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saturnflight
03/15/2011, 10:27
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/21836293/Review-%203for1.jpg The impact a map can have on a game is often overlooked. A good strategy incorporates a tactically-sound map choice. But when it comes to locale, sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees. We're here to help you make smart decisions when it comes to Heroclix real estate. This week, we'll be taking a wide look at unofficial Heroclix maps available now from mapmakers across the internet! From the inner city to the Middle East to the outer reaches of civilization, these unique maps give you all-new locales for your casual Heroclix games!

saturnflight
03/15/2011, 10:27
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/21836293/Map-%20Desert.jpg
Official Title: Desert Village West
Map on Reverse: The Warehouse
Dimensions: 24" x 36" (16x24 squares)
Status: Unofficial map
Availability: In Print

____________________________________________

Despite your opinions on the matter, the current landscape of war is... sandy. So when Mighty Maps released the Desert Village, several teams immediately came to mind. Obviously anything using soldiers, such as the Easy Company of DC75. A New X-Men team-up using Fantomex and Wolverine. An Iron Man team, fresh from his new movie origin. Even Apocalypse's new Horsemen may feel at home in this desert environment.

Luckily, the map plays well for a variety of character types, giving plenty of tactical opportunities for any of the above lineups. A host of rooftops are distinct for their elevated interior segments, and the map has just as many opportunities to utilize long range values as it does for taking cover behind walls. Outside, hindering terrain is a scarcity, so you'll want to plant your objects carefully if Stealth is a key part of your team.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/21836293/Mini-%20Desert%20%281%29.jpg
Living Monolith fights on two fronts against Havok and Banshee.

So should you take a trip to the Middle East?

Theme: 5/5
Contemporary and previously unrepresented, this map is unlike any others on the market. That said, the theme is so specific that you may find it off-putting, depending on your team. A Gotham of Sinister Six team certainly won't feel right here (Sandman aside). If this map's theme appeals to you, it's likely to appeal strongly.
Clarity: 2/5
An unconventional decision to use thinner lines than Wizkids to label terrain can cause just a bit of an adjustment issue. The bigger issue, however, is the thick lines used to denote walls. Numerous times during play, my opponent was thrown off by direct diagonal line of fire that appeared to cross the wall as it reached past the corner. Use rules, not visuals, when dealing with walls here.
Tactical Impact: 4/5
The elevated interiors are fantastic for quick cover and protected travel. The small homes in the center of the map also provide nice cover from ranged attacks while leaving close combat maneuvers wide open. Near each starting zone is a relatively wide open area, making hanging back a dangerous tactic.
Balance: 4/5
The one potentially unbalancing part of this map is also its own counter: a bevvy of rooftops offer sniper posts to a lot of figures, but also give opportunity for counterattack from one of the many nearby rooftops. The narrow streets offer cover in alleyways, but also run long and straight for ranged combat. Hypersonic Speed figures may give you grief here.
Terrain Diversity: 3/5
While thematic, the lack of water or blocking terrain cuts into the diversity score. Elevated interiors fight back, however, to keep an above-median 3 rating.

Overall: 3.6/5
This map is much better suited for casual play than the home-rules of a tournament setting. That said, this map offers something completely different, and is an incredibly enjoyable play experience. Also note that this map comes bundled with Desert Village East, which can be played side by side for a much larger game.

saturnflight
03/15/2011, 10:27
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/21836293/Map-%20Dark%20Alley.jpg
Official Title: Dark Alley
Map on Reverse: The Nightclub
Dimensions: 24" x 36" (16x24 squares)
Status: Unofficial map
Availability: In Print

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There have been plenty of city maps made, but the city as Spider-Man sees it is much different from the city as Daredevil sees it. Okay, maybe Daredevil doesn't see it. Moon Knight? No, that's different than anyone sane... Regardless, CuriousLurker's map shows the dark, ugly side of the inner city, using dominant rooftops to squeeze open terrain areas in narrow corridors. That leaves you with two approaches: prowl the alleyways, or take to the rooftops.

If you're a close combatant, you'll likely want to stay grounded. The tight passages provide natural protection from range, but at the same time will give you few opportunities to tackle any ranged figures that might be giving you grief. Line of Fire is tough to draw down here, and you won't get much use out of support-role powers.

