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Dominant Map Features - Lava

Posted May 7th, 2008 at 11:00 AM by Velenne
You may recall from my Advanced Mapmaking Techniques article that I feel the "Volcarran Wasteland" expansion is great for leaving your terrain open while forcing players to keep their figures moving. I've been looking for lava maps since the site update, but it appears that we've lost many of them in the transition. Few of these feature similar basic features, so it's not going to be quite as intuitive as my article on Roads.

The first kind of dominant map feature for this terrain is the Central Volcano. Take a look:

Road Not Taken by Soul Shackle

Look specifically at the way the lava terrain is used in relation to the shape and size of the map. In "Fire Isles", the molten lava splits the map in half length-wise for walking units and the lava rock offers the only heights. "Road Not Taken" offers a similar field on a far larger map, so it doesn't really have much of an impact on the rest of the game except to eliminate the center of the field from most play.

If you're going to use lava, it should force players to decide how to use it, not allow them to avoid it at their leisure. One way to do this is to put glyphs in it. Like these:

Magmatic Anomaly by Soul Shackle

Boiling Point by Gamebear

"Magmatic Anomaly" uses two powerful glyphs to force players into the middle of the map and risk their units for some serious bonuses. One glyph is even on the high ground! But the area is small enough that an average unit can escape in a single move and regain favorable ground in one turn. "Boiling Point" on the other hand is a vicious map that asks if you truly want those glyphs! Otherwise, the center of the map is mostly unused. Even if you want to avoid hot lava death, your only option is probably to jump in the water and leave your unit to be attacked from higher ground. For my money, I'd leave my opponent to it and bunker up on one or both of those sandy hills but only because I'm a big chicken.

Finally, some maps spread the love and demand that players constantly adjust to the lava. I call these "Wastelands". Here's two examples:

Turn or Burn by Luke C

Hot Bog by Jonathan

The shape of "Turn or Burn" (and ironic title, given it's turn-less shape) is what makes this map distinctive as a Wasteland map. You not only have to go straight at your opponent, but you're racing for the middle. "Hot Bog" takes a different tack, allowing a wider field and more safe zones so players have more room to make mistakes. Both maps are great, it's all about the kind of match you want the players to have.

Again I want to stress that if you're going to use this terrain, you should try to get the most out of it by either making it too tempting to pass up or putting out so much of it that it must negotiated to get at your opponent. Keep creating, cartographers!
Total Comments 5


Ebag Nodrog's Avatar
Posted May 7th, 2008 at 08:24 PM by Ebag Nodrog Ebag Nodrog is offline
fomox's Avatar
I love the look of lava, but have had trouble getting it to be anything but 'no mans land'.

Great ideas, thanks!
Posted May 13th, 2008 at 04:10 PM by fomox fomox is offline
Velenne's Avatar
Nothing wrong with using it as no man's land. R˙chean's Firestarter does this but puts it in your starting zone! Now that's a place everyone wants to get out of!
Posted May 13th, 2008 at 04:52 PM by Velenne Velenne is offline
Soul Shackle's Avatar
Your second set of situations, Velenne, seem to focus on how glyphs affect the "need" to use the VW. Glyphs wouldn't be the only reason for the lava to be useful. In Hot Springs, it's all about height. Just thought I'd point that out - keep up the good work.
Posted June 16th, 2008 at 09:53 AM by Soul Shackle Soul Shackle is offline
dok's Avatar
And in Vesuvian, I make the high ground and the glyphs lava field, thus hopefully forcing you to move around a lot. Longheroscaper's Hot Meal also plays in this space.

I just found these old posts, Velenne; great stuff.
Posted March 16th, 2010 at 01:58 PM by dok dok is online now
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