- 2 FTA counters
- 3 Team Games
- 4 Advantage Distribution
- 5 Distance Factor
- 6 Centralized Properties
- 7 Central Chokepoints
- 8 Stalemates
- 9 See also
- 10 External Links
The acronym FTA stands for First-Turn Advantage. A map has FTA when one side has the advantage because they can automatically gain a positional and financial advantage on their first turn. Some amount of FTA definitely exists in any symmetric, playable, non-predeployed, non-drawn map because if the player with FTA skips his turn he can optionally get the same position as his opponents first turn plus a extra day of funds. All good competitive maps have a FTA counter, in which the FTA is stopped. Common counters include putting an extra starting infantry for the later players, putting properties in slightly further locations, and giving the second player extra cities near the first player for a small amount of funds boost for the first few turns. STA which means second turn advantage which basically happens when FTA balance goes overboard. FTA and STA is based on the country move order which can be seen on the armies page. . Before reading this guide you should know that OS is orange star and that BM is blue moon and you should know most of the other acryonms for the armies because they are commonly used.
Proposed Proof of FTA: Player one has the choice of whether to go "first" or "second", by either issuing orders on their first turn, or not. In no case will the decision to skip a turn place Player one in a less favorable position than Player two would have been in had Player one taken his turn. Skipping a turn is always detrimental. So then, if Player one can make a very bad move (skipping a turn), and suffer no disadvantage relative to going "second" in normal circumstances, then using the first turn must therefore grant an advantage.
Basic FTA example:
This is an example of a map with FTA.
FTA counters in general involve giving BM half the advantage OS would have, this is why the two base infantry counter is used and the two versus two team balance of OS+YC vs BM+GE works so well. The reason that you balance for half is simple, if you had two games that were being played you would want to have one of them have FTA and one of them oppose FTA, this is called the 50% balance system. All of the best FTA counters meet this systems conditions. In addition when balancing FTA in many cases there are many variables to consider like linearity, terrain transversability, centralization, and more. You should adapt your counters based on these variables.
Proposed Proof of the 50% balance system: With FTA the first player already has a singificant advantage, of a full turn, which is a 100% FTA. If you give BM 100% of the advantage OS has that causes a significant STA were as BM will have an advantage, so instead if you give BM 50% of the advantage OS has then it is a 50% advantage versus a 50% advantage which is automatically balanced on both sides because 50 = 50. Also, the most common counters that have been proven over hundreds of games use this system to make balanced games.
The Infantry Counter:
The infantry counter is a technique used to equalize the rate of production of infantry on a map. The techinique is based on the prediction that in a low fund map a player will build an infantry on their base, so by using this you practically will automatically move the base ahead a turn. If by using the infantry counter you move each base an entire turn for a player this causes STA because it makes the second player a turn ahead. In order to effectively use the techinique you have to add an infantry for every two bases, which is called the two base infantry counter. This is effective because both players automatically move half of their turn. Which is balanced on both sides. The infantry counter is not very effective in maps that have high starting funds because it disregards the prediction in using the infantry counter that the user would normally be building an infantry there.
Use: To balance the rate of production of infantry on a map.
Conditions of use: An infantry counter should be used for only half of the bases at the start because otherwise STA is caused because you will automatically be moving their full turn. The infantry counter should not be accompanyed by high amounts of funds per turn becaause that will cause an imbalance.
Two Base Infantry Counter:
This is definitely the most commonly used counter in 1v1 games, simply because it is the most accepted counter that we have. This form of countering FTA first gained acceptance with maps like whirly because of their map analysis. Most maps that are accepted as balanced use this counter.
In practical use:
Whirly was first made on 02/12/2006. It played a critical role in popularizing the use of this counter. Whirly isn't paticularly a perfect map, it just has a nice history and it was very helpful to the advance wars community. Whirly has 180 games on it that are balanced and it still has people playing causal games on it. Whirly isn't league approved anymore though because of a slight imbalance that might be significant in leagues, that and the fact that the map has a lot of strategies on it after 180 games.
Map Analysis: BM 101/187 (54%) OS 95/187 (51%)
Whirly is a pretty good example of the demonstration of these principles, it uses the two base infantry counter, it has almost no centralization and it makes you go around the path in order to reach one another which is good for the distance factor and it lets the map use sea units.
One Base Infantry Counter:
In this map blue moon is ahead a turn, from the start.
This counter generally causes what is known as STA, which means that the second player is a turn ahead rather then the first player because of the nature of the infantry counter, if you add an infantry counter for a base then you are essentially like moving a turn for the second player which makes him ahead a turn. If your map has STA then give every player another base and it will probably be balanced because it will equalize the rate of infantry production for the given players.
If counters are used in a similarly, or proportionally to the ones described they will be effective in a similar fashion to the previous counters.
