In fairness I didn’t say I was good with titles. But welcome back to the Beat! Last time, burgerbot Battle Royale with Cheese was more than a little undercooked in its debut, Lock-Jaw pulled a much less successful version of a Diesector, and Gigabyte learned that sometimes you get what you pay for. This week we have three cold-named robots in the Box, including two powerful spinners fighting each other; we have a score to be settled; and we have Kenny Florian trying a staring contest with a robot. Seriously, that was the social media promo vid. And the cold open. Kenny won, by the way. Onto the fights!
HUGE dominated in its first fight, tearing SubZero up thanks to its unorthodox large size meaning it’s attacking with a powerful bar from above, where armor is usually weaker. Free Shipping, or a nerfed Original Sin thanks to the forklift, lost its first fight, which was a rumble involving the only robot that might be more of a tank than it, DUCK!.
The fight started slowly, since Free Shipping knew that the forklift couldn’t really do much offensively against the unwieldy HUGE. So Gary Gin kept the forks high as a defensive position and tried to use the flamethrower of Free Shipping as he tried to outflank HUGE. It worked a little bit, but it couldn’t work forever and when the two did go head-on the giant vertical spinning bar of HUGE won the exchange easily, damaging the forks of the lift. Not that the forklift really did anything, and again, if anything it nerfs I Can’t Believe It’s Not Original Sin because it’s less invertible and the forklift is much less tanky than Original Sin’s plow or wedge, by being not a plow or wedge. So the forks getting bent and whatever shard of metal that was just casually falling off of Free Shipping 50 seconds in does approximately fuck-all to the functioning robot, but it counts as damage points for HUGE. Meanwhile the flamethrower kept firing away, and there’s a point where, whether as a result of the flame or it just landed the wrong way, HUGE’s wheel buckled under it briefly before popping back. But it is supposed to be able to pop back, that’s the point of using space-age plastic.
Oh, we do have a botcam of Free Shipping, that’s nice. Doesn’t have the whole fight, but it’s always a nice look.
Anyway Free Shipping kept charging and charging, so it definitely got the aggression point. But the hits kept taking its toll, as Free Shipping was much less mobile in the last minute of the fight, taking a shot from the killsaws, getting the flamethrower bent towards it. There was an interesting spark of different colored flames, like a green spark or something, so that wasn’t good. And then HUGE was able to flip Free Shipping over with about 30 seconds left, and though it was still mobile and kept charging the fight was pretty much settled. HUGE wins by a split decision, which admittedly surprised me. The split category had to be either strategy or control, since HUGE definitely got the two damage points and Free Shipping the aggression point. If I were the judge I’d probably give strategy to HUGE and control to Free Shipping, since Free Shipping’s strategy didn’t exactly work as well as they’d like. They actually have to say what it is before the fight, that’s a thing.
Here’s that grudge match I spoke of. It stems from the 2014 STEM Tech Olympiad final, which was that year’s major tournament as for some reason there was no RoboGames. It stems from a hit after the bell from Touro Maximus on Polar Vortex.
Touro Maximus won the fight, and the championship, and these two teams have fought in RoboGames since then, but it was of course never scheduled, just happened to pop up, and this was one of the more controversial moments during a fight that robot combat has had. (Others would probably include the Overhaul/Lock-Jaw fight, Nightmare’s breach of the Box in the heavyweight rumble, and the entire 7th Wars of Robot Wars because they tried to screw Storm 2 over like three times, succeeding in the grand final. The Robot Wars judges actually wrote them an apology because of the executive meddling in that one. The Third World Championship was also a bit dodgy thanks to this.)
As for more immediate, not a tangent purposes, once again, good on Greg and Trey and everyone else to actually reference robot combat history this season, as opposed to the ABC seasons where they could have done so much more with it. And as for this fight purposes, both bots could use a win. Even though Minotaur won’t get docked in the “all-important power rankings that don’t exist yet” too much by losing to Tombstone in an absolute barnburner and Box-destroyer, they took some serious damage including the chassis cracking in two places, plus the armor, the drum drive, and a whole host of other things. Hypothermia may not have suffered the same damage, but they still got thumped by Whiplash pretty soundly. For this fight Hypothermia put double wheels on (two sets of wheels instead of one for protection), but that meant they couldn’t go with their full wedge, instead going for a plow and only one of the two grabbing arms instead of two. As Michael Mauldin put it, his robot was left-handed. Minotaur went for the wedge under the drum instead of the forks.
