Your Team Sucks At Defense: Here's Why

An important key to defending this year that I think very few teams picked up on was to focus on what will actually cause the opponent to not score. Lots of teams would attempt to play zone defense and block the choke point between the cargo ship and rocket but once the scorer got past, the defender would simply hit the scorer into the rocket over and over to try and stop them from successfully placing a hatch. A few teams (1073 on Curie, 271 on Archimedes, a others) realized it was much more effective to hit the corners of the scorers bumpers to angle them and prevent them from scoring. Both 1073 and 271 would either hit the back corner of the scorers bumpers to angle them or try and catch their front corner to pull the scorer off the rocket. If you find yourself hitting a scorer into a wall repeatedly, the only way thats effective defense is if you maybe* inadvertently break their robot/scoring mechanism.

    • Does your driver often start moving the wrong way only to change directions and waste time?

Our driver used to do this - for example, if there was an objective on the left, he would turn the robot all the way around to the right to get it, wasting precious seconds. It was only when we benched him for a practice round (at home, mind you, not at comp) did he see the error of his ways and correct himself.

That procedure is something I’d highly recommend by the way. Bonus points if you make programmers do it so they can feel how well the robot controls and make adjustments.

…if the programmer is the driver…

Well yeah, I’m not talking about switching them forever, just for a single practice match. We always have a programmer on the drive team so that we have someone on the team who has an in depth knowledge of the robot’s technical functions.

Similarly, I saw some robots where when they were hit in a particular way, there was a high probablility they would drop their game piece. Tactics such as this and what @ferrari77 described highlights the value of really good scouting.

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Penalty for crossing hab line though?

You’re allowed to cross the hab line as long as you dont contact the opponent there.

I believe there technically wasnt a rule preventing you from taking a game piece from your opponents loading station/depot and bringing it back to your side. As long as you could do so within your frame perimeter.

We did this for driver practice during build. We booted up our 2018 robot and just had our drive coach play defense against us as we ran cycles

The only rule addressing something similar to this is G11. This states that a robot may not shoot cargo when on an opposing Alliance’s side. Meaning, you could not simply grab balls from an opponents depot, and just turn around and roll it/shoot it towards your side of the field. You would need to go back and forth


I would argue that part b. limits you from pushing balls in front of the loading station, not scattering the depot. The balls in the depot are about as “corralled” as they could possibly be.

I would say scattering the depot and hoping some end up in front of the loading station is fine, but actively moving balls in front of the loading station is not fine.

Either way, scattering the depot wasn’t terribly effective at blocking the loading station, and with the risk of penalties from being in the HAB zone, probably not worth it except in extraordinary circumstances.

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The blue box is not an exhaustive list.

ROBOTS may not deliberately use (CARGO) in an attempt to ease or amplify the challenge associated with (LOADING STATIONS).

arjunanand23 is clearly advocating for using CARGO to make loading from the loading station more difficult.

In practice, is there any way to distinguish scattering the cargo specifically to block the loading station versus scattering the cargo for some other purpose? Probably not. But that’s because this is an “intent” type rule. There’s no question about arjunanand23’s intent here though, so in the matches where they used this strategy they did violate the rule.

Maybe we should split into another thread to discuss strategically breaking rules and/or what to do about “intent” rules like this, but it seems clear to me that this action with the intent to clog the loading station violates G8, and this action without the intent to clog the loading station does not violate G8.

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another click bait title appears

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There was a discussion about defensive strategies on CD after seeing week 0 events and I remember saying a defender could “accidentally” hit the cargo in the depot so that the game pieces would block the loading station. This is similar to 2018’s herding the switch cubes where the penalty didn’t come close to offsetting the strategic advantage.

I think the possibility of a maximum 18 points of penalties would have prevented this from happening.

I don’t recall ever seeing a defensive bot scatter the cargo in the depot this year. Every time I did see scattering, it was done by an offensive bot and it was noted in our scouting.

We would not actively tell teams to push balls in front. We would scatter the depot and hope balls would land in front of the station. I may have worded that weird earlier on. This wasn’t only for making that area more hectic but also had other effects of making balls harder to obtain. I was more referring to the fact that balls would periodically get stuck by the loading station after performing such a strategy designed to scatter the balls making them harder to obtain, not with the sole purpose of blocking the station, as i may have made it sound earlier

I do agree. It’s a difficult grey zone for FRC refs.

I do think there’s a difference in intent between “trying to scatter the depot, and hoping balls block the loading station” vs. “trying to block the loading station with balls (from depot or otherwise)”. Generally in FRC intent has been ruled as “primary consequence” rather than “secondary consequence”, but this is probably one of those weird fringe scenarios that happens maybe a dozen times a season (out of 18000 matches), and depends more on what your HR/ref crew think, rather than what the rules explicitly say (because it’s vague on issues like this).

Man I thought we did ok this season. Guess not…

This must be the new sexy clickbait format of 2019 or something.


No One’s Clicking On Your Threads: Here’s Why


You’re welcome?


Sorry, not sorry :upside_down_face:


I’m excited about this trend because it might lead to us accepting that most of our teams are bad at building robots, which is the first step towards building less bad robots.