HearthstoneJan 9, 2017 3:00 pm CT

Playing Midrange Jade Shaman

Shaman continues to be a top tier deck in both ladder and tournament play. Mean Streets of Gadgetzan gave it a few extra tools with the Jade Golems. We’re going to look at Midrange Shaman today. It isn’t as explosive as Aggro Shaman and playing this deck requires some extensive thought. Take a few extra seconds and think about minion placement because that stuff matters especially with regards to totems and Barnes.

But first, I’ll provide a history of Midrange and what it exactly means.

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Matticus, what does Midrange mean?

In Hearthstone, players summon minions and attack while their opponents do the same. As the match progresses, you continue summoning minions and those minions die until one player runs out of minions. Intrepid players will realize that bigger, fatter minions means it takes their opponent more than 1 or 2 smaller minions to neutralize them. Totem Golem and Thing From Below are great examples of this due to their low cost capability. Eventually, your opponent will reach a point where they’re not able to effectively trade. A midrange deck doesn’t typically include many small minions. It starts with big, bomb threats and then fills the rest with some form of mana acceleration, stall cards, or defensive board clearing spells.

Midrange Druid is an example of accelerating into bigger minions with cards like Wild Growth, Innervate, and Jade Blossom. While your opponent’s busy playing Pirates and dropping Frothing Berserker on turn 3, you’re rolling your eyes and slamming down Azure Drakes or Druid of the Claw on your turn 3.

With Midrange Shaman, you play Barnes with the hope of catching Ragnaros or Al’Akir. Lightning Storm, Hex, and Maelstrom Portal minimize any threats that enter the board while preserving yours. They won’t be able to effectively trade into your bigger minions if they don’t have any left.

*sniffs* I had this midrange black green Magic: the Gathering deck during the Kamigawa/Mirrodin block with Solemn Simulacrums, Kokusho, the Evening Star, Death Cloud, and Sword of Fire and Ice. It was definitely a midrange-ish deck. I sure do miss playing but I digress.

The deck

Shaman (22)

Neutral (8)

The mulligan

You have a few options when you start playing. Ideally, if you can start with a Buccaneer, you can start applying pressure early. I’ve had a players concede early when I dropped a Buccaneer with Patches only to follow it up with Jade Claws next turn and they still had no response. Tunnel Trogg, Totem Golem, and either of the Claws are also good choices. If you’re up against Pirate Warrior, Maelstrom Portal’s a definite keeper.

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While this hand may look good, I can assure you it is absolutely useless as I can’t reliably do anything until the following turn. Even then, Northshire Cleric is a weak target for Jade Lightning.

Early game

Your first few turns are going to be crucial. There are a few different looks available. If you have the pirate package, you can open with that and hopefully follow it up with a weapon. Alternatively, playing Tunnel Trogg and protecting it with your weapon, hero power totems, or a spell will put you in a solid early position. If you see opportunities to hero power out totems, do so because you want to continue to build up your board and (more importantly) set up for a low cost Thing From Below later in the game.

Mid game

In most cases, you want to place your bigger minions to the left. Your totems will always spawn to your right. Barnes will spawn a guy to his immediate right. Flametongue positioning matters here — By placing your minions from hand to Flametongue’s left, you can use them to attack into your opponent’s minions and trade. This ensures you have a steady stream of minions that can take advantage of the attack buff. Meanwhile, your generation of hero power totems will always appear on the right of Flametongue. In addition, Thing From Below should be cheap allowing you both to play it and another minion (or spell).

Don’t forget about your Jade Golems. You should have a few of them coming into play now between the Jade weapons and Aya Blackpaw. Use Jade Lightning to eliminate one of your opponent’s minions and bring one out in play for you. Hold on to your Bloodmage Thalnos for a quick spellpower boost if you need it (and it can buff Lightning Storm as well).

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Late game

With any luck, your opponent should be running out of steam. If you can time a turn 10 player of a Flametongue Totem with Al’Akir, that’s 10 damage that can go directly into your opponent (or their late game threats). You also have Ragnaros hurling balls of fire. Hopefully your midrange minions can net you the win before it gets to the point where you have to deploy either Rag or Al’Akir but they’re there if you need them. You also have a pair of Hexes to remove anything troubling from the game (Ancient of War, Twilight Drake, Flamewreathed Faceless, etc).

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One Leeroy Jenkins is bad enough. Two is just sheer overkill. Remember, it’s not about winning — It’s about sending a message.

