Skills vs Match play design

ITZ game has a massive disparity between the ideal design of a skills robot versus a match play robot, perhaps more than any game to date. This is because the rules for skills allows scoring of all 8 mobile goals and because the weighting of points of goals versus cones, heavily favours goals. This makes rapid scoring of mobile goals the overriding requirement for a skills robot, while scoring tall stacks of cones is a general requirement for a match play robot (unless you want to just play blocking strategy in match play). So we have the design that wins skills being fundamentally different from the design that wins match play.

This creates some issues:

  1. Teams with large resources can build skills based robots to win qualification spots and then switch to match play designs.
  2. Competing for a placing in skills at Worlds will be a waste of time unless you have a specific skills based design. Many teams at Worlds will forgo doing skills because they have a design that is simply not competitive at skills.
  3. Teams going to Worlds will have to decide beforehand which discipline they want to be competitive in. There is absolutely zero chance to win both skills and tournament.
  4. There will be less kudos for the winner of skills at Worlds, because they will have won against a diluted pool of competitive, skills based designs.

In my opinion, skills rules should have only allowed scoring of 4 of the mobile goals. This would have allowed teams to have one robot that could be competitive at both skills and match play, because there would have been a much stronger emphasis on scoring cones in skills. Easy to come to this conclusion with the benefit of seeing the season unfold, but something for the game designers to consider with future games.

Just out of curiosity, would your ‘ideal’ ITZ skills allow scoring in both sides’ zones, just with less goals, or would you only be able to score in one like in matches?

I would have to agree with @De Mentor here, the difference in the 2 robot challenges and the best designs for both challenges differ so much that I along with other teams in our region will qualify for our provincial championship early in the season and then focus on building skills robots until those provincial tournaments come up. I myself have tried the same thing but I think this heavily favors teams with more resources that have the creative freedom to do this. I don’t think limiting skills to only 4 mogos would’ve been the solution to this disparity but some sort of incentive for cones during skills could’ve been implemented. Either way it is too late in the season to change it.

Personally, I like the skills challenge to offer a variety of routines that are viable ways to achieve a high score. This allows for creativity in the skills run, with different teams choosing different routines to compliment their robot design. There is little diversity at the moment, with teams attempting little more than just scoring 8 mobile goals in the 10 and 20 point zones.

So, to answer your question, I don’t think it really matters if both zones are allowed or not, but I would prefer both zones to be allowed to add diversity. Just as long as the cones cannot max out.

I would also have loved to have seen stack bonuses given in skills (for at least one cone stacked in each zone) and on the stationary goal, again to promote diversity of routines by making the stationary goal and 5 point zone viable options for a high score.

4 mobile goals can be scored in ~ 20 seconds. If there was a 4 mobile goal limit, what would there be to do for the remaining 40 seconds other than score cones (park XD)? I agree that there may have been other solutions, but I disagree that a 4 mobile goal limit would not have been a simple and effective solution.

I really agree with @De Mentor here. After December, many teams in my state rebuilt their robots or just made a new robot just for skills. I really don’t think this should be happening. It basically makes you have to choose whether you want to do skills or whether you want to compete. To my best knowledge, this hasn’t really happened in previous seasons. There seems to have always been an overlap between competition and skills. However, in this season, we are seeing designs that would not in any way be viable for competition being used in skills and succeeding. Part of that is due to how skills is made up this year (See De Mentor’s post for a better explanation). I think limiting the number of mobile goals in skills to 4 or 6 would allow for more of an overlap between competition and skills. It would allow for more teams to focus on cones, allowing more competitive bots to be viable in the Skills Challenge.

To sum up my post, there’s too much favoring of mobile goals and not enough favoring on cones. This makes the chances of a skills bot that’s also really good in competition highly improbable.

That’s not true at all.
There have always been skills only robots… it has been popular especially since nbn.

But I do agree that the proportion of points awarded for mobile goals are very significant.
Still… it will be too late to make any changes to the rules. We are already approaching the later part of the season.

There have always been skills only bots, but looking at Skyrise, NBN and Starstruck the best skills bots were also the most viable in actual matches. Hai Sing had the highest skills scores and also won the world championship because of the overlap. The Discobots scored so high because they were amazing at fielding. 365x won skills and had one of the best robots in actual gameplay too.

