Written by @fplchips
|Roboteers, stand by!|
Cast your mind back to the first time you saw Philippa Forrester (yes I am that old) on Robot Wars. Jeremy Clarkson (yes he did host it before Craig Charles) hands over to Philippa in the engineering hangar. She does her piece to camera before turning to three hapless individuals and confronting them with an oversized microphone.
The first few questions are a blur, but gradually they begin to gather their composure enough to reel off a series of facts about their pride and joy: the top speed; the enviable turning circle; the witty name; the tried and tested weapons. They tell her how they have prepared all summer for this - studied their opponents, generated algorithms, plotted graphs and how they then ignored all the data and just stuck the biggest axe they could afford on the front. Philippa remains calm throughout. She nods and smiles, but deep down she realises this robot is doomed!
|Let battle commence!|
Finally, after what seems like an eternity, the first battle begins. Almost immediately it becomes apparent that something is wrong. Very wrong. It’s a bloodbath out there. None of their pre-match data is coming into play. The opponents have a weapon that they haven’t even heard of before - some fancy foreign sounding name, possibly originating from North Africa. It seemed innocuous enough, but before they know what’s hit them, it fires two lethal shots and the contest is all but over. They just about manage a couple of minor, retaliatory blows before it’s time for the over-exuberant Jonathan Pierce to talk everyone through what we have just witnessed. Blow, by painful blow.
Wearily, the combatants trudge back to the hangar to take part in the obligatory post-mortem, but there’s no time to feel sorry for themselves; the next match is about to begin. They make some drastic, unplanned changes that fly completely in the face of their original blueprint, but then forget to attach them properly because the battle starts before they expected.
To their horror, the second battle is a carbon copy of the first: the same weapons, the same moves, the same outcome. How could this be happening...AGAIN? Virtually all of their elite weapons misfire and those that don’t manage just a single blow, but nothing like the carnage we have come to associate with them. With Clarkson’s smug, oversized face looming over them, they must somehow shine a positive light on a second, dismal failure.
Clarkson: “So what’s your excuse for being utterly rubbish?”
Roboteer: “Well, our Boaz shield got a decent defensive block in...”
Clarkson: “You mean before you were annihilated by their Mahrez again?”
Roboteer: “We got bonus points for…”
Clarkson: “Is that the best you can do?”
Roboteer: “What about our Tekke strike right at the end?”
Clarkson: “That feeble effort? It wasn’t even a legal move. Face it, you’re useless!”
Roboteer: “Well, we’re going to completely re-build…”
There are gasps from the audience...
The audience can be heard muttering:
“It’s too soon.”
“They don’t have the data.”
“Everyone knows you shouldn’t perform a complete re-build so early on in the series.”
“The international bouts don’t start for another fortnight.”
“There’s still time to fly in some exciting imported parts before the upgrade deadline.”
These experienced roboteers are being made to look like amateurs and they begin to look searchingly at one another. Sorrow turns to anger. Anger turns to despair. Despair has no-one to turn to and runs out of the room screaming.
"If we’re going down, we’re going down fighting", one of them splutters eventually.
"That’s the spirit", chuckles Clarkson, knowingly, as he turns to the camera…
"Now, some say they are the calling card of the weak. Some say they were never intended to be placed in the hands of sheep. All we know is…
(pauses for dramatic effect)
...they're called Wildcards!".
FPLChips is a veteran roboteer of some 10 years. His wildcard has never lasted more than 3 weeks...