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Lesson 3: Strategy and Game Play


1.  Attention (5 Min.)

Strategy is often the deciding factor when two robots go head to head. But what is strategy?


2. Learners Guidance

What is Strategy in VRC?

In the context of a VEX Robotics competition match, strategy refers to the carefully planned approach and decision-making process employed by a team to achieve their objectives and outperform their opponents. It involves analyzing the game rules, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of both your own robot and those of your adversaries, and devising a tactical plan to maximize your chances of winning.

A key aspect of developing a successful strategy is a thorough understanding of the game rules and objectives. Teams must study the competition manual to identify the tasks that need to be accomplished, the scoring mechanisms, and any constraints or limitations placed on the robots. This knowledge forms the foundation upon which strategic decisions are made.

Once the rules are clear, teams can assess the capabilities and limitations of their own robot. They must identify its strengths, such as speed, maneuverability, or specialized mechanisms, as well as its weaknesses or potential areas for improvement. By understanding their robot's capabilities, teams can determine the most effective roles and tasks their robot can perform during a match.

Another crucial aspect of strategy is analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of opposing robots. Teams should observe and study the performance of other teams during practice matches or previous competitions. This allows them to identify potential vulnerabilities in their opponents' designs and strategies, as well as discover effective countermeasures or defensive maneuvers.

Based on these assessments, teams can formulate their overall game plan. This includes deciding which tasks their robot will focus on, whether to prioritize offense or defense, and how to adapt and respond to changing game dynamics during the match. 

During the match, strategy also encompasses effective decision-making on the fly. Teams must continuously evaluate the progress of the match, adjust their tactics if necessary, and make timely decisions such as when to change strategies, which tasks to prioritize, or when to collaborate with alliance partners. These decisions can be influenced by factors such as scoring opportunities, robot malfunctions, or the actions of opposing teams.

What does a strategy look like?

Developing a comprehensive strategy is crucial for teams in a VEX Robotics competition to maximize their performance and achieve their goals. Here are a few key elements that a team's strategy should include to help them formulate an effective game plan:

Goal Identification: Teams should clearly define their objectives for each match. This involves identifying the tasks they aim to accomplish, the desired score, and any specific game elements they want to prioritize. By establishing clear goals, teams can focus their efforts and resources effectively. For Over Under, this might include deciding whether your team wants to prioritize scoring triballs under the net for 5 points, or simply putting them in your offensive zone for 2 points.

Robot Analysis: A thorough understanding of their own robot is essential. Teams should assess their robot's capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. This analysis enables them to determine which tasks their robot is best suited for, identify areas for improvement or modifications, and allocate resources accordingly. For example, if a team is unable to hang from the bar, there is no reason to waste time trying to hang instead of scoring a few more points in the field.

Alliance Coordination: In team-based competitions, effective coordination with alliance partners is crucial. Teams should strategize and communicate with their alliance members to ensure a synchronized approach. This includes determining roles, coordinating tasks, sharing information, and devising collaborative strategies to maximize the alliance's overall performance.For example, a viable strategy this season might be to have one team member “pass” the triballs across the barrier and have the other team member score them under the net rather than making each robot go back and forth for every triball.

Time Management: Teams must consider the time available during a match and allocate it wisely. They should prioritize tasks based on their potential scores, difficulty level, and impact on the game outcome. Effective time management allows teams to accomplish the most valuable tasks within the given time constraints. If you know that your robot can hang in 6 seconds, you should give yourself 10 seconds at the end of the match  to hang. On the other hand, if it takes you 20 seconds to hang, and can only barely get off the ground, it might be worth not hanging and instead spend more time scoring triballs under the net.

Adaptability: A successful strategy incorporates flexibility and adaptability. Game dynamics can change rapidly during a match, and teams need to adjust their strategies accordingly. This includes recognizing emerging opportunities, reacting to opponent strategies, and making quick decisions to optimize their performance on the fly.

Practice and Iteration: Strategy development should be an iterative process. Teams should continuously practice and test their strategies, learn from their experiences, and make improvements based on their observations and feedback. Regular practice sessions provide valuable insights that can lead to more refined and effective strategies.

3.  Explore (25 - 30 Min.)

Strategy Creation

Using the field above, develop an auton strategy for your robot. Use lines and arrows on the field to indicate robot movements,, use circles to indicate final positions of triballs and, use a square to indicate final position of the Robot. Keep in mind how many points each task is worth along with the likely position of your alliance partner. Develop multiple auton plans so that you are prepared for whatever auton your alliance has.

Match Strategy Creation


Using this point system breakdown, develop a strategy for your team to follow during driver control. What is the most efficient way to score the maximum number of points given the time constraint?

4. Share ( 15 Min.)

Have the teams share their strategies with each other. Encourage them to discuss the assumptions they made about their robots along with how their strategies will interact with each other.

5. Closure (5 Min.)

Return the attention to yourself again and give the students a summary of what strategy is and why it is so important in VEX.