Senor’s BattleBots Beat: Mama Said Knock You Out

Senor Weaselo

Senor Weaselo

Senor Weaselo plays the violin. He tucks it right under his chin. When he isn’t doing that, he enjoys watching his teams (Yankees, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers), trying to ingest enough capsaicin to make himself breathe fire (it hasn’t happened yet), and scheming to acquire the Bryant Park zamboni.
Senor Weaselo

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Welcome back to the Beat! Yeah, no title smart-assery in the lede today for reasons you’ll find out below. Last time out DUCK! showed it was thick as a brick, Witch Doctor voodooed its way around death by screws, and Lock-Jaw and Bronco gave us about a quarter of the fight we wanted but still one of the three best flips in BattleBots history. As far as televised flips this one is dear to me.

And I’m pretty sure Apollo had some pretty memorable flips in the new series of Robot Wars *pours one out*. Anyway, tonight we’ve got three different robots looking to avoid falling to 0-3 all but knocking them out of contention for the postseason tournament, and we’ve got a couple other interesting fights, so I guess let’s get to it!

Chomp vs. HUGE
Chomp: 0-2 (L, JD 2-1 to Warrior Dragon; L, JD 3-0 to Overhaul)
HUGE: 2-0 (W, JD 3-0 over SubZero; W, JD 3-0 over Free Shipping)

If I told you a robot with 44″ wheels made out of plastic was 2-0 on the season and a dark horse championship contender, you’d ask if I was finally addicted to something, and if you could have some. The answers would be “not yet” and “hell no, all for Senor,” by the ways. But yes, HUGE is 2-0 and is big and unorthodox enough to throw everyone else off. And now it gets its first fight against not a flipper. Flippers are a good matchup for it because it’s invertible and there’s not really much surface area to flip. So how about a hammer?

The drunken-hammer style mistress Chomp hasn’t exactly had a great season. Against Warrior Dragon, she wasn’t drunk enough and was predictable. Against Overhaul the Auto-Chomp function (that’s what it’s called) started seeing ghosts, and in a surprise the remarkably bad luck of Overhaul reared its head again when it suddenly shorted at the end of the fight, but Chomp was unable to ride the late-fight magic the robot seems to have to get a victory. The surprise is that Overhaul’s bad luck and Chomp’s good sort of cancelled out since Overhaul still won the fight.

In order to further throw off the lidar, HUGE brought a minibot into the fray. A small white bot with a white flag, it’s fittingly named Surrenderbot. They believed that the targeting would recognize Surrenderbot as a threat and move towards it and not the main robot leaving HUGE with clean shots.

Surrenderbot was the first one off the blocks but didn’t throw off the tracking, I think. HUGE did however get to the side and managed to roll Chomp over, showing that yes, the spinning bar does have power, in case we didn’t get that already from shredding SubZero and mangling Free Shipping’s forklift. To further show it, when the two robots went weapon to weapon you could tell who got the better. Yes, Chomp got a hit in with that tracking-assisted hammer, as you could see that one of HUGE’s back plates was askew. But that was the only weapon damage Chomp would be able to do in this fight since HUGE mangled her hammer, and obviously Chomp can’t chomp without her chomper. But HUGE’s bar slowed as a result of that so with nothing to lose Zoe Stephenson turned Chomp into a pusher to see if the hazards would work for them. They tried to get HUGE’s big wheels stuck in the screws throughout the shoving match but they couldn’t get that heave-ho, or HUGE was just too big to go over onto the screws. Or both.

In the meantime, Chomp’s hammer had been reduced to a shield to protect from the spinning bar. And it did the job for a decent time, but even that failed in time. That last shot also made Chomp do a 360 and then take a killsaw shot. And at that point it was just window-dressing. All credit to Chomp and The Machine Corps for surviving after the hammer was long gone, but it wouldn’t be able to net them a win, as it was HUGE moving to 3-0 via unanimous decision, and Kenny Florian moving them from dark horse to top-4 Nut contender.

