Blizzard adds and subtracts multiplayer ladder maps in new StarCraft 2 update

By Xav de Matos, Feb 25, 2011 8:15pm PST

Blizzard has sent word that a slew of map changes have just hit its critical and commercial smash StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty. Though the update removes a number of maps from rotation in the game's multiplayer ladder mode--which can still be played in custom games--nine maps were added to the RTS title.

Maps will be distributed automatically via Battle.net when players log into the game. Blizzard says the company plans to add "a couple more new maps to the official ladder rotation in the coming weeks, including a user-made 1v1 map that is currently being featured in the Global StarCraft League (GSL)."

Rather than leave us asking why certain maps were removed, Blizzard has sent a detailed listing of the changes with included commentary on each decision, which can be found below.

Notes on the changes from Blizzard

Changes to 1v1:

1v1 Maps Carrying Over:

  • (1) Scrap Station

  • (2)Xel'Naga Caverns

  • (4)Delta Quadrant

  • (4)Metalopolis

    1v1 Maps Removed:

    (2)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.

    (2)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.

    (2)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.

    (4)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.

    (4)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.

    1v1 Maps Added:

    (4)Backwater Gulch

    Backwater Gulch has a familiar main to first expansion layout. Early game play on this map should feel familiar and there probably aren't too many early game threats or difficulties in terms of gimmicky strategies you need to worry about. The second expansion, however, features a high ground area that is accessible by two ramps, meaning it can be easily harassed. The center area has two watch towers as well as two high yield expansions that will be difficult to maintain, and the key to victory in some games could come down to how long you hold one or both of these center expansions.

    (4)Slag Pits

    Metalopolis was one of two favorite maps across the different skill levels of players. We decided to introduce a very similar map, but slightly more macro heavy. We took out Shakuras Plateau, which was a very plain macro map, and added this map instead. Some of the key features of this map are the low ground high yield expansions, the 2 lines of shrub area that can be used to position units, as well as the low ground watch tower that watches over all of the low ground center.

    (4)The Shattered Temple

    The Shattered Temple is a newer version of Lost Temple that's more balanced. Improvements to Lost Temple found in this map include:

  • Wider center area

  • Watch tower changed to only cover a part of the center of the map. It's possible to sneak units around the corners of the central area without getting detected by the watch tower.

  • Rocked off islands. This creates an alternate attack route, and reduces stalemate situations that islands cause.

  • Larger choke point by the expansion makes it more difficult to block off.

    (4)Typhon Peaks

    This map has a lot of the fun traits of previous maps. Rocks by on the sides of the map are positioned similarly to Scrap Station to reduce rush distance in vertical start locations. The center has two watch towers and provides the main attack path like in Shakuras Plateau, and the second expansion is similar to the setup of Xel'Naga Caverns. Even though this map is brand new, players will be able to utilize some of their existing strategies that have been used on other maps, and potentially combine them to fit the unique play style of this new map.

    Changes to 2v2:

    2v2 Maps Carrying Over:

  • (4)High Orbit

  • (4)Monlyth Ridge

  • (4)Red Stone Gulch

  • (4)Scorched Haven

  • (8)Tempest

    2v2 Maps Removed:

    (4)Arid Wastes

    Team play maps where your base is too far from your ally tend to favor race compositions that can use mobile armies. This is the reason why we will avoid having maps like Arid Wastes in the team play ladder in the future.

    (4)Tarsonis Assault

    This map has a similar feel to Scorched Haven or Monlyth Ridge. The main difference is that distance to future expansions are very far. We wanted to remove 1 of these 3 maps since they're similar in style, and Tarsonis Assault was the worst one out of the three.

    (4)Twilight Fortress

    This map is an extremely macro heavy map we wanted to try. The game play on this map is very different, and the average length of games on this map was too long so it is being taken out of ladder play.

    (4)War Zone

    War Zone suffers from similar problems as Arid Wastes. It's near impossible for certain team setups to help each other, and in team games, we want to have maps that are more team play based.

    2v2 Maps Added:

    (4)Gutterhulk

    Like Scorched Haven or Monlyth Ridge, this map has a center area between the two allies where each player can safely expand. However, the main difference is that there are rocks blocking off the back of the main bases, meaning harassing either players' main base is possible. In terms of main attack routes, there are 5 different attack paths to your opponents, meaning that control of the two watch towers is key to success on this map.

    (4)Khaydarin Depths

    This map was first showcased during Blizzcon 2009 even before the retail game launched. This map features an easily defendable high yield expansion in between you and your ally. However, this expansion is blocked off by destructible rocks, meaning you have to choose when to break this rock vs. when to attack or defend vs. the opposing team. Controlling the center of the map gains you access to most of the center of the map, but there are still back door routes around to the opponents' bases by breaking one set of destructible rocks.

    (4)Omega Sector

    Omega Sector is a two-player version of the popular 3v3 map Arakan Citadel. The start locations are very similar on both maps, and side expansion areas are a bit more easily accessible by the opposing players. This map has a possible three paths to attack, and although the center is the fastest route, the other two routes will be used very frequently because there are no watch towers overlooking them. As with Arakan Citadel, your ally is slightly far away from your base, so consider this when placing your first production structures.

    (4)Ruins of Tarsonis

    Ruins of Tarsonis is a more-balanced version of War Zone, which is being removed from the map pool. The biggest downside of War Zone was that it was near impossible to assist your ally if you didn't have a mobile army. However, with the shared choke points on this map, it's now possible to play as any race combination without obvious disadvantages. In the mid/late game however, there are back door attack paths leading to your second expansion areas, so be sure to defend those locations as well.

    Changes to 4v4:

    4v4 Maps Carrying Over:

  • (8)Extinction

  • (8)High Ground

  • (8)Lava Flow

  • (8)Megaton

  • (8)Outpost

  • (8)Sand Canyon

  • (8)Toxic Slums

    4v4 Map Added:

    (8)District 10

    This map is divided in half for each team to control each side. Make sure to take control of the two watch towers in order to control your team's side, and pay close attention to the destructible rocks leading into the main base shared by you and your teammates.

    Changes to FFA:

    FFA Maps Carrying Over:

  • (4)Metalopolis

  • (6)Quicksand

  • (6)Tectonic Rift

  • (8)Abyss

    FFA Maps Removed:

  • (4)Lost Temple -- Being replaced by the newer (4)The Shattered Temple.

  • (4)Kulas Ravine -- This map is being removed and will be replaced by (4)Slag Pits, as Kulas is no longer part of any ladder pool.

    FFA Maps Added (descriptions above):

  • (4)Slag Pits

  • (4)The Shattered Temple

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