'Stages' Explained 2020 Season

The Stages are possibly the most confusing part of the game rules this year, and it took half a dozen of us over an hour to work out how it all works. We've provided here a description of what the Stages are, how you move between them, and what points are available.

The Process

"Activation": completing a Stage and moving onto the next one (if there is another to complete) "Capacity": the number of Power Cells that must be scored to Activate the Stage (reaching Capacity is not enough to Activate the Stage by itself) "Rotation/Position Control": the two challenges on the Control Panel that must be completed, in the right order, to activate a Stage

Stages Explained Flowchart

Note: technically, match points are earned from completing the Rotation/Position Control tasks, not Activating stages; however, since completing these tasks means the Stage has been Activated, they are here combined for clarity and brevity.

LED Indicators

There are LED light indicators above the Outer Port on the Power Port Station (the big hexagonal goal on the opposite end of the field) to indicate how close you are to Capacity for the current Stage. There are 40 lights bordering the Port on the sides and top. When you start a new stage, the indicator lights will all be turned off. As you begin to score Power Cells, the lights will start to turn on, in your alliance color, from the center outwards symmetrically. During Stages 2 and 3, two lights will illuminate each time your alliance scores a Power Cell.

Illustration of LED Indicators - Capacity Not Reached

See Figure 3-17 from the official game manual, displayed above. The first picture shows that the red alliance has just started this Stage, the second picture shows that they have scored 16 Power Cells, and the last picture shows that they have one more Power Cell to go before they reach capacity (they have already scored 19).

Since fewer Power Cells are required to reach capacity during Stage 1, more lights will illuminate for each Power Cell scored; however, for the last four Cells scored they will illuminate two at a time. In other words, for your last 4 Cells in Stage 1 each pair of lights represent a single Power Cell that you need to score to reach Capacity, just like in Stages 2 and 3.

When Capacity is reached, the indicator lights will change color: the corners will become yellow, while the rest will remain the alliance color. At this point, you have reached the yellow block in the flow chart above, and if the current Stage is 2 or 3 the Control Panel will need to be manipulated to activate the stage.

Illustration of LED Indicators - Capacity Reached

Figure 3-19 from the game manual, above, shows that the red alliance has reached Capacity for this Stage.


To move between Stages you will have to meet two criteria: first, you must score a specified number of power cells; then, you must either make sure the Autonomous Period has ended or complete the required operation with the Control Panel (depending on the Stage). You may see how far you are on the first criterion, scoring Power Cells, by looking at the LEDs surrounding the Outer Port. Match points are earned for completing, or Activating, Stages 2 and 3, and completing Stage 3 earns an additional Ranking Point.

Image credit: Infinite Recharge Game and Season Manual, FIRST Robotics Competition, Jan 2020


Andrea Bowdon

Text Media Team Member