Deck Tech: Revisiting Hearthstone’s Shaman decks
I’ll admit it, I’ve given Shaman decks a hard time before in the past. They’re inconsistent, unwieldy, and punishing. The class as a whole needs a face lift or something. With the Warsong Commander nerf live, maybe Shaman decks receive an indirect buff. We’re going to go back to the Shaman roots this week and explore another midrange deck which was one of the first control decks when Hearthstone first released.
Compared to other Shaman decks, you’ll notice that this version is a touch light on spells. There are no Lightning Bolts, Lava Bursts, or Lava Shocks. The only cards that deal direct damage are Lightning Storm, Fire Elemental, Earth Shock, and Rockbiter Weapon. Your game plan is to extract as much value as you can out of your cards.
On the mulligan
Look to your cheap, low cost minions. Zombie Chow and a Haunted Creeper are almost never wrong. If you’re against an aggro deck, you’re anticipating their early game minions which you’ll want to respond with cards such as Rockbiter Weapon. Class matchups will be broken down at the end of the column.
- Earth Shock
- Rockbiter Weapon x2
- Flametongue Totem x2
- Totem Golem x2
- Feral Spirit x2
- Healing Wave
- Hex x2
- Lightning Storm x2
- Fire Elemental x2
- Al’Akir the Windlord
- Haunted Creeper
- Big Game Hunter
- Defender of Argus x2
- Piloted Shredder x2
- Azure Drake x2
- Sludge Belcher x2
- Sylvanas Windrunner
- Dr. Boom
The question I often like to ask myself on turn two is would I use The Coin to whip out a turn two Feral Spirit knowing it would mess me up the following turn? Whenever I do that, I usually experience feelings akin to having KFC for lunch: Massive regret.
Those Spirit Wolves will hold buy you some time and hold off a rush but I recommend playing them in order to protect something else you might have on the board already like a Totem Golem or a Piloted Shredder. But there will be times when you’re about to get overwhelmed and you have to play it and hope they don’t have a way to instantly remove the wolves without a great cost to themselves. If you have nothing else, your hero power will generate some totems for you. Defender of Argus can augment them and other minions you have on the board providing a safe barrier against opposing minions. Your Rockbiter Weapon can be used to clear out annoying threats (like a Knife Juggler) or it can be used as a finisher for Al’Akir.
As you shift into the mid game portion, Azure Drakes will continue to feed your hand while Sludge Belcher provides additional protection. Don’t play your Flametongue Totems on their own. You want to put them in play in tandem with existing minions, even if they’re just totems. Watch the positioning of it. Remember that newly generated totems will always appear on your right. Sylvanas can be difficult to play against which is why she’s been included. She’s just a pest especially if your opponent has a minion advantage over you. For additional crowd control, you have Hex, Big Game Hunter, and Fire Elementals.
Look at all the weapons you have at your disposal. Dr. Boom quarterbacks your first choice with his boom bots. If he happens to get removed, Neptulon will replenish your hand for you (and just imagine the squeals if you catch a Murloc Knight). Al’Akir rounds out the triple thread and can be used to help contest the board or simply finish off the game.
Alternative cards to consider
- Sea Giant
- Acidic Swamp Ooze
- Harvest Golem
- Thunder Bluff Valiant
- Mana Tide Totem
- Tuskarr Totemic
- Gormok the Impaler
One could fork this deck into a myriad of directions. A few adjustments, and you can convert into Mech Shaman with Annoy-O-Tron, Harvest Golems, and Powermace. Sea Giant can replace any of your heavy hitters if you’re lacking a Dr. Boom or Neptulon. Gormok the Impaler represents an interesting option as you can utilize that four points of direct damage against anything on the field that’s annoying (like a Piloted Shredder) or play him on his own. The Bloodlust build hinges on having a swarm of minions along with cards like Thunder Bluff Valiant, Mana Tide Totem, and Tuskarr Totemic.
- Druid: You have multiple methods of dealing with Darnassus Aspirant. Keep cards like Rockbiter Weapon, Totem Golem, Zombie Chow, Haunted Creepers, and a Flametongue. Any combination of those cards can easily neutralize the Aspirant and help minimize them ramping up. Control the game and you’ll eventually win. You have Hex and Big Game Hunter to destroy Fel Reavers.
- Hunter: The Hunter matchup can go either way. Thankfully, you have a plethora of cards that can stop their offense or reset your health. You need Zombie Chow, Haunted Creepers, and Totem Golems in your opening hand. Do not over extend or else you will be punished with Knife Juggler and Unleash the Hounds.
- Mage: Mirror Entity can be annoying. If you think the card is the secret, feed them Zombie Chow or a Haunted Creeper. Sometimes they run out of gas while you still have cards left in your hand. Keep a Flametongue Totem if you happen to find yourself with early minions. Rockbiter will clear out Mana Wyrms.
- Paladin: It is absolutely vital stay on pace with this deck otherwise you will get overrun. Look for early game minions. You have lots of ways to deal with activated secrets between an Earth Shock, Hex, and Big Game Hunter. Feral Spirits and Haunted Creepers will help you stall the game long enough for you to get to your bigger minions. Lightning Storm will clean out and counteract Muster for Battle.
- Priest: Expect a tough matchup. Both kinds of Priest decks will start off a little slower than normal and Shaman players should be able to muscle out in the early game. You have enough midrange cards to bust through any taunts that hit the board. Save a Hex for the opposing Sylvanas. After that, their threats are Confessor Paletress, Ysera, and Dr. Boom.
- Rogue: First of all, hat tip to your opponent if they play a Rogue. After that, proceed through your game plan as normal. What will hurt you is playing overload cards and them returning that card back to your hand with Sap. Board control is the main strategy here.
- Shaman: The mirror match can be any number of alternatives Shaman deck types. I listed them earlier in the alternate cards section. This matchup will depend on the cards you choose to remove and a little card luck going your way. Be prepared to identify the Shaman type early so you can adjust your play to it. The dominant versions are either Mech Shaman or Bloodlust Shaman.
- Warlock: Warlock decks are the bane of my existence here. Handlock has a number of late game bombs with all the giants they play that are anchored by lead demons Mal’Ganis and Lord Jaraxxus. You have yourself Hex and Big Game Hunter which can shut down half of those threats. You can try to build up your board while playing defensively to ensure no Molten Giant enters play but by then, Lord Jaraxxus might make life difficult. Keep Feral Spirits, Zombie Chows, Totem Golems, and an Earth Shock (which removes Twilight Drake). You should have an easier time with Zoo between Feral Spirits and Healing Wave. But ugh, I hate Handlock.
- Warrior: Healing Wave can easily cancel out Control Warrior’s Alexstrasza. Keep your Totem Golems, Piloted Shredders, and Zombie Chows. It might be worth swapping in a Harrison Jones for an Azure Drake if you happen to have one. Don’t over extend and assume that the Warrior has two Brawls in the deck. Keep generating totems here. Death’s Bite can eliminate your midsized minions so try to shield them.
Hope you enjoyed this one. Give it a try and let me know how it goes — good luck!
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