week 1: Three Things I've Learned

I attended the Midwest Regional this year and I can say that I was not surprised by the results. I am, however, surprised by three things:

  1. The game is VERY boring and anti-climatic.
  2. The matches are determined by penalties more often than not.
  3. A team can get selected because of their reputation to build amazing robots in the past. (Someone from 16 or 1625, please explain to me why you selected us [648]? I’m grateful that you did, but it’s perplexing.)

Any comments, concerns? Agree or disagree so far?

I hope that something is done to make this game more exciting, as right now I believe it’s the worst yet. Can’t wait for IRI and their rule changes.

Also, this was a very bad game to introduce new spectators into, too much going on in any given area.

BTW - Congrats to all of the participants of the Midwest Regional, it was stellar event yet again. And too all of those that dared enough to compete in first week regionals.

I totally agree with you on this. It got kind of anticlimactic due to penalties as well. But later on in elims. the games became more and more intense and there was always a point of climax in the Trenton matches. Either it was the end game in which robots were 1 second off from placing or removing a ball or hurdling at the last second. It got pretty intense.

I have to disagree here… I think Overdrive is incredibly exciting! I watched the NJ webcast, but I heard that there were a lot of great bots at the Midwest Regional, too. Plus you guys had the national high score yesterday. Boring? I think not.

This is nothing new; I’ve seen this happen a lot in the past. It has often been quite profitable, too. Even if the team doesn’t have “the best” robot on the field, they have experience from past years which can help them to be better at handling their own robot, working with alliance partners, strategizing, and thinking on the fly. Experience is a huge plus in an alliance partner, and if a team has proved themselves in the past, other teams are not going to forget that.

1625 and 16 chose 648 because 16 had them on a short list and convinced our scout that you were the guys to go with. I will tell you that some people on 1625 had doubts of how good of a third bot you were. You guys were amazing at running laps and I am glad we picked you as a third bot. I actually didn’t see your bot on the field a few matches because you were so fast. Well, I am happy with the alliance we ended up with and don’t regret anything.

And together you guys formed what is probably the first alliance in the history of FIRST where every member had a swerve drive.

As for the first point I can’t disagree more. I can’t recall a game where the audience rose to their feet more often. Every time a ball went over, the roar of the audience at BAE was obvious from the field. Autonomous was essentially a mass of cheering. This is without a doubt the most exciting game I have seen in my 5 years of FRC. BAE’s elimination bracket was very even, we had a tie in BOTH semifinals. Balls went up, balls came down it was without a doubt amazing. We were picked by the 7th seed, and won our first match against the 2nd, and the only time I have ever felt more adrenaline during a match was when we won BAE in 2006. I LOVE OVERDRIVE!

Seriously, this game is amazing. The game presented just the right balance of challenge and difficulty, and teams rose to the challenge, and clearly kicked it into overdrive. This year definitely took the cake for general robot goodness.

Second point, I can’t disagree, but I don’t really agree. Penalties are huge, but they are avoidable. Teams just need to get better at avoiding them. Come ATL, it’ll be smart teams will scout for those who don’t get them.

Third point, kinda in a way, yes. In my experience, there’s always a deal of politicking that goes on during the draft. I don’t know your particular regional, but perhaps you had the most experienced drive team left, and they felt that was important to a good run?

Boring and anti-climatic, I would absolutely disagree.

The first couple weeks qualifications are always less exciting, even boring, because the game play and robots are new and feeling their way. The finals in St. Louis today were amazing to watch. I don’t think I ever have seen a more exciting finals in a first week regional before.

Week 4 and 5 and Atlanta are going to be incredible.

I’m still on the fence when it comes to the game. I think it has some potentially serious flaws, which are being hotly debated right now (penalties, impeding, etc), but wow, Midwest had some REALLY exciting matches.

I think a lot of regionals will see a lot of boring play, but when you see a regional with the caliber of play that the upper echelon teams had at Midwest, it sure is exciting.

I’ll give you the three things I learned from the webcast:

  1. Teams need to get exponentially better at avoiding penalties. Many a match was won, and then lost when penalties were counted.

  2. Boy, you sure are screwed if you lose hybrid by any more than ~20 points. Anyone complaining about the value of auton being too low last year should be very satisfied this year.

  3. Placing trackballs at the end was much more important than anyone imagined, especially with penalties turning what looked like easy victories into close matches.

No swerve for 16… rear wheel steer I believe, just like our pre-swerve drives.

The eliminations for Midwest were exciting, mainly because the teams separated themselves and used strategy. I’m still sticking to the boringness versus all previous years. I could usually predict who was going to win right after of autonomous.

I agree with him here, all of us working back in the 648 pits were figuring we were fixing up stuff to be shipped off to West Michigan, then I think a representative from 1625 came over and asked if we needed anything to help with our robot. Then I had a sudden moment of realization that we got picked.

Honestly, I probably from what I saw in the previous matches wouldn’t have picked our robot, but I think we ended up doing pretty good as an alliance.

Thanks to 16 and 1625 for picking us, slightly better luck and we could have won.

