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Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

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Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  WalkerBoh on Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:27 pm

I found this relatively recent blog post by MaraSargon today, regarding some of his opinions about the state of AWBW maps and game theory:
http://cwtactics.blogspot.com/2014/09/a-rebuttal-to-advance-wars-by-web.html

Speaking as a one-time prominent member of the AWBW map community, I feel that the post is as directly addressed to me as anyone. So I'd like to take the opportunity to start a dialogue regarding some of his points. Also, if anyone has the log of the reviews he mentions in the first paragraph, I'd be interested in reading that as well.

There are a lot of uneducated assertions and trollbaiting in his post, but here are a couple of points that seem worth exploring further:

#1: AWBW Game Theory is lazy.
"Let's take the example of Grit: he can be beaten by Grimm, and reliably brought to a standstill by Max and Jess... Why have none of these COs ever had their rankings changed in light of this?
I think this is a good example of the inadequacies of using a simplified Tier system to stratify CO's. CO "strength" is dependent on so many factors that there will always be exceptions to any classification - in some cases a triangle system would be more accurate. Regardless, the Tiers were chosen to represent a group of CO's who will most often be roughly the same in power to the other CO's in their tier. Moving Grimm up a tier and Grit down a tier because Grimm > Grit on some maps would not make sense, as those CO's would still be better/worse (on average) than the other CO's in those tiers. I would summarize it by saying, the tier list is designed to be mostly accurate in most conditions (for the games it was designed for! Namely, competitive games on "standard" maps.)

The rest of this section mostly makes sweeping generalizations accusing the AWBW community of not developing the metagame, but since he does not give any specific examples, so I cannot say much about it other than that I disagree.

#3: AWBW map variety sucks.
Looking at AWBW's A- and S-ranked maps, the AWBW community heavily favors maps without defined centers... They seem intended to favor turtling; offensive options are rather limited, for the most part.
I am really curious about this, and would love some more specific examples. Let's take one of my favorite S-Rank maps as an example: http://awbw.amarriner.com/prevmaps.php?maps_id=50817

I know it might be asking a little much, but Mara (if you read this), could you please frame your argument in specific reference to the above map? I have a lot of things to say in regards to how these maps are designed, but I'd like to start on the same page if possible.

Thanks!

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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  MaraSargon on Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:32 pm

WalkerBoh wrote:There are a lot of uneducated assertions and trollbaiting in his post
I have no interest in a discussion with you if this is how you choose to react to criticism. These issues have already been discussed thoroughly in other threads on this forum, and in a far more civil manner than you have chosen.

Additionally, I had quite enough of arguing with you back on Black Hole HQ and have absolutely zero interest in re-engaging with you. You have made your points to me multiple times in the past and lost every single time. We have nothing to discuss.
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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  WalkerBoh on Mon Dec 22, 2014 11:05 pm

Oh this is FHQ. Sneaky, you almost tricked me into thinking you were someone reasonable. To the foes list with you.

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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  MaraSargon on Mon Dec 22, 2014 11:11 pm

WalkerBoh wrote:Oh this is FHQ. Sneaky, you almost tricked me into thinking you were someone reasonable. To the foes list with you.
This is quite rich coming from someone who was so embarrassed by the end of our debate that you actually deleted all of your posts on BHHQ before leaving in a huff.
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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  theether on Tue Dec 23, 2014 4:54 pm

Discussion: "..Butt..."
This escalated quickly.
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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  JakeSamiRulz on Tue Dec 23, 2014 7:48 pm

Walker,

    Let's start over shall we. I want to take some time to say that a lot of FHQ's rant was discussed before written down. Even though FHQ's essay is opinionated, I also feel that a lot of what is said is true to a certain extent. I'll go ahead and give my opinions based on research, which is literally where all my knowledge of AW comes from.

Discussing your map...

Beyond Eternity

The main aspect that I've realized behind a lot of AWBW maps is the lack of bases. Most AWBW maps favor the 2 base setup per side, and this map is no exception. This limits the flow of units that can be built, so any units with high movement (like Tanks, Artilleries, Recons, and Infantry) are favored because they can get to the contested properties faster.

Inadvertently, this also creates an environment which breeds stalemates. Without extra bases to start from, CO's that are defensive and are able to turtle up are going to have a distinct advantage. New bases are the only way other than powers to guarantee fresh units, and without that then the war becomes stale as the game moves into a state of unit counters after unit counters.

