Unfortunately, when I took the above screenshot, a cart was obscuring the Goblin Mine. You can see the Pandaren mine at the top, the Center mine in the middle where all the players are clustered, and where the blue cart is is where the Goblin Mine is located. All the mines are circled in green. The Alliance and Horde bases are marked with faction symbols, and the Alliance and Horde graveyards are marked with blue and red rings respectively. The yellow rings will be explained later!
You can also see two bridges, leading from the graveyards to nearby hills. These are very interesting indeed, as they offer both an alternate exit from each graveyard, and a rather roundabout route for the opposite faction to walk straight into the graveyard. I was able to take out opposing players in their own graveyard, which certainly wasn't helped by the fact that everyone was ressing with only 30% health. I suspect that's a bug, by the way!
What on earth are we doing here? Well, let's start with the more obvious aspects. There are three mines, roughly equidistant from the Alliance and Horde bases, all of which are captured by clicking the flag, no proximity rings here. The Center Mine is pretty much a straight run from either base, and therefore likely to be players' first choice, given the prevalence of fighting in the middle! The Pandaren mine and Goblin mine are captured in the exact same way. Neither is closer to either faction's base, but between the Alliance and the Goblin mine is a sunken area with bridges across it, and the same between the Horde and the Pandaren mine. These are the yellow ringed areas on the map above.
If a player was knocked off either of these bridges, they'd have a bit of a run to reattain their position, so either could be considered a pinch point for defence. So, while it's not so much like Battle for Gilneas or Arathi Basin, where each side has their "home" base, that they will inevitably capture at the outset, the Horde will likely have an easier time taking and running back to the Goblin mine, and the Alliance the Pandaren mine.
Holding the mines means that your team gather resources, as players can watch NPCs busily gathering gold from the mines.
There is the expected 1600 resource win point, along with the counter which we're all used to seeing at the top of the screen that monitors progress. Also, just as one would expect, there are the familiar announcements of assaults, captures and defenses of bases, and these are also tallied on the scoreboard.
It's all been pretty standard stuff so far, no really remarkable content, and familiar node capture mechanics. Now, we move into the unfamiliar!
In each base, the Horde and Alliance bases, there is a cart. They resemble the carts in Silvershard Mines in appearance, but behave very differently. In Deepwind Gorge, a player can enter the opposing faction's base, which, if you've been paying attention, you'll have already surmised is often left empty. Players do not resurrect there, and given the absence of a "home" node, the fight takes place at a reasonable distance from each faction's starting base.
Once inside the opposing faction's base, the player can click on the opposing faction's cart to "pick it up". The quotation marks are there because you don't carry the cart so much as tow it, as can be seen from the image below.
You may have noticed that, in this image, I am a frog. This is one of the slightly odd things that happened in the battleground, along with everyone starting off with only about 30% health, and ressing with only 30% health. I'm not sure at this point whether that's intended, but time will tell. As, when hexed, a player still has full control over their movement, I was able to happily carry on hopping along, towing the cart behind me! No great surprise, there was no CC that removed the cart from the player. Shifting into Ghost Wolf also didn't affect the cart's connection to me, nor did blinking, meaning that, just like for flag carrying, players with speed boosts are good choices.
I initially assumed it would be a good plan to take my cart to a mine which my faction controlled, thinking, not unfairly, that that would capture it. I was mistaken, what players actually need to do with the cart is to take it all the way to their own base, right across the map. The best route for this is highly debatable, based on where the fight is taking place, of course. I found that the best way to go was to work my way along the outside of the middle sunken area, thereby avoiding pinch points on bridges, and maintaining good distance from enemy mines. Of course, nowhere's safe! Capturing the Cart
There is a cart in both bases, and again, as can be seen from the map above, both can be held and captured at the same time. Capturing the cart, by bringing it all the way from the opposing base to your own, seemed to add a fairly substantial 200-ish points on your teams total. While the text announcement says "The Alliance has stolen Gold from the Horde!" the opposing faction's gold total seems not to be altered by capturing a cart. It was unclear whether holding the cart awarded additional points, more testing would be required to ascertain that.
As with any flag capture style system, there is also honor awarded for returning the cart. In order to do that, the player carrying it simply needs to be killed. There didn't seem to be any need to click the cart to return it, like flags in Warsong Gulch, it simply returned itself on the death of its carrier. Initial verdict?
It seems like an interesting battleground. The mixed mechanics, similar to Eye of the Storm, in a way, will probably be divisive, but I enjoyed them. Strategically, it's probably going to turn out not dissimilar to Eye of the Storm, with the notable exception that capturing the cart is a far more arduous task, given the distance players will need to travel to do so. The map is well and thoughtfully designed, with several interesting landscape features such as the aforementioned bridges, and feels quite large even as a 15v15. All in all, it was worth the wait!
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