The Brewmaster: Episode 1! (Control Shaman)

Hello, ladies and gentlemen! Joseph Scalise here, jumping over from Weekly Legends (which will still continue) to bring you a brand new series that I am so, so, so excited for. It is no secret that Hearthstone is at a state of unrest. Many fans, streamers and players have their issues with the design, card […]

Introduction

Hello, ladies and gentlemen! Joseph Scalise here, jumping over from Weekly Legends (which will still continue) to bring you a brand new series that I am so, so, so excited for. It is no secret that Hearthstone is at a state of unrest. Many fans, streamers and players have their issues with the design, card choices and overall direction the game has taken. A lot of people think the meta is stale and they are bored with familiar matchups. That point is what brings me to the core of this new series. While you may not be able to change your opponent’s decks, but you can sure as heck change yours.

In the “Brewmaster” Series I am going to begin each season with a deck idea, and then do my best to bring that deck to legend. I will be recording video updates each week that explain my card choices and show some of my games at different ranks. I will also provide written updates as well. I hope this will give insight into how to create a unique deck and, much more importantly, how to tweak it so that it becomes competitive. I have brought a lot of strange decks to legend, and I want to show that innovation is still alive.

That being said, I only want to deal with decks that are truly unique. I am not going to simply change one or two cards in a list and call it a new deck. I want to really try and flesh out archetypes that haven’t been tried before. I want to inject some energy back into the game and show you how much fun it can be to create something from scratch.

Note: I will be playing only this deck (with tweaks) throughout the season with the exception of when I am recording videos for Weekly Legends.

The Deck

I had many options for what deck I wanted to use to kick off this series. However, after much internal debate, I eventually settled on the idea of building a pure Control Shaman. One of the biggest complaints about Hearthstone is the lack of Control decks as well as the lack of Shaman. The question then becomes, can I change that? I honestly have no idea. But, hey, it’s worth a shot.

This shell of this list is much in the same vein as Control Warrior, clearing for most of the game in order to set up large finishers. The most challenging part of building is creating the proper balance. Without armor, you are only limited to your life total, which means you need ways to stick it to aggro decks. At the same time however, you also want to be able to have enough late game threats to withstand and challenge slower ramp or control decks. That balance has led to me to a lot of my early card choices.

I have longed dreamed of playing Molten Giant in Shaman alongside Defender of Argus and Healing Wave. That package caters to this list by giving it two extra finishers that also punish aggressive decks. Those are the start of creating that all important balance.

The overall idea here is to stay alive as long as you can. I am not sure if I have created the best way for that to happen yet. I am already thinking about ways to incorporate more healing or more taunts, but for now this is the initial build. It is also worth noting that there could be too many finishers in this list as well. As time moves forward I am sure I’ll realize what works and what doesn’t.

Key Cards

This section will help to explain why certain cards are in the list, what I think about them, and how they’ve performed so far.

Stormforged Axe

Stormforged Axe is an absolute all-star card that didn’t even cross my mind when I first brain stormed. This card is very strong and works very similarly to Fiery War Axe. Of course it doesn’t have that same power level at the Warrior weapon, but it does kill a lot of key early game minions such as Knife Juggler, Mad ScientistSecretkeeper and the back half of a Shielded Minibot. Those two drops are the types of cards that I find myself having the most trouble with, which is why I think the axe is so important.

This “go big” control build thrives on a mixture of both AOE and large minion removal. The problem starts when you get into the fringe cards. You want ways to kill a lot of small early minions as well as three and four drops. None of those cards are going to be worth a Hex, but they also aren’t going to bait out AOE on their own. You need ways to clear out those minions if you want to survive in this meta and I think weapons are the way to do this. I am not sure if running two of these is necessary, but there are a lot of matchups where you want to see it on turn two.

Ancestral Knowledge

I am not sure what to make of this card yet. On one hand, it draws you a lot of cards. However, on the other it’s overload can be problematic. On paper it looks really good. Control decks want to be able to draw cards, and this gives you two draws for the price of two mana without compromising any jousts with Healing Wave. However, the biggest problem here is that I often find myself with a ton of cards. This deck runs a solid amount of draw in Nefarian, Neptulon, Azure Drake and Bloodmage Thalnos. In addition, because of the passive way this deck plays, you also are just naturally going to have a lot of cards.

I don’t know how much card draw is needed in this style of list. Control decks are so scarce in Hearthstone I don’t have much of a template to go off of (which is kind of the point). Control Warrior is the closest thing to an example I have, but they rely on a lot more spot removal, while Shaman relies on AOE and massive healing. There are many games where you will quickly run out of things to do. I am not sure yet if just making totems is right, or if you do need to dig for all of your threats. Only time will tell. If I do find myself needing more cards this will stay in, if not it is probably first on the chopping block.

