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Blizzard update the ladder map pool

By Radoslav 'Tyrael' Kolev
Feb 26, 2011 23:02

ImageThe long requested change to the ladder map pool has come. It has been updated with four new maps in attempt to make the game more balanced and exciting..

Blizzard have decided that it is time to do some renovation on the current ladder map pool. Five old maps - Shakuras Plateau, Blistering Sands, Steppes of War, Jungle Basin and Lost Temple - will step down and give their place to some fresh newcomers. Furthermore, the company has issued a statement behind the removal of each of the 1v1 ladder maps.

Blistering Sands:
"We wanted to reduce the number of rush maps in general, and Blistering Sands was one of them. On top of that, Blistering Sands matches resulted in too many all-in games due to the rocks into the main base. The frequency of all-in roach/speedling, 4 warpgate push, or even mass marine/marauder stimpack push by breaking the rocks was a bit too high, so we decided to pull this map from the ladder."

Jungle Basin:
"Jungle Basin has a few traits that make it extremely favorable for Terran, so we decided to remove it from the ladder. These include:

# It's possible to set up siege tanks right below the main base of your opponent and harass his natural expansion while preventing his forces from leaving his base.
# Too many choke points everywhere on the map made it difficult for Zerg to deal with marines, marauders, or siege tank-based skirmishes.
# Difficult access to second expansion

High ground right in from of the ramp leading down to main. Setting up units at both this high ground as well as part of the low ground was too powerful, especially for Terrans that use siege tanks."

Steppes of War:
"Again, we wanted to reduce the number of rush maps, and Steppes was the most rush-friendly rush map we decided to cut. It's not that we don't like rush maps, but we have learned over the course of season 1 that two-player rush maps are generally more one-sided than four-player rush maps. For the ladder map changes, the rush possible maps we'll have will be four-player maps only."

Lost Temple:
"Problems of Lost Temple:

# If one side controls one of the center watch towers, there's no alternate ground-based route to half of the map, meaning it's too easy for the game to become a stalemate with each side taking half of the map.
# Small islands in the corners were problematic in that they were difficult to assault as each of the three races. We noticed it's possible to hold out at one or both of these islands and drag on a game for longer than needed. It was also problematic in that in some matchups, these islands were just free expansions that almost never get attacked, which is not what we wanted in an expansion.
# The choke point by the natural expansions were too small; it was possible to block them off easily using only a few buildings."

Shakuras Plateau:
"This map we decided to remove for a different reason. There isn't a huge problem with this map, but we felt there aren't enough interesting features of this map. The natural expansion is easy to take and defend; there are only two possible attack paths only one of which is generally used, and main bases aren't easy to harass. For a change, we wanted to replace this relatively plain map with something new."

In order to make the pool diverse, four new maps have been added.

Slag Pits
Slag Pits seems like a standard 4-player macro map but with some interesting features like the two low-ground rock-blocked gold expos and the single low-ground watch tower. The low number of expos in general would spark interesting moments when players try to take a third and the absence of short base-to-base rush distances will undoubtedly favour a mid-late game strategic plan.

Backwater Gulch
The 4-player Backwater Gulch makes the impression of a very interesting map. The high number of destructible rocks would make early, mid and late game totally different in respect to army movement and expanding. The natural, although nicely tucked, is accessible by three paths, one of them being a rock-blocked ramp. The easy access to the most convenient third is blocked by rocks and is placed next to a easy accessible high-ground. Two golds are located in the centre in the vicinity of two watch-towers. Overall, the difficulty to keep expansions safe and the many chokes would give ground for critical mid-late game decision making.

Shattered Temple
Shattered Temple is basically a redone and improved version of Lost Temple. The dreaded high ground at the natural is now gone, the chokes are wider and tougher to defend, the islands are now accessible by ground but rock-blocked and there is just one watch tower in the middle. Everything else remains the same but the aforementioned changes would greatly improve the overall map balance in the different match-ups.

Typhon Peaks
Typhon Peaks has the usual main-natural set-up and a low-ground third, accessible by two paths, much like the blue third on Xel-Naga. Rock-blocked paths are situated the top and the bottom base on each side of the map and provide an alternative attack path in mid-late game. Two of the key features of the map are the absence of gold expansions and the multitude of ground attack paths, the latter opening a multitude of possibilities for dodging enemy armies and initiating counter attacks.

Blizzard have stated that they will continue to update and improve the map pool and that there is the possibility of adding one of the GSL maps to better the laddering experience.




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