MP Map Difficulty


Just wondering which maps you’ve found to be more difficult than others, or too difficult? Or any that are easier or too easy?

I’m going to have a look at Guardians and maybe dial it back a bit.


Important thread!! Before I give you my thoughts, I need to state up front what “perfect difficulty level” is, in my opinion. If people have really different thoughts on this I’ll make a different thread to discuss that, because obviously we can’t decide which maps are the right difficulty if no one agrees on what that means! :slight_smile:

In my view, an ideal map would have these characteristics:

  • For new players:
    • Somewhat challenging–enough to be engaging!–on Normal.
    • Difficult on Hard, especially without a veteran in the group to help out. Definite chance of failure.
    • Downright impossible on Nightmare.
  • For veteran players:
    • Interesting on Normal (primarily as a playground to try new strategies, etc).
    • Challenging on Hard, at least for the first couple days. High chance of victory.
    • Overwhelming on Nightmare, but conceivably winnable if everything goes very well. Very low chance of victory.

This curve makes each difficulty compelling, no matter the experience/skill levels of the players involved. Beating a Hard MP scenario for the first time should feel like a real accomplishment. Similarly, any time you can beat a Nightmare map, it should be cause for celebration!


I’ll second your suggestions.


I suppose irrespective of the “right” difficulty, I’m looking for a bit more consistency in the difficulty and to find the outliers. Which maps seem a lot easier or a lot harder than others?


I guess that makes sense. I do think the vast majority of the current maps are a bit on the easy side, so I worry about pointing out the outliers without context, since those are mostly the ones I think are in the right place.

Either way, I’ve got some difficulty comments coming in the morning.


Some of the older maps are easier because the zombie movement has changed a lot since they were made and they need a bit of updating. The more recent maps are also made with more of an overall understanding of all the cards powers and how the different races work and interact.


I do agree with your thoughts on what the difficulty levels should be like too, @DrBwaa. I think most of the maps are quite hard for new players on Normal, especially with drop outs. A lot of people comment that the game is very hard.


First of all:

I think it’s actually okay to have some maps more difficult than others. In fact, I think it’s great to have separate maps geared towards beginners and veterans, as it will probably be difficult to build maps that work well for both types of players. I would say it’s more important to classify maps by difficulty level than it is to try and rebalance them all.

I’m 100% convinced with a little work, we’ll have guardians beat on nightmare before long. :stuck_out_tongue:

Some immediate thoughts:

Brutal Heartland and Barren Plateau are very similar maps. I forget which is which now, but one is significantly easier than the other.

Goblin woods is what I would consider “good beginner map.” The choke points make it pretty cut and dry strategywise.

Oasis is relatively solid… Brutally difficult on Nightmare.

In general, any maps that have guaranteed dragons and/or gryphons early game are VERY difficult as they spread at alarming rates, and dragons are among the most difficult to engage with/survive.


In general, I think the older a map is, the easier it tends to be. But I have come up with some specific callouts:

Hard Maps


The nightmare version of this map is responsible for the only losses I’ve ever had. By my criteria, this map is spot-on. Three players also means less likelihood of AFKs in public games, which probably helps to normalize the difficulty somewhat.

Fountain of Wisdom

This is my favorite of the six-player maps at the moment, and the one closest to meeting my difficulty criteria (especially now that the Troll player can’t just devour the first big Goblin stack in the first 12h). The one issue that remains is that the Elf position is unbelievably safe, and really never gets any pressure. I think an additional outbreak in the far Northeast would really make the Elf position compelling. Maybe remove the Forest at Lambspool as well, since that currently serves as a really convenient way to lock down all those Dwarven towns with a single Forest Dryad from across the river.

Volcanic Dust

This map is a lot of fun. I think it’s right in the sweet spot as well, though I haven’t played it since shortly after it was released so I’m not sure how much it might have changed.

Easy Maps


Thanks to the limitations of Troll and Hydra movement, as well as tons of Gold, this map is a little on the easy side. However, it’s a pretty good novelty map, in that even on Normal the players typically have to make do without any Mana Pools.

