It is okay to be a cagebot.

It is okay to be a cagebot in this year’s game. I’m sure that people are already getting their fingers ready to give some responses against cagebots and will. This is a defensive strategy that is approved by the game committee, it has been talked about repeatedly in the forum and is legal. When ITZ started there was a 48" horizontal expansion limit. Then that went to 36". And finally 36" diagonal. All in an attempt to limit wall bots or bots that would block off sections of the field. There is also the rule that two robots cannot work together to block an area. At first you were allowed to push cones with a flat surface. Now you cannot move cones in a fashion to "hoard’ them. Then came the first release of a cage bot. A purely defensive bot that will “cage” an opponent’s mobile goal/s and not let the other alliance get them. Mind you cagebots can score mogos but are mostly for defense. When we started to build this robot other coaches, mentors, students and parents told us “you are not going to win many friends by doing this”. I have been doing this for 10 years (elevation was my first) and these were people that I have known for that long telling me that a defensive strategy would not be welcomed by the VEX community in our region. It was and still is not.
Since our first competition and everyone since my team has been looked upon with a microscope. A nasty and really unfair one. They have to provide proof that a cagebot is legal at tournaments by showing referees forum links and other information, often times before the referees will let them put their robot on the field. It will get size checked on the field. (other bots that expand larger than ours are not checked unless somebody points them out). Fans, coaches, other competitors and officials will say that they are cheaters and that they are playing “dirty”. We have had several teams and alliances not even shake our hands after matches. My students demonstrate sportsmanship no matter what the outcome of a match–win or lose. My team has had coaches from other schools tell them that what they are doing is wrong and they are going to find a way or loophole within the rules so we cannot have a cagebot. This is not a one tournament incident but will happen weekly at every tournament that we compete in with our cagebot. We chose to be a defensive bot in November and have not changed since.
IF you look back at the past there have been several great defensive bots: Sack Attack- a bot could expand 12’ and literally cover both of the opposing alliances’ troughs. By doing this the opposing team was not able to score sacks; Toss Up- a bot could expand over 60’ and prevent teams from scoring in both of the bucky ball goals; Gateway-(one of my all-time favorites) Team 44. This bot would expand and block off 75% or more of the field from their opposing teams. This included all of the scoring objects that were within this area. This is exactly what a cage bot will do–prevent the other alliance from scoring their game objects. I am not sure where the trend to bash defensive bots this year has come from but it is not warranted and especially at the gross level that it is at. This years’ game does not require you to have an elaborate bot to be a defensive bot. The rules above helped to limit this. All you have to do is to move your opponents’ mogos and keep the alliance from them. Just like so many defensive bot of past games. To say this is the easy way out is like saying your skills only robot is not right because it only scores mogos and not cones. Both robots only have to do what is needed in both situations and do it well.
All of you cagebots out there stand up against this witch hunt and do what you do. What all vex members do when they play a vex game–Score the most points, play by the rules and continue (like all teams do) to innovate. It is okay to be a different bot and you do not have to be a DR4B with a 6 motor speed drive and a rubberband roller intake like the other 75% of robots today. Just be the best cagebot you can be despite the negativity that will come from others if you do.

Competing in the same region, it is sad the amount of hate that goes against your team (1045B) and other defense robots. I personally enjoy having defensive robots, as it forces the other alliance to modify their strategy to win. Also defensive robots have been proved to be very good this year. In January we won with 1045B, greatly in part because of their strategy. Also they won this last week end due to the other alliance not being able to overcome the strategy. I can’t wait to see what 1045B brings to state and wish all the Beson teams good luck for state.


They’re not terribly hard to beat, but don’t be surprised if you get backlash for having this type of bot. Because you make it a living hell to play against you, don’t be surprised if you get the same treatment off the field.

When you look at the game every season, you have to look at defense. If it is the best route, you take it. If not, you look at how to counter defensive strategies (actually, you should do this in the first step, because it factors into whether or not defense is viable). The game is the game, and the way you compete is optimizing how you play it and how you win it. Just being this way looks different to everyone else’s way doesn’t make it wrong. I would gladly shake your hand after a match. If you beat me, either you had a much better alliance partner, or I misjudged my game analysis. Either way, neither is your fault. Cage on, my friend.

