VEX Toss Up Strategy Discussion

It seems this year a main focus will be on having a high-speed robot that can quickly and efficiently score the stash goals. While robots with the ability to descore the stash goals are legal, I imagine they will be few and far between, at least in the early season. So being able to stash your objects in the stash goals before the other alliance will be key because if you do, you deny them a large amount of points, which they will have to make up with either a large amount of scoring in the goal zone or hanging, or a combination of both.

 So as far as strategy goes this year, the main strategy that I can image many teams going for goes as follows:

*]Having a quick autonomous, knocking some large balls in the goal zone, or possibly scoring Bucky Balls in the stash goals.
*]Quickly gathering up their color Bucky Balls and scoring them in the stash goals.
*]Playing mad defense by hoarding (up to a max of 3) of the other alliances’ Bucky Balls and putting them in the hanging zone.
*]For the end game, either scoring the large balls on the stash goals, or hanging.

Any thoughts on this, or strategies of your own you imagine developing in Toss Up?

Sounds good so far. I would say that “capping” the goals will not be happening that much because teams will fill up the stash until it is overflowing.

I don’t see hanging as key right now in a match. In Driver/Programming I do.

Since hanging counts in autonomous, and the autonomous bonus is so significant, I can see hanging being a pretty big part of the game. I have a few ideas for hanging, but they’re either one way things or sacrifice other subsystems.

As stated by Complexity below, hanging could be used by some robots since it counts towards autonomous. Whether or not it will be a common tactic however, probably not. You do make a good point with overflowing of the stash goals though.

Yes, hanging is a very difficult ability to build into a Vex robot, and I expect few teams will get it 100% right without sacrificing the ability to do something else in the game. Still, it is worth a considerable amount of points considering how low-scoring of a game Toss-Up is.

i could see some disruptive play by placing bucky balls on the barrier. Teams with scoops, top rollers, and linear lifts will probably have issues removing those balls if they were built like past years.

also, to counter hanging, i could see teams placing a large ball in the corner and storing 3 bucky balls of their opposing alliance in their intake system. including the size of the large ball, and the volume of the robot, teams will need super long hanging systems just to try and score. Though i’m aware of a dq risk for a team who executes this strategy, most hanging systems can be nullified through something like this

I can also see de-scoring facilitated around endgame because a large number of large balls will start pouring in

Another tactic that may be considered is rolling bucky balls, rather than shooting them. it may be a way to quickly pass objects, kind of like using the pass off system in gateway

another thing to consider when hanging vs stashing large balls, your robot becomes a column goal when you hang. Whether it’s worth the additional 5 to 10 points can depend on your hanging system. But by combining this with storing 2 of your opponent’s bucky balls in your intake, your 15- 20 points can easily turn to 21 to 26 net points. With your ally wrecking your opponent’s trying to stash, you may get an edge. But of course engineering difficulty should be considered. whether it’s easier to develop a system to hang, or a system to protect your large balls, we’ll only see

Another thing i’m curious about is whether 2 robots can hang at the same time.

As long as the balls aren’t shoved in the corner in the last 30 seconds, I don’t think there is a risk of DQ. As far as two robots from the same alliance hanging, I believe only one is worth any points. I’m pretty sure Karthik clarified it in a thread, but I can’t be bothered to hunt it down. :smiley:

Pretty sure that is to do with one large ball only counting towards high hanging with a ball for one robot, not only 1 robot counting. If you can fit 2 robots on that bar…

This is correct. Even the scoring app allows for 4 robots to be hanging.

Well you’re allowed to possess any number of large balls, so hoarding 4 of those and 3 of their buckyballs works…

Also, consider controlling the buckyball’s position on the field without possessing more than 3 at a time. Take 3 of your balls out of a busy area and stash them in a corner while you try scoring another 3. Then it’s less likely that opponents will go all the way over to hoard them.

If a team can knock a large ball off the barrier and score in the goals, would it be unlikely that they can’t pick their buckyballs off the bridge if you put them there? Still, it’s a good way to descore without carrying them all the way back to the hanging zone.

I’m seeing some good “tactics” ideas in this thread. But because this is a thread about “strategy”, I would like to encourage contributors to do the extra work to move from discussing disjoint scoring methods and circumstances to fleshing out true strategies. Your teams, your allies and judges perception of your team will all benefit if you do it.

A true play-an-entire-match strategy has to be able to answer the “How will we respond” question in all situations you expect to encounter.

Some examples are:

  • How will we respond when our opponent is faster than us at putting buckyballs into the hexagonal/cylindrical goals?
  • How will we respond if we are behind by X points when there are 30 seconds left in the match?
  • How will we respond if both we and our ally need to hang in to be effective?
  • How will we respond if we are far ahead after 60 seconds into the match?
  • How will we respond if our ally is squarebot with a plow?
  • How will we respond if our ally is absent or doesn’t move?
  • How will we respond if an opponent is dedicated to defending defending/harassing us for the entire match?
  • Etc.
    Until you follow all of these sorts of branches in the tree of possible match situations/events, you don’t really have a strategy (or you only have a trivial one) that can/will guide your actions as the match unfolds.

