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Is White Ball a better 4v4 map than Red Ball?

21 Jan 2022, 20:34 PM
#1
avatar of Rosbone
Senior Mapmaker Badge

Posts: 1669 | Subs: 2

This discussion is about some design choices that were made for White Ball to make the map easier on players when compared to Red Ball. As of this post, these two maps are the most popular 4v4 maps and each have their own fun play styles. Red Ball is a lane based map. White Ball is an open map with plenty of movement options.



So you should base your discussion on whether you agree with the design choices for WB. Not whether you like open vs lane based maps. There is no better style. Just a style liked by lower or higher ranked players. But then again Hamburg was once the #1 played map by top players even though hated by ALL top players.

When White Ball (WB) was made, Red Ball(RB) was a popular map for both 3v3 and 4v4 game modes. So WB was designed to be the same size, although WB feels larger.

DISTANCE TO FRONT LINE
The front line in a 4v4 is almost always the fuel. The distances to the fuel dictate what happens mid to late game. Red Balls distances to the fuel are not even for both teams. For example the east side of the map favors the south spawn at 231m vs 245m for the north. This means that for evenly matched teams, the south should always win this area eventually.

1) This creates a long drawn out fight over the middle VP at some point.
2) This means players will get demoralized because they will probably lose their side eventually.
3) Factions that are slow in the beginning of the game will be at a severe disadvantage. Soviets for example are the worst performing faction in 4v4 at the moment.



The front distances for White Ball are better balanced. On many maps there is this dread that hits when you know you are in the bad base spawn and will probably get rekt all game long. After watching your team mates early game decisions you already know the battle will be won or lost because you can not be effective from that spawn.

White Ball tries to make every spawn playable and fun. Since the fuels are equidistant, the map feels larger than RB.

OPEN FALL BACK AREAS
There are two important areas in a 4v4 map. The front line and the fall back area.

RB does a great job on the front line areas. Besides the lane based design, it could be argued that RB does a much better job than WB around the fuel with sight blockers and cover.

One weakness of RB is the fall back area. This is the area from 64 to 128 meters from the front. This area needs to be open for these reasons:

1) A large area for faction based trucks and ambulances. If this area is too small it will hinder pathing, make it difficult to heal properly, and create an easy target for artillery to wipe entire armies out.

2) If the area has too many sight and pathing blockers, it will become very hard to fight back in to the front line. You will have to fight thru a small hole and you will not be able to make tactical movements.



The picture above shows the fall back area of RB on the west side of the map. There are a lot of sight blockers creating small holes for armies to fight thru. The layout of the holes gives a little freedom and variability, but they are severely limited by the pathing blockers placed all around them.

The fall back areas are also a little limited in where trucks will be effective.



The WB fall back area is very large. Has very few sight or pathing blockers. This gives plenty of flanking options and a variety of useful truck areas. One could argue that WB lacks blockers and can sometimes feel too open.

WB also has a feature I like to call a "fall back strong hold" or "line in the sand". The house (Yellow X) gives a place to put an MG and slow the advance of an over running force. Units can also pop in/out of the house for cheap recon of the area if pushed behind it. A soft retreat to this point lets armies stay on the field longer and not have to do massive full retreats constantly.

RB also uses this feature in the close side spawns by the fuels. But the houses are a little weaker. WB also employs this feature on both sides of the fuel.

MAP SIZE
As stated above, RB and WB are the same size. The width of these maps is a little narrow. But this narrow size lets players move laterally to help team mates when being attacked. RB has too many side to side pathing blocks. If the one side is getting pushed hard, the other side can do nothing about it.

Since WB has a more open layout, pushes will ebb and flow all around the map.

The narrow size can also be a problem when MG encountering MG spam. Probably adding an additional 32m on each side would be a better size.

The large 2 story fall back houses are also a little too close and cover too much area for a smoke covered push to be extremely effective. But also create a lot of in game tension since pushes are not a sure thing. You may get past the first line of MGs but be pinned by the MG in the house.

The length of these maps is a little too long. Slightly shorter maps might make the play feel faster and make retreats less punishing. There is about 32 meters of White Ball that sees no play ever. But the extra length gives the pushing team time to setup some defenses before the enemy returns.

CUTOFF POINTS
Both maps have some form of fuel cutoff points. Both maps also have two complete cutoff points that allow for Close the Pocket meme games. Both maps have buildings near the cutoffs for units to spawn into.

RB has better fuel cutoff placement than WB. They are easier to attack once battle lines are formed. However, the RB south cutoff is much easier to attack than the north, so it is not balanced within itself. Since fuel cutoff play is not a major component of 4v4, no one has ever noticed.

So both maps could use better fuel cutoff point locations.




MIDDLE VP BLOCKERS
RB is known as having a problem with certain factions holding the center VP. This is because units can hide behind the large lumber piles and lob death over them. Those log piles also create lanes where axis tank destroyers can become OP, since flanking is harder.

WB does not have log piles around the center. But it does have three buildings that work in a similar fashion. The actual VP area is much larger so units have more area to dodge and cap. The larger area makes the bombing units less effective. And the more open design can let enemies get around the sides of vehicles better.

