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ARV Maps - January 2019

Posted February 3rd, 2019 at 01:56 AM by HS Codex

Map Craft
Pre-set Glyphs
Author: By Sir Heroscape

Another installment of Map Craft coming your way! This time Iím taking you on a journey to the ever-difficult decision on whether to use pre-set glyphs on a map.

For starters, Iím not going to talk about the use of random power glyphs on a map, mainly because, for the most part, thatís the easy way out. Pre-set power glyphs show a map designerís clear intent with the way they created the map and the way the game should be played with those glyphs in mind. Random glyphs are fine for a map that is fairly balanced and symmetrical and wonít be swayed much by one glyph or another. But, for mapsóand mapmakersóthat want to push the boundaries a little bit, pre-set power glyphs will help you to create and balance maps that, without those specific glyphs, likely wouldnít be balanced at all. Itís not easy though. Hereís how to do it.
  1. Consider the imbalances in your map. A lot of people who want to try and master balanced map-building should recognize that imbalances can be countered by pre-set power glyphs and donít always have to be ďfixed.Ē For example, if youíve got a really cool design, but the height is too accessible for range, then maybe a set power glyph outside the reach of that strategic position would be a good counter to help the attackers and keep the other side honest.
  2. Maps can actually be more balanced with pre-set power glyphs. A common misconception is that random power glyphs on a map are actually more balanced for a map design. This is my opinion from my own experience, but itís true. Iíll admit that the large majority of my maps I build are with random power glyphs, and thatís usually because Iím too lazy to actually take the time to design the map with specific glyphs in mind to help the flow and balance of the game. Pre-set power glyphs are more balanced because random power glyphs are subjective and up to either the choice of the person playing, the tournament director, or simply whatever glyphs the players own. That glyph pool can vary widely, and not all power glyphs are created equal. A map that was designed with random power glyphs could technically be played with an unbalanced glyph, and (depending on the glyph) could really ďbreakĒ the mapís design. Pre-set power glyphs actually allow for the designer to prepare the map to be played in a very specific way, without the concern that an unbalanced power glyph might be placed on the map.
Those are my two biggest points, and now I want to talk about the specifics of the power glyphs themselves, and the ones I believe should be in the glyph pool at tournament play. Here is my list of ďcompetitive power glyphsĒ and the reasons why:
  1. Dagmar (+8 to Initiative Roll). Thereís nothing like a good initiative switch. The glyph of Dagmar is one of the longest held competitive glyphs because of its subtle bonus that helps an army get a slight advantage. It activates at the end of a round, so conflict can occur over that glyph long before it actually provides the controller its bonus. Using Dagmar as a pre-set glyph can be really good for making sure conflict occurs in specific locations near the end of a round. Getting an initiative switch is a powerful thing when timed right, and opponents will fight for this glyph if it is accessible ... but not otherwise. If you place Dagmar too far away or in a position that is too compromising, then players will likely ignore it altogether, simply because itís not a guarantee, and they want a return on investment of time and units. (If your opponent kills you while on Dagmar, youíve wasted both time and the units invested in grabbing the glyph in the first place; at least other glyphs give you an immediate bonus as soon as you take it.)
  2. Gerda (Defense +1). Increasing your defense is great: everyone likes it; everyone wants it. Gerda is powerfulóif you use this glyph as a pre-set, it either needs to be the only glyph on the map so as to draw attention to itself, or be countered by adding another strong, pre-set glyph. Gerda is a tricky one because it gives bonuses immediately after a unit takes it. You have to be careful not to place it on too much height or near any type of cover or trees. Because this bonus is one of the strongest, itís okay to place it in a fairly compromising spot. Normally this glyph shows up on maps that want quick-and-dirty bloodbaths, because this glyph can give the edge in the battle every turn. Gerda should be in a fairly accessible position so as to allow both sides a far shot at it.
  3. Valda (Move +2). This glyph is fairly powerful, and I typically throw it on a map with Gerda to balance things out. I believe Valda helps balance Gerda because speed aids positioning and positioning enables high ground, which gains advantage. Valda is a great pre-set glyph on maps with some tricky terrain or height as a means of providing the slower army the ability to develop and run over the terrain with greater ease. Itís also good to place it opposite the main height area so that range canít shoot you down off of it, so you have the ability to buff your unitsí speed and charge the hill.
  4. Ulaniva (Unique Attack +1). This glyph is great to place on a map when youíre fairly confident with the balance of the design, but would still like to have a glyph. Itís also good to place on a map in order to make sure that a glyph which is too powerful doesnít randomly show up and ruin the mapís balance. Unique attack glyphs are super fun because they can be worth it for getting a little bump on your weaker heroes, and itís always good to reward the player who decided to bring a unique squad. Unique squads donít see the table as much, so rewarding them is always good. This is one of the weaker glyph and should typically be paired with other weak glyphs.
  5. Lodin (D20 +1). I love D20 dependent units; therefore I love Lodin. Lodin is another fairly weak glyph, like Ulaniva. Thereís not much to say other than Lodin should be treated just like Ulaniva when using pre-set glyphs on your maps. In fact, I usually pair the two when I donít want powerful glyphs showing up on my maps. Again, I believe itís always worth it to reward the person who has D20 abilities in their army. D20-based units are often difficult to activate and so Lodin actually helps a lot.
  6. Wannock (1 wound, end of round). Wannock is the ultimate equalizer. Seeding a map with Wannock is a strong way to force focus to one side of the map or the other. Wannock will always engender conflict, which is why itís such a good glyph to use. When done well, using Wannock will help limit the strength of prime positions for pods and force opponents to come to it. This can be bad in some cases, when itís too much of a focus and the whole map doesnít get used. For the most part though, Wannock can be a very strategic glyph and can be used to counter what would otherwise be unfavorable map designs.
There are other glyphs you could use and not everyone will agree with me on my selection, but I believe the above glyphs are the most competitive when designing maps. I hope this has helped you see in some small way that the best map designers find a way to balance their maps with pre-set glyphs. Random glyphs just donít quite do it (even though Iím guilty of it all the time) and a map with carefully planned and placed pre-set power glyphs will usually be found to have more balance.
Total Comments 7

