Team Toad: Judge Dave

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Message 13178.150 in reply to Message 13178.143
General Discussion - Report from the Island

From: JudgeDave
May-30-2002 5:48 pm

Escher/Rob - thanks for a great posting. I can't agree with you more on the first point. I am often asked for advice in "How to build a BattleBot." I only ever give the same advice, and I'll say it here to anyone who wants it (FYI, I judged 348 matches this past month, and have viewed or judged almost 2000 total matches)-

Judge Dave's Advice on Winning at BattleBots

1. Obey Carlo's law!
Carlo's article on the site says it all. Read it, live by it. Your bot should be 100% ready a few weeks before the competition. Carlo has said it much better than I can, so read the article. (For the record: I compete in sumo robot competitions, and I flew up to the last big competition in Seattle from SF. Before leaving, I had failed to obey Carlo's Law. Guess what happened...)

2. LTFD - Learn To Ermmm Drive.
Spend 100 hours driving. There's a reason Carlo, Gage, Jason, Don, and others consistently win. Because they can drive so damned well. I have seen Jason literally drive circles around his opponent so they can't touch him. Go to Radio Shack or some toy store and buy some cheap RC cars. Drive them. Chase them with your bot. Be able to catch them no matter how fast or maneuverable they are. Log those hours until you are one with your bot. Be able to drive backwards. Disconnect each wheel so you can drive under any circumstances. Driving is the single greatest common denominator in winning a started round (if you don't obey Carlo's Law, odds are real good the bout won't ever start...) If you are learning to drive during your first bout, it pretty much guarantees success... for the other guy. Escher can speak to the number of 40-5 decisions in which "LTFD" was written in the comments box of my scorecard.

3. Test Your Bot In A Junkyard, Alley, under a bridge, etc.
Use your weapon against cinder blocks and cars, not teddy bears. Sure it may hurt your ankle when your bot whacks into you in your garage, but your opponent isn't skin and bone, he's titanium and lexan (which reminds me, always wear safety glasses and other protection when you're testing. Stuff flies off and you have no idea where it will go - even if you can't see the bot, that doesn't mean a part won't arc up and bop you or someone else on the head. Test smart.)

Make sure you can do damage to an old car, a tire, an engine block, or similar things. That's what you'll be facing. When you're done making sure that you can successfully dish it out, make sure that you can take it. Hit your bot with a sledge hammer. A chainsaw. A big axe. If you're reading this and saying "But that will hurt my paint job," you're in the wrong sport. The notion that the other guy will never hit you is foolhardy. Which brings us to:

4. Be Able To Self Righten.
There's no question of if you will be flipped over, but when . If you cannot operate your robot from any angle or right it to it's proper angle, you will eventually lose by knock out. Living with a philosophy of "I hope they don't flip me over" or "They'll never flip me over" is beyond foolish. It's a waste of your time and money.

5. Don't Let The Judges Decide Your Fate.
I'm not a mean person. Really. I don't like giving anyone a loss. I much prefer tearing up my scorecard and throwing it away. When do I do that? When you knock out the other robot. This is not a beauty contest. Your every thought each second of the bout should be focused on ensuring that your robot knocks out the other robot (which does not mean you must attack every second, only that that must be your focus.) Whether you flip him, cut him in half, smash his drive-train, push him into the kill saws, or invent some new and unique way to incapacitate the other guy - do so. At the end of three minutes (two minutes in prelims) you do not get bonus points for keeping that nice blue paint job with the smiling elf. You do not get points for showing up (Pete always tells me that I should never give 15-0's that I should always give a team a point for showing up. I tell him that when he lets me run the box, I'll let him judge.) You get points for aggression, damage, and strategy. But it's in the hands of three people who are not on your side. Nor are they on the other guy's side. If you'd KO'd the other guy, you will never have to worry about a "bad call." Like a baseball pitcher, you should focus on getting a strike out by making them swing, not hoping the ump calls it a strike when you're right on the line. In boxing, you want a KO, not a judges' count. Same thing here. Knock out the other robot. Every single match.

Then I can be assured you'll like me.

And as everyone knows, that's what I'm really looking for... right?


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