The argument I am going to make stems from the following axiom:
The game should be balanced in a way that most people can enjoy their preferred play style, over the largest variety of game styles and maps available. Moreover, this should be done while keeping the feeling of AoE2, whatever that means to most people.
I don’t think most of you should disagree with this premise. If we can, let’s make everybody happy. Now, let’s see how many games were played on different maps, and how the distribution is. I will use the data from aoestats.io.
1v1 games: Total games played = 617,700
Arabia: 52%, Arena: 16%, Megarandom: 8.78%, Gold Rush: 2.9%
Team games: 390,088
Arena: 23.6%, Arabia: 16.88%, Black Forest: 14.3%, Nomad: 13.24%
It should be clear that for every 3 games played in 1v1, 2 games are played on team games. Clearly, team games form a pretty large subset of the AoE2 community. More importantly, you see a lot more map variety in team games. Arabia is only played 16% as compared to the 50% on 1v1s. All this is to say, There are a lot of people playing these games, and we should try to accommodate them in balance changes.
Now, coming to the main topic, 1v1 players certainly understand 1v1 balance. There are strategies, timings, counter units, etc, which is important for 1v1 play. However, if you only play 1v1s, you only understand around 60% of what balance means. If you only play 1v1 arabia, it’s half of that.
Sure, there’s a lot of transfer or knowledge, but you don’t know what to do when 60 persian war elephants come at you if you only play 1v1s. You won’t know how to watch out for, and to track, 3 different armies. You won’t know how to deal with the absolute chaos of 8 different armies going at each other, each with their own units and compositions, You won’t know when to set up trade, how to balance and protect trade, and how to suppress opponent’s trade by co-ordinating with other people in your team.
If you only play arabia and arena, you don’t know anything about how water works. And, to repeat, there’s a large section of the community that do play water maps. And don’t say some #### #### about tournaments, because not only were there two large team game tournaments this year, but tournaments usually have a lot of maps which have nothing to do with arabia. T90’s titan’s league this time doesn’t include arabia at all.
If you want to understand the game in its entirety, and what balance means, you need to cover at least 80% of what happens imo. You need to know how people experience this game in different ways, and what people find joy in. So, you need to play open maps, closed maps, 1v1s, team games, and everything in between. Or don’t. But then, don’t take an elitist attitude and ignore one of the largest parts of this community. Fin.