Why losing autonomous might win you the game

Here are my thoughts on a unique autonomous strategy. In NBN there are 10 stacks of neutral balls worth 25 potential points each. Since autonomous is still only worth 10 points, I think that pushing 2 stacks of balls into your loading zone and losing autonomous is more beneficial than picking up one stack of balls and scoring them for an autonomous win. This is because the 2 stacks of balls have a potential value of 50 points while scoring one stack in the high goal and winning auton has a potential value of just 35 points.

It goes deeper than that. The relatively easy way to score fifty points in autonomous is to high elevate. But then the two teams have to unload while the other alliance is grabbing pyramids. You only need to get six pyramids, high elevate, and all driver control loads to mathematically win. Autonomous this year feels more like Gateway; it isn’t about the bonus, it’s about how much advantage you can get on the field. If it takes defensive play and a lost autonomous to control six pyramids, then that’s what it takes.

I agree. I think one strategy that would win autonomous most of the time would be a simple elevating strategy, but as you mentioned, it will only be worth 10 points in the end where two busy robots could potentially go get one to two stacks each secured to their zone. If they each get two stacks in the 15 seconds and the other team is not going after those points, at the beginning of human control, you will also be in a better position to gain control of more balls.

I totally agree that autonomous is best used for getting best positioned to score during human control.

Interesting idea… but it does depend on your and your opponents auton strategy. If you both are planning on scoring the balls instead of elevation then there is no purpose to intentionally losing the auton bonus.

I completely agree. Last year, the best autonomous, in my opinion, was building part of your skyrise and scoring more points. This year, I believe that being in a better position for the driver controlled period will be better. You could elevate your alliance for twenty-five or fifty points, but you can only use the elevation to count to your autonomous or the driver controlled period. And I do not think it is worth letting your opponents take control of the balls while you spend your autonomous elevating your partner. Even if you high elevated your partner for fifty points in autonomous, you only get ten points in the end instead of getting fifty for elevating at the end of the match.

More specifically, if you are referring to the example listed at the top, it would in fact come down to the drivers and quality of the machines because we have two pyramids controlled by one side but in their starting tiles as opposed to just one pyramid in the high goal but on the field and ready to play.

However, if both alliances are using autonomouses to try and control the balls, it may be more important to play defense so that your alliance partner can control whatever pyramids that are still on the field intact. You’d probably lose autonomous but gain control of the critical pyramid; the rest is just a battle to execute the winning strategy.

The strategy is not to lose just for the sake of losing. It is to use the 15 seconds to claim as many stacks as possible, even if this results in an auton loss, and pushing them into your loading zone is the fastest way to do this.

I think a much better auton strategy is to unload your preloads for 20 points, and then grab a stack and shoot it for 25, then finish of with a positioning maneuver

Ideally with this you would want to be able to score without moving from the starting tile. That way you wouldn’t waste any time and could immediately move on to the stack in front of you.

This is not a bad idea, but if you are going up against an alliance where both teams are focused on getting as many balls as possible back to their area, the other alliance will likely win if everything else is equal.

In the time it takes you to score your pre-loads, an opponent can control 4 balls including a bonus ball. While you are getting a stack and shooting it, an opposing robot can gain control of 2 stacks of balls.

If both of the other bots are working on this strategy, they will already control 6 of the 10 stacks and your alliance would have 2 of the remaining 4 stacks. The odds are, the other alliance will get at least one more stack in the driver control.

Now the other team has 4 more bonus balls and 12 more regular balls than your alliance. That is enough that they could potentially score more points that you can make up with high elevation assuming they cannot elevate.

Of course these scenarios assume that everything goes well for all four teams, but it is clear that concentrating on controlling the scoring objects could be the most important strategy for this game.

This is a good strategy if you are trying to win the auton bonus, but if you and your partner do this and the other team “captures” 4 stacks you may be winning on the scoreboard at the end of autonomous, but you will not have as many potential points for the rest of the match.

And now that alliance has to score, assuming identical partner robots and performance, 16 extra balls into the goals. That is of course for a perfect run. We are more likely to see at most half of those go in, but that is still a 25 point lead you have to make up.

Take the 2015 FRC game. it was predicted from the start that teams that took the green cans from the center would automagically win, simply due to the massive scoring potential they held.

Teams each built massive contraptions to attach themselves to the cans as quickly as possible in the autonomous period. We’re talking sub 200 ms times from autonomous begins to the robot has its fingers in the cans. One of the more famous teams even made a harpoon!