Looks like a lot of people must be Pittsburgh Steelers fans who were last in the NFL in sacks. They would rather lose than go after the quarterback.

Defense is a thing. Yes, ITZ and Football and basketball and plenty of other games are primarily offensive. That does not mean you should not play defense or that it is wrong to win with defense. If your robot and alliance partner cannot beat a cagebot and its alliance partner, well, they are better at this game than you. Dry your tears and work on improving your strategy.

I honestly have no idea why so much unhappiness (and some times to the point of hatred) towards defensive bots this season.

Before anyone accuse me of just building defensive bots - nope… most of the times my teams prefer an all-out attack.
But we have more than a healthy respect and admiration for defensive bots.
And yes… we do dabbled with defensive bots once a while.

There have been defensive bots in almost every seasons. And in all previous seasons, there were only admirations for them.

Let me qualify by saying this (again) - a good defensive bot is a lot more than just a pushbot.
The team needs to analyse the game thoroughly and see if there is any way to “hack” the game and win it.
(And really, if the defensive bot can only disrupt the opponent’s autonomous and park at the 5-point zone, it is not going to win it at the worlds).

And for all those teams that said the defensive bot ruined their 300hrs of building of dr4b… then maybe you should take a step back and see if there is a better and more efficient approach to the game.

Back in Gateway, we built (most probably) the 1st dr4b (in vex) for worlds… and we lost to the 1st ever wallbot (2W).
But instead of blaming them on ruining our dr4b, we actually admired their approach and applaud their creativity.
And we also applaud their alliance captain for having the foresight and boldness to select them into their alliance.
(it does requires courage to select a defensive bot… eg. our L-shape wallbot during Skyrise was passed over because seeded teams didnt have the courage to take them in… else I am pretty sure we will give 2915a a run of their money :stuck_out_tongue: ).

And after all these talks… I am still lost why so little love for the defensive bots this season.

PS… I am quite sure that when comes to worlds elimination, most seeded teams wouldn’t mind having a defensive bot in their alliance.

Edit: @trox i will be more than happy to drop by your pit and exchange notes if we both make it to worlds :slight_smile:

People just expect this other teams in this game to let you score? I don’t know why since that hasn’t been the case in VEX ever (I’ve been around since VRC was called FTC).

I’m not just going to let you score. So what you put in a lot of work on your DR4B. Whoopty-doo. A defensive bot team put in a lot of time as well on theirs. You don’t get extra points for that.

Defensive robots can score if you put a MG lift on it, but they’re not focused on it.

So all this whining about defense bots messing up your nice, stacking robots, get a grip. Be better.

My personal dislike of defensive robots stems from the extreme disparity in the effort required to build an offensive robot vs a defense robot. It takes hundreds of man-hours to create a working offensive robot, while a defensive robot that can cut the scoring ability of an offensive robot by >60% takes can easily be done in 1/10th the time, they are little more than a bunch of motors connected to wheels, a mobile goal intake, and a hoop thing. Its the problem that two robots that have relatively similar performance but one is much, much easier to build and extremely annoying to play against. It is just the lazy route IMO.

Based on this, the best route for most teams is probably to build defensive robots due to their ease and viability in skills, but I still don’t like them. My problem isn’t with defensive play itself, rather that is it way too easy to do this year compared to actually scoring cones. Its a major problem in this game that cones are worth so much less than mobile goals and so much harder. The wall bots of the past were all extremely impressive and worthy of immense respect, I have no hard feelings towards them since the work behind them was often much larger than a good offensive robot.

I will probably end up with at-least one defensive robot on my alliance at states, and possibly worlds, since the quality of second picked offensive robots will be much lower than the amount of damage a low defensive robot can do, especially with the tendency of defensive robots to lose qual matches.

I’m confused as to why people think they are remotely difficult. There has been atleast one team in our region that wins tournaments simply by pinning the opposing stacking bot for ~4 seconds, then pinning the other opposing robot on the other side of the field for ~4 seconds, rinse and repeat.

IMO, teams should never be so unequally hateful or heavily scrutinize someone because they simply do not like their robot or strategy. It’s so incredibly petty and unethical. Defensive robots are extremely valuable in the right places, especially if they know the rules and how to stay within them.

