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Rules | Proposals, Comments, and a Desire for Change

Rules | Proposals, Comments, and a Desire for Change

With this update I'm mostly looking for feedback on:

  • Mobility criteria
  • How to handle unsticks
  • Clarifying the judging criteria for aggression
  • Expanding on the judging criteria for control

Update 2022-04-24: incorporation of comments and feedback. Comments are color coded and textually indicated as supporting, suggesting/expanding, or dissenting. I've color coded all of the edits except for typos. Thank you to everyone who has participated in this exercise so far. This document will persist for the next week and then I'll be diving into the more supported or complicated areas with focused write ups. 

This blog is an ongoing project. I’m seeking challenges and additions to the ideas proposed here. Some of them have had a lot of input from builders and fans, some haven’t seen the same rigorous evaluation. The objective is to encourage an organized, public discussion about rules: their intent, verbiage, and enforcement. I’m going to try to take feedback both supporting and opposing the ideas included here.

The ideas proposed here are not entirely mine, I’ve just collected them and tried to present them as completely as I can. To be clear, this means that I am the filter for the information contained here. 


Links to official rules for reference:

Tournament Rules: https://battlebots.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/BattleBots-Tournament-Rules-Rev.2021.1.1.pdf

Judges Guide: https://battlebots.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Judges-Guide-Rev.2021.0.pdf

Design Rules: https://battlebots.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/BattleBots-Design-Rules-Rev.2021.0.pdf


THIS IS NOT OFFICIAL INFORMATION ALL OFFICIAL BATTLEBOTS RULES AND GUIDES CAN BE FOUND ON THEIR SITE: https://battlebots.com/rules/

 

UNSTICKS - GENERAL

The objectives of unsticks are to keep fights from ending prematurely due to a failure of the arena. The floor isn’t flat, never has been, probably never will be. BattleBots has always been very forward with this information, at no point have they told us the floor would be this uniform plane we could skate across with razorblades. The two camps of unsticks are broadly “unstick everything” and “unstick nothing.” Even “unstick everything” has to come with some caveats. The definition of stuck and how fast the determination of whether a robot is stuck can massively affect the outcome of a match. I haven’t encountered any support for increasing the level of subjectivity, so justifying keeping 

The current unstick rules are overly complicated. I’m not going to spend the time going through them because they’re just too specific, with too many conditionals and caveats. Unsticks take too long and therefore are expensive for the production. They’re also pretty dangerous. The popular consensus seems to be to eliminate all arena unsticks. There’s pretty broad support to continue to unstick/detangle robots that are stuck to each other. 

Expanding:
A recurring suggestion has been that along with clarifying and probably minimizing unsticks, the arena should be fixed/improved to prevent more of these unsticks. The main items of concern are:
  1. Affix the shelf barrier (spike wall) to the floor. For the unaware, the shelf is kinda floating in the arena, it isn't bolted down all the way around the way the rest of the wall is. 
  2. Fix the floor in general.
  3. Remove or narrow the Kill Saw slots.
  4. Remove the Ramrods (aka whack-a-moles or floor pistons).

 

PAUSE A FIGHT

(During fight nights) If both captains, both refs, and an arena safety representative agree that a robot is stuck or that both robots are stuck, the match can be paused. Recommendation is to accompany this with visual and audio cues as described later. 
Alex Grant

 

UNSTICKS LEAD TO JD DURING FIGHT NIGHTS

The variance I've been chewing on is if one robot gets stuck (enough that a count down starts), and its opponent frees it to continue the match, the freeing robot should be able to lock in all 3 aggression points if it goes to a JD. The logic is to incentivize unsticking robots to keep fights going. The reason I say to lock in aggression is it is the force multiplier score. Teams score aggression alongside control and damage. By locking in aggression, the other robot now has to win by a majority of control and damage. Its a steep hill to climb when 3 of the 11 points are inaccessible. The catch on the other end is I think if a fight ends due to one robot being stuck/high centered/etc, the call should be for a TKO, and that goes to the judges. My justification is the fight has ended due to the fight being unable to continue, not because one robot is unable to continue. Its a pretty thin distinction between incapacitated and inoperable, but one that could be considered by the Selection Committee. 

