A VFTD first--back-to-back layout reviews. (And pretty much my work limit for the week on VFTD. Luckily Mr. C has come thru and will begin with the latest in rumorology tomorrow.) Today's layout is for event 5, the season finale, of MPOC, in Malaysia and came over the transom as a special request. Unfortunately the event is this coming weekend so there won't be a lot of additional practice time available. Best of luck to all the teams competing for a podium spot and a season title. (Ok, best of luck to all the rest as well. Don't want to leave anybody out.)
First off this is a, d'oh!, symmetrical design meaning each half and each side are mirrors of the other. It also means the lanes on the grid in orange and red apply to both halves of the field. (I didn't put them all in as it would have gotten muddled and confusing. Just keep in mind if it's a lane on the left, it's a lane on the right as well.) And even though crossfield shots exist with the M perpendicular to the baseline(s) the field will tend to play in halves; D-side & snake side. Given the symmetrical design that isn't particularly relevant on this field. What will be relevant are strong side and weak side considerations. Which side does a team normally commit three players to and which side do they leave with only two? First consideration is handedness. On a neutral layout most players and teams, if they think about it, will tend to want to play strong to their strong hand. This could easily end up in unbalanced halves of 3-on-2s OTB. Ideally however the goal is to kill somebody quick.
Which will be easier said than done given that Home is a SD (small dorito) offering only marginal cover that forces the laner to tuck in low. Add to that a number of the clean lanes (in orange) are tight and slightly misplaced props could block them completely. And the spacing between the corner MTs and snake insert aztecs (or S1, MD) give good odds of making the snake OTB if they mix up their breakouts well.
Some teams will keep extra shooters Home OTB despite the SD. You must keep them honest by countering that effort right away. The means to do so, and add some complexity and effectiveness to your OTB shooting lanes is close at hand. The Pins framing Home and the TCK in the center (in red squares) are made to order. While small and frequently tricky to play the Pins here are more useful than is often the case. Most of an opponent's likely primaries do not have angles on the Pins which allows a little more latitude in playing them--and getting out of them afterwards. They can be used to edge Home, to set up crossfield angles or to get an extra lane up OTB on that side of the field. I've included the center TCK because it offers variations of the same options that the Pins and also provides the best angle for gap control in denying rotation into one of the snake MDs. I would not consider it a consistent or frequent play, but, like the Pins, it's not as badly exposed as it might at first glance appear to be and does offer the immediate option of taking the M if you've cut down the wide player(s) on one side of the field.
Let's talk snake. Short snakes with dominant bunkers tend to bog play down. As do larger props in corners. The objective, whenever possible, should be to deny your opponent a move into the snake while you get in as soon as possible. The snake 50 has a large number of quality shots but is a high risk position. (See blue squares.) The issue is not only that it is dominated by the MDs, it is also proximate to the MDs and not easily defended. As such play is likely to break down to dueling doritos if both teams are in the MDs. The best way to make effective use of these snakes is keep the other guys out.
Ideally the best teams will play on their feet as much as possible with their guns up and rolling in an effort to dominate the first few seconds so they can move aggressively into high value primaries as quickly as possible. Barring that--such play requires first class gun skills and a commitment to execution--points could devolve into relatively slow affairs with players buried in the bricks and seeing no great advantage to making moves away from their corner fortresses.