Robots compete in alliances of three to score the most points for their alliance. In this year's game, robots hang colored toroidal (donut-shaped) tubes called "ringers" and "keepers" on pegs known as "spider legs" on a ten-foot high structure called the "rack." Robots try to arrange the tubes into rows and columns on the rack.
The game starts with a fifteen second "autonomous" period, where robots must move in a pre-programmed manner. During this period, robots try to place a keeper on one of the spider legs of the rack. Robots can use a camera to find one of the four green lights located at the top of the rack to assist them in placing a keeper. If a robot succeeds in placing a keeper on a spider leg, that spider leg is in that robot's alliance's possession.
During the two-minute period, the robots are under driver control. Teams will try to score more points by using the robots to add ringers onto the spider legs. Only one ringer may be placed on a spider leg for points; if an alliance places two ringers on the same spider leg, the team will receive no points for that spider leg. For each ringer or keeper in a row or column, the corresponding alliance receives two raised to the number of ringers/keepers in the row points. For example, placing four ringers/keepers in a row would earn a team sixteen points. Once placed, ringers and keepers cannot be removed.
Also during the two-minute period, alliances can take points away from their opponents by placing black tubes called "spoilers" on the spider legs. If a spoiler is placed on a spider leg after a ringer or keeper has been placed, then the ringer or keeper counts for no points. Spoilers, unlike ringers and keepers, can be removed by robots and placed on different spider legs.
During the last fifteen seconds of the two-minute period, robots enter the "end game" period. During the end game, robots cannot be in their opponents' home zone. This allows both alliances to, if they wish, score additional points by elevating the robots in the alliance. Elevating a robot four inches off of the game field, with no contact between the robot and any elements of the game, gains an alliance fifteen points per robot elevated. Elevating a robot twelve inches off of the game field is worth thirty points per robot elevated.