Aggro Shaman is one of the fastest (and strongest) decks on the ladder. It has a ton of strong minions, an insane amount of burst, and the highest damage potential in the game. As a result, if you want to climb the ranks you need to know how to beat it. This guide will analyze how Camel Hunter, the latest iteration of the classic midrange list, can use constant pressure and resilient minions to take down Thrall.
Camel Hunter is one set decklist, but that does not mean you have to only play the stock 30 cards. Despite the bells and whistles, this is an midrange Hunter list. You have a lot of leeway and changes you can make, all of which depend on what you’re seeing at your rank and what style of deck you like to play. You can add in burst, more minions, stronger early game or a secret package. All versions are perfectly viable if you know how to pilot them. To help you understand the core of the deck, it has been linked below.
When facing Shaman you need to aggressively find all of your early game. This is not a match where you want to keep three or four drops (unless you have the coin) because they are powerful.
You need to answer all of Shaman’s early minions as soon as they come down, and your best way to do that is by challenging the board. Keep all of your early game plays and throw everything else back.
Cards to KeepWebspinner Glaivezooka Flame Juggler Haunted Creeper Knife Juggler
Desert Camel should always be kept with the coin.
Animal Companion is strong keep with the coin or an early curve.
Unleash the Hounds can be really strong backing up a solid one, two curve.
Houndmaster is a good keep with the coin and a very strong opening.
How to Win
As always, the rule when facing down Shaman is don’t die. That may seem very straightforward, but it is very hard to do. Shaman has so much burst and so many different ways to find lethal that you always want to mitigate the damage you take. That means clearing and trading with your minions. Once you move past the early game you can start to apply pressure (as explained below) but you never want to take a hit if you don’t have to.
The other important part of this matchup is to constantly apply pressure. Aggro Shaman has a lot of burn spells that also act as their only form of removal. As a result, if you attack their life total you should be able to force them to use their spells on killing your minions. Every time they do that it is less damage going to your face. Always keep track of the spells they use on your board, because that will help you calculate their damage potential as the game goes on.
Early Game Strategy
When Aggro Shaman curves out with minions they are the most terrifying deck in the game. However, when they falter or those minions get answered their cards are not quite as scary. As a result, most of this game is going to take place during the early turns. If you start out with a strong board and a good amount of ways to trade, you should be able to come out on top. However, if you don’t have early minions and they do, the game can slip away in a hurry. Always try to get something down to challenge what they have.
Haunted Creeper is your best two drop in this match because of how it gums up the board. While most of Shaman’s minions are much larger than the spider, this does a nice job of trading with things like Leper Gnome, Abusive Sergeant and Argent Horserider. Even if you can’t kill something right away, trade this in as soon as possible, since the 2 1/1’s are surprisingly hard to Shaman to deal with.
Glaivezooka is your best early game tool. While you never want to take damage to your face, this card really helps you play the aggro game by clearing out a lot of Shaman’s small minions. It also buffs a lot of your small creatures and enables them to trade up. For instance, letting you buff a Haunted Creeper to take down a Totem Golem with the attack and the weapon.
Be very, very careful about playing Desert Camel. Aggro Shaman runs three different ones drops in Tunnel Trogg, Leper Gnome and Abusive Sergeant. All of those are damage, and you never want to play the camel unless you have a hold of the board.
Another important card to play around is Feral Spirit. The two 2/3 wolves not only act as board control, but they can really. Even if they just slow you down, that will give Shaman more time to
Do not be afraid to use Hunter’s Mark during these turns. Shaman runs very few minions, and almost all of them come down early. The two most important targets are Totem Golem and Tunnel Trogg, but trading up into any minion (especially Feral Spirit) is a really strong tempo play.
These are the turns where Shaman tries to end the game. Turn 5 through 7 are when you need to be the most worried about Aggro Shaman and any big plays they might have. It is important to note that, should the first turns go according to plan, this is also where you really crank up the heat.
As Shaman is trying to kill you, they are going to be ignoring the board. You want to use that to your advantage as much as possible by dropping down big threat after big threat, and then using those to end the game before your opponent does.
Houndmaster, when played correctly or on the right minion, can lead to a very quick win. While you have very little in the way of healing, this card can help grab you an all important taunt to force Shaman to use some burn on your board. It is also worth noting that the four drop, especially when put on a three/four health beast, allows you get and maintain priority for the rest of the game.
Loatheb is your best card in this match. While some of your cards are bigger, the five drop will almost always lead to a direct win during a race or damage match. Most of these games are going to come down to one or two critical turns. Loatheb really punishes your opponent during those times because it locks them out of playing spells, taking them off of damage and giving you the edge. This is one of your best finishers, and you should use it as such.
Once they play Doomhammer you need to go face as hard as possible and hope they don’t have finishing burst. While it is an unfortunate truth, it is almost impossible to race the sixteen damage hammer. If they have it (or if you suspect they are going to have it), you just need to hit your opponent hard and fast.
Late Game Strategy
There is no real late game in this matchup, but if it does go to the later turns you better try and end it in a hurry. Shaman is always one or two good draws away from doing ten to fifteen damage, so you never want to relax. Leverage all of your minions and make it so that they have to use any topdecks to stay alive instead of lethal.
Unless you are at a very high life total, you want to always clear everything except for Leper Gnome (which is going to deal its damage to you anyway). Two damage (which most of Shaman’s minions do) may not seem like a lot, but it can often the difference between taking lethal or living another turn.
In that same vein, constantly be aware of your opponent’s damage potential. Shaman is one of the fastest decks around, and that is largely due to the absurd amount of burn in their deck. As a result, you need to constantly be thinking about topdecks your opponent could have. Count every spell they play, and track how likely it is for them to draw a Crackle or Lava Burst.
Always do your best to run your opponent low on cards. Once Shaman is in topdeck mode you have a very solid chance of winning since it limits how much burst they can do. Get them to use their cards early, and bait them into playing multiple things a turn.