I’m a sophomore with 2834 in Michigan, but I was on the team as an eighth grader for Aerial Assist. I also had been volunteering at MARC off-season in 2013. More or less, I know the most recent games well enough to rank them.
1: Stronghold (16)
2: Recycle Rush (15)
3: Aerial Assist (14)
4: Ultimate Ascent (13)
5: Rebound Rumble (12)
Stronghold has a unique balance of defensive robot contact and pure cycle obsession. Some matches are played with no defense, leading to scores upwards of 200 points in playoffs. Other matches have defense, which either is disastrous for the defending alliance (fouls) or an amazing way for “underdog” teams to win versus some veterans. My biggest complaint is that the human player (me) has very little to do. In weeks 1 and 2, people fought over the spy box, but now it’s basically useless. IRI would be interesting if HP could start with 1 boulder, which they could either throw in to a robot or attempt to score.
Recycle Rush might be a confusing second choice. I personally enjoyed it because our robot won 2 district competitions that year and made semifinals on Carver. I also think that it was both the most applicable game. Sure, building forklifts was a little generic, but I know for a fact that I’m not going to be designing basketball throwing robots as an engineer. The other interesting thing is the special solutions teams came up with. Some teams had two tethered robots, some teams had no drive train, and some teams, like 27, were complete specialists in container management. Of course, lots of teams had somewhat generic forklifts. This did allow tipped robots to re-correct with help though. It also acted as a break from the high contact Aerial Assist. No size restrictions, no bumpers, no contact. My biggest complaint, like anyone else, is that the can-burglar autonomous was the deciding factor (game over before tele-op). One last thing is that lots of teams used co-op to boost their average score, even with poorly scoring robots.
Aerial Assist seems fairly obvious. It had an interesting autonomous mode, high contact tele-op that made for great viewing (especially for non-robotics people), and interesting strategies. The human players were very involved, especially for autonomous (Kinect), and “perfect alliances” were difficult because your inbounding, trussing, and scoring robots all needed similar capabilities.
Ultimate Ascent was very interesting. The aesthetic of the game itself with the nets and wide corners made the field feel like some kind of fighting pit, especially in a dark basketball arena. An initial concern with a lot of teams was if spinning frisbees properly was effective enough. It turned out to be a non-issue, even for feeder shooters that had low accuracy but fast cycles. The pyramid was very valuable, both as a safe place to shoot from and for hanging points (almost called it scaling). The only problem I had with the game were field reset (when I was probably 13 years old) because the goals were annoying to empty and frisbees went in specific places. It’s also a shame nobody used the second climbing level, because anyone who could reach the second level went to the top.
Rebound Rumble I can’t say much about, but I do think that the low-scoring matches made it weird to watch. It seemed difficult for rookies, but it did have the best co-op event I have seen yet.