The Selection Committee may favorably view a robot’s performance in a fight they lost so much so that it might as well be considered a win. I think this simplifies the passive communication of how the Selection Committee is making decisions to the audience. I think it would lead to better outcomes in situations where a robot that was clearly winning a fight is suddenly stuck. Its opponent now has the choice to either engage (with essentially a free hit) or test its luck with the judges. Engaging is mostly good for the show, but with the aggression points locked in and a likely advantage in control since the other robot has gotten stuck. From the judges guide:

Q: How does a Bot getting stuck to the Arena reflect on Control? 
A: Bots can become stuck to hazards or other parts of the Arena in many ways. If a Bot gets stuck due to its own action, it was probably due to poor Control. If the Bot got stuck due to the actions of its opponent, that may demonstrate superior Control by the opponent. If the Bot subsequently frees itself, the Control factor would depend upon what actions it used to get unstuck.

I think this leads to a combination of conditions where a robot that was losing a fight can re-engage its stuck opponent with a minimum of 5 points. Simply holding onto 1 damage point would secure their victory. 

Dissenting:
Three points for unsticks (and the subjectivity of “what is an unstick”) does not pass the intuitiveness test at all. [...] More subjectivity, more arguing, more problems.
Jonathan Shultz

Expanding:
Aggression points for unsticks is something which has been a popular idea among judges in the UK and something we kind of casually do already (since our system is loose enough for us to do that).The TKO idea, meanwhile, seems like a potential penalty to control bots which might be looking to get an opponent stuck/stacked as a route to a KO. Granted this is an edge case, but it could be an edge case which decides fights.

Ryan Bratley

Expanding:
There's been concerns raised that this creates a lot of room for further subjectivity. How does an official observer (driver, ref, judge) determine whether a robot is stuck or dead? Do we have to wait until after it's been hit? There's a possibility a robot was stuck, but in trying to free it, the opponent fully KOs it. Maybe hitting a robot during a TKO count converts it to a KO count? I've found some support for the idea that a stuck robot should lead to a JD, but have yet to solve the subjectivity this introduces. I wouldn't suggest implementing it until the procedure for determining what counts as stuck is well codifying.

 

MOVEMENT/MIMIMUM MOBILITY RULES

Current movement rules are fairly vague and leave the decision to start a count out up to an individual referee. The current rules allow a robot to bait a count out by forcing their opponent to try to drive around and demonstrate they’re just barely clearing or not clearing the movement criteria. 

There are three simple criteria that have been proposed:

  1. Robot is moving at all
  2. Robot has to move out of its circumference
  3. Robot has to move at least one floor panel (4 feet) per a 10 count

Options 2 and 3 could be improved by a laser-drawn circle showing the area a robot must escape within a 10 count to avoid a KO count.

Expanding:
I have yet to find support for option 1.
Options 2 and 3 are about equally supported and both seem to pass the intuitiveness test.

The laser to sketch the movement bounds is well liked, but creates a logistical issue since someone will need to be sitting in the control booth to do that job and just that job.

 

PROPOSED CHANGES TO JUDGING CRITERIA

I believe the current judging criteria is written to reward the team that got closer to a Knock Out. Damage is the prevailing criteria because it is the most likely category that would lead to a KO. Damage is also the prevailing criteria because it has the closest ties to what makes a fight exciting. Control can be exciting, but the robots are there to battle, not dance. Capoeira is cool, but it should be pretty clear why we don’t see its practitioners in MMA.

Part of my guidance for changing the judging criteria is to more solidly prevent "surviving" from continuing to be a viable path to victory. Highly defensive robots have demonstrated an inability to deliver exciting fights and have to be matched up with high energy spinners to create a watchable fight. Simply taking a beating until the other robot burns out their weapon shouldn't be rewarded as a primary fight strategy. I would like to see an end to "break your fist on my face" as a primary fight strategy. This can be partially tackled by the selection committee when considering which robots they're accepting to the show. It can also be more visibly solved by changing the judging criteria to diminish the damage-resultant components in the aggression and control. 

Some stats about the current Judging Criteria: There are 3 pages on Damage (1472 words), about 1.5 on Aggression (663 words), and a little less than 1.5 on Control (562 words). 

