The Haunted Mines
The mines will open shortly Heroes
The infamous Haunted Mines is certainly an interesting battleground. While it may appear simple at first, it is one of the most complicated maps because it forces players to make important decisions very quickly. Every action, even those that could seem irrelevant, has a big impact of the outcome of a match. In this guide, we will guide you through the battleground, talk about different strategies and tips, as well as analyze a professional game from the DreamHack Summer All-Stars tournament, so that you can learn to play in this map like a pro.
Getting to Know the Map
Love it or hate it, there's no denying that the Haunted Mines is one of the most creative maps in Heroes Of The Storm. Consisting of only two lanes, this map represents better than any other that Blizzard is willing to change the old formula of the genre. As if having only two lanes wasn’t enough, the map is also split in two regions: the surface, where the lanes are located, and the underground mines, where you will fight the undead.
Note: Since there are two kinds of golems on this map, one in the mines, and the other one being the map mechanic, I will refer to the latter as the Grave Golem.
At the 02:00 minute mark the mines will open, and once you enter you will need to gather skulls by killing the undead workers of the mines. There are a hundred skulls total, with seventy spread in the small undead camps, and thirty guarded by the golem. But gathering them isn’t as easy as it sounds. The mines are pretty small and the enemy team will want to gather skulls too, so your team will need to fight for them.
Once the hundred skulls have been gathered, one Grave Golem will spawn for each team, and their strength will depend on how many skulls each team secured. Then, the Grave Golem will proceed to siege one of the lanes, which will be marked by a circle with bones as depicted below. The enemy’s Grave Golem will push the opposite lane. After both are defeated, the mines will open again two minutes later and this process will repeat throughout the match.
Two Siege camps and one Bruiser camp are located between the lanes, and they will push the lane your Grave Golem won’t push. So, if your Grave Golem will be pushing the top lane, all the mercenaries you capture will push the bottom lane.
This Battleground also features two watch towers that give vision over the center of the map. You will want to have control of at least one of them to minimize the risk of getting ambushed, although it should come without saying that it is not necessary to rush to capture both Watchtowers at the start of a match. It also should be noted that there is a blind spot the Watchtowers don’t cover, just on top of the Bruiser camps, so even if the enemy team controls both of them, if you’re careful you could steal sneak through one lane to another without being detected.
Both lanes of this Battleground are of the same length, however that doesn’t mean they should be treated equally. One of the most common and effective lane distributions at a high level of play is to have four heroes pushing the lane their Grave Golem will attack, while having just one, usually a hero with a good wave-clear, gathering experience from the other lane. There is a reason this lane distribution is so popular: the lane the Grave Golem will pressure is of higher importance than the other lane because of the power of the summon. You want to take advantage of that power as much as you can, and if you push that lane with four heroes, you’ll be able to deplete ammunition and maybe even destroy some of the enemy structures before the mines open. This will allow your Grave Golem to receive less damage and have less structures to destroy so it will be able to push the lane further.
There is something that needs to be said though. The 4-1 lane distribution is not the best in all scenarios. When playing against heroes like Azmodan or Zagara who bring great amounts of siege power, you will need more than one hero defending. In fact when playing against heroes like Sylvanas, you might need to reverse your lane set up and actually have 4 players in the opposite lane that your Grave Golem will be. Not because you want to push that lane, but because you want to minimize or nullify the damage their heroes will cause. Trust us when we tell you that if you if you leave only one player defending against a Sylvanas and three other heroes you'll lose the fort before the mines even open.
As the countdown announcing the opening of the mines begins, the one that is defending solo will want to join his teammates on the other lane and then enter the mines. This is done because the lone hero could easily be picked off at the entrance to the underground, putting the rest of the team at a disadvantage. We also recommend that 30 seconds before the 2 minute mark if you don’t have near full health and mana you go back to the Hall of the Storms to recover. We’ll explain the reason why this is prefered over drinking from the Healing Fountain in a bit.