Brutus vs. WAR Hawk
Brutus: 1-1 (L, KO 2:24 to Red Devil; W, KO 0:41 over Son of Whyachi)
WAR Hawk: 1-0 (W, KO 1:30 over Axe Backwards)

Vertical disk behind a wedge versus vertical disk behind a wedge! Even Chris Rose called it a battle of the clones. Brutus suffered from technical problems in its loss to Red Devil, but they have the only win against a BattleBots champion robot this season with their upending of Son of Whyachi. Okay, it’s not the same Son of Whyachi from 2001, but it still counts! Meanwhile, WAR Hawk beat Axe Backwards, and though they did some extensive damage, Axe Backwards doesn’t have the pedigree of Son of Whyachi, or even Red Devil. WAR Hawk did however sport a black beak in the middle of their wedge to try and out-wedge Brutus.

WAR Hawk won the opening exchange on Brutus from the looks of it, since it was the black and gold robot inverted, trying to use anything to try and get its wedge back on the ground. They could still drive and started driving around to see what they could use—the screws, the wall, WAR Hawk. Eventually it was the wall that worked. Meanwhile, apart from Brutus driving into them WAR Hawk couldn’t do much because yes, Brutus was running about the arena like a chicken with its head off, but WAR Hawk was barely moving. So as Brutus got itself re-situated, WAR Hawk was unable to capitalize and as such found themselves being pushed towards the screws. Only pushed, because Brutus’s disk wasn’t spinning. So one robot had drive but no weapon, the other had weapon but no drive. Well, until Brutus got the disk to start spinning again. Not sure what fixed itself, but it did. So Brutus in the driver’s seat after the opening salvo, and used its disk to flip WAR Hawk over. Then for added measure (in case the disk could be used for srimech purposes) got one more shot in, ripping a piece off the back and re-righting the white and red bot. Since WAR Hawk was back on its feet Brutus started to move for one last shot but WAR Hawk was out and the ref began the countdown.

But with the count down to 2, WAR Hawk suddenly had one last stagger! So Brutus started to charge. But as it wasn’t deemed controlled translational movement (or sufficient enough controlled translational movement, meaning the robot can’t drive, it’s just a wiggle or so) the ref continued counting as the buzzer sounded and Brutus slowed down and actually ran into WAR Hawk’s disk and got lifted up, probably getting the worst of it. Either way, it’s Brutus by KO (or TKO, not sure) in 2:30ish.

Captain Shrederator vs. Petunia
Captain Shrederator: 0-2 (L, KO 1:22 to End Game; L, KO 1:52 to SubZero)
Petunia: 1-1 (W, JD 3-0 over RotatoR; L, KO 2:00 to Monsoon)

Both of these robots were in dire straits. Not only was resident ‘Muricabot so tired of winning so much that it hadn’t done so this season, but driver and captain Nicholas Nave had to leave for another engagement (a gaming convention, apparently… I’m hoping there were fighting robots there, but I don’t know) after the SubZero fight, so he was not there to drive the robot. So a robot that needed a win in the worst way turned its controls to their mechanical engineer. Joe Johnson had never driven a robot in combat before this fight, but maybe beginner’s luck would help? Meanwhile, Petunia had, in its fight, suffered the minor wound of being slightly very on fire. Can we get a shot of the fire?

Yup, that’s… slightly on fire. Photo via BattleBots Update.

So I’d say for this fight I would have said it’s impossible to call before the fight began. I don’t even know if Hippo would bet on it, there’s too many unknown variables.

Petunia wasn’t on fire, so good start. Shrederator started the fight spinning up, so that was promising. Then after hitting Petunia it was still spinning (still good), but maybe too much because it was starting to do that thing like when a coin does when you spin it. Not all the way but a little. So less promising. And then it hit a wall and stopped. Definitely not promising.