The following sections are meant to be taken independently, but can be considered in any combination except for where they are clearly not compatible.

INTRODUCTION OF “WEAPON USE” CRITERIA

The intent here is to separate the active use of a weapon from the effects of that weapon. 

3 damage is damage is damage
2 weapon use (contact, even glancing blows)
3 aggression (engagement)
3 control 

This takes back the middle damage point for hammers and maybe flippers. Use case is if a hammer fires 60 times and makes contact on the majority of the attempts, while a spinner makes contact like 5, the flipper should get the majority of the 5 points allocated for damage and active weapon use. The fight might get scored something like

Damage

Weapon Use

Aggression

Control

Totals

Spinner

2

0

1

2

5

Hammer

1

2

2

1

6

The overarching intent is spinners should probably lose JD’s more often. Weapons with KO power should be winning by KO and we should actively level the scoring to improve the chances of weapons with less or very little KO power.

The shift from current aggression to engagement aggression is expanded on next. Briefly, the intent is to decouple weapon use from aggression so it isn’t as tightly tied to the damage score.

Suggestion/Expansion:
I have seen criteria that fully replace “damage” with “effectiveness”. Then include notes for common bot types: spinner – effectiveness means essentially a KO; lifter – effectiveness means lots of lifting/suplexes and active controlling of an opponent; and so on. It may be more intuitive than “weapon use” scoring. Easier to explain to audience.

Jonathan Shultz 

Supporting:
Judging: Weapon use is an idea I’ve been playing with as an alternative to damage, but I never considered doing both – its a great idea! We too were driven by the idea that spinners should probably be more on the back foot in a JD, but in testing a few of us have found that pure weapon use skews too far towards non-spinners: this feels much more balanced.
Ryan Bratley

 

AGGRESSION

Aggression is too closely tied into Damage and Control. As the rules currently are with the three categories, Aggression works as a force multiplier, typically following Damage. Getting the majority of the Damage points just about guarantees a majority of Aggression points. Reasonably, the majority of control will follow as well. This doesn’t really represent what I feel the intent of aggression should be. 


From the Judges Guide:
"The "Aggression" of a BattleBot is judged based on the frequency, severity and boldness of attacks deliberately initiated by the BattleBot against its opponent."

Frequency: The number of attempted attacks during the Match. If the opponent Bot moves to avoid an attack, that should still count as an attempt.

Severity: The intensity or forcefulness of each attack. Is the Bot being used with full effectiveness against its opponent, or just making love-taps?

Boldness: What is the apparent intent of the Bot? Is it intentionally attacking in such a way that it risks damage to itself (such as using a weapon that could be damaged) or is it simply hitting the other Bot with an armored wedge that’s far less likely to be damaged? 

It’s extremely important to keep in mind that each of these measures is by perception; the judges can’t read the minds of the drivers, nor are they experts in each driver’s specific style. 

Maybe that is a reasonable expansion of Bot Whisperer responsibilities. Chris and Kenny are given a binder talking about each captain and robot. Think of it as the first paragraph of a wikipedia article on a team. That binder is focused on the human and high-level aspects of a captain, robot, and team. Perhaps a similar binder could be created for the judges explaining the armor, functions, and configurations of each robot. To save the Whisperer time and effort, each team would submit a 1 page report with some pictures. It would be critical to highlight ablative and aesthetic features of each robot so damage to those components wouldn’t be scored as full or primary damage. 

I propose editing the definitions as follows:

Frequency: The number of attempted attacks during the Match. The sheer number of attacks is less important that the persistence of a series of attacks. If the opponent Bot moves to avoid an attack, that should still count as an attempt.

Severity: The intensity or forcefulness of each attack engagement. Is the Bot being used with full effectiveness against its opponent, or just making love-taps? The magnitude of the effect of the attack shouldn’t be considered, only the offensive commitment of the attack. 

Boldness: What is the apparent intent of the Bot? Is it intentionally attacking in such a way that it risks damage to itself (such as using a weapon that could be damaged) or is it simply hitting the other Bot with an armored wedge that’s far less likely to be damaged? The critical component to boldness is the risk involved in making an attack. A robot using an armored plow to engage with its opponent’s weapon is a low-risk maneuver, but that doesn’t mean the points for the engagement should be automatically given to its opponent. Once a robot’s weapon has been disabled, its non-use should not count against its aggression score.