There are maps where deciding if not going for the objective can represent a valid strategic decision. This is not one of those maps. On the Haunted Mines, the most important thing will be gathering skulls, if you don’t gather enough of them, it won’t be hard for the enemy team to gain a big advantage and snowball the game.
Once inside the mines, going to get the golem first is a bad idea since the golem only has 30 skulls compared to the 70 of the small camps scattered around and it also makes you vulnerable.
Because the mines are pretty small, a team fight is sure to happen. Assuming both teams share the knowledge of the middle camps giving the most skulls, that's a very likely place for a team fight to ensue. The center of the mines is a pretty tight place with lots of tiny corridors that make your team vulnerable to stuns and AoE abilities, so make sure you lure the enemy into those corridors, and not put yourself in there instead.
You shouldn’t run headfirst into a teamfight though, if you can get some skulls before the fight, you should totally do it, since it ensures that even if the fight goes wrong you will at least have gathered some skulls. You should also not chase around enemies too far after the fight if you can’t catch them quickly, especially if you need to chase them out of the mines as they are probably buying time for their teammates to respawn. The winner of the fight should then split in the mines to gather the rest of the skulls as fast as possible, since early death timers are very short and the enemy team will be back soon. At that point the team should retreat from the mines. Going straight to the golem is a bad decision since the team will not have full health and mana and the other team will be going down to capture the golem.
Let's assume your team was the one to win the fight at the mines. As we said it is risky to go straight to the golem, so you retreat, but you are faced with another decision to make: Do you go to heal and don’t risk it grabbing some mercenary camps, or do you go back to the mines after healing? Well, since we are talking about the first mines, if your team thinks they can get to the golem in time to steal some skulls I’d say do it. You might think it's greedy, but frankly your team would have almost nothing to lose. You won the fight at the mines, and if you did it right it means you got at least fifty skulls. Going there and starting a team fight for the chance of getting a stronger Grave Golem is totally fine early game. Even if one of your teammates die in the fight, one dead in exchange for getting eight to ten skulls that could make your Grave Golem 60 or 70 skulls strong is totally worth it. Obviously this doesn’t mean you should go kamikaze and feed the enemy team; if the fight is going wrong, retreat, it's alright. Getting back to the mines fast is the reason not drinking from the healing fountain before the mines is a good idea, since you’ll be able to just tap it and get back inside faster than if you used your Hearthstone.
Now, in case you think you won’t be able to steal some skulls, maybe because someone got picked off and you are outnumbered or maybe because it’s too late and you won’t get there in time, taking mercenary camps is a good option.
A common misconception is believing Bruiser camps are better, or of higher priority than the Siege Giants. This isn't true, as Bruisers are nothing more than glorified minions, and you should try to take the Siege Giants first, but not the ones that are on your side of the map, the ones that are on the enemy side. This will enable you to put some pressure on the enemy base, while at the same time removing the opportunity of the opponents to take them themselves, which is actually quite important as we’ll explain in a minute.
Now, taking their Siege Giants is a highly risky move, and you should do it only when you know the enemy will still take some time to get to you or are still fighting in the mines. If you are unsure you can capture them in time or your team isn’t cooperating, you should take the Bruiser camp instead. They will help your team hold back a few minion waves which isn’t fantastic in itself, but the enemy team will have to clear them out if they want to push, and it is certainly better to have them on your side than having them against you.
Now, you may be wondering why you should take the Bruiser camp first instead of the Siege giants on your side when I just said Bruisers aren’t as important. Well, it is for two reasons, the first one being that since Bruisers are in the middle of the map, they are easier for your enemy to capture and as mentioned it's better to have them on your side, but there is another, better reason.
Timing is everything in this map, and when you capture your own Siege camp can have a big impact on the game. If you capture the Siege Giants when the Grave Golems are spawning, they will push the lane as they’d do on the other maps, and the enemy Grave Golem will simply walk right past them and proceed to siege your team’s base. Depending on how early you captured them they might attack the Golem, or skip it and attack the creeps, either way if the enemy team pushes that lane, those Siege Giants won’t be able to do much before they die. Now let's look at the optimal scenario.
