It has now been over six weeks since the last new version of this map. lgoasklucyl has, in my opinion, shown exceptional patience and a willingness to engage everybody in the process of improving this map, considering this was supposed to be a project that he would only have to do the graphics for. His last post exemplifies his desire to make everybody happy...
I kind of like the four territ +2 for Belize, in the same way I like the bonus n Australia.
How many people are on board with adding a territ to Belize?
How many for adding a territ in El Salvadador?
Making something neutral? If so, what?
Combing RAAS and RAAN?
Personally, I like everything besides making something neutral.
I especially like combining RAAS and RAAN because I hate acronyms for territ names. Especially ones in all caps
But at this point I fear that his desire to please everybody is really stalling this map's development. With every version there is a new round of gameplay suggestions, and while lgoasklucyl has been good about trying to incorporate all of them, anybody who has worked on a map's play knows that every change affects something else on the map: if you add starting neutrals it alters the number of starting positions; if you change the value of a bonus it shifts balance of power on a map; if you remove a border it changes how two regions can be coupled; if you add a territory to a region it alters where the best initial drop is, etc.
So I think we need to consider what we want out of this map and try to lock in the gameplay so that lgoasklucyl can continue to work out the graphics. When I started working on this map
in October of last year this was my vision:
1. Keep the gameplay "classic" in nature.
This is a basic geographically based map and the gameplay should reflect that. There is no historical setting so we don't need to add any historically specific elements to the gameplay. No special movements or killer/reducer territories.
2. Keep the map small-ish.
It's a small and oddly-shaped region, without much room to play with... it presents many of the same challenges and the oft-abandoned Japan maps, with its long, narrow shape. Getting overly ambitious with what we can do just makes it a bad map.
3. As it is a small map, make it friendly for a small number of players.
Provide multiple (at least three) good starts in different areas of the map. Put enough of a buffer between the starts that each player has a chance to do at least some expansion before being knocked around by a fortified opponent. Try to reduce to odds of getting a really lucky drop.
In my opinion, some of the additions to this map over the past six months since the competition ended have been good and in keeping with my original goals: the Sea Route Territories provide needed connectivity without making end to end attacks too easy; the Sea Routes/Canal bonus provides a good start to a southern player. Other changes, now that I look back on them, are of questionable value: the reduction of a territory in Costa Rica made the Costa Rica/Panama end of the map both easier to capture (one less territory) and easier to hold (one less border), though that was tempered by another change - the addition of more port cities. Fortunately throughout the changes we've kept the map at a really good size: 33 territories.
Now we're talking about some other changes which (apart from grinding development to a stand-still) have merit but will create additional problems.
- Adding a territory to Belize seems nice because it's a classic-like four territory region, but this map isn't classic. We have three other regions on the map that have three (or fewer) territories, which classic does not. Making Belize larger has the effect of making a northern start on this map unenviable, since the southern region now has a pair of three-terit regions and the advantage of having nobody below him; hold the Canal and work your way up to win.
- Adding a territory to El Salvador to eliminate the small region seems like a no-brainer, and maybe it is. But I want to point out that El Salvador is not the best start on the map even though it is small. Unlike Belize and Panama it has no natural borders behind it; both territories are exposed to a pair of attackers, the El Salvafor player has no easy expansion into a neighboring region (both Gautemala and Honduras are big and wide open), and the +1 bonus won't seem so hot when your northern and southern enemies are pulling in +2s.
- Combining RAAN and RAAS just because we don't like the names seems like an awful idea. It would reduce a territory from Nicaragua making it equal in size to Honduras and therefore, I assume, lowering its bonus to match. But it would not reduce a border; it would be a six territory region with five borders that gives a +4.
I said months ago that I was committed to seeing this map completed. The competition was a disappointment to us all - let's not allow the production of this map to go the same way. So I propose:
1. We add the third territory to El Salvador, making it a coastal territory that does not border another region. So from west to east it would be Santa Ana, San Salvador, Usulutan. Up the bonus to +2.
2. Leave Belize as a +2, three territory region, but redraw the territories as suggested above so that the Cayes is a part of a coastal central territory that doesn't border Guatemala.
3. Leave Nicaragua as-is, since there are not (in my opinion) enough benefits to such a merger to justify the overall effects it would have to the balance of the map.
4. Leave open for discussion the possibility of coding some starts to address possible imbalance/lucky start issues. There are benefits and disadvantages to coding starts, but such discussion shouldn't delay map work.