The definition of boldness is the one I struggle with most. There’s a concept builders call the “spinner toll” (or tax) that many non-spinners feel they have to pay when fighting spinners. Essentially, they’ll go into a fight with the knowledge that their weapon is going to get torn off, tangled, or otherwise rendered inoperable. Sometimes the tactical decision is made to write off their damage score in order to not suffer aggression penalties for keeping their weapon tucked back or away. Teams willing feed their lifter or hammer into the spinner so they can spend the rest of the fight as a brick or wedge without penalty. From a vague justice standpoint, I’m somewhat ok with this, but it doesn’t really make sense. I’m biased as a spinner builder, but I’ve always felt many of the non-spinners simply don’t put enough weight or power into their offensive tools. 

I think aggression should be refocused to reward initiating purposeful attacks more than simply following weapon use. If by halfway through a fight it is clear that one robot is simply slamming themselves into their opponent’s weapon in the hopes that their opponent’s weapon breaks, 

Sitting and spinning is a reactive fight strategy. Since its following the pace set by the other robot, that strategy is inherently not aggressive.  

Supporting:
Note that sitting in place is not aggressive. It is controlling if you can maintain that place though, but you shouldn’t win 6 points for being a stationary wedgelet tank.
Jonathan Shultz

7-5-5 SCORING SYSTEM

A commonly proposed scoring system, and one I formerly supported, is 7-5-5. It creates a lot more granularity. The problem we have now is if two robots fight and one clearly wins, but the losing robot put up a fight, its reasonable to give the loser 1 point of aggression and control. Can’t really argue they flat out didn’t display aggression at any point. Here are the definitions that would apply to a robot scoring all 3 aggression points. 

Significant: Bot shows frequent demonstrations of boldness and/or intent by utilizing its active weapon and/or ramming to attack its opponent.

3-to-0 score: One Bot uses (or attempts to use) its primary weapon to make the majority of contacts during the Match, while the other Bot spends most or all of the Match attempting to avoid contact.

The robot scoring zero aggression would also have to meet the following condition:

Minimal: A Bot waits for its opponent to come to it, or else actively avoids contact with the opponent (except when resetting or spinning up its active weapon)

I think the flaw that the 7-5-5 scoring system solves is what to do in the case where one robot accounted for the majority of the contacts while it’s opponent is spending most of the match avoiding contact. The 5 points of aggression scoring can split those two cases out as the difference between a 4-1 score and a 5-0 score. 

The reason I no longer support this criteria system is I feel it creates too much complexity for the majority of fights. I’m not sure how to succinctly describe a 5-2 damage score that is distinctly different from what we currently have for a 4-1. We can’t afford to wait much longer than we already do for the judges to make a decision. Its important to remember they’re making these decisions on their own, there are some very limited ways in which they’re allowed to consult with each other, but they’re specifically barred from discussing their scores before they’re revealed publicly. They’re expected to hand over a decision within about 2 minutes. Thats not enough time to rewatch an entire match, much less do that and tightly evaluate each and every major engagement. 

 

New: ALTERNATIVE SCORING SYSTEMS

The following scoring systems have been proposed. Order is damage, aggression, control unless otherwise specified.

  1. 5-4-4
  2. 5-5-5
  3. 2 damage, 5 weapon use/effectivity, 5 aggression, 5 control

In all three cases the goal is to dilute the influence of damage over the final score. This is in line with the philosophical change I'm proposing where the Judging Criteria favors the robot that was more active. I'm still seeking dissenting input on this idea. I'd welcome an argument for why the robot that got closer to knocking out their opponent while being less active should win a fight that has gone the distance.

Scoring systems with even numbers enable the judges to split the points, effectively rewarding neither robot. I think this can be mitigated by changing the Judging Criteria to more easily allow for one robot to score all the points in a given category. The explanation of a 3-0 control score in the current Criteria is pretty close to this already.

A Bot that is consistently able to manage its interactions with the other bot either by landing attacks with its own weapon, preventing attacks from its opponents weapon, or moving their opponent into advantageous positions it should receive all 3 Control points.

