NHRL Event Rules

NHRL Combat Area

Norwalk Havoc seeks to hold fun and exciting Robot Combat Events. Our goal is to continue to foster and grow this amazing community of hobbyists and elevate the sport of Robot Combat. All of our events are live streamed on the internet and we seek to deliver production values on par with a live sporting event. Over the long term our goal is build an online following that will generate revenue to allow us to host more events and expand the sport.

Event Overview

Our events are grouped into annual seasons. Seasons last 1 year. Each season will consist of 6 to 4 open tournaments, and the top 4 winners of each of the tournaments will be invited back to fight in the finals event held in December of the calendar year. The tournaments are double elimination style ensuring all competitors who enter to fight get to fight at least 2 matches.

Weight Classes & Class-Specific Rules

  • 3lb - 6 Tournaments and a Final
  • 12lb - 6 Tournaments and a Final
  • 12lb Sportsman - 6 Matches and no finals
  • 30lb - 6 Tournaments and a Final

Registration Fees and Prizes

  • Registration is free
- If you register it is very important you let us know in advance if you are unable to attend so we can correctly plan for the right number of competitors.
Weight Class Tournament Winner Tournament Runner Up Finals Winner Finals Runner Up
3lb $1,000 USD $400 USD $10,000 USD $4,000 USD
12lb $1,000 USD $400 USD $12,000 USD $4,000 USD
12lb Sportsman A Handshake A Pat on the Back - -
30lb $1,000 USD $400 USD $15,000 USD $5,000 USD


Robot Combat has a stellar safety record. In order to grow the sport it is important we keep that safety record perfect. Fighting Robots are inherently dangerous. Safety is paramount. We require that all competitors abide by all the safety rules for their weight class. This is not just for your safety but everyone else's as well. Safety violations can occur for:

  • Improper or non-use of weapon lock
  • Unsafe weapon tests with box open
  • Unsafe touching of the bot (grabbing an unlocked weapon)
  • Improper load-in procedure
  • Pit safety issues such as open test box testing, driving in pits, weapon test on table, etc

We will use an escalating system of consequences: These reset each event.

  • 🟨 1st issue: Yellow Card: Warning
  • 🟧 2nd issue: Orange Card: Match forfeit
  • 🟥 3rd issue: Red Card: Event forfeit
  • ⬛️ 4th issue: Black Card: Year forfeit

Each of these levels comes with a chat about what happened and how to improve safety.  We 100% understand that accidents happen, especially under stress.  If you get a card, please don't panic.  It's not a sleight on you personally.  We will do everything that we possibly can to make sure that we work together to correct the safety issues in question.  As a competitor myself, the absolute last thing I want to do is tell a competitor they can't compete.  However, if said competitor is putting themself or others in danger, we need to make sure those issues are corrected.  

Signup Limits

Our goal is always to be a one day event. Because of this we need some limits on how many bots we can fight. Doing some back of the napkin math we can stay a one day event as long as we keep it around 32 bots per cage. (We have 3 cages at current.)

  • Our signup form automatically closes in the event 128 bots show up
  • Our soft cap for 3lb bots is 64 bots. We will begin implementing a hard cap at 72 bots per event
  • Our soft cap for 12 and 30lb is 32 bots between the two weight classes. We will begin implementing a hard cap at 48 bots.

The best thing to do is sign up early and try no to cancel. Cancelations make the bracket messy and might take up a space someone else might use. Registrations close one week in advance of the event. Cancelation slots cannot be refilled by new competitors at that time.

20 Minute Ready Rule

All robots are guaranteed a minimum of 20 minutes between fights. When there are many bots in event the time between matches may be up to an hour or two between your robots last match and its next match. As the number of robots dwindles the time between your robots last match and next will get shorter. The minimum time it can be is 20 minutes. This time is per bot, not per builder. If you are entering multiple bots it is on you to manage your time. Robots that are not ready will forfeit their matches.


