Why is "defense" allowed in FRC?

“Defense” seems antithetical and quite repugnant and I’m trying to figure out why it is allowed in FRC. Purposefully trying to damage or bring another robot down in performance is not something our team would ever feel comfortable doing. We may not build good robots but we are never going to try to hurt another robot or decrease its performance. Can someone explain the logic of allowing this?



Have you thoroughly read the rules on “defense”?


I’ve always seen defense as pretty much just getting in the way of your opponents. less offensive form of defense.


Without defense you have two alliances playing the same game in the same spot with no interaction. It’s pretty boring. It also dramatically limits strategic options. Clever defense can be wonderful to drive or watch.


Yes. Unless we’re misinterpreting, a robot is allowed to sit in front of another to prevent it from performing as designed. Is this correct?

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I’d like to sell you on a little game called Recycle Rush, if that’s your cup of tea.


I’m having trouble interpreting this… is the OP serious?



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Correct, luckily you can also design your robot to maneuver around the defensive robot or to a different scoring location.


Defense shouldnt be to destroy the other robot but slow them down. It comes down to strategy. Sometimes to beat the “better” alliance, you have to slow them down. I know our alliance at state this year wouldve had a really hard time making it as far as we did without 6193’s defense.


Einstein finals 2 in 2014 is one of he most fun/nerve-wracking cases I can remember.

And without defense, how could we ever have this vaulting maneuver from 2004?


Watch 2015 if you want to see what FRC would be like without defense…


You are correct in that defence presents a way to defeat objectively better robots. However, a huge factor that makes FRC as successful as it is is that its a game, like football or basketball, with opportunities for great strategy to defeat great individuals. Without this, you end up with Recycle Rush, which is widely considered the most boring game of the “modern” era, where two teams just mindlessly stack boxes. In order for FIRST to achieve its mission of spreading STEM, I think that defence is a necessary element to make games sufficiently exciting to draw kids to it. I personally would not have been nearly as interested in FRC if the heavy strategic and defensive elements in games like Aerial Assist, Stronghold, and Power Up didn’t exist.


2013 had some pretty fun defensive mechanisms as well. Some well planned out, others not so much in the form of a massive tower of noodles.

If you were playing a game of soccer, would you give the other team clear shots on net every time?

FRC may emphasize Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition, but it’s still a competition. Limiting your opponent’s ability to score is sometimes just as effective as scoring yourself. Also, FIRST is very careful to prohibit damaging or unsportsmanlike forms of defense - reaching inside other bots is not allowed, nor is intentionally causing the other alliance to incur penalties.

Allowing alliances to interact also reveals a higher level of robot performance and design. It’s one thing to build a robot who can quickly score lots of points. It’s another thing entirely to build one that can score lots of points even when someone is in their way.

And finally, defense can level the playing field in favor of teams who “may not build good robots”. If you can’t score as fast as the other alliance, but you can’t inhibit them from scoring, how do you expect to win the match? Why even bother playing?

You’re going to see a lot of references to 2015 in this thread. Go watch some videos from that year if you’re not familiar. Then watch videos from 2014 and see if you find it more interesting or exciting.


In 2012 we were an incredible defensive bot at the fender, and even shot a ball out of the air with a ball of our own.

Defense makes games more fun to play and to watch, and games are supposed to be fun.

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I guess I just disagree with bringing other people down even if it benefits me, whether in robotics or in life. I understand that others feel differently and that’s okay.
Thank you for your replies.

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You’re not actively trying to bring people down…you’re literally playing a competitive game.

There are plenty of aspects of FIRST that allow you to compete on the field and lift each other up off the field. You are missing the point of coopertition and gracious professionalism if you forget that this is still a competition. The whole point is to compete with all your might on the field, and lift each other up off the field (repairs, programming help, lend parts, machine parts, share food, etc etc).

The rules for defense in place so that teams don’t get man-handled. Just look at pinning rules for example.

Also, consider that there are plenty of teams who may not have the ability or means to build a competitive offensive robot, and sometimes their biggest strength is being able to play defense.

That being said, we definitely plan on playing defense this year. If you aren’t ready to play around us or deal with us…that’s on you!


I think you’re misunderstanding defense… If you played basketball (which is similar to getting cargo into the rocket this year), would you just stand out of the way and let your opponent score? No, you’d try to get in front of them and block their progress and their shots. Someone playing defense in basketball isn’t “bringing other people down,” they’re playing the game.

Defense is part of this year’s game, whether you like it or not.


Forget about defense for a moment. Wouldn’t this philosophy also preclude you from wanting to win any matches? After all, every match you win means the other alliance loses, which lowers their ranking points and decreases the odds they’ll play in the playoffs.

Playing the game the way it’s intended to be played, which includes defense as indicated by rules G3, G9, and G10, is the whole point of being there. It’s part of the engineering challenge. Finding a way to play the game despite a defensive robot getting in your way is what makes an otherwise good team great.

Ultimately, the great thing about FIRST is that we can play hard against the other alliance on the field and do everything we can to beat them… and then go back to the pits and work with them to fix issues or improve our robots. When you’re in the pits, the match schedule only matters to the drive team, because they need to strategize for the next match. No one else cares, and if you need help with something, every other team in the venue is going to be willing to help.