Getting back on track with Maps of the Month, I hereafter present November 2009's MOTM!
In first place, we have a clear winner, such a godly map that I don't know why we should even keep making MOTMs, as this map will blow away future winners indefinitely, hmm.. more on that idea later.
Famous mapper LastCurse gives us: crapshit2.jpg, er I mean (2)DeadSpace 0.98!
This cataclysmically great map starts out with a bang: low ground mains with highground nats! Reversing the altitude I'm sure will be standard in all maps from now on. The nats are pretty wide, making fast expo builds potentially riskier vs trashcan players seeking to all-in early on, further deviating from the norms of comfortable, skill-based gameplay we're so used to. Lastcurse intends with this feature to blow our minds away by forcing new standards in gameplay, an action surely needed with the release of Starcraft 2 Beta, initiating the demise of Broodwar as we know it. "Cliffing" the nat from beneath it lies an islandy pit which doubles as a useless ovy spot to trap noob zergs who think they can scout their opponent, hah!
Just outside the nat we have a path leading to three roads, a LastCurse choke, if you will. The outward path leads to the 3rd gas expansion, a relatively safe base fairly close to the player, and pretty far from your opponent. As the path with the LastCurse choke is higher altitude than this path, it's easier than otherwise to control and secure the expansion, ensuring its defensiveness. There is no safer possible expansion to choose from as your 3rd base. As such we have a more linear expo layout, but let me assure you this is simply another grand feature by our genius LastCurse. Nonsensical features like nontraditional expo layouts, where players have "choice" in where and when to expo simply distract from the game itself. Rather than invoke strategic diversity, making each game truly unique and spectacular as previously thought, the concept simply confuses bad players, reducing the amount of gamers who can enjoy a map employing the idea, how silly! Thanks LastCurse for not using that quaint concept, and enlightening us about its adverse effects on a map's overall gameplay.
The central path from the nat's LastCurse path leads to our 4th gas expansion, well sort of. Instead of a boring antiquated ole' normal expansion, our 4th is a reverse-oriented mineral block. That is to say, it blocks off the path with its mineral formation, and to use its gas (as opposed to just its minerals), you must go around it (or hop over it) and expo on the other side of the mineral formation (don't try to transfer your workers to the expansion after doing this!). Players can choose to take this expansion from the "normal" side and mine it as a mineral-only expansion, but their workers will be vulnerable from behind. For a terran in tvp though, this will probably actually be common. Securing this base, particularly with siege tanks, helps defend the 3rd gas expansion, limits your opponent's mobility to a certain degree, all the while getting more minerals. Siege tanks will easily defend the workers, and the terran can safely rally here. When he chooses to move forward or when the lower mineral valued block is mined out (allowing a potential worker transfer) the terran can easily lift his command center to the gas side.
The inward path from the LastCurse path leads into the center, and into a two-forked path. Counter-intuitively enough, the outward path of this fork leads into the most-center path, while the inward path leads to the outer-central path. The former has another two-forked choke, the inward path thankfully leading to the inner-most central path of the map, the outer path leading into the linear path along the edge of the map leading to the 3rd gas expansion. The gas-side of the 4th gas expansion has a large ramp outside of it leading into this path as well. Going backwards along this path takes you to the 5th gas expansion. It's here we actually have a degree of expo-choice: the expansion is far from everything! It's close by air to one player, and lies along the 3rd gas path of the other, but then lies along the inward-outward path of the first player. It has a fairly large choke, a ramp higher than the ground leading to it. The expansion thus is fairly defensible but not incredibly so. An actual cliff overseeing it can harass it easily, and I'm sure tanks from inside the main by it can hit parts of it. I'm not exactly sure how or when this expansion will be used, congratulations LastCurse, you confused me!
And that's the map in a nutshell, so let's look at it in overview. The map is 128x112, making it taller than many (2)maps, but not as big as the vacuous 128x128. The end result is a very long distance from everything to the 5th gas expansion, but also a wider middle. Aside from the very corners of the map there's basically no wasted space, and the first 4bases are all pretty near eachother, making the distances generally respectable. Personally, I'd have stuck to 128x96. A different middle involving fewer chokes (which use up/reduce space in the middle) especially in conjunction with different shapes for the main and 5th gas expansion to use space a little more efficiently would result in atleast just as open a middle, but with better distances and a higher degree of efficiency as far as space allocation goes. However the map is probably fine as is.
Aesthetically the map is less than perfect. LastCurse opted to use terrains lacking differential decorational terrain-types; there is no low altitude terrain that fits with the lowplatform he used, and while there is high plating, he covered the highground with unbuildable tiles making use of plating impossible. He used such tiles along all of the lowground and normal platform away from expansions as well. Some of those ramps are not great looking as well. Seems like a tileset limitation.
