Black Forest, Boulder Bay, Archipelago are some of the best maps for this game - change my mind

The three maps that don’t get a lot of love and I find are often trash talked by streamers and 1v1 ladder players. Black Forest, Boulder Bay, and Archipelago.

Before beginning, I do think that some maps are better suited for 1v1 experiences. Opinions are great, but when one popular 1v1 or pro player says, “this map sucks”, “choke points suck”, “water maps suck”, I think a lot of players (not all) take this information as truth without making their own opinion on what they like or dislike about the game. Now a large population thinks these maps suck because of this and has worsened dodging. It’s gone all the way to the devs removing certain maps from queues. I can’t recall the last time I’ve played a Archipelago team game, and I miss it.

I think things will change for the better once we have map pick/ban options for the queue, and will improve the overall enjoyment of the game. I believe that’s coming soon?

Diversify your style with the game and the boring “open map” idea.

This applies to all players. I don’t care if you’re a 1v1, or 4v4.

Not every map has to be that open map. Do you eat pizza everyday? You might. :laughing: Change your style, you will enjoy the game more. It’s what makes games great, having that variety. I love choke points, and having those long battles to where the levee is eventually breached. Some don’t, I get it, but learn to deal with it. I don’t like open maps.

Black Forest
This map is one of my favorites. I think those that dislike this map are hung up on this idea of not being able to get to your opponent because of the narrow interconnecting lanes and walling. It’s a different style of play, but there are several interconnecting lanes to your enemy. I don’t understand the hatred, but I think it stems from 1v1 ladder players trashing it because they hate walls. It was the same story in AoE2. It’s like these opinions are passed down from generation to generation. :laughing: Those who hate walls, don’t wall, and they should (unless you’re a Mongol player of course).

Boulder Bay
A lot of 1v1 players hate this map, but I think they are not diversifying their strategy enough. They are stuck in this open land meta mindset - I eat the saltine crackers for food everyday and drink water! I’d consider even a good player on the ladder to be less of a player because of this closed mindset. The map produces amazing matches with the battle for water and sacred sites. Especially that sacred site with the cliff, and the one only accessible by boat.

Earlier on around game release, I had one of the best 1v1 games on this map. Even with team games, I remember we lost a 4v4 because we did a wonder build without considering much defensive units against siege. It came down to seconds and was exciting. I’ve heard that they’ve improved battles on water, but I haven’t tried it because it’s removed from the queue, and I don’t want to do AI skirmishes with island maps.

In conclusion. Players should form opinions rather than following blindly the opinions of others. It can make a game worse, and we’ve seen that with dodging and less maps in the queue.


This map is horrible , the rest are really good yes :’)

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Balance was a big reason why these maps were bad. But now i think many of the camp maps could be reintroduced.
Maps i hated the most used to be black forest and french pass, but those maps are way better now, specially french pass. I wouldnt even mind it being added back on ranked.
Now without the deep water fish and sacred sites added, black forest actually a fun map to play.

As to boulder bay archipelago, i do miss those maps, but if they get reintroduced french will totally dominate on those maps with the age2 hulks, which is not fun for anyone.

Maps were never issue, in the end they always provide equal opportunity to both players. Sometimes less, sometimes more as they are generated and not perfect all the time.

Problem is always one of following:

  1. Players want to play one-trick pony strategy all the time.
  2. Players don’t want to play certain playstyle that map creates.
  3. Players want fast match, yet some maps will most of the time take a lot of time.
  4. Players don’t want to play different strategies and think out of box to counter problematic strategies introduced by different maps.
  5. Game Balance is awful on lot of maps, due to game balance being focused on competitive 1v1 open map (Dry Arabia and her siblings Lipany and High View)
  6. Maps have infinite or too many resources, which is less of a problem in open map, but is absolutely a problem once a map is more closed of. That is directly tied to game balance, but it’s good to remember that it’s one of major reason why never-ending stalemate on chokepoint happens.
  7. In many cases players are just hypocrites. BeastyQt video related to map contest is nice proof of that as he complains about something and then he is fine with same problem on existing maps, including the open maps that majority of pros and caster prefer so much.

What I really want to point out that if all maps are just Dry Arabia clones with slight variation then they are basically forcing always same strategies and very little difference is between games played in the end.

But hypocritical thinking is definitely one of the biggest issues as the current maps prove it whatever you like it or not.

  • Hill and Dale, Altai, Mongolian Heights are chokepoint, easy to wall map with long stalemates happening very often.

