On <G3> and its Applicability in Greenville, Texas

There appear to be a couple of inconsistencies in a few of the recent Q&A rulings. First off is in Q&A 1017, where it is asked:

is it legal to cause the oppositions platform to tip in the final 30 seconds by only contacting the platform base or double hinge, intentionally or accidentally?

From a gameplay perspective, it makes total sense for the answer to be “no”, and that is in fact what the GDC replied with. However, this ruling is somewhat confusing, because it seems to directly contradict the game manual. Nowhere in the manual does it say that this is illegal. If the Q&A were to change this, I would expect a rationale as to why it is being changed. Declaring this illegal, in contradiction to the rules as written, without explaining why is problematic. What is it that makes this illegal? What is the penalty for it? What rule would tipping the platform by contacting the base actually violate? A follow-up Q&A has been asked to seek clarification. I know the GDC loves their one-word answers, but this quite frankly just isn’t sufficient.

A Common Sense interpretation of the game manual would bring someone to a very different conclusion than the GDC seemingly came to in this Q&A answer. If a referee is to DQ someone for violating this ruling, on what grounds are they supposed to do so. It isn’t very “common sense” to say “this is against the rules because it is” without even being able to provide what rule it is in violation of.

Second, and more importantly, is Q&A 1016, which was to do with the legality of the old 2.75” omni wheels. The ruling states that

In general, the official VEX website can be used as the definitive resource regarding current part availability / legality. Discontinued products that are no longer found on the VEX website are no longer considered “part of the VEX V5 system” (in the context of R6) and are therefore not legal for use.

Again, this ruling seems fairly lacking in the common-sense department. This makes it explicitly clear that parts no longer listed for sale on the VEX website are illegal. A ruling like this is especially problematic given that the VEX website makes it near-impossible to navigate the intricacies of old part legality without the use of an archiving tool like the Wayback Machine.

This raises some interesting issues. This ruling would seem to imply that the following no-longer-sold parts are now illegal.

  • Gears (old webbing vs new) (also red vs green)
  • Wheels (old inserts vs new)
  • Pneumatics (t valves changing)
  • Metal linear sliders

This is problematic in a handful of ways. First of all, the VEX website makes it very hard to tell when a part has been de-listed. If the GDC is going to take this route, could I suggest an official list of previously-legal parts that are now discontinued? Perhaps something along the lines of “parts are legal if they have ever been legal in VRC, with the exception of things on this list”?

Secondly, when teams make purchasing decisions for parts, should they consider the expected lifespan of the part?

Will VEX be providing information about the EOL date of parts being sold?

Given the immense amount of waste already generated by the game elements each year, is there concern about the waste of effectively forcing teams to throw away otherwise perfectly good products?

Will inspectors be required to know the exact current list of all parts sold and check every part to ensure it’s still sold? It’s fairly easy to tell what’s a VEX part simply by the aesthetic style, but a discontinued part looks like a VEX part because it was.

Are teams going to be expected to maintain a list of every SKU on their robot and links to the current store page?

What if a team spends the entire season in a region where inspectors think that the thing that’s been legal for six years still is, only to be told at Worlds some key part of their robot is suddenly no longer legal?

What should happen if a part is de-listed from the VEX website during the season after a team has already built their robot? Or during a competition for that matter?

Do teams have any guarantees that a part that was legal all season won’t be removed as they’re flying to worlds, leaving them to redesign their robot the night before?

How does this advance the goal of an affordable, sustainable robotics program?

@Grant_Cox @Sidoti @Jon_Jack


A solution to this could be to announce any parts that are being discontinued at/right after worlds each year and never do it during the season.


Your assertion is further corroborated by the fact that the platform is actually explicitly defined as only the polycarbonate plastic portion, not the base/hinges.

In this image, only the polycarbonate plastic is highlighted in yellow, while the base of the platform was left unhighlighted.


The platform’s area only covers the “polycarbonate device” and the colored PVC pipes under it, but the base is not included in these definitions.

It would be great if we could have some further clarification as to why the base has suddenly been involved within the volume of the platform during the answering of the Q&A when in the game manual, it is excluded.


This is where the GDC finally needs to make a legal parts index for VRC at the beginning of the season like it does for IQ. Leave the same verbiage that new parts introduced during the season are legal and everything is clear.


Yes. The ambiguity of the current rules make knowing what old parts are technically still legal very challenging.


Until (if) the people in charge of this at VEX respond, what do you guys think the best course of action for a team who currently (unknowingly) is violating one or more of these part legality rules?

I understand that even inspectors at worlds won’t know every legal part, and then scrutinize your robot to find one of any number of illegal parts, but I would not like to resort to a point like this if I don’t have to. I would also like to point out that if experienced VEX team members can’t figure out a good way to know what parts have been discontinued, the inspectors probably won’t either.