I myself have a mostly offensive but potentially defensive robot that was hard to build, and I plan on emphasizing its defensive play at States where I can. That way, I can be a very versatile team on my alliance if need be. Someone might even pick me in alliance selection!

I agree entirely. We built our bot to stack, but with defense in mind. While we can (and do) stack 14-15 cones, we often play defense instead, opting to let our alliance stack instead because our bot is much more bulky. I do not see a problem with this. However, at our first win this season, we allied with a cage-bot. They blocked the opponents from doing literally anything and we won by stacking 2-3 cones per match (our lift was having some problems). This should not have happened. The team that we allied with told us that they added the cage that morning, an hour before the competition started, because their chainbar wasn’t working well. YOU SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO WIN A TOURNAMENT THAT EASILY. Granted, this was relatively early in the season and defense was only just catching on, so nobody was really prepared for it, but still, it’s WAY to easy to build a defensive robot that is competitive against the best offensive ones.

A different way to look at things… If it’s so easy to build a defensive bot, then that means it must be one of the better options in terms of time efficiency. No one is rewarded for building a sophisticated robot; it’s all about how successful the robot is in the competition. A person can’t complain about losing to a different robot just because they spent more time on it. The point that this perspective can’t really counter is that defense isn’t the intent of the game. Of course, I could say that it’s not explicitly stated in the rules and that it is all about the result.

Personally, it’s more fun to develop a robot that’s good on offense, but if it comes down to competitions that matter, then it may be better to develop a defensive robot, if it seems like the best option strategically.

@Vex 9185 I agree with you (for the most part). The weakness of the defensive robot is that it really needs an offensive partner. Get the two best defensive robots against two average offensive robots and offense will win in this game so going defensive does have its risks. It can also have its rewards. If pared well, it can be one half of a very hard combination to beat.

There is an award or two for more complete robots. I doubt you will see defensive robots get the design or excellence award this year.

I certainly agree, though, that for some teams, it simply makes the most sense to go defensively.

I wonder how well combination bots would do in a legitimate competition, like State.

I only ask because I have one of those bots. It’s a 3-4 cone limit chain bar (+rollers) with a very consistent mogo lift on the back, and I’m trying to speed up its drive train. Would higher-level teams (like Exothermic, Quantum, and WASABI in my state) value something like this? We did very well at our last competition (1st in quals, beat at finals), but mostly because we were facing middle school teams.

Just from what I have seen refereeing this season defensive bots seems to have a negative look. We have one robot in our area that is a cage bot that at the last competition we told the teams it’s a legal bot since the Q/A’s ruled it legal. We did this because we kept getting reports that teams were being rude to them because of their robot and many teams thought the design was illegal.

So I agree that there should be defensive robots in vex. However if the teams are treating you poorly because you built a defensive robot remember that at competitions all teams need to conduct themselves in a respectable manner. If you build a defensive bot you do need to keep in mind of the possibility that you will be alliance with another defensive bot. I saw this my first year at world in gate way there was two wall bots on the same alliance and they could only score in the corners of the field.

The goal of VRC and majority of other STEM based competitions is to discover and develop talent who could solve the problems that humanity will face in the future. When we are going to face a crisis there will be no rulebook, you would have to throw any fixed mindset out of the window and employ the combination of solid engineering (i.e. building reliable and fast 15 cone lifts) and thinking outside of the box (i.e. cagebots, MoGo tippers and/or radical game strategies).

I think, parents who often complain about other teams “playing dirty” simply do not know game rules well enough to appreciate the importance of the strategic thinking (in addition to just building the good robots). If they thought about it, they would encourage their kids to take the wider perspective, as it would be much more beneficial for their education in the long term.

My team has mostly offensive robot. It is not the the fastest in the state but is doing ok most of the time. I told them that the best way to improve their competitiveness is to add some sort of defensive capability. It took them a launch break at one competition to add a passive MoGo tipper, which is literally four c-channels and a piece of string.

Many people dismiss MoGo tipping strategy as not very useful, but we experimentally found exactly the opposite is true. It takes us about 2-3 sec to flip a MoGo. Even if it takes the opposing alliance just a few extra seconds to right it back, it still somehow disrupts the game, making it more unpredictable and interesting to watch.