It was found, however, early in the regional, that having posession of the cans was evidently not enough. You have to, after all, score them to actually get any points.

here is a match ON THE EINSTEIN FIELD. These are the best of the best. Notice how in these matches, one team might “win the can war” but the other team puts up an almost identical score.

In fact, during the majority of the competition, especially qualification matches, the cans weren’t even touched. It was only in the finals of regional competitions that the cans were in any way contested, and only in championship eliminations that the “can war” began to matter.

It is the same this year. Even though control of the game pieces is important, being able to score them is more important. A hoarding strategy only makes sense if you expect the field to be cleared early, and your opponents to ENTIRELY run out of driver loads.

tl;dr focus on scoring points, and you will score more points than the other alliance, hoarded balls or not.

the thing I see with this is that you would then be able to play defence, as I see it, yes the enemy would have an advantage,if everything was equal, but it is not, you start out with 55 more points, at the start, now , you can score all the remaining balls and then play defence

keep in mind those 6 stacks are in the other team’s loading zone so they could launch all of the stacks from there and you couldn’t defend them at all.

But what about teams that can store pyramids during autonomous than your plan of hogging them won’t work cause the points they score I auto will carry over into driver controlled.

I am assuming that by store you mean score in the high goal. Those teams will be winning straight out of auton by about 35 points, which sounds nice, but in the time it takes during auton to pick up 1 stack and score it you can push 2 stacks into your loading zone which allows you to outscore the other team in driver control (because having 1 extra stacks in a 50 point swing).

I think your underestimating how efficient some robots will be. I think it would clearly take longer to

  1. Drive behind stack of balls
  2. Push balls back to loading zone
  3. Drive back to next stack of balls
  4. Push those balls back to loading zone

All the while, no points have been scored. As opposed to:

  1. Drive up to and intake balls (intaking will take nearly no time, think of sack attack)
  2. Shoot balls

Now you are way ahead. You have a whole stack scored, and the auton bonus. While your partner has 8 balls in his corner but still has to intake and score them once the match starts…while you are driving around scoring more points as well.

Seems clear to me that it is better to just score the balls (if your robot is good enough to do it of course)

In the the earlier competitions, if you start out the driver period with a lead and both alliances are equal you will probably win because not all the balls will be scored at the end. However, in later competitions even if one team is winning at the beginning, if that team only has 4 stacks scored and the other team has 6 stacks scored the team with 4 stacks will lose.

I can see where you’re coming from here, but your initial argument has a couple of issues:

  1. You were suggesting that scoring all objects was a simple task, in which case controlling two pyramids rather than scoring one is an advantage. It should be easy to score those two ‘claimed’ stacks in driver control, by the same reasoning as saying that scoring one stack in auton should be easy.

  2. You assume that once those balls are hoarded, they are going to be the first thing the alliance scores, however if their strategy is any good, they will leave their hoarded and safe balls to score at a later point alongside driver loads, while they match their opponents at collecting (and scoring) the remaining pyramids on the field. This leaves them in the end with a clean field, but 6 stacks to 4 assuming equal speed, and time spare.

However, I agree with your reasoning in a different way. I can conceivably see it being just as easy for a good team to score two pyramids in auto as it is for teams to hoard two, in which case it IS an advantage to try win auto.

  1. Drive up to and intake balls (intaking will take nearly no time, think of sack attack)
  2. Shoot balls
  3. Drive up to and intake balls (intaking will take nearly no time, think of sack attack)
  4. Shoot balls
    sounds to me to be equally plausible as hoarding 2 stacks, requiring (most likely) more accurate driving as the stacks need to be pushed precisely and not collected by a wide catchment intake designed for that task.

Just my two cents worth.

This is a perfectly good way to think if you want to win local competitions. If that’s the case, then it’s good to think in terms of “what will be the immediate impact of this action on my alliance’s score?”.

If you want to win Worlds, you need to think in terms of “how will this action influence my alliance’s *maximum *score for this match, relative to our opponent’s maximum score?”. Then you need to be able to follow through and actually hit that maximum - which is why this kind of strategy is likely to only be relevant at the highest level. In this context, hoarding 8 balls is more advantageous than scoring 4 and winning the autonomous bonus.

But of course, it’s a long time until Worlds and there are a lot of local tournaments to be won between now and then.