The term "Megalopolis" (with a capital "M") was originally used to refer to the US Eastern Seaboard urban agglomeration of the five cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington (as well as such smaller centers such as Providence, Hartford, and Wilmington). It has since been extended (with a lower-case "m") to mean any large decentralized polynuclear urban area composed of several (usually formerly separate) cities.

Examples of megalopoli outside of the original Megalopolis include the Ruhr region of Dortmund-Duisburg-Essen-Düsseldorf-Köln in Germany, and "Canada's Mainstreet", Québec-Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto-Windsor (and perhaps Buffalo and Detroit in the US).

California's "San-San" region stretching from San Francisco to San Diego and including Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino is sometimes named as a megalopolis, as is on rare occasion the Vancouver-Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia-Portland-Salem-Eugene urban corridor in the Pacific Northwest.

all dates are BCE unless otherwise noted

Megalopolis was the last major Greek city to be established before the decline of ancient Greece, and was born out of the ashes of war at the wrong time in history. The name Megalopolis itself is indicative of the grandiose symbolism created by a once great but waning culture, and surely enough its glory would be short lived.

It was founded in 371, out of a consortium of smaller villages in Arcadia. Sparta and Thebes had for generations been engaged in a tug of war for influence in the region, with Sparta holding the upper hand until the Battle of Leuktra, in 370. There, forces led by the Theban general Epaminondas defeated the Spartans, and the commander moved quickly to consolidate power in a central location. He chose the valley of Arcadia, in a low-lying spot with some irregular hills, straddling the north and south banks of the Helisson River. With promises of protection, settlers were cajoled into making their homes there. Megalopolis was named the capitol of the Arcadian Confederation (comprising the villages in the valley and surrounding mountains) in 368, but this distinction was nominal at best. While it occupied key strategic territory, none of its residents actually had roots there, and many simply wanted to go back to their own towns.

The city walls were built using the surrounding hills as an outline. Within them, according to the 2nd century (CE) Greek historian Pausanias, were individual residences, a council house where the city's democratic business was conducted (featuring an image of Ammon), a race track, a theatre, an agora, and sanctuaries in honor of Aphrodite, Ares, Dionysus, Artemis, Asclepius, Heracles and Hermes, and Apollo, Hermes and the Muses. All built thanks to the generosity of the big-hearted Thebans who came all the way down from the northeast over rough terrain to lend a hand.

Arcadians' loyalty to Thebes was fickle, however, and Thebes was only slightly less brutal than Sparta. In 362, half of the Arcadian alliance headed by Megalopolis fought against Thebes, to secure the right of Megalopolis residents to return to their original homes. But the Spartan threat was ever-present. Arcadia knew it needed a protector, so it never bit too hard at whatever hand served that role. Thebes helped turn back a Spartan attack again in 353, but when the next one came, in 331, it was no longer the dominant northern power, having been eclipsed by Macedonia during the time of Philip and Alexander. Megalopolis, it seems, wasn't too picky in its alliances, and with the help of the new outsiders managed to repel siege after siege, dispersing to traditional homelands in times of peace and returning to the fortified city when the Spartans came a-knocking. This kept up until 223, when the Spartan king Cleomenes III dealt the Arcadians a decisive blow, utterly wrecking the city walls. By 175, again according to Pausanias, unspecified outsiders were again offering to help rebuild Megalopolis, but we don't know if that offer was ever taken up. We can only presume that, with Rome already ascendant, it wouldn't have been the same.

"Megalopolis" is a map for the game Starcraft. It offers an interesting counterpoint to most other avilable maps for Starcraft. It was released as a Blizzard Map of the Week on September 3, 1999.

The trend in the multiplayer Starcraft scene for some time has been maps with virtually infinite amounts of money (such as Big Game Hunters), condensed into the areas each player starts in. This leads to maps entirely based around the prospect of building things as quickly as you can, without having to concentrate on anything else, like expanding. See also: there is no strategy in Starcraft.

Megalopolis is the complete opposite of this. Where these infinite money maps usually only have as many bases as they have players, Megalopolis has 43 bases in all. Each of these bases offers an amount of money that, while not insignifigant, will run out after a period of heavy mining. Each base is also easily defendable, with only one or two small enterances each. The map, to fit all these bases, is also the largest available size: 256 by 256 tiles.

The consequences of this are suprisingly far-reaching. The sheer size of the map, and its extreme clutter, make rushing tactics basically impossible (it takes too long to get from point A to point B). It also forces players to be slightly more defensive than they might otherwise be, as they are forced to expand in order to keep the income coming.

Games of humans versus humans are therefore usually more interesting than your average Big Game Hunters clickfest, but where this level truly shines is when fighting against the computer. Many Starcraft players have the computer mastered on infinite money maps; there is very little challenge there for the advanced player. Megalopolis is a different story. The computer is better at expanding than you. It will conquer at least a quarter of the map while you are still making your fourth (or, if you're really good, fifth) base. There are only two things working in your favor: the computer will waste all its money attacking your (hopefully strong) defenses, and you are far more efficient at using your money than the computer (I hope). That said, fighting a number of computers in this map with an equal number of humans is slating the odds in favor of the computer players. I have only a handful of times won with three people versus three computers, and only once won with two people versus three computers (and not for lack of trying).

The reason I like this level is not that it isn't an infinite money map, but that it actually forces players to use tactics completely opposed by those used in an infinite money map.

If you're interested, the map can be found at the applicable Blizzard Map of the Week page:

Meg`a*lop"o*lis (?), n. [NL., fr. Gr. megalo`polis; me`gas, mega`lh, great + po`lis city.]

A chief city; a metropolis.



© Webster 1913.

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