- Feb 20, 2013
Guidelines for a Competitive Melee Map
In the following you will be able to read about what makes a Warcraft III melee map functional as a competitive map. One of the most important things in the meta-game for warcraft 3, is the maps themselves. If a map favours a certain race over another it might cause problems and will not work on the professional level. This guide is designed to give you some guidelines on what you can do to help your map become as balanced as possible. Please understand every map is different and take these guidelines as fits best for your map.
I've also done a video series on how to make a melee map, where I talk about a lot of the things located here in the guide, while i create a competitive melee map from scratch till release. It is great for also getting an idea of how to use the editor. You can find the videos below and on my youtube channel: youtube.com/filmting05
One of the main parts of a maps balance is the creeps. There's a lot to consider when making creep camps and the item drops, but by looking at the current map pool for competitive maps we can set-up a few basic rules that should help you make it as balanced as possible. Let's start with the item drops. Down below is a list of the level ranges you should aim for depending on the level of the creep camp. You can find the creep camps level by adding the level of every creep, or by selecting all the creeps in the camp, and the editor should give the level for you when you press enter.
- 1-5 Camp = Level 1 Item
- 5-10 Camp = Level 1-2 Item
- 10-15 Camp = Level 2-3 Item
- 15-20 Camp = Level 3-4 Item
- 20+ Camp = Level 4-5+ Item
Next let's talk about the creeps themselves. When making the creep camps there are a few things you must consider. There's the level of the creep, spells of the creep, and does it sleep. When making creep camps it's always good to have a healthy mixture of creeps, some that are high health brute force no spells, and some that are more caster orientated. This helps make the creep camp more interesting and difficult to deal with, and you need to figure out a strategy to best creep it. A camp of only casters would usually be low health and easy to kill, while a camp of only brutes is too easy because you just attack and kill them. Also try and make sure the combination of spells on the creeps is not too unforgiving. This is hard to define and it is up to you to evaluate if the camp is fair.
The level of the creeps is another thing. Usually you want around 2-5 creeps in a camp, because a bunch of low level creeps could easily be AoEed, or sniped the one which drops the item. Also to note is that creeps level 6 and above creep have hero magic resist, meaning you cannot charm them and effects or spells lasts as long on them as they would on player Heroes. Creeps that are level 7 or above all have chaos damage and use a smarter AI that will target low health units. When making creep camps try to make it so that the initial camps never have a creep of level 6 or above. Instead have a bunch of lower level ones and save the more powerful creeps for the late game camps that drop better items.
Another thing to consider is sleep. Night time is a thing, and many players like to use this to their advantage by buying items and stuff at night while the creep camp still guarding the neutral building is still alive. To help support this, you must make sure that any camp that is guarding a shop of sorts does sleep. If just one of the creeps in the camp does not sleep, it will wake the entire camp when a hero runs by. Keep unsleeping creeps at goldmines or by themselves, never at shop buildings.
Another thing you might take into consideration is the amount of creep camps and creeping routes. Each race have their own strategy, and every strategy have a specific creeping route. While these can be specific for a map per map basis, you can help support some common routes by following these guidelines for creating creeps for your map. These should not be the exact amount of creep camps, and they may change based on map size, but this is the ideal amount of creeps you should aim for in a basic 1v1 map. As long as you have somewhere close to this amount you should be golden.
- 6 Green Camps
- 8 Orange Camps
- 2 Red Camps
While the red camps is not necessary I would recommend having at least a strong orange camp on your map. It is also imperative that every map should have at least 1 orange camp close to the main base, as well as 2 green camps. You can read more details on this in the racial balance section.
You could also consider calculating the experience from a certain creeping route. While this is not necessary and may seem a little complex, it could help to have an understanding of experience creeps give, and the amount of experience needed to gain levels. This though can take a long ass time to calculate. I have made a table here though that should help you easier calculate experience gains.
|Unit LVL||Players||Hero 1||Hero 2||Hero 3||Hero 4||Hero 5|
The players category is for player units. They always give the same amount of experience no matter the level of the hero. The other categories is based on the level of the Hero. A higher level hero will gain less experience from creeps. Summoned units furthermore gives 50% less experience.
How to read the above:
If you have a hero that is level 3, who kills a creep that is level 5, you will then get 69 experience. If you hero is level 1 and kills two level 1 creeps and one level 2 creep, the hero will gain 90 experience. (25 + 25 + 40).