Petunia had an opening since they no longer had to wait for their opponent to stop spinning. so they used their wedge (still high in my opinion but how many robots have I built again… right, zero) and the side of the arena (they were close to the screws) to get Shrederator on the wedge. And once they could get the wedge under the crusher could do its thing. So they began to crush, and apparently the wedge comes up to add to the pressure and lift the opponent off the ground. Which means they could drive with their opponent for up to 20 seconds (if they’re pinned in one spot it’s only 10). Like, say, drive towards their controlled pulverizer and line Shrederator up so while putting squeeze on the hammer could also do some work.

The tandem of crusher and hammer and polycarbonate top… which is clear meant that Petunia could figure out where to crush, and then do the necessary things to get purchase and rattle things around. So when they finally let go, there was smoke chimneying out of the hole Petunia had made. And then fire chimneying out of the hole Petunia had made. Can we get a shot of the fire?

Nope, can’t find one, but I definitely didn’t see a Youtube link to the fight while I was Googling “Captain Shrederator fire Petunia,” so… wait, here it is! Though it’s not playing nice so just a link. Either way, Petunia gets the KO win in about a minute.

Yeti vs. Bombshell
Yeti: 1-1 (W, KO 1:24 over Witch Doctor; L, KO 0:35 to Icewave)
Bombshell: 0-2 (L, KO 1:53 to Lock-Jaw; L, KO 1:19 to Bronco)

So this one’s a biggie. It’s a fight between two robots who surprised in their first BattleBots campaigns, but were on the cusp of missing the big dance at the end. I’d call it bigger for Bombshell, since the disk hadn’t really worked in either fight to the tune of two KO losses, and with a third, the wild-card runner up from two years ago would more likely than not be out of the running altogether. Yeti at least has the KO over Witch Doctor, but their worry is that this setup, the wedge and disk, was Bombshell’s drum-killer last season. And they’re a drum. So yeah. Meanwhile to fix that disk problem the Chaos Corps (in my opinion one of the strongest team names, BTW, up there with Shenanigans & Co. [HyperShock], Poor Life Choices [Battle Royale w/Cheese], Seems Reasonable [Tantrum], and Questionable Designs’ previous name, Seriously Questionable Unmanned Instruments of Destruction In North Cambridge, or SQUIDINC [Valkyrie]—I appreciate the acronym… where was I before this tangent? Oh yeah…) the Chaos Corps moved Bombshell’s weapon from the same radio as the drive to a different one, meaning that instead of one person (captain and driver Mike Jeffries) handing drive and weapon, two people would have to do it. And on weapons, speaking of strong names, it was Dan Hammer at the helm. No, seriously, that’s his name!

Anyways, the first exchange between the two at the start of the fight had Bombshell’s wedge get right under Yeti’s lifters. Also after this something started clicking, a chain or something. Nobody was quite sure. But in the meantime as that was getting sorted out Yeti was on its side and had to breakdance to get back onto its wheels, whether facing normal or whether inverted didn’t matter. The good news was that after this the clicking stopped! The bad news is it was Yeti’s drum chain. So with the drum no longer able to spin Yeti was going to have to use its lifters to get under and maneuver Bombshell for the last two minutes or so. Well until that plan went out the window because after a couple hits the lifters were no longer on the ground but pointing straight up, presumably bent from the blows. So Yeti was going to have to push Bombshell around just to take it to the judges and even so, unless something crazy happened the odds were there wouldn’t be enough points to get the decision anyway.

Bombshell wasn’t in perfect shape though. Something had happened to the left side armor, the working drum must have nicked it earlier or what, but the left wheel was less than steady; we later learned it was a bent axle and indeed due to a blow from Yeti’s drum. So in the pushing match Yeti had the upper hand, but it wasn’t exactly blasting Bombshell backwards. Meanwhile any chance Bombshell could get it could do damage to Yeti’s lifting forks and by the last 30 seconds they were kaput.