This map also uses the one base infantry counter, in a similar fashion to the previous example. This map has STA, if a infantry is removed it would be balanced because it would then meet the conditions of the infatry counter techinique.
This map uses the two base infantry counter in a similar fashion, and it meets the conditions of the techinique; however, due to other factors like the amount of funds per turn and the distance factor the map is actually considerably more imbalanced.
The City Counter:
The city counter is a counter used much less commonly, the infantry counter is easier to understand and use, it isn't very conditional and only some factors effect it such as the distance factor and linearity. The city counter can be placed in the given users base in the opposing users base, more commonly it is put in the opposing users base. The city counter is often used in conjunction with the infantry counter to balance a map. The city counter should be used to provide half the funds that are not already economically covered with another counter such as the infantry counter. If the quantity of finical advantage that is remaining for a player is four then the counter should be placed in immediate range of the opposing players base, if its two then an infantry should be predeployed on the map in order to balance the quantity of funds.
Use: To balance the economical advantages involved with FTA.
Conditions of use: the city counter should be used with a low amount of bases that are not already covered with the infantry counter, if there are a high number of bases such as more then two then cover them with the infantry counter. It should be used for half of the funds and preferably with only one base on both sides of the map.
2000 Funds City Counter:
This counter isn't effective because it causes STA in the respect that blue moon can get 2,000 extra funds which is the same amount that orange star would normally get so it is suggested to add an aditional city for the purposes of balancing your map. You can add an infantry or two cities to both sides in order to make it a better solution.
Infantry with 2000 Funds City Counter:
This is counter is very effective if used properly in a small map because it works well with the distance factor, were as the more common two base infantry counter isn't as effective in small maps. This counter is quite rarely used and instead most people use the infantry counter because it isn't nearly as situational. This counter places an infantry on both sides so that the player has the city for a turn less so that it doensn't give blue moon an advantage.
In practical use:
4000 Funds City Counter
This counter is quite rare; however, it does meet the conditions of use of the counter so it could be used effectively if someone wanted to make a high funds map, this would also be very effective for a map if it was say a sea map with a lot of starting funds.
Much less is known about predeployed units, maps that are entirely predeployed are rarely ever made. Combinations involving predeployed units are still used in many cases. To balance maps with predeployed units you should calculate the movement points for each unit then take into account the terrain transversability variable. Finally you move those units based on there movement points after taking into acount terrain transversability, as a guideline you should move each unit half of their given movement points and if you encounter a odd value make it up by balancing it with other units. Then if any rounding has to be done, round up because it will generally be more effective.
This is how you might balance an advance wars predeployed map. First of all recons movement is eight. Then taking into account terrain transversability it is four because its movement type is wheels and the maps terrain then halfens the movement of the recon, so then you halfen the movement of the recon again to two, then that is the amount you should move the recon to balance it. If you did not take into account terrain transversability the recon would've moved a turn ahead.
Then for the artilleries they have a movement point of five and they move on treads so they are not effected by the plains on the map, so the movement is five which is odd and when halfen is 2.5 which cannot be moved by a single artillery so one artillery moves 2 points and the other moves three which makes up for the odd movement value as the guidelines previously indicated.
Then for infantries there's nothing you can do to further the movement so you round it up which will be more effective for the balance because leaving it less will often create a more significant advantage from the FTA. Three divided by two is 1.5 rounded up is two.
In practical use:
Combinations of infantry counters, city counters, and even sometimes predeployed tend to also occur in maps. Combinations of the various counters are also quite rare in their usage; however in nonlinear large maps they can prove to be quite effective.
A combination of FTA counters might look like this, this map uses both the infantry counter while meeting its conditions and the city counter while meeting its conditioins and it balances the map quite well, and the map is big so the distance factor is also quite good.
In practical use:
When balancing a team game you want to have half of the team to have FTA and half of the team to oppose the FTA. If the amount of players is a multiple of two then their can be an even number of players on both sides. If it is a multiple of four then half of them can easily have FTA and half of them can oppose FTA just based on the turn order. If it is a multiple of two and not four then you will probably have to use some of the previously disscussed FTA counters to balance the map. Please see the armies list if you are not aware of the armies yet. The various acryonms here such as OS, BM, GE, YC, BH, and RF are just names for the armies.
OS + YC vs BM + GE
This is the most common type of team game and it is balanced simply because it meets the 50% balance system. This was the first team game balance method that was accepted by all experts.
This is an example of a map that would use this team balance method in 2v2.
OS + YC + BH versus BM + GE + RF (with FTA counter).
OS + YC + BH + BD versus BM + GE + RF + GS.
OS + YC + BH + BD + AB versus BM + GE + RF + GS + JS (with FTA counter).
OS + YC + BH + BD + AB + PC versus BM + GE + RF + GS + JS + CI.
