I like the concept of having an artifact to start with, it's one we haven't used enough. We could use more variety in setting up the planets in general- if only GalaxyForge would work for something other than Dirty's 'Schwarzeneggers'... 2-3 neutrals per player is the average for the other maps, though when I hid a neutral behind the pirate base it was frowned on, I'm not sure about three behind each of two pirate bases.
Admiral Lumaran seems to have been about, madly creating desert homeworlds as is his wont.. I'm not sure about mixing them with terran homeworlds, but having a single link to the rest of the map, and that blocked by a volcanic, might be a problem.
It's not an absolute rule, but definitely preferred, that phase lanes should not cross. The standard maps are a good guide. It might be objected that space is 3d, but most of our system lies roughly on a 2d plane. With some layouts they have to cross though- I had a plan for a ten player map with each player having a roid, and one desert, one ice and one volcanic.. almost all the rest of the map would be magnetic clouds, a link of three of them between every player... maybe 40 or more. That would require phase lanes to cross!
Good magnetic cloud there Juan, though it must be like an artist's signature, as otherwise why would you travel there....? Magnetic clouds are good for breaking up possible trade routes, or as alternative combat zones, but on their own off a star? Also, are the worms connected?
One objective of this thread is for the contributors to combine on a classic ladder map, for play balance reasons as well, something we could use for testing. However, the map might have to be a multi with wormholes, to employ all the advantages of the respective tech trees.. it would almost certainly have to have ice and volcanic planets, and a variety of neutrals. I had a go earlier in the thread.
The size of all these maps is to my liking, I'm not fond of having large numbers of planets that greatly increase fleet strengths- and the fighting is more spread out with specials and neutrals among the action, rather than an attrition campaign with maybe the odd neutral on the sidelines.