What can I use this for?:
You can use these values to calculate creeping routes when designing a map. You maybe want a certain creeping route to give level 2 or 3, and these values should help you make it easier.
Experience needed to gain a level:
(1-2)200, (2-3)500, (3-4)900, (4-5)1400, (5-6)2000, (6-7)2700, (7-8)3500, (8-9)4400, (9-10)5400
This means that for a hero to level up to level 3 from level 2 he must gain 900 experience. By killing three level 3 creeps this level 2 hero will gain 126 experience (42 + 42 + 42), and will still need 774 experience to level up (900 – 126).
You don't need to go and do all crazy calculations on this, and just testing the experience by playing is more than all right. Usually you just want to make sure there is some sort of earlyish route that gives a level 3 hero for all races, without having to do too many creep camps. It might help you to have a better understanding of the tendencies each race have when creeping, so you can read some general creep routes later on in the racial balance section.
Every map's layout is different, and while you may be trying to make a certain layout it's does not necessarily work for a competitive map. The general layout of the map and placement and amount of neutral buildings can greatly change a map and favour it towards some races more then others. There is still plenty of freedom to make a unique layout, but here's some tips you should try to follow for every map.
There are 2 must have neutral buildings on any map for it to be competitive. These are very basic and should go without saying, but every map must have an unguarded Tavern to allow players to get a tavern hero, which is used in multiple strategies. Alongside that every map must also have at least 1 Goblin Merchant, as boots, healing scrolls, invulnerability potions and staff of teleportation are all very important items that are used a lot in the competitive scene and in different strategies.
Other neutral buildings can be added at your own desire, but be careful when adding some of these, and where you add them. For example, you don't want to add two mercenary camps or shops really close to each other, as this will make players be able to double purchase items like scrolls of healing or mercenaries. Make sure there is a fair distance and good spread on the neutral buildings to avoid this happening. Also when adding mercenary camps, be careful on what tile-set you are using as some mercenaries could be potentially very strong in certain match-ups. For example the Magnataur mercenary from the Icecrown Glacier tileset is very powerful in the Orc vs Night Elf match-up, as it have magic immunity and night elves loves to go mass talons against orcs. Generally the Loarderaon Summer mercenary camp is the best and most balanced of the mercenary camps, as it offer some fair units that can be used for each race. Though mostly humans and night elves use them, as these races tend to tech up or fast expand rather early, leaving them without strong units.
Be careful when adding fountains of either health or mana, as these favour certain races in some match-ups. Orcs really like fountains of health, because of the high health amount it will regenerate more health. If you add fountains, make sure to have some other equalizer on the map, or have a dragon at the fountain guarding the fountain, which is what is usually seen, as orcs usually never get, or is slow at getting, something that can attack air.
Another thing you must have is an easily accessible expansion. By this I mean that there should be at least 1 expansion in a relatively close position to the main base, so that humans have the possibility to fast expand with militia. You can judge the distance by if the militia is able to run from the main and still fight the gold mine creeps when getting there. If call to arms runs out to early it will kinda nullify this very popular human strategy. Also by having multiple expansions at a close call to arms distance, you can allow to human to double expand or choose his expansion, leaving enemy players to guess and put more effort into scouting were and if they expanded. If you have multiple expansions close to the main, make sure that a human can only fast expand to one of them early on.
When making the layout of the map also make sure that there is almost always multiple paths to take. By this i mean there should be at least 2 ways to get to anywhere on the map. No single long corridor that can easily be blocked, but allow movement and manoeuvrability across the map, so you can always retreat and micro your units, kite back in a fight, while also allowing you to eventually take a longer path to your enemies to hide your army. This especially goes for bases and expansions as only one entrance would allow for some massive abuse by blocking it off with buildings. It's all right to have a few certain areas like neutral buildings and some creeps and such in a corridor, as long as it's not too long. An example of this would be the Goblin Laboratory on Terenas Stand. Also be careful about making too enclosed spaces or too open spaces, and try to have as best of a mixture of closed small chokes and big open areas as possible, as certain races like the huge open space, while others love the more small enclosed ones.