If you're a ranged combatant, you probably should head to the roofs. Be aware that it will be hard for you to get a shot off anywhere, so choose your position wisely. You may end up spending most of your time shooting at other rooftop dwellers, which is likely the only way you'll use your full range. Also be aware that each roof has only one way up or down, so prevent access to that if you plan to stay awhile. It's easy to find yourself locked on a roof.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/21836293/Mini-%20Dark%20Alley.jpg
Ghost Rider's double base, huge mobility, and long range own the rooftops. Iron Fist narrowly avoids detection, waiting to use his Leap/Climb.

Is the shortcut through the Dark Alley worth the risk?

Theme: 5/5
Despite how obvious this theme should be, it hasn't been very widely represented in Heroclix to date. Narrow alleyways and rooftops are exactly what figures like Daredevil and Batman need. This map is designed in such a way as to make you feel the theme as much as you see it.
Clarity: 2/5
Unfortunately, that perfect theme comes with the drawback of nighttime visibility. The ladders can be a little tough to locate, and you may find yourself playing more by the lines than the graphics.
Tactical Impact: 5/5
Close combatants have narrow walkways for getting where they want. Ranged combatants have to choose between easily obstructed shots though the alleys or the limited options of the rooftops. And once you're on a roof, you may never get back down.
Balance: 3/5
If you're lacking flight (or another terrain-ignoring ability), you'll struggle with the rooftops. If you're not mobile, you won't get off a lot of shots. Basically, this map favors move and attack on flying figures... a tactic that's not overly in need of help. Thankfully, another archetype that works here is close combat; Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the rest of the Heroes for Hire will find this map very much to their liking.
Terrain Diversity: 2/5
There's just not a lot of diversity here, which is what it is. This map is all about specializing in one unusual terrain type (elevated) to the point that even clear terrain seems special. That's cool, but won't earn points here.

Overall: 3.4/5
This is a great map with a strongly-represented theme, and maps like that usually make great neutralizer choices. This is the sort of map you build a team around, and then watch your opponent squirm as Leap/Climb suddenly becomes a dominant ability.

saturnflight
03/15/2011, 10:27
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/21836293/Map-%20Jungle.jpg
Official Title: The Jungle Temple Ruins
Map on Reverse: The Prison Camp
Dimensions: 24" x 36" (16x24 squares)
Status: Unofficial map
Availability: In Print

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From the concrete jungle to the natural original: the Jungle map is our final stop on today's look at the wide world of unofficial maps. Another with a strong thematic feel, this map by GridReality almost begs for a centerpiece just to set atop that tower and be worshipped. And let's start with that tower. Located at the vertical center of the map but set off to one side, the position provides a wide area of power for anyone who holds it. At the same time, reaching the top shouldn't be hard with a staircase 4 squares wide. Unusually, the aquatic figures are given the advantage atop the temple, where Stealth-reliant figures will find themselves out in the open while those popular sea-stealthers take cover. Imagine Attuma's Tidal Wave here!

And speaking of aquatic figures, the creeping lake set in one player's side of the map can either provide cover as your water-based warriors advance or provide a target position to reach as you surge into your opponent's zone. Either way, a strong sea character will find a way to use it advantageously.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/21836293/Mini-%20Jungle.jpg
Sauron uses Blocking Terrain to force Arkon to leave the temple if he wants to Running Shot him, while Man-Thing Submerges in the temple bath.

Does saturnflight have Jungle Fever?

Theme: 5/5
If you haven't noticed by now, these maps were all chosen due to unique themes. While maintaining my impartial critique, I need to admit that this map has me drooling on my keyboard. The graphics are incredible, from the detail of the stone to the variety of plantlife. Finally, a map for Black Panther, or the Gorilla Warriors!
Okay, I'm in control again...
Clarity: 3/5
The color scheme can make a few of the terrain markings a little tough to see, and this is especially true of the Blocking Terrain. The layout of the map means that it won't be something you forget about once you're figured it out, but for your first go at it you may get that wrong.
Tactical Impact: 4/5
If any map ever pushed you toward playing King of the Hill, this is it. At this point, there are enough aquatic figures who can make great use of that elevated pool; and as the safest place for a ranged figure, you can bet Giant-Size X-men will see Magneto taking to the tower. Thankfully, in exchange for this oppressive position, the Blocking Terrain offers cover to any wily usurper.
Balance: 4/5
There's a slight advantage given to ranged figures due to a wide open center and the obvious temple, but figures should quickly congest the combat area. Hindering is well-placed to give Stealth options without making it a dominant ability. And Hypersonic has little advantage here without flight.
Terrain Diversity: 5/5
Somehow, on an outdoor map, they've managed to include Elevated, Hindering, Water, and Blocking. And all of those with strong impacts on the game! Perfect use of the variety and tactics terrain types allow for.

