The Killer Robot Challenge

Back in 2012 or so (I feel like I could find out exactly with a bit of research, but can’t be bothered right now), I started working at OCCS, the Ontario Centre for Classical Sport. This was the coolest place on Earth, but you can’t visit, since they have now closed. At this magical place, they taught fencing and archery for both kids and adults, and ran camps during the summer and March Break based around these two sports. I met many wonderful people here while teaching archery, learning fencing, and working at the camps.

I had a lot of shirts with this logo on them…

One of the things that made this place great was that the bosses let me do some of the weird things that I thought up (I’m still a bit disappointed that we DIDN’T install a mechanical bull to shoot from in the archery range…). These usually revolved around games, whether it was coming up with new activities to use during archery classes or games at camp (Get the Puck Out was a particular favourite), or introducing board games to keep kids off their devices at lunchtime and after hours at camp (I wrote about that one here.)

So I got the idea to have a big event that people could sign up for, like a tournament, but more fun! The idea was that people would sign up as teams of 2, create a robot, and then shoot each others’ robots! The robots could be any size they want, but needed to be able to be pinned to a piece of foam so the target could be moved, and they needed to have a clearly marked circle with a diameter of 20cm.
It cost $40 for a team to sign up, but $10 of that would be donated to the local food bank. In addition, any team that brought non-perishable food items would get the bonus of having their robot start one step closer to their opponent in the first round.

We go lots of pictures for the first couple of years, but somehow forgot to take pictures after that.

It works like this: I paired up each team with an opposing team. They took lanes beside each other, and put their robot in their opponent’s lane. Each team also had a target on the back wall on the target butt. Along the sides of the range were pylons indicating “steps”. Each time a team hit their target, the robot would move up one step when everyone had shot and the end finished. How far they moved depended where they hit the target. For younger or more novice archers, their robot would move 1 place if they managed to hit red, and twice if they hit yellow on their 60cm target. More experienced archers would get the same results, but on a 40cm target. Anyone using a compound bow or who was on the Canadian Olympic team, like Crispin Duenas, who sometimes shot at OCCS, but was not at the event, would need a 10 to move the robot twice, and a 9 to move it once.
But here’s the thing… if you shoot the robot in the clearly marked 20cm circle, it would move back one step. Your team would need to shoot offensively and defensively to win this.

Here we are a few ends into the challenge!

There were 10 steps for a robot to travel toward their enemy. Once they reached the final pylon, the team in that lane were ripped apart by the robot, or presumably hugged to death if it was Hug Bot 2000. Then the round immediately ends for all participants. The team that owned that robot would get 12 points, the team that got destroyed would receive 0 points, and every other team would get one point for every pylon their robot was away from the starting position. It was possible to win overall, even if your team didn’t win a round, but you’d need to have scored a few points each time.

The first ever OCCS Killer Robot Challenge was won by The Meatbags (I had everyone name their team and their robot). The prize was a t-shirt for each member of the team, and I think we gave out dollar store robots and stickers as additional prizes.

The winner shirt was a variant of that year’s event shirt, which people could order while at the event.

Since this was pre-BSGames, and Bill and I were designing shirts under the name of his design company, Purple Alien, we made shirts to go along with each year (and by “we”, I mean “Bill”. Here’s what they looked like for each year:

In 2015, I introduced a trophy for winners to have their name on! I got a deluxe dollar store robot ($3.50!), glued it to a piece of wood, and painted it. Each year, I would paint the name of the winning team on the base. Because I’m right-handed, it was easier for me to paint the first year and winning team on the right-hand side of the robot, which would make it read from right to left chronologically, would looked a bit weird. Luckily, we only had 5 years before OCCS closed and there were no more Challenges. Actually, that’s sad.

Professional!

Here is a selection of the robots from 2015 (if anyone is in the picture and doesn’t want to be on the website, let me know and we’ll take them down. We did get permission to take pictures and post them at the time):

Because I’m me, I tried to load the instructions with puns and references, so here’s the first paragraph of the example in the rules (rules were posted at the range and on the OCCS website for people to preview):

Karel and Brigitte are on a team. Their robot (Gort) is in the lane next to them, threatening another team, while in their lane, their opponent’s robot (Ralph) is waiting to advance. Karel and Brigitte start shooting at their target and manage to hit red twice, potentially moving Gort two steps closer to their opponents. Then, Brigitte notices that their opponents have hit the yellow of their own target, which will move their robot (Ralph) 2 steps closer to Karel and Brigitte. Brigitte decides to shoot her two remaining arrows at the robot in their lane.

In addition to that, on the sign up sheet, I put an example, using those two names and their robot, but listed their phone number as Bender‘s serial number. Anyway, if you get the references, put them in a comment below, or as a reply to whichever of our social media channels brought you here.

So that was five years of fun events! I loved the creativity that so many teams put into their names and robots! This was also the simplest of our games to run, for us. Coming up in the next couple of blogs will be details about our other two game events, Zombie Apocalypse and Alien Invasion! These ones were a bit more involved, with cards, dice, traitors and very different rules! They’re not just reskins of the robot challenge, I tells ya!