Possibility of a rule change to address cage bots?

At a Florida regional competition this past Saturday, there was a single robot that didn’t even score cones, but existed purely to cage opponents’ mobile goals and mess up opponents’ autonomous routines. While I do understand that this is legal under the current rules, do you guys think it will remain legal?

I don’t think I’m alone in questioning the morality of this type of strategy. At previous regionals, the highest stack on mobile goals was around 10 cones, and at this regional, any match involving this type of robot (or blocking in general) had a highest stack of only two.

How does this strategy not ruin the entire point of this game? It’s meant to see who can stack the highest, not to see who can get to the mobile goals quickest. Skills was already ruined by being purely mogo-based, and now actual matches are heading in the same direction.

Now, a team that built a cage bot the morning of the regional won the entire event against robots that everybody else has been working on for several months (and yes, I’m talking about robots that are actually good at what they do; they’re very competitive robots).

I know that there are strategies that you can use against cage bots, but either way it still takes away from the point of this game; I think we can all agree on that.

As I understand, VEX can make any rule changes they please before Worlds. Is there any chance they could (or would) amend the rules in order to address these bots that break the game entirely?

I know they could do it, and I would like them to as well, but realistically I don’t think it is going to happen. That strategy is completely legal, and as you mentioned there are strategies that can counter them, so I don’t think the GDC will outlaw them.

the questions that have been asked about cagebots have left plenty of room for them to be ruled illegal. I think the way the GDC has ruled shows that at the very least the GDC doesn’t care about cagebots, and possibly even wants them to be legal. Ruling very rarely get reversed.

The answer is a cage bot cage bot.

There is a line where making defense too easy works against REC’s objectives. I guess time will tell if it has been crossed yet. It would be reassuring to know that they are monitoring this impact. I don’t expect them to get every decision right. I do expect them to do what they can to make sure the game does its best to promote productive STEM innovation. Its definitely having a negative impact, its hard to say objectively how much. As others have stated, they don’t tend to full on reverse themselves.

It cracks me up when people think a robot is so great but then gets beat by something very simple. This is not a Rube Goldberg contest. There are no bonuses for extra complexity.

Building a purely defensive robot is a high risk, but potentially high reward proposition. If you are pared with a decent offensive robot, your alliance will be tough to beat. If you are pared with robots that cannot stack cones, you would be in a lot of trouble.

If you are going against an alliance that cannot stack cones, assuming nobody wins autonomous, you only need to score 3 cones, two mobile goals, and both teams park to be assured a victory. If you lose autonomous, you will need 8 cones, 2 mobile goals, and 2 robots parking . If you win autonomous, you only need 2 cones, 2 mobile goals, and one team parking to guarantee a win.

That is assuming the other teams scores the most possible without cones.

I think defensive strategies make this game more interesting.

A defensive bot is not going to be high in the standing so, it’s not likely to effect the top teams. However, REC does not create a game for just the top teams. There goal/mission and the purpose of the competition is to promote STEM engagement, innovation and experimentation. The intention of the game is to create a fun, exciting environment where teams are challenged to meet productive objectives. It should be biased towards offense (to make something more effective as opposed to reducing others effectiveness). Defense is good/fine as long as the game is not too biased towards it (say if all of your points had to be scored in a very small section of the field and the put a stationary object in the middle to help block it and the most rare and valuable objects are hoard-able). If the game is too defense biased in its inherent design and defensive rules are too permissive it’s discouraging to a large percentage of teams and works against REC’s stated purpose (IMO).

We have recently played many matches against cage Robots but if you are truly a better robot you should have no problem out scoring them and out playing them.

The issue I have with cage bots are their ability to break the game as such a low skill level. Back in the days of Round Up, Green Eggs broke the game by hording the 10lb goals in the ladder. That was basically impossible to defeat, but required an immense amount of skill to do. Cage Bots are easy and effective, they require basically no skill to build and pilot, and may become a must pick for a 3 robot comp.

When balancing games, generally game Devs try to eliminate “must pick” choices (specifically I’m thinking of Overwatch)

I mostly see cage bots an manifestation of game design, but their existence should be addressed by either clearly stating that the design is legal or it is not before we get to world qualifying events.