If you capture the Siege Giants as the Grave Golem is passing through the enemy outer gates (the ones that guard the Fort), the mercenaries will attack it from behind your own gate. Siege Giants deal a considerable amount of damage, and the best way to use that damage on this map is to help you bring the Grave Golem down faster. If you capture them early they will die to other heroes or even minions, but if you time it right, since they will be attacking from behind the gates, the enemy won’t be able to kill them, and you’ll maximize their effectiveness.
It may not seem like much, but Siege Giants are very powerful, especially in the early stages of a game. It's almost as if you had an extra hero attacking the Grave Golem, and that's also the reason why you’d want to steal their Siege camp if you can. Not because you are interested in pushing that lane, but because you take away the chance for the enemy to set up a better defense. It doesn’t matter who got the stronger Grave Golem, capturing them at the right time will help your team a lot.
Mercenary camps are important, but it should be noted that they are not a replacement for skulls. When the mines open, skulls are the top priority. The only time you should prioritize mercenary camp over skulls is when the enemy has gained control of the mines after a team fight, and your team won’t be able to gather any meaningful amount of them anymore.
Now, we have covered the Siege Ogres but there is still the question on whether you should push or defend from the Grave Golem. Well, as a general rule, the more skulls a Golem has, the more people you’ll want to have there. If yours is stronger, you will want to push with it. If theirs is stronger, you will want to have the most people defending. If the enemy’s Grave Golem is only 15 skulls or less, it won’t be necessary to have people defending because the towers will bring him down very quickly, and if you got the Siege Giants’ help it will die even faster. Instead, you should five-man push with yours because you will be able to do massive amounts of damage to the enemy’s base and even snowball the game from there.
Now, that's a general rule which doesn’t apply to every situation. On early mines even if your Golem is stronger, you may want to have one person in the other lane to soak experience and gain a further advantage. On some other cases, maybe you will want to defend against a weaker golem. For example, if it is at your core and your Grave Golem is not, and the enemy is pushing your base, you must defend or risk losing the game outright.
There are some cases where both Grave Golems will be of similar strength, or even equal. On those situations having everyone defend is generally a good idea. Some teams choose to split and have some attacking and some defending, and that is a valid decision, but before you do that make sure of a couple of things: First, your golem should be the stronger one. If you split you are reducing the damage you would do to the enemy golem, so you must make sure that your Grave Golem is stronger so it can deal more damage to compensate. The second thing you need to think about is who defends and who attacks. You can pressure the lane with any kind of hero, although usually ranged ones are the best for the role. Pushing with a Specialist is a must, one that does particularly well on this map is Sylvanas, since she can lock down towers, which deal a big ammount of damage to the first Golem. Warriors can be good, since they have crowd control abilities they can use to put an enemy hero on the area the Golem will slam, but they should be careful since they are melee. The heroes that need to defend are a little more specific. Since you are splitting your heroes, reducing the damage you deal to the enemy Golem, you will want to have Assassins defending. If you defend the lane with Warriors or Supports only, you will take a considerably larger amount of time defeating the Golem, therefore receiving more damage from him. Whereas Assassins are the ones that can bring them down faster with their better DPS.
Once the Grave Golems die, they will leave their bones on the ground on the place they died, marking the point where they will respawn after the teams gather the next 100 skulls on the map.
After this there will be a two minute down time until the Undead appear in the mines again. This time should be used to soak experience and try to get to level 10 fast. You should always prioritize pushing the lane your Grave Golem pushes. There are very few reasons that would make pushing the other lane worth it, but admittedly they exist. Maybe pushing your Golem’s lane isn’t safe, maybe you want some little extra experience and those towers are an easy target, or maybe you are already there for some reason, but in general you’ll want to pressure your Grave Golem’s lane.
