I assume this has been mentioned, but just in case. I apologize for the redundancy if it has. I have not had a chance to read the whole thread.Taking out the laser would be dangerous on Viking UNLESS they thinned out the vehicles. I have always wanted spawns for banshees, ghosts, tanks, wraiths, and wasps to be equidistant from home-base spawns so they could be contested and limited to one per map so one team cannot control multiple vehicles of the same type (both banshees on Viking, both wasps on Dispelled, etc.)
Remove some of the anti vehicle weapons. Some maps have combinations of two Snipers, a Spartan Laser, two Plasma Pistols, Rail Gun, and a Hydra. That's too many options which, in higher tiered play, make the vehicles obsolete.
For example Viking: remove Spartan Laser, have only one PP and one Sniper, and maybe even one Banshee.
Basically thin out the vehicles themselves on the anti vehicle weapons, add Pistol starts and we're good to go.
I would say remove the SL from all maps. It's too easy to destroy vehicles with them.
The game should not be decided on a single instance of acquisition, just as Team Arena games aren't decided by who gets a powerup first.
I really like the idea of using team-based shields to prevent opposing teams from being able to leave specific areas where a particular team's vehicle spawns. At least the most impactful vehicles. In my opinion, this greatly helps matches from snowballing out of competitive balance.
For example, I believe it's within the custom map Avalanche
where the forger was able to create a small room within the bases where the Wasps spawn and set it up with team-based shields such that only team members from that particular base can leave with their aerial vehicle. Now, for powerful vehicles that can be hijacked opposing team members could strategically camp outside a protected area and attempt to steal them once they leave the confines of the protected room, but there's quite a lot of risk involved with that goal which would probably mitigate it from occurring too often.
Now take a few existing maps within the BTB playlist that feature some heavier vehicle use like Dispelled and Viking; plus, Altar could easily be setup for heavy vehicle use too.
Maybe Dispelled could be updated such that the large bottom entrances into the bases were partitioned in order to allow the Tanks to spawn in a mostly team protected area. Meaning only members of that team could leave the confined area with that powerful vehicle. Something similar might be able to be created for the Wasps on top of the base too, but that'd probably require a bit more redesigning.
On Viking the walls behind the bases could possess caves that house the more powerful vehicles like the Gauss Hogs (maybe), Wraiths, & Banshees. This would help prevent the opposing team from easily stealing them and snowballing a match; plus, it would open up some new fairly protected areas for spawning. These cave areas would need to be accessible by the opposing team, but the team-based shields would still prevent opposing team members from being able to leave that enclosed area with those vehicles.
Altar has those underground spaces behind the bases which could potentially be made to house protected heavy vehicles for each team. Of course all of these ideas come at a cost to the map's budget and I'm pretty certain many of these maps are already balancing a fine line on performance to their budgetary cost. Nevertheless, this is the kind of idea that I like seeing that helps prevent matches from easily snowballing.