But in the last 10 or so, Bombshell hit the killsaws. And then it started smoking. And caught fire, right before time was up. Something must have blown at an inopportune time, but what and how? Well… remember that bent left axle I mentioned? The one Yeti must have damaged early in the fight before the drum went? Well, because it was bent the motor had to work harder. And the extra stress added up to the motor and the speed controller, so by the end of it, the electronic speed controller (ESC) caught fire, among other things that went wrong with the motors. And this also added up to… a last-second Yeti win via unanimous decision.

You wanna know how contentious of a decision this was? Jessica Chobot interviewed the judges afterwards. And all of them said similar things, that Yeti had been controlling the bulk of the fight, but it wasn’t until Bombshell caught fire that it really took their attention. It was nip and tuck throughout but the internal damage to Bombshell was able to swing the fight the other way. How would Judge Senor score it?

Well, you get 2 points for damage: there’s the question in my eyes. Did the fire to Bombshell outdo the damage to Yeti enough for it to swing 2-0? Obviously Yeti’s getting at least 1, because it’s not a good thing. If only there were a way to grade damage… of course there is. (Just control/command+F “damage”.) Let’s go through the damage.

Yeti: Damage to rotary weapon resulting in loss of weapon speed or severe vibration (significant); Damage to arm, hammer, or other moving part resulting in partial loss of weapon functionality (significant)
Bombshell: Damage or removal of wheels resulting in impaired mobility (significant); Smoke and visible fire (major)

I’d say RoboGames judging, using its 6-point damage scale, would go 4-2 for Yeti. Let’s see what BattleBots itself has to say about damage: (Source: Quite literally the 2018 BattleBots rulebook.)

Through deliberate action, a Robot either directly, or indirectly using the Arena Hazards, reduces the functionality, effectiveness or defensibility of an opponent. Damage is not considered relevant if a Robot inadvertently harms itself. Also, if a pressure vessel or a rapidly spinning device on a Robot fragments, any damage to an opponent will not be considered “deliberate”.

I don’t know if there’s a judges’ guide to damage for BattleBots and if it’s similar to the RoboGames one. I would like to know what difference there needs to be between a 2-0 damage score and a 1-1 damage score, for instance. I imagine the judges went 2-0 for Yeti, but I think I go 1-1 because both robots suffered multiple instances of at least significant damage. If there were 3 or more points I would give the extra point to Yeti. Next!

Aggression: 1 point.

Aggression is judged by the frequency, severity, boldness and effectiveness of attacks deliberately initiated by a Robot against its opponent using its powered weapon(s).…

As Bombshell used its powered weapon for most of the match and Yeti was reduced to ramming early on, even though some credit is given to pushing, I give Bombshell the point.

Control: Also 1 point.

Control means a Robot is able to attack an opponent at its weakest point, use its weapons in the most effective way, avoid Arena Hazards, and minimize the damage caused by the opponent or its weapons.

Yeti controlled the fight, even though its weapon for much of the fight was itself, and did the better job avoiding the hazards even if the killsaw shot at the end isn’t what did Bombshell in.

Strategy: Still 1 point. Yes, damage is the most important one.

The Robot exhibits a combat plan that exploits the Robot’s strengths against the weaknesses of its opponent. Strategy is also defined as a Robot exhibiting a deliberate defense plan that guards its weaknesses against the strengths of the opponent. Strategy can also involve using the Arena Hazards to gain an advantage.

This is another tough one. Bombshell used its strengths to great effect, namely the combination of its wedge and disk in the early part of the fight. Yeti went right over the top of Bombshell multiple times which helped disable its drum and inverted it. Meanwhile, once Yeti’s drum was disabled, its defense plan, albeit on the fly, prevented Bombshell from doing further damage and used the Arena Hazards. But since the two teams need to share their strategies with the judges and/or BattleBox designer/master/evil genius according as per the Comedy Central run Peter Lambertson. And I think even though Yeti was able to adapt better on the fly since strategy’s all well and good until you get punched in the mouth, I guess I’d have to give Bombshell the point?