Also, this map method discourages people from teching-up. The higher tech units usually have a lower move rate, which means they take a much longer time to influence the battlefield for the attacker. Offensive CO's have to fall back on focusing the battle around their bases, which ends up slowing game play down dramatically. This ultimately ends up with most games of AWBW ending up in a huge stalemate if FOW isn't available to mix things up.

The fact is that the S and A Rank maps are designed to follow this formula of low base to high contested property ratio. Therefore, when making the tiers, they reflect mostly on the maps they are played on rather than the general typical map one would play outside the competitive scene of AWBW.

Fairness of tiers...

Most of my knowledge of tiers comes from the world of fighting games, so I'm leveraging a lot of my knowledge from it. In fighting games, all moves are taken into consideration when deciding the tier of a character. We do not decide tiers based on how well a character does in kicking, when we have the punch moves to consider. Doing that would skew the tiers considerably, and it'll make a character seem overpowered, when they are balanced out in a different aspect.

I think there is a lot of unfairness in AW CO's that makes labeling tiers outright silly. The biggest contributor to this is the fact that each map is different. For instance, the tiers would be drastically change if the map was 100% sea vs. 100% land. If the maps were all sea, Drake obviously would be close to broken tier.

The weakness here is that the tiers here do not take into effect all the maps that can be played on. They are just generalized for competitive maps, which is not a decent way of labeling tiers. CO's, like Grit, completely struggle on maps that have many roads and airports. AWBW denies the fact there are CO's that switch tiers depending on the map.

The issue with the current tier list is that there isn't a disclaimer that says it, therefore labeling Grit and others as banned CO's when they actually vary depending on situation. I do respect that different maps warrant different play styles, but there are too many maps that focus on the low base, high contention strategy. This ultimately skews the tier list to be unfair and ultimately biased toward one style of play.
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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  WalkerBoh on Wed Dec 24, 2014 1:43 am

Hi JakeSamiRulz, thanks for the detailed response. This is more along the lines of the discussion I had in mind. Smile Do you have a link or log of where the discussion  was held that led to FHQ's post?

Anyways, to address some of your points...

The main aspect that I've realized behind a lot of AWBW maps is the lack of bases... Inadvertently, this also creates an environment which breeds stalemates.
I think the # of bases is not as important as the funds:base ratio. Essentially what I have found is that maps with a low fund:base ratio (i.e., maps that have a relatively high number of bases) actually lead to MORE stalemates, not less, which seems to be the opposite of what you're describing. In general it's true that a player's unit count relative to their opponent's correlates strongly with their probability of winning the game (along with total unit value and current income). This makes it desirable to pump out as many units as possible, and on maps with relatively low funds this means a lot of extra infantry. The disproportionately high amount of infantry on the field tends to lead to more unassailable defenses and higher likelihood of a stalemate, as infantry are primarily used for meatshielding.

In games with higher fund:base ratios (i.e., less bases), on the other hand, players tend to be in short supply on infantry because it is more valuable to crank out two tanks (for example) every turn. This also leads to more high tech units (if you have 23k available on 2 bases, it is not a bad choice to build an MD tank and a normal tank - whereas with 23k on 3 bases, you probably want to build 3 tanks/artilleries). These maps are much less likely to result in stalemates, as it is relatively hard to defend without cheap units to use as shields.

New bases are the only way other than powers to guarantee fresh units, and without that then the war becomes stale as the game moves into a state of unit counters after unit counters.
I'm not sure this is true. Stalemates usually occur when neither side can effectively manage an attack that results in a better position after the opponent's counterattack. A lot of times maps can inadvertently encourage stalemates due to a lack of contested properties or having highly defensible areas very near to the contested areas. It's true that having more contested areas (for example, in mixed base maps that can have 3 or more contested zones) will lead to less stalemates - but these maps also tend to have more innate balance issues due to FTA advantages regarding uneven property distribution and positioning.

In my experience, these stalemates are mostly due to how the contested area of the map is designed. I personally am drawn to maps that allow one country to control a property early on that becomes hard to defend later in the match. Creating this type of imbalance will naturally discourage stalemates, as positioning in key areas of the map will constantly be shifting. For example, in Beyond Eternity, it is easy for each country to control the area around their HQ at first - but it becomes increasingly hard to control some of the properties in the surrounding area due to pressure from the opponent's airport in the mid-game.

