So, I was a bit conflicted regarding me answering this week’s Community Update, mostly because it was quite short, and most of the things discussed there are things that I have already gone at length over, yet TL_Olli brought up the idea of me writing about what I thought about the final Map Pool line up on Tweets, but you know what? Screw Tweets, I’m not a guy that can consistently fit my long ass words on the dwarfish stanza receptacle Twitter provides. Not to mention that in the past my blogs have always found a way to be absolutely useless to the general playerbase, so lets change that, this week’s blog will be a analysis of characteristics of the maps, what things should players be aware of and how they might interact from a player perspective.
Because this Mapmaker’s Perspective will be more map focused, It will also probably be slightly shorter, there simply is not much else for me to discuss that I haven’t gone over on past blogs.
Due to BlizzCon this week, we only have a short update to follow up with last week’s.
First, we want to clear something up regarding the major patch. We’re still aiming to release it to the live game shortly after BlizzCon. We haven’t received as much testing as we had hoped with the balance testing queue, but thankfully we do have the offseason to continue tuning and polishing these major changes on the live game before the ladder seasons begin next year.
Regarding maps, we’ve changed up the list thanks to your feedback. If you have any additional thoughts, please let us know.
Newkirk Precinct TE
Vaani Research station
I have been asked more than once to outline my thoughts on playing the game on older maps, and I think the player base might have some misunderstandings on the beefiness of playing the game on older or nonstandard maps.
Starcraft II is a very resilient game when it comes to playing it on nonstandard or very old map designs, as long as maps are kept “fresh”, you can do many “crazy things”, I would seriously commend readers to give Kulas Ravine a go for a couple games, it is a very different experience than anything on ladder right now…
Unsurprisingly I’m deviating from today’s topic rather fast, but to keep myself on track, if someone is interested on reading my (rather resumed) thoughts on this Offseason’s Map Pool they need to read the Oct 28 Blog, here I’ll talk more towards of how the maps will behave on the Test Version of the game with the stronger Tanks and other units, I’ll also tend to focus more on Mech related gameplay too, as that affects maps the most and is what DevTeam has its main focus on. So if you want you read the thoughts on what I think would be a better map pool or at least what on my eyes Devteam should be careful with regarding this season’s pool head there instead.
Daybreak is partially based on the BW classic Matchpoint, yet with SC2 being so incredibly different from BW from a Mapmaking perspective, it makes it really hard to truly compare the gameplay both maps produce.
As it is known Daybreak was made back on 2011 as a GSL replacement to Xel’naga Caverns, because of this the map has several very exploitable positions for units like Liberators, Proxy Oracles, Medivac with Boost and other air shenanigans. This is something that I’ll probably repeat many times on this Blog, many of the old maps, are simply not designed to keeping the new LotV air units on check, actually a fair amount of them now go the other way around, and re-inforce the strength of air unit’s harassment. Which is a lengthy topic that can’t be covered today.
The central highgrounds that overlook the two main pathways of the map will for sure be a huge point of contention, yet on my eyes they will not work on the same way the highgrounds on Matchpoint worked. This is because unlike MatchPoint where that Highground was placed between 3rd and 4th bases, an area which could simply not be circumvented with big armies, while on Daybreak this is simply not the case, if a player takes and “turtles” in one of the highgrounds, the opponent can still send his army over the second pathway.
This is why most often than not when seeing old games on Daybreak, players will tend to position their armies right on the center base instead of the Highgrounds, in order to defend all most important pathways while gaining the economic advantage holding the center base implies.
Korean mapmakers tend to really like (or liked) to use player diffuse or contended bases. On later HotS years Westerner Mapmakers have preferred to use clear defined lines of ownership when it comes to bases in order to avoid some of the issues generated by contended bases, such as generating Winner’s Base scenarios where a player holding a single base can mean the other player losing the game, or a player who has an advatage will only get farther ahead by taking a central base, dashing any hope of a comeback by the player that’s behind.
