In Counter Strike, Iceworld is a controversial map indeed. People see it as requiring no skill or just as much skill as any other map. This article will attempt to show you some strategies and tactics on iceworld, a map that inspires love and hate from all facets of the CS community.
I learned Counter Strike on classic maps like mansion, assault, dust, and italy. Each one is a completely different animal. The each possess a noteworthy difference from Iceworld, especially as tactics look. They each have an objecive. Plant the bomb, rescue the hostage, and an unmentioned objective, get the VIP where he needs to go. Iceworld has no such objectives. It is a small map and looks very much like a pound(#) symbol from overhead. A buy zone is located in it's center and T's and CT's spawn across the map from each other. With no objectives the goal is total anihilation. Kill all of the opposing force before they kill you.
Environmentally, every wall can be shot through if you have the right gun. When you run around the map you can hear your footsteps, or someone else's, in the snow. The sound of heavy fire from all sides is all around you from the start, and often to the finish. Small walls peak out of the sides of the map on it's right and left paths, as well as an extended wall of ice at the middle point of each spawn point. Guns lay on the ground on each side to be picked up. The map is very simple. It's lack of complication raises the ire of many players who want something more “complicated" to do on the map, like the aforementioned objectives.
I find this map exhilarating. It's small size and simple design means it's often total chaos. You really have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Iceworld rarely offers any time for a player to take a breath and a lot of players never get to reload once before the round ends or someone gets them. You may find yourself going against 5 CT's by yourself or turn a corner into a firing squad. A split second decision to reload or pick up another gun off the ground can be pivotal on if you make it out of the round alive. It makes you think on your feet as you could be overwhelmed by opposing forces from any direction at any time. It's a Deathmatch type map though specific “Deathmatch" iceworld maps exist for those who don't like the short wait time between rounds on it.
Having played this map for a long time now, there IS strategy to it. The elegance of iceworld is in it's simplicity, and in some smaller details a lot of tactics and strategy on this map are missed for it's Deathmatch look and feel. Iceworld is great map to learn human behavior and how people react to intense shoot outs and large player rushes.
Using the AWP and watching two of the three paths is an obvious one. The middle should be guarded first to take out anyone trying to cross through it. Opposing AWPers will often have to be dealt with too because controlling the middle is strong for any team on this map. A second AWPer will usually cover what you are unable to, but if none exists cover the areas they are missing. Slowly make your way around the level. The AWP is not a quiet gun and on it's sound alone an enemy can find where your shot came from. Use the walls on the right and left for cover shooting through your own spawn point and to theirs. Drop it if necessary.
For the rushing player the SMG, TMP, Mac10, and p90 are taken so they can get to the other side as fast as possible with a gun they can spray with. Typically, this does not end well for the rusher because an AWPer is watching one of the sides they rushed on. Going up the middle often meets the safe fate due to the assault guns, and the AWP itself, well positioned to guard these areas from the start of the round. A rushing player may find it better to turn into the middle of the level and let all the other team's snipers check their points first before rushing in. Time is short on the map, so staying one second too short, or one second too long, at any spot may have you surrounded at any time, but the pause is important to make use of the opposing players natural rhythm to check the paths for enemies.
Assault rifles, like the Steyr Aug and Commando really shine on this map. At the beginning they're as good as AWPs watching all the major paths. When the map is winding down they allow accurate shooting at a distance without having to get into close combat. Iceworld's longest distances are often forgotten and these guns have the ability to let you move faster than when you have an AWP and still get a punch in your power. It's added power means it'll be easier than for other guns to take out multiple opponents at one time without the need to reload. Reloading is a skill in itself on Iceworld and making your need to reload less will make you stay alive a lot longer than most.
Shotguns change the game for the person with one. Not the auto shotgun, or “noob tube" as it's been immortalized, but the m3 single shot pump shotgun. Under a wave of gunfire you're likely to get one or two shots to their fifteen or more. In a map as chaotic as Iceworld the pump shotgun teaches best the use of the environment, however much or little you have of it. Skills some players take for granted that they have now but had to learn before can also be learned with this gun on this map. Strafing, shooting while moving, using walls for cover. The biggest of these the pump does wonderfully in the chaos of Iceworld is shooting while moving. While rushing on one side you fire at the enemy while heading somewhere else, mix moving and stopping to confuse your enemy's fire without messing up your own. Making sure the one shot you do get is accurate and will either kill the enemy or seriously hurt them, so if you get a second shot, you'll finish them off. The pump will have you finding yourself hiding, ambushing, and trying shots you would not normally try if you had a different gun under the same amount of fire from all directions.
Not all servers allow HE Grenades to be used. I find it's much easier to dominate with them, but are not necessary on the map. Grenade spamming is simple enough to do, and throwing one at the start of the map will almost always hit somebody. There are times when you will not throw them to your enemy's spawn, but that's usually when you see a rush coming that way and simply throw it in front of them.
On Iceworld the opposing team is trying to get your spawn point and you're trying to get to their's. This is very important to remember. Knowing you're attempting the same thing will go a long way in raising your Kill To Death ratio. Once they get to your spawn point they'll come back to their own. As Iceworld is a very time related map with everything happening in under a minute to two minutes tops, the passing time is important to know where the enemy is at any given moment. It doesn't take too long to cross the map without opposing gunfire coming your way so you should be able to put yourself in the right place as the map is winding down. Keep an eye on your teammates. Use their eyes to see around corners and find out what gun an enemy is using on their end. Locating AWPers is easy when they take out a member of your team as well. Your teammates also provide eyes where you are not there. You can plainly see if your team is winning or losing the gunfight if you went right when they went left. Note the guns they have and if any players over there may cause a problem for you. Particularly useful at the start of the round is to fire at the bottom of their wall, either on the right of left side. Many players simply duck behind a wall being shot at by the enemy and more often than not avoid getting hurt badly, or even hurt at all. Firing at the bottom of the wall often brings them around the corner.
A great training tool and guide for getting better at Iceworld and many other maps is the Counter-Strike Pwnage Guide . If you're rusty at anything I've mentioned or need to perfect it, it'll be a great investment and greatly increase your Counter Strike skills on any map. Iceworld may not be the most respected or popular map the game has ever had, but this guide and regular play will greatly improve your skills when put to use. I hope I'll see you some Iceworld servers.