AFL-CIO it ain't ...
This years tournament was a smashing success. The move to
two 2-hour heats from one 4-hour single elimination round increased
attendance by almost 75%, and meant we were able to play games
with more players in the preliminary rounds. Out of 11 games
played in the preliminary heats there were 10 winners, with Brad
Johnson, a past and now current champion, handily winning games
in both heats. Two no-shows to the finals meant we had the perfect
eight player field for the final round. As usual the first flag
was the most brutal and crowded to get to, with at one point,
five robots lined up side-by-side on the conveyor belt behind
it. Brad Johnson's Hammer bot managed to pull away from the pack
early, and cruise his way to an easy win on turn 17 despite an
effort by Brian Schott's Spinbot to stop him from reaching the
third flag. In the process, he also managed to save Nick Evinger's
Hulk X-90 from certain death near the first flag, however this
was really no favor as it left Nick in a difficult spot for getting
back to the first flag.
were some issues that need to be addressed for next year, the
first of which is game length. While the final round came in
just under the scheduled four hours, several of the preliminary
heat games ran the full two hours and I had to adjudicate two
tables in the first heat and three in the second. Fortunately
my pre-defined adjudication rules made this easy, however ideally
it would be nice if all games could finish on time. I intend
to adjust this by making the first round boards a little easier
next year. Also in question, it seemed that on some tables the
adjudication rules, first person to touch the last flag touched
wins, actually resulted in play stagnating a bit towards the
end with players not even attempting to reach the final flag.
I will attempt to rectify this next year by using a suggestion
by Tom McCorry to use an optimal hand distance to the next flag
(i.e. given the exact cards needed, how many cards would it take
to get to the next flag). With the old rule used to break ties.
As always, there were some naysayers on the two-minute programming
phase rule, however I also had several people who had not played
with such a rule that liked the tension it adds to the game.
In my opinion, it is this rule that seperates the robots from
the widgets, and I don't expect to change it significantly in
the coming year.