or if it's going to give up its magic smoke.
7. Go to a competition, watch as many matches
as you can, and take notes.
If you're a contestant and you've lost, don't go home
and sulk. Go sit in the stands and watch every damned
match until the finals are done. I've seen too many crybaby first timers leave immediately after their first loss.
(Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball
team — he did NOT go home and sulk.) You can learn
more from other people's victories and mistakes than just
your own. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
Be sure to take notes. Your memory's not that good,
8. Use good batteries, have spares, and make
sure they'll last five full minutes.
When you start building bots and playing with them,
you're going to learn one lesson the hard way (you won't
learn it here, trust me). Batteries get hot. REAL hot. And
they take forever to recharge. At least in robot combat
time. So, you should have easy access to replace your
batteries between matches. Have at least two full sets
(three or four if you can afford them). Have one on the
charger, and one in the bot.
As soon as a match is over, put your just-used
batteries on the charger. Just before a match, take the
fresher pair off and install them. No matter how good a
driver you are or how well built your robot is, if the
batteries don't last the match, you're not gonna win.
9. Don't let the judges decide the match for you.
Matches are judged based on the full three minutes.
The first minute is as important as the last. The fact that
you kicked ass the last 20 seconds doesn't make up for
the first 160 seconds when your competitor was mopping
the floor with your rivets. You want to avoid narrow
losses? Want to avoid a screaming match with the
officials because they didn't share your belief that your
completely out-of-control robot was actually using a
Simple. Go for a knockout. Don't let the match last all
three minutes. Design your robot and operate it so that
you kill the other robot so the referee counts it out. Keep
your fate in your hands, don't put it in the judges. Judges
are painfully fair and unbiased. The problem is you're not.
You want your bot to win and the other team's bot to
lose. They don't care who wins. It's just that in a close
match, they make the call. Both sides think they've won,
but only one of them will be correct.
If the judges think the other robot was more
aggressive and did more damage, then you're going to
lose. But judge’s opinions don't have to matter. All you
have to do is knock the other bot out. Do not hesitate.
Do not unstick it. Do not try to avoid extra damage. You
are there to win. There's only one way to absolutely
ensure that you win: Go for the knockout. Every single
10. Read the damned rules.
I cannot count the number of builders who have
spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars
building their dream-come-true, and didn't spend one
small hour reading the rule-book from cover to cover. You
need to do this for every competition; they change from
season to season.
Know exactly what the judging criteria are. Hint:
Number of hits is not part of the judging criteria.
Know what weapons are allowed and what's not.
Understand how to pass safety (if you don't pass
safety, you don't compete).
Understand what can get you disqualified.
If you can't spend an hour reading the rules (don't
think that you know them just because you've seen every
episode on TV), you probably will never get to compete,
much less win. SV
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