The problem with this is that a lot of teams that have seen the effectiveness of this will not build a normal robot and instead opt for this design. This discourages innovation and creating something intelligent, which is what Vex is supposed to be about. At least if they’re copying an offensive robot on youtube they still have to figure out all the technical stuff involved in making the robot run smoothly. Cagebots break the game and really takes almost no time or skill to make, unlike the Green Egg robot in round up mentioned previously, or the 8000/185 star hoarding robots last year. The reason Chinese robots is so far ahead of us right now is that they banned defensive strategies to actually encourage their teams to engineer something impressive.(not saying there aren’t great robots outside of China) My humble opinion is that in order to foster a competitive environment where your robot and driving skills actually matter, cagebots should not be allowed in competitions.

So in china, defensive strategies are completely disallowed? I didn’t think they were allowed to make up their own rules. But I agree with your statement on cagebots

Agreed. What is the best way to encourage the GDC to institute some sort of rule change, or at least to show our grievances over this absurd strategy? E-mail, continued forum posts, etc?

I would suggest continuing posting on the forums and we might get their attention, but there are already a lot of cagebot forum post and the GDC seems to be completely fine with the strategy. To be honest, I don’t think the GDC would change the rules because… well they almost never do. The most that they might do is to encourage the refs to be harsher on cagebot matches for potential disqualifications. They’re probably hoping that as the season progresses the cagebots will fall out of favor but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

And yes, from what I’ve heard China does have a slightly different variation of the rules in their rulebook. At the latest APAC, the Chinese teams were very surprised that defense was being played against them because it was not allowed back there.

The rules are the rules. If you do not like the rules, play a different game. Do not get upset because someone has figured out a strategy that stumps you. Like @jonathan1115 said, if you are really good, you will beat them.

Like @blatwell said, it does not take a whole lot of cones and only a couple of mogos to beat this design. It is a solid design if partnered with a good bot that can stack cones but by themselves, they are pretty weak. When you complain about rules like this, it sounds like you are saying you are just not good enough to beat them. I think you all are better than that. I think nearly all of you can beat the cage bots if you just figure it out.

This is not in the slightest what we are saying. I think the real point that people are trying to make has already been stated several times, but has went unacknowledged: cage bots take away from the point of the game.

The official In the Zone manual states that “The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing Alliance by Stacking Cones on Goals, by Scoring Mobile Goals in Goal Zones, by having the Highest Stacks, and by Parking Robots.” The first three of these objectives cannot be accomplished with the rise of cage/defense bots. How can you stack cones on mobile goals (let alone accomplish the highest stack on them) if you cannot even access these mobile goals? How can you score goals in zones if you’re denied access to the zones?

In the Zone is supposed to be an offensive game. With these bots, teams are now forced to either play more defense than offense, or waste the entire match trying to address this defense. Either way, rarely is anything proactive ever actually accomplished.

I think cage bots should be, but will not be, banned. same with last years bots that just shoved stars under the fence, it takes away from the whole point of the game.

at least you could still score against those bots

true, but they still defeated the point of getting stars OVER the fence.

unlike many defensive strategies in this year’s game, there isn’t an easy way to counter cage bots. Maybe if you put a cone in between the mobile goals to wedge them in place, they are forced to lift the cage or get a warning/DQ? this probably breaks the rules in another way.

@Mystellianne I understand where you are coming from, but I have to disagree.

The official ruling is just a few hours old, but our teams are already brainstorming ideas of how to take advantage of the new game geometry, multi-dimensionally speaking, both in defensive and offensive ways.

It might be natural for the adult engineers, like me, to feel comfortable constrained by the narrow game play, and think endlessly on how to optimize stacking speed of a single cone to 50" height. However, it is more natural for teenagers to be more mischievous and think about out-of-the-box disruptive solutions.

The latest set of rulings, allowing cagebots, MoGo tipping, and even some hoarding shifts the competitive advantage from the people who had worked all their professional life with PID, back to young minds who might not yet know what integral is, but are great at finding loopholes in the rules, and coming up with disruptive strategies and designs.

I am literally going to bring some popcorn to the next competition and enjoy the show of teams deploying some new defensive and counter-defensive robots.

As many people have already said, having solid robot that could score high stacks is still very important, but with those rulings in place, the game just got so much more exciting.