One thing that you should be very careful of is not dying just before the mines start. At that point death timers have increased considerably as you’ll be approaching or reaching level 10, and the last thing you’ll want to do is get picked off before the mines as that will give the enemy access to most of the skulls. This is very, very important since the power of the Heroics and a strong Golem could end the game right there.
The second mines should be approached a little more carefully. It should be noted that you can enter the mines any time after they open for the first time, and you can use that to your advantage to get where the undead will appear or prepare an ambush. When you enter the mines this time, you should be closer to the rest of your team, capturing just the skull camps that are close enough to the rest of your team that even if the enemy appears you can come back to your team alive.
Most of the recommendations from the first mines still apply, but this teamfight will be of even more importance. If your team is not level 10 yet and theirs is, you should try to avoid the middle camps and take the others instead, trying to get as many skulls as possible while delaying the team fight. While it is still recommended that the team that lost the fight at the mines goes back and take the Golem, we don’t recommend the enemy team to risk their advantage trying to steal it this time around.
Once the forts have been destroyed, Siege Giants lose a lot of their strength since they won’t be able to focus the Grave Golem anymore, however you should still take them to weaken the enemy push. A lot of times from the mid game forward teams skip the lanes and go straight to the Golems when pushing, and this causes them to miss the support from the minions since they didn't push the lane before they spawned. You want all the help you can get while pushing, so make sure that before the Grave Golems spawn you have already pushed your lane.
When the Late-game arrives and as death timers increase, every single mistake could be a game changer, so stay alert and don’t over extend. Try not to fight if it's not completely necessary.
A common strategy in this phase of the game is to skip the mines and rush straight for the core because Heroes can bring it down pretty fast. However to be able to succeed with this strategy you must make sure that the enemy has no structures remaining on the Grave Golem lane, since those would buy the enemy enough time to gather skulls and defend. Preferably your team should have a level advantage and the enemy’s Core shouldn’t have full health, or at least not shields, since this makes it easier for your opponents to defend. This strategy shouldn’t be used unless you are behind and it's your only chance at winning, or if you are ahead and you are 100% sure you can win the game right there; it is a very risky move since you could all die and have a 100 skull golem at your door in seconds, therefore we suggest you contest the mines instead.
Now, one scenario we haven’t talked about is what to do if you need to fight at the Golem inside the mines, which is something that could happen depending on both teams' choices. Ideally you will want to wait for the enemy to come, because if you attack the Golem and the enemy comes, you’ll have both the Golem and five other players hitting your team. However in some occasions you can’t really do that because the enemy team is stronger.
If you can, try to pull the Golem down or up to one side of the mines when you initially aggro him. You don't need the full team to start either, if you have a player or two heading your way and no enemies are close yet start it up and pull him away from where you think they are likely to appear next. Try to avoid fighting in the left side of the Golem spawn as that’s where it's easier for the enemy team to surround you.
If you are the one attacking, never try to jump in by yourself to steal the skulls dropped by the Golem when the enemy is killing it. The majority of the time you will die and won't get any skulls. Wait for your team, and if they aren’t coming, go do something else.
As a final tip from this section, the Grave Golems will only spawn once every single skull has been picked up by a team. It's possible to take advantage of this by leaving the very last 1-2 skulls on the ground to wait until your team is in a better position to handle the summons. If your team is dead and the enemy Grave Golem will be stronger than yours, you should not pick the last skull so that your team can respawn and be in better position. That last skull is barely worth anything to your Golem's strength, but the extra time can mean a lot for your team. If the other team ran into the Mines, grabbed some skulls, and then retreated to capture some merc camps, don't finish getting all the skulls. You can leave the last skull there, go defend against the mercs, force the other team to run in and get it, and avoid facing both mercs and the Grave Golem at the same time. Using this offensively is also possible, but if you are ahead you should be careful as there is a special rule. The Grave Golem's strength not only scales with skulls, it also increases over time; A 50 skull Grave Golem is stronger 20 minutes into the game, than at the 10 minute mark, however there is an exception. If the mines are open for at least 4 minutes, the Grave Golem will stop scaling over time and instead use the time when 60 of the 100 skulls were collected. This means that if you wait for 4 minutes or more, your Grave Golem could actually be weaker than it would have been otherwise, and if you got the biggest Grave Golem, you wouldn’t want to miss its strength so it’s something to keep in mind.
