8 Crucial questions to ask yourself on kickoff

1. What in the world was the GDC thinking?

This has to be your first question. Start pondering this while you watch the game animation video for the first time. Starting this year the GDC will have had over a year to think about this game release, to design the field and to write the rules. Yet every year it's still pretty shocking what they come up. Start thinking about why they designed the field in this orientation. Why are the tape lines and zones defined like they are. This will often give you clues as to how the GDC thinks the game will be played.

2. Can we break the game?

This is critical, it doesn't happen often but some years it may be possible to design a robot and strategy that allows your alliance to win no matter what the opponents try to do. The best example of a game breaker is The BEAST (71) in 2002. Others have come close, 469 in 2010. Modern games have been harder to harder to break but it's still useful to try to find any holes in the system.

3. WW254D - What would the Cheesy Poofs do?

This is the modern example of finding a game-breaking strategy. For the past 5 years, it's easy to argue that the Poofs have had the most dominant run in FRC that we have ever seen. Culminating in last years undefeated season and back to back half World Championships (since they won north and south is that just one whole World Title?). The Poofs have only been getting better each year. So try to ask yourself "What would the Poofs do?" you probably won't figure it out but its still a good thought experiment.

4. Which game task is 118 going to build a complicated linkage to complete, that will surely be removed from their competition robot after they film the reveal video?

There are a lot of potential mechanisms that can be built each year. If on day one you can identify which one 118 will remove from their robot before their first event that is one less thing you have to worry about designing. 

5. Which rule is the GDC going to change that will nerf your great concept?

It's one of those things every FRC team member can relate to. Having a great idea on kickoff only to see the initial team update change the rules and make your breakthrough design worthless. Try to identify the coming rule change on day 1 so it will sting a little less when it surely comes.

6. What will the FRC#558 rebuild look like?

So this one will require you to utilize all of your perfectly honed critical thinking skills. First, you need to figure out what FRC#558 will build during the build season. Then think about what they will dislike about that robot. Only then can you take it one step further and figure out the design that they will assemble during open bag periods and at events with a clever use of COTS parts and 30 lb installments of custom manufactured parts. This new machine will be ready before the World Championship(s) but if you are smart on day 1 you can begin building it from the beginning. 

7. Can we cheesecake?

Before you even know what your own robot is going to do, be sure to think about how you can help make your alliance partners better. Figure out the perfect way to add something like a climber or a 40 KPA autonomous to your alliance partners. This is the best way to ensure you aren't reliant on your own robot to perform during a match.

8. How can you make the whole team believe you are building a simple robot but still try to do every game task?

A lot of teams still struggle with this question. We all know that we need to build a simple robot that does one task really well. We should build it quickly and let our drivers and programmers have the time they need to get the most from our creation. With that said we also want to complete every game task and be the best robot in the world. Crafting just the right logical arguments and whiteboard drawings to get your entire team to believe that you are actually planning to build a very simple robot when you are really shooting for the moon takes great skill but we believe you can do it.