Control Shaman is one of the strongest decks in competitive Hearthstone—when it’s built and played correctly.
Lets take a look at how the archetype was reinvigorated by the Rise of Shadows expansion.
While Control Shaman may not boast as high a win rate as something like Zoo Warlock, it is still incredibly strong if you know how to use it. For proof of its potential dominance, look no further than the recent HCT World Championship. The deck was used by a number of competitors at the event, including eventual winner Casper “Hunterace” Notto.
So how did the new version of Control Shaman come to be? Anyone playing Shaman during the Rastakhan’s Rumble expansion prior to the release of Rise of Shadows probably remembers being frustrated. Even Shaman was the only viable deck for the class at the time and resulted in Flametongue Totem being nerfed in an attempt to make the deck less powerful.
After Rise of Shadows launched and the Even archetype was removed from Standard play all together, Shaman players were left in a state of uncertainty. Luckily, the expansion exceeded expectations for the class and provided it with a wealth of cards that reinvigorated one of its classic archetypes, Control Shaman.
Though there are currently various successful takes on Control Shaman thanks to how many options it has available for deck teching, most versions share many of the same ingredients and strategies. Like most decks of the same archetype, Control Shaman aims to nullify your opponent’s threats while simultaneously generating big value stuff on your side of the board. If your opponent doesn’t run out of threats, they will run out of answers and vice versa.
Many of your games will be won by dragging your opponent into fatigue, others by smashing them with big value threats like Walking Fountain. The primary win condition Shaman players are probably already familiar with, however, is Shudderwock. Since this deck is full of big value Battlecries thanks to its minion selection, a good Shudderwock play can be impossible for your opponent to recover from.
Shudderwock repeats all other Battlecries from cards you played previously in the game. This means you can potentially trigger the effect of cards like Swampqueen Hagatha, Hagatha the Witch, Giggling Inventor, and even Mind Control Tech should you choose to run it.
Swampqueen Hagatha is a seven-cost 5/5 minion and has an effect that really puts the nullification and value aspects of this deck over the top. She has a Battlecry that causes you to add a 5/5 Horror to your hand. You then get to teach that Horror two Shaman spells that are cast as a Battlecry when it enters the field.
Since Shaman has a deep spell pool, odds are you’ll be able to find an option in the discover selection for board clear, damage, or even health depending on what you need. As long as you haven’t played Shudderwock yet, you’ll then get those two Shaman spells to trigger again as part of your Horror’s Battlecry.
The key to being successful with Control Shaman is understanding the many synergies it has and how to use them to get the most value possible. You’ll want to focus on using your board clear spells like Lightning Storm and Hagatha’s Scheme at the right times so that you don’t run out of board clear too early.
The good thing about Control Shaman compared to other similar Control decks like Big Spell Mage is the amount of extra board clear available through cards like Swampqueen Hagatha, Wild Pyromancer, and Hagatha the Witch.
If you really want to dedicate to learning Control Shaman, one way to do so is by studying how the best in the world use the deck. You can check out Hearthstone World Champion Hunterace playing the deck against Viper in the HCT World Championship Finals below.