Problems with Tower Takeover

I wanted to make a list of the main problems I’ve experienced so far with Tower Takeover as a VRC game and also get other people’s opinions on it, as well as ideas on how VEX can solve them going forward.

  1. The insane ambiguity and unfair nature of some rules. The rulebook is extremely vague on what types of defense are legal, where defense can played, etc.
  • Stacking in the unprotected zone, at exactly what point does defense that causes a stack being stacked to fall become illegal?
  • Can defense be played on a robot that is touching the inner protected zone? Technically that robot then becomes an extension of your robot, which means that you’re indirectly touching the inner protected zone which would be illegal.
  • You can defend the entirety of a robot whose four wheels are within the outer protected zone whose tray is sticking out of the outer protected zone volume. For robots with long trays, the protected zone is no longer meaningful.
  • A cube that rolls over the autonomous line accidentally leads to the auton bonus being to the other team. Thus, if you have an 8 cube auton, and your opponents don’t move, they get the autonomous bonus.
  • Some of these rules are so unexpected/unfair that I’m tempted to apply the “common sense always applies” rule to override them.
  • Possible Solutions: Make protected areas more explicit. Maybe, if all wheels of a robot are touching the inner protected zone, make defense illegal. Allow accidental rolling over of cubes if they do not interfere with opposing autonomous periods, in line with what most teams would prefer. Make the unprotected area a protected one so that there isn’t much of a gray area regarding what’s legal and what’s not. Make fewer, but clearer restrictions on what’s allowed and not, leading to much less ambiguity in interpretation.
  1. The unfortunate lack of variety in designs. This game is extremely focused on one task: creating tall stacks of cubes. This singular focus has led to really only one type of design being viable, which eliminates the creativity required for VEX robotics games of the past. In the future I’d like to see games with more difficult tasks and multiple focuses, so teams can specialize and try out more innovative ideas.

Did Karthik have a chance to apply his rigorous axiomatic approach to Tower Takeover game rules or it happended after he left?

Could GDC invite him to peer review next year’s game?

If Karthik is not available, DRow and myself could volunteer to review them before the official game release.


Your point about the lack of designs is the exact reason I liked turning point. There were 3 main designs for flags, flywheel, linear puncher, and catapult, but you could also focus on doing caps if you wanted which added even more varitey into the game.


I mean, Starstruck and In The Zone appeared to have the same problems also (Starstruck’s meta was the biggest claw to hold the most cubes, ITZ’s was a design with a MOGO lift and vertical stacker with intakes), but we had very unique variations on the formula come worlds (i.e. 8000’s Starstruck bot having a large hoardbot that flung so many things so high at the last second, for ITZ 62A’s defensive outing and 5225A’s passive intake). I get that Turning Point had more unique designs since the idea was to be “good enough” to shoot two balls in a very short period of time, but I don’t see the problem with “meta-bots”, since there are little tweaks that can happen that could ultimately lead to a better design. Personally, I think that a team with a transmission controlling the tilter could lead to creative uses of that last motor, and I could think of two potential ones off the top of my head. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see one of those, along with several wallbots at Worlds.

The first point isn’t really the fault of the game, but the GDC not answering questions in a timely manner.


nothing but net was even worse
there was absolutely no design variation at all


Personally, I don’t mind lack of design variation. Sometimes I don’t want to get stuck in the spiral of “what design should I rebuild to”. That said, there are some interesting robots out there. What comes to mind are the mini-tray DR4Bs and four bar lifts. I personally have a goofy like design, but with a four bar for easier towers, and then teams like the pilons have the entire tray on their four bar.


I see this as a problem considering every version of the rulebook for every game starts with an intro about the stem problem. It’s what the entire competition is about


This is a trade-off one makes when deciding to build a robot with a long tray - namely that it largely gives up the benefit of the Outer Protected Zone because the team decided to expand horizontally to a point where it is difficult to fit within the OPZ volume. If you want the benefit of the OPZ then make it so your robot can fit within it. If one chose to design a robot that scores more points (higher stacks) by expanding (at times) beyond what fits in the OPZ, losing that benefit is a reasonable thing to force a decision on the robot designer.