So I guess I have it as 3-2 Bombshell, which means the judges must have definitely gone 2-0 in damage for Yeti. Derek Young (best known for building Complete Control) definitely implied such, and if the judges’ guide (yes, that is also a thing) said that if there’s any difference in the level of damage to go 2-0 rather than 1-1 then I would. For things like that I would love a copy of the BattleBots Judges’ Guide, but it is unfortunately not publicly available, probably to prevent flame wars. Because yes, there were flame wars. I’m not gonna start anything, I totally see how they came up with it, but either way, it’s the judges’ decision, not mine, and it’s Yeti by unanimous decision. (The unanimous did surprise me though, I’ll admit.)

Skorpios vs. Icewave
Skorpios: 1-0 (W, JD 3-0 over Lucky)
Icewave: 2-0 (W, KO 0:56 over Vanquish; W, KO 0:35 over Yeti)

Interesting that this gets the main event and not the previous fight. Because that one had The Narrative! This one just kinda looks like a mismatch. Before Skorpios beat Lucky it was best known for being pushed into the screws, getting stuck, and then trying to cut through the screws until the officials told Orion Beach to cut that shit out because he made a 3″ gash in them.

Source

Meanwhile Icewave was, in the first ABC season, ranked as high as the 2nd seed. This year, it broke a robot in half. When things are working right it rivals Tombstone for most powerful spinner, with the advantage of being an overhead spinner which means its perimeter is protected when the weapon spins. Tombstone doesn’t have that!

In order to prevent Icewave from getting to the saw easily, Skorpios had a pair of pipe-looking things, one on either side of the saw. Meanwhile to counter that, Icewave had an orange beak to see if they could wedge themselves in. They also changed the top cover of the engine bay, or whatever you want to call the top part that holds the engine. I don’t know the technical term. But it now has a Lexan cover to give Skorpios’s high-torque saw an issue.

With Icewave’s first hit, one of those forks or pipes came off. It was not very effective; did Icewave even need the beak? Guess not. In the meantime Icewave got a shower of sparks, and Skorpios was unable to get its saw to lower or spin. This was looking like it could get ugly. Skorpios was reduced to a plow at this point, and they knew it, so the only thing to do was to come in, hopefully take a hit and hopefully push Icewave around, maybe into a hazard or two.

Of course they had to take a hit, so don’t mind that piece of armor tearing off. Skorpios’s missing was stop the blade and win the shoving match, which they started to do, taking Icewave to the pulverizer and then to the side. Icewave’s motor stalled during this, which meant it had to be started back up. And then the fight started to turn.

The good thing about an internal combustion engine is that it has more power than an electric motor, but the trade-off is in the curve. So an electric-powered spinner can get up to a deadly speed relatively quickly. It takes Icewave a little longer, and for Skorpios it meant one thing: CHARGE. So Skorpios chased down Icewave to try and drive it, and Icewave ran to buy time to spin the weapon up. So then when the weapon spun up Skorpios ran into it and lost some more armor. But it was still standing, still driving, still chasing as time ran out. You could tell they were thrilled, the Icewave team a little less so. It was the first time any of their fights, win or loss, went the full three minutes. Thanks to the driving, it was a split decision. For Skorpios.

Aaaaaand then the taeks began, so buckle the fuck up. First take? Kenny Florian, as a matter of fact. He compared it to a human fight. If you’re “moving forward” and “being aggressive” but this shot’s breaking your arm, or your other arms, or a rib, or your face, you’re not the one winning the fight. Which I totally understand. But… let’s have Judge Senor go back to his judges’ table, shall we? It’s just this table that has the desktop because I still haven’t gotten my hard drive replaced. Yes, I know.

Damage: 2-0 Icewave, that’s pretty self-explanatory.

Strategy: Though they lost their saw early, Skorpios’s strategy would have been exactly what they did even with the saw, just with more sawing. So point for them.