You might have some good thoughts (and some thinking is certainly better than showing up with none, and playing every match by the seat of your pants); but you won’t have a true and complete (and really valuable!) strategy yet.

A good mental image for what you want to create is that of a (USA) football (or baseball) coach holding a game strategy outline on the sidelines during a game. For every important situation that coach expects to face during the game, they will have a set of plays listed that their team on the field has practiced; and they will choose one from that list to send into the huddle.

An example would be

  • When its 4th and long inside the opponents 30, kick a field goal.
  • When 3rd and goal, but outside the 5, and the other team has their pass defense in, run and option to the side opposite player X.
  • If you receive the ball with less than 2 minutes to go in the first half, and are ahead, just run out the clock.
  • etc.

A football team won’t succeed if they say “Our strategy is to run the ball and play tough defense.” Those are good things, and are the beginnings of a strategy, but they aren’t a strategy yet; and a football team needs a start-to-finish-of-the-game, complete strategy.

When a football team, or a VRC team, does have a cohesive plan that answers the important questions about what they are going to do in all of the situations they to will see in their games/matches; then they have a strategy.

And, like I said above, when a VRC team has a true strategy, they, their allies, and the impression they will make on the judges, will all benefit.

So, continue this good tactics discussion, but don’t stop here. Use what is here to help create your actual strategies.


That’s certainly true and is worth thinking about. You don’t want to be caught off guard. Having said that, make sure you also plan strategies that ask “How will we act that forces them to respond?” Be proactive. Force them to react to you.

I apologize for reverting back to my chess mindset. After all, chess, another scenario, is built off your tactics, not your overall strategy. Maybe i should of stayed a few more hours up to consolidate my thoughts better. After all, chess isn’t a real time strategy game

the dq risk i see, is intentionally getting between your opponent and the hanging bar. Because our scenario is so vague (we dont know how our opponent functions), there’s the possibility that as a robot which got between the hanging bar and a hanging robot before they contacted the hanging bar, you intentionally placed yourself to get caught by a penalty. However, the idea behind this was that it’s very difficult to get penalized. Because the large ball is back their and your robot acts as a second line of defense, your opposing robot probably wont be designed to accommodate for the difference.

the reason why i have difficulty seeing this is because of magnitude. if you can hoard 4 balls, your robot is probably close to 5, 6 feet long. If you have the materials and time to make that, you might as well go the extra mile for a wallbot hand of god system which blocks off all the column goals and uses a hand of god system to score on the columns. Because theoretically no one can access the area, as long as the robot has the precision to score a bucky ball every 12 seconds, you should be fine. Like any wall bot, you’ll run into material and strength issues.

the way i envisioned it, i would de-score from the goal zone in endgame. Another thing i envision is that the most crowded place will be the hanging zone in endgame (because thats where a majority of the points are). because of this, if we move our bucky balls to the least crowded area, which is the hanging zone(i believe). If we do that, we lose points and technicaly de-score ourselves. So really, do dont think it’s a strategy you can defend against, unless you form a wall around your pieces. I’m not completely sure sure though, but i think it might be possible to force a penalty by dumping a ball on an expanded robot. I need to recheck the rules though

I believe this is a different scenario. First off, a large ball is cupped by the column goals by like 2 inches, 2 inches of their 16.5 is covered. On the other hand, a bucky ball is also covered by about 2 inches, 2 inches of their 5 inches. Because the buckys are almost half way covered, rollers/conveyorbelts that are completely vertical would have to fight the bump. Especially since many rollers are geared for speed, some difficulty would occur. if teams used those conveyor belt robots seen in elevation, because their intake will push the balls at an angle, i can see difficulty aligning, and also the possiblity that the lift is just pushing the edge of the ball. Another difficulty is lack of practice. Teams who never saw this strategy coming will need to learn how to maintain the height of their arm system and carefully pick up a ball on the spot. If the angle they push at happens to be rounded, there’s also the possibility that balls merely roll to the left or to the right, rather than off the goals. Linear lifts and scissor lifts may have issues pushing the balls because the barrier is 6 inches wide. Balls will then have about a .5 inch guard from the barrier and needs an additional 2.5 inch push to actually get the balls’s center of gravity off the barrier and fall. Another reason why i think this could be troublesome is cause of gateway. Though i’ve never tested this with these gamepieces, it might be possible to wedge pieces in the structure. If it’s possible to over squeeze the balls then maybe this would counter the strategy, cause it would take less time to take out the pieces than place them on.

please excuse my fragmented language, i was distracted while writing this.:o

My mistake then, I must of been thinking regarding two large balls on one robot.

