To be honest, I cannot stand playing maps where there is way too much stone. Green Mile is a perfect map for that above theme. If the map is fairly unrestrictive, it's boring and less competition. The thing about the game is it's about becoming more efficient and finding the fastest way to do what you want. If the map isn't restrictive, then what happens is you become less efficient, and especially if you only ever play the AI, I mean, you may as well be playing a 10 year old. At least a 10 year old is smart enough to make roads that aren't a mile long between flags.
I found that S2:TNG has barely any good maps. Sure the big ones are there for everyone to see, but who the heck wants to spend 5 hours playing the game? My idea on a good map is about taking the focus away from the map, and pointing the focus at a players skill. When I play, I'm not sitting around waiting for stuff to happen, when I play, I am constantly doing something at normal speed, and there's always something to do. Making slight changes, adjustments to the economy.
Changing tactics on the battlefront. I like maps where the gold is right in the middle and all players have to tussle it out for the gold. It lends to the tactics of rushing to the gold, basically first player to get to the gold and setup stronger military buildings wins. Then you have the standoff mode where you watch your coins and military strength bypass your enemies. And do you attack? God no. When I play a game, we like to play the game like backgammon, you get to a set point and you offer to double the stakes, and they have the choice to accept the double, or resign.
My games are won without anyone even sending a single soldier. Sometimes it's not about the big battles, it's about using your strength to leverage your opponents out of the game.
If I was going to create a league or ladder, it would work like this:
* First player to a set level of military strength and coins wins.
* Game stakes can be doubled, or resigned if not accepted.
* A match requires the map played multiple times, with both players switching starting positions.
* No speed increase allowed.
* A time limit in which case set statistics are added up and the winner is handed the points.
* Maps start at 1 point, to win the match the player needs 3 points.
* If one player is 1 point away from winning, the other player is not allowed to double.