When making a players base, two things must be considered. The first is pretty simple and should go without saying, but make sure there is enough wood and a relatively short distance to the wood for the player. Usually you should aim for at least 150-200 trees in the base, but this also depends on how much gold there is in the gold mine and the size of the map amongst other things. The second thing is to make sure that there is enough room in your base for tier 2 buildings and a wall-off. Walling off your base is a strategy that is used by every player, as this allows small units such as workers to move in and out freely, while keeping enemy heroes, such as Blademasters out of your worker line. You base should be enclosed by trees so that your base can be walled off by an altar, a barracks and 1-2 food buildings. You could also use your Town Hall as part of the wall, but when you do this you must make sure there is enough room in the back of the base for players to set up at least two Tier 2 buildings. This should be relatively easy to accomplish, but if there is not and you are forced the place them outside the base, enemy players could potentially force you to cancel your tier 2, which can greatly delay a player and give a great tech advantage to whoever is forcing the cancel.
Make sure to add critters! It might be considered a aesthetic feature, but it's not. Critters are actually relatively important to undead players, as they can be killed off easily with one hit, and grants a corpse for the undead to use their Rod of Necromancy on. So make sure to have at least a few critters, best near green or early game camps. Be careful not to add to many though, as this could give an endless supply of skeletons which would be bad.
Understanding what makes each race shine and gives them a particular advantage could be key in helping you balance out a map. If your map have something that gives a unfair advantage to humans, you could counter this by trying to do something else that makes humans weaker. In the following you can get some general insight to strategies for each race and how to support them in your map.
Human strategies tend to rely upon an early expansion. For this a mercenary camp located somewhere easily accessible from the expansion, typically between the main base and the expansion, would help them achieve this goal more easily. Humans tend to use their Militia for creeping, and by doing this they have very powerful creeping capabilities. I would suggest not to have a powerful camp close to the base that drops a high level item, like a level 4 or 5, as humans most likely would be able creep it, if it were in militia range. On the other hand you could add one to give them this opportunity, but I would highly suggest against having more then 1 powerful camp. Keep the stronger camps that drops better items, further out in the map. Their miltia is also a relatively weak low health units, so creeps with AoE would give humans a though time. Besides all this humans also tends to like the Goblin Laboratories, as they can quite often be lumber starved, but also because they can cheaply set-up farms near neutral buildings to allow them to reveal invisible units or purchase mercenaries or whatever.
Orcs like their Blademasters. They are one of their most used heroes and almost always the first choice. The way orcs creep also reflect this. Where every race have something to help them take out a bigger camp, like humans with their Militia, undeads with their Rod of Necromancy and night elves with their Ancients of War, orcs don't have such a mechanic. Because of this, they tend to either play aggressive and try to creep jack their opponents all the time, or use their Blademaster to take down single powerful units in a creep camp, that drops the items. You can support this Blademaster stealthiness by choosing which creeps that drops the item. You could use some relatively low health creeps, and the orc would be happy, or you could use some higher health creeps, or creeps with mechanics like ensnare or some sort of reveal/stun to make them sad. Furthermore orcs really like Fountains of Health, as their units have a high health amount, the fountain will restore more health to them then other races, because it heals in percentages.
Nothing here yet, need to do more research. Will write soon™.
Night elves always, unless you're doing some sort of cheese strategy, go for an Ancient of War creeping. This is usually done at either a high level green or an orange camp that is a short distance from the base. Make sure that your map have at least 1 orange camp that drops a level 2-3 item, located a short distance from the players base. Also make sure that this camp is not surrounded by water or unbuildable terrain, so you don't have to march you Ancient of War all the way there, as well as make sure that you have some trees for the ancient to eat. You can have this camp to a neutral building or by itself, shouldn't matter much, as long as it's there. Afterwards the Ancient of War usually moves to another nearby camp, while the Hero + an archer creeps a green camp. By having some relatively close camps for the night elf to quickly creep in succession with their Ancient of War, would make elves happy. Besides that, elves don't like Goblin Laboratories much, as they grant other races the ability to reveal their units while shadowmelded.
They also like Mercenary Camps, as they tend to go for a fast tier 3 against most races. This leaves them behind on the unit side, and a Mercenary Camp would help them with some good fighting units until the tech is there.
Thanks for Reading:
And be sure to leave a comment and give me dem +repz!
You could also consider watching the video series above, where I create a competitively viable melee map, from start to finish. If you have any suggestions and/or improvements to the guide, please leave a comment.