Why Aggro Shaman is dominating the ladder right now
Ever since the release of League of Explorers at Blizzcon 2015, Aggro Shaman has dominated Hearthstone.
The release of Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem, alongside existing cards like Lightning Bolt and Feral Spirits, allowed the deck to take and hold the board in the early game. Once that happened, the Tunnel Troggs could grow and big minions like Flamewreathed Faceless snowballed the game away from the opponents. Spirit Claws defined the class towards the end of 2016, again allowing for early game presence and damage.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
After the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, aggro decks have a new standard bearer. His name is Patches the Pirate and alongside his friends like Small-Time Buccaneer and Southsea Deckhand, he's been dominating the ladder ever since Gadgetzan's release.
The thing with the pirate core however is that rather than being class-specific, it can be played in any deck—though it is more effective in a weapon class. That means Paladin, Warrior, Rogue and yes, Shaman.
So how does Aggro Shaman keep up? Simple: Just jam some pirates in the deck.
But that's not all. Shaman, alongside Druid and Rogue, is part of the Jade Lotus tribe from Gadgetzan. That means the class has access to cards that generate Jade Golems. Unlike Jade Druid which looks to build bigger and bigger Golems to dominate the board, for Aggro Shaman it's simply about generating even more board presence and threats for the opponent to have to deal with.
That leaves with a deck that frankly is a bit of a basket case. It has early game pirates, an impactful early game weapon and a damage spell that happens to generate Jade Golem tokens, as well as all the classic overload-based aggro minions.
Despite being a mishmash of three different potential archetypes, Aggro Shaman is controlling the game at the moment. According to the latest Vicious Syndicate Data Reaper report, which tracked 92,000 games last month, Aggro Shaman is the most popular deck on the ladder. Perhaps further indicating its strength, the deck is most popular at ranks five to one and legend. After seeing something of a dip in popularity prior to the release of Gadgetzan, Shaman has moved from fifth most popular class to first by a mile.
Vicious Syndicate lay it out simply—Aggro Shaman is a tier-one deck. And right now, it's the only tier one deck.
So if you want to do well on ladder, your best bet is probably to play it. Whether you play it or not you're likely to be seeing a hell of a lot of it in your games.