Although this map can snowball pretty easily, it's also possible to have back and forth games on it for the exact same reason: The Grave Golem is too strong. If, for example, your team is losing, but manages to kill most of the enemy heroes before the mines open, you could pretty easily get 60, 70 or more skulls, which will not only get you back into the game, but could potentially put you ahead too.
Drafting on the Haunted Mines
Now, you may be wondering which Heroes are good in this map, but we needed to explain how the map works so it easier to explain why some heroes are better than others.
As you might guess, most Specialists are good on this map, from Zagara to Azmodan and Abathur. However you must not forget to select heroes that are good at team fights, as the fights within the mines will most of the time decide who gets the most skulls, and if your Golem is weak, not even strong pushers will save you.
Sylvanas is undoubtedly the best first pick for this map. She is a versatile Specialist that can deal greats amounts of damage making her a great pusher and a great team-fighter. But her trait is the true hero here, as it disables structures, negating most of the damage the Grave Golem would receive early game. She outright removes the defender’s advantage on this map and that makes her the best first pick.
Valla brings a lot of damage and siege power with the Multishot build making her good at both team-fights and laning, and another solid pickup for the map.
Heroes that are able to choose the talent Calldown: MULE are great on this map too, as its ability to repair structures, including the Core, can effectively negate the damage received from the Golems given enough time. Heroes like Tassadar, Brightwing, Abathur and Tyrande possess this talent.
Speaking about Tassadar, he is a great pick on this map due to his ability to shield structures. Combined with mule it can significantly reduce the damage received from the enemy Golem and put you on par or at an advantage even if you got a weaker one.
Melee heroes are not particularly good in this map, since they need to get close to the enemy structures while pushing, or close to the Golem while defending, both of which leave them vulnerable to damage and crowd control abilities from their opponents. Still, it doesn’t mean melee heroes are an auto lose as some of them can give you an edge on the team fights at the mines enabling you to get a skull lead.
There are Heroes that are particularly bad on this map, Gazlowe being a prime example since there are only three mercenary camps and the map doesn’t revolve on taking control of an specific region like Shrines or Temples. Some would argue that he can solo the Golem at the mines but no decent player will let you do that. Another bad hero for this map are The Lost Vikings.
When you Draft on the Haunted Mines always look for a balanced team composition that is good at both pressuring lanes and team fighting. If you can try to secure Sylvanas and Tassadar, which are heroes that will enable your team to maximize the damage you do, while minimizing the damage you receive from the Grave Golem.
Professional game analysis: Fnatic vs TeamLiquid
Now that we have explained how the map plays and some good hero choices let's analyze a professional game which was played between Fnatic and Team Liquid this past DreamHack Summer. This analysis will focus on pointing out some key aspects of the game that you should take note of, and will showcase a different scenario of how a game can develop. However this is not a game recap. We encourage you to watch the game while you read this analysis as they complement each other.
Professional games are quite different from your normal pub game, not only because of the coordination, but because of bans. Still there are quite a few things we can learn from them.
From Team Liquid's side we have Zagara, Tassadar, Valla, Malfurion and Anub’Arak. A team composition that is very good at pressuring and defending, while at the same time having good combo potential for team fights.