Brutal Heartland

Maybe it was just the group I was playing with, but this map feels wicked easy. I think there are basically two problems. The Trolls aren’t one bit dangerous without the Trailblazer buff, but the Trailblazers themselves (assuming you get at least one) immediately jump out of the swamp. Second, Spiders (both living and dead) are insanely easy to come by, and the result is that it’s trivial to lock down any dangerous army forever, while the supposed second wave (big hordes of Zombie Spiders) can be dealt with by throwing cheap Goblin heroes at them every 12h. If there were some Orc settlements closer to the center, so they stood a legitimate chance of falling to spawn big threats, that might increase the difficulty a bit.

Wildriver Run

This map is crazy easy as well. Even on Nightmare, there’s basically no chance of Immortal Hydra or even a single Boss unless someone AFKs. Add to that the fact that the players start with two towns each, and this map is basically trivial on all difficulties. Chances are only two Dwarf towns fall, if any, and nothing at all gets past the centerline.

Average Maps

Iron Crown

This falls short of my difficulty dreams, but it’s probably right in the middle of the current difficulty spread.

Celestial Pools

This one’s pretty comfortably in the middle of the pack. I’d like to see the difficulty ramped up, but at the moment it’s a decent standard for an average 6-player symmetrical map.

Queen’s Maul

This one’s overall a bit easy (mostly due to Elves and Humans having such incredible compulsion options), but the very limited mana and potential for early Blighted Gryphons makes it interesting.


The difficulty of this map depends almost entirely on what bosses rise from the Mana Pools by the Ent Groves. Dread Knights make the map very difficult, whereas Necromancer Lords make it relatively easy. On easier difficulties, these pools often don’t get Blighted at all, so the step up can be very steep. While I think this map averages out to somewhere in the middle, it’s actually easier than average on Normal, and potentially harder than average (though imo not hard enough) on Nightmare.


This all sounds about right to me.

There is an easier version of Guardians up today. I remove one of the zombie spawns (the lower Dwarves). Hopefully it is not too easy now, but the players will at least have somewhere to go.

Have you tried the other 3 player map - Green Valley?


I haven’t tried Green Valley yet. It’s on the list for after I beat Guardians!

I’m on mobile at the moment, so I can’t check out the easier version, but I think the south was already the “easy” part of Guardians. Removing the spawn I think you’re talking about might make it so the Dwarf player has nothing to do while the Humans still get stomped, but we’ll have to see. Just started up our third try on the old, harder one, and I think we’ve got a good chance of beating it this time.


Yeah maybe let us finish the map first and discuss?

The humans in the north get hammered on nightmare and are almost immediately cut off from everything besides their 3 initial settlements and mana pool.

Here’s a link to the game. I feel like there’s probably a more elegant and less drastic solution than removing an entire spawn camp.


Maybe something like this for Guardians:

  • I’ve moved the northern humans settlements around a bit
  • Blighted the Elves below the northern Dwarves instead to give the humans a bit of breathing space
  • The centre will get pretty overrun with those Elven zombies though!


At first glance, this does look much easier overall: no more blighted Gryphons in the east to start with (probably). Looks like the Human settlements may be a little more defensible.

Can you show us what the old version looked like for reference?


Yeah this definitely looks much easier.

That being said I’m relatively sure we’re going to beat Guardians. It took 3 tries, but the map WAS beatable on nightmare.

I can understand the need to make maps easier as to keep the game accessible… that being said I hope there are other maps like guardians that require some really careful planning, and a couple of losses, to really get figured out.


This is actually what it would look like at 0 hours, so at Normal they would be advanced 24 hours. I’ll post some more images.


Here is what it looks like on Normal and Nightmare:


The initial direction of movement on the Human and Elf stacks makes a huge difference, so it’s a little hard to picture all the starting scenarios. Those pictures make the Human position look pretty comfortable, but clearly if the Human or Elven zombies go northeast instead of west to start with, that’ll put a lot of pressure on the Human player. Looks tough!


I think I will make the direction they will move a bit more deterministic. The Elves will move towards the eastern Dwarves and the northern humans will move east, but more slowly than before. It will still be quite a boss-heavy map for 3 players. The High Scores were low on all difficulty levels.

Normal and Nightmare:


Yup that looks hard. Giants immune to push pull and root are scary.

… which looking at this leads me to believe the difficulty will drastically change depending which bosses show up (at least for starting humans)

this is pretty drastically different than the other map so I’m curious to see how it plays out.