Who plays better defense, Midwest or Northeast?

Every time I read this it just gets me thinking.

Grady, how can you claim “defense” as a New England thing?
My “Top Three Defensive Robots” are ALL from the midwest… (it was shocking realization.)

In chronological order…

Technokat 1999 - Mean Treads, Mean Stiffarm, Puck Pwned
The mighty TKO struck terror into the hearts of FIRSTers everywhere. They could outpush almost anyone, and they certainly were able to hold their own on the puck. They’re weapon of choice? A turreting, multi-jointed stiff arm. Were it not for a broken wire, 45 may have been the first team to win consecutive championships. (45 - 1999, They settled for the silver.)

Wildstang 2003 - The Ultimate Swerving Wedge
I saw robots bounce off of these guys left and right. In the year of tough drivetrains, this machine almost always stood it’s ground. Though many of the “brick on wheels” robots from this year could be considered defensive, Stang certainly was a cut above. (111 - National Champion 2003)

Martian 2004 - "Who wants to play?"
Anyone who saw them knows what I’m talking about. They’re play certainly carried them to the top. I won’t ellaborate… but if you were there, you know. (494 - National Champion 2004)

I suppose good cases could be made for other robots… but these three just take the cake. My personal vision of hell involves 111-2003 with 45-1999’s arm on top.

I guess those midwesterners do know a thing or two about defense… :wink:
I shudder to think what a defensive robot coming from Hammond would look like…


Very easy answer to all of these John.

  1. I have always considered the Technokats a Northeast team trapped in the midwest. Baker and crew have always been defensive minded, and they had to be growing up in a time where defense was extremely important (pre-alliance era). In other words…the Technokats are defensive because they are one of the original teams.

  2. Was Stack Attack not king of the hill in disguise? Stack Attack isn’t an example of Wildstang building a defensive robot for the sake of being defensive…its a case of building a defensive robot because it was flat out how you won the game.

  3. You got me there… exception to the rule.

I urge you to find time to watch both regionals and compare. If the New England Regional and Granite State regional, as well as Midatlantic aren’t more defensive oriented to the naked eye, then apparently I’ve missed something in the last 12 years. I would go as far to say for every defensive robot you name in the midwest, I could probably name 3 in New England…flat out. Fact of the matter is you will find that Midwest competitions are extremely passive…it is score score score…and I’m willing to admit…it has been very successful for them. When you take a midwest team out of its element, and stick them in the northeast…toast…(excluding 1998, where defense was more of a detriment than anything else).

The only question left…how will the NERDS change that?

-Andy Grady

NERD…We will be heard

Maybe the ThunderChickens and some friends should come to visit the Northeast in 2006. Which regional do you recommend?

Thats what I like to hear :wink:

Granite State Regional…and leave your bumpers at home.

I think you’d be very happy with the UTC New England Regional. I know we’d love to have you (and that goes to anyone outside of New England as well).

Definitely UTC. I need another chicken to add to my collection on my desk! :smiley:

Thank You for this…

I think NERD stands for Non-Engineering Robotic Designers.

If this is right that would be amazing


Here are some scoring stats from 2004 that I collected.

Granite State – Average Score: 55.7
UTC – Average Score: 72.2
Northeast Average: 63.9

Great Lakes – Average Score: 49.6
Detroit – Average Score: 52.0
Midwest – Average Score: 65.5
W. Mich – Average Score: 72.7
Midwest Average: 59.5

I’m not going to try and draw some large scale conclusions from a limited set of data, which clearly has some flaws. But, if the Northeast was so much more defensively oriented as you say, you would think there would be a much greater scoring disparity.

Maybe you’d care to educate us on some of the great Northeast defensive robots of the alliance era. For me, only two teams really come to mind, 121 and 61.

190 of 2004. Difficult to be become more defensive than that. (Hang in autonomous, block cap, make goal smaller, prevent hanging.)

Also 190 of 2005. Due to a general lack of a working arm at BAE and a very funtime drive train they played defense that worked very well even though they were not capable of pushing.

And to be more on topic. Will the true meaning of NERD be released during FIRST jeopardy?

Well Karthik, I shall answer your challenge…

First of all, average scoring doesn’t necessarily mean much…here is why…
In a competition where defense was very abundant, the UTC Regional and Granite State regional had its fair shair of lobsided matches. Usually one team would play severe defense while the other two would score. When you couple this strategy with a robot that doesn’t move on the field…you get a 2 on 1 advantage to one of the alliances. This results in high scores on one side, and not so much on the other. When the teams are more equal, and the scores are closer…the average score will go down. I think if you look at the scores you will find when the teams are good, in many cases the score is closer to 45-40. When you have good teams ganging up on weaker ones, you get your 70-80 point rounds.

As for the defensive giants…bad move challenging me on this one Karthik :wink:

deep breath…

Ok we’ll start back in 1995 with what might be the most defensive robot to ever play the game. Gael Force (Team 126) out of Clinton Mass entered the national finals with a robot by the name of Big Bopper. During the finals, GF would wait for a team to get up on the ramp and start scoring…they would then climb the ramp, bowl over the scoring robot, and spend the rest of the round scoring with its opponent on its side.

