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View Full Version : [Map Balance] Valeholm



KrazeyXII
3rd Nov 2014, 19:03
Game experience reference: 100+ hours played, level 40, level 25 tyrant, level 25 alchemist

Side note: Please let us link our accounts to the forum and allow accounts to stay logged onto the forums longer, thanks.

Valeholm has been a problem since I started playing this game a few months ago. Most of the map is balanced fairly well. Locations like slums, market, residences, and ruins provide balanced gameplay for both humans and vampires. Why? These locations provide a healthy mixture of vision and obstacles that benefit and challenge both sides. There are multiple ways for vampires to approach each location as well as enough space and vision for humans to fend off vampires if they expose themselves. Each of these areas are reasonably approachable from at least three directions for the vampires which gives them a fair chance to harass and engage the humans.

One of the better (and easiest to explain) areas of the map is slums. In regards to humans they have these advantages:

Open space to spread out and avoid AoE
Four reasonably placed health stations
Good vision of their surroundings
Multiple escape routes (market, courtyard, and ruin exits)
Buildings to hide in and shoot from


The same area also allows vampires to approach the area with certain advantages.

Four angles of approach (courtyard, market, ruins, caved in ceiling of slums)
Multiple entry points from said angles of approach
Courtyard provides enough vision to track humans
Proper cover to hide approach as long as possible
Good cover to eat once a fight is completed (read: humans cannot spawn within line of sight to stop eats)


This area provides benefits for both teams and each benefit is a challenge for the other team. Having four health locations nearby is a benefit for the humans but a challenge for the vampires. Having multiple angles and entry points to approach is a benefit to vampires but a challenge for humans. This specific section of the map is incredibly well designed and makes for great fights. Sadly, due the the imbalance of mansion this doesn't happen as often as it should.

The Problem With Valeholm: Mansion

At first glance mansion seems like a fairly balanced location. There are entry points from ruins and residences. There are tunnels below and a large tower in front to jump from. However, looking at this part of the map more critically exposes why you will always see humans attempting to capture and hold this position. Please note that although there are issues with class imbalance I am not using that in my thought process. I main alchemist and can still take advantage of mansion almost as well as the other classes.

Before I start with the problems we need to first layout how most coordinated teams position themselves at mansion. Teams normally place two players on the catwalk above the tunnels, one player on the staircase in the rear by the mansion door, and one player on the elevated platform towards residences. This provides optimal coverage of the surrounding area and allows each player pod to quickly support another pod depending on how the fight unravels.

Problem One: Angles of Approach

Mansion does not have any viable angles of approach for the vampire team to take advantage of. The rooftops from residences are the definition of a double edged sword for vampires. If you approach from residences you are either completely exposed or stuck in a very small area where the humans cannot see you in which case you are now susceptible to AoE abilities. Also, there is a very low flight ceiling in that corner so leap tyrants and sentinels are neutered attacking from that location.

If approaching from ruins the vampires are forced to fully expose themselves to fire when traveling across the open gap to get to the tunnel and ruin buildings. If you are able to reach tunnel one of the players from catwalk can cycle down and either flush you out or pin you down. If you attempt to approach from ruin rooftops you are within line of sight from the human on high position which forces you off the rooftops or out entirely. Sentinels have no high buildings to hide behind on this side of the map at all and are completely exposed. This angle of approach is almost guaranteed suicide versus a coordinated team.

Lastly, approaching from courtyard. You don't do this. If approaching from courtyard on ground level you are visible from across the map by both players on the catwalks and by the player on the high platform. If you are either on the towers surface of courtyard or on the rooftops at either residences or slums you are now exposed to all four humans if you break line of sight. Courtyard is, essentially, a no man's land because of how exposed it is. No matter what approach you take from courtyard you are exposed to at least three members of the enemy team. What's worse is that players on the catwalk and platform have enough vision to be able to shoot vampires that are in marketplace which essentially means that unless you are in slums or residences you run the risk of losing hit points as a vampire if you are in that firing lane.

Problem Two: Entry Points

Simply put: there are none. Entering from residences, as mentioned before, either exposes you or pins you into a corner leaving you open to AoE. If the enemy team has not placed a player on platform you have a chance of entering via that direction but you are forced into either a choke point at the stairs or fully exposing yourself on the slanted rooftop before you descend on the enemy team.