This are same major reason why people dislike Black Forest and Mountain Pass. Yet we have maps that are same in the current pool…

BTW we have seen multiple times pro players just playing open maps like chokepoint maps when they walled map… So in the end they could have just played on chokepoint map from the start and it would change nothing…

If you look at all remaining maps that are out of the map pool

  • Danube is almost identical to open maps, it just has water and due to water being absolute mess competitive tryhards started to hate it.
  • Boulder Bay again suffers from terrible water balance and hate for all water maps.
  • Archipelago and Warring Islands are again suffering from water balance. There is nothing wrong with the map concept otherwise as it only introduces different playstyle and build orders with lot more variation if water balance would not suck…
  • Ancient Spires and Nagari are in same category as Danube, but in the end they are more closed then open. Still pretty much very open maps…
  • French Pass before recent change was fine as a map, it suffered again only from terrible balance that allowed stalemates or made it impossible to push out once player was walled in. In the end it can still happen it will just cost little more resources and game will lead to same situation as its map with highest trade profit possible.
  • Black Forest is similar to Mongolian Heights, most of the time there are only 2 - 3 passages to player, with middle containing sacred sites and neutral market. In the end its actually objectively better then Mongolian Heights as forests are cut-able and eventually will open the map completely.
  • Confluence is at this point just straight up same as Mongolian Heights with more passages…
  • King of the Hill is unique map as its centered on central gold & sacred site, which is the whole problem as whoever holds the hill first is most likely to win as breaking defenses is almost impossible…

One thing that plays also role in map perception is how big is distance between players. Players are most of the time spawned on opposing side of the map. (there is very little variation you can do with player spawn positions) On some maps like Danube or Old French Pass the distance is much larger, which is not a bad thing, but in the end it makes it harder for default open map playstyle to be effective.

Final thing I want to point out that there is only so many truly distinct map types you can create. That eventually you will have just copies of of these map types with slight variation in resource distribution and terrain chokepoints…

In the end problem is that game balance is not in good spot for more closed maps. Many maps would be much more enjoyable if they would have additional rules & balance changes. Like Black Forest would be much better if all trees would have 1/5 wood so the forest is reduced much faster, opening more paths between players… Or Mountain Pass limiting infinite resource generation to be finite and fast to deplete.

TLDR: Maps are fine, game balance is bad for chokepoint and closed maps. Combination of static defenses being too good and infinite resources is creating harsh critic & perception for closed maps, that are really not at fault… Also certain civs are just straight up broken on closed maps like Chinese, yet devs are completely abandoning balance for closed maps and focus solely on making game about open maps & aggressive playstyle from start to finish.


you can balance “civs” by maps:
if chokepoint is wide on blackforest → Chinese(any civ) need 200-300 wood/stone to wall → -300 wood in dark age is huge.
Or move gold/stone to the center on blackforest-> booming player will have to move out earlier to control area.

in the end blackforest is just suck… compare it with original aoe2’s blackforest: map can be really different: the lake near the pass, wide or narrow pass. 5 boars between players.
player can have his lake or do not.

Most importantly, the walls are built against each other, not just blocking exits from the base.

regards the blackforest - map just sucks…

Map and anything on it should be completely irrelevant or have minimal impact on game balance. Civilizations shouldn’t have single valid strategy, they need all strategies to be equally possible and strong enough to be useable at least situationally.

But what we have is civs balanced around maps and that’s one of the balance problems and design issues that limits variety in this game.

Rus is straight up not viable on map without Hunts and reaches broken territory once map has just one more hunt.

Delhi & Abbasids would snowball on map that would have large amount of berries.

Delhi is useless on map without sacred sites.

HRE, Delhi, Rus suffer from maps with less or no relics.

HRE & China are so overloaded with economic and lategame bonuses that any little more closed map or map with chokepoints makes them strong and open maps make them more often punching bags, then not.

Any kind of defending this kind of balance is bad, it doesn’t create good experience and variety as maps can’t utilize wider range of different resource distribution. Even worse you can’t make map that would want to encourage completely different eco style. All it leads to current meta where everyone will play French & English as they work on all maps


It happens with more symmetric civilizations like in AoE2, here it will not be different.

There will always be a civilization slightly better than another, depending on whether it is a hybrid map, pure sea, closed or open map.

It’s fine to try to reduce the differences, but unfortunately, there are always Match-ups and civilizations that are a little better than others on certain maps. For this reason, the veto is necessary as soon as possible.