I realize that I'm a bit behind on my promised feedback, so I'll send out my thoughts even though I haven't organized them as properly as I would like...
Clarity is a tough one for the mapmaker, I think, because it's all about explaining something that already makes perfect sense to oneself. It's also a bit subjective, but ultimately the lower the bar to understanding without a lot of intimidating clutter, the better. Some people see Waterloo and just flee, for instance, because the legend is everywhere and the region names are all alphanumeric codes and there are many symbols and special rules to boot... it doesn't matter that most of the gameplay is explained just fine, because the map looks too intimidating for some people to even make the attempt.
So, for starters, I think that this is just such a map. From a first glance, it's intimidating (a lot like a certain Zombie Invasion map that I'm still struggling to make...
). I can count 7 different places where there are one or more instructions, and then 2 different places on the map that explain the theme/idea/title. That's a lot of looking, glancing back and forth and just general "busy"-ness.Advice
I'd think about how you could consolidate or even eliminate(more on that later) some of the different areas of the legend. Particularly, it seems unnecessary to have the cool quote at the top of the map separate from the title & the flavorful strategic overview (Btw, I think that the overview can be shortened up a bit- the first sentence is redundant as Tribal war already implies that the tribes are 'on the war path'. Also you don't need to refer to the legend below, the tribe symbols are clearly marked as such in the legend box. So maybe try something like "The nine Tribes of Florida are on the war path. Unite them or tear them apart, amass weapons and scalp your enemies on your journey to the sunrise. Take over the Spanish Fort for extra security and weapons." ... the location and name of the fort can be left out as I think it is pretty obvious.)
Another thing that immediately struck me was all of the little 'quirks' that this map employs. There is a decay, a killer neutral, a free-for-all zone, several 'no bonus' regions, individual bonuses (weapons and the fort), build-a-bonuses (for warriors of the same tribe) and traditional continent bonuses (I think... the legend is unclear to me but more on that later).
Now, there's nothing wrong with having many different gameplay elements as long as they all support the general concept and gameplay framework. However, if an element doesn't unequivocably fit, then it's a good sign that it probably should be cut, just to keep things as simple and clear as possible. For instance, if a decay, killer neutral or other 'obstacle' gameplay element was introduced for the sole purpose of correcting some flaw or imbalance rather than supporting the concept, it's almost certain that a better and simpler way can be found by re-examining your framework (just to be clear, "Concept" is the word I use to mean "What
I want the goal of the map to be" and "Framework" is the word I use to mean "A general gamplay plan that describes how
I'm going to reach the map goal").Advice
Consider if there are any gameplay elements that are 'expendable' and then cut them- be brutal. I'll say more if you want me to, but for now I'd rather that you think upon your concept and framework and make your own decisions. Just be as honest as possible about the purpose for including each of the gameplay elements that I listed and what they contribute. (If you don't have a clearly stated concept or plan of implementation, send me a PM and we'll sort one out )
I have to go to bed, but before I do I want to list one more thing that I think could improve the map's clarity: toning down the symbol madness. This map is littered with symbols. I think that normally symbols aren't used enough, but this map goes the other way. A symbol is only useful if it stands out, otherwise it just becomes white noise. The only symbols that I can readily identify with the naked eye are the Tribal Chiefs, the Tomahawks and the Spanish Conquistador and Fort. I think this is in no small part due to the fact that all of the Tribal symbols have a large crescent moon in them and a smaller unique symbol. It's hard to distinguish them when the most prominent part is the same in all of them.
However, that's likely not the whole problem either. The problem perhaps is that every region on the map has a gameplay-relevant symbol attached to it. Consider if there's any way to use colors, textures or some other visual method to set the tribe members apart (you've already used text with the alphabetical abbreviations, but I don't think that it's enough so I agree that some parallel visual method should be employed). I actually think that Supermax Prison Riot! used a mostly decent system with colored borders on the army circles and different color backgrounds.
Again I apologize for the narrative-style critique rather than a bulleted list, but I figured sooner was better than later.
-- Marshal Ney
P.S. Oip almost forgot to mention my confusion with the continent bonuses... the map lists the chief symbol first, which as it turns out has nothing to do with the bonus listed if my guess is correct... In fact, other than being an essential part of the build-a-bonus, does the chief symbol have any significance whatsoever? If not, I would cut it out of the top legend and simply list them or describe them in the build-a-bonus section.