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ARV Maps - September 2017

Posted September 4th, 2017 at 02:09 AM by HS Codex

ARV Contest Review
Wilds of Valhalla
By: BiggaBullfrog

Welcome to the ARV Contest Reviews, one of the three kinds of articles that we ARV Judges are writing. In these articles we will be going over one of our contests to highlight maps, themes found in many maps, and what maps worked and which ones didn’t.

Contest Overview:

The Wilds of Valhalla map contest was the second contest held by the ARV (though it wasn’t known as the ARV yet), and was the contest at the end of which I (BiggaBullfrog) joined as an ARV Judge. The rules were simple: create up to two maps designed for competitive play using the theme of “Wilds of Valhalla.” The rest was up to the map maker, provided they stayed within the allowed amount of terrain. The judges would pick 10 of the submissions to be used in a tournament, as well as set up a poll with the top 10 for the community to vote on. The winner of the vote would receive a prize.


There were 15 submissions to the contest. The designs of each map were widely varied, but it is interesting to note in particular what was different and what was common.

First off, let’s look at the terrain used. The most used terrain set was Swarm of the Marro. Used in 8 maps, it was found in over half of the submissions. It was closely followed by Thaelenk Tundra and Road to the Forgotten Forest, both of which were found in 7 maps. The other two master sets, Rise of the Valkyrie and Battle for the Underdark, had a smaller showing than the Marro set, each only found in 5 maps. The least-used maps were Fortress of the Archkyrie and the Marvel set, both found in only one map.

Another thing to look at is the size of the submitted maps. Everyone probably has their own standards for measuring map sizes, but a general assessment of the maps shows that 8 of them are larger than your standard tournament map, while 4 of them are smaller and 3 are somewhere in the middle.

Top 10:

Looking at the top 10 of the “Wilds of Valhalla” contest, we again have a widely varied group. There was a good range of terrain sets used and map sizes. Some had crazy amounts of elevation, while others were wide and more flat. One might say that the selection was pretty … wild (sorry, that had to happen at least once).

The top 10 were determined by being judged according to a rubric with points being assigned for creativity, balance, æsthetics, and the map’s name. Those in the top 10, in general, were deemed to have a stronger showing than the others in these categories. An interesting thing to note here, however, is that the scores were pretty close overall (as is probably to be expected of these kinds of contests). In fact, for a few of the maps there were only a few points’ difference separating them from the top 10. It was a strong showing for maps overall.


The winner of the poll for the top 10 was Halcyon by capsocrates. The map got a lot of attention from the beginning, being praised as a unique and beautiful map. It utilizes swamp, dungeon, and ice terrain to create a kind of frozen wellspring near the mouth of a cave that the two opposing armies fight over. It had a lot of support from the community and judges alike, and was a very popular map. It’s definitely a map worth checking out.

ARV Sanctioned Maps:

One perk of getting a map in the top 10 is that each of them gets playtested by the ARV Judges. It was during this process that I joined on as a judge, and I got the opportunity to playtest some of them. This is probably my favorite part of the contest, as it allows us to put the rubber to the road and see how well the maps hold up in competitive play. It’s like a puzzle as we push maps to see if they’re broken in any way, or if they’ve got the stuff to be deemed competitive by the ARV group.

When playtesting this set of maps, some themes began to emerge in those that weren’t found competitive. Probably the biggest that I recall was issues with pathing: the paths available for units to take. Probably one of the biggest killers of the maps during the playtesting process was when we found maps that had a lot of chokepoints caused by water. Some had pools of water right outside the start zone while others had a river running through the middle. Either way, there were points for units to get clogged up in and get picked off by opposing ranged figures. (In fact, the range vs. melee aspect of competitive play is probably the one most focused on when playtesting competitive maps.) Other pathing issues included areas of the map that were never used due to the paths leading there being too long or difficult, and thus the action only occurred in a small area of the map—sometimes less than half of its footprint. These pathing issues weren’t the only reasons maps were found uncompetitive, but they were some of the most prominent.

In the end, four maps were deemed competitive by the ARV Judges: Savage Corridor by Nomad, Mountain Pass by Yodaking, Volcarren Paradise by Robber, and April by BiggaBullfrog. Again, a good variety of maps, and all ones that we would recommend for games at tournaments. What’s more, you can go to the Full Map Archive in the ARV subforum to check out all of the maps from the contest, where you can find maps for just about any occasion, competitive or casual. We definitely recommend that you check them out and give them a whirl—you won’t be disappointed, we promise!
Total Comments 2


HS Codex's Avatar
We're slowly extending out the deadlines in order to allow for more proofreading time. This has caused the ARV article for August to be bumped into September, hence there is no August article.

We hope you enjoy this latest article from BiggaBullfrog. Be sure to comment and let him know what you think!
Posted September 4th, 2017 at 02:12 AM by HS Codex HS Codex is offline
Sir Heroscape's Avatar
Great review Bigga. I think you set a good standard for what our review articles should entail.
Posted September 8th, 2017 at 02:56 AM by Sir Heroscape Sir Heroscape is offline
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