Overall: 4.2/5
A map like this displays why unofficial maps are a great addition to the game. Everything is well executed; it shows the care a creator will put into his work when the quality of his product is critical. It's fun, it's different, and it's a must-have for your home games.

saturnflight
03/15/2011, 10:27
This week, I'm thrilled inform you that the folks at GridReality have teamed with Heroclix Map Reviews to provide the Realms with a chance to win one of GridReality's maps! All you need to do is be the first to post with the correct answer to the following question:

What do the figures shown in this week's article all have in common?

Disclaimers: There may be more than one correct answer, but I have an answer and I need you to match that. HCRealms Contributors are ineligible to win. I will not answer PMs concerning this contest.

That wraps up our look at the wide world of unofficial maps! Next week, we'll head to a Lantern-related locale! Until then, enjoy the scenery!

<hr/>Looking for a HeroClix Online Beta Invite?
Be one of the first ten people to PM Typhon with your PayPal Receipt No. from ANY GridReality (http://www.gridreality.com) Map Purchase for a chance to win!

yourpalpaki
03/15/2011, 11:17
Awesome article. I really wanna get the alley map now.

I've wasted too much time trying to figure out what the similarity is already.
I wanted to say that they're all showing off their bodies by not wearing (or closing their shirts) but Banshee, Havok and Ghost Rider throw that one off.

Then I thought maybe it was their arms being raised, but living monolith is just standing there looking intimidating.

my real guess is that all of them are hunched or leaning.

Blaiser
03/15/2011, 11:20
Answer: They were all created by writer Roy Thomas.

I think, maybe?

Heh, I have that Jungle Temple map ordered and you just reminded me that it should be arriving any day now.

Edit: They also all first appeared in a 5 year span from 69-74.

eelnoside
03/15/2011, 11:30
What do the figures shown in this week's article all have in common?

they are all marvel heroclix.

Blaiser
03/15/2011, 11:31
they are all marvel heroclix.

Facepalm

I hope that's not the answer he's looking for, no offense.

eelnoside
03/15/2011, 11:34
Facepalm

I hope that's not the answer he's looking for, no offense.

hahaha! could be! :p

Blaiser
03/15/2011, 11:40
Okay, I don't see Roy Thomas's name anywhere on Havok's bio, but Neal Adams is and he was the artist that created some of the others.

I may have to revise my answer to be they were all created by either/and/or Roy Thomas/Neal Adams.
Also the 5 year span is a good one, right?

Edit: All of them have had run ins with the X-Men and could have easily fit into the GSX set but did not make this cut.

saturnflight
03/15/2011, 11:44
Ha ha! And I did so much fact-checking! Went to Wiki page after Wiki page!

I actually took Havok and Banshee from a battle with Living Monolith; I think I forgot that was my connection when I found the Roy Thomas thing.

So there you go, we have our winner, and he even found a possible flaw in the trivia!

saturnflight
03/15/2011, 11:46
If anyone can verify if Roy Thomas had involvement in creating Havok and Banshee, I'd love to know.

kujonomore
03/15/2011, 11:54
You might want to add wherre people can go to purchase the fine maps displayed today...

I see the Grid reality one and I know the link is on the forum page, the other two... not so much

PS I just got the grid reality map it looks awesome, have not had the opportunity to play it yet.. (got all three double sided maps when they announced the sale)

Blaiser
03/15/2011, 11:55
If anyone can verify if Roy Thomas had involvement in creating Havok and Banshee, I'd love to know.

Banshee's wiki page has Roy Thomas listed as the creating writer. Stan Lee is listed too, but I'm guessing as editor.