Justicar Trueheart

As you can tell from the video, I love Justicar Trueheart. She is a very strong card in this type of list where you need to slowly grind the game down. Endless taunt totems are the main reason to play her, but being able to fish for a spell power or clutch healing totem are also great. I even used her in a game against Control Warrior where I just kept pumping out Silver Hand Recruits. That type of versatility is very important, and could be essential to the deck moving forward. When putting together a control list you want cards that give you incremental value as the game goes on (another reason why Nefarian may become Ysera).

Every large creature in this deck does something when it comes down. That immediate value is extremely important in Hearthstone. Justicar may be the smallest of the big minions, and yes she will never live a turn, but her ability will never goes away. You will always have access to whatever you need for the rest of the game, which I think will be very important. It allows you to adapt to different situations, and those type of cards are usually what make decks good for ladder. While she is not always going to win the game on her own, there is definitely power to what she can do. The upgraded hero power also gets better and better as the game goes on. Those type of attrition plays should be great in this heavy control shell.

Neptulon

Not only is Neptulon the king of the seas, but he is also the bane of control decks everywhere. When discussing the balance earlier I said you need to find a way to beat both control and aggro decks. The murloc lord is the card that really allows you to go the distance against control. Not only will he bait out premium removal or a BGH (setting up Dr. Booom or Nefarian) he also gives you immediate card advantage. Murlocs may not be the strongest cards in the game, but they are pretty good when you get four of them in your hand for free. You can then use those Murlocs to fill up the board when needed.

Against control decks you want to try to set up Neptulon as your ace in the hole. He is the single most important card you have, and you never want to just run him onto the board if you can afford it. Control vs. control games are going to be grindfests. When thinking about finishers or cards that beat control he and Sneed’s Old Shredder were the two options that came to my mind. However, Sneed’s can still be answered, where the cards that Neptulon gives you cannot. Those four extra minions should be played once you run your opponent out of AOE, or when your opponent is out of answers. Once again going back to the idea of versatility and balance, Neptulon also can be good at just flooding the board with junk against more aggressive decks.

Molten Giant

This is perhaps the crux of the deck. Molten Giant is exactly the type of card a list like this wants to have. Beyond the obvious synergy with Defender of Argus, it is a giant threat (get it?) that does two every important things. One, it gives you two more large bodies against control. Two, it sets up some giant walls against aggro or fast decks. In addition, your primary “come back” card in this list is Healing Wave. Fourteen health is an insane amount, which lets you set up or ice different games depending on the board state. Molten Giant is a card that interacts with the wave very well. Not only does it allow you to drop the 8/8 and then scurry back to safety, but nothing (and I mean nothing) in the game beats it in a joust. The surprise factor on this card in Shaman is also going to be through the roof. Surprise is very important in Hearthstone, and I thought running this card as a “gotcha” play could lead to some easy wins.

How to Win

This deck is going to be very, very reactive. That is usually a scary word in Hearthstone, because most decks thrive on being proactive, either with damage or by controlling the board throughout the game. However, most of the turns are going to be spent making totems. As a control deck that really doesn’t do much of anything for large chunks of the game, those turns should be spent thinking about possible draws and different board states.

The primary win condition here is going to be your large finishers. However, the game is almost always won or lost long before they come down. In that regard, I guess that AOE is going to be your win condition. You want to constantly set up different board states where you can get the most value from Lightning Storm and Elemental Destruction. You only have so many opportunities to blow up the board, so make sure that you make them count.

Always play to Healing Wave. That card is single-handedly the best card in the deck and the one that makes everything work. This allows you to take some big hits with the confidence that you can bounce back. It also helps you set up Molten Giant. In the video I took a couple of opportunities to get my life down, play the giants and then heal back up. I am still not sure how many big minions I want, but it feels like winning this joust is extremely important the more games I play.

Note: While there is no current section for matchup analysis, there will be one added in future articles when I get more of a feel for the deck.

Conclusion

Well, there it is. The first entry into my new series. Something I want to touch upon in this first conclusion is that this is not a project I am just doing on my own. While I am the one who came up with this list, the deck (as any deck does) is going to be constantly evolving and going through many iterations throughout the season. Give me any tips or card suggestions you would like to see. Also, comment and let me know what you think of the series as a whole. This will be the only overview article, as the rest will focus on changes I have made to the deck, and why I made them. Thanks so much for tuning in, and I hope to see you for the rest of the season. Until next time…let’s just hope I can figure out Healing Wave’s joust.