My advice when playing on Daybreak for the first week or so is to be extremely mindful of air harassment, the rather limited pathways and the new strong tanks will make 100% sure that the metagame will strongly at least for the first weeks develop into heavy drop play on any vsMech related MU, if players feel ballsy I would even recommend to try and hold the enemy watch tower in order to have that extra edge when keeping an eye out for drops.
Other important thing to remember is that Daybreak is a Cannon Rush prone map.
And to finish, Zerg players might want to avoid taking a very fast Third on ZvZ on this map, base distances here are not like more modern HotS or LotV maps, so on ZvZ Baneling Speedling on my eyes is for sure to become the Meta during considerable parts of the Early to Midgame.
The distances between bases on HS are rather similar to those on more modern maps, so players wouldn’t need to change their BO’s too much in order for them to fit the map, I can’t truly speak for the viability of taking the gold base early game for any MU, on my eyes, Metagame will sort it out, tho I can for certain say that Terrans shouldn’t even try to bother lifting to the Gold base, LotV’s fast start+ the distance to the base puts an end to that strategy.
2 and 3 base heavy Tank Mech timings on my eyes might be very, very problematic for MechvZ, the highground in front of the the Blue Third can easily allow Terran players to create some very, very strong Tank leapfrog pushes, yet Zerg players adapt fast, it will be interesting to see if they can somehow overcome some of those timings, or if what I mentioned on the past Blog about Terrain levels will remain true.
Habitation Station being a 6 base map could very easily mean that Mech players will gain the upper hand vs lategame Zerg,this might be specially true given than 3 out of the 6 bases can be attacked by ranged units from behind. Be them Liberators or otherwise.
As far as PvP, ZvP, PvT & TvT I don’t see many ground breaking things that could heavily change the map’s gameplay from what has been seen in the past, other than Rotti-Builds are sadly a thing of the past. Oh, and T’s won’t have to worry too much about reaper openings that have been driving some Terran’s mad for the last few months of exposed Main maps.
Pantanal will be on my eyes a quite interesting experiment for Mech with strong tanks on LotV. On LotV Mech needs a 4th base in order to actually become a working composition in the lategame, and Pantanal not only delivers, but it does so with a Pocket Expansion, which not only can be safely taken, but greedier T players can skip the Planetary and use an Orbital Command.
Mech and Terran in general can also quite easily deny the central Gold bases with the use of Liberators and localized Tank pushes, tho for how long the Terrans might be able to keep said blockade is up in the air and left to the Metagame to sort out.
Lategame LotV games in order for them to “work” usually need of +6 bases, sadly Overgrowth falls short and only has 6 to offer, and 5 of those are actually long term hold-able bases, meaning that players need to be very mindful of inefficient engagements, because there is no “later game” where they can make a comeback.
Just like with previous Maps, Liberators might be still be problematic on some Mineral lines, even when the Natural will be safer than other bases (safer, not safe), the map overall doesn’t offer too many Liberator spots mostly because EastWindy tailored the map’s bounds to snugly fit the layout, meaning that there are not many dead areas around the edges.
Newkirk Precinct TE
Unlike its LE edition the TE version of the map tends to be quite open, with lots of space for concaves and maneuvers BW maps, in order to account for the strength of Mech compositions tended to be very open compared to their SC2 counterparts, now with stronger Tanks and Liberators, testing of open maps in order to check the strength of Mech is a very good way to make sure the game is working properly on many different types of terrain.
Newkirk unlike HS or Daybreak even while the map might have a considerable amount of airspace around mains, I highly doubt players will see too much air harassment from Liberators, Medivac Drops maybe, tho un-upgraded Liberators don’t really have the range to shoot at the Main base’s Mineral line from abyss.
The map will be a rather interesting ground to face Mech or BioMech and use air units against it, not to mention that Terran players taking the forward exposed Thirds would be on a ripe position for being attacked with strong 2 to 3 base Timing pushes.
On lategame scenarios I can easily see Mech players struggling to try and cover all possible attack paths from harassment sorties, though same can be said from almost any mildly static composition on such an open map.