So WB is better than RB to some extent. But both could be better. Neither is perfect.
22 Jan 2022, 01:05 AM
#2
avatar of aerafield

Posts: 2646 | Subs: 4

Whiteball is arguably the best random automatch map. But -and this is something I had to discover over time as well- :

The very low amount of sightblockers in combination with a rather small map width leads to unparalleled cheese & cancer strats at higher level. The same thing can be observed on 2v2 maps like Road to Kharkov and Crossing in the Woods for example.

These maps promote, no, they FORCE you to do LMG A-move blobs. Pathfinders. Support weapon spam. Rendering a large portion of the units & strats in coh2 unplayable or very inferior on them and leading to a very, very small amount of different viable strats.

This is why personally I would rank RB above WB. The map is far from perfect but the sightblockers improve the gameplay (though ofc it's not a good thing that the sightblockers are so long that they create lanes)


22 Jan 2022, 04:08 AM
#3
avatar of Rosbone
Senior Mapmaker Badge

Posts: 1669 | Subs: 2

This is why personally I would rank RB above WB.

I think we all know why you do not like WB. We dont have to play coy games trying to hide it.


All joking aside, I agree with your assessment as a high skilled player.

A little wider would help many things like flanking. The other thing would be, something Sander pushed for a lot, was better cutoffs. The more centrally located cutoff positions are limited because they are surrounded by buildings. And we did not want a strong building right on the cutoff. The narrowness lets team weapons get entrenched and a good cutoff is one tool to force movement.

A few more shot blockers would be nice for the higher skilled players. At most skill levels, a little smoke gets close quarter units into fighting positions pretty easily. Or players just enjoy mg/mortar wars.

The strong buildings around the center VP also block some movement because there could be an MG camped in them. Removing the North/South buildings may let units have a safer chance moving thru the middle. But they serve a purpose of letting a squad fall back to safety after scouting and try to hinder long rate anti-tank units. So simply destroying them may be best.

And possibly swapping out the church with the wooden one that has no North/South windows. But the church gives early units a place to go and puts pressure on the fuel camping.

Anyway, that is the point of this whole discussion. WB has been popular for a long time now. I was waiting for the newness to wear off. But it is still a favorite. What about it works for players so new mappers can grasp these ideas.

And of course, even the most played map in the game is not perfect and could be improved. How many crossroads changes have there been and are still being made today?

The more tribal knowledge we get out there the better the next gen of mappers will be.


22 Jan 2022, 08:27 AM
#4
avatar of gunther09
Donator 22

Posts: 489

I always enjoy following thoughts like these from an analytical mind. Thank you Rosbone.
MMX
22 Jan 2022, 09:56 AM
#5
avatar of MMX

Posts: 989 | Subs: 1

I always enjoy following thoughts like these from an analytical mind. Thank you Rosbone.


Fully agree! Though I don't really care that much about the state these 4v4 maps are in, I did enjoy reading the detailed breakdown of what makes or breaks them. This kind of content is what kept me coming back to CoH2.org over the years. Sadly, posts like this have become quite a rarity nowadays...
22 Jan 2022, 14:31 PM
#6
avatar of d0ggY
Senior Caster Badge

Posts: 778 | Subs: 3

Whiteball is arguably the best random automatch map. But -and this is something I had to discover over time as well- :

The very low amount of sightblockers in combination with a rather small map width leads to unparalleled cheese & cancer strats at higher level. The same thing can be observed on 2v2 maps like Road to Kharkov and Crossing in the Woods for example.

These maps promote, no, they FORCE you to do LMG A-move blobs. Pathfinders. Support weapon spam. Rendering a large portion of the units & strats in coh2 unplayable or very inferior on them and leading to a very, very small amount of different viable strats.


No more Sittard Summer, Port of Hamburg or Road to Kharkov type of trash in the ranked automatch pool. These maps are so popular across 2v2-4v4 because they are ridiculously easy to play with low skill required.


It's those points, why i dislike this map. Pretty much from minute 1, each Team stands on their side and the only thing to cap is the VP's and the fuel maybe.

It's way to narrow. You can't push with AT guns, Tanks just need to drive backwards once and don't need to fear to be pushed or followeeed up to be finished.


Redball on the other hand you can atleast terraform the map with bringing down so many hedges that the map get's a whole new playstyle towards late game, that let's you flank.



24 Jan 2022, 12:53 PM
#7
avatar of Densha Marx

Posts: 324

It's kind of ridiculous that nine years after the game's release, 3v3 and 4v4 map pool is 60 percent comprised of trash maps that 1) promote the most unimaginative, stale, unit spam-based gameplay and 2) keep large portions of the map removed from action entirely (castle ruins on Lorch Assault, etc), when there are maps that were removed from the pool that were better than the likes of Port of Hamburg, Lanzerath Ambush, Lorch Assault, etc. And I'm sure there would be community mapmakers volunteering to recreate more of the good CoH1 maps for those game modes, if there was an initiative from devs.

More on topic, I think these two are equally good - you can have games with boring team weapon spam on both, and you can get imaginative, manouvering gameplay on both too. Maybe the left side of Whiteball is more prone to this, but the same can be said of Red Ball left flank.
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