MUA: Freeze Mage vs. Aggro Shaman

Freeze Mage, due to its consistency and extremely reliable finishers, makes for a great deck in the current meta. It has been sufficiently battle-tested and is good against every top tier deck in the game. One such deck is Aggro Shaman, an extremely burst-heavy archetype that can cause a lot of trouble for Freeze. In […]

Introduction

Freeze Mage, due to its consistency and extremely reliable finishers, makes for a great deck in the current meta. It has been sufficiently battle-tested and is good against every top tier deck in the game. One such deck is Aggro Shaman, an extremely burst-heavy archetype that can cause a lot of trouble for Freeze. In this guide we will break down the match and see how you can use your healing, stall cards and late-game burst to come out on top of Thrall’s never-ending burst.

Sample Decklists

Freeze Mage is a deck that has a surprising amount of flexibility. While you need to run the usual range of freeze and burn spells, you can really tweak the deck to your liking beyond that. Some people like to run more healing or burn, while others prefer to be more freeze heavy or run finishers like Malygos. There are many routes to go when building Freeze Mage, just make sure you are playing a build you are comfortable with when choosing. Playing a deck that best suites you is important to staying focused and engaged in the games. To help you understand the builds of Freeze Mage, some sample lists have been linked below.

One, Two

Mulligan Guide

Even with a good curve or strong cards this is going to be a tight game. Each one of your life points is important, and blanking on one turn can be the difference between winning and losing. As a result, you need to mulligan for all of your early drops. Early removal is very important, as is card draw. This is not a match where you want to take your chances keeping a four or five (or sometimes even three) drop. You need to meet them punch for punch until you get to a point where you can stabilize through freeze or healing. That begins on turn two.

Cards to Keep

Mad Scientist Loot Hoarder Doomsayer Frostbolt Arcane Intellect Acolyte of Pain

Situational Keeps

Frost Nova can be kept with card draw or alongside Doomsayer.

Cone of Cold, if you run it, follows the same rules asFrost Nova.

Fireball can be kept if you have early minions but no other removal.

How to Win

Aggro Shaman is a deck that starts on turn one and never slows down. That can put you in a very comfortable position as the game progresses, but you need to hold strong and trust in your secrets. Blinking (making bad plays out of fear) is never the right move in the matchup. You have to meticulously plan a few turns ahead, always thinking about what your opponent could have and the best way you are going to use the cards in your hand. Healing and Freeze both do well against Aggro Shaman, but only if you use them in the right way.

Freeze is very interesting in this matchup. The reason is that it only affects minions and does nothing to stop the main way that Aggro Shaman does damage. While you can freeze their face from time to time (more on that below) you are mainly trying to get the most value from your spells as possible. In most matchups you want to wait until the board is pretty full, but here you should never be afraid to lock down one of two creatures. This is a game of inches, and you never want to take damage unless you need to set up another play.

While the opening of this game will be focused on removal, the rest of it is going to be preserving your Ice Block. With Freeze Mage you are going to die twice. That works extremely well against a lot decks, but Shaman has no problem killing you two, three or four times. They have a never-ending well of damage, and you need to try and mitigate it as much as you can. Once they pop your block you are exposed, but as long as you have it up you can survive some of their nut draws.

Early Game Strategy

The opening turns of this game are going to be very important because they dictate whether or not Aggro Shaman can kill you during the middle or later turns. This is important to note because it will tell you how careful you need to be. If they come out amazingly fast, even if you have an answer, you need to play this very safe. However, if they start out slow or don’t have a one or two drop minion, then you can spend more time getting ready for the middle turns.

Make use of Doomsayer. The two drop is normally best used in combination with Frost Nova during the midgame, but Aggro Shaman is a deck that depends on their opening minions for damage. If you can play this on turn two to kill a Totem Golem or Tunnel Trogg you can really mess up their plan and set back their lethal by three or four turns. Even if they do remove it, they are going to have to spend burn, which saves you damage as the game goes on.

You also need to do everything you can to find Frostbolt. This card is singlehandedly the best card in the matchup because it shuts down Tunnel Trogg. An unanswered Trogg can be game over, but if you can remove it right away it adds at least two or three turns to every game.

Finally, always keep track of their overload. While Lava Shock is a card, sometimes they don’t have it. Overload is not as big of a deal for Shaman, but it still can stop them from playing like two Lava Bursts in the same turn. Always make note of the amount of overload they have, and use that to set up your next turn plays.

Midgame Strategy

The middle of this game is where Shaman starts to really put up the pressure. They make a living off of their large burn, and you need to be ready for it when it comes. Just like calculating lethal, you need to constantly think about the potential damage Shaman has at their disposal. To help with this, always assume their RNG cards are going to do max damage and remove any of their minions if you can.

Doomhammer is the scariest card Aggro Shaman has at their disposal and you have almost no ways to deal with it. Once it comes down, you need to really dig for your finishers because the game is almost always going to end. The only way to mitigate the hammer is through Frostbolt or Ice Lance. While you want to keep one of each for your finisher, don’t be afraid to use one just to buy yourself more time.

As with Doomhammer, watch out for Ancestral Knowledge. While this card does not do anything damage-wise, it draws them into more cards. That is always extremely powerful for an aggro deck. Once they use Knowledge you should assume they can hit you for lethal, and play around that accordingly.

Another important aspect of these turns is making use of Ice Barrier. There will come a time when Shaman shifts from creature combat to burn-based damage. When that happens, it basically invalidates your Barrier and takes away your ability to gain that all important eight health. Keeping one of their minions on the board to trigger the barrier can be a very good way to get some clutch health.

Late Game Strategy

Once you make it to the late part of the game your goal is to make it to your finishers. You are almost always going to be at low life and you will not have time to waste turns. Do anything you can to drag this game out, because the longer it goes the better chance you have or drawing into your finishing damage.

Alexstrasza is an extremely important part of the end game. If you have an Ice Block and burn in your hand you need to Alex your opponent’s face. However, if you just have a block or if you are about to die you want to give yourself the healing. The dragon is incredibly versatile, and can win you the game through each mode. Just recognize which one you need.

Final Tip

Never be afraid to play a minion to gain life. While Aggro Shaman will almost always ignore the board, they usually will take the time to remove Doomsayer, Emperor Thaurissan or Archmage Antonidas. That is almost always going to be done via burn, which means they are indirectly saving you life. You never expect these cards to live, don’t worry about that when putting them onto the field.