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Seven Excellent Underrated Water Maps

All of these maps play fairly well in a variety of settings : one on one, team games, free-for-real, low resources, and high resources.

Agent's Traps by Agent911

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The least pure water map of the bunch. A contender for the best map you will ever play visually. I particularly like the artistic usage of rocks in the center section.

Starting mines are 30k. As players traverse north the mine amounts increase capping out at a substantial 60k. Jugging and expanding quickly are decent strategies. Though you're better off building catapults if your neighbor spot is dark, and perhaps even when it isn't. There are a few useful and underutilized hops in various sections of this map. If you can be the first player to the middle section without neglecting your home you are probably in good shape. Play this map with four or more players.

Bayou by Mugwump

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Bayou is the best 4v4 water map ever made. There are enough islands in the center that every player gets one, at least in a passive world. The delineation of oil spots with thin land strips adds a lot to this map. It not only makes the map larger but allows every player their own personal cove. The map does not have much total oil. It's not low enough to change game outcomes though. Rivers are thin so blocking is possible using oil tankers. Sealing is possible though not easy.

Starts are 55k while the very center of the map stars an 80k mine. The way all the 35k expansion islands fit together like a puzzle is quite pleasing. Some 35k islands are better than others based on how easily they can be jugged. Bayou has significantly more gold and wood than any other map of the seven.

Beetle Island BNE by Blizzard

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Quite possibly the best map Blizzard created during and after their Battle Net Edition release. A cousin of Arctic Circle and distant relative of Isolation BNE, Trophic Thunder, among others. Beetle Island BNE offers a dynamic experience which revolves around controlling the center of the map or winning before that phase becomes relevant. Much like the classic version of High Seas Combat, starting positions can be hopped though only from in the north and west sides.

The mines located on the edge of map never come into play. Could the map be improved by fixing the islands? I'm leaning towards no. Maybe if every other edge mine was an accessible open area which had only had 15k to 17.5k in it. That could be interesting.

All kinds of strategies are viable on this map. If town halls are well-placed they will not be able to be jugged. The majority of start spots are unable to be practically sealed. The abundant rock barriers mean more alchemists are built which not only increases the amount of sappers made but zeppelins too. Starting mines are 60k while inner expansions are 40k. This map plays well regardless of the format and amount of players. I like it best 3v3.

Ocean of War by Moriouce

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Every starting spot is unique like a thumbprint or snowflake. Thanks to variations in land masses, neighbors, expansion borders, starting mine amounts, and it's overall asymmetrical design. Expansions range from 35k to 45k. Oil will have to be extracted from longer distances. There is one less oil spot than starting spots adding to this map's individuality. Slightly stronger spots are Teal and White while slightly weaker spots are Red and Blue.  For a distinct game, try it on low resources. If you do so be ready to expand quicker than you think.

Rivers BNE by Blizzard/Nedro

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Rivers was originally a classic map that I edited a few years ago. I changed some terrain curves, tree lines, added one mine for an even 15, fixed the awful starting spot at 10:00, the tileset, and redistributed the oil slicks. More majorly, mine amounts were severely lowered to all being 30k. 15 mines @ 30k gives this map a completely different feel than High Sea Combat (8 mines @ 75k) and Fierce Ocean Combat (8 mines @ 50k.) Getting off your island in a timely manner becomes important on Rivers BNE. Players have a lot of second chances on this map which is one of several reasons games are so long on it.

Out of all the water maps ever made if I were to pick only one to play it would be this or Fierce Ocean Combat BNE. Try a free-for-all game. You'd be surprised how good 1v1 is on this map too.

Slivers BNE/Slivers Classic/The Spiral BNE by Blizzard/Nedro

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The Spiral BNE, another map that warranted an additional version. In this case Slivers sits alongside The Spiral BNE rather than Rivers BNE arguably improving Rivers. The Spiral BNE starting mines are 50k while it's expansion tips are 40k. Slivers Classic mirrors those amounts making it ideal for 3v3. Slivers BNE is identical to the classic version except it features 40k starts and 30k tips. This allows Slivers BNE to play closer to The Spiral BNE does. For 2v2 I recommend Slivers BNE or The Spiral BNE. For 1v1 I recommend The Spiral BNE; a classic map that plays slightly faster than other popular water maps. The center oil spots are doubled on all three maps.

The biggest strategic difference between The Spiral and Slivers is in the former the tips can be more easily DK'd by neighbor tips. That is one of the reasons why the Slivers maps were deceivingly hard to design. All starting spots on these maps can be sealed if desired. No starting spot halls can be jugged.

Total Wave War by Moriouce

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Total Wave War has a lovely cartoon-like tribal look without feeling symmetrical. A map that looks gorgeous when the minimap is filled later in the game. Much like The Spiral and Slivers maps, one flier or zeppelin hovering over the center grants a lot of vision. Starting mine amounts are 55k, neighboring expansions 35k, and the center pizza slice expansions are 45k. Players can sapper to their nearby expansion if they demolish twice into the rocks. This tactic should probably be employed as a second resort when your team has lost sea control.

All start spots are easily sealed and none are able to be targeted with juggernauts. It is the best map of the seven to play as Humans. Total Wave War looks gorgeous when the minimap is filled later in the game. I recommend it for 3v3 or 4v4. If you play both Moriouce maps listed in one session it is known as pizza-ing.

Thanks for this fantastic, quality article, @Nedro.

I believe the only one I've missed, if any, is Ocean Wave War since it's still so new (thanks @Moriouce!)

But I'll try to mix these maps into the rotation in the upcoming game sessions when people cry for AGUA.

The main reason I host less water than I would otherwise is because we have some who really don't like water and I've seen people promptly log off when a water map is hosted, or complain the whole time, hah. But I guess water-lovers should get a fair shake as well.

I think I'll advertise a designated water map night and just host all water for the aquaphiles.



Thank you. Happy to hear they'll get mixed in. Understandable about water hosting with certain players on. Being 6 or 7p some of these obviously can't even be considered to host in full games. Ring and Kurtz host a fair amount of water, maybe I can get them to mix it in, probably not though. 🙂

Overall, I enjoy land maps. When I play the maps I talked about above along with FOC and Arctic Circle then I'm happier swimming. I may write something about underrated land maps, though there are less of them that come to mind.

If the USA vs RU water tournament goes down, these maps would make for good candidates.