They only get the auton bonus if your 8 cube auton violates the rules. Again, there is an element of risk and an element of benefit, just like the real world.

It seems like the rules changes you are proposing would benefit you and the type of game you would like to see played. I, too, would like to see tweaks to rules, not just to Tower Takeover, but football, baseball, soccer, etc.

The GDC has its own priorities and preferences. You are certainly welcome to organize your own game with it’s own rules and host events. My team creates custom rules for scrimmages.


I just want to address your very first question, “Stacking in the unprotected zone, at exactly what point does defense that causes a stack being stacked to fall become illegal?” At the point at which the stack becomes legally “scored”. You cannot intentionally, unintentionally, accidently, directly, indirectly cause your opponents cubes, once scored, to become unscored.

is there a video for this design

Its funny how inaccurate this statement is lol


what do you mean by how in accurate it is!!!11

He’s talking about this:

and this:

and this:

and this:

Nothing But Net had a very well defined “best launcher”, but the methods of applying that design varied by a lot.


The above post demonstrates what I meant pretty well, but without having to search the depths of youtube, you really only have to watch one match to see what I mean: the 2016 world finals. These teams had double flywheels, punchers, and single flywheels. Another launcher that I saw to be very effective was the catapult, which 118 and 3118A both showed off very well that year making it all the way to division finals as part of their first seed alliances.

On the general idea of design variation, I dont think this is something that the GDC can control. All they are responsible for is making the game, not the designs that win that game. Design variation is something that the community chooses to either create or not demonstrate. The side roller design this season revealed itself to be very simple, effective, and easy to modify. Its really hard for a team to jump to a different design and have it check off those same boxes.


I think the GDC can influence designs by presenting choices. I only remember reffing NBN, but aside from the hang, it was all about ball shooting. I think more recent games like turning point and tower takeover try to give two avenues to scoring that require different approaches.

Unfortunately min-max strategies exploit imbalances in the scoring, so for turning point, cap bots were at a disadvantage. In tower takeover, only stacks score, while towers only multiply points. Without a hoarding rule, we see tray bots clearing the field and totally ignoring towers.

Game balance is really hard. I don’t know what the GDCs backgrounds are, but I know games like Star Craft, Clash of Clans, Age of Empires, and many others will hire economists to look over the game rules, point system, etc to try to achieve balance, and even those don’t always get things right. You’d almost want a preseason to see some gameplay and then tweak scoring rules…


I have to agree that this game was poorly made. In the way that tray bots dominate the game. Like last year, yes ball launchers where the dominate design but their was multiple angles to attack the challenge from. For example flywheels, punchers, catapults or a mix of each


I hate that every competition I have been to this entire season, someone has gotten disabled for going over auton line while their autonomous actually does more than push a preload into the corner, and the people with push code win auton. Tower takeover, as you said, has no variation or creativity to it

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Do you mean “disabled” as defined in the game manual?

Disablements are very rare, and should only occur when the head referee determines that a robot’s actions are unsafe and need to stop immediately.

Violating <SG2> (crossing the autonomous line) should result in the other alliance winning the autonomous bonus in most cases, and in a DQ for “Intentional, strategic, or egregious violations”. Disablement should never be a consequence of violating <SG2>.


My team feels the same way about this game. Last year there was five items the gave revolved around. Caps, poles, flags, balls, parking platform. This year there is only two. Cubes,towers, with one of these being ignored completely. This leads to much less design variance. Although turning point had it’s issues, flags being worth so much more than caps. It still left room for design variance.


i agree that economists should look over the game
Teams do a similar thing with deciding how and what to focus on
This year it was simple
cube in zone or tower and then the next thing was how fast we could put cube in zone since that allowed us to score.
Turning point like people have said had some variance in how it scored so there were many designs with that.