Toss Up as a Game

Toss up is the latest great game since… Round Up !

There are many similarities between these two games (besides the word “Up”). I’m glad to see hanging return to VEX,
It is also interesting to see a multi-faceted challenge, in which one robot will not be able to achieve all tasks. Partnerships
will be important and an end game will be crucial to winning.

**History Time: **
Sack Attack was a great design challenge, evidenced by the amazing skills scores being posted. However I was a bit disappointed with the overall elimination round play of Sack Attack. Gateway had way too many similar designs. Clean sweep was a fantastic game to watch as a spectator, especially when teams went for the Green Balls!
Elevation was a neat design challenge with brutal king of the hill fight for that giant cube. I wasn’t around for bridge battle , so no comment.

Round Up was by far the best game VEX has made in terms of design complexity and overall spectator excitement !

**Design Rankings: **

  1. Toss Up
  2. Round Up
  3. Sack Attack
  4. Elevation
  5. Clean Sweep
  6. Gateway

**Spectator Rankings: **

  1. Toss Up (this is pure speculation !)
  2. Round Up
  3. Clean Sweep
  4. Elevation
  5. Gateway
  6. Sack Attack

Its too early to tell exactly how the game will play out … but Toss UP has all the makings of greatness

Pretty much my thoughts. I thought that the soft objects as a design challenge was a good one for experienced teams, but Sack Attack failed at the whole “meta strategy” thing quite a lot. We like the potential of Toss Up for more macro strategy analysis.

Furthermore, in my opinion, Sack Attack was a very difficult game for new teams, despite having “floor goals”. Sacks are a very hard object to push.

Like teams getting better at building robots, I feel that VEX is getting better at designing games.


Im sure there will be a team or two that can acheive everything. One of our teams is going to shoot for everything.

Specialization seems to be an interesting issue that VEX has addressed in numerous ways in their games. Clearly Toss Up is meant to be a game of specialization. Why else would you put the goals on the other side of a 12" barrier then put the hanging bars 40" up in the air? Most teams will probably specialize to either feed/defend+hang or go for straight out efficiency with the buckyballs and the cylinder goals.

The problem with specialization, however, is that success now seems to rely even more on the luck of qualification match scheduling. If you have two hanging robots, you could easily be incompatible trying to simultaneously hang, and your opponents get a lot of control over the cylindrical goals. If you have two efficiency robots, you might get in each other’s ways with only two goals to score on and 14 scoring objects on the field.

Obviously Toss Up still has a long way to go and I didn’t even comment on objective priority in this game (there are so many of them!) but I think early season qualification matches may be quite the spectacle!

interesting note, that our grade 9 team has already got a V1 “efficiency bot” complete!
-under 12"
-no largeballs
-no hang

reminder that they are a GRADE NINE team
if they can do that at this rate, it’ll take another month MAX for them to figure out large balls

so if thats the build/iteration rate for a GRADE NINE team, what would it be like for the elite teams?
and how long before “efficiency bots” are too mainstream for the elite teams and for them to move onto specialized robots?

i am very excited for this years game just because of the cycles of design iterations :slight_smile:

I think it’ll be more than one team.

Specialization will happen I’m sure, but in the end I think two robots that will be able to do everything well will be the champions.

So, what has to be done to be an elite team?
Going into my fifth year in vex, my team is aiming to do nearly everything the game has to offer. Right now, I can only think of one task that will prevent us difficulty, but its pretty much useless in match play. I think hanging is easily possible with a sub 12 inch robot. In round up for example, 254(A?) managed to hang on the ladder with a 3 inch tall robot!

As far as the game, I think the strategy will actually be the deepest since roundup. The more spread field and lack of big barriers makes it so things flow much differently. I remember one primary strategy in roundup that Murdo and his team put together revolved around the rotational motion of the field I believe, and ending the cycle with more descored objects than scored objects just because of how they moved. He should probably expand on that though, I’m kinda fuzzy on the details.

Even now though, saying that I have an idea that I think will be elite could be proven completely wrong at our first competition when we see all the other designs.