Blaiser
03/15/2011, 11:57
(got all three double sided maps when they announced the sale)

I did this too... hmm, since I just won a map, any chance I can get the NEXT map they make as the prize? Heh, if not I'll just give one to my venue. :)

JRS4
03/15/2011, 14:26
You might want to add wherre people can go to purchase the fine maps displayed today...

I see the Grid reality one and I know the link is on the forum page, the other two... not so much

PS I just got the grid reality map it looks awesome, have not had the opportunity to play it yet.. (got all three double sided maps when they announced the sale)

All the Mighty Maps can be found at Miniature Market. HERE (http://www.miniaturemarket.com/booster_cases2)

I'm not even sure who makes the Dark Ally map.

tupakhuisa
03/15/2011, 14:28
I think the dark alley is one of the better map of heroclix!!

Bat-Phreak
03/15/2011, 14:46
I'm not even sure who makes the Dark Ally map.

CuriousLurker, see this link (http://www.curiouslurkings.blogspot.com/).

I have purchased all 3 maps reviewed and have enjoyed playing on all of them! For my style of play, I think the West / East Village maps are my favorite.

The terrain lines on the Dark Alley are somewhat hard to see. The map on the reverse side (let's call it a "Dance Club" ;) ) is much better marked.

I hope future maps by all three groups will be more consistent with the terrain markings.

MFrancella
03/15/2011, 16:48
Thanks for the review SaturnFlight. I will definitley take your input into consideration when doing the terrain markings.

Our goal was alwas to have the terrain visible but not overpowering. perhaps we can make them a bit more visible in the future.

I think on our latest map they do pop out a bit more.

Also we can certainly make our walls a bit more narrow in the future.

jackstar7
03/15/2011, 17:06
Already owned the others, and now have the rooftops coming. Love the look of it.

Enjoy playing on the others a lot.

The double-desert map worked great for a 6-person game.

Bone Collector
03/15/2011, 20:18
Where can I get the The Jungle Temple Ruins map from?

saturnflight
03/15/2011, 21:01
GridReality makes the Jungle map.

I somehow missed the names of some of the mapmakers in the article, and went back to add them.

BretSports2
03/16/2011, 14:15
If you play Battle Royals or like bigger maps, the Desert Village map comes with a 2nd map that directly attaches to this one (an East and West map) that makes for one very large village. We played a Battle Royal on it last week, and everyone LOVED it! The various rooftops w/ walls on top is a great touch. And for those with stealth teams, have no fear, there are tons of walls to break down to create your own stealth all over the village. I would highly recommend this one from personal use.

SwatThatFly
03/16/2011, 15:16
They are all Giant X-men?

Did I win?

saturnflight
03/16/2011, 17:08
Ghost Rider is a giant X-man?

spworldtour
03/17/2011, 05:14
So I have to quibble on the terrain diversity rating you gave to the desert town vs the jungle map.

The desert town actually impacts game play. I get to plan where I position pieces and I'm not just going to have a mosh in the middle of the field.

The jungle DOES indeed have water and a building I can climb on, but it's basically just one large open field, with some hindering in the middle, and if someone feels like it, they can run a sniper over to the side.

But, thanks for looking at and rating the 'off brand' maps. I guess I'm a big fan of maps that have more stuff, rather than less.

saturnflight
03/17/2011, 14:40
The biggest thing I rank Terrain Diversity on is the terrain types. I want Triton to have Water to hide and poison in. I want Blocking Terrain to trigger Absorbing Man. I want Hindering for Stealth, and I want Elevated for Spider-Hulk. Indoor can also earn points, but I understand that many maps will be one or the other, and generally won't penalize for that. Orange terrain is another bonus, but not having it won't hurt your score.

With that said, no Water and no Blocking puts Desert Town at a disadvantage compared to Jungle Ruins.

Wombatboy
03/22/2011, 23:19
With that said, no Water and no Blocking puts Desert Town at a disadvantage compared to Jungle Ruins.

Yeah but it's such a gorgeous map. I love taking Sgt Rock and Easy Company through it like I'm reenacting an old WWII movie.

But all these maps are great. I love having so many enthusiastic people making great products for the game. Thank you Mighty Maps, Grid Reality and Curious Lurker!