Control: Again, the driving of Skorpios, and using the Box and the hazards and avoiding them, point for Skorpios.

So, aggression. Point for Icewave, it used its weapon, Skorpios didn’t have it, ramming with the wedge isn’t nearly is effective, right? Wrong. There were ellipses. I didn’t give the full rule.

Aggression is judged by the frequency, severity, boldness and effectiveness of attacks deliberately initiated by a Robot against its opponent using its powered weapon(s). If a Robot appears to have accidentally attacked an opponent, that act will not be considered Aggression. Consideration is also given if the attacking Robot is risking serious damage on each attack.

Continuous ramming attacks using a wedge or other passive armor and without using a powered weapon can reduce a Robot’s comparative Aggression score.

Okay, there is a lot for the aggression rule. Believe me, I even asked the BattleBots Facebook page about it and what it all meant. First sentence says what they’re looking for, which is attacking your opponent early, and often, and effectively using the weapon. Okay. The early going, when the weapon was spun up had some aggression for Icewave, but that was not extensive, and the whole latter half or more of the fight was Icewave running away. Running away isn’t aggression. Running away and having the opponent break its face on your fist is considered accidental. And furthermore, because Icewave’s bar covers the perimeter of it, similar to a full-body spinner, its opponents gain the consideration of risking damage on every attack, which was exactly what Skorpios had to do.

Continuous passive armor or wedge attacks can reduce a comparative aggression score. This, added from the previous rulebook, caused some confusion, and they plan on reworking the wording as they see fit to make judges’ decisions more consistent. But the key word, as per BattleBots responding to some guy on the Internet, is comparative. If Icewave’s running away, then the judges don’t think it’s being aggressive at all. Which means yes, what Skorpios did was less than being aggressive with an active weapon, but it’s far better than approximately nothing. The RoboGames aggression score, in its 5 points for aggression scoring, has a rule specifically for fights involving full-body or full-perimeter spinners.

Sitting still and waiting for your opponent to drive into your weapon does not count for aggression points, even if it is an amazingly destructive weapon. Robot must show translational movement torward  [sic] their opponent for it to be counted as aggression.…

…A Combatant who attacks a full-body spinner (e.g. intentionally drives within the perimeter of the spinning weapon) is automatically considered the aggressor and awarded a 3-2 score in the case where either robots consistently attack, or both robots consistently avoid each other.

That of course doesn’t take active weapons into account like BattleBots does, but shows that those types of robots can’t just sit back and spin up and because the weapon is moving automatically win aggression. Okay, maybe Season 2 of ABC, that was skewed hard in the direction of active weapon. But not this season. Hell, RoboGames would have probably gone 4-1 for Skorpios in aggression, just because Icewave had a little bit in the beginning. So… in my opinion the aggression point goes to Skorpios, and with it, a 3-2 victory, one of the upsets of the year thus far.


There is a bonus fight, but as I mentioned due to the holiday the Science episodes are off a week, so they’ll show the Episode 8 fights this week. And that’s another “Botopsy Report,” so it’s no skin off my nose. Yeah I know I still need to watch that other bonus fight. Don’t worry. It’s somewhere, probably. Next week.

Speaking of, not sure what the main event is yet, but I do know the last team to arrive finally makes an appearance—my personal favorite looking bot, Warhead. So I have that to look forward to. Until then!

Senor Weaselo
Senor Weaselo
Senor Weaselo plays the violin. He tucks it right under his chin. When he isn't doing that, he enjoys watching his teams (Yankees, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers), trying to ingest enough capsaicin to make himself breathe fire (it hasn't happened yet), and scheming to acquire the Bryant Park zamboni.

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Brick Meathook
Brick Meathook

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Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

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LemonJello
LemonJello

That’s just good advice, right there.

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

HUGE at a top 4 contender? Please. I like what they have been able to do, but put them against a lawnmower like Icewave or Tombstone and they will be cut down literally in seconds.