Next we will go to 1997, Rhode Warriors and Hyper (currently team 121 and 69). The inventors of the most defensive and contraversial device of its time…the tipping device. Doesn’t get more defensive than that. So much that FIRST had to change the rules to prevent it from happening again.

1999, team 176 Aces High…yes I realized they teamed up with the Juggernauts…another one of the defensive exceptions to the rule in the midwest…Aces was strong on the puck, and could hold of anyone with its arm…you would later see them utilize that same technology in Stack Attack.

2000, Defense isn’t all hitting. What could be the most dangerous robot of all time, team 131 Chaos had a ball stealer that litterally could only be stopped by its destruction in the national finals. The team that was highly responsible for that destruction…team 157, Aztechs out of Malborough Mass.

2003, 126 and 121…wedges of death. 176 aces high strong on top once again.

2004, team 61, so powerful it was rediculous. Team 237, guarding the bar with its shimmy device. Team 88 who made a living out of hooking on the bar, and charging at anyone who came close to the top of the platform. Team 131 who would sit on top of the platform and wait for anyone who challenged them. Team 501, who was so fast and dangerous that all they had to do was cause havoc and get on the bar. 190, who was the only team to attempt to steal a ball from one goal and move it to another…all while blocking the bar…the ultimate defensive robot. Team 69…see team 501.


Ok, lets put it this way…you can take that whole team list from both the BAE and UTC regional…you can watch the video, and you can see for yourself…almost every team is defensive.

Team 42 is a defensive powerhouse every year. 69 always knows how to hit when necessary. 88 is one of the most defensive minded teams in the game today. 121…self explanitory. 126, might not do the hitting themselves this year, but believe me, every strategy they used had a defensive robot. 131 puts the hits on when they have to, as well as 134 penbroke. 157 never has an issue pulling out the slams when need be. EVERY UTC TEAM IN THE BOOK. WPI used its multidirectional drive to ONLY PLAY DEFENSE! 501 was so defensively agressive that they got knocked out of the tourney because of it. How about Leominster 549…they can dish it. As well as Montey Tech.

Wait! We aren’t done!


Once again your usual…69, 126, 157, All UTC Teams, 195…one of the top 3 defensive robots in the region. Possibly top 10 in the world. 236 uses speed for offense, but in a second will turn to defense to protect all of its points. 716 also extremely defensive. 1071 made a carreer out of stealing tetras from other robots (see the finals for proof). 1099 was strong…1100 would sacrifice their robot to make sure they blocked for you!

I’m sorry Karthik buddy, you are barking up the wrong tree if you want to challenge me on this one. The only thing I can suggest, come see it for yourself. FIRST in New England is a whole different ball game, and i guarentee anyone who has been here from out of town will back me up.

-Andy Grady

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Paul, you should be ashamed of yourself. Midwestern teams going east is like taking candy from a baby!

Maybe NERD stands for “New England Robot DREAMERS”, and they are dreaming they wake up in INDIANA.


And now, back to the original topic - Nerds…

PS - the official nerd candy would be … NERDS, what else?


So let’s stray from specifics for minute. I was at the Granite State regional in 2004, and I was not blown away by defense. Aside from Team 69’s performance in match two of the finals, when they pushed 175 across the field, I didn’t get the impression that I was watching a defensive region. I was definitely more wowed during my trips to the Midwest in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

I’m not trying to say that the Northeast doesn’t play hard defense, I’m just saying I’ve yet to see anything concrete that suggest the Northeast is far ahead of the Midwest in terms of defense. I mean, for every 121, 88 and 69 in the Northeast, I can bring up a 494, 68 or 48 from the Midwest. My best argument regarding the defensive strength of the Midwest has to be the 2002 game. The offensive way to play that game was to pickup balls, while the defensive way to play that game was to control goals. Almost all the best goal grabbers in that game were from the Midwest. Take a look at 71, 469, and 68.

I guess the only way to settle this is for a few Midwest powerhouses to make the trip east, and a few northeast big dogs to head west.


I’m not sure your point about 2005 is relevant. It’s fairly clear that playing defense was the wrong strategy in this game. If you aren’t scoring, the other side is. Even if you can harass another team some, they’re going to score some points, and you’ll probably get some penalties.

So being as defense was not the way to play, it seems a little silly that one would be proud of having the “best” (I’ll challenge you that there was no such thing as a good defensive robot in 2005. Check out Einstein. See any bots playing D? Nope. All scoring.) defensive robots in such a game.

Rochester was in the Northeast. The only thing that makes the Northeast different from the Midwest is it’s colder.
As for teams you can’t really generalize how teams play the game in a city much less a region. Every FIRST team is different. ANd every FIRST team approaches the task differently no matter where they are from.

I thought we had decided to keep this quiet for a few more years. Oh, well, the cat’s out of the bag now.

This is an interesting discussion and one I certainly would like to carry on in person some time. But from Wildstang point of view, 2003 was not meant to be a purely defensive robot for us. We had killer auto modes (about 20 as I remember) and we knocked most of the ramp onto to our side of the field during those first few seconds. We didn’t go defensive until well into the match when needed. What should be more telling is the teams we feared. How about the screaming Bomb Squad? No one could touch their speed to the top of the ramp in auto.