Before fights competitors bring their completed entries to the green room. They wait here till their match is called. Competitors can only bring the entries they wish to fight in their fighting state. You cannot modify your robot once you bring it to the green room. Basic tools to turn on and off the robot are allowed. Refreshments are available for bot builders in the green room.

Spirit of the event and the rules

More important than winning or any prize is that the events are fun and enjoyable for all. Short of the weight rule, the rules exist to set the sprit more than a specific worded law. AKA Don't be a lawyer about it. We have a bias to fight robots that show up. If you build something new that you think plays to the edge of rules, show up and tell us why it should be allowed. Odd's are we will let you fight, we love new creative ideas.

Day Of Schedule

We look to start early so we can end early. As a rule no NHRL will go past Midnight EST.

07:30 Doors Open for Competitors.
9:30 All teams must be present.
9:45 All competing robots must have been photographed, passed safety, and weighed in.
10:00 Stream begins and first fights occur.
18:00 We should be down to the final 8 robots in 3lb and 4 robots in 12 and 30lb. NHRL Prime will begin.
22:00 Last fight of the day + Winners ceremony.

Fight Order

NHRL Fights matches run ideally based on challonge/bracket match order. If you are not ready when you match number is up and you have already had at least 20 minutes, you can ask for a skip. We will then see if other matches are ready in your round. If no other matches are ready and you are the lowest match number that has asked for a skip we reserve the right to forfeit you for the match. If such a forfeit occurs all other matches in the round will have an additional 5 minutes before the cycle repeats. Our goal is to fight robots, not forfeit them, but we need to keep matches moving.

Standard Event Flow

  • 3lb Winners Bracket (Till all robots have fought at least once)
  • 30lb Winners Bracket
  • 12lb Winners Bracket
  • 20 Minute Break
  • 3lb losers bracket
  • 30lb losers bracket
  • 12lb losers bracket
  • 5 Minute 3lb DQ'd bot rumble
  • 3lb Winners Bracket
  • 30lb Winners Bracket
  • 12lb Winners Bracket
  • 12lb Sportsman Winners Bracket
  • All weight classes losers bracket based on who is ready
  • All weight classes winners bracket based on who is ready
  • 20 Minute breaks if needed

In the beginning you may have between 1 to 3 hours between matches. As the tournament moves on match time will tighten. Robots that perform well will need to be able to be turned around to fight again in 20 minutes.

House Rules / Specs

Rules at 50 Day are similar to many other robot combat events, NHRL Rules tend to be more permissive of exotic and high powered weapons. Judges reserve the right to grant exceptions to any rule. Our goal is to provide fun, exciting fights and a fair playing field. The sprit of the rules is what is more important than fighting to get to the letter of the law. Good sportsmanship is always required.

Basic Arena Info

More detailed information about the arena's and their design can be be found on the Cage Design page.

NHRL 3lb Arena with house bot Brett the Brick


  • 8'x 8' Double Walled Polycarbonate
  • Wooden arena floor painted with Dead Flat Paint
  • Wooden trim backed by steel and wooden roof
  • 2000 CFM Negative pressure system (Fire is okay and encouraged. Matches do not automatically stop if there is a lipo fire)
  • Brett the Brick 60lb Steel Brick with HD Camera inside.

12lb Sportsman

  • 8'x 8' Double walled 1/4" Polycarbonate
  • Wooden arena floor painted with Dead Flat Paint
  • Wooden trim backed by steel and wooden roof
  • 2000 CFM Negative pressure system (Fire is okay and encouraged. Matches do not automatically stop if there is a lipo fire)
  • Brett the Brick 60lb Steel Brick with HD Camera inside.
  • The Friendly Fire Robot triggered corner mounted propane flame thrower


