I know, it's about time but it's not like my mailbox has been full of irate demands to get this one posted. I'm just saying.
Without further ado and after the fashion of the UFC's Bruce Buffoon, er, Buffer "It's time!" for the review of the snake side of the field. (Try to picture me spinning on my heels to the left and dramatically pointing from the hip like a pompous--and shaved--Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top.)
First, the snake side played okay in combination with the D-side. The play balance across the field was fairly good despite pace of the game issues across the field.
What is pace of the game? What I mean is the time it takes to press an aggressive attack up one side of the field. And I divide the field in half for this calculation because with the odd body count most breakouts will result in a strong side (more players) and weak side (less players) mid-point result. Ideally, to my way of thinking, each half of the design should play out at approximately the same pace because that offers the nearest thing to a neutral playing field and allows the players and tactics to dictate opportunity, or advantage/disadvantage of position. Of course, actual results will vary as the complex of variables like execution, skill and luck all play a part.
The snake side alone was less successful as a design than the D-side. It clearly followed the conceptual pattern established on the D-side of having two lanes of upfield movement–which was good--but the actual utility of some of the props as playable positions was inconsistent. The midfield stand-ups (2 MTs & 2 cans) were primarily lane blocking bunkers even though the rockets could be played effectively in certain situations. The pin (pillar) (tree) placements were very good because of the offset which offered risky but very playable positions that matched up well with the cake as positions that could feed upfield or to the wire. And also created additional lane options to shoot off the break
The principle weakness of the snake side was the lack of countering positions. And here what I mean is positions capable of containing snake movement. Ideally a design should try to avoid both dominate offensive and defensive positions. If, for example, the home bunker only offers decent off the break lanes but no or few good opportunities to hold up snake side upfield movement it forces a defender to make a decision and in a sense "rewards" the success of the offensive player in ways other than eliminations. Different positions then offer diverse but limited offensive and defensive options.
As it turned out this deficiency was counterbalanced by the relative ineffectiveness of the snake. A player could easily reach snake 50 in short order and be largely ineffective. In both instances those effects were largely the responsibility of the lane blocking bunkers placement. (The MTs and the Cans could easily have been repositioned and still served to block the same lanes yet open up access to the snake.)
The other factor impacted by the weaknesses of the snake side was the side-to-side balance. Side-to-side balance is the capacity to eliminate players cross field with relatively equal facility based on similar upfield positions. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways in the design but in this case favored the D-side.
Okay, that was less about Phoenix as a specific design than about the concepts at work in my evaluation but hopefully this will prove helpful for future field design posts as well and, as usual, if anyone has any specific questions I'd be happy to tackle them. Recap: Key Concepts. pace of the game, side-to-side balance and offense/defense neutrality in the placement of the bunkers.