Another way to prevent stalemates is to create an imbalance from the start with a so-called 2v1 base setup, where the map consists of each side in a 2-base vs. 1-base fight from the start. Obviously there cannot be stalemates, as the 1-base side will eventually be overwhelmed, and the key is to overrun your opponent quicker than you are overrun on the opposite side. There are tons of examples of these maps, but Bible Black is maybe the best.

It's true that there are many other perfectly valid styles of maps. The main problem with using more "non-standard" (for lack of a better word) maps generally has to do with balance issues, which I don't think is worth delving into in detail here. If you have any good counter-point examples, please share them. In the past I haven't been presented with any suitable examples when I've pressed...

I think there is a lot of unfairness in AW CO's that makes labeling tiers outright silly. The biggest contributor to this is the fact that each map is different.
I agree with this 100%.

AWBW denies the fact there are CO's that switch tiers depending on the map... The issue with the current tier list is that there isn't a disclaimer that says it, therefore labeling Grit and others as banned CO's when they actually vary depending on situation.
I don't know who "AWBW" means in this context, but this is simply not true. I can't speak for how others have used the tier list, but please re-read Hellraider's original post in this thread: http://www.takeyourturn.net/t514-hellraider-awbw-co-tier-list-06-22-2012. Especially pertinent is:
Note, this tier list is only a guideline and strongly reflects what sort of maps are being played on currently. Nearly no competition will have banlists that are an exact copy of what stands above, as every map has unique features that serve to make certain COs stronger or weaker.

I don't think any respectable AWBW player would argue against CO's map dependency (certainly neither Hellraider nor I, who designed the tier list together, would dispute it...). And when the CO lists for the Global League were created, the tiers were considered specifically for each map on a case by case basis. But it should be obvious that generating such tier lists for each map is very difficult and time-consuming (as it requires an in-depth analysis of each feature of the map, as well as predictions on how the map will develop for a variety of scenarios), and not useful at all for casual players playing on a variety of different maps - therefore the Official Tier list was meant to be a general guideline for the majority of balanced maps.

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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  Best Sakuya NA on Wed Dec 24, 2014 10:41 am

WalkerBoh wrote:Hi JakeSamiRulz, thanks for the detailed response. This is more along the lines of the discussion I had in mind. Smile Do you have a link or log of where the discussion  was held that led to FHQ's post?

Anyways, to address some of your points...

The main aspect that I've realized behind a lot of AWBW maps is the lack of bases... Inadvertently, this also creates an environment which breeds stalemates.
I think the # of bases is not as important as the funds:base ratio. Essentially what I have found is that maps with a low fund:base ratio (i.e., maps that have a relatively high number of bases) actually lead to MORE stalemates, not less, which seems to be the opposite of what you're describing. In general it's true that a player's unit count relative to their opponent's correlates strongly with their probability of winning the game (along with total unit value and current income). This makes it desirable to pump out as many units as possible, and on maps with relatively low funds this means a lot of extra infantry. The disproportionately high amount of infantry on the field tends to lead to more unassailable defenses and higher likelihood of a stalemate, as infantry are primarily used for meatshielding.

In games with higher fund:base ratios (i.e., less bases), on the other hand, players tend to be in short supply on infantry because it is more valuable to crank out two tanks (for example) every turn. This also leads to more high tech units (if you have 23k available on 2 bases, it is not a bad choice to build an MD tank and a normal tank - whereas with 23k on 3 bases, you probably want to build 3 tanks/artilleries). These maps are much less likely to result in stalemates, as it is relatively hard to defend without cheap units to use as shields.

New bases are the only way other than powers to guarantee fresh units, and without that then the war becomes stale as the game moves into a state of unit counters after unit counters.
I'm not sure this is true. Stalemates usually occur when neither side can effectively manage an attack that results in a better position after the opponent's counterattack. A lot of times maps can inadvertently encourage stalemates due to a lack of contested properties or having highly defensible areas very near to the contested areas. It's true that having more contested areas (for example, in mixed base maps that can have 3 or more contested zones) will lead to less stalemates - but these maps also tend to have more innate balance issues due to FTA advantages regarding uneven property distribution and positioning.