The other trap teams might fall into is overvaluing certain designs. I think the focus of teams is going to be resoundly on building NZ style gateway efficiency bots, while the points in the cylinder might not actually be that valuable. Locked up points are way more important this year as well, so a focus on autonomous is necessary, since it makes up 1/12th of the max score compared to about 1/40th of the max score last year.

Currently, our grade 9 and 10 (10 and 11 next year) team has 1/2 of a robot that can score in all possible ways done. The drive is ready, and we’re working on the lift and intake at the moment. Hopefully it will work, and if it doesn’t, well we have at least another 3 months to fix and optimize it!

Has anyone tried driving bases over the bump during an Autonomous routine? In the simulator it keeps messing me up, and I was wondering if I needed to account for that in actual matches.

Fortunately for some of the newer teams, push bots will actually be at least semi-effective for this game because of the round nature of all of the elements and the predominantly floor-based scoring system.

This actually seems very good for the vex community. The push bots will actually be able to score the round and rigid objects this year a lot easier compared to sack attack’s way-too-squishy elements. This means they will do better in qualification rounds, and possibly make it into the finals. And therefore gives newer teams a better chance at winning something, keeping motives up and ensuring a larger and more diverse VRC competition in later years. Which we all want, right?

In fact, I’m thinking about making an amped-up push bot with a simple gateway style intake for buckyballs and a catapult for launching intaken buckyballs as well as pushing them around the field. I’ve also been playing around planetary gears and it would be a great way to make a simple manually shifted two-speed transmission to prove to my fellow teammates that a planetary gear set is actually a viable option for a drive transmission. Earlier this year they claimed that a three-speed transmission was not possible, so I proved them wrong. Now they’re claiming planetary gear sets are “too complicated and big” for Toss-Up. So, I would like to use one in a tiny push bot w/a catapult to prove them wrong.

If you can’t quickly fill the cylinders, I’m not seeing how you’re going to win. The point value for objects in and on the cylinders is at least double that of their value in the goal zone. Robots that do nothing that push objects are going to be more valuable this year, but no where near as successful as those who can fill and cap the cylinders.

If a pushbot is in the top 8 seed at a competition, I would honestly be very surprised. They just don’t have the necessary scoring capability.

I agree. However, a wallbot may be a good first or second pick depending on the alliance captain’s robot style.The wallbots will rank similar to Gateway I think, which, as in gateway, will make the wallbots a good first or second pick.

Another idea will be the goal cappers just like in Gateway. If you can block the opponent from getting both of the vertical goals after theyve been fully scored by your team, that’s 60 points! :eek:

But Bonzo Madrid is right as in the fact that pushbots, or wallbots, will be atleast semi-effective because of the ground scoring. VEX made this game a great game for newer teams also.

I agree that robots that only push will not ne near totally worthless this year, they can score and descore floor goal which I believe we will see more of this year as well as score 3 points in autonomous. I really don’t believe capping the goal will make a bit of difference unless they stay in front of the cylinder to protect it. Any robot that can score a bucky ball in the cylinders can descore a large ball in a split second.

I think the robots that can stash the bucky balls, descore, and hang will be the sucessful ones. Especially if you can snag 3 of the other teams bucky balls before you hang.

A good autonomous will be very important this year, 10 points is a much larger percentage of the total score in Toss Up. If you have the autonomous win and hang with a large ball there is potentially 1/2 the points of an average game.

I see very few multitasking robots being around in the first couple of months of competition so the few teams that work all summer will dominate. Being from Texas I know there are at least 6 really good teams hard at work already that will probably be the 6 teams in the finals at the first matches of the year. As January/February approaches the wins will be harder to earn. Our intention is to stash and de-stash as quickly as possible and have the ability to hang with a ball very quickly. I think (IMHO) you will see fewer and fewer teams wasing time capping the cylinders as the season goes on.

While we may not see as much design convergence this year there will still be a lot of coincidence. We started on our design while in the hotel at worlds, and had it on paper by the end of the week. I bet even though there are no videos or pictures, and no reveals yet it will be very similar to other robots at the first matches. There have been too many good ideas in past games with similar tasks to reinvent the wheel, this game lends itself to the gateway intake and in my opinion the ability to go from under 12" to hanging from a 40" pole is the only challenge that will show us things we have not seen before. I bet we see a lot more scissor lifts this year!