-Nick Vogel Lead Programmer and IR operator for team 648

Just a thought here guys.

It is always good to be gracious.
Questioning why you were picked is ok but gracious appreciation that goes with it is excellent.

Jeremiah, I think you needed a big box a popcorn and a diet coke. That would have made it even more fun! Wish I could have been in your shoes - really!

Congratulations all!

Check out 00:26 of this video of their robot. They swerve, they just don’t do it that often in competition…

What, no love for Week 6?

As for the three things I’ve learned in Week 1:

  1. This game does not translate well onto a webcast. The live atmosphere fuels Overdrive, and that atmosphere isn’t carrying over to the live streams.

  2. Shooters are better than arms (don’t start flaming here, there is another tread for that)

  3. Hybrid is the best and most certain path to victory this year.

I agree with Scott’s point 2 and 3, 1 it is kinda hard for me to know, get back to you in 7 days.

LOL, I did have front row seats to what I hoped (and in the end was) a great regional. Thanks to all the powerhouse teams for coming and reinstating Midwest and the greatest regional (objective :stuck_out_tongue: ).

Haha, thanks for pointing that out! I hadn’t been able to actually look at their robot and came to my conclusion based on a member’s previous comments somewhere on here. :o

(They’re usually one of the first teams I look for when I arrive at a comp.)

Personally, I see the matches from the floor, and this is probably as (or more) exciting as the 2006 game(1). The matches are fast, and once people got it figured out nearer the end of the Midwest regional, there were decreasing amounts of penalties, so it seems that they are having a diminishing role(2). Hopefully most teams will have this figured out, but we’ll have to see how week 2 goes.

(3) It’s true that teams can get selected for reputation, but one thing I noticed at midwest was a lot of rough alliance pairings for seeding matches. I hate to use ourselves as an example, but just to give a sample for some of our alliances, we had one alliance which had one robot that crossed backwards over a line five times almost giving us a negative score. Another time, there were only two robots on the floor for one of our rounds, and the other one on the floor was a drivetrain with no manipulator. I’m not saying we didn’t have any good alliances, but the good alliances were the thin minority (we were honored to play with the psychadellic WildStang robot and its octagon of doom (as our team named your gripper)). Anyhow, we ended up 17th by the end of the whole thing as far as seeding goes.

Thankfully, 1114 chose us for their alliance nonetheless. AWESOME playing with you guys!

I love this game! See you at Purdue next!


Every FIRST game will suffer when you have inferior team s on the floor struggling to accomplish simple tasks (like say moving or driving in a straight line). The game right now is in it; very straightforward stage and will start to gain elements of complexity when the “veterans” start taking what they learned in the early regionals and star applying things like defensive strategies so shooters and capable arm bots cannot simply run free and dominate.
The penalty situation reminds me of 2005 whenn a quarter of the field was off limits basically. I remember our team winning a match simply because a very veteran team lost thier heads and blatantly whacked us while we were getting loaded and getting ruined by the 30 point penalty. Fortunately 10 points are not quite as devastating. Teams who smartened up and avoided the penalties did well in 2005 (like us) and teams who continued to make th e same boneheaded mistakes struggled. It’ll be the same this year. The rules are there folks, learn them adjust to them, live with them.
As for the level of play it’s obvious a good autonomous can make or break a team and make “inferior” arm bot actually useful (I think 1024 is actually an arm bot but they made 1114’s job infinitely easier by lapping the field and giving them a nice big fat cushion to do their thing). When you have a pair of good alliances duking it out this game is pretty exciting. Mismatches not so much but tha’s wit any game.
I wanna see how it plays when I am at a regional full time (not just for the late elims due to travel issues) but it does seem like this game has an awful lot of potential to be a great one that’s for sure.

I think I disagree with you with the boring and anticlimactic point. It’s not like '06 exciting, but it’s not dull either. Some moments were exciting to watch (on the webcast).

However, penalties are too much a part of this game. I feel that many penalties that were given wern’t given because they were needed to keep the game fair. Most of the “cross line backward” penalties seemed very nitpicky to me >.>

And… I can’t comment on your third point.

  1. I find the game mildly entertaining, but that’s my own opinion of it - everyone is entitled to their own.

  2. Yes, penalties get annoying for just about everyone, but it is a flaw in the game design that requires penalties in order for you to play that game as intended.

  3. This is the answer I want to focus on - why pick teams that seem unqualified to play in the eliminations. (One possible) answer: Alliance play is crucial. I’ll use my own team’s example - we arrived at St. Louis with a good, quick drivetrain and and arm that seemed like it was going to work. After 9 qualifying matches and a couple hundred quick-fixes made by a dozen students and a handful of mentors, the arm still did not work. Yet, we were still picked into the eliminations, and gave our own unique contribution to the alliance - defensive lapping.

Yes, it seemed unexpected, but looking back in ever-perfect hindsight, it seemed planned well from the start. The alliance was built on role-playing, and the little contributions of one team contributed to the overall greater success of the alliance. Every team can provide something in the eliminations.

-Alex Golec