Arena Play by Play #2 – Part 0: Shame on the Shaman

YelloRambo is back with his detailed commentary – Part 0 of his Arena Play by Play Series. Check out the series as he picks the Shaman!

The Arena Play by Play series covers a complete Arena run with very detailed commentary – more so than the video format would allow. With almost every ingame event showcased on a separate screenshot, you can be sure you won’t be missing out on anything! This also allows for a more extensive commentary than a video would. All the plays will be documented with pictures except when noted: I set my recording software to take a screenshot every second. (That means around 6-700 per game for me to go through and choose from.) I hope you will find it informative and entertaining!

Well, look who’s here again! After abandoning our last endeavor with a Mage arena (because, you know, Naxx came out, rendering it essentially obsolete), I’m back with a successful Shaman run and some changes to the format!

Instead of showing you how I run over people who play sinister-strike in their deck and play it on turn 1, we skip forward to 9 wins and see how it goes from there. Should be good fun! But first things first, we’ve got a draft to go through…

I picked Shaman out of these three, mainly because I had two Shaman quests. I’d like to, however, preface this series by stating that I don’t like playing Shaman in Arena:

• I’m just not a fan of the Overload mechanic in general

• the crucial AoE is a rare card as opposed to being a common

• I hate the random element of the hero power and the AoE

• I dislike how a good Shaman deck in Arena is almost identical to a good Shaman deck on the ladder

Nevertheless, I still ended up picking Thrall. Couldn’t resist the allure of all the gold!

A difficult choice to start with. Sludge Belcher is just a brilliant card, however, Lightning Storm is an essential one to have as a Shaman. Many Arena runs of mine have petered out early with this class due to a simple lack of mass removal – after some serious consideration, I decided to go for the latter.

Mrglglrglglglglglglgl! Nope! Murloc Raider is just the worst of the 2/1-s for 1 and the Bluegill Warrior is just a mediocre 2-drop. Don’t get me wrong, so is the Bloodsail Raider, but at least that one has some potential weapon synergy with the Shaman. Which is why it ends up as my pick.

Stonetusk Boar is essentially an elven-archer without the body – so I think I’ll pass, thank you. Frost Elemental comes with a small body for the price but a decent tempo swing – but the Haunted Creeper is a 2 mana-version of the harvest-golem: it is so difficult to remove! A consistent early game is also quite important in Arena, especially with a class that has a dodgy hero ability like Shaman: so spiders it is.

Hex. The hard removal is almost always an automatic pick, especially with the alternatives being as mediocre as they are.

Newsflash: Totemic Might is useless! Windfury Harpy is still not a good choice – while its ability seems powerful, it rarely lives long enough to actually get a chance to attack. Also, Mad Bomber is funny – and gets me one step closer to that consistent(?) early game I’d like to get. Bombing run incoming!

Meh. Reincarnate just doesn’t do enough in the Arena (or in Constructed in most cases, for that matter) and River Crocolisk is just not a particularly appealing 2-drop. If I can get a consistent enough early game and, as such, a bunch of small minions on the board in the middlegame, one copy of Bloodlust could perhaps be viable. I decided to give it a shot – but it is a questionable decision to say the least.

READY FOR ACTION! I’m tempted to pick the good old Goldshire Winman for sheer entertainment value, but I’d like to actually do well so I take a long, hard look on the other options. Unstable Ghoul is a little bit counterproductive with the Shaman’s tokens while the Abusive Sergeant actually lets me make better use of some of the 0/2-s: as such, it is my pick over its taunted compatriots.

Flametongue Totem is such a good card if you can protect it. It is terrible as a naked 2-drop but can win you games if its buff actually comes into play. I definitely want to have one or two of them if I get the chance.

Fire Elemental: one of the premium Shaman cards. See what I mean about a good Shaman deck in Arena? There is no variety: unlike, say, successful Mage decks without Flamestrike or Paladin decks with blessing-of-kings – a card that nobody runs in Constructed –, strong Shaman decks need to have the same cards as the ones on the ladder or else they cannot compete: Flametongue Totems, Hexes, Fire Elementals and Lightning Storms. Alright, rant over, let’s move on to the next pick.

Knife Juggler is a premium 2-drop and synergizes quite well with the totems as well. Easy pick.

Scarlet Crusader is a really powerful 3-drop but the Stormforged Axe synergizes slightly with the Bloodsail Raider apart from being very effective in the early game as removal. It’s a close call but I pick the weapon in the end.

