Picking the Right Maps: Part 2
Fri 6th Jul 2012 - 7:33pm: Starcraft II
This article is part 2 of my map selection series, if you haven't read Part 1, I'd recommend doing so. You can find it here.
A Terran player will be far less focused on accessibility of expansions in his map selection. The reason for this is pretty simple: the lift and land mechanic of Terran buildings makes both the construction and moving of a sieged expansion incredibly easy. By that I mean, a Terran player can construct a Command Center in their base and float it over to their expansion and should a dicey situation arise, they can lift it off and fly it away. Another reason expansions aren’t of primary concern for a Terran player is the relative cheapness of their units and the immense mobility they have. The ability to Stim Marines makes defense of bases much easier than for early game Protoss players.
Terrans should be more focused on the physical characteristics of the map. And by that I mean the amount of area behind bases, where watchtowers are located, where high ground is situated. While this is certainly true for all Terran matchups it becomes especially true in Terran vs. Terran matchups. The ability to “siege up” on a particular area of high ground and bombard a base makes the possession of map control for the Terran an offensive capability. A good example of some of these characteristics is on the map Shakuras Plateau.
The larger ovals near the top of the map denote the large amount of space available behind the various bases. This is significant because Terrans can hide drops there and use the “blindness” a player might have and drop without being seen.
The two smaller circles located near the middle of the map show two areas of high ground which are also located next to two potential expansions. Dropping Siege Tanks on these areas can not only deny bases but attack forces coming through the potential attack paths. High ground advantage is always something a player should be trying to obtain and the use of Siege Tanks in conjunction with map characteristics can further benefit the Terran player.
Another good example of high ground use for Terrans would be on the map Antiga Shipyard.
The singular watchtower on this map also happens to be one of the primary attack paths. Controlling the watch tower with Siege Tank support can prevent attacks and help maintain your map control. Terran players should always be looking for high ground advantage and how they can use their siege arsenal to their advantage.
Similar to Protoss, Terran players also have a way of manufacturing artificial choke points. This can be done by floating buildings and landing them in particular areas in order to force your enemy through a tighter space causing them to clump up and be far less effective. This can also be done by lifting and lowering Supply Depots. Terrans should look to create these artificial choke points on maps that have certain narrow attack paths.
Another Terran trait that can be used to exploit map designs is the use of their mobility. Looking back up at Antiga Shipyard, you can see that the ramp leading down from the natural and the ramp into the main are very far from each other. Furthermore, there is a cliff into the main base itself right next to the natural ramp.
With this in mind a Terran player could engage at the bottom of the natural ramp and use units such as Medivacs to elevator their military units directly into the main of their opponent. This is something more of an advanced technique but definitely something to keep in mind when deciding maps. This technique can be used with exceptional benefit against Protoss where mobility between high and low ground can be very difficult, especially if they do not have Blink researched. Keep the distance between ramps and accessibility of the main in mind.
Picking maps as a Zerg player is quite different than with the other two races. Zerg players typically like to expand quickly and establish their economy before doing much else, however, accessibility of bases is not as relevant as it would be for a Protoss player for the simple reason that Zerg units are so much cheaper and so much more mobile. Creating a few Zerglings in the early game can almost ensure a secured expansion for a certain amount of time. As a result of the inherent macro style that Zerg players use, most Zerg maps are those which are larger and have multiple close expansions, preferably not obstructed by Destructible Debris. A map with this characteristic would be Ohana.
As you can see, Ohana has three bases which are fairly close to each other, however, between the natural and the third is a set of Destructible Rocks. Now, the Zerg player can simply take the longer way around to the Third and still expand, this does leave the third quite exposed as there is no real quick way to defend it. Destructible Rocks separating expansions can be a huge problem for Zerg players because many of their units, especially in the dearly game, do not do a significant amount of DPS and as a result will take a really long time to open the pathway between bases. It takes 1 Zergling 696 seconds to destroy a set of Destructible debris so even if you had 6 lings attacking the rocks it would still take 116 seconds to destroy them. This is a fairly obvious setback.
Zerg players are not really concerned with choke points, the reason for that is because it’s incredibly difficult for them to create artificial chokes. More importantly, most Zerg units, especially in the early game with Zerglings and Roaches, are more focused on getting a “full surround” on the opponent. That is that in order for the Zerg units to do any real amount of DPS with their melee range, they must all be attacking the enemy. For this reason, chokes can actually become an issue for Zerg players so choosing a map that has more open attack paths can certainly be in your benefit.
Zerg is well known as the reactionary and harassment race and the reason for this is both due to their mobility and the fact that they typically play a more macro style of game. With that in mind, choosing maps that lend themselves to easier harassment is always something to keep in mind. Looking back at Daybreak you can see exactly how this map lends itself to Zergling run-bys and Mutalisk harassment.
In this picture, the arrows represent the vast amount of area that Zerglings can use to just run into the base and harass workers and the circle shows an easy point of access for Mutalisks to enter from the air. Maps that are more closed off at the expansions can be difficult for Zerg to exercise an immense amount of harassment on their opponent. Choosing maps that have more of a possibility for harassment is probably one of the most important factors affecting a Zerg map choice.
Having map control is something beneficial to all races. Having units active and running around the map looking for bases, sending Observers or Overlords around the map is always a good way to ensure map awareness regardless of the particular map. Controlling the watchtowers is something that many players in lower leagues just don’t do because it feels like you’re wasting a unit, but being able to see an attack coming is definitely worth it.
Beyond the general tendencies a map may have toward any particular race, something that should not be overlooked is your particular preference. If you just don’t like a map even though it might be considered a map that is good for your race, just veto it. Preference is almost as important as map qualities and something to think about.