Today we have a guest post from Francisco, featuring the Shaman class!
I fell in love with Shaman on the first day I started playing Hearthstone. However, not having the class core cards forced me to delay my attempt at trying to make a viable deck to play on the ladder.
After I got those core cards I decided to give Shaman a try. Seeing how unpopular and underrated the class was only motivated me to make it viable, and that was when the first deck was born.
This deck was created when control decks were still really popular. Having so much card draw, removals and Hex’s were almost always enough to give you huge leads against control decks such as Druid or Warrior. Surprisingly results came instantly and I was able to easily climb to Rank 2 really quickly. Back in those days, the only Aggro deck that I sometimes got matched with were Murloc decks, and those games were fairly easy due to all the AoE and removal.
However, things started to go wrong…
Why did the deck start losing all of a sudden?
With the Aggro Hunter decks appearing out of nowhere and the ridiculous popularity of Reynad’s Aggro Warrior deck, this Shaman list just stopped working. Even with all the removal, most minions had immediate value because of things such as Charge, and even if Mulligan was in our favor, overload would kick us right in the stomach. On a first look, with all the taunts in the deck, it doesn’t look like it does that poorly against aggro, however, it really does…
If you don’t get lucky enough to draw Feral Spirit in the first 2-3 turns then it’s pretty much game because you’ll be down to about half HP at turn 4 even before you drop something like Senjin Shieldmasta or Earth Elemental. Speaking of Earth Elemental, even though it’s one of my favorite cards in the game, it backfires way too often to be useful. Cards like Hunters Mark, Polymorph and Siphon Soul are good examples of what often happens to Earth Elemental, leaving you with nothing but a big Overload(3) to deal with on next turn. Usually by turn 5 if you saw your Earth Elemental being removed, the game would be just over for you.
With this being said, it was pretty clear that changes needed to be made. I tried to play around with Ancient Watchers, Sunfury Protectors, Defender of Argus, and many others, but it just wasn’t working anymore. Shaman had lost its magic all of a sudden.
So What Did You Do?
I was really sad to admit it, but unfortunately with all the aggro decks in the ladder there was just no space for control Shaman (at least for my deck list). Not only that but also the fact that playing on the ladder was getting extremely frustrating because 50% games were against Hunters, 45% against Warriors and the rest 5% were against rare Control Druid/Warlock/Paladin/Warrior decks, which were the only games on which I could actually have some fun playing.
“If you can’t beat them then just join them” – this was the sentence that kept coming to my mind each time I thought about making changes on the deck, so after countless tries I just decided that I needed to try a different approach, I needed to find something that was neither control or aggro, something that was aggressive but that still could deal with aggro and big threads.
After a few days of testing, I finally came up with a much different version of the Shaman deck I was used to. Testing cards that I thought that were underpowered ended up creating a level of synergy that I never thought I could reach. I’m not sure if I was the first one coming up with such deck list, but the true is that it works really well in the current meta.
Everyone knows that Shaman has a lot of removal, and everyone knows that Shaman has a lot of tools to make insane amounts of burst damage, so why don’t we just use both?
This deck list allows you to control the board during the early game with an enormous potential of card draw while still being able to put down a lot of big threads by turn 5-6.
Since Shaman, unlike other classes, lacks healing, preventing early aggression is a must in order to survive against aggro decks. In order to do that, all you need to do is use your removal wisely and learn how to manage the overload. If you manage to survive the first turns then that’s already a big step to win the game.
While the old version of this deck relied on putting down big taunts and hope that your opponent would sacrifice his minions to kill those threads, this versions relies in even more removal with cards like Forked Lightning but also on creatures with instant value, which get a lot of value because they can potentially destroy something when they come into play while still leaving a thread on the board.
Cards like Tinkmaster Overspark, Argent Commander, Fire Elemental and even AlAkir the Windlord are amazing at filling this role. This aggression is definitely what the deck was missing, and the reason why it is so effective is because your opponent will be forced to find a way to deal with your creatures while still seeing his creatures being constantly deleted and getting damaged constantly.
Another good thing about this deck is that your opponent won’t realize what he’s up against until it is too late. Shaman decks of this kind are really rare and almost no one expects a Windfury Leeroy Jenkins with Rockbiter Weapon buff, or a Doomhammer with double Rockbiter. These combos alone are already amazingly strong, and when paired with Flametongue Totem it is just game over in the majority of the games.
Control Decks (Druid, Warrior, Paladin):
Fairly easy matchups. This deck usually does well against control because you have 2 Hex’s and Tinkmaster for those big problematic Legendaries. Against these matchups you will want to Mulligan your Lightning Bolts and Lightning Storms if you get them on your opening hand in hope of getting Peagle and/or Mana Tide Totem. In matchups against control decks usually the one who draws more is the one who wins, and this is something Shaman excels at. Just make sure to save your Hex for stuff like Tyrion or Ragnaros and you should be fine.
Aggro Decks (Murloc Warlock, Paladin):
Since these decks lack cards with immediate value, doing a mulligan for Lightning Bolts, Lightning Storms, Earth Shock and Feral Spirit are usually enough to beat these matchups easily.
WHAT DO WATCH OUT FOR
Aggro Hunter, Tech Aggro Warlock:
These ones are a bit tricky. First of all you need to understand that there are no counters for these two decks. There are no deck lists that have a 90-100% win ratio against them and there is no big a** taunt creature that will save you against it.
In order to have a good chance against these matchups you need to try to mulligan for Removal and Spirit Wolfs. Lightning Bolts are good here but Forked Lighting just makes wonders for you. Also if you manage to get Spirit Wolfs on your opening hand, then chances are that you’ll be really ahead in the early game. Your objective is to force your opponent to play reactively instead of you, which is something that you can only accomplish if you have creatures on the board at the same time that you remove your opponent’s ones, which is the main purpose of this deck.
I wish you guys luck in your climb to Legendary and feel free to leave comments or ask questions down below!
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