams tried to place them maybe 1 out of every 10 matches… and were promptly blocked from ever putting them on. I’m actually not surprised at all as I predicted this; placing spoilers is a very reactive strategy as opposed to proactive ringer placing. Its often worth more to double the score of your longest row than to split your opponent’s row into two. Furthermore, placing ringers doesn’t set off the red alerts in defenders like picking up a spoiler does.

  5. Since spoilers are never successfully placed, spoiler removal capability is kind of meaningless. It’s possible that it might matter once in the eliminations somewhere, but I wouldn’t count on any more than just seeing a few spoilers placed.

  6. Autonomous is a bust, which is kind of sad but completely unsurprising. One keeper was scored today. Just one. As a software guy, I know that it’s not an easy autonomous to write this year. Last year, you could use the light to align a shooter and fire from the starting position. This year, you have to move while tracking the light, and move a manipulator to the proper height. This is not easy, and there really isn’t much incentive to make it work. Since spoilers aren’t used, keepers are basically ringers (and even if spoilers were used, it wouldn’t matter very often as spoilers would break the row on the ringer next to the keeper). That’s 2 whole points for your trouble, which is why teams just aren’t bothering. (My team for one instead focused on an advanced teleoperated control system with preset postitions recorded into EEPROM, and relegated autonomous to that bottom part of the software todo list that never sees a share of the limited integration time.)

  7. This is the year of the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) method of arm design. You want a simple, efficient arm that grabs a ringer from the floor and places it on the low row as fast as possible. Really that’s all you usually need to focus on to do well against the field.

  8. Everything else beyond scoring on the bottom row is a bonus, especially lifting. If robots can easily get on to your lift bot for a 30-point bonus, you’ll get into the elimination rounds without any difficulty at all.

  9. Ultimately I guess I have to agree with that earlier poster that called this a game of volume rather than strategy. It favors the efficient, and the simple strategy is the best.

I guess in general, I’m disappointed by what I saw today. When I first saw the game in January, my first impression was that the rack would rarely reach 2/3 capacity, spoilers and automous were red herrings, and that lifting was the magic key. To my dismay today, I was right on two of these and too optimistic on 2/3 capacity thing (it’s more like 1/3 to 1/2).

I expect that we’ll see the game evolve quite a bit over the next few weeks, as teams are barely scraping the surface this week.

I know we’re judging the game really early, as there has only been one day of regionals, but one thing sticks out in my mind. There have been quite a few 0-0 draws, from my count around 9 or 10 of the matches that have scores up. I don’t know if the reason for this is poor team strategy or overall difficulty of the game but I don’t like it. Maybe the GDC decided that it was too easy to get a 25 point ramp bonus last year, and it was too easy to score 10 in the lower goal in autonomous. This game seems harder. I know it’s early, but I wouldn’t have suspected so many 0-0, 2-0,4-0 etc. type of scores. Most robots are easily defended, and most ramps haven’t been successful, either. This makes for low scoring (read: boring) matches. I hope something changes in teams’ strategy over the next month to change this trend, because as of now it doesn’t seem like this game is going anywhere. I have my faith in the GDC that they wouldn’t give us a game that would end up like this, and I’m optimistic about Rack 'N Roll’s future.

For all of you disappointed about not seeing any fast paced rack scoring action, just wait until LA. :wink:

Seconded–and I can think of two other teams who can third and fourth this comment.

Here are some additional stats. With the standard deviation being so high, the average isn’t as much of a tell tale stat as the median.

New Jersey
Median Winning Score: 23
Median Losing Score: 4
Overal Median Score: 8

Median Winning Score: 22
Median Losing Score: 2
Overal Median Score: 8

St. Louis
Median Winning Score: 30
Median Losing Score: 2
Overal Median Score: 7

I’m known for having very low scoring predictions, but even I envisioned the bar being higher than this. It will be interesting to see how these trends play out as the season goes further along.

I’ll respectfully disagree with this, at least the boring part. Maybe it’s because I’m a soccer fan and can enjoy 1-1 tie more than a 100 point win, but I saw some very exciting matches today, including one we lost 13-15. Just because teams aren’t consistently scoring 100+ points doesn’t mean it’s a boring game.

I’m a huge soccer fan as well (see the sig) and I understand what you’re saying. One of the most exciting matches I’ve ever seen was a 0-0 draw. There’s a difference between two extremely evenly matched alliances duking it out and two struggling alliances failing to score. I should make a distinction that not all low scoring matches are boring, and that it depends on the type of match being played. Anyway, I think the matches will get more exciting as everyone figures out the best way to play the game.

I’m going to wait until the end of the elimination rounds tommorow before I say anything. That is, I’m hoping that things will pick up little bit tommorow.

I like the game. I think the elims are going to be a LOT of fun. That’s when spoilers will matter.

The main problem I see with this year’s game is the lack of an “easy” way to score a point or two. Like if there was something to do that could score you one point that would be cool. It’d mix the scores up a little at least. There are too many ties right now. I know 75 has 3 ties already with 1 qualifying match left. Ties = Pretty boring.

The game is lame.
untill the eliminations come around then the game gets exciting again! I am sure that ATL will be totally diffrent then the regionals.