  • 16'x 16' Double walled, shock mounted 1/2" Polycarbonate
  • Wooden arena floor painted with Dead Flat Paint
  • Wooden trim backed by steel and wooden roof
  • 12000 CFM Negative pressure system (Fire is okay and encouraged. Matches do not automatically stop if there is a lipo fire)
  • Fluffy Large house robot with HD cameras


  • 16'x 16' Double walled, shock mounted 1/2" Polycarbonate
  • Wooden arena floor painted with Dead Flat Paint
  • Wooden trim backed by steel and wooden roof
  • 12000 CFM Negative pressure system (Fire is okay and encouraged. Matches do not automatically stop if there is a lipo fire)
  • Fluffy Large house robot with HD cameras


Competitors will be assigned a pit location. Pits are where you can store your gear, test and assemble your robot, and charge your batteries. Each team gets:

  • 6ft Folding table
  • One chair (bring more if you need them)
  • 120V Powerstrip
  • Each robot will get a minimum of 20 minutes of pit time between matches. Robots not ready to fight after 20 minutes may have to forfeit their matches.

Competitors will also have access to full machine shop for last minute tweaks and fixes. We also have lots of spare parts on hand should you need them. Please be aware though that during event day NHRL Staff Will be very busy and may not have time to spend helping everyone.

Pits areas will have several communal test boxes for safely testing robot functionality.


All fights are judged by a team of 3 judges. Judges may be remote and watching via zoom. There is open deliberation between judges after the fight and they will announce their final decisions. Judges are typically ex-competitors and previous bot builders. As the events have grown in scale and scope we continue to work to professionalize the judging. There may be official scores in future matches. Judges primarily are looking for aggression and control of the match. Judges may request a replay of certain sections of a match to assist in judging. Judges decisions are final at this time. Matches in the winners bracket may have a review requested if both competitors agree.

Matches will be judged across 3 categories of equal weight

  • Control - How controllable this robot in how it translates across arena and in how it attacks
  • Aggression - How much does this robot act as the aggressor and dominate the match flow
  • Damage - How much damage does this bot do its competitor.

Fight Rules

Duration 3 Minutes or 3.5 minutes if an encore is called for by the judges.
Knock Out Any robot unable to show controlled motion after 10 seconds is considered disabled and will be considered a knock out.
Tap Out Any competitor can forfeit the match for any reason by loudly banging on the arena wall. This is considered a tap out, and counted as a loss. The other competitor must stop attacking immediately; continuing to attack after tap out will be viewed as unsportsmanlike.
Encore If a match is particularly exciting the judges may poll the audience in the final minute and decide to add an Encore extending the match by 30 seconds. Only one Encore can happen in any single match. Encores only occur in the winners bracket
Hazard If the judges deem a robot to be a hazard to the crowd or a robot is doing sustained damage to the arena, the judges may prematurely end the match at any time. Purposefully destroying the arena may result in a forced forfeit of the match.
House Robots The house robots serve as an in ring camera, and referee that can sometimes unstick and disentangle bots. House robots will unstick stuck robots each once per match. If stuck a second time the robot must unstick itself or it will lose if unable to show controlled motion.
Safety Organizers reserve the right to disqualify any competitor for failing to follow basic safety. All robots with a kintetic weapon should have a weapon lock. The lock should not be removed until both bots are in the arena and the doors are about to close.
Sportsmanship Judges reserve the right to KO or Disqualify any bot or team for unsportmanship like conduct.
Judges Decisions are Final All judges decisions are final and not subject to review.
Be Ready Only 20 minutes of pit time is guaranteed between matches. This usually only comes into play when there are few robots remaining in the bracket. Early on time between matches can be an hour or more.

Tips and Tricks

  • Arrive with a working robot that is ready to fight.
  • Arrive before 9AM to secure a good pit location, get your robot through safety checks early.
  • Bring extra batteries and be ready to swap them quickly.
  • When your robot is ready to fight head to arena area rather than waiting at your pit.
  • Fix your robot before chatting with other competitors.