In my experience, these stalemates are mostly due to how the contested area of the map is designed. I personally am drawn to maps that allow one country to control a property early on that becomes hard to defend later in the match. Creating this type of imbalance will naturally discourage stalemates, as positioning in key areas of the map will constantly be shifting. For example, in Beyond Eternity, it is easy for each country to control the area around their HQ at first - but it becomes increasingly hard to control some of the properties in the surrounding area due to pressure from the opponent's airport in the mid-game.

Another way to prevent stalemates is to create an imbalance from the start with a so-called 2v1 base setup, where the map consists of each side in a 2-base vs. 1-base fight from the start. Obviously there cannot be stalemates, as the 1-base side will eventually be overwhelmed, and the key is to overrun your opponent quicker than you are overrun on the opposite side. There are tons of examples of these maps, but Bible Black is maybe the best.

It's true that there are many other perfectly valid styles of maps. The main problem with using more "non-standard" (for lack of a better word) maps generally has to do with balance issues, which I don't think is worth delving into in detail here. If you have any good counter-point examples, please share them. In the past I haven't been presented with any suitable examples when I've pressed...

I agree with everything that Walker Boh posted because it is correct. These two points in particular are two of the biggest misunderstandings that people have about AWBW and it is absolutely insane that after over 7 years of metagame development, mapping, and research, these two misunderstandings are still so prevalent from anyone outside of AWBW. You can have 2 bases or 17 bases. The base count is not the issue. The funding is also not the issue. The base:funding relationship is what makes the base count and the funding count actually interesting on a map. Considering one while entirely ignoring the other is mostly pointless. To be honest, considering only the Fund:Base ratio and nothing else about a map is also pointless, as no current AWBW Persistent Map can be boiled down to those two variables, but for the sake of brevity, I will grossly oversimplify those maps.

Fund:Base ratio is why maps like Shadows chase you endlessly have so many high tech units. It has a very high Fund:Base ratio, and as such, you are encouraged to build higher tech units. That is why maps like Iconic have comparatively lower tech units, despite having more total bases, because it has a much lower Fund:Base ratio. These become very obvious when when doing simple numbers analysis on optimal plays.

Interestingly enough with Iconic, even with its lower tech units, we strive to create environments on our Global League maps where teching is an interesting and valid decision even on low Fund:Base ratio maps. In this particular example, you can tech early to a B Copter as AB to counter your opponent's Tank. It is a conscious decision on the part of the mapper that allows that player to use that early game build, it has plenty of upsides and downsides, is a competitively viable build, and leads to a very dynamic early game with the mobility of the B Copter put against the lower cost Tank. This kind of thought is clearly present on all of the current Persistent Maps on AWBW. We are very much aware of how people play the game on the maps that we make. We are very much aware of how to make low Fund:Base ratio maps interesting.

For the second point, yes. Stalemates do not simply naturally occur because of a low base count. That is not how stalemates work. In fact, if the Fund:Base count was made to be significantly lower than it is on many good maps on AWBW (as in, increase the number of bases while leaving the overall funds at the same number), I can almost guarantee that it would encourage a slower, more infantry centric game, which is the exact opposite of what you are describing.

Designing contested property in ways that allow the players to make interesting decisions with pros and cons is key to stopping stalemates, assuming of course that you have already set up a solid Fund:Base ratio for the contested properties, have designed the terrain at the fronts properly to encourage dynamic play, have designed the potential airports with the Fund:Base ratio in mind as well as their distance from each front as well as how the terrain at each front dictates the utility of those potential air units, have designed the map with or without towers in mind and have carefully designed their locations so that their capture and their danger of capture and defensive options are properly weighed against the contested properties of the map, have clear and intuitive options on teching for timing attacks or defensive options on the various fronts and allow both players to react to those options...

Oh right. I was supposed to oversimplify the maps to only talk about bases and funding, and not on the actual complexity of AWBW map design and how those are only two very small parts of a larger picture. My bad.

As Walker pointed out already, Bible Black is one of the best examples of handling 2v1 base correctly, as is Shangri-La. Both force a very aggressive, dynamic early game and are exceedingly difficult to stalemate on. Blood on my Hands is, of course, the classic example of how to design maps to have dynamic play around chokepoints, air, and sea options.