From Fnatic’s side we got ETC, Illidan, Muradin, Brightwing and Jaina. This composition is very interesting, as it features 3 melee heroes and no one particularly good at pressuring lanes, but remember what we said earlier about the need of having a team that can win teamfights? Well, that's basically what Fnatic is doing here. They are saying ‘Our team may not have the best pushing potential, but that won’t matter if we consistently are able to secure more skulls than our opponents’. Which is a valid strategy, however Team Liquid's heroes are still not that bad at team fights, so going into this game we have a very interesting proposition from both teams. It should be noted that Sylvanas was banned for this game.
At the start of the game we can see the standard 4-1 lane distribution from both teams, but as was mentioned earlier, not only you want to push with four people. Fnatic knows about the greater push potential of Team Liquid and so they decide to defend with four instead of attacking. Notice how Falcon, playing Zagara for Team Liquid, hearthstone backs to base to replenish his health and mana 30 seconds before the mines open.
Once in the mines both teams go towards the middle camps and we can see how Liquid makes the mistake of clumping together at a choke point However thanks to their high skill and coordination they manage to to not only survive, but deal enough damage to the enemy team that the fight ends in a stalemate and split the skulls. Before capturing the golem both teams drink for the healing fountain and then go back into the mines, which is something that we previously talked about, however Fnatic enters too late and are unable to steal the Golem from Team Liquid, and not only that, but Liquid manages to kill three members of Fnatic in the process. This is a reminded that trying to steal the Golem is a risky move, and you have to act fast if you want to get extra skulls.
Liquid pushes with 4 people, realizing they have a stronger Golem, however they leave Tassadar to defend since Fnatic’s Golem is still pretty strong and Tassadar can shield the buildings. Notice how neither team bothered to capture the Bruiser Camps until after the Grave Golems were destroyed.
When the second mines spawn both teams go to the middle of them as usual, but notice how Fnatic waits until every one of their teammates is there to start a fight. One of the main differences between high level players and average ones is patience. Had they jumped early without Brightwing and Illidan they would have simply died. Instead they choose to let Liquid have the center camps until everyone got there and then start a fight which they easily won thanks to a superior teamfight oriented composition.
After Fnatic secured the mines and took the Golem, Team Liquid decided to enter the mines even though they knew they wouldn’t get there in time to steal skulls. The reason why Liquid decided to do that was to catch some of the Fnatic guys off guard, killing them easily thanks to them not having full health, so they wouldn’t be able to capitalize as well with their Golem.
Liquid only managed to get one kill, however they capitalized on the fact that Fnatic didn’t have a way to defend from a push and destroyed their fort before the Grave Golems spawned, which resulted in both teams being surprisingly even in the structure count after the 75 skull golem was destroyed. They took Fnatic's advantage away through good decision making.
After the third mines spawned, we can see how Fnatics team is clearly outshining Liquid at team fights. The double warrior team comp brings a great amount of crowd control, which is then benefited from both Jaina and Illidan. After they secured another 75 skull golem they decide to retreat, eliminating the chance of being wiped by Liquid like the mines before this one. Being able to push this time they managed to get to the core and win the game after another great team fight.
The biggest lesson we get from this game is that contrary to public perception, teamfighting is pretty important for this map. It doesn’t matter if your team is better at pressuring lanes if it's never given the chance to do it. And that's why heroes like Sylvanas, Valla and Tassadar excel on this map, because they can do both. Another big takeaway is how fast intelligent decisions can have a big impact on the game, as Liquid showed when they nullified the advantage Fnatic got with their first 75 skull Golem by pushing themselves.
As we mentioned earlier, this analysis complements itself with the match, and both serve as a big add on to this guide, so if you skipped the video, we really suggest you watch it when you have time. In fact, watch the whole series if you can, they are all great games.
The Haunted Mines is a very unique battleground where every decision counts. Teamwork and good timing will be highly rewarded and that's the reason it is one of the most difficult maps to play solo. This is a battleground that will force constant decision making from the very beginning, and you will need to calculate the risks your decisions will bring. Still, if you use the lessons you learned from this guide, and manage to transmit that knowledge to the rest of your party, there is no doubt your team will have the edge.