In order to reach the tunnel entrances you are forced to expose yourself from courtyard and, as stated earlier, that is a death sentence. For a vampire to have a chance to get to the single doorway (no the tunnels) you are forced to traverse a large open area which leaves you open to enemy fire from platform and catwalk but also allowing the player from stairs to line you up perfectly through the door. The tunnel entrances on the other side of the catwalk are no better. Although there are three entrances you run into multiple problems. The front two entrances (the outcropping and the entry closer to the health station) are exposed to fire from platform and catwalk. What's worse about tunnels is that vampires are no longer able to dodge horizontally due to being in such close quarters opening up the chance for humans to land CC much more easily. Also, since the tunnels are so small humans can spam their AoE effects down the tunnel without fear. As an alchemist main I can tell you this is my favourite spot in any map but the other classes can use it just as well. As a charge or marathon tyrant the tunnel and doorways also pose a problem because the slightest touch can send you reeling backwards and cancelling your charge. The tunnel is a death sentence for vampires versus a good human team.

The ruins approach is no better due to the fact that vampires must expose themselves to reach that point but once they reach it there is no safe point of entry. Jumping down to catwalk leaves you exposed to catwalk and platform and pushing in slightly more also exposes you to stairs. Entering from rooftops leaves you exposed to platform initially and then to both catwalk and stairs simultaneously.

Solutions

To begin this section I have to say that I have absolutely no idea how to fix courtyard without completely overhauling the tower which seems to be the iconic symbol of the map. I thought of adding boxes or walls on the landing, increasing the circumference, or adding tents to the edges to block vision. All of those ideas would drastically change the layout too much and make the area feel too cramped. The boxes would work as cover but wouldn't provide much benefit because you are still exposed from platform. Adding more trees to the courtyard wouldn't work either because it would add too much clutter. This portion of the map is currently a no man's land no matter how I approach it. The only small change I can see here is to widen the entrances through catwalk slightly to reduce the chance vampires have to make contact with them and to remove the small outcropping in each doorway that acts as a small corner. This small lip in the doorway causes way too many vampires to get caught awkwardly in the doorway in an already problematic area.

Improvements to apartments approach and entry points:


Raise the flight ceiling. This is an issue in many areas on certain maps but it renders an already problematic approach virtually useless to two classes on Valeholm.
Widen this approach entirely. Push back the rock face and provide an area for vampires to safely climb behind. This approach needs cover because right now it has none.
Remove the wooden walls. Platform is already too defensible but with the wooden walls in place a vampire has a problem taking advantage of the z-axis to either separate or deal extra damage to humans from the fall.
Place a small apartment outcropping on the edge of platform where the two wooden arches are. This will help provide some protection to approaching vampires so that only players from catwalk can shoot them.


Improvements to slums approach and entry points:


Make the lattice work at ruins a solid structure to allow some vision protection for vampires.
Widen the tunnel slightly and remove the tiny edges in doorways that allow characters to get stuck in them. This should make tunnels less of a gauntlet for vampires.
Widen the catwalk along with the tunnel. Remove the wooden boards at the top of the staircase in the middle of catwalk. Humans have an easy enough time rolling off to safety they don't need another obstacle to obstruct vampire movement upon entry.
Add one more story to the building closest to the mansion's courtyard. This area is so exposed it's painful. This will force humans to spread out more on the catwalk to watch the ruin approach.


These changes should reduce the massive vision advantage humans have in this location. They should also help reduce the amount of finicky areas at mansion that severely hinder vampire engages. Removal of the wooden barriers, specifically on catwalk, would be a massive step in the right direction to open up the area for attack.

Thanks for your time and I welcome any criticism or input,

Krazey

p.s.
I hope the color scheme is as easy on your eyes as it is on mine

mauvo58
3rd Nov 2014, 19:35
I hadn't checked the name of that location, so I have been referring to it as 'the fortress'. :-/

KrazeyXII
3rd Nov 2014, 19:46
My friends and I call it catwalk or castle ;). We rarely use any of the in-game callouts because they are too broad (read: too big to pinpoint). We are still hashing out names but Valeholm is getting more specific.


Apartments = Fire, alley, fire health
Market = Slums (lol), slums health
Slums = Courtyard, collapsed building, slums side, ruins side
Ruins = Ruins (area is super small
Courtyard = Tower and we call what side they are on by location: tower slums, tower fire, etc.
Mansion = Castle, platform, catwalk, door


Our best callouts are Stephen King on Sommerdamm (the large circular room by training), the dining halls on the Fane we call pleasure palace (the tunnel looks like it's prepped for sexy times), and we call the high priestess statue on the Fane - Nipples.

PencileyePirate
3rd Nov 2014, 22:24
Raise the flight ceiling. This is an issue in many areas on certain maps but it renders an already problematic approach virtually useless to two classes on Valeholm.