The first hit flipped Hypothermia over and twisted its scoop, though I think Hypothermia’s supposed to do that if it actually gets the clutch on something. This meant that the wedge of Minotaur could get purchase on Hypothermia, and the combination of wedge and drum meant that Minotaur could take Hypothermia for a ride. Which they did, damaging the outer left wheel. And then they did it again, and this time they damaged the underbelly of Hypothermia to the tune of taking off that bottom piece of armor. And then from those hits some sort of white square came out of Hypothermia. I’m not exactly sure what those were pieces of, but I’m definitely sure it’s not good, even though Hypothermia was still drivable. It’s definitely not good if the same green sparks that came out of Free Shipping were also coming out of Hypothermia. It was actually kind of cool, it had a camera effect! As for the fight, oh yeah, Hypothermia survives but Minotaur wins by unanimous decision.
On paper this sounds like a hilarious game of whack-a-robot. Because The
Four Three Horsemen are obviously small, and would want to gang up on the solo Blacksmith. It mostly worked against Gamma 9, granted its weapon had been disabled by the single shot of Double Jeopardy. But the Horsemen were able to do damage to Double Jeopardy too, so they can be effective. But Blacksmith has proved its ability to take a shot and keep going, as it did against Bite Force. Also against Minotaur the previous season. Also getting flipped a bajillion times by Bronco the fight before that.
The Horsemen again went with two spinners (this time Pestilence in white and Famine in black) and Buttercup. The spinners tried to start by flanking Blacksmith and let Buttercup’s wedge make it high-centered. It didn’t work entirely to plan. As I said, Blacksmith has taken hits well in the past and did so with the Horsemens’ two spinners. But it didn’t fire the Big Time Hammer (via Chris Rose). It was a little worrisome at first. But then the double-edged sword of multibots happened—friendly fire.
Pestilence, in pursuing Blacksmith, hit Buttercup instead. And sent it across the BattleBox floor. And also took one of the two wheels off, which meant that Buttercup had one wheel, which meant it couldn’t drive, so it was out. So it was 2 on 1, and now Blacksmith could divide and conquer. Blacksmith would pick a robot (Pestilence) and use its size to bully it into the wall, and once it was in the wall the hammer could fire at will (both in terms of the hammer and the fire). Pestilence got smashed up, so now it was one on one. Apparently to KO the Horsemen you need to immobilize both of the spinners, where Buttercup means nothing. I’m not sure how the weight is distributed but I think the rule is at least 60% of the robot by weight needs to be immobilized for a multibot to be counted out. But that was okay, because with one-on-one Blacksmith could just do the same thing to Famine as they did to Pestilence. Which is what they did, stopping the spinner, and then pinning it in a way so the bar was stuck on the wall and the wheels weren’t moving so the only question was whether there was enough time. And there was, as Blacksmith got the KO just under the bell in 2:59.
Hey, there’s Son of Whyachi! It’s about time, and I’m guessing they’d love a better showing for the former heavyweight champ then getting upset after getting sent flying 10 feet in the air by the drum of the not-here Poison Arrow. It’s worth noting that the patriarch of the Ewert family, Terry, has stepped aside (after bringing S.O.W. out of retirement because they wanted revenge on Ghost Raptor) so it’s son Luke with Son of Whyachi while Clint returns with Warrior, in addition to all the parts they make for everyone else. Which is a lot, actually. Additionally with the lack of Nightmare this season with Wrecker being in China, Son of Whyachi is the senior-most robot here, making its debut in Comedy Central’s Season 3 in 2001, where it won the heavyweight title with a rule-shaving shuffling propulsion system that forced a rewrite of the rulebook and forced Son of Whyachi to the super heavyweight division where robots could take what it dished out. Meanwhile, Brutus had some issues in the weapon in their loss to Red Devil, but they’ve got the advantage of getting out those first fight gremlins. Adam Bercu’s plan was to rush SOW from the get-go since the massive triangular spinning hammers take time to get to their deadly speed, and because Brutus’s armor weighs 100 lbs..
…I thought it was funny, okay?
Anyway, Brutus charged a second time, this time only spinning as opposed to getting sent back from the recoil because they had less distance to cover and therefore SOW couldn’t get up to speed and therefore less kinetic energy (also they hit the killsaw well). The third time though Son of Whyachi just went right up the wedge and with a little help from Brutus’s disk ended up on its head.
Son of Whyachi can’t self-right, and considering the kind of damage it can do when the hammers get up to speed, it’s not the kind of robot you want to let back in. Fight over, Brutus wins by KO in 41 seconds.
So the bonus content wasn’t another rumble, but the top 10 hits from the season. As of Wednesday evening, before the Science Channel episode, I’m going to just spare you it and say, yes, Icewave’s hit was #1. Hell, that might be the single-greatest hit in all of BattleBots. I’m also going to say #2 was Tombstone’s de-shelling of Gigabyte. Okay, the de-shelling was apparently #8, Tombstone taking out the BatlleBox was #3, Bite Force’s gutting of HyperShock was #2, but I was right about #1! So anyway, yeah, that’s how Icewave’s first fight went in case you forgot about the vivisection. The blade is 54 inches, which I didn’t realize until a shot of builder Marc DeVidts walking with it.