OS + YC + BH + BD + AB + PC + TG versus BM + GE + RF + GS + JS + CI + PL (with FTA counter).
Varied Player Counts
This refers to the balance of 2v1 games, 3v1 games, 2v4 games and so forth. In these type of games you should simply give the teams with less players the exact same amount of properties and units as their opposing teams in an evenly distrubited fashion, then remove some of those given properties so that the teams with more players aren't singled out so that they lose to a divide and conquer strategm. Other then that there is not much needed to be done for these types of games.
FFA, or more then two teams:
In these types of maps, you surround the players with FTA with opposing players that have an FTA counter. Do not make a player with an FTA counter have FTA over another player in FFA games.
By using FTA counters you distrubute advantages evenly to both players to make a balanced map; however, when you distribute these advantages they will not be even if one is more desirable then another and this will imbalance your map. If this problem occurs you may need to either change counters or completely transform the layout of your map.
Notice how in this map the area were blue has an infantry is much more singificant then the area in which orange star has an infantry. Whoever has an advantage in that section has an automatic advantage in the overal picture, so you should look at the section seperately. If you switch the area that blue has his infantry this will give orange star the advantage instead, so it is essential to balance that area seperately.
If multiple fronts are used in a map then the advantage distribution between the two fronts is critical in effectively balancing your map. If the two fronts are very asymmetrical then the balance between the two areas should be treated seperately. Any differences should be considered.
In practical use:
Made by SmackCakes. You should use this as an example when working with multiple fronts. The base in the map is distant from the infantry and it is farther back from the infantry, so that helps the advantage distribution in addition the airports are both the same distance from the bases and the cities are behind the infantry.
What is the distance factor?
The distance factor is factor that is critical in balancing advance wars maps. Basically the distance factor is the amount of time that it takes for one player to have a conflict with another, the distance factor is mainly effected by the map size; however, it can also be effected by wide openness and chokepoints. Centralized properties also make the two players more so in a conflict because they will be fighting over the center immediately, this is one of the reasons for the principles of centralization.
This map has much larger distance factor after taking into account terrain transversability because the woods are in chokepoints and they will make any vehicles such as recons movement greatly decrease preventing early confrontations. And you have to go around the sea area just to reach one another which further increases the distance factor.
The distance factor has a long history, the distance factor and asymmetricness were the two earliest ways that people used to balance advance wars maps. Eventually when FTA was first gaining acceptance one of the first things that people noticed was the distance factor, and they knew that for some reason advance wars maps were clearly more balanced in large maps then small ones. The reasons for this were never fully covered. Later the AWN ( advance wars net ) community made the first advance wars map tutorial. The map tutorial was first worked on in Jan 6 2006, more then a year ago in the following topic. Eventually the tutorial was finished, the tutorial used the AWN member x0_000's writing and it added on the first terrain variety tutorial that donnyton made. The end result of their tutorial can be seen on the wars world news website. The distance factor was only briefly mentioned in the tutorial as a factor of FTA, and it had no clear explanation or proofs of its existence. This was also made made in a time that the now well known FTA counters did not have much writen on them.
Distance Factor Explained Lets say we have a map with just a single base were both players built an infantry every single turn. From the FTA orange star will have an advantage of two infantries to one which is a 200% advantage. Then it is 3 to 2 which is 150%, then it is 4:3 which is 133%. Then from their it goes like this: 125%, 120%, 116%, 114%, 112%, 111%, 110%, 109%. No matter what you do their is going to be some FTA in the map. The larger the map gets the advantage will decrease at a decreasing rate. In a 2x2 map the advantage is completely clear; however, in a 6x6 map the advantage will be much less yet still noticable and in a 11x11 map the advantage might be unclear. Because well two infantry easily beat one, and it is much harder for five to beat four and it is unclear if 15 infantries will beat 14.
To make this more clear. Checkers and four in a row are both examples of symmetrical games that are turn based. Human beings can play either game without even noticing that the first player has an advantage in most cases except for at an expert level or with computers. A computer program can use a 101:100 or 101% advantage so effectively that it will win each game of four in a row or checkers that it plays if it has the first turn advantage.
This is why some people say that FTA or STA effects every single map to some extent, even if it is just a 101% advantage. With the distance factor you can make any remaining advantages a 101% advantage instead of a much larger one, and with the proper FTA counters you can make small maps that are quite balanced anyways.
Linearity: When maps are linear, which is basically when they have only one path, they have much less options and the main path is going to be the main focus so when there is a confrontation in that area it will be decisive, so the linearity of a map can be a variable in determing the distance factor.
Distance Factor Example: In a 2x2 map their is either FTA or STA either of which will be decisive. The player with the advantage automatically wins simply because the player with the advantage can automatically use it to its full effect by trading down material to easily win the game because the distance factor isn't stoping it. Here is an example of both cases that might occur in a 2x2 map.
