Rule discussion: Touching robots that are touching their loading zone

There was a recent change to the Loading Zone and Climbing Zone rules in a Q+A thread:

For context, those rules are:

And in both cases:

This is a pretty big change. It greatly expands the protections for robots firing from the loading zone. For example, under the new rules a robot can be set up by hand so that it is aimed at the goal, and be protected from interference by other robots. Previously, teams had to decide on a tradeoff between being exposed to defensive play from opposing robots or moving to the protected corner tile.

The new rule effectively extends the “no-go” region in autonomous to include all of the climbing zone as well as a radius around the loading zone of between 18 and 31 inches (depending on the size and orientation of opposing robots). Going anywhere within this region without knowing the position of opposing robots could mean you touch them and violate <SG7>, which could affect the outcome of the autonomous bonus and lead to you losing the match*.

What are the Vex Forum community’s opinions about this rule change?

Personally, I think it will probably make the game less interesting. Stationary robots that just shoot at the goal will require little or no driver input during a match. Just standing by the field making sure that field control and Vexnet are connected is much less fun than actually driving a robot.

I think the need to metagame and strategise against opponents between matches and the need to make strategic decisions during matches really helps to engage people right from when they are first introduced to the program. When people are new, if they have ideas about design or programming it’s not always easy for them to put those ideas into practice. Ideas about strategy are much easier to implement. I also think strategy is a major part of why VEX matches are fun (and a major reason why they are much more popular than robot and programming skills challenges). Reducing interaction between the teams reduces this aspect of the game, and makes it more like a skills challenge where teams simply try to achieve the task and then compare scores at the end.

*Even if your opponents score zero points.

I know this means we are going to make sure our full field shooters can expand out to the edge of the squares and have a quick retract feature. I still think even at a local level full field shooting is not going to be enough to win a majority of tournaments. The battles over the balls in the middle, quick defense plays and counters, and last second (or even after buzzer) elevations should provide pretty good strategy plays. I still think that this game is a big haves/nots game but even with just dead reckoning we’re at about 70% shooting accuracy this early in the season. I’m assuming here but I would bet you have already seen power teams such as 7682 and 2915 shoot in the high 90’s accuracy wise. I’m waiting for the bold teams that go with a stationary 100% full with a high elevation and if anyone can pull of the “everything bot”. I think this game brings us back to sack attack as far as you really don’t know who will win in the end compared to the last two years with tossup-ball tubes and skyrise-auto.

I don’t really see why the loading zone needs protection (that is why did the GDC create SG7)? I assume it was for safety so that people reaching into the field to load their robots would be less likely to get hurt by an opposing robot, and if that’s the case then it makes sense that Karthik extended the rule.

However, I agree that this limits defensive game play and strategy in general and will likely make some/many matches less interesting. Hopefully there will still be plenty of fighting in the middle of the field though.

IIRC in the Wingus and Dingus match posted recently, one of the robots rammed another that was shooting from partly within the loading zone, so there’s already at least one example that can no longer take place.

I am looking forward to a lot more bumping in the open area this year. “NASCAR bumps” in the corner of the robot can throw off the trajectory fairly easily.

I am confused on the auton statement. The auton is the first few seconds of the match not the last. which has the climbing zone part of the rule SG11.

Are you saying you have an auton to position your robot to be right outside the loading zone triangle to try and block the trajectory of the robot and it can lead to a DQ?

Secnario 1: For instance, if the opponent’s partner robot moves to be in place to touch the primary opponent robot that is within the loading zone triangle. You have your robot come along to block but you hit the second partner bot (which is touching the loading zone robot) in the climbing zone area (I think you would have to be partially in there, maybe some geometry could make you completely outside the climbing zone square). This collision cascades the contact to be the loading zone via indirect contact and could result in a DQ.

So if you touch the opponent robot currently straddling between the climbing zone and partially in the loading zone, that is a DQ offense by itself. The opponent robots do not even need to be attempting to shoot for the DQ, just touch

Scenario 2: During the last 30 seconds of the match during driver control, if the robot is straddling the climbing zone, you can not bump it out of the way it sounds like. Inadvertent bumps of you trying to get home or another place on the field do not sound like DQ offenses.

Scenario 3: However you need to be careful in your play. If you are in the opponent’s climbing zone to steal some balls they left there at say 35 seconds (in the triangle that is in the climbing zone and not the loading zone), they can try and trap you in there to force a DQ. It does not sound correct but seems like it is in the letter of the law. Match effecting may be the decision point there.

Are these the scenarios you are looking at?

Maybe I should draw a picture or two…

I don’t see the need for more protected zones and the new ruling is honestly kind of disappointing. One of the things I liked about the game when it was announced was the allowance for strategic driving, positioning and defense to have a large impact on the game. Shooting from protected zones with less interaction will make for boring, predictable gameplay. With the game manual version of the rule, teams playing “infield” need to multitask scoring, blocking and collecting balls and decide the priority of those tasks constantly. The new rule makes it easier to just collect balls and drive back to shoot from a safe area partially in the safe zone.

I agree. I liked that this game was going to be interactive and more strategy oriented rather than another almost purely offensive game. I am certainly a bit disappointed with the recent ruling and IMO it makes the game much less interesting than it would have been otherwise.

This is a correct assumption. <SG7> was mainly intended for safety, with the side benefit of providing a protected zone for shooting. <SG11> was intended for safety, and to ensure that teams could Elevate without interference.

I can confirm in Finals 1 match at that event 7682E used this strategy early on and disrupted 7682’s tile shooting sufficiently to close the gap between red and blue tile shooting performance. The match was still won by red but there were literally only a few points in it.

Personally I think permitting reaching into the field makes it unsafe already so this ruling made on the basis of safety is a little unexpected. It definitely takes away one strategic aspect of the game which is bad because collect/score games like this really need many strategic options to maintain exciting game play.

Well I can’t really argue with that as a reason. Thanks Karthik (and whoever else from the GDC was involved in this decision) for trying to keep competitors safe :).

I do agree with Jason though. I think the biggest risk of injury in NbN is someone getting fingers caught in a firing mechanism, and while this rule change improves on that I’m not sure it will make a huge difference. When opponents are playing defence, firing teams are less likely to be loading and firing quickly because of the risk of missing.

I’m slightly confused by this ruling, in relation to a previous ruling about contacting the loading zone.

Touching a robot that touches the loading zone counts as contacting the loading zone:

Touching a robot that touches the loading zone does NOT count as contacting the loading zone:

As for the strategic implications of having a protected zone, I think there’s still a tradeoff that comes with using it. When the game centers around quickly scoring contested objects (the floor balls), you waste valuable time driving all the way back to the loading zone to shoot 4 balls at a time. Not to mention, teams using flywheels will have a slower rate of fire when shooting from the protected zone. This still makes mid-field defense effective, and if you can cause your opponent to drive back to their loading zone, you can maintain control over the rest of the field.