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. Official Title: The Courtyard Map on Reverse: The Sewer Dimensions: 24" x 36" (16x24 squares) Set:GridReality's Map Pack 6 Status: Unofficial Map
The current trend in Wizkids' maps seems to be a move toward specific comic-based locales. In Chaos War, we got the Avengers Mansion gates, the Quinjet Hangar, and the Negative Zone Prison; the Infinity Gauntlet series gave us 8 maps tied to Elders; and the movie sets all use locations from the films. These greatly enhance comic based teams, but only when they're the right teams. What map do you reach for with the Runaways? How about the Serpent Society? The Defenders? Or going beyond comics, where would you feel comfortable using Halo, Gears of War, and the Star Trek away team?
There will always be a need for generic locations that still convey a clear sense of theme, and like last week's European Castle, this week's spotlight map has great tone that will fit a variety of teams.
When I spoke with GridReality about the Courtyard, I asked what inspired it. "I wanted something that would look more like it belonged in Gears of War, since we haven't gotten a GoW map." In fact, my first glance at this map left me with exactly that impression: this is a run and gun layout, full of cover and limited lines of fire.
The Courtyard is not laid out to be kind to grounded figures. This is a map that you'll spend more actions maneuvering through than attacking, which presents a very different flow of battle than most contemporary maps. Stairwells are restricted to the sides of the map, while the center is dominated by a movement-obstructing 'bridge'. (In home games, it's fun to say these squares are clear terrain for movement and line of fire, but cannot be occupied, on the 1st elevation.)
The other notable attribute of this map is the walled elevation used on either side. These rooms that you pass through as you climb the steps are actually enclosed, keeping you safe from crossfire in the courtyard. On most maps, there isn't a safe way to get to your opponent's back lines; here, you have that option.
Building for this map, you'll want to include as much elevation-ignoring as you can. Phasing and Leap/Climb are both good choices; flight will allow you to carry the teammates that can't make the climb themselves. If you're playing in an open format, reach for the Stepladder special item to give yourself one more path to the top. The Teleport Pad can be unusually effective here too.
I am always recommending Quake, and here it is again: one good Quake on the bridge can take 3-4 turns to recover from. Any figure dropped into the courtyard is an easy target for your whole team, and will have to circle around to get back up the stairs. In this game positioning is often overlooked; here, you can't afford to make that mistake.
Of course, the theme is intentionally nondescript, but the tone is clear and well executed. Bridges can be notoriously hard to represent in Heroclix (ask Web of Spider-Man), but this map has enough to offer that the challenge of the simplified bridge actually becomes an interesting defining element. Clarity: 2/5
Walled elevation that's also got an indoor line? This is an area where something that should be easy to conceptualize is harder to understand due to strict adherence to the rules and terrain markings. L corners on elevation also make me wary, as the rules on them have changed to disallow lines of fire. Tactical Impact: 4/5
Most maps include a safe assumption that moving forward is generally correct. This map thwarts that, and much of your movement will actually be left to right. It's a minor tactical adjustment that has some very cool impact. Balance: 2/5
You had better be able to deal with elevation. And having range is good too. And moving and attacking, because you may need to chase someone. Terrain Diversity: 5/5
Indoor, Outdoor, Water, Elevation, Hindering, walls... I'm giving full points here.
This map is much better when both players are planning for it. If you're afraid of Colossals, this map is a great irritant to them, but don't accidentally run your X-Men here against a Superman. Fun, but should be used with caution.
I wonder if not enough people have purchased this map. I could see how GR (and Mighty Maps) might actually suffer now that maps are coming out like crazy over this year and extending back to last year as well.
We've gone from being map-starved to map-drowning.
"We're all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -Wilde
Come play dollies at Brave New World in Newhall, CA. If you're not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.