I would post more and describe these specific examples more, but I need to go to a Christmas party in less than one hour. I'm glad people are discussing AWBW, but I am sad that the discussion has not changed at all since when I first joined AWBW. In short, fewer bases do not create stalemates. That is not how AWBW works, and this post should not have been longer than those two sentences, but here we are.
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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  MaraSargon on Wed Dec 24, 2014 10:48 am

I would just like to state, for the record, that JSR's statements do not represent my opinions. My refraining from this topic stems from personal issues with Walker, and the fact that I already had this discussion in another thread.

Edit: Additionally, everyone here seems to have missed the fact that the blog post which started this was prompted by individuals using AWBW to critique an AWDS guide. I really don't give one singular shit about how you guys treat your own game's metagame.
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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  Best Sakuya NA on Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:13 am

MaraSargon wrote:Additionally, everyone here seems to have missed the fact that the blog post which started this was prompted by individuals using AWBW to critique an AWDS guide. I really don't give one singular shit about how you guys treat your own game's metagame.

So you don't care how we treat the metagame of AWBW, but you made a sizable blog post about the AWBW metagame, with points such as "AWBW Game Theory is lazy" and "AWBW map variety sucks", of which Walker and I disagree with? Just so I'm following here. I do plan on making a post for that one when I have the time.
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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  Iordor on Wed Dec 24, 2014 2:30 pm

I love how everyone comes out of the woodwork here when there's a juicy argument - we should do a weekly debate thread or something, and turn this into a debate team, heh. Anyone down?

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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  WalkerBoh on Wed Dec 24, 2014 3:10 pm

Best Sakuya NA wrote:So you don't care how we treat the metagame of AWBW, but you made a sizable blog post about the AWBW metagame, with points such as "AWBW Game Theory is lazy" and "AWBW map variety sucks", of which Walker and I disagree with? Just so I'm following here. I do plan on making a post for that one when I have the time.
I wouldn't bother, Mori. FHQ doesn't seem to want to actually discuss any of the points you'll bring up, and I don't think anyone else will disagree with you. If you ignore the condescension and attitude of the original blog post, the thing that stood out to me was the bit about expansions and defined centers, which is what I was interested in discussing more (because it seems obviously false to me). So unless you just want to get a nice rant out and get some stuff off your chest, I wouldn't waste your time.

However, blanci did make one interesting post in the other thread - see his 1st post on page 2: http://www.takeyourturn.net/t689p15-differences-with-awbw-game

If someone wants to bring up a league map that exemplifies the type of stalemate encouragement that blanci states is prevalent, that might be a good start for framing a discussion. I don't particularly want to continue this type of discussion without a specific example to reference.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On a side note...
blanci wrote:Also unfortunately due to horrible historical reasons many of us at AWBW have very little competitive experience of the brokens... I was arguing in forum years ago we need a broken league. No one supported me.
Just wanted to mention that before I quit AWBW, I was actively pushing to develop the metagame for several different game styles, including broken CO's. In Colosseum Season 6, we only used High Funds, Fog of War, and "non-standard" map types, and I created another entire competition that only used broken CO's. The end goal was to develop these game types to the point where they could be used in competitions like the Global League and official tournaments. It was being worked on. But it's not as easy as "just throw random things into competitive matches and see what sticks" - a lot of experimenting and development was necessary to ensure that some modicum of balance was maintained. And quite plainly, there weren't enough active players to do it, which I eventually got frustrated enough about to quit completely.

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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  JakeSamiRulz on Wed Dec 24, 2014 4:17 pm

Hey Walker/Mori,

The article that stemmed the topic is here, though it is very short. (Honestly, reading the Rebuttal is a better source.)

Game Theory

     As far as I'm concerned, this debate is pretty much over. By saying that your Tier List only describes the AWBW meta-game; that brings the playing field directly over AWBW. By saying that the Fund:Base ratio is important to breaking up stalemates, it is very difficult for me to argue that point since all we can show is maps and there are no concrete game examples to disprove or prove the theory.

     As for FHQ, I'll leave him to make whatever decisions he wants to regarding this. My opinions are based off of all the information I've read from AWBW, WWN, and BHHQ. As I said before, I spent a good amount of time researching this and since the AWBW theory isn't being pushed to account for all game theories (including the canon games), there is absolutely no need to take this debate any further.

     However, my goal is that this topic gets finished here and now, and that something exists that pretty much clears up all this misconception. I have dug for hours on the AWBW forum and seriously, I haven’t found anything that discussed AWBW map theory within your stickies. If the information isn’t readily available, how would you expect people to know of it? I hope you’ll be able to point me to the right topic of old.