Also, in the place of a head referee, what would be the correct course of action if a red robot tipped the blue platform in the last 30 seconds? Let’s say both sides have seen this thread, and blue comes up to the head ref with the Q&A, and red comes up with the game manual. Does the head ref go with the Q&A or the game manual. I know that usually the Q&A clarifies the game manual, so they should go with that, but this time it directly contradicts it under no rule citation, so I might be inclined to go with the game manual, or replay the match.

Considering not too different of a predicament with the autonomous bonus, it could be a while before they respond. But then again, it only took 3 days with the rings-under-the-platform situation.


That’s exactly my question. With such a careless answer, they put referees in a difficult spot of potentially having to DQ a team with little more reasoning than a “No.” from the GDC. Really, I was under the impression that the Q&A was supposed to be a place for the rules to be clarified, not for extra rules to be created out of thin air with 3 character answers. And of course the GDC still prevents Head Referees from actually asking questions directly on the Q&A…


I think that the most fair option would be to replay the match under <G20>'s “most extreme circumstances” clause. However, if the violations became egregious, I would probably DQ the team.


I don’t actually see the problem with the platform hinge Q&A. The question is clearly trying to use a field element as ‘gloves’ to violate a very clear prohibition.

Not only are they trying to effectively contact the platform, they are trying to tip it and knock any scored objects off with insufficient time to re-score them.

This would be quite literally a game-breaking exception. If a team can intentionally de-score their opponents’ platform, then scoring on the platform becomes a risky strategy.

I see this in very much the same way the stacks were treated in Tower Takeover. If a robot can trivially undo a vast amount of scoring work by their opponent, they should expect that action to be prohibited.


Q&A 1017 has been followed up and I think it might be my favorite Q&A ever.


Nobody here is arguing that the ruling should have been the other way. The correct answer was some degree of no. However, what we are saying is that only saying “no”. Is pretty clearly in contradiction to what the game manual says, so the ruling doesn’t make sense without further clarification.


If you actually look back at the game manual version history, prior to version 2.0 (August 31), the leg and hinge were considered part of the platform, so this strategy was EXPLICITLY prohibited.

This ‘exception’ was pretty clearly a result of changes attempting to make inadvertent platform contact less common. As a result, the question was probably perceived by GDC as some smart-aleck team trying to play ‘gotcha’ with the platform definition instead of a serious inquiry.


Yes, it was. And it would be helpful if the GDC addressed this in their answer.

A “gotcha” question or not, the Q&A clearly raises an inconsistency in the game manual, and it is the GDC’s job to address these rather than simply brush them off.


The GDC did ADDRESS the inconsistency. What they didn’t do was EXPLAIN or JUSTIFY the inconsistency.

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No, they didn’t. Seemingly confirming that the rules are inconsistent and not fixing it is not the same as addressing it.


I think there’s a quote from VEX’s referee guide that’s relevant

Remember that a referee’s job is to enforce the rules as written, not as a referee thinks they
should be written. Global consistency is key in ensuring the integrity of competition.
a. Do not invent, modify, or ignore rules.

The rules as written do not have any provision for violations for contact with the platform hinge, and indeed it was modified explicitly mid season to no longer include the hinge. While most people, myself included, may think that should be a violation, the rules should be enforced as written. They should not be modified to be as we think they should be.

An appropriate response would have been

While this does not violate the rules as currently written, it does violate the intent of the rules. This loophole will be addressed in the next revision of the game manual to make this clear.

Not the incredibly childish



Let’s look at the game manual, specifically <G22>:

<G22> The Q&A system is an extension of this Game Manual. All Teams must adhere to all VEX Robotics Competition rules as written in this Game Manual, and must abide by any stated intent of these rules. Officially registered Teams have the opportunity to ask for official rule interpretations in the VEX Robotics Competition Question & Answer system. All responses in this system must be treated as official rulings from the VEX Robotics Competition Game Design Committee (GDC), and they represent the correct and official interpretation of the VEX Robotics Competition Rules

Based on this, even a one-word answer is considered the official interpretation of the rules. This tells us how to handle apparent contradictions: The Q&A takes precedence, according to the manual.


We know this. Nobody is arguing that the Q&A is incorrect, or that the manual overrides it. The ruling is very clear, it just isn’t helpful. It answers the question without fixing the problem that the question was asked in order to highlight. The rules are just as broken as they were before the question was asked.


Also as an issue, what is the punishment to be for this “illegal action”?

It technically doesn’t fall under SG3 at all, since no contact has been made to the “platform”.

So while it is illegal, there is no grounds for this rule to be enforced in competition, at least how I see it.


From the Game Manual for SG3 violations:

Violations of this rule which do interfere with gameplay will result in a Disqualification, regardless of
whether the interference was Match Affecting or not.

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