The requirement that a bot prevents attacks from it's opponents is too narrow. I think changing it to "avoids taking functional damage from its opponent's weapon" would be a more achievable test. The defensive strategies of most robots still expose them to their opponent's weapon, but the control required to interact with their weapon while not taking functional damage is difficult enough to achieve that a 3-0 score might be reasonable. 

If this same logic is applied to 2-point categories, they might be usable. The problem is still that they're neutralized in close matches as opposed to 3 and 5 point categories that force the judges to make a decision.

 

MINIBOTS

Flame throwers
Starts fires, big explosions
  • Ban?
  • Limit fuel capacity?
LiPos
Fire risk, unnecessary?
  • Ban LiPos in minibots?

Minibot fires could be dealt with via shovel and a bucket instead of the extraction system.


POST FIGHT FUNCTIONALS

Every time a fight goes to the judges, there should be a brief period of time for teams to demonstrate the remaining functionality of their robots. The basic form should be returning to their starting squares and doing a weapon spin-up/dry fire. The judges need to be required and reminded to watch these post fight functional demonstrations. 

NEW:

TAP-OUTS

BattleBots does not currently have an official tap-out. The generally accepted tap out is to simply stop moving, take your fingers off the sticks or even put the whole transmitter down. There's some risk of an opponent coming in for one last hit if its opponent has decided to give up in the middle of an attack, but trying to dodge incoming damage at the last second via tap-out runs a similar risk except the attacking driver is made to look like a jerk. I think tap-outs are fine in small robots, but they just don't have a place on TV. I'm fully in support of the current system where if a robot stops moving, it simply gets counted out. This will be easier to manage when the covid wall is no longer between the drivers' booths bringing back inter-team communication.

ENGAGEMENT SHOT CLOCK

I'm paraphrasing and assembling this from a few sources. It hasn't been a popular idea but I've seen versions of a "engagement shot clock" show up a few times in the last week. I haven't seen much support for it, but I feel it should be addressed.

The principle of a shot clock in traditional sports is there's a timer running at all times that resets when an offensive attempt is made. If an offensive attempt is not made before the timer expires, a penalty is called on the offensive team. We don't have the functional simplicity of a ball to indicate which team is in possession and therefore on offense. The only 'penalty' we could have is to send the match to the judges if neither bot makes an attack for some defined period of time. I've seen and discussed options like 15 seconds universally, 20 seconds followed by a full double count out starting, and 30-45 seconds universally. The assumption in most of these cases is the editing team would shorten the fight so there isn't half a minute of nothing happening and then a double KO sending to the judges. A shot clock would replace the "engagement avoidance" rule we currently have.

7.6.2 Knock-Out Due To Engagement Avoidance
If a Referee believes that an Operator is deliberately avoiding the engagement of their Robot with the opponent Robot, the Referee will notify that Operator that their Robot must make physical contact with, or otherwise engage, the opponent Robot. If the Operator does not attempt to comply, the Referee may declare that the Operator’s Team has lost due to a Knock-Out.

As discussed at length earlier, this rule created some confusion this season. The confusion of when is a robot avoiding engagement as opposed to waiting for a count out is rapidly eliminated by clearer, simpler movement rules. I think simplifying movement down to circumference or one floor panel would be sufficient to avoid any of the confusion that would potentially be rectified by a shot clock. A robot would have no reason to not engage with an opponent that is capable of meeting this low bar of mobility and thus could be easily warned and eventually counted out for avoidance. 

 

ARENA CHANGES

VISUAL/AUDIO CUES

Refs could have a pause button, turns the back lights orange or something as a visual cue. Maybe we should also have an audio cue, like an airhorn?
Alex Grant

Visual cue for count outs, color match to starting square getting counted out using the back lights. Arena-side clock for count outs and/or a loud, audible count out system?

 

OotAs (Out of the Arenas)

Door zones should be harder to send a robot into.

  • Higher wall in front or sloped cover like the other slots
  • Effective instant KO, not safe to keep trying to operate the robot
Expanding:
There is broad concurrence that the rules need to be clarified to explain exactly when a door OotA is allowed. The majority of the comments on the issue simply want door OotAs to be fully legal. There is mild opposition to making OotAs more difficult to achieve, but there are some suggestions to create permanent or temporary zones in the back corners of the arena, possibly in place of the shelf.