On that note… I’ve taken a good look at these maps...

Shangri-La
Bible Black
Shadows Chase
Iconic
Blood on my Hands

So, in short, your argument is that pretty much I am misinformed in stating that Base ratio is important to preventing stalemates. Even though I can’t refute that statement, I can at least agree to disagree. Obviously, there are many factors that contribute to ending stalemates.


  • Proximity of enemy HQ’s to Allied Bases
  • Location of key factories, airports, etc. in respect to the map
  • Disproportionate distribution of properties in the map
  • Multiple paths to victory (either by HQ, Base capture, non-cramped paths to contested properties)  


This is true for any good map in Campaign, War Room, and Competitive. The one major factor I’ve seen with all your aforementioned maps is the HQ placement. Stalemates can be averted with proper placement of contested properties (especially HQ’s). Honestly, though, there is really no good ground to stand on here, as none of us supposedly have the games to show proving the case.

What is worse is that the highest cause of dropped games in AWBW is just the fact that turns take too long in general. I can’t use the statistics of the maps to even sway the decision. I guess this debate will have to take a pause for now, but I’ll leave FHQ to follow his own judgment.

As for debating, I only debate if I feel the argument is worth it. In this case, Mori and Walker have strictly said they talk only for AWBW meta-game. This literally invalidates their theories for everything outside the AWBW meta-game. In this case, both sides are pretty much going to be correct, creating a very stale and opinionated debate. I have no interest in stale debates, especially for debates that lack any information for both sides to analyze. Quite a pity that a lot of BHHQ’s information got lost in the list of dead sites; I guess this means these topics have to be brought up all over again.

I’ll be fair in regards to AWBW though, since FHQ has pretty much discussed this to the floor. If anyone wants to take a crack at writing a response on the CWT blog, I’ll definitely allow it. Give me a PM if you are willing, and I’ll continue the debate once more information is present on the table.

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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  WalkerBoh on Wed Dec 24, 2014 6:26 pm

Hi JSRulz. I was under the impression that we were only talking about AWBW, as the parts of FHQ's blog I highlighted specifically discussed AWBW map variety and game theory in the context of AWBW games - sorry if that wasn't clear from the original post I made. If the original misconceptions stem from the fact that people are trying to apply AWBW game theory to other versions of AW, then I'd say the resolution is that those people are mistaken.

JakeSamiRulz wrote:I have dug for hours on the AWBW forum and seriously, I haven’t found anything that discussed AWBW map theory within your stickies. If the information isn’t readily available, how would you expect people to know of it?
You're right - there are indeed no unified sources of advanced map theory available. What we have is more or less knowledge handed down from one person to another in the course of making and commenting on maps. At one time I had started a project to draw together every detail of map theory from the basics to the most advanced topics - but as with many things, the scope of the project exceeded the resources available to work on it and it was left incomplete. I also had an AWBW blog at one point that made a couple posts regarding map creation and design - perhaps you'll find something educational there.

JakeSamiRulz wrote:Honestly, though, there is really no good ground to stand on here, as none of us supposedly have the games to show proving the case.
You're correct that we unfortunately don't have any means of pulling meaningful data or examples to support arguments. There has historically not been any way of saving recorded games, and as you pointed out the map analysis stats are all badly skewed by player inactivity. The best we would be able to do is create play-tests to demonstrate our respective theories. This is where my discussion with FHQ ended last time we spoke at BHHQ, as he refused to play any games with me.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

But in the interest of clearing up some of the things I am still not entirely clear on, do you have any examples of maps that you consider good that do not exemplify the same traits as common AWBW maps? My impression is that AWBW map theory was evolved by slowly stripping away maps with features that were found to cause imbalances - that's how we ended up roughly where we are. I can understand that the variety of competitive AWBW maps may seem a bit narrow if you are looking at it from a broader perspective, but I don't think many people are aware of or fully understand the myriad of balance issues that must be taken into account.

So when I read the post on Game Theory from FHQ that you linked, I am curious what he means when he says (with regard to faction-based game theory): "This concept is focused on looking at a number of map styles and seeing how well CO effectiveness carries over." What characterizes different map styles? Are we talking about radical differences like maps with predeployed units, varying funds/property (not just $1k per city), multiple HQ's, maps with predominantly air or naval units, etc.? Or are we talking about smaller changes like varying fund:base ratios, mixing base positions, etc.? How would AWBW's map style be characterized in this broader view? I suspect I have seen many of these alternate map styles and they would be deemed imbalanced, but I am open to being proven wrong.