Vaani Research Station
Vaani on my eyes is a much more air focused and overall weaker version of Newkirk TE, I see the map has so much emphasis on Midgame air/drop play that I’m not even sure if it is the right decision for DevTeam to add into the map pool because it might skew the player base perspectives on the Metagame’s development over the entire map pool. Though a good counterpoint is that it will for sure allow DevTeam to pin point strengths and weaknesses of Midgame airplay for the entire metagame development of the map pool and Mech in general.
Just like Overgrowth the map lacks the economy in order to be playable on very lategame scenarios. A thing that’s important to mention on my earlier comparison to Newkirk is that Vaani overall tends to have a much more limited amount of middle map army pathways, yet the Air/Drop attack paths are much more prevalent making players more defensive and less prone to be out in the map, partially also leading to turtling, but that’s harder to say without seeing some real Metagame development.
Players will probably want to be very careful with Liberator harassment for many of Vaani’s mineral lines including the Main base are very, very close to abyssal edges/Cliff border, leaving them mighty exposed to Libs. Vaani might probably need changes done to the terrain behind Mineral lines in order to avoid Liberators doing more damage than they are supposed to.
The Zerg player who by the end of the season has not Vetoed Echo will on my eyes forever be a valiant defender of the race.
Echo might be the most Mech exploitable map on the entire OffSeason’s Map Pool, even more than Vaani, and that’s saying something, a pity really since I had a really fun time working on the map. Echo’s highgrounds behind bases which in the past worked in order to allow Non-Mech players break a Turtling Terran via Drops and Air harassment now work against the Non-Turtling player because of extreme levels of Liberator abuse.
I’m not positive regarding the LotV balance of the map, yet I do hope the map gives wherever unknown data DevTeam might seek.
The map, just like others only has 6 bases per player, not allowing a great deal of extreme lategame games, tho a good interesting thing that never really came to light are the map’s corner bases, and how they interact when players are trying to actively sabotage the enemy from mining, while trying to secure the bases for oneself. So personally, I look forward to that even when the map on my eyes is simply not fit for LotV at all, other than maybe testing how strong Heavy Tank play will be.
Whirlwind on my eyes will be the most interesting map to play on the entire map pool, as I have previously mentioned BW maps usually had open centers in order to control the strength of Mech compositions, and Whirlwind even while it does have a open center and a considerable amount of army/attack pathways, said pathways can still be held and controlled by heavy Tank compositions, on SC2 Mech lacks spider mines which will for sure hamper the overall stability of Mech as a composition on Whirlwind, yet this makes the map all the more interesting to me as a Mapmaker, as Whirlwind could show future maps which might be the best implementations for future types of lategame expansions (Pocket Expansions? Semi-Island? BW 1 Ramp Expos?).
Regarding players, even when Whirlwind might look to be very exploitable by Liberators, I’m sure players will not be surprised to hear that Whirlwind for the most part does not have many exploitable Liberator positions other than 1 on the Naturals on top of the Overlord Vision Pod, and the cardinal expansions (12, 3, 6 & 9 bases), where Libs might be able to reach a couple Mineral patches from the abyss.
Base distances on the map are just slightly longer than players might be used to, making securing a 3rd base a bit harder than what has become the standard, though as the game progresses, players will be delighted to find that the map’s base flow is simply outstanding.
Whirlwind is the epitome of standard for 4 player maps and as such I don’t have many things to say about it, other than maybe be careful of lategame enemy run-by’s into your ever distant mining bases & keep an eye for Nyduses because the Main base is slightly larger than what players might be used to.
I hope this little analysis was useful to some of you, as a Mapmaker is always risky telling talking to the general public about map design because one can’t truly go deep into the stuff and as a consequence I end up being more vague and leaving holes into my explanations, holes that for sure will be picked at by the classic rage-y & showoff GM player.
Anyhow, this blog turned out to be slightly longer than what I had anticipated, but I blame yesterday’s rain & my unblushing use of long-ass-words for that.