I play zerg and I feel like zergs should get more vetos to even it out . I could list a couple things from every single ladder map which are terrible for zerg, but I won't go into that at the moment (maybe later I will) and just say that even the 'most balanced' map, 'Metalopolis', has glaring positional imbalances. If you take a look at my list you will see some of these problems in all the ladder maps, and why we have imbalances in the game.
It's not from the specific units or races that makes a matchup imbalanced, its the maps, and the specific strategies they allow to be abused on them. And by the way, please if you have any input, if you disagree with something here, or feel something else should be added to the list- post it.
The ultimate goal here is to inform the public how to make a good balanced map, so we can start using these maps for tournies and hopefully Blizzard will pick up some of these maps for the ladder and get rid of their maps. Since I feel that most of the ZvT imba strictly comes from the maps, this will be a little biased towards zerg. But I feel that if these were considered when creating maps, then zerg wouldn't have as many problems and we would have less QQ from zerg players. And I by no means are any of these game breaking for zerg in the opposite side of the coin.
- Main bases should have equal ramp walling opportunities.
Mainly for Terran and Protoss, make sure that all bases use an equal cost in structures for walls, and have equal exposure for tech labs and such
- Equal cliff walk space
Reaper options need to be controlled for the early game. Your map may be pro-reaper, if that is how you want to do it. But just remember that zerg basically needs ooze to defend vs reapers or they are screwed. So too many ways in from too many different angles is very bad. Which brings me to my next point:
- Short Main to Natural distance
This is very important for early game zerg (maybe protoss as well). Zerg should optimally only need one or two creep tumors to reach from main to nat otherwise it's difficult in the early game. Zerg really needs their creep in the early game to defend vs early game strategies. Especially since a terran could scan and kill the tumors at a very early stage in the game if he was inclined to do so.
- Equal Nat wallabilty
Protoss often open with forward gates/forge/core to semi or even fully wall their 2 bases in, in an effort to expand quickly. So make sure you have the right amount of space for this if your map is allowing it, and that it is equal if you do. Also, It should probably not be so tight that 1 building walls or so wide that your expansion is completely open. Which leads to another point:
- Equal ramp placement from Main to Nat
The position of the ramp is very important in relation to the natural. The closer to the minerals it is, the safer it is. As well as the ease of pseudo walling by using the HQ bldg (nexus,hatch,cc). Early on, static defense needs to protect 3 things. The ramp, the HQ, and the resources. If it can't do all these things then the base is less safe. early/mid game strategies can really take advantage of wide open naturals by looping around behind minerals with hellions or other ranged units while your static de is busy protecting the ramp.
- Equal territory
This one almost goes without saying, but your bases need to have equal space to build, equal ranges minerals to edges, equal scouting opportunities (overlords), etc. The major key here is that it should not be too big because zerg suffers (ooze factor) and not too small because terran suffers (mass bldg placement factor). A bad example of this is Scrapstation, where the left base is much closer to the ramp than the right. Because of the awkward distance this forces zerg to place not 1 but 2 tumors to get down the cliff with creep on the right base.
- Equal range expansions
This is such an important overlooked issue in almost all maps. As I'm sure most of you know (courtesy of day9) Zerg likes to expand away from opponents, Terran (and Protoss to a lesser extent) don't mind/like to expand closer to their opponent. Don't place gold bases in riskier places for zerg, don't leave positional imbalances where zerg is force to take a 3rd base all the way across the map (ooze/creep highway factor). You can argue that zergs should use nydus in this case, but it still remains that if the 'natural' 3rd is too close to the opponent, then he can fortify it on his push on the way to your main and give you lots of problems. We saw things avoided like this in TvP Broodwar as well. Since positions can often dictate which way you will take your 3rd base, it is probably a good idea to give 2 options for a 3rd base in either direction of toward/away from opponent. This continues into:
- Gold bases
For the same reasons as the above tip, gold bases should not be placed in unsafe places where zerg would have trouble expanding to them, and other races are more inclined to take them. So just because you placed two possible 3rd base options where one is gold and the other is normal, doesn't mean it's still fair. The gold bases should more or less be in a place where you will always take it for an expansion safely with every race, almost every game. Or in a place where it's totally indifferent and out of the way of every possible positional matchup on the map.