THE SHELF OR "UPPER DECK"

  1. Leave it alone
    1. Not popular
  2. Same size, full height walls
    1. Making the shelf harder to escape (rewards usage, higher stakes)
  3. Cut it in half (depth)
    1. Less impact on the drivable area
  4. Cut it in half and put the walls to full height
    1. Less impact on the drivable area
    2. Making the shelf harder to escape (rewards usage, higher stakes)
  5. Make it into triangles and put it in the corners
    1. Makes it easier for spinners to use, spinners are great at pushing robots to the corners. It should exist more to benefit control bots. 
  6. Remove it

OTHER HAZARD MODIFICATIONS

Make the saws either predictable (clockwise pattern) or give them a visual cue (light) before they go off so they can be actively used. Or both. 

More powerful screws or replace them with something more dangerous (KOB screws)

More powerful/heavier hammers. Maybe limit the pinning time electrically/automatically.


NEW HAZARDS

Regularly changing hazards can aggressively shake up the meta, can keep the show fresh. 

Make pinball flippers bigger, after 2 minutes it pivots out and makes the back corners into OOTA zones.
  • Won’t close if a robot is in the corner already. 
  • Keep it at current wall height
  • Can be configured to work with or without shelf
  • Creates suspense, stakes
  • Opportunity to escape? Or instant KO?
Alex Grant

Clamp/claw to replace the hammers opposite the teams, works as a pinning device.
Alex Grant

 

*The inclusion of an individual's name in a section is at their request and does not imply an endorsement of any other items or even complete endorsement of the section they've been credited with. Contributions belong to the individuals and do not necessarily represent the views of there teams.
All items in this document are displayed after being edited by Kyle Awner (me). This initial draft has been reviewed in part or in full by a handful of individuals on a variety of teams.

 

Comments are enabled here. This will be the most direct way of interacting with this information. I'll do my best to pull in ideas from social media comments and emails too.

I'll try to publish a revised draft at least every other Monday.

4 comments

  • I think we need to discus the purpose of the tournament rules.
    Presumably no-one in the audience, outside a tiny number of super-fans, read them.
    I seems that a lot of the teams have not fully read and understood them.
    Is it even possible to have full knowledge of 40 pages of rules?
    So, what’s the point?

    fwiw, I think the judges do a stellar job of applying the rules, but then they get shouted at by people that have not read them.

    John Reid
  • Regarding minimum mobility rules, in my opinion crabwalking/random movement is not controlled movement. A bot might have enough random movement ability to get out of a circle in 10 seconds, but not enough controlled movement ability to effectively take the fight to their opponent once a count out has been averted.

    So my suggestion is instead of a laser drawn circle the bot has to escape in 10 seconds, a laser drawn circle some distance away from the bot that they have to get inside in 10 seconds. This would demonstrate actual control rather than random movement.

    Erik
  • This is a bad medium to discuss properly and I would prefer to discuss through already-established channels that exist so more builders can easily weigh in. But while this is here, I want to share my thoughts.

    Specific issues with what’s here:
    1. free points for unsticks (and the subjectivity of “what is an unstick”) does not pass the intuitiveness test at all. By this metric, if a one-wheeled Lucky scrapes through to a JD against Tantrum, it probably wins no matter how much Tantrum does to it. That doesn’t work and will create a mess. Besides, did Lucky actually unstick Tantrum? Or could Tantrum have escaped? More subjectivity, more arguing, more problems.

    2. Defense will always be a strategy to punish robots that lose half their functionality because they got flipped over once. I think trying to punish defense-oriented robots based on (ahem) “recent events” is a very bad move in the long-term. This is a “suck less” moment. I think we can change the sport in other ways to make this strategy more entertaining to watch, like by giving them something more useful than the damn shelf. The current arena does not actually incentivize controlling the opponent into any specific place. But you can’t just remove a whole strategy because you don’t like it.

    2a. Lifters were the only people banned from using the OOTA doors. So they get no win condition. We lie in the bed we make for ourselves, being a tough 3-minute tank is all they are allowed to do.

