defensive strategy at U.S. open

As U.S. open competition just happened I thought it would be good to get a run down on the competition, so I watched as many videos as I could find on youtube

   The main observation that I took from it was that the cross division finals seemed to be a bit of an upset. As the alliance captains of both winning alliances are from Texas along with me, I know how most the matches have come out between them and generally 9090C beat 400x by a good margin both all the times they went against them. Therefore I looked for the strategy that was employed in the match, and realized that the main reason for 400x's win was the fact that they played very good defense, and also pushed the other robots out of the way in order to score, as part of their defensive strategy. 

   Now this brings me to this threads point, as world is coming up and many robots will use strategies from the main competitions that they have seen, I'm wondering whether anyone has some strategies against the defense oriented robots that are stronger than your robot.

  My previous experience says that if the stash goals are blocked then you should change over to scoring large balls and transferring your buckyballs to the goal zone. If your robot is capable of hanging then you can some extra points at the end. 

 If you have any other strategies that would be helpful then please post here

This was under the assumption that you were playing against a wallbot, not an offensive robot which chose to play defense until needed

The main tactic I’ve considered was de-scoring large balls and hoarding it into the opponent’s hanging zone with our robot guarding it to nullify both large ball and hanging points.

Another tactic in the works is grabbing the bucky balls before they try scoring them, so goal capping isn’t a threat.

Defending your own column goal is also a viable strategy.

The easiest way however is to win the autonomous bonus. But even that is easier said than done

Yes, the autonomous bonus is big, but I think that your position on the field after autonomous is even bigger. That is something I and Tiger (9090C) saw after watching numerous matches at US Open.

   Totally agree with you on this point, in this video you can see that after autonomous there was a mad rush to get those bucky balls scored in the cylinder. In our practice, we can effectively pull off a win every time if you have your cylinder full before your opponent and keep him from filling his, and as seen in the video the robots in the hanging zone were both positioned to score 3 bucky balls right off the bat. 

   But if a robot has a stronger drive than you they can easily take over your stash, while their partner is filling their stash, but again this is assuming that they are positioned to get to your goal faster than you after autonomous period. So hypothetically speaking, if this scenario does happen what do you do to keep them from controlling your goal the whole game?

   My solution is to de-clutter the goal zone asap so you as the faster robot can use your speed to your advantage, and then out maneuver the stronger slower robot to get to a goal.

If you lock down the far tower with the robot starting in the middle starting tile and followup by scoring three in the close tower with the robot from behind the bump, you can take a strong lead. With over half of one tower filled and the other tower guarded by the middle zone, the other robot can pick up more objects and feed their partner at the far tower. With 3 Buckies from the close tower and around 3 to 6 in the second tower + a Low or High Hang w/ the large ball, it would be very hard to beat. If the tower can be scored during autonomous you could have a twenty-five point lead at the start of the match as well.

I’ve seen a lot of proof over the second half of this season that it is quite difficult to beat this strategy.

In my opinion, the large balls serve as obstacles, for winning autonomous, and as means to gain points from a hang. They do count for some points in the tower zone but the bucky balls are much more efficient for their size and the points they score.

We found that despite losing the autonomous bonus, sometimes it is best to keep the big balls on the rails until the stashed goals are filled, at least on your side of the field. They create very large obstacles and can greatly hinder robot movement during a very crucial scoring period.

If you watch the first finals match ( ), you can see that we (Blue) dominated the stash fairly early into the match, something the auton definitely helped us accomplish.

A good field position can easily outweigh the autonomous bonus if used correctly… Just make sure your gained field position is truly worth the 20 points. Or even better, figure out how to get both :wink:

Keep in mind that we got knocked off course ( I should’ve shifted the path for that auton slightly) , so the last half of the auton didn’t happen, and the end position wasn’t nearly as good as it would have been.

Now, if only 1200 didn’t get tangled in my elastics, then I could’ve went to hang at the very least…

Huge thank you to our alliance partners, 5003 and 2880A, as well as Jesse from 323Z for being an awesome alliance, I don’t remember very many alliance selections that went smoother than this one did for me. It was a pleasure and we came incredibly close. :slight_smile:

I totally agree that the large balls are a big hassle one they are off the rail, and create quite effective obstacles to keep a fast robot from effectively scoring their bucky balls. The best example is probably the final finals match of U.S. open at 7:50 in this clip

So an alternate idea to knocking down your large balls in the beginning for easy points in autonomous, maybe you should simply score the one pre-load, or pick up the bucky balls off the bump if your robot is capable of that and then get a good field position for the beginning of driver control, then your alliance would have the potential to score their three in your stash, and you could score your three in the opposite stash, this would automatically place you ahead of the other team, and keep you ahead for the rest of the match, at least in bucky balls.