Wow, talk about situational cards! Dust Devil is terrible because it dies to 3 of the 9 hero powers instantly. Windspeaker is only good if I already have a strong minion out and I already have a copy of Bloodlust, the most situational card in the universe. I ultimately choose Windspeaker – at least it has some sort of a body to work with, unlike Taz.

Two premium Shaman cards in one pick! A difficult choice that greatly depends on the cards I’ve previously drafted. Seeing how most of my current cards are 2-drops, I decided I need more strong bodies for the lategame: it is a very difficult choice but I chose the Fire Elemental.


Easy choice. Millhouse Manastorm is garbage due to the battlecry (imagine drawing it in the lategame!) and Baron Geddon is nowhere near as good as Ragnaros: an 8/8 body that deals damage without taking any? The random nature can be partially controlled by good play – and even if it gets removed immediately, it is still guaranteed to deal 8 damage before that. RNGnaros it is.

This is shaping up to be a pretty nice deck so far.

Dark Iron Dwarf, just like the Abusive Sergeant, will help some of my low-cost minions and totems trade up while also having very good stats for 4 mana. It is an easy choice.

I’d normally go with the Bloodfen Raptor but considering how many 2-drops I already have, I go with the multifunctional Rockbiter Weapon instead.

Unbound Elemental is very useful in Shaman decks and I do have two Overload-cards so far: it is definitely better than the other two ones.

An interesting choice. Windfury is not worth a card on its own – and I already have a Windspeaker anyway: I’m not picking that one. The other two cards are also not that great: Lord of the Arena simply does not have enough health for a 6-drop – of course, you can make similar complaints about the Stormpike Commando. However, I’ve grown to like it a bit more lately in Arena as it simply helps you to catch up: it is a poor man’s Argent Commander, really.

What is up with all this Windfury stuff? Quite unimpressive: I decide to go with the least mediocre card: Nightblade.

Abomination is really problematic with Shaman as it destroys your totems on death. Lightwarden is almost never a good card. Feral Spirit, on the other hand, is a nice lockdown on turn 3 and also synergizes well with the Unbound Elemental. Easy pick.

Spectral Knight is a ridiculously good card. If the Yeti is the T-800, this is the T-1000. No contest here.

Hmm. Do I pick the 4/6 body with weapon synergy or the two worthless 1/1-s? What a difficult question…!

Booty Bay Bodyguard has exactly the same issue as Lord of the Arena so Lightning Bolt is my choice: not only is it decent removal, it also helps the Unbound Elemental – hopefully I can pick up more of those!

Well, a second Lightning Storm can’t hurt, right? Especially with the other two cards being so sub-par. Again, a really easy choice for me.

Raid Leader is a little bit better in Shaman than in other decks but it is still not good enough to warrant a slot in my deck. I’m not sure if the rage or the madness deserves extra inclusion in this deck – it is a close call. I’d rather not have multiple Mad Bombers though, if possible – I always try to minimize randomness in this game. My personal preference makes me greenlight Project Enrage.

I have no way to activate the Ancient Watcher and I am not building a Murloc deck in Arena anytime soon. I am not a fan of Imp Master – too slow – but it is clearly better than the alternatives. In any case, I’d like to fill the gaping hole in my mana curve: I’d appreciate a few 4-drops!

Wish granted – not. Scarlet Crusader is a very good 3-drop though. Shaman has no secrets (Thrall is a very honest person) and River Crocolisk is not great without Beast synergy.

I’ll take a second Hex, thank you.

Do I take a third one? With all the cheap minions in my deck, the Frostwolf Warlord could easily get out of hand – however, another hard removal would allow me a lovely amount of flexibility. Not only would it help me to shut down a slow deck’s late game (which would be very helpful considering how I have so many low-cost cards), it would also give me the option to use one Hex earlier than usual just for tempo swing’s sake – if I have a strong board on the first three turns and my opponent plays a Yeti, removing it can sometimes be a very effective strategy.

Hex it is.

Wow, a nice card to close off this particular draft! With the three Hexes, I don’t think I need another way to remove a strong enemy minion in form of the Big Game Hunter. The Sea Giant can generally be played earlier than usual as a Shaman – but I wanted to strengthen my midgame a bit more. With almost no 4-drops, the Rockbiter Weapon, the Bloodsail Raider, the slight synergy with the Unbound Elemental – and, of course, the potential 16 damage of the weapon – tip the scales in the Doomhammer’s favor.

Looks like a pretty good deck! We’re going to return to it at a score of 9-2, right after a tense game where both of us have gone to fatigue. Can I get something done before I inevitably succumb to my third loss? Make sure to tune in next time to find out!