- Tumor Distances
The "Creep Highway" as it has been coined. This is zerg's extra resource in sc2, this resource is exclusive to this race. And should definitely not be overlooked in maps. The amount of tumors from main to nat needs should be small (1-3 maximum imo). the amount from mains to mains needs to be accounted for. The amount of tumors required from nat to 3rd needs to be accounted for (especially when considering the two 3rd base option).
- Air high ground equality
In BW we had unpathable ridges around nats, or little speck of high ground outside of the main path that was completely safe from ground sight. Basically what this was used for, is air harass units to have some advantages for harassment ofc. As well as have a place to take a break while we go macro without having to fly home. Additionally, zerg likes to have their first couple of overlords in key places to see army movement because they are mostly a responsive race. Besides this fact, zerg has the benefit of being able to scout with their overlord at a very early stage in the game. With no place to run to when scouting a terran, the overlords are doomed. This can be a very positional thing as well. If we look at Metalopolis close air positions, it is difficult to find a place to send the first and second overlords because the paths they take are unsafe and have no where to park at if they fly straight on through (with exception to top left).
- Equal mineral harassability
This goes for all bases actually, but mostly to be considered for main and nats for the early and mid game. Even if the bases are all setup equally and can wall equally etc, you still need the minerals/gas to be equal distance from the entrance/cliff as the other bases are. If one base has their gas more exposed than another this just leads to positional imbalances. Raids should be equally powerful/weak to every natural and main. Sim cities should be considered. Take Steppes of War for example. The natural base can be shelled by tanks from the gold base at the bottom position, but not the top. Which leads me to yet another point:
- Tank ranges/Cliffing
This has always been an essential factor in every broodwar map ever. And it probably matters even more in sc2. Tanks have 13 range, so any cliff has huge potential of being too powerful early on in the game, especially in ZvT. Additionally, we have units like blink stalkers, thors, reapers, and collosus which either have 9 range and/or cliff walking abilities. There is a tool in the editor which allows you to see ranges of all units placed on the map. So test out things like Tanks, XWT (xel naga watch towers), pylon ranges, etc. Typically maps with cliffs over the natural bases are problematic for zerg in general (see KR and LT).
- Rush distances
This one is still up in the air for debate imho. But it feels like zerg struggles on smaller maps because early game mass marine/zeal, proxies, bunker/pylon/canon cheese, or just slower moving unit timing attacks are just that much more powerful. Responsive zerg with 50second crawler build time, or must wait for creep to spread slowly, it can be very difficult to defend. Especially when you can't get a ling or lord into the main to see what they are up to. When making more than two player maps, you should make sure that if some of the positions are chosen to be closer by ground that they do not give other imbalanced options as well. Such as highground/ramp/edge abuse/narrow choke to the aggressor. I believe that the defender's advantage should be considered.
- Narrow/Tight paths
Many of the maps in blizzards map pool suffer from this. They are just too tight. There is no room for masses of units to flank effectively. Which is why mech units like tanks are so strong currently. I'm not saying that all maps need to be completely devoid of terrain like python from bw (although that would be nice! :D ), but ideally they should have at least a few places where there is a huge space for maneuvering and micro to shine through. I think a good balance of this would be tight main, which widens into a semi tight nat, which widens out greatly and then possibly tightens back up towards the 3rd bases.
So these are all the things I have considered so far when map designing, and I honestly feel that if we had some maps that followed this advice there would be little to no QQ-ing about terran imbalance all over the place. Again, if anyone disagrees with any of this please explain why. And if anyone has anything else to add that I missed or append to any of these please do that as well.
Hope to see your maps on ladder soon
PS- I'm not the best descriptive writer, so if anyone doesn't quite understand something in this huge post it's probably because I failed to explain it properly. Ask for elaboration if you feel it needs it and I will try and fix it.