State on StarCraft: Next Season’s Map Pool Analysis
Polar Night is Blistering Sand’s lovely step-sister.
Sorry, folks: The third base has rocks. But even if it didn’t, it’d still be hard to hold three bases. The natural, third, and fourth bases are all pretty wide open, and they’re far apart as well.
It’s not all that bad, though. With blink-stalkers or zealot/templar, you shouldn’t have too difficult a time deflecting drops and attacks in the mid-game. As a Terran player, scouting for warp prisms, proxied pylons, and keeping Protoss pinned back with drops should have the same effect.
It seems like things will calm down a bit in the late-game. Getting to four bases is a lot more difficult than holding them, and though both Terran and Protoss have a lot of room to play aggressively, Polar Night is definitely a map that could go to five or six bases.
This isn’t really a map you want to forge fast-expand on. The backdoor entrance to your natural makes zergling all-ins nearly impossible to defend against with a forge opening. Though gateway expands are safer, you still need to be careful—poor simcity or a slip-up in control might be the end of you. On the Zerg side of things, there’s not too much to worry about in the early-game. With a healthy count of queens or zerglings and an overlord spread, not much can catch you off guard before you take your third base.
It’s hard to say without grinding out hundreds of games in practice, but I’m pretty sure that both Protoss and Zerg players want to take expansions without rocks as their third in this match-up. With a wall-in at the ramp to your natural and gateways blocking the backdoor path to the rocks-less third, there’s only one entrance Protoss players really need to worry about. The same base is an intuitive third for Zerg players as well. You’re probably not going to have the zergling count to take out the back rocks by the time you want to take your third, and with good creep spread you’re not spreading yourself too thin anyway.
With this map as wide open as it is, Zerg players are free to choose whatever composition they like. Roach/hydra armies will do an excellent job at sieging forward Protoss expansions, ling-heavy compositions can abuse the backdoor paths to maximize damage in the mid-game, and mutalisk styles can pin Protoss back until Zerg is ready to win a crushing engagement in the late-game.
For Protoss, Phoenix and gateway-heavy openings are the best choice on this map. Other compositions lack the mobility and map control necessary to keep up with most Zerg styles and are far too vulnerable to the mutalisk openings that will be common on this map. If you can safely take three bases while keeping Zerg’s economy in check, you’re sitting pretty.
This map doesn’t really lend itself to just one strategy in PvP. Proxied oracles, blink-stalker all-ins, dark templar openings and fast-expands — anything goes on Polar Night.
The mid-game plays a lot like PvT. You’ll have a hard time defending and you have to stay on top of scouting, but it seems like things will stabilize if you can take three or four bases. That’s a tough bet on this map, though. If you like to play aggressively and hit two or three-base timings, Polar Night’s right up your alley.
I really like that Blizzard is adding maps that will promote more aggression. New maps always make ladder and tournament games much more interesting and these changes should be even better!
This weekend, I’ll be at LANHAMMER—a StarCraft 2, DotA 2, and League of Legends tournament in the Bay Area—so if you’re nearby, you ought to come over and say hi! The event is going to be a lot of fun, and there will be many talented players there for all sorts of games. You can follow me on Twitter for updates as I play through the bracket and you can check out their site for streams when the tournament kicks off on August 17.
Until then, here’s a replay pack to keep you satisfied. See you next week!
Check back every week for a new State on StarCraft post from Ryan “State” Visbeck!