    3. I have seen criteria that fully replace “damage” with “effectiveness”. Then include notes for common bot types: spinner – effectiveness means essentially a KO; lifter – effectiveness means lots of lifting/suplexes and active controlling of an opponent; and so on. It may be more intuitive than “weapon use” scoring. Easier to explain to audience. Will never happen due to the show’s emphasis on damage.
    3a. I didn’t see many/any 2021 problems with judging, moreso problems on referee. Even matches that were odd decisions like Kraken/Hijinx were generally colored by very uncertain countout rules. Other JD controversies are just salty builders trying to whip fans into a frenzy.

    4. make shelf die pls

    Things I love:
    1. Functionality checks. Although they may not allow this to happen when competitors are on fire.

    2. Providing a one-pager to the judges on ablative armor, weapons, functionality, etc. Noting that a flamethrower is supposed to run out of gas can save a damage point if they think it’s broken.

    3. note that sitting in place is not aggressive. It is controlling if you can maintain that place though, but you shouldn’t win 6 points for being a stationary wedgelet tank

    4. visual cues are good (besides laser circle which I expect will be a nonstarter due to the manpower required)

    5. fixing the doors is good. Remove the vague OOTA rules and possibility of a ban, just fix your damn arena

    Jonathan Schultz
  • Unsticks: I like the idea of eliminating unsticks with the exception of when robots are stuck with each other. This is a nuance which hadn’t come up in the official communication about this potential change and it makes a huge difference. With that in mind its a change I support, but I feel it needs to come with some arena changes to make getting stuck less likely in the first place (changes to spike strips to prevent getting stuck under them, narrowing of killsaw slots, etc) to minimise the number of unsatisfying endings. As things stand fans always seem shocked when they learn how common unsticks are, and all of them suddenly becoming visible by being an unsatisfying ending to fights could be an unpopular shock to the system for them.

    Aggression points for unsticks is something which has been a popular idea among judges in the UK and something we kind of casually do already (since our system is loose enough for us to do that).The TKO idea, meanwhile, seems like a potential penalty to control bots which might be looking to get an opponent stuck/stacked as a route to a KO. Granted this is an edge case, but it could be an edge case which decides fights.

    Movement: Options 2 and 3 are both good. Option 2 has worked in the UK pretty much forever, option 3 is a slightly higher bar but benefits from being even more clear cut than a circumference which has to be imagined and is therefore open to interpretation.

    Judging: Weapon use is an idea I’ve been playing with as an alternative to damage, but I never considered doing both – its a great idea! We too were driven by the idea that spinners should probably be more on the back foot in a JD, but in testing a few of us have found that pure weapon use skews too far towards non-spinners: this feels much more balanced.

    Aggression is the hardest category to judge and the hardest to write for. My personal feeling is that aggression and effectiveness can be separated – effective attacks should end up getting you points in other categories – leaving aggression to be all about intent. The boldness clause has always been the thing that makes the category interesting, and for me its mostly about the where/when of your attacks rather than the how. A robot which chooses to attack the opponent’s weapon is taking a risk regardless of what it goes in with, be it a wedge, a weapon, or a wheel – that choice is just a question of strategy, so unless we bring that category back I don’t feel that any of those choices should be penalised all that strongly, if at all.

    Control seems fine as it is, the show just needs to do a better job communicating that its a measure of driving rather than a measure of which robot is ‘controlling’ the match.

    Points: 7-5-5 is attractive from the outside but ultimately just harder to implement. Trying to consistently discern the difference between, for example, a 5-2 on damage and a 4-3 on damage is ambitious, and would likely lead to more disagreement between scorecards. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but it does seem to get fans riled up because ‘the judges can’t agree’. I would be more in favour of making 3-0 and 5-0 scores more attainable, or making it a flat 5-5-5 so that control and aggression can benefit from the extra granularity without creating difficulty in scoring damage. I doubt BB would go for this, they seem set on damage always carrying the most weight, but if the weapon usage idea was also taken up as part of damage scoring it would make for a (5+2)-5-5 system where damage still technically holds the most weight.

    Function tests: These being mandatory makes total sense and seems minimally disruptive.

    Shelf & OOTA: As much as I hate to say anything supporting the idea of a shelf, a smaller but more deadly shelf feels like it balances well with OOTA zones being made less accessible.

    Ryan Bratley

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