OS will build an infantry on his first turn then BM will build an infantry and OS will procede to capture BM's HQ and build another infantry. From there BM must try to stop OS's capturing or he loses right away and after that OS can either continue to capture and join or just use his two infantries to kill the BM infantry. Since OS is obviously going to build an infantry you can just add an infantry there and BM will then have the advantage.
Now that BM has an infantry there he has a similar situation to the one OS had earlier, this is STA, which essentially means that pre-deployed units in this case are already placed in such a way that they make BM a turn ahead. In a similar fashion to how FTA occurs. There is no different strategy that OS can use to delay his HQ capture for a turn.
Map Size Limits:
Since it is clearly not possible to balance a 2x2 map, it is considered that 8x8 is the smallest a map should be even with FTA counters involved if you want it to be balanced. With 12x12 for three player games and 16x16 for four player games. This is only the bare minimum. Maps that are this small only have a few options and the distance factor will easily ruin the balance in most cases, so this is the bare minimum.
Practical Distance Factor Example:
This map clearly has FTA, but look at the center there are no centralized properties to aggravate the distance factor and the two players start with a single base so the starting rate of production is quite low and also add on the fact that the map sizes is quite large.
Map Analysis: 55/111 (50%) 64/111 (58%)
So after a hundred games there is only a slight slate in the balance even though it has FTA?? This is because the maps distance factor. The advantage is probably about a 110% advantage by the time that their is a confrontation, so if a player is smart and he has a superior CO he might be able to get his advantage back with 11 infatries or so versus 10 infantries. More often though the FTA is decisive and yellow comet wins the game.
In general, centralized properties aggravate the distance factor so they should be used with care if they are even going to be used at all. In some cases, bases or missile silos are in the center of the map. When a missile silo is in the center of the map it will almost always imbalance a map because one player will probably be able to get the missile silo first every game, giving him an advantage. Similarly bases in vital points can allow a player to get that property first from a distorted FTA situation. From a captured centralized base a player can abuse that point and use it to gain a major positional and spatial advantage, so essentially properties at key points play a critical role in the balancing of a map. Also note certain CO's such as sami will abuse centralized key points for their advantage. A lack of centralized properties can also be an issue in a map because they will lead to stalemating situations, so instead you might consider adding centralized cities, they generally do not cause an issue because centralized cities only provide 1,000 funds per turn and they do not provide unit production. Also try to distribute any properties in vital points so that they are not singled out.
In this map blue moon always gets the centralized missile silo, this will distort the FTA situation making blue moon get a 1000 or so funds in advantage that is done from the missile silo, and this is even more significant because missile silos can only be used once then they are gone forever, and they do not need to be captured, so it is better to leave missile silos far from the center.
Bases, Airports, and Ports:
Centralized unit producing properties also tend to cause issues because when a player captures them they can use that property as a solid position to build large powerful units, the problem with this is that after capturing one of these properties the player may constantly dominate the center of the map, and it will be hard for the other player to get back such properties. If one player gets an advantage in these central points it will be decisive.
Cities and comm towers
Even if a city or a comm tower is captured it can be captured back in the future unlike missile silos and it doesn't allow you to produce units in central areas, so it is not nearly as significant. If you are considering using centralized properties use either of these and leave them wide open so that they don't get captured too quickly, and in certain circumstances it may be good to add some distance from the center when you are using these.
If there are properties in the center of the map with central chokepoints they can become hard to capture because of certain chokepoint tactics. After capturing the property you can join with other infantries and continue to capture the property well your opponent can only hit you once.
Blue moon can easily gain an advantage in this case because he can automatically capture the centralized city by using the tactics previously specified. This advantage is quite significant in game; however, it would be decisive if it was a unit producing property such as a base becaues blue moon would then be able to constantly produce units from that key point.
Centralized properties can cause their fair share of issues in balancing maps; however, if a map has way too little centralized properties it is probably going to be stalematish. A few other factors that can make a map more stalematish are: hard to transverse terrain, chokepoints, and a lack of wide-openness.
Lack of centralized properties:
If a map has a lack of centralized properties this can also be a serious issue. A lack of centralized properties will lead to stalemates because of a lack of properties to fight over. This can be a significant issue, so rather then cause other problems by adding a base in the center it is generally ok to add a city in the center, because if a player happens to capture a city it isn't nearly as significant. I recall playing a game a while ago were I lost because a map maker really liked sami and his map had centralized bases, so he automatically captured the bases because he had a advantage.
This is seriously overdoing it, there should be far more cities in the center of this map and there are a chokepoints and other factors that make it even more stalematish, both players can just stay behind the rivers and never even move to the center because they don't need to, so it is better to put something in the center just for incentive to leave their immediate base.