I can’t speak for competitions before Skyrise, but the best robots in skills have been the best robots in actual matches too.

Definitely. I didn’t even do skills in our last tournament (though I should have) because our bot is not very viable for it after we switched from an 8 to 4 motor drive. I probably should do it a little bit, and have a routine, but ultimately I will not be able to be as good as before despite having a far better competition robot (we scored 153 in a match at the last tournament).

@dbenderpt please tag Zach on this.

I am not sure I totally agree with your premise. It is clear that there is easier this year to design a bot that is really good at one or the other and more difficult than usual to build a robot that is great at both, but it can be done.

For example, look at 6842Z (Pigpen). They are a middle school team and have a robot that has scored 106 in driver skills and 62 in programming skills so far. I happen to know that the robot is capable of more in both.

They also happen to be one of the best match play teams with the same robot. Currently, they are the number one team in the world ELO rankings found here:

Even though they are a middle school team, they have dominated high school team after high school team and are without a doubt, the top team in Indiana. Their current skills score puts them at 4th in the world (same score as 3rd but are forth based on a tie breaker) and they have been using the same robot all year. They do have another bot but have yet to debut it because they want it to be working perfectly and have lots of drive time with it before bringing it to a competition.

It would certainly not be impossible for them to win worlds in both match play and skills. That is not a prediction but simply acknowledging the possibility.

@Zphelps. Tagged :).

Pigpen have an awesome match play robot, coupled with great driving and well deserve the extended plug. But they do not have a great skills robot. Their skills scores equate to mobile goal placements of 4 in prog skills and 8 in driver, which is good, but not great. They have an RD4B lift, which is great for match play, but is superfluous for a skills robot, because it is just extra weight to carry around and is consuming motors that should be put to use scoring mobile goals faster.

If you attempt to balance the robot performance between match play and skills, you will be compromised in some regard for both.

While no one can argue the results of 6842Z are impressive, there are skills runs out there in the ~190 range using skills-designed high school specification robots already. I know team 8000C got 188 at the first competition with their skills bot, and according to them most of their programming run was put together the night before.

It is a big reach from 4 mobile goals (62 programming) to 6 (82) and 8 (102), and and seeing as teams are already getting 6, it’s safe to assume that 7-8 will be need to have a chance in world skills. How many game robots are putting away 4 mobile goals in 30 seconds of programming?

We have put a fair bit of time into both our game and skills VexU robots, since we can have two bots for a single team, and by now it pretty much goes without saying for anyone following skills scores that no game robot will be able to hold a candle to a skills robot at the job it was designed for. Which brings us back to the original problem, if you can’t beat them, you have to join them, but for that you need to be able to afford to put together a robot just for competing in skills, and in VRC that means throwing away your chance at winning games.

There is no doubt 6842Z has one of the best game robots around, but using an amazing game robot for skills is like bringing a boxing glove to a fencing match, you can only win as long as no one else brings a sword. We already know that both high school and VexU have a few teams that are bringing dedicated skills bots to worlds, and are already topping the skills rankings with these bots. Some scores in both are still pending, so you have to go to vexDB or event pages to see them, more will follow.

Given that the rules for a robot allows the swapout of the manipulator section, you could design a robot that has an entire upper stage swap-in from skills to match play. As long as your base is the same (with controller). Just get it inspected in both configurations. The mogo could be common and integral to the base if you want. From past rulings, you can also swap out wheels on the base and still be compliant, so you could go with differing diameters for speed vs power.

I have to agree with @De Mentor on this one. In IQ, skills was almost exactly the same as tournament play. I liked that a lot better, it was a lot more fair.

Making skills bot at this point in time is definitely not worth it. I have seen some teams score 104-108 in their drivers run with a “Match Play Design”. It is quite possible to get 80-100 range of programming skills score with a normal robot.

If I am not correct, the robot which is number one in skills doesn’t even do skills with a skills based robot, rather more competition based. I do agree that this can create the most diversity on average, but it’s possible to make a robot be the best in both competition and skills aspects :wink:

Seeing as how the number 1 teams in skills is the one posting the thread I beg to differ.

Wait what?!?!?

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh xD

Wait where? Are they “Wings of Freedom” 8825???