The map probably centers around a fairly turtlish macro play-style. The expansions are close together aside from the 5th, which is hard to take outside of as a hidden expansion, ie hard to take securely. It's hard to be aggressive at all given long nat2nat distances and the close proximity of the first four bases. The middle is fairly linear and tight, although its many paths can be used to a degree of openness and nonlinearity, Bluestormesque. Balance-wise my prediction is that it'll be t>z, p>z, t>p, the classic turtle/tight map imbalances. Terrans will probably mech vs zerg, and play passively vs protoss. Anticipate carriers with the many cliffs. The main/nat layout/shape strikes me as being relatively mutalisk friendly, and the long distances certainly dissuade any lurker oriented builds. Maybe you'd see a lot of crazyzerg. zvp should be pretty standard, I'm just betting on the safe 3/4base of p to beat out zerg in a long macro game. Maybe anticipate Shine-esque lair-based play to abuse the long distances and large mains.
Second place won second place last post, just read it again if you want. Third place takes after its image name very well, feel free to check that out on your own.
Now in lieu of reduced activity at broodwarmaps, Map of the Month has become quaint and antiquated, so we'll be replacing this archaic institution with a more modern and more competetive competition: The LastCurse Map and sty_lezerg-ex/tktkvroom Second Place Map of the Fortnight competition, aka the LCSZ&TKMOTFN! Every two weeks we'll be showing off the greatest works of LastCurse, who is changing his ID to LastBlessing, and the dynamic duo sty_lezerg-ex and tktkvroom, who are merging as an archon and taking on the name StyleVroom! Every fortnight you guys will vote on which of their great maps are the best and second best respectively.
Now, I'm excited to announce that I was lucky enough to get an interview with LastBlessing, it's here as follows:
Nightmarjoo: Hey LastBlessing, can you tell us what you do when you're not making amazing maps for our site, keeping the greatest international broodwar mapping site alive almost singlehandedly?
LastBlessing: Sure thing Night^^, when I'm not making epic maps I usually spam my latest set of epic ramps in every map/thread I can find XD, and when I haven't made another rampset for you guys to complain about, I go through the site's database^^ and try to edit every map, replacing the maps with no passwords with animal porn XD
Nightmarjoo: Haha, how amusing. So how do you make the amazing maps you do? I almost have to compare your maps to Testbug's now!
LastBlessing: XD Testbug hates me^^ Well Night, first I go read your sporatic MOTM posts and comments in other people's maps, and I just copy whatever you say to not do XD
Nightmarjoo: Wow, no wonder they seem so great, they're partly influenced by me! I'll have to be more openminded from now on, and accept the myriad of unique ideas, even if they don't conform to what I've decided and told the universe is correct!
LastBlessing: Don't hurt yourself XD
Nightmarjoo: You're right, I'm just kidding.
Nightmarjoo: So what will you do now? What's the first LCSZ&TKMOTFN winner gonna be?
LastBlessing: I dunno yet XD I'm thinking about remaking either Iron Flush or Desert Flower^^
Nightmarjoo: Wow, you're such a bold mapper! Just what the community needs. So, may I ask what prompted your name change?
LastBlessing: Well, I figured LastCurse was too negative sounding for such a great guy like myself XD^^
Nightmarjoo: Yes I agree, and I feel your new name more correctly reflects your activities here at bwm too, forcing us to open our minds to new and unique map concepts, helping ensure the security of the site by abusing the site's vulnerabilities as best you can, making sure we fix up those holes lest someone actually malicious try to exploit them, making large sets of new ramps for all mappers to use in their maps, however ugly they are, and guaranteeing the survival of this great site. I eagerly await to see your next maps.
LastBlessing: XD Thanks XD
Nightmarjoo: My last question, do you have any helpful tips or suggestions for lesser mappers, such as Protoss4ever? Or what about our other rising star, styleVROOM?
LastBlessing: p4ver is hopeless^^ his best bet would be to just copy me XD StyleVROOM is great though, he just needs to use more snow, his maps aren't quite blinding enough yet XD
Nightmarjoo: Haha, you're so great and helpful, what an impressive guy! Most guys of your status and skill might be obnoxious or conceited, it's nice seeing such a modest, down-to-earth mapper. Thanks again for the interview and your continued support of the site!
LastBlessing: No problem XD
Unfortunately styleVROOM didn't have enough time to give an interview, but he did send this image:
Soon we'll be caught up with the old MOTMs, just in time for the first LCSZ&TKMOTFN!