Strategic Design

Case Study - 2002: Zone Zeal

  • Playing Field
    • 24' x 48' playing field
    • Divided widthwise into five approximately equal zones
    • Three 180 lb. movable goals located in the center zone
    • 20 soccer balls located on either long side of the field, 10 in each alliance station
    • Playing Field Diagram
    • Scoring
      • Assume your alliance started in zone 1
      • Each goal in zone 4 is worth 10 points
      • Each ball in a goal in zones 4 & 5 is worth 1 point
      • Each robot in zone 1 is worth 10 points

Analyzing The Game

  • Read the rules
  • Examine every possible way to score points, no matter how obscure
  • Examine every possible way to prevent your opponents from scoring
  • Evaluate the likelihood of these scenarios
  • Consider possible strategies

The Chokehold Strategy

  • A strategy which, when executed, guarantees victory, independent of any action by your opponents
  • FIRST tries to design games with no reasonable chokehold strategy
  • If one exists, it will be very difficult to perform
    • Team 71, Beatty & Hammond, 2002

Effort vs. Rewards

  • For each task you must compare the difficulty of accomplishment to the reward for doing so
  • The best tasks to perform are those which are relatively easy, yet provide big points
  • Remember denying your opponents 10 points is just as good as scoring 10 points


  • K.I.S.S.
  • Golden Rule #1: Always build within your team's limits
    • Evaluate your abilities and resources honestly and realistically
    • Limits are defined by manpower, budget, experience
  • Avoid building unnecessarily complex functions
    • "Is it really needed?" "Could we better use our resources elsewhere?"
  • Golden Rule #2: If a team has 30 units of robot and functions have maximum of 10 units, I'd rather have 3 functions at 10/10 instead of 5 at 6/10


  • Two separate lists
    • Robot qualities
      • Things like speed, power, agility
    • Tasks
      • The things you want your robot to be able to do
        • Grab goals, pickup balls
  • At this point you can merge the two lists, and decide on a drive system and functionalities


  • The key to deciding upon a design is to evaluate the tradeoffs
  • With any FIRST robot, when you choose on function or ability, you usually have to give something
  • Making the right choices based on your analysis will determine the fate of your season
  • e.g. Speed vs. Power, Complexity vs. Durability, Goals vs. Balls
  • Remember the Golden Rules - Teams who try to do more than they're capable of, tend to fail

Other Points

  • This strategic analysis is a MUST
    • There's a tendency to skip this stage, and to head straight into design and implementation
  • You must know what you want to do before you can figure out how to do it
  • Remember, you have a partner. It's okay do depend on them for certain tasks. (How much you leave to them should be decided by the Golden Rules)
    • Although, be careful not to leave too much in you partner's hands.

Before You Finalize...

  • By this point you should be able to identify the different types of robots that will exist
  • Go through the different permutations of alliances
    • e.g. How would we do paired with type 'x', against type 'y' and type 'z'
    • What would we do if we had to play ourselves?