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Old August 10th, 2015, 02:40 AM
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Re: Wargrounds of Scape (WoS) - discussion thread

Review: Robber's Platypus (PDF here)



I'm a big fan of much of Robber's work, and Platypus, his newest major offering, doesn't disappoint. This is the newest version of the map (he's tweaked it several times), and it's got lots to like. To recycle my own awful joke: the ice on it isn't slippery, but the whole thing is slick (HAR HAR HAR).

I've played numerous games (roughly twelve of so) on this map, and like almost everything about it. One's first impression is likely to be "It looks cool!" And that's right on: it DOES look cool. Aesthetically it's a delight, and quite unusual in its dark-green-meets-icy-white palette. There aren't many maps out there which combine swamp and jungle with tundra, and the resulting 'wintergreen' effect is striking. As everybody knows, aesthetics are a huge factor for me, and this thing is a looker.

But it's not merely a looker. It also plays really well. The map's defining feature -- the thing that sets it apart from most -- are its many many hexes at top height (in this case, level 3). There are, in total, a whopping eighteen (!) hexes at top level. Were these mostly contiguous, forming a single huge plateau or two, the result would be tedious battle on a big flat mesa. The other extreme -- scattering isolated hillocks out everywhere across the map, yielding endless bumpiness and no central focus -- would be just as bad. Robber does a marvelous job here of navigating between these extremes: those eighteen hexes are broken up into six clumps, or rather, ribbons, and spread out with precision around the LoS-blockers. The resulting interplay, between longish ribbons of top-level height, almost but never quite reaching each other, wrapping around yet punctuated by well-placed glaciers, produces dynamic results.

It's also quite friendly to melee, with the glaciers effectively limiting firing arcs and the jungle plants helping advancing units. The foliage may not be quite as optimally placed as the glaciers are -- the usefulness of the two palms is somewhat reduced by the adjacent blue water tiles -- but they still provide useful defensive bonuses.

The paths between the glaciers themselves are relatively narrow, which means it's easy for Rats and other blockers to temporarily pin advancing units. But because the heights are ribbons, not isolated perches, they don't usually stay pinned for long: it's relatively easy to pinwheel around blocking units and hop up to even level. The lack of isolated perches also leaves no particularly alluring place for Raelin to set up shop.

The area around the glyphs is, admittedly, cramped, and can turn into a grindfest. But setting up camp at the glyphs gives one little command over the rest of the board. A smart enemy can exploit this, filtering through the middle and swinging around from the back.

In short, I find Platypus to be a well-balanced map, offering fluid play, interesting decisions, and lovely aesthetics. And to top it all off, it's got a nice compact footprint, making it well suited for the back of the car and the tournament table.


I vote YES to induct PLATYPUS by Robber into the Wargrounds of Scape.


Wargrounds of Scape
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