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ARV Maps - July 2017

Posted July 27th, 2017 at 11:20 AM by HS Codex

Map Spotlight
Savage Corridor by Nomad
By: Sir Heroscape

This monthís Map Spotlight goes to Savage Corridor! These spotlights will be a way for us to recognize mapmakers whose maps we feel are worthy of note. Though some of these may be submissions we have received here at the ARV, we are not going to limit ourselves to just the maps we judge. We play on tons of different maps and are always trying to find good, balanced, fun, new and exciting maps to play on. This spotlight will be a way for us to show you some of the maps weíve found that meet the ticket. Weíll spend our time discussing some of the specifics of the map and what makes it great!

Map Bio: Legends of mighty battles still whisper off the broken battlements, the dust of fallen warriors can be felt underfoot on the dreary cobblestones, and the ghosts of heroes can be glimpsed in the murky waters ... Nestled among the Dark Lakes of Nastraland lies the strategic Wolf Swamp Road. One branch of this road is particularly untamedóthe Savage Corridor. As the wild nature of Valhalla reclaims the road, the wildest nature of beast, man, and kyrie surfaces in every skirmish on the Savage Corridor.

Glyph Placement:
This is one of the most important things a map maker can learn to do well if he wants to create a balanced map, and Nomad does a great job here. Notice that the glyphs are within 2 activations of a 5 move figure, which means it will take the same amount of activations for a 6 move figure to reach the glyphs. This is key because it keeps faster armies from having an outright advantage, and allows the opponent to still counter the glyph if their opponent reaches it first. Also note that both glyphs are equidistant from both start zones! This is a masterpiece. It keeps armies from sticking to the side with the closest glyph and really allows you to spread the field with your army. Other important things to note:
  1. double-spaced figures can access the glyphs,
  2. the glyph positions can be attacked from height, and
  3. the glyph positions are out in the open without cover.
All of these points really make this map balanced for any army because
  1. it gives a natural disadvantage to getting the glyph bonus and
  2. it encourages the competitiveness of double-spaced figures.
To be honest, in the many games Iíve had on this map, holding the glyphs wasnít always easy, and wasnít always the right choice, and that, my friends, is a good thing. If a map maker can force a player to consider the risk of getting a bonus, Iím all for it. Too often newer map makers make the mistake of making glyphs easily defendable or easily accessible so that a player can camp a figure there and never think twice. But the true mastery of glyph placement is to put the player in a position where going out of his way, or putting his figure at a disadvantage in order to take the glyph, may not always be the best idea. Many times Iíve bypassed controlling a glyph because situationally it was more advantageous to stay on height or reposition or get first strike. Because these glyphs are positioned well, and perfectly in the middle, they bring a great deal of balance to this map. Also, the treasure glyph is placed very well here. Treasure glyphs (in my opinion) should almost always be along a natural path of movement. They are not motivating enough to put on the edges, but they are very worth it to players if they can be developing their army and pick one up along the way. This treasure glyph does that well and, at the same time, makes thematic sense considering the backstory. Fallen heroes very likely left some powerful artifacts behind.

Line-of-Sight Blockers:
Line-of-sight blockers are key to a mapís success. Range already has an advantage. Melee armies are hands down at a disadvantage against range because range can set up shop and shoot from height while melee advances. Here Nomad does a great job of not adding too few or too many line-of-sight blockers (because sometimes having too many blockers swings it too far on the melee side as well, and creates too many choke points). The jungle is placed well enough along the way that figures can hide while also getting the defense bonus against range during development into the field, but the real mastery here are the battlements. It may not look like it at first glance, but the combination of jungle, height and battlements really makes for some good blind spots while units develop. Battlements on this map are positioned such that a ranged army canít form a blatant pod and get full view of the field unless theyíre in the middle on the (low ground) roadówhich would put them at a disadvantage anyway.

