What a wild ride! Now that Match 2 has wrapped up (again big thanks to Ross and PC's for all their efforts!), It's given me a good look at some of the things wrong with E2M1: Minecart Massacre. I think it has potential, as can be seen by holding the new record for deaths - 23 (Suck it Ross!) - there are some big problems that I noticed emerge on the map once play started.
The focal point of my map was mine carts, I set out to create this map with the intention of seeing a good mine cart chase. I ultimately failed here, as there were only a few attempts, and they did not go how I had expected, or intended. The tracks were too long, the controls were confusing, and at one point, the platform was flanked with both Booberry, and Lucky launching attacks from the tracks. This was no good. So the first revision will be:
Track Tunnels: The tracks are not in line of sight, or line of effect to the mining platform between the tunnel tiles. Additionally, these squares can not be considered adjacent squares to the lava tiles for the purpose of movement beyond the platform.
This will physically separate the tracks from the platform. Until Heroes of the Feywild was released, flying out onto the tracks hadn't even crossed my mind as an actual thing. I had imagined players firing attacks at approaching mine carts holding barrels, but I would rather not have players volleying attacks from total safety.
Also, when players aren't using the mine carts, There's no mine carts moving at all. This is something I wanted to see more of. A hasty early change left my carts immovable once they hit the end square on the platform. In short, I wanted to see more carts flying around.
Mining Carts: Creatures in a mining cart have cover and move with the mining cart. At the end of each combat round, on the Dungeon Master's turn, each mining cart moves the length of track it's assigned to reappearing at the exit tunnel on the other side. If a mining cart enters an occupied square, the creature in that square is immediately slid into the mining cart. At the end of each round, the first unoccupied mine cart will be pushed off the platform as if Hop In! was used on it. Other unoccupied mine carts will move up, but will not move beyond the mining platform, and will have a minimum of 1 square between them.
This change will clear the platform a little, giving more room to move around, as well as limit the amount of mine carts available.
Another issue that came up is about the Safeguards. I initially had them in to prevent people from spawning, and getting pushed off. There's enough forced movement in 4e that pushing someone off wouldn't be a problem, and I didn't want my map to degrade into a very binary, gib-fest of forced pushes into lava. This would have taken away the entire point of the map. That said, I did feel that pushing people off should have happened more often. Combined with people not using the mine carts to zoom around, everyone seemed to just hug the platform and prefer crawling through the stacked zones.
Safeguards: The Mining Platform hangs precariously high within an active volcano. All outside edges of the Mining Platform have safety rails. These rails provide a +3 bonus to saving throws against being moved into hazardous terrain.
The reduction to Safeguards will still provide some safety while on the platform, but with slightly less protection overall. I think with the addition of Track Tunnels, this revision will further promote mine cart usage since there will be no concern for being pulled out of a mine cart while in transit.
I've also shrunk the size of the track length significantly, while leaving the central platform the same size. There's no reason to have a track that big when I want dungeoneers on it for no more than one turn. For comparison, I've left the Lava tile it's original size.
These were the big ones issues that really stood out in my mind, and wanted to provide insight as to how I felt about them, and why I think it'll help. There are other minor changes, but here you can see the added Tunnel tiles, and new layout. I by no means consider my map done yet, but I hope the changes will make it more fast paced and fun. Keep watch on the E2M1: Minecart Massacre page for all the updates!