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Dominant Map Features - Roads

Posted May 5th, 2008 at 09:58 AM by Velenne
In my last article, I discussed some of the basic features I look for on every map because every map has them to some degree (except possibly glyphs, but then their absence is noteworthy).

Now I will begin to look a little more at what distinguishes one map from another- their dominant features.

In this article, we're going to explore a few maps that use road tiles to alter the flow of the game. Used properly, road tiles should offer units the ability to expediently cover ground. This can negate the extra movement normally required to climb a hill, allow a melee unit to engage a ranged unit without being fired on, and stretch an army thin to force players to moderate the movement of their units.

All of the following maps offer similar basic features. Their dominant features may at first appear to be the same, but are actually very different.

Let's look at two examples:

Dreyrugr Holr - by Kahrma


Here both cartographers break one of my cardinal rules about road tiles: don't put it around the edge. Most of the time, one spends more movement than the road bonus offers in getting out to the border of the map and then back into the action. However, Embattled Fen gives a reason for the outer road: height. In fact, the road bonus more than makes up for the extra movement it takes to get up to the battlement area. Once taken, a ranged unit has a commanding view of much of the map.

I imagine the idea of Kahrma's road is to give players the option of racing directly for the enemy starting zone. Unfortunately, there's not enough incentive here as it offers no height advantage and it's so long that a rushing player will likely never reach his intended target.

Here's two more :

Little Rampart - by Ch1can0


Here are maps which use castle sets to create wide, central platforms. Broken Skyline uses the ladders and castle walls to break the platform and add elements of height and LOS blockers to the equation. Little Rampart use a glyph instead, meaning that units are forced into engagement to get from once side to the other.

I'll say that the BoV map does it better because giving players options is what Heroscape is all about. Also, the road is best when its bonus can be utilized and giving players the ability to cross the center of the map faster can be a crucial strategy. Little Rampart creates a clogged central area that will actually end up favoring ranged units.

Finally, here's two more:
Desperation by Browncoat

Moss Creek Road by R˙chean


These maps feature a long, narrow central road around which various swampy mounds broil up and down. R˙chean's map uses the road to focus action into the middle and away from the outer glyphs. Browncoat's map uses the road... well I'm not sure why it needs it a road. Both players are able to reach the areas of highest elevation before they get to the road. The road then leads them down off the hill, or maybe gives your opponent the ability to get up to you faster (if they go out of their way), but that just means someone is turtling. (Shame, shame on them!)

So if you're going to use the road, make it accessible! Make it attractive by having it go somewhere players want to go. And for goodness sakes, if you're going to use the wall that comes with the road set, please don't do this with it:




I will end with a map everyone who plays Heroscape should be required to build and play on at least once. In my opinion, this may be the greatest map ever. Look hard and look close because you may learn from the Master. I present UranusPChicago's "Highways and Dieways":

Total Comments 7

Comments

Old
hextr1p's Avatar
Yeah, so your blog needs to be chosen as, "Blog of the Week", as your cartography entries have been great!

You mention Chicano's "Little Rampart" map, and note that the central location forces a clogging situation which would cater to ranged units. What would you suggest to help this? A raised section in the middle of the central bridge to give units in melee a defensive advantage against ranged attacks from the outside? I've played the map and agree with your observation. However, there are times when maps try to force a situation (in this case, the clogged center), and you need to figure out the strategy which will best serve the army you brought to the table, or draft based on the map you're playing. I realize I'm preaching to the choir, but in the case of "Little Rampart", I think it's a pretty solid map, both in function and aesthetics.

I also appreciate your comment about the use of walls that allow units to look over the edge and into The Nothing. Whenever I see a map with this 'feature', my reaction is generally thus:

Posted May 5th, 2008 at 07:39 PM by hextr1p hextr1p is offline
Old
Velenne's Avatar
More and more I'm convinced that the middle of the map is the most important part of it. Open it up, or block it entirely, but allowing units to clog it up only helps many of the oft-used "crutch" ranged units who don't need any help.

The defense glyph in the middle of the platform is what does it. Glyphs are magnets and putting them in the middle just makes it a dogpile there. That's my opinion when it comes to most maps.

Oh, and I think "Rampart" is a good map as well. I wanted to compare two maps with similar dominant features, and "Skyline" just does the central platform better.
Posted May 5th, 2008 at 10:19 PM by Velenne Velenne is offline
Updated May 5th, 2008 at 10:26 PM by Velenne
Old
hextr1p's Avatar
Quote:
More and more I'm convinced that the middle of the map is the most important part of it. Open it up, or block it entirely, but allowing units to clog it up only helps many of the oft-used "crutch" ranged units who don't need any help.
Agreed. And the prize example you use in UPC's map handles the middle of the map beautifully. Not only in the road, but the subtle elevations and their placement, as well as the LOS blockers in the trees. As an aside, something else I love about that map is that the starting zone has strategic use as well. A lot of times, folks just layout an empty space and label it, "Put your army here." With H&D, he sets up an island base of sorts for you to fall back and fortify should it come to that, and yet still has open access points for an opponent's units to move in.
Posted May 6th, 2008 at 12:34 AM by hextr1p hextr1p is offline
Old
Velenne's Avatar
Yes you can fall back to it, but it's lower ground so you really don't want to unless you have to. I don't like map with higher-ground starting zones because it usually encourages turtling. I don't like to make it too hard to get up out of them either.

When I played Rev's Sentinels and Linemen army last October, I spent the beginning of the game trying to block him down there with my minions. Unfortunately, the 4th Mass are too good and I'm just not lucky enough with my defense rolls. He got out and took a Defense glyph and I was done.
Posted May 6th, 2008 at 10:11 AM by Velenne Velenne is offline
Old
Retlaw's Avatar
Quote:
I will end with a map everyone who plays Heroscape should be required to build and play on at least once. In my opinion, this may be the greatest map ever. Look hard and look close because you may learn from the Master. I present UranusPChicago's "Highways and Dieways":
I couldn't agree more. I've played it quite a few times and it is always fun and a challenge. It is probably my favorite.
Posted May 7th, 2008 at 12:06 PM by Retlaw Retlaw is offline
Old
Gomolka's Avatar
This was a very helpful blog, and I enjoy reading all of your helpful blogs, threads, and posts involving advanced mapmaking. I also agree that Highways and Dieways is one of the most balanced maps, and possibly the greatest map we have seen on BoV yet.
Posted May 7th, 2008 at 04:42 PM by Gomolka Gomolka is offline
Old
Einar Gen.'s Avatar
Excellent article! Since I LOVE roads, this really helped a lot.
Posted May 7th, 2008 at 09:27 PM by Einar Gen. Einar Gen. is offline
 
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