The best robots in our state routinely score above 100 and usually have wide winning margins when they play against teams even higher seeded than us. However, when we play against those top teams, we still lose, but are able to bring the margin to a much closer range. Defensive play have, probably, as much psychological as the technical aspect to it.

Anyone who wants to make it to Arena should practice playing both defense and counter-defense if they are serious about it. I don’t know if there is enough time for the robots to evolve, but if there were few more months in the season, I would bet that we would see robots at Worlds that could both score 15 cone stacks as well as have an option to carry a cage on the back to trap or flip the MoGos if necessary.

I don’t want to sound negative and/or make statistically unsupported generalizations. However, there were a couple of local teams, to whom I suggested at the beginning of the season to make sure all their bearings are double-screwed because they were literally losing bearings at the practice field. One of the students turned back to his mentor who replied that it is ok with a single screw - just keep practicing. It was those team’s parents, who were the most vocal complaining when we deployed our MoGo tipper a few weeks later.

@trox, if your team makes it beyond states they should challenge themselves to build the robot that could play both defense and offense. Playing one is not enough at the end of the season. And the best way to silence your critics is to build the robot impressive enough in both its offensive and defensive capabilities. If you could trap 2 or even 3 MoGos right in autonomous that will say something about the efforts your team put in the robot.

True, but in most cases they are taking the easy route to lose less. They aren’t going to win, they are just cutting down the deficit. I had a match where my partner did literally nothing, one robot pushed me the entire match while their partner did mobile goals. I won by one point. That’s an extreme example. With a decent partner, it would have been no contest.

Ok so here is my opinion on this whole subject.

I think that people need to remember that VEX is not only made for “high level” teams. Many defensive bots are made by less-experienced and rookie teams. They are trying to do as best as they can with the skills that they currently have. And another thing, many of these teams also do not have as many resources - defense bots are about all they can build.
What I am seeing a lot of unfortunately is “elitist” mentality this season. From threads bashing “low-level” teams, to people trashing defense bots because “Oh we’ve spent so many hours building this so it’s unfair that such a simple machine/strategy can beat us” - it’s a part of the game. Competitions are not split into divisions like sports.
Everyone is getting so caught up in the competitive aspect of VEX, but we need to remember, VEX is run by the RECF - Robotics EDUCATION and Competition Foundation. Education comes first. Many are forgetting that for a lot of these teams, just building a functioning robot is a huge accomplishment. I know for the first 3 years I assistant coached, my teams were fortunate to have something score a point in a game. We’ve since evolved but you will always see teams that really have no choice but use defensive play - why should we get down on them for it?
Finally, I will bluntly say that a lot of people (students, mentors, coaches, parents) really need to grow up regarding strategies that they don’t agree with. There was a situation I saw this season where a team spent 30 minutes of the competition arguing to the referee regarding a defensive autonomous even though the decision was already said to be final. And reading posts where people are being unsportsmanlike to a defense team, THAT is against the spirit of VEX, not defensive strategies. My teams have had defense used against them very successfully - they don’t cry about it. If it worked against them, that means they need to step back, analyze what went wrong, and find the solution to it (what you’re supposed to be doing in an engineering competition). This competition is not just building robots, but also strategizing properly. You can’t call teams “lazy” for finding a strategy that works with a simple robots and then have a well-designed robot but no properly laid out strategy for the different ways a match can go.

There’s a lot I’ve probably missed but I am terrible at laying out my ideas but that’s what I think about this whole controversy.

As the referee, I would tell them to go away after more than five minutes. If they didn’t, I would threaten to DQ them from the whole tournament. That’s an excessive amount of time.

@Coach Edwin
Well said.

This is not a Rube Goldberg contest. There are no extra points for finding the most complicated way of solving the problem. Like in real life, sometimes, the simplest solution is the best solution.

Winning the game is the problem to solve. Solve it the best way you can.

cagebots aren’t the nicest robot to play against, and in my opinion, they’re just not too effective. but, if you want to use a defensive robot, go ahead. its just, the point of the game is to stack cones for your team, not stop the other team from stacking.