Alternative cards to consider

If you haven’t invested a bunch of gold or money into Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, you can revert back to a more aggro version of the deck that provides you with more top deck potential. The changes below cut the Jade package out of the deck and switch to the traditional aggro version.

Acidic Swamp Ooze is your tech option and continues to be strong in the current meta game especially with mirror matches and the prevalence of Pirate Warrior. Personally, I’d rather wait for later in the game to play an Ooze. You can stomach a Fiery War Axe with a single charge. You’ll make a greater impact removing an Arcanite Reaper instead.

Finley’s in there when you’re tired of totems. Use him intelligently though. Sometimes there’s no sense in playing him right away without allowing the game to develop to see what style your opponent is playing. You may find yourself needing more board control elements (like Dagger Up) instead of direct face damage (Steady Shot).

If you’re feeling more … uh, Jaded than usual, there are certainly more Jade options to add like the Spirit and Chieftain. Jinyu Waterspeaker adds a bit more longevity. A single copy of Bloodlust is another addition you can make. Most players will not expect a Bloodlust to come their way. It’s okay if Bloodlust isn’t the finishing blow. Sometimes you can burn it to get your opponent to lethal allowing you finish them off next turn with spells or any remaining minions that survive.

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Class matchups

Druid: Battle of the Midrange Matchups is right here. I’ve found Druids to be a problem just because they’ll eventually outmuscle you with all of their Jade Golems (and they’ll outproduce you easily). You need to take this game fast because the longer it goes the worse off you’ll be. Save a Hex for their Ancient of War and Aya Blackpaw. Maximize your Flametongue Totems and utilize full value from them.

Hunter: Lightning Storm and Maelstrom Portals help against the rare Hunter matchup. Save your Hex against the Savannah Highmanes. Ideally you want to finish this game off before they get into Call of the Wild range.

Mage: Reno Mage appears to be quite popular in the upper echelons of the ladder but it’s a little costly to put together. I haven’t tried playing it myself yet so I don’t know the nuances of the deck quite yet. Inkmaster Solia plus any board clear spell (like Flamestrike) can be devastating. Some lists run Medivh, the Guardian while others run Alexstrasza. I recommend saving a Hex for Archmage Antonidas.

Paladin: I haven’t seen much of Paladins at all. Your Hex targets are Tirion Fordring (and Ragnaros, Lightlord if they happen to run it). If N’Zoth, the Corruptor goes off, it’s bad news for you as you might not be able to nuke their board again. Their early game’s going to be weak so try to fetch a Pirate and start piling in that face damage. Boy, aren’t Paladins just missing Shielded Minibot right now?

Priest: Ugh, Dragon Priests. Your Hexes will come into play strongly here especially against Twilight Guardians. Apply pressure early and in the midgame. Entomb’s going to snag your Ragnaros or Al’Akir anyway but if it can be baited out against a Thing From Below, you might be able to pull a win out. There’s also been rumblings of a Dragon Reno Priest running around that warrants further investigation.

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Rogue: Edwin VanCleef and Gadgetzan Auctioneer are the minions to watch out for. Hex them or take them out quickly. You don’t want the Auctioneer engine to go off and allow your opponent to catch Cold Bloods or Eviscerates and burst you down. The other variant to watch out for is Aggro Rogue which runs their own suite of class pirates (Buccaneer and Swashburglar). Look for a Maelstrom Portal in your opening hand to handle Patches and crew.

Shaman: Jade Shaman appears to be the new flavor of the month although you’ll still see some Aggro Shaman lists lying around. You should be able to race Jade Shaman decks before Jade Golems start becoming obnoxious with 5/5s or higher. Protect your Berserkers and buffed Bloodsail Raiders. Thing from Below might slow you down so you’ll have to trade something into  it.

Warlock: I can’t wait until Reno rotates out. Holy moly, he’s such a frustrating card to deal with. Hex out their Twilight Drake if they play it early. If you can catch a god draw with Pirates and maybe some Flametongue totems, you have a chance of crushing the Warlock player before they Reno up. Consider running a Bloodlust to power through and catch them off guard.

Warrior: Like Rogue, try to mulligan hard for a Maelstrom Portal to keep Patches and his forces at bay. A weapon like Jade Claws will help (especially with the extra Golem generated to help contest the board). Slow the game down because you’ll win out in the long run if you can weather the storm early on.

That wraps it up for Midrange Shaman! You have lots of different options at your disposal here. There are multiple variations of the deck running around so feel free to experiment to see what works best for you.

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