Done wrong, height placement can kill a map. Do it right, and height placement makes the map sing! This map gives you the illusion that itís pretty low ground with the highest points only being 2 high. But, the amount of swamp water involved in this map essentially creates an extra level of variation and makes this map much more elevation diverse than you may realize at first glance. The height on this map is fun! Nomad puts the highest points in the center, careful not to give one opponent a greater advantage than the other. Just like the glyphs, the highest points on this map on both sides can be reached by 5 move figures within 2 activations. Even if it is a ranged army, they will be hard pressed to form a pod when their opponent can get to the high ground just as fast as they. What this does to the players is to force them to take time to develop their position. Knowing that they can both get to height and counter each other makes it so that each is careful to set up enough reinforcements to fill and replace. Because, if I run up super fast to take height but my opponent can counter my position just as fast, then I may overextend myself. So, seasoned players (depending on the army builds of course) tend to take a little more time developing the army out of the start zone before clashing for the height (though early glyph runs will undoubtedly always be a race for first). Additionally, the height doesnít take away from the map. If I get onto height on this map, I can just as easily get off, and vice versa. Itís high enough to defend and take position, but low enough that it doesnít obstruct movement. Also note the 3 hexes just outside the start zones. While this might be viewed as a position to form a pod on, it is really designed more for a defensive position when an opponent is in your start zone and you need some help repelling them. Otherwise, that 3-hex piece is at a great disadvantage, because not only does it not get any jungle bonus, but itís also dwarfed by the higher ground in front of it where an attacking army can pick off anyone planted there. Itís clever placement for when itís needed, but doesnít encourage an army to pod up there.

One of the best things about this map is the fact that the pathing has no choke points. Nothing will kill a map faster than its choke points. Why? Because, in competitive play, there will always be rats, and there will always be a ranged army, and choke points are a ranged armyís best friend. Nomadís pathing here is brilliant. The map is open, and there is virtually no way for an army to completely close themselves off and potshot their way to victory. Fast low ground, and slower high ground. Sure, I can rush your start zone before you can say ďBobís yer uncleĒ, but in the meantime you could let me run in while you take height on the sides and then just quickly take me out. And, on the other side, sure: you might develop all your guys onto the height, but using the road I might be able to run in faster and catch you off guard. The wide road really opens up central movement and keeps traffic flow unobstructed while the height on the sides provide no certain refuge from an advancing opponent. This is perfect because it allows the exchange of figures from high to low and low to high to be smooth and strategic. Again, providing the player with many choices is a good thing, and I see the pathing here really gives players a lot to think about when considering how best to reposition or develop their army.

Start Zones:
Start zone placement can be a deal breaker ... but it really shouldnít. While I believe the other topics Iíve already covered are much more important and binding for a competitively balanced map, start zone placement can be crucial for balance. The start zones here are spread out across the map, so Iím motivated to develop my army throughout the entirety of the map. Armies can easily develop from these start zones with little concern for getting stuck or shot at before they can retaliate. They are located close to the road, so figures can jump into action right away or be catapulted into action as reinforcements when the main body of soldiers is failing. They are also placed close enough to height and to the center of the map that both can be reached within 2 activations, allowing conflict to transpire during round 1 and the game to take on a ferocious air early on. Thereís really not much more to say on this point, as these start zones are placed really well.

This is a map you want on your table; this is a map you want at a tournament. The balance shown in each of the above-stated elements makes this map one of the best when it comes to competitive play. We, the ARV Judges, have deemed it balanced and worthy of competitive tournament play, and feel that Nomad has really done A+ work regarding the playability of this map on the competitive scene. I highly recommend it! Great work, Nomad!
Total Comments 4


HS Codex's Avatar
The ARV articles continue with this next installment from Sir Heroscape! Please give him a warm welcome.
Posted July 27th, 2017 at 11:21 AM by HS Codex HS Codex is offline
BiggaBullfrog's Avatar
Great review, Sir H! Savage Corridor is indeed a great map - I'm glad it got the spotlight!
Posted August 1st, 2017 at 10:02 PM by BiggaBullfrog BiggaBullfrog is offline
Nomad's Avatar
Thank you for the outstanding commentary on the map. I'm blushing a bit. I create many maps, some flops and some usable. I am glad this one is held in high regards because we have had many entertaining battles on it. Thanks for the ARV Sir Heroscape!
Posted August 12th, 2017 at 05:25 PM by Nomad Nomad is offline
Typhon2222's Avatar
Just starting to pop in again after years away... and, being a Scaper for whom cartography was always the chief delight, I'm delighted to see the impressive work of the ARV! This is a lovely analysis of what looks to be a very strong map. PLEASE keep up the good work!
Posted October 19th, 2018 at 10:55 PM by Typhon2222 Typhon2222 is offline
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