And of course, it is 100% possible that I am just uneducated or unaware of alternate approaches for balancing maps, as my knowledge is restricted almost exclusively to what was available in the AWBW community and I know very little about what strides other communities have made in advancing AW game theory. So if there are maps or map design theories available that effectively solve balance issues in other ways (or if the balance issues raised are not a concern for other reasons) that allow a greater variety in the style of map, I'd be really interested in checking them out. Thanks!

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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  Best Sakuya NA on Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:16 pm

WalkerBoh wrote:Hi JSRulz. I was under the impression that we were only talking about AWBW, as the parts of FHQ's blog I highlighted specifically discussed AWBW map variety and game theory in the context of AWBW games - sorry if that wasn't clear from the original post I made. If the original misconceptions stem from the fact that people are trying to apply AWBW game theory to other versions of AW, then I'd say the resolution is that those people are mistaken.

Yes. I speak for the AWBW metagame, not for the metagame of games I have not played or researched extensively enough to comment on. That is generally how things work. I brought up my points within the context that the original blog post was about AWBW, as it said in its major points.

As an example for comparison, I am one of the top competitive players in Infinity Wars, a digital TCG. I know very much about Infinity Wars. However, that in no way makes me an expert in Hearthstone or Prismata, two games that are also digital and feature cards. In a similar fashion, I can say that I know a lot about AWBW. That does not mean I know much about any other AW centric game, despite their similarities.

However, there is definitely value to comparing games on some merits. Often brought up on these types of threads is the variety of competitive maps available on AWBW. I come from many other competitive games, and many of them are strategy games, and many of those had a list of ladder maps similar to AWBW's Global League. Company of Heroes 1, critically acclaimed and generally considered to be a classic competitive RTS, only had 6 ladder maps for 1v1:

Angoville
Beaux Lowlands
Langres
Semois
Sturzdorf
Wrecked Train

Of those four, Angoville, Langres, Semois, and Wrecked Train were by far the most popular. All 4 maps had similar ideas on how manpower, munitions, fuel, and victory points were distributed, similar corner placement of HQ sectors, similar road/hedgerow design, building placement, and so on. And yet the strategies present on those 4 ladder maps are so largely divergent, in large part due to subtleties that many outside observers simply could not pick up on from a cursory glance at the maps. I would say that those 4 maps (along with Bois du Chatelet) are some of the greatest maps I have ever seen in almost any strategy game, and offer a wide variety of available playstyles despite their similarities and despite the small total number of maps. It is ill advised to do an early Kettenkrad bust on Semois, but in the PE vs British matchup on Angoville, it was a very powerful early game strategy. On Wrecked Train, Rifle blobs are powerful tools for pushing along the midline green cover, but try using that on Semois vs a Wehr player setting up mortars in and around mid and your manpower will be increasingly strained by their constant splash damage.

Similarly, Starcraft's ladder started out larger, but by Broodwar was picked down to 6 core ladder maps:

(2)Fading Realm
(2)Showdown
(4)Forsaken Valley
(4)Snowbound
(6)Medusa
(6)Winter Conquest

Again, with a large degree of variety despite such a small map pool. Starcraft 2, as a general rule, runs 7 ladder maps, and the current maps are:

King Sejong Station LE (2)
Overgrowth LE (2)
Catallena LE (3)
Merry Go Round LE (3)
Deadwing LE (4)
Foxtrot Labs LE (4)
Nimbus LE (4)

These are all handpicked, like the other games, to be as balanced as possible and have many similarities in their design, and yet they offer enormous potential for early game, mid game, and late game plays as all three factions due to subtleties in their map design that would take quite a bit of time to explain to anyone who does not already study these maps and professional play on a regular basis. Deadwing and Foxtrot Labs alone could have at least 15 minute design segments each explaining strategies and design choices.

