Gah, I got busy and didn’t get to play all the characters from last week’s free rotation! /cry
But Sonya (D3 Barbarian) is up this week and I’m playing the hell out of her.
(Honestly, she feels a little weak to me, I need to spend some time skulking in the forums and see if I can find what I’m missing.)
Alright, map number 2 on the list – The Haunted Mines!
Objectives for this map include an underground mine periodically populated with undead. Kill the undead, collect the skulls, cheer as your golem lumbers towards the enemy palace.
Aesthetically speaking, the Mines map is similar to Cursed Hollow – it’s drab and the sneaky grass is dead and brown. However, our starting map is a little different from the Cursed Hollow.
It’s a little hard to see, but there are only 2 defined lanes: one on the top and one on the bottom. At the middle of each lane, we have a mine entrance.
Here is the mine entrance located on the bottom lane. The mines are not open all the time. Just like the tributes spawning in Cursed Hollow, you will receive a voice announcement and a screen message alerting you to the pending objective.
Once the objective is pre-announced, we get a timer up at the top.
By this time, we also have mercs spawning on the map.
You’ll notice that we have no fancy skulls like we had on the Cursed Hollow map – there are no large golem mercs available topside on this map. Golem mercs would be a little redundant since the objective here is to raise a super golem.
And the mine is open!
Simply right-click on the glowing mine shaft (hur, I said *shaft*) to head below. You can actually see the exit in the pit right above my name plate, characters that are sitting in the mine entrance are visible to those above.
Also visible is a skull counter. There are 100 skulls available. Both teams will get a golem after all the skulls are accounted for, the one with the most skulls is the strongest.
And… here’s where things get screwy.
Your team will get a golem, even if no one enters the mine and you let the other team get all the precious skulls.
While they are down below, you can choose to stay topside, capture merc camps, and just continue the game like normal.
Personally, every VS game (and Practice game) I’ve been in has sent at least a small contingent into the mines to farm skulls, but I’m seeing on the forums that a well-organized team can wreak more havoc with a weak golem plus 3 or 4 merc camps than if they had a mediocre-strength golem. If the relative strength of the golem based on skulls gets buffed, this could change. Ignoring a map mechanic isn’t usually something Blizzard aims to reward, but it does add some variety to the map.
Regardless of the strat used, the team does need to be in agreement or you’ll cripple yourself.
Oh, and because the minimap wasn’t small enough, let’s split it in half.
The mine has just opened. Both teams are gathering around the mine entrance. Obviously, if you can wipe out the opposing team before descending, you can gather more skulls with less worry.
This lower map has the two mine entrances marked with small green arrows on the left. The individual clumps of undead are marked with purple and the big, bad boss golem is the white skull-shaped thing.
Killing the individual undead groups will net you about 80 skulls total. To get the last 20, you need to kill the boss golem.
This is not a terribly difficult fight by itself, it doesn’t seem to be much different than the fancy-skull merc camp found on the surface in other maps. It is ranged-friendly, with him having a massive AoE stomp that stuns everyone close to him. The true test of this encounter is dealing with the enemy players.
Once he’s been dispatched, skulls fountain out of him like candy from a pinata. Collect them all before your opponent can and the summoning begins. You can technically leave the mines by going back to the entrance, or you can hearth out.
You’ll notice here we have 90 skulls to their 10. /flex
Once back at your fountain, you can run over to what appeared to be a decorative pile of bones and watch your creation rise from the ground.
When your golem is killed, it will revert to this pile-of-bones-state – wherever it was on the map when it died. If you do multiple runs into the mines, your golems will creep closer and closer to the opposing palace.
He’ll make a bee line to the closest gate. So far, I think if you start on the left side of the map it is the bottom lane and the right side takes the top. With the difference in skulls, you can really see a disparity in the health meter. Look at all our little life ticks.
If you can support your golem with mercs and escort him down the lane, he will last longer. Of course, your opponent is doing the same in the other lane. You might also have popped all the mercs just before the mines spawned to deny the enemy from using them to crash your gates while you were in the mines.
I’ve played this map quite a few times in practice and a couple times in VS. Normally, it takes at least two runs in the mines to complete the match, if not three. But I took some of these screen shots while in a VS match… I know, I normally try to do all my research in Practice… but daily quests…
Much to everyone’s surprise, we crushed them with a single run.
Ignore the Solo Kills line, that doesn’t function in any game. We have no idea why it’s there since Blizzard is so hard up on the team thing.
Overall, I like this map. The split level environment adds depth (ha!) to the encounter and, whether it was intended or not, having to make the decision of how many people to send below or if you want to send any at all allows for this map to be played in different ways.