How do you intend to descore, while avoiding the call on entanglement of field (<SG9>)? I suppose you probably won’t be willing to share your designs (naturally), so does your design allow you to avoid being called?

After thinking about wallbots for Toss Up for a little bit (who doesn’t do that first?) I believe that wallbots definitely look good on paper to cut off the goals that can hold 50-60 points in a game that only has maybe 150 maximum points, but I think teams will find that designing a wallbot for this game is a lot more difficult than it looks.

Like Gateway, Toss Up has the majority of the goals in the goal zone (like the isolation zone) but has the majority of the objects in the hanging zone (like the interaction zone). For the purposes of creating an image, I’m assuming you start the wallbot in the hanging zone tile and shoot the wall diagonally across the middle zone in autonomous.

Potential Problems:
-You need to feed your objects to your ally as well, requiring some sort of daisy-chain minibot pneumatic catapult or similar
-You need to account for red/blue being mirror images of each other (which is only a problem if your wallbot+attachments are asymmetric of course)
-You still have the age-old wallbot problem of having to beat your opponent while going four or five times the distance in autonomous
-There are pylons from the 12" barrier that get in your way, you need to find a hole to shoot your wall through

I’ve thought of a couple other feasible ways to implement a wallbot, but the implementaiton I outlined above seems like the most obvious way, which is why I addressed the problems I have with it more thoroughly.

These problems aren’t insurmountable, but I’d go even as far as saying that even a team that implements such a wallbot successfully, still does not guarantee the win.

Our de-scoring involves less interaction with the field element than descoring sacks did. I can only give you a hint right now, but my son who gives all of his designs a name calls it the “Hummingbird” It is simple and should be effective in getting the top 3 stashed balls out quickly which will be perfect for the 3 balls the robot will have on hand to replace them with.

Since I buy everything for him to build with and took a week off work without pay for worlds It will be a couple more weeks before I buy the parts needed for this years build. Once we have it done we will know if it was a waste of time.

The idea he came up with should work very well and with little effort. The biggest challenge was designing other parts of the robot so they would work well and leave the resources needed for the descoring mechanism. I don’t know that we will do a reveal, but I can tell you we plan on doing at least 12 competitions this year so it should be visible somewhere on youtube early in the season. If it does work as it should I expect you will see it copied, otherwise it will at least set a bad example LOL.

End Game:

  • Hang with a large ball
  • OR -
  • Be a very effective defensive bot with good drivers!

Mid Game:

  • Score in the goals quickly and effectively
  • OR -
  • Be very very good at impeding the actions of the other team
  • OR -
  • If descoring is allowed (from the goals), do that.


  • Set the stage, grab some objects, score something, etc. Basically just win those 10 points.

For college, autonomous is a different story. With 60 seconds on the clock, it’s GOING to matter this year. Like if you don’t use it, you’re screwed. I’ll make sure of it.


I’m not really sure how any college team can ever win if they don’t use the 60 sec autonomous. If you don’t, you’re losing already and you only have 60 seconds to catch up. Also, I’m thinking: Autonomous - Score in the goals.

Side note: You can’t touch opponents that are hanging in the last 30s, but you can just park under their hanging bar so they can never touch it

How useful is a wallbot that bisects the field if they can just launch objects over anyways? I’m sure someone will have a catapult, and even a Gateway bot could just dump over top of the wall

I agree that stashing is absolutely pivotal. Not only would 10 buckyballs stashed be worth more than all of their buckyballs and beach balls combined in the end zone, but it also means that they can’t score in there themselves. It’s like the Gateway goal space problem (there are only so many places you can score, and if they’re filled, you can’t score any more points).

I’m not yet convinced Toss Up is going to be a better game than Round Up, although that may change as we see the season progress. Round Up bought an impressive amount of gameplay depth for a minimum of complexity (tubes, 2 types of goals, and a ladder), whereas Toss Up has 2 types of balls, the bump, bridge thingy, goals, and a hanging bar. A few game elements should have a large number of possible and perhaps unexpected interactions.
For the record, we herded our opponents in a pincer maneuver, ensuring that we would always descore and replace their tubes, and trapping them in a corner without access to any of our goals.