The strategy I see working would one that controls the flow of objects. Because of the object capacity limit and the ground being a scoring area this strategy would be very applicable. The robots that execute this strategy would be able to get there balls to one end and the opponents to the other the most efficiently which means most of the time the fastest but I also think where they are placed could also factor such as scoring them in the towers or being them to be hung with. To me it is all about the movement of the objects where you pick to hinder the movement or create an increase in movement at various times in the match such as when protecting or removing from scoring areas.

Here we go…

Exactly. If you dominate the stashed balls, I doubt the other alliance will have any sort of chance to come back. The points that they will have dropped behind will be almost irrecoverable, that is aside from descoring.

Autonomous for sure is super valuable. 10 bonus points at the start of the match will most likely be a huge percentage of the average winning score.

It’s going to be interesting to see how effectively teams can score large balls on the stash goal, due to the fact that it could be knocked off if left unattended easily.

It’s not a bad thing to sacrifice things in a lesser subsystem for a better one.

Well said. The key thing this year is stashing those goals. If you manage to completely own them and score all 10 of your small balls, you are up 50 pts. That means your opponents need to double high hand with double balls, AND win auton to tie you…

Though this is mainly intuitive, this is how i see a majority of efficiency strategies will be played, though i believe there are a few tricks which can add depth within this strategy.

-push in the large balls and dump the bucky ball into the goal zone, set up robot to grab the bucky balls
-grab balls close to the hanging structure and project it to the goal zone

Driver control
Early Game
-Quickly grab the buckies on the bump.
-Quickly score 2 in one column
-Score the remaining bucky in the second column
-Quickly grab your preload bucky and score in the column goal with only 1 bucky

Analysis- Autonomous earns you a solid and easy edge. More experienced teams will probably attempt to grab the bucky balls in autonomous and score in a column, however this will be quite difficult early on. By dumping a bucky ball, not only do you gain a bit of tempo for the end of early game, but you also earn a bit of points in autonomous. By preparing to grab the bucky balls, you avoid complicating future scenarios.
By scoring 2 balls in each column, you create the chance to de-score any of your opponent’s balls which are on top of your own balls. Additionally, by choosing to score your leftover ball,rather than being greedy and grabbing the autonomous and grabbed ball, you can at least gain a slight 5 point edge assuming you can de-score

Mid Game
-Either drive to the other side of the field, or have your ally project balls (via shooting, rolling, etc.) To your side of the field to quickly score buckies.
-De-score large balls would then occur
-Once a good amount of bucky balls are scored, i could see a combination of de-scoring occuring and combo’d with bucky locking by placing buckies in the barrier

Analysis- Launching balls, should be faster than scoring by driving. Also, it should require less driver skill. By choosing to de-score large balls first before scoring buckies, i could see opponents quickly stashing and wasting their time. If opponents choose to stash and just cap the goal, they’ll lose any advantage they’ve gained through de-scored large balls. Additionally, since a majority of robots will not be wall bots, it’s highly likely that one goal is unprotected, which you can either score yourself or quickly de-score. Another nice thing about this, is that once you de-score/score you’ll naturally travel towards the barrier, where robots will attempt re-scoring their large balls. Because of this, conflict will occur and it’ll make it very difficult for either side to complete their corresponding task. However, because you’re the one with the de-scored balls, you have the lead

If large balls are attempted, i could see vigourous defense occur. However if hanging is attempted, then i see straight up offensive gameplay. Personally, i feel like the team who can hang will have the slight advantage.

In a 2vs2 scenario, assuming one team low hangs with a large ball for 15 points, your opponent must counter somehow. Usually, this can be done with stashing with a large ball. However, if the alliance partner simply caps or plays defense on a team trying to stash, i believe at least one of the stashed balls will be supported by a robot, or fall. With this event, the hanging robot would have a 5 point edge. Another issue is preventing a team from hanging. Unless both members are trying to hang, a robot will be forced to block the move by a hanging robot. Because of this, the hanging robot has complete control over the opposing robot and can thus weave around the field and do other postive work for their alliance

A few other tactics such as storing your opponent’s bucky balls within your robot can create larger variables, but either way, things should cancel out because both teams can attempt this strategy.

I’ll probably post a more sophisticated strategy later on. This should stimulate some thoughts though

After watching some of the REX competitions a great TROLL tactic would to position your big balls under neath the double barrier so they are slightly over to be counted in the Goal Zone and create a wall once you and your alliance get to the Goal Zone…

As long as you have all your Bucky Balls and you are blocking the robots from coming in you may have a great way to barracade your robot as well as barracading your chances for a high score :wink:

Sounds highly illegal

LOL you read my mind :wink:
how is it illegal?
just push them slightly under (it happens in all matches, look at youtube)
and block the remaining gap with your own alliance :stuck_out_tongue:

You risk field damage pushing them under… QA time :smiley: