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Depleted vs ash.Dreamer on (4)Charmander0.83
MOTM 06.200828 2008f July 2008 06:46 PM
Posted by:Nightmarjoo

Not even two months late, ie early, I give you the slightly contraversial, Map of the Month for the month of June!

And here's Testbug's (4)Voices 4! Testbug is surely not an unfamiliar name to you if you have been following the Map of the Month competitions at all, as he has won or been involved in literally half of all Maps of the Month! Testbug surely is the current dominating mapper at the site, and looks to be for some time!

While Testbug's name is no stranger, neither probably is the name Crackling, who has literally won or been involved in a fourth of all Maps of the Month to date. Crackling made the original (4)Voices (seen here).

Testbug took the concept in Voices, which was actually developed by Tktkvroom, probably an unfamiliar face, who won the 3rd Map of the Week in 2007 with his (2)Kumba.

Tktkvroom developed this concept in his map (4)Devotion (seen here), which crackling borrowed and implemented in Voices, which Testbug took and brilliantly executed in Voices iv!

With introductions finally concluded, I give you the map!
The map starts out fairly standard, twilight with main bases settled in the map's corners, yawn... but quickly starts to unfold itself as a unique map as it gives the players two entrances to their mains! One entrance leads directly to your natural expansion, just like normal, and the second entrance heads right into a mineral only expansion. The secondary entrance is blocked with a 48 value mineral block, preventing both players from using this entrance, allowing the main base to feel safe and secure like normal.

But! Wouldn't you think that the mineral block, which while it blocks the path, causes units to believe it isn't there, thus resulting in pathing problems where the ai will cause the units to walk back and forth into the block endlessly, which would give all players a headache throughout the entirety of the game, as long as the mineral block is present? Normally yes, and that's the problem which Crackling faced, and later he fixed the problem by removing the second path altogether. But the brilliance of Testbug strikes, and by placing the two ramps nearly adjacent to eachother, they are positioned close enough that when a worker attempts to go through the mineral block (if he does at all), he will immediately find the non-blocked path and use it instead, thus allowing pathing to be perfectly fine on the map!

And from here, the map continues its brilliance! Starting in the nat, you start seeing features which can excite the gameplay. Overlooking your natural expansion's minerals lies a small basillica plateau, from which you and your enemy can harass one-another's miners. This feature, while not overwhelming thanks to its small size, will certainly play a critical point in gameplay, as both players must always keep in mind the plateau and ensure they can deal with any nuisance they throw up there, a cliff with no ramp which while can be fired upon from the natural is only accessible to air or drops for direct assault.

The next expansions in the map are in the compass directions, 12/6/3/9. These gas expansions are directly between each starting location, making them neutral expansions, not automatically "belonging" to any player. These are critical for gameplay, as they are closer than another nat or main, and give the players another vespene geyser to mine from. While these expos sport a fairly tight and defensible choke, they are quite open, making them quite vulnerable to drops.

From here you have the middle of the map, which while is open, forces or greatly emphasizes more flank and non-linear oriented movement, with the very center being somewhat tight, which while allowing players to use the very center and its pathing effectively and without annoyance, makes the proposition of using the side paths alternatively possibly more prudent.

One great thing the map offers, is complete expo order freedom. What I mean by that, is you aren't forced in any matchup to take any expansion in any order. You may take any expo based on the circumstances of the game, and your own strategical decisions. The mineral only expansion is a nice choice to take, as it is so close, and you can directly rally to it from your main if you need, once the mineral block is mined away. The fact though that the expansion of course has no gas certainly makes players reconsider taking it as their third base, with gas being so precious and critical in starcraft. You then can choose from taking one of the 3rd gas bases, in the compass directions, which are pretty close in proximity to your nat, and highly defensible from and by land with the tight choke, but they're so vulnerable to drops with their large size, and by securing that expo you don't gain anything else. Whereas if you take a main or a nat, with the nat securing the main, and the main having a tight choke, you gain the other expo as well, especially with the nat do you gain the main. All of the pluses and minuses to each expo must be carefully considered before a player takes an expo, giving the map an extreme strategical orientation, like all great maps.

While not completely original or unique, the map does feature its own unique concept, and then blends many common features and concepts in a unique way, while boasting the great thinking and adept execution Testbug excels at. With a layout nice, simple, easily adaptable to while still exciting and unique but homely feel, the map certainly earns its place among the Maps of the Month!

Spam the map's thread here, and download the map here.

In a very close second place, I give you the map which until the end of June maintained a short but veridical lead on Voices, Nastymarine's (2)Spinel Valley 2.0!

Nastymarine is probably another name you are familiar with, and while he hasn't been a major presence in the Maps of the Month, he certainly left his mark in six Maps of the Week, with many other near wins in MOTM and MOTW, along with winning the Two player Map of the Year of 2006 with his (2)Undying Lands. Also noteworthy, he officially has the most maps on the site, with proof here! Introductions aside, I give you the map itself!

Here's another map where the author borrowed another concept and actually did the execution of it, Nastymarine brought to life Spinesheath's concept, seen here.

This map combats the innate linearity of (2)maps by focusing the gas expos of the map and thus the attention of the map, on the sides while maintaining a very comfortable, open layout, with a middle friendly to all players, whether they need an open place or a tighter place to move through, provoking a great strategical sense in players while moving their armies. The expo layout being so spread forces players to remain alert to the many places his opponent could be, which helps balance what otherwise might be an issue of space given the relatively small size of the map given its layout and structure. It really accentuates the presence of the open space of the map which greatly decreases the potential of turtling and potential turtle strength, all-over helping gameplay.

With the mineral only expansions being reasonably close and thus defensible, they are quite vulnerable in actuality from the lowground middle directly behind it. This leaves players to carefully choose between the two gas expos, approximately equally distanced from the nat and min only areas. With such a sparsity of money in the map, players must be aggressive in order to best use their own money, while trying to best waste their opponent's resources, with every mineral deposit and vespene gas capsule being so precious.

Sporting a solid adaptation of Spinesheath's concept, boasting a fair endeavor at making a non-linear, and especially presenting a certainly unique layout and structure, the map earns its keep as this month's Map of the Month runner up!

Spam the thread here, download the map itself here, and grab the observer version of the map here.

A common theme this month's maps all share is the presence of a concept constructed not by the map itself's author, and the map which grabs 3rd place for this MOTM is no alien to it. The mapper juli3n adapted the more known mapper Ptar's concept, to make (2)3nim0, which means 30 minutes!

This map features a familiar feeling but yet unique structure and expo layout, with the expos as in Nastymarine's map all on the sides. This map immediately diverges from Nasty's model in that instead of giving the players an open battlefield, throws a still wide middle at the players, one dotted with bridges and tight chokes, forcing the players to move very carefully, and emphasizing more drop oriented play, with the middle being so treacherous.

The many paths would normally overwhelmingly favour a more mobile player, but these paths are so small with the chokes being so many, that there exists a balance between path size and path number, allowing players to balance the game with their own style and strategy.

With the fairly standard 3 expos beyond the main and nat per player, with 2 expos on the map being ostensibly neutral, players must carefully decide where they feel it is safe to expo at.

The map ensures intense, back and forth gameplay given the unpredictability of the middle as result of its weird path/choke setup. A in-my-opninion great example of this type of gameplay can be seen in this replay here. As tribute to the map's name, the game is approximately 30 minutes long, and features intense back and forth gameplay in the form of a pvp. It's worth checking out, especially as it presently is the only uploaded replay for the map.

While the map seems to offer exciting and intense gameplay, it probably just appears far too unpredictable to gain a higher place in this MOTM competition, not that third place is at all shabby! And the map certainly earns a spot in MOTM with its interesting layout and structure, with solid execution.

Spam the map's thread here, and download the map here

So with June's MOTM finally out of the way, we can all give our focus to July's MOTM, which seems to be building up to quite a nice competition, there are a lot of really nice maps submitted, with only a few votes so far. So enjoy the summer while it lasts, and feel free to cast your vote in the MOTM 07.2008 in the competition thread, in the bottom right of the site.
MOTM 05.200801 2008f July 2008 11:18 AM
Posted by:Nightmarjoo
Only two months late, ie on-time, I give you your Map of the Month, for May! The theme of the same people winning every motm continues, as Ptar snags another motm, with another 2 player 128x96 map, how original! But thankfully, the map actually is original, hence it's motm!

Here's Ptar's (2)Sign! The map's originality begins immediately, in the mains, or rather behind them. Normally you might find a large plateau behind your expos farther out, or maybe behind your nat, but this map plops such a cliff right behind your main formation! To prevent it from being overwhelming, there's a small 815-style ramp leading up to it from your main, so like the cliff on Othello, you can send units to the cliff from your main to deal with any harassers. To complement this, the nat has basically no space behind it, making all forms of drop harass nearly impossible there.

The 3rd base, the closest base to your natural expansion, is a min only wide in the open, similar to that in Wuthering Heights. The area outside of here is covered with rocky terrain, but there's plenty of room for turrets still. From here, you're given two expansions to choose from. The one closer to your 3rd base is in the corners of the map. This expo has gas making it valuable, but two bridges facing you to prevent unit movement to it, offsetting how close it is to you by slowing how fast you can reinforce it. The other choke is wider, but still quite small and manageable, allowing the base to still be defensible. A temple cliff overseeing the expo facilitates harass.

The other expo is at 12/6, and also has gas. It's in a pit with your main cliff behind it, and ramps to the middle plateaus on the others. This expo is both less defensible and farther away than the other gas expo, with it being especially vulnerable to harass from your main cliff. Players can easily proxy buildings here, or build a factory to lift off bluestorm-esque.

The middle plateaus have four large ramps leading to the min only areas, and two smaller ramps leading into the 12/6 expos. They are dividied by a lowground tight pass, like in Loki2. Only small units can pass through this, large units will have to be manually controlled through either the northern or southern middle plateau.

The map has a fairly normal macro orientation, but it also has a strong harass potential, allowing for a variety of game forms. The 12/6 expos will be hardest to take and secure, ensuring back and forth fighting. The split battlefield along with there being no real neutral expansions, with 12/6 almost being neutral, will create a tug of war, which whoever can cross the middle strongest winning. Players will be forced to run back and forth between their expos as the aggressive player is favoured with all the harassable cliffs present, as players also must run between the two halves of the split map. Despite having a similar expo layout, the map shouldn't play nearly as linear as Bluestorm, and with far less turtley gameplay than Loki2, giving it potential to play really well.

Spam the map's thread here, download the map here, and grab the observer version here.

Winner of second place is FAMAT mapper Twos! Twos is a korean mapper who though has not been terribly active at this site, always has something interesting to show off. He in the past has gone by the name Single-. Twos takes second place in motm with his very interesting (and interestingly named) (2)Moonlight Punch Romance!

The map is different from many 2 player maps in that it's not at all linear. You're immediately offered three paths to take as soon as you leave your nat choke, with two paths leading to different expos. If you take either side paths, you're given two more paths to take, and you have four ways to go if you take the middle path. From here the map repeats itself, ensuring you have as many ways to run away as you do to go foward.

While the map doesn't have a lot of space in any one area which might inherently favour the non mobile race, it makes up for it by having so many different paths to take, allowing a plethora of flank setups, and definitely giving strength to the mobile race. The map's layout definitely encourages very aggressive play, because turtling won't get you many expos for "free". The expansions are mostly all pretty defensible, but the general layout makes it hard for a turtling player to run back and forth to get to all of his expos at any one given time, allowing harass to be summarily effective. The mains being rather spacious allows players to both comfortably build their base and drop into their opponent's, as well as encourages proxy play or hidden tech.

The middle path is tight (I believe it allows large units to pass), with the more open paths being unbuildable, so players who wish to "push" must take sort of a maze of paths, while their opponent can also take such a maze to engage and escape their opponents.

Outside of the nats and the min onlys, there really isn't any expo which automatically belongs to one player, so most expos can be considered neutral. The multitude of neutral expansions on top of the many winding paths definitely will force very exciting and aggressive gameplay. The thing which perhaps made it miss first place is that it is perhaps too "complex" even with its relative collaberation of simple and standard elements. Overall it's quite an innovative and well executed map, definitely earning 2nd place as map of the month.

See the comment thread here, download the map here, and the map does not have an observer version at the moment.

Another mapper who's plundered much of our motms, Crackling, takes a place in motm yet again with his (2)Chemistry!

This map is incredibly unique, starting with that it's an island map! However, there are only two actual islands, with all the other bases reachable by land. A double mineral wall blocks off a path connecting the two players. Behind the player's nat is a min only which is semi island in that its formation blocks the choke behind it, and the nat's formation blocks the path in front of it, but it can be harassed from behind from a path accessible to your opponent normally.

A neutral creep colony delays the taking of the natural expansion for protoss and terran, who have to destroy the creep colony and wait for the creep to vanish before they can take the expansion, making things easier on zerg (whereas most people often complain about zerg balance in island maps), and forcing protoss and terran to consider some more aggressive opening than to simply drop a FE.

The nat also has only 6 mineral blocks, forcing players to quickly consider which expo they wish to take next rather than allowing them to sit back comfortably on 2bases.

Besides your nat you have another gas expo accessible by land, with a very small 4 block mineral only expansion within your main. The other expansions are all only accessible by either air or by mining out some form of mineral block.

Hallucinated fastest-style stacked minerals right next to your sl give you a quick boost of money until they vanish, speeding up what otherwise might have been a dull and slow start.

All of the expos on the mainland are harrasable from some form of cliff or blocked path, with the islands having a fair amount of room to be dropped on.

Though the island format of the map, along with the paths being few and tight and mostly blocked off by some mineral wall, effectively removes a lot of strategies, the map ensures strategic diversity in its wide selection of expos to take, with multiple forms of drop, air, or harass oriented gameplay.

Crackling certainly earns a spot in motm with his great eye for detail, ensuring that all of the map's space is well-used on top of implementing a unique concept. The map is certainly innovative, and definitely pushes very aggressive gameplay, but its rather complex and radically different form of gameplay can be quite intimidating to players, which is probably what kept the map from earning a higher spot in motm. However, if you're an oldschool island fan, or simply wish for a game not exactly like every other, this is the perfect map to play on.

Flame Crackling Leave a comment in the map's thread, download the map to piss off someone for a great game here, and there is no observer version of the map at this time.

We're well into summer now, and there are so many great maps being made, each motm gets harder and harder! It really takes a motivated mapper with a great map to win a spot in motm, let alone first place! Even the maps which recieve few votes are still often quite solid, but just perhaps lack the flare the winning maps boast.

Congratulations to Ptar, Twos-, and Crackling!
MOTM 04.200810 2008f June 2008 09:59 AM
Posted by:Nightmarjoo
It's only two months late (which is like early for bwm), but here's April's Map of the Month! With his name on 3 other MOTMs, he's no newbie, Crackling is our MOTM winner, with his map (2) !

This map is certainly original, and will give you something most maps can't: unique gameplay (omg!)! The map starts out different than most maps pretty quickly with its almost double nat layout. You have a normal nat on the site of the main, but in front of the main is a backdoor mineral only nat, or rather a front door nat, with its own mineral blocked entrance! This tight entrance is easily blocked off, even once the mineral block has been removed, but you can't and probably won't want, to leave it blocked forever as the game goes to lategame, as its a critical and crucial lead into the secondary map path, allowing players to seize more mobility than the map ostensibly offers!

Off in corners of the map, very close to the nat itself is a 3rd gas expo, easily defended on a wide bridge. The expo is very defensible, given its tightness and close proximity to the nat, ensuring games will last into lategame.

At 12 and 6 o'clock of the map, is another gas expo. This expo is also fairly defensible, it has a wide raised jungle ramp by which the expo can be defended. The expo contrarily to the corner gas expos, is much more spacious, making it more vulnerable to drops and forms of harass. Interestingly also, these two expansions are about the same distance from both players. This means, they basically function like neutral expos. Except for the direction the ramp faces, and perhaps the mineral formation position, nothing distinguishes either expo as "belonging" to a player. The expos then are also reasonably far away. The map's overall spareness of money, on top of easily allowing players into a lategame scenario, allows for intense back and forth action in fighting over these two strategically critical expos.

The map's fairly awkward shape allows for less cohesive gameplay, more random and ergo exciting gameplay. Players won't be as easily able to perfectly predict and counter their opponents, because the shape of the map, the position and size of the paths, and the even path setup allow for players to quickly move around the map. The map's great mobility helps to counter what might otherwise be a big macro-turtle fest, which could arise given the few expos, and relatively easy money the corner base and front-door nat offer. A player will likely have a hard time both turtling or containing their opponent thanks to the easily accessible multiple paths.

With a unique concept, an expo layout similar but critically different expo layout than bluestorm, an interesting structure and path system, and beautiful decoration, Crackling threw together otherwise standard elements to create this work of art here, which recieves a well deserved MOTM award! Congratulations Crackling!

Spam the map's thread here, download the map here, and there doesn't appear to be an obsever version at the moment. Would someone other than me like to make obs version?

In a really close 2nd place, literally with only three points seperating Crackling's map and this map (discounting ptar and crackling's self votes, and old granny in a wheel chair's ostensibly fake vote), comes Testbug's (3)Frostmourne! Testbug, with his name unbelievably on EIGHT MOTMs, is by no means a stranger to this site, however he might a stranger to second place ;)

Testbug strikes again with another incredibly executed three player map! The map is fairly standard and simple, but its absolutely great execution is what separates it from being just another map. The map ostensibly has a bunch of "free" expansions, with there being two mineral only expos just in front of a gas expo, all just in front of the nat itself, and all which to some extent defend eachother. However, the spaciousness of the areas outside of the expos and of the chokes ensures that the expos really won't defend eachother until/unless you have taken and secured them all, which is much easier said than done given the nature of the map.

With the middle being very wide open and mostly buildable, all three races can easily move and weave their armies throughout the map, making the danger of a massive attack very imminent. The relatively high money count of the map only makes massing such large armies easier, with the middle ensuring attacking is easy. We then have here, a map with ostensibly easy money, where it's easy to attack, and turtling is difficult, an oxymoron? Perhaps, but Testbug has pulled it off!

The nearest 3rd base has minerals only, making it worth-while to take due to its close proximity and ability to defend or leap-frog to the other nearby expansions, but makes it not a huge economic boost, and with it being very vulnerable by being in the open, expounded by the nearest unfriendly choke being wider spread than a french prostitute's legs, players will have a hard time turtling in it, making moving on to another expo critical.

Players then have two choices of expansions. More linearly placed is another mineral only, however it again lacks gas, is even more vulnerable from being in the open, is farther from the player's nat, and even has fewer minerals than any other expo in the map. Perhaps easier to push to, the expo only really defends the path to the nat, which the player likely has already maintained secure and defensible, leaving the large choke still posing threats of attacks or counter-attacks.
The other expansion option is the third gas expo. Much more defensible, it sports a nice normal sized ramp for a choke. More importantly, you can defend it from the highground by moving up above the ramp, to finally defend that huge choke, which shouldn't be too much of a feat given you probably have three bases atleast by this point. By building up and massing units here, you could end up leaving the other, tighter path open and/or vulerable, which leads to your nat and min only, and if accessed could be used to flank you. This is fairly unlikely as your nat itself defends this path, but it's still a possible threat you have to consider, else you leave it open for your opponent to exploit.

So then by this point, you have 3gases, your main and nat are probably petering out, where do you go? Thankfully, the map isn't a 2 player map, nor is it linear. The real excitement occurs in this map upon reaching lategame. The map is a three player map, leaving all of those expos I just mentioned open to take, on the other side of the map, equally far from you and your opponent! Strategically once the game reaches lategame, these expos become absolutely critical and pressing to secure and attack, to fight over. You then are left with the choice of, which expo do I take there first!? You could say, obvious choice, the main! But the mains in this map are pretty big, leaving your main and the second main you try to take very vulnerable to any kind of drop. These large mains also facilitate hidden tech or proxies, throughout the game. With the main being a little iffy on security due to its shape and size, you might move on to the nat, but then it's also vulnerable to attack from anything dropped into or produced by the main. The other expos are mineral only, making them strategically less important, with the last expo being that gas expo. The best choice of expo depends on your position and your opponent's, as the mainbase and 3rd gas could both be either the farthest by air and land or the closest, giving the map interesting positional variety.

By lategame in the map, you have a huge selection of options. The expo layout and its strategical nature keeps gameplay exciting, the middle being buildable and so large, allows players to mobilize and position their armies again and again, allowing fighting to be very back and forth, with whoever can position their army the best likely being the victor.

The map has a lot of nice elements, its structure, layout, and its multitude of strategic options ensures it should play nicely during all times of the game, in any matchup! It gives each matchup a nice set of pros and cons to work past, such as the expo layout, sizes and distances. For example, the fact that map is so open might suggest p>t, but its "easy" money and buildability help terran a lot, but then the map's favouring of mobility keeps protoss capable of being strong, giving both players a good chance of winning as the game goes on. In zvt and zvp the expo layout gives players a lot of choice in where they want to expo next, where to move your army, and how to position your army.

The map is great, but the thing that separates it from (2)Whoosh (besides 3 points) is that it has a less unique concept. The map is fairly standard conceptually, whereas Whoosh gambles more with some more experimental gameplay.

Spam the map's thread here, download the map and smash your buddies on it here, and I'd give you the observer version, but apparently people are incapable of making them anymore, as the map currently lacks one.

In third place comes the Crackling/Testbug again, with (4)Maelstrom, previously known as Burning Love, and Burning Penis (chlamidia?).

This map is fairly basic, with a more or less normal, but spread out, expo layout and general structure. The thing that makes this map interesting, on top of its baekdu-esque hilly choke layout, is in the multitude of "neutral" expansions, ensuring that players will have to fight over expos a lot, as opposed to the normal grabbing expos and massing tactics most modern maps favour. Also, the islands at 3 and 9 feature double gas, making them exceptionally strategically important.

Spam the map's thread here, download the map here, and again, there's no observer version -_-

Congratulations Crackling, Testbug, and er, Crackling and Testbug!
MCN pre-alpha (v_0.1)22 2008f April 2008 12:25 PM
Posted by:panschk[FP]

Wanja and myself started working on three weeks ago, and I feel like it is time to release a first, very buggy version to my eager crash-test-dummies out there :D

I shifted my focus from a pure SC2-Mapping thing more towards a multigaming - mapping community as a goal. We are far from getting there yet, but I believe that it can work.

Initially I wanted to use a phpBB2-Forum as the basis and build the map-specific features around it, but I decided against it. Instead we will be using the cakePHP-framework to build the page. That makes programming easier and the site slower;) I hope it will still be bearable :-)

Any bugs found (There are a lot! more than pokÚmon for sure), innovative feature ideas or contribution to the content is appreciated, of course;)
MOTM 03.200813 2008f April 2008 02:34 AM
Posted by:Nightmarjoo
textTime for the third MOTM for 2008! We've had a good year so far as far as mapping has gone. We've had an influx of new mappers, and our old mappers have been getting better.

Speaking of old mappers getting better, this month's MOTM winner goes to Ptar, who has been around here for a while now. Ptar has certainly come a long way; specializing in smaller maps (smaller than 128x128), most of his maps are either 96x96, 128x96, or 96x128, he has focused on making relatively standard maps into different small layouts for two players.

Visually stylish, conceptually standard, strategically brilliant, overall a unique but comfortable map: I give you Ptar's (2)Square!
This map is fairly standard, but isn't a clone of any map. You have a standard main, then nat, but your nat is also on the highground, giving it defensive properties and advantages. One disadvantage of 2 player maps is direct main2main path, and an often linear feel. The highground nat offsets the direct path somewhat by giving players an easier time defending their nat.
This won't result in turtling gameplay, because the direct path alone encourages more aggressive play, and the third base being fairly easy to take makes it difficult for a player to survive while staying in his nat.
The area just outside the nat is narrow, making contains difficult to setup, and allowing the multiple paths of the map really take in to effect, creating an ease for flanking and for general unit movement, which might otherwise have been hampered by the map's size.

The small map avoids linearity through making use of every inch of the map, which larger maps are often unable to do, and by creating many useful paths. You are not stuck taking one path, you have the option to take other paths, and these paths aren't just there to give a second path, but also exist with its own gas expo, making it important.
Past the nat is your third base, a min only with a large area. The large area just past the min only, on the highground, allows for plenty of room for fighting. The middle itself is not very open, as it is constrained by the map's size, so this min only area creates for additional battlefield space, and creates physical conditions which force the players to think more strategically about their battle decisions (the altitude differences).
Despite the large area past the min only, the area immediately around the mineral only expo is small enough to make it comfortably defensible, but open enough to allow comfortable unit movement and flanking.

In the map's corner, behind the min only area is a small tight gas expo. Its tightness makes it quite defensible, but the very open area in front of it (the area past the min only) makes it more difficult to defend the base, as does the altitude advantage of attackers, and the two viable paths into that large area make turtling a less viable option.

In the map's lowground middle, next to both mains are gas expos. They are critical strategic locations, as they are closer to the player than the corner gas expo, but are the most open expo in the map. Three paths, two being very large and open, lead to this expo. This expo is fundamental to the map, because all of the other expansions can be taken with a single push in a single direction. That expo layout alone is comfortable for most players, but can easily lead to turtletastic, static gameplay. This expo, being outside of that linear push, then helps create a more balanced pathing orientation for the map. It punishes the defensive player, rewards the aggressive player, and makes the alternate paths even more useful and meaningful to the map.

The mains' formations' position, having its back facing the rest of the map, is a fairly nonstandard concept. In most maps, the main formations are incredibly well-protected, giving stability to the map. In this map, the sl's formation is incredibly vulnerable to virtually all forms of harass. On many maps, that feature could lead to instability, but in this map, the general defensive quality of the other expos offsets this, and sustains stability in the map. Specifically, the difficulty of harassing the nat offsets the ease of harassing the main from behind.

I likely sound incredibly incoherent in analyzing this map. The greatest thing about this map is what makes it so difficult to give any final word on. The map simply has strategical balance. It's open here, tight there, but the open place isn't too open, and the tight place isn't too tight, it's a macro map but not a turtle map, it rewards the aggressive player but helps the defensive player, etc. For every feature, there exists an equal and opposite counterfeature in this map. I think Sir Isaac Newton made this map or something -.-

Play the map, I reccomend it. It's a nice and simple map, and allows all forms of standard gameplay. It isn't one thing or another, it's all things, but in a simple and standard form, preventing the concept from being overwhelming.

Spam the map's thread here, download the map here, and there apparently is no obs version currently. Perhaps ptar or another mapper will make an obs version, and I'll update this post to include it.

In a very close second place, I give you the map that was neck and neck with Square for most of the competitiion: LostTampon's (4)Prophecy!

LostTampon is a great mapper who has been around here for a long time now. His brilliance created the 2006 Experimental Map of the Year, (4)Avatar. This map is no exception of LostTampon's mapping genius.

If you've played any popular map in the last eight or so years, you'll know that in most maps, you have a natural expansion just past the main's choke, where the minerals are against a cliff or edge, and are usually pretty out of the way, and defensible by land, however somewhat open to harass by air, or maybe from an overseeing cliff. Well, in this map, you have a standard main with the nat just past the main's choke, but instead of the minerals being out of the way against the edge of the nat, the nat's minerals face the path that leads out of the main, with the gas placed where you might expect the minerals to be.

The unique placement of the nat's minerals forces the nat choke to be larger than usual, which would normally make it less defensible. This also means that a zerg hatchery's creep cannot defend the nat's choke with sunks, not without waiting for the creep to extend all the way, then increasing the creep with an initial creep colony, then creating the defensive sunken colonies with the new creep, which is slow and is not a viable method of defending yourself given a competent opponent for both zvp and zvt, but especially zvt, and even somewhat in zvz. However, LostTampon gets past this difficulty by placing a neutral sunk just past the nat, which creates enough creep to be useful for defense. However, not only does this allow zerg to defend himself, it also allows zerg to offensively use sunks, should the opponent not destroy the creep colony in time.
Minerals close off the choke somewhat, making the large choke manageable. You can remove the minerals if you need, or offensively remove your opponent's minerals to open their choke for attack. If you leave a mineral on the creep, it prevents the creep under it from going away, even if the creep colony is destroyed. This further allows offensive sunking, as well as allows zerg to make a defensive sunk should his opponent manage to kill his neutral creep colony before z has time to use the creep.

The map doesn't stick with just one unique feature, past the nat is a third expo like normal, except the expo is neither a min only or a gas expo. It's a semi island expo. The minerals go from cliff edge to cliff edge, enclosing an area where the geyser is. You can mine the minerals from both in the island and outside of the island, but you must be inside the expo to mine the gas. The expo works as an island, but you can choose to mine just the minerals if you want. A cliff overlooks this expo, allowing easy harass, to offset the short distance from nat to this expo, and the normal defensive properties islands have, also making static defense less effective, in general making the expo more vulnerable, which is manageable because of its close proximity to the nat.

Outside of the main, nat, and the semi island expo, the only other expo in the map is a clump of minerals in the very center. Because of the shape of this clump, and the lack of any singular choke or direction to defend, I don't know how viable an option it is to mine this under normal circumstances, but given the general lack of money (compared to most currently popular maps), it certainly could make the difference in a game.

The map's middle is open and very comfortable to fight in, with the middle being tighter, making it a strategic choke, as well as pushing more fighting to the sides of the middle.

The map is fairly solid, with some "experimental" features, which do effect gameplay. The map probably made it in second place over first place, because of its more different gameplay. However, it isn't terribly different, and is easy to adapt to.

Spam the map's thread here, download the map here, and get the map's obs version here

In last and least place (least place in MOTM is still good of course), we have protoss4ever's Tepolzolan! I say least, but in all honestly, Tepolsomething was actually not that far behind the other two in votes for most of this competition.
Protoss4ever has been around for a fair time, and has had some good contributions to the site, including getting his map Shine into the iccup mappack, and winning 2007's September MOTM.

Visually incredible, conceptually innovative, and easy for gameplay, I give you Protoss4ever's (4)Tepolzan!

The map has a lot of standard features: a standard general layout and fairly standard expo layout. The min only is a little farther from the nat than in a lot of modern maps, but it's still fairly close, and defensible. The nat has a cliff, the min only has a walled-off pit it can be cliffed from, so the map definitely has some features making harass easy. The 4th base is in the top middle, and bottom middle part of the map, and has 2 2500-gas geysers. It is fairly open, and a very strategic feature thanks to its double geysers.

Many maps have rotational symmetry to increase distances, but this map has simple x and y symmetry. It creates fairly direct pathing, especially between vertically opposite bases, however the openness and non-linear expo layout counters this.

The map's middle is very unique: Most maps have a symmetrical middle, or just a big open area, but this map has a non-symmetrical middle, like that of Un'Goro Crater. This creates a more natural feel to the map, and can make battles feel unique as they have to worry about different obstacles and buildability (fuck that's a sweet made-up word).

So what do we have so far? The map has a standard main, nat, and min only. The nat and min only are both cliffable, but that's nothing special. The 12/6 expos have double gas, and by being in between the players makes it a nice neutral expo to fight over, but still nothing terribly unique. The middle is undoubtedly unique and can make gameplay interesting without greatly effecting it. Visually the map is stunning, but these days great visuals is nothing special, given that flothefreak, testbug, protoss4ever, crackling, ptar, and many other active members can create this level of stylish beauty.

So, from just this, the map is good, unique even, but not special right? Wrong! The map's biggest and most unique feature sits in the middle of each main, and only exists for one minute and fifteen seconds! Right below each starting location are ten stacked and way-too-close-to-the-sl (fastest map style) minerals. Most importantly, they are hallucinated! The ten minerals you can mine very quickly for a fast boost in minerals will VANISH after a minute and fifteen seconds! What does this do? It speeds games up! It radically alters timing! The biggest complaint about fastest-style minerals is that there's "no strategy involved", that you just mass and attack: the structure of the map often makes no difference, which removes a lot of strategy, you just make buildings, units and attack. These minerals fucking dissapear, leaving you with 8 100% normal minerals to mine! Imagine what all you can do with that 75 seconds of fastest minerals! You can rush your opponent, you can expo and set yourself up for a longer macro-oriented game, you can pick from a much larger variety of openings, you have a LOT of freedom of what to do! This feature completely changes the gameplay. But once the minerals are gone, the rest of the game will play just the way you would on any other map, only adapting to the different layout, and given a start you give yourself.

Editor's note: In hindsite I (Nightmarjoo) feel that this map deserved first place for MOTM, but I never looked into the map carefully because Crackling never had me play it, until I was writing up this analysis. The map really is unique. The concept mirrors the breakthrough LostTampon gave us with Avatar, with spells in maps.

Spam the map's thread here, download it here, and grab its obs version here

So here we are with three fantastic maps, with the first two being very close in votes, and the third place map being pretty close behind the other two in votes. Crackling's Insomnia wasn't too much behind in fourth place either. We got a lot of votes this motm, showing decent site activity and participation. The maps here really are getting freaking good. Everyone is getting better, the average map quality, concept, and execution has gone up so much. I feel as though we're really coming close to the site's older userbase, where mappers like Starparty, trcc, Antares, Nastymarine, noname, Travin, LGI, Flothefreak and others were constantly making new and outstanding maps. Mappers who might in the past have been laughed out of the thread, Morrow, LML, Lancet, and others, have really gotten better, and are making decent and even good maps. Forum and map comment activity has dropped a lot imo, but the mapping quality has gone up a lot. This site is really doing well, thanks also not just to the great, active, always improving, and often even helpful members and mappers, but to of course Panschk, who despite being fairly inactive still updates the site, improving it, and working on the new site for Starcraft II's release. C'mon guys, we don't even have a lot of flaming anymore, applaud eachother and yourselves, for making this site really kickass.

Congratulations to Ptar, LostTampon, and Protoss4ever! And anyone who made it this far reading without having their eyes bug out of their head, fall asleep, have a seizure, etc.

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