I’d say both is the best option…

I could noew discuss some strategies, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to have some alliances that we can use them with at worlds.

Am I the only one who was completely confused by the commentary after autonomous? Starting area? :stuck_out_tongue:

We disagree with your assessment. We won due to a balanced strategy incorporating strong autonomous routines, strong partnership roles, powerful robots, and a bit of Divine Inspiration. The past matches you spoke of were basically 1v2 matches in which our partner was caught on the bump for 12 seconds (suicide at that level of competition), and motor failure after an INTENSE round of semi-finals in which we exhibited some unfortunate driving choices. We have since learned how to overcome many of those obstacles/situations.

Statically evaluating any team based solely on past performance is both foolish and dangerous. Don’t get caught fighting the last war–the next one will certainly be different. See you in Anaheim…

I think that’s now one of my favorite quotes, even though I spend so much time analyzing past competitions

I’m starting to wonder if there’s a higher level of play than strong auto, quick equalization. Currently, I don’t think so

Yes I totally agree with this, and it is true that never are the alliances even. But I must say that strategy was “divine inspiration” especially during the last match, very impresive autonomous program, and great driving.

While we were very pleased with most aspects of our team’s performance (400x) in the finals (especially the LONG hours spent on auton programming), we feel compelled to point out that 1200’s driving and coaching skills were nothing short of fantastic. In my humble opinion, the way they shut down that other tower against two first-class robots with veteran drivers was breathtaking, if not EPIC…

Because of their heroic effort, it may well go down in history as one of the greatest defensive stands ever. And because they trusted us and stuck with the plan, we were allowed to run the score up past 70 points (71/21) for the win. To the members of 1200–it is a great shame that your battling days are over–but WHAT A WAY TO GO!!!

Finally, 1064A was another solid alliance partner that showed great “coolness under fire”. You guys have something that many teams don’t… Consistency. It was an honor to fight with you…

Having played a few matches with 400x, it was game-changing to us to see how strategy could make highly efficient scoring robots almost obsolete. I would say that the 400x, 1200, and 1064A alliance changed how games could be won. With each teammate acting as a gatekeeper of a tower, they could choose when and how to score, effectively controlling the match. In the 3rd finals of the U.S. Open, 400X, being a very solid robot (weight, construction, and autonomous), couldn’t be stopped from scoring in the tower on their side. Once it was filled, 1200 and 400X simply switched sides, 1200 corralling the other two robots away from the empty tower with their powerful drive. 1200 only ever scored in autonomous in that match while playing a key defensive role. Similar to the World Gateway finals, I’m thinking that the world champion teams won’t necessarily be the fastest scorers–one will be a hard-to-move yet effective scorer while the other will be the “gatekeeper.” While Sack Attack was about timing scoring and descoring with blocking, Toss Up seems to be more about controlling the scoring area throughout the entire match. Once the towers are filled, the large balls, while still important, are a “toss up.” Hanging, and the autonomous bonus, is insurance if your opponent can’t hang and very important if they can if you want to win matches.

I took the liberty to bold some things I found important in this post. While scouting at the US Open many teams went up to the goals with objects multiple times each match. The problem was many robots would miss objects making them have to pick up and score again. Teams without the experience of getting objects into a contested tower were just using the “spray and pray” tactic. The coach is probably the most important person in these towers battles because he has to know if the robot is in the position to get the objects in or wait because the objects will fall to the side or down.
I suggest to teams going to Worlds, expect everytime you try to score your going to be contested. Have patience and score only when you feel you have the most chance of getting the objects in. I was not expecting matches at the Open to have tower battles lasting the entire match and only 5 or 6 objects in the goal.

Hanging and autonomous bonus are insurance just like he said. If a team leaves the tower battles to hang then the other alliance should to. I saw many teams including my own losing or winning by one or two points because they went back to hang with not much time left and failed to do so. The hanging would have been a clincher but so would have been grabbing the objects off the wall into the middle zone that many matches no one ever touched. The coach is again important in this situation. I suggest really counting the scores every match so that you know that you only need to get three more points instead of trying to get 15-20 from hanging which in some cases there was not enough time left to do so.

Thanks guys, it was an honor to compete with you: easily one of the most fun weekends I can remember. I’m proud to have spent my final matches with you. Best of luck at worlds!

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