AWBW has not 6, or 7, but 11 Persistent Maps that have been developed over about 7-8 years of analysis and mapping, and I can say with certainty that a map like Bible Black will play almost nothing like Shadows chase you endlessly, or Bel'Shir Beach. Not only do we have variety in our maps, but our ladder is actually significantly larger in total number of maps than many other strategy games with a similar rigorous process for pruning and balancing maps. Additionally, we now rotate 5 new maps in every single month, for an additional 60 ladder maps a year. Rotation Maps are purposefully chosen to inject even more variety than already exists in our ladder.

If you were to tell me that the Rotation Map A Questionable Strategy played too similarly to Upping the Ante, or that they both are designed in a way that is too similar to other ladder maps, I would likely disagree, and yet somehow that seems to be a rather common point people try to use to detract from the AWBW ladder. I sincerely wish I could more easily see that perspective.
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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  JakeSamiRulz on Thu Dec 25, 2014 1:19 am

Hey Mori/ Walker,

Even with this new information present and the yearning to argue the points, I still have to delay this discussion because of pure lack of evidence. I mean, we could try to discuss theory based on discussing maps like...


  • Antipode Map "Australia"
  • Beaker River


However, I have to take into consideration that these maps aren't being tested on even grounds. Without research to show how these maps improve on balance, it completely nullifies the discussion for both parties. We'd both be right, and that isn't a good debate.

To shed light on what was said in Mori's discussion, you are absolutely right, you can't take strategy from Infinity Wars and completely map out the meta game for Hearthstone. My game of choice in the card genre is Magic: the Gathering. The same rules apply to me, I can't map out the meta game for Hearthstone either. All we can do is make a generalized stab at the issue. (Believe it or not, I had this exact same discussion about AWDS theory in general to FHQ. We just lack the games to show the evidence on all cases.)

The biggest issue I have with arguing about maps is that there will be always something that we are missing in terms of AW map design. From a design perspective, when a community asks map committee leads to come up with a list of maps, a checklist has to be formed as to what maps would constitute as "most playable". A certain "groove" is etched out, and any other map that doesn't fall within this is dismissed as imbalanced. There is nothing wrong with that, because it guarantees familiar territory and balance for all maps.

Sadly, it is also the reason why there is a lot of misconception. You see, in Magic the Gathering, when we consider a card good, it is usually 98% of the community that agrees with the decision. In strategy games, like Age of Empires, good maps are also ironed out over time and a general consensus is made. For the AW community, this is not the case, because the community is so fragmented that theory has been shattered into millions of glass shards.

The only glue we have is combining all the statistics we have on map victories vs. stalemates. The other big booster would be if a map can hold up competitively among AWDoR, AWDS, AW2, and AWBW. The more a map is balanced across all the game types, the better general case we can get. We just can't do it because of two reasons...


  • We lack the community interest to play AW games...
  • We lack the map data from all the past games...


I would love to debate this topic, but we just don't have the data. Taking generalized stabs in the dark for all parties is exactly why the AW community is plagued with "theorycrafting". I really want to take a stance against it and spend time to gather the data. I'll leave the pause in effect for now, we literally don't have any data outside AWBW to compare with.

JSRulz

P.S. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you!
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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  WalkerBoh on Fri Dec 26, 2014 2:00 am

Merry Christmas to you, too. Not wanting to discuss details without supporting data is reasonable, I see nothing wrong with that.

I'm honestly less interested in proving points scientifically than understanding the opposing views though. That's why I've basically only been asking for an explanation of the reasoning behind the points in that blog post and the reference discussions that led to it. Thank you for providing a couple of map examples. What would be most helpful is to frame the discussion in the blog/supporting threads around those map examples (and how the contrast between those maps and "standard" AWBW maps is meaningful), but I can understand your reluctance to do so as the depth of discussion is necessarily limited by the aforementioned lack of data.

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Re: Discussion:"Rebuttal to AWBW"

Post  MaraSargon on Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:35 am

Best Sakuya NA wrote:So you don't care how we treat the metagame of AWBW, but you made a sizable blog post about the AWBW metagame, with points such as "AWBW Game Theory is lazy" and "AWBW map variety sucks", of which Walker and I disagree with? Just so I'm following here.
As applied to AWDS, yes, that is exactly what I wrote. AWDS is a more advanced game than AWBW, and using AWBW theory to dissect it (as many have and continue to do) is lazy. I pointed out all the reasons why. If you read it differently, that's your problem.

Again, I have already had this conversation, and that's as far as I care to go on the matter until y'all lose the confrontational attitude.
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