Kickoff and Game Thoughts

Wow! Kickoff was crazy as always. After the obligatory sponsor messages and Gracious Professionalism skit, we finally got to see the Power Up! game proper.

After the reveal (which was more confusing than previous years) we piled into cars and headed back to the lab to get to work. Thanks to Joel for putting together a quick rule quiz that got everyone up to date, which contained some game-critical info not present in the reveal trailer. We then split into groups of around 6, each led by a member of leadership, and started talking strategy. After a lunch break, we put together a crude "mock game" with freshmen and co. standing in for robots. This was a surprisingly useful way to gauge what strategies worked most efficiently without making our programming army slave for days making a crude simulation. People started to leave around 4.

The strategy (micro and macro) revolved around a couple of key ideas.
1) Plates are the deciding factor of most matches. Because each alliance gets such a ridiculous head start and access to the power cubes for their own switch, and because occupying an enemies switch does not grant the opposing alliance points, access to the switches is basically a given, so the real fight happens on the plates.
2) We are playing to win tournaments and not necessarily playing to win matches. Most of us agreed a strategy that got us as far as a low ranking alliance leader was worse than getting picked 2nd by a top tier alliance. I honestly don't know how to feel about this, for a couple reasons. The spirit of GP would not find playing at anything less than the best of our ability to be permissible, as it decreases our incentive for innovation and thus promoting science. However, going to Champs would be awesome, and four, the situation and rules happen to be structured in a way where this is likely the best option competitively. We will see how this breaks down.

In terms of the game proper, its really interesting for a couple of reasons.
1) Its streamlined. There is only one scoring element on the field (power cubes) but they can do a interesting variety of things, like power power-ups and score or block points in multiple ways.
2) Its not robot basketball. That's cool because we were all sick of seeing the game revolving around throwing balls in various goals and then ignoring them because other methods of scoring were easier and more effective.
3) Climbing might have hit a good sweet spot for difficulty. In Stronghold! climbing was so hard no one but the topest tier teams did it, and even then, only sometimes. In Steamworks! climbing was so easy everyone but the worst teams did it pretty well. Now, its accessible but only to a few, because of the high height and the limited space for multiple bots, along with a relatively cheap levitation power up. It will be interesting to see if robot on robot climbing really pans out, among other things.

Thanks to the Harker allumni who showed up to help and shoot the wind today.

That's all from me. I'm sure Mech will have their own thoughts, so read that as well. Cheers!

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