Let's start off with some basic thoughts on maps.
1. Symmetry=Not good.
I'm not saying symmetry means "you suck", but generally not using symmetry proves that you have some skill. If it's your first map, then it's acceptable but don't keep it up for long unless you know what you are doing.
Terrain is a must in good maps. The key is to place them well. Generally, unless there's a strategic reason, you want to place some shoals along a coastline. But be wary... not too many. Roads are good, but should be used for main paths. Forests are mostly used for FOW, so be careful where you place them. Generally, you can place them next to mountain ranges without any harm done. If possible, try adding reefs whenever you can.
3. BE SUBTLE AND VARIED
The game offers many different types of terrain that have similar functions, make use of it. Bridges are great, but sometimes you can substitute them with shoals. Mountains are also good, but if you're limiting vehicles, try a river. If you're limiting land units, try some sea. Don't always stick to the same thing. Also, if you decide to use symmetry, don't make it obvious. Sprinkle terrain around your map. Don't make roads 100% straight.
4. Avoid overload
It's quite easy to go nuts and overload on terrain. Forest overloads when you need TV, property overload for fast and furious cash battles, mountain overload because you need to kill some space, etc. Be wary. That's not a good thing.
5. How to balance?
Balance is a key thing, especially when you wander into the non-symmetrical realm. I won't discuss it too much here, but suffice to say, you need to make sure no one has an advantage by being close or too far to the action.
6. Never add the properties first
I personally don't put properties first, I always elaborate the terrain. The terrain will usually dictate how to place the properties. Of course, if you have skill, you can ignore this rule of thumb.
7. Properties: Why they exist
Finally, to top off my intro, let's discuss properties. Properties have 2 uses: Money and strategic advantage. I divide them into those categories. Money properties are properties that obviously belong to a specific nation, and have low chances of being captured by other nations. Example: Four Corners. Your starting bases are money properties, they serve to bring funds and chances are that your opponents won't capture them in 3 days. Strategic properties, on the other hand, are made to be fought over. Whoever gets the property will have a substantial advantage. Example: The airport in Four Corners. There's only 1, so you want to get it. This type of property are usually located at what I call a "critical point" or a place where you need to get a foothold in order to succeed. I will elaborate on this in non-symmetrical 1v1 maps. Be careful what properties you place and where you place them. Construction properties [i]usually[/i] serve as strategic properties, and cities are money properties (although if used right, they can also become strategic properties.)
And that concludes my intro. Not that brief, I guess.
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