Some interesting testosterone-laden information in this thread :slight_smile:
Play nice boys…

Cervantes (among others) said, “All comparisons are odious.”
Indeed, comparisons can breed misunderstanding, resentment, and even hatred. It’s good that everyone here knows each other so well and it’s been a positive (albeit unnecessary) conversation thus far IMHO.

Might I suggest a more western viewpoint? Each year, each game is, by itself, a new experience and should be treated as such. It’s great to remember history, but to classify a team like 45 as a “defensive” team only is not doing them justice. Anyone see them handle balls and cap under heavy pressure in 2004? A nearly unstoppable offensive attack.

Here are two rather famous Zen Sayings to chew on:
“Do not seek the truth, only cease to cherish your opinions.”
“If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.”

I mean no disrespect to those who have posted here, but, all the way to the core of my being, I believe that it is this very “thing” that holds our global culture back from realizing its true potential. To work hard, to move on, to not actively seek credit as an individual entity, to be able to “let go” of an opinion or experience (especially when you’ve worked very hard) so that it allows us to fully experience the “next” challenge in life by itself/for itself is critical as we move forward, together.

With all of that said, I’m all for some of the higher profile programs from across the country competing in regionals away from home. Over time, this can only help in dispelling the myths that separate us.


in 2003 wildstang had an awsome bot but so did 25 which was extremely strong and if a bot wasnt like 111 with wedged sides 25 was pushing the off. in 2004 id say the best defensive bot was 237 with their shimmey they were able to shut down 11 from hanging in the qfs and 716 in the finals at nj giving them the regional win,60 at nationals to bring them into the archimedies semis where they lost to 71 494 and 435, 716 was also extremely strong and had great grip on the platform. unfortionately for them they lost to the same alliance 237 lost to.

wait, arent those the crazy defensive teams that the midwest can’t measuee up to? Why, then, are they being beaten by the midwest in a nutshell? 494 and 71.
Well, i don’t really think that any one region plays better defense, but i think that the midwest def has some of the strongest defense in the world. My main team to bring to your view (2005 for all these)

494: At WMR, they were the ultimate d-bot. WWe’d watch as 868 made its stack of 4 off the human loader and start to go for a goal. The opposing robots would go for it, and then “the martians are coming” Nuff said. Only in the midwest do you play defense against defense.\

308: This team lived up to their name. The Monsters played defense againt the 3 wheel crab of hot (they did lose to them) and got all the way to the fianls of GLR, only using defense.

48: the defence team in two symbols. they do defense, they do it right.

im sure i’ve forgotten some.

I’m loving the return of good ol’ fashioned debate back on these forums. Karthik, you bring alot to the table, but being as stubborn as I am, you will never sell me on this. I admit I have never physically been to a midwest regional (I am hoping to change this soon), but I have viewed many of them as we used to send scouts out to take video. We would spend lots of time picking apart teams from the midwest, trying to figure out strengths and weaknesses, and though there were flashes of brilliance in defensive play at times, I could never see a solid arguement for even comparing the defensive play of the midwest to that you would find in New England or New Jersey. I do not deny that the number of defensive teams in the midwest are growing, but I feel that if you really watch what New England has offered up in the past, you would see a major difference.

You point out 2002 as an example of the midwest brilliance in defense. As good as Beatty was in grabbing three goals and taking a beating while holding strong…I dont feel that it compares to the downright crazy defensive showing we would see at Battlecry that same year. First you have team 121…a very strong offensive robot that year, who was so smart when we played them in one round, that when the round was close, and they realized that we were caught in their end zone, they boxed us in there…such an amazing defensive move that ended up winning the match for them and sending them into the finals. The other example…was team 190. Beatty could hold 3 goals and walk its way to the middle of the field…but with Gompei…you litterally had to rip that robot in half to even come close to prying those goals away. I dont think a soul who was there would ever forget the sight of the team 190 robot, being ripped apart, but still holding strong to those two goals…now that is defense.

I guess, no matter how you cut it, we could all go back and forth to no end on who is more defensive. I guess as it was stated before, there is only one way to find out…time for some teams to travel. Boy do I miss the days of Rumble at the Rock…when these questions could be answered.

Also, I find it interesting that the majority of the arguements on behalf of the midwest have come from those who are not even from the region! I’m very curious to see how members of those midwest teams feel on this issue?

Great discussion everyone, keep it up.
-Andy Grady

On a more debate centered note:

The tourney at Boilermaker was magical. Pretty much everybody tried to figure out a way to stop The Beast. 234, 16, and 393 gave defense a shot and took the Beatty alliance to three matches and nearly won. Then 135, 876, and 93 took to playing defense again in the finals. Apple Corps played killer D one match (I think the one they won) and took the number 1 seed alliance (kudos to 71, 1024, and 269) to three matches again.

Watching the finals on Einstein, something was seriously lacking. And it took me a while to figure out what it was. Some good-ol’-fashioned-MIDWEST-style defense.