Comments

Old
bmon's Avatar
Yup, that's the same glyph pool I've settled on at home (with addition of Kelda though).

There's a lot of interesting glyphs that get overlooked due to their strength or scenario specific nature. I'd love to see more maps made that utilize those in a balanced way (ex. Rannveig, Thorian, Sturla).

As a side note though- why does Crevcor exist (common attack +1)? I don't think even the best map makers could balance that!

Great article Sir H! Thanks!
Posted February 3rd, 2019 at 11:01 AM by bmon bmon is offline
Old
superfrog's Avatar
Over the last few years, I've seen more and more maps that use bilateral symmetry instead of rotational symmetry.

I think it's a really cool direction to explore in map-building, and I think pre-set glyphs work especially well in that context.

For rotationally symmetric maps, I like to focus on making sure the glyph locations are appropriately accessible and attractive to both sides. If you do that well, I think there's nothing wrong with random glyphs.
Posted February 4th, 2019 at 01:10 PM by superfrog superfrog is online now
Old
BiggaBullfrog's Avatar
Nice article, good read!

@bmon -- Kelda is a great addition to a glyph pool! I'm surprised it's not on the list here, but I suspect that's one of those areas that Sir H hinted at when he said not everyone will agree with him. Personally, I prefer Kelda over Gerda. That said, when making a map with random glyphs, the glyph pool is out of your hands, so that part of the article is more aimed at tournament runners, I guess.

For Crevcor, It's an interesting "counter" of sorts to Ulaniva, but I'd only use it in an extreme scenario (like zombie horde vs Marvel heroes, but even that's iffy). Even on a regular map, if you want that big of an attack boost and are willing to balance around it, just give the uniques a chance too and go with Astrid (which can actually make for fun games on a map designed to balance it).
Posted February 4th, 2019 at 06:53 PM by BiggaBullfrog BiggaBullfrog is offline
Old
flameslayer93's Avatar
Great article!
Posted February 5th, 2019 at 10:43 PM by flameslayer93 flameslayer93 is offline
Old
superfrog's Avatar
Here's a question for you ARVers:

When do you flip your glyphs?

There's a great blog from dok that explains some various approaches here.

I like 1(a), as is used in Online Tournaments, but a recent comment from Flash made me wonder what Utah does (since most of you are Utahns).
Posted February 9th, 2019 at 07:02 PM by superfrog superfrog is online now
Old
BiggaBullfrog's Avatar
@superfrog Great article! Thanks for linking me to that!

At the Utah Monthlies, we do option 2, going off of those approaches from dok's article. Though I do prefer 1(a) personally (I've enjoyed it ever since coming across the online tourneys, and the first tournament I ever ran before the Monthlies started up used 1(a)).

Sir H's events in Idaho generally do option 3, but that's my least favorite option, for many of the reasons that dok describes. We used to do option 3 at our Monthlies, but when I took over I switched to option 2, and am planning a shift to option 1(a) in the near future, probably next month.

Along that note, I don't like Gerda in random glyph pools in general as I feel it polarizes the map, but I especially don't like it in the option 3 because when one player randomly flips over Gerda and the other randomly flips over Lodin, the Lodin player feels bad and has wasted resources getting to that area. You don't have that problem with 1(a) since both players can gun for Gerda from the outset.
Posted February 15th, 2019 at 01:37 PM by BiggaBullfrog BiggaBullfrog is offline
Old
Confred's Avatar
I had always used random Glyphs, but no more! great insight
Posted March 27th, 2019 at 09:15 PM by Confred Confred is offline
 
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