Meanwhile Yeti’s win wasn’t quite that dominant, but they were able to do damage to Witch Doctor’s ribcage armor and other things en route to the KO win. And now they have actual strategy, look at that! They have a slightly smaller drum, and more importantly, have decided to forgo the lifting forks for a wedge. I know, Yeti of all robots, and Greg Gibson of all drivers, thinking about defense and strategy and not YETI SMASH. I don’t believe it either, but if it works why not?
This started off as an absolute brawl. Yeti came in to rush and they got sent spinning. Or Icewave would take the brunt. Or someone. Icewave got sent way up into the air from Yeti’s drum, and when it landed… Yeti just stopped moving. What happened was that even though Icewave was sent skyward, Yeti lost power to its receiver, which in the postfight analysis (via the BattleBots subreddit) really disappointed Greg Gibson because that was shaping up to be an awesome match until the anticlimax. Icewave wins in about 45 seconds.
But wait! There’s some climax! Icewave’s blade tips are painted gray so the opponent can’t tell where the blade ends. And apparently Marc couldn’t determine it either because as Yeti was being counted out Icewave clipped the wheels on the right side of Yeti, damaging them. Greg Gibson was less than pleased, to the tune of, and I quote, “Don’t be a dick, Marc!” It also means it’s a good thing they packed spares this time out. Greg has since apologized since they’re old friends and no real harm done, and you know, the heat of the moment shone in his eyes and all.
Anyway, that about does it, but considering we’re 5 episodes in and the episode had their own top 10 list let me see if I can figure out if I had absolute power (obviously I don’t) who I’d say the top 16 are. If you’re wondering where Chomp or Bronco or Warhead is, they haven’t fought yet. If you’re wondering where HyperShock is, for instance, well losing your first fight that way doesn’t look particularly amazing, so they’ll have to make it up in future fights. If you’re wondering where Battle Royale with Cheese is, they haven’t fought yet, what’d I just say? Yes, that was a shot. So I’d go right now, in order, with some notes:
1-Tombstone (2-0, 2 KO): I mean, Minotaur and Gigabyte. They’re really giving Tombstone the gauntlet.
2-Icewave (2-0, 2 KO) Just the hit on Vanquish alone.
3-End Game (2-0, 2 KO) Dominating in its two wins, even if the Box helped it against Lock-Jaw.
4-Bite Force (2-0, 1 KO) And the decision would have been a KO if there were another 15-20 seconds.
5-SawBlaze (1-0, 1 KO) A dominating performance against Overhaul. Admittedly this might be as high as it gets.
6-Minotaur (1-1, 0 KO) Slightly penalized for losing to Tombstone… for now. No penalty for not KOing Hypothermia, as it totally dominated.
7-Yeti (1-1, 1 KO) The win over Witch Doctor buoys it, but like Minotaur a slight but not too big penalty for losing to Icewave.
8-HUGE (2-0, 0 KO) Still don’t trust it against spinners, but 2-0 is 2-0, and it’s done some damage.
9-Lock-Jaw (1-1, 1 KO) Again, big bonus for beating former runner-up Bombshell, minor penalty for losing to End Game.
10-Whiplash (1-0, 1 KO) Made quick effective work of Hypothermia.
11-Monsoon (1-0, 0 KO) Destructive, but reliability worries me for now.
12-Red Devil (1-1, 1 KO) Monsoon over Red Devil due to the head-to-head.
13-Brutus (1-1, 1 KO) Red Devil over Brutus due to the head-to-head.
14-WAR Hawk (1-0, 1 KO) Made quick effective work of Axe Backwards, which is not quite the same as making quick effective work of Hypothermia. Even if Hypothermia hasn’t been great.
15-DUCK! (1-0, 0 KO) I imagine it’ll be higher than this considering its tankiness.
16-Sharkoprion (1-0, 1 KO) It was this or Skorpios for its win over Lucky, but I’ll take the double KO of Kraken and Deviled Egg over the overwhelming decision over Lucky. It’s close though.
These will not be the final rankings. I’m also not going to do this every week, just sometimes. It struck my fancy.
Anyway, next time Chomp makes her debut, and the social medias (Facebook) is showing off the advancements in her tech. Remember, Chomp won the Founders’ Award for the use of lidar (the easiest way to describe it is like radar but with pulsed lasers) to set up the robot’s hammer strikes, like how it managed to disable both The Disk O’ Inferno and Bite Force’s weapons last season, and they’ll be taking on the other Whyachi robot Warrior Dragon in the co-main event. The main main event will be Bronco’s debut as it fights Bombshell.
So that officially does it for this week. Now if you excuse me, I have to fill out the World Cup pool. Like, right the fuck now.