This is the only change I agree with. The rest seems unnecessary (and I'm not convinced mansion needs an overhaul.)

Bazielim
4th Nov 2014, 00:41
My friends and I call it catwalk or castle ;). We rarely use any of the in-game callouts because they are too broad (read: too big to pinpoint).
Hmm interesting. My friends and I do something similar, although we've fallen into the habit of naming the areas of each map A-E after their siege letters (even when we're not playing siege).

KrazeyXII
5th Nov 2014, 00:09
Played a few more games last night on this map. My friend and I were playing with two players newer to the game (level 20's) and absolutely slaughtered a team of 40's because we made sure to hold mansion at all costs. Although level doesn't necessarily determine skill we noticed that our players were definitely still learning the game while the other team had a fair grasp of the concept and were above average (but not exceptional) players.

I doubt this map will get a change in the near future but I really hope that the developers keep an eye on it for the upcoming tournaments that are in place. There is no safe angle of attack for vampires on this map and I have a good feeling it will be very obvious when competitive teams start playing here.

--Ram--
5th Nov 2014, 08:28
Really nice post. As you said the mansion area on this map is just disgusting to approach if playing against a competent team. This part of the map definitely needs revisiting in my opinion.

Humans have everything they need here:

Great lines of sight across much of the map including flanks
Ability to position on high ground
Ability to position on multiple vertical levels and use stairs/ramps to juke
Two very close heal stations - one just outside the tunnel and one up top (can't believe this one exists)
Ability to AOE/grenade spam pretty much every possible setup area for vampires
Chance to chip vampires so low before even setting up to engage that when they finally do engage they can't win

Vampires have:

Ability to always be seen when approaching for surprise element of 0
Ability to be heavily chipped prior to fight regardless of method of approach
Limited escape/disengage options that are easily predicted and punished
Lots of nearby buildings to set up on where you can be directly seen or grenade spammed with ease.

The above lists assumes smart human positioning which maintains LOS while watching all angles of approach. This will typically not happen in pubs but is expected in higher level play. I don't think pub play is enough to highlight how strong this position is. Once more scrims are happening I think it will become much more clear because:

A - every human team will bum rush to this spot at the start of the match
B - vampires will get messed up

KrazeyXII
6th Nov 2014, 02:40
You see the human team rush mansion in pub play as it stands right now. My friends and I have devised the only strategy that works on this map currently: deny mansion as long as possible. If the human team spawns at mansion then our plan is ruined and the game is now heavily in favor of the humans. This is a tough problem to tackle but one that I feel needs to be tackled for Valeholm to be considered a competitive map.

--Ram--
6th Nov 2014, 05:17
You see the human team rush mansion in pub play as it stands right now. My friends and I have devised the only strategy that works on this map currently: deny mansion as long as possible. If the human team spawns at mansion then our plan is ruined and the game is now heavily in favor of the humans. This is a tough problem to tackle but one that I feel needs to be tackled for Valeholm to be considered a competitive map.

Agreed. I always rush here first as a vampire as well for the same reason.

GenFeelGood
7th Nov 2014, 03:43
As much as I despise map changes, I have been playing the Valeholm map quite often; and I'll admit that 8/10 my team occupied the Mansion for the majority of our human round, with us engaging the humans there just as often during our vamp round.

KrazeyXII
7th Nov 2014, 23:43
Sommerdam is another map with some glaring advantages but I am not sure it is at the same level that Valeholm is in terms of human/vampire bias. In my opinion, a map that blatantly forces a human team to want to camp a single area needs to be looked at a second time. On the flip side, if a map has an area where the humans say 'Oh ****, we need to leave now or get wiped' then that area needs tuning as well. A map can never have perfect balance in an asymmetrical shooter but it shouldn't have massive imbalances that force a team to either never want to fight or always want to fight in that location.

5amael_
12th Nov 2014, 18:37
There's also the burned and ruined house in the map with its invisible walls thats really annoying if you're playing Sentinal and coming in from a specific angle.

Im not sure how to describe its locations so took a couple of pictures:

http://s24.postimg.org/6f7b9jsdh/2014_11_12_00001.jpg
Its the building in the middle of the picture.

http://s15.postimg.org/7shux55x7/2014_11_12_00002.jpg
In this picture im flying into the invisible wall, which is making me hover in midair.

Wolf_the_Legend
12th Nov 2014, 22:15
If there were a button to "ban" maps I would definitely ban this one ... because of the invisible walls and ceilings (Tyrant jump) and overall map (im)balance.

btw I vote for a single or two optional map bans before searching for a game. also in a private lobby for each team.