Anytime you are playing a popular deck you are eventually going to face it. Mirror matches are a big part of Hearthstone, and you have to be ready to face them when playing anything that isn’t a brew. This is especially important when piloting a hot deck like Aggro Shaman, which is very common across all stages of the ladder. Understanding how to win a mirror match teaches you a lot about your own deck, and gives you extra insight to your weaknesses. This guide will take a look at Aggro Shaman’s mirror match and then explore the best way to make the aggressive game fall into your favor.
Aggro Shaman is a deck that comes into two different versions. The first of those is the hyper-aggressive build that runs a lot of charge minions and focuses more on hitting face than the board. The other version still packs a punch, but does so through minions-based board control followed up by explosive finishing burn. Anytime you want to play a deck you need to pick a style that best suits you. This deck has a lot of cards at its disposal and can be run in many different ways. Tweak it to your liking when you can. To help you get started, a guide to one of the more aggressive versions has been put below.
Just about every Shaman player these days is aggressive. That means when facing Thrall you are just going to mulligan with your own deck in mind. The best way to do this is to keep a smattering of both early minions and removal. Regardless of what version of the deck you are playing, board control is almost always going to win the day. Just like the Face Hunter mirror, whoever can really start pushing with minions will most often win. That means you need to get early presence, but you also want to get some solid removal spells to protect the things you put down. You are looking exclusively for one and two drops in this matchup (or three drops with the coin). Anything else should be thrown back, no exceptions.
Cards to KeepTunnel Trogg Abusive Sergeant Sir Finley Mrrgglton Lightning Bolt Leper Gnome Knife Juggler Totem Golem
Lava Shock is a good keep with a strong start or if you have no other removal.
Crackle should always be kept alongside early minions.
Feral Spirit should always be kept with the coin or a one-two punch coming before it.
Argent Horserider follows the same rules as Feral Spirit.
How to Win
This is a matchup of damage. However, that damage almost always comes from a control of the board. That means you do want to spend the first parts of the game clearing and then switch to your burst as the game progresses. It is not always easy to see when this switch should be, but you can figure it out if you are constantly mapping your opponents health versus the damage in your hand. Planning damage ahead is very key in this matchup because it will tell you when you need to trade and when you can be a little more aggressive.
As with any aggro on aggro matchup, you want to always favor burn over board control during the end of the game. Life is the most important resource in this matchup, and if you get ahead in health you should be able to get a victory through sheer will. Even if you lose the board at turn five, six or seven, if they are in burn range it won’t matter. By that time let them kill your minions and just aim your spells at your face.
A big part about playing any aggressive mirror is trying to make the other person blink before you. If you can get them to use their turn removing something on the board or trying to stay alive rather than trying to kill you then you are most often going win. On the flip side, if they put you on the back foot then you are going to be in trouble. This is really important to note, but also you don’t want to try to pressure them over ignoring damage when you are behind.
Early Game Strategy
As mentioned above, the early turns of the game are most often going to be spent doing your best to get a foothold on the board. You want to add as many minions as possible while also taking away your opponents. Even something as simple as a Tunnel Trogg can get huge out of nowhere. It is impossible to know how much burn your opponent has in hand, so you always want to assume they are going to do most of their damage via minions. Clear their minions and they lose a lot of that damage potential.
The two most important parts of the early game are Feral Spirit and Totem Golem. Totem Golem is important because it is very sticky. The four health not only trades well, but it also dodges a lot of the early removal like Lightning Bolt and Rockbiter Weapon. In addition, it eats every other early game minion. For this reason, always play your golem as soon as you can (even with the coin) and do what you can to clear out your opponent’s in one hit.
Feral Spirit is the only taunt card that you have. That in itself makes the card invaluable. However, it is also really good at shutting down your opponent or giving you control of the board. Two 2/3’s is not something that Shaman can easily deal with. Even if they do clear, it usually costs them minions or valuable burn. Play the wolves as soon as you can. On the flip side, always try to have a board that can take Feral Spirit down.
The middle of the game is where the power dynamic really starts to shift. This usually comes to a point where one person has the board and is trying to do damage with minions, while the other person is trying to end the game with burst. Know which one of these you are. Understanding your role is going to help you figure out the best way to progress as the games moves forward.
Doomhammer is extremely important. The five drop weapon represents an insane amount of damage, especially because you and your opponent only really run one taunt. For that reason, this card instantly makes the other person go onto their back foot due to the sixteen damage (or more with Rockbiter Weapon) that is represents. In that same vein, if your opponent has a Doomhammer, you should get extremely aggressive because the game is very close to being at an end. Always play this card over anything else.
One of Aggro Shaman’s biggest setbacks is overload. They can normally play around this, but if you get massively overloaded and lose a turn it can be a death sentence. To combat this, you always want to get use out of your Lava Shocks. This card can be really helpful as smoothing out a curve during the early game, but it can be a lifesaver during the middle turns. When you are planning on playing a lot of overload always try to set it up with Lava Shock if you can.
Ancestral Knowledge is also a really strong tool here. The overload usually isn’t that bad when you have extra mana crystals, and getting those extra cards into your hand can really help find that finishing burst you need during the late game.
Late Game Strategy
Most of the “late game” is going to come down around turns six through eight because it is really rare the game goes beyond that. This is mostly going to be a race from both ends. That can happen with minions (charge or not) or with direct damage. Here it is important to understand that every bit of damage counts. There are no surprises in this game as both people know what they need to do. If you need to start throwing burn at your opponent to set up two or three turn lethal, don’t hesitate to do so.
The other big rule of the end game is to be careful when you can. Shaman has a lot of burn, but so do you. Every turn that goes by gives them a chance at drawing damage they need, but it also enables you to dig deeper into the deck. If you are low on health and you have burn try and value that damage versus killing something on the board (if there is any). Sometimes it won’t matter, but sometimes it may keep you alive long enough for them to get a dead draw.
Know how to use Sir Finely Mrrgglton. The murloc has two distinct modes in this match, nabbing you either an aggressive or defensive hero power. If you have a very high damage hand, then try and take the extra damage from something like Steady Shot or the card draw from Lifetap. However, if you think you might be more minion based or a tad slower than you want, take Armor Up or the like since it can really save you down the line.