Aggro Shaman, with its strong bust, incredible damage potential and early threats, is one of the best aggressive decks in Hearthstone. Anytime you are going to the ladder you need to be prepared for Thrall, and have a plan to beat it. Every deck does that in a different way, using different tools. In this guide we will see how Oil Rogue manages to achieve that task through a combination extreme burst damage and constant board control.
Oil Rogue is a combo list, which means there are numerous combo cards you need to run. However, do not let that constrain you. Oil Rogue may have a set core, but the rest of the cards in the list are quite fluid. You can run a deck that is spell-heavy, one that is more focused on the combo, one that has a lot of minions or one that has extra removal. Each deck may only be a few cards off, but they all play in a distinctly different way. Just choose the one that is best for you. To help you with this task, some sample Oil Rogue lists have been linked below.
The only popular version of Shaman these days is Aggro Shaman. As such, when mulliganing you need to try and get any and all the early cards you can. There is no reason to set up your late or midrange plays in this matchup, because if you aren’t prepared for their opening you’ll never make it to turn six. You only want cards that cost three or less. Toss the rest back.
Cards to KeepBackstab Deadly Poison Eviscerate SI:7 Agent Fan of Knives
Bloodmage Thalnos can be kept with early spells like Backstab but it is too weak to keep on its own.
Sap is very strong with a minion-heavy opening.
Blade Flurry is a strong keep if you have no other AOE options at your disposal.
Piloted Shredder can be kept with a strong early curve and the coin.
Violet Teacher follows the same rules as Piloted Shredder.
How to Win
Damage is the key to this game. Shaman is an aggro deck through and through, which means they often are going to ignore the board or make risky plays to put you in burst range. However, you have a lot of damage that can stack up extremely quickly with just one or two minions on the board. While you want to start out playing this one cautious, as the game progresses you need to attack your opponent hard and make them feel like are going to die. That will cause them to put more stock in removing that sending damage at your face.
A big part of Aggro Shaman is counting their cards and anticipating their particular plays. This will help you know the best route to take in terms of pushing for face. It gets much easier to play if you know your opponent has no more Lava Bursts and only one Crackle in their deck. Another important factor is keeping track of their overload or potential overload. This is very useful for setting up future turns and letting you know what you can play and what you should hold back on.
Early Game Strategy
You are going to spend the first three turns of the game as a control deck, removing your opponent’s minions in order to prevent as much damage as you can. Aggro Shaman is a deck that operate in two halves. They begin the game by hitting you with minions, and then end it with a flurry of burn. While that burn can do a lot of fast damage, if Shaman does not get in some early hits to
Use any type of spells (or combination of spells) to take away your opponent’s early cards. Anything from a Tunnel Trogg to Feral Spirit to a Totem Golem can lead to a very quick lethal. You need to use your resources to keep their minions off the board, even if you have to burn a Preparation and Eviscerate.
The only exception to the above rule is when you are trying to set up a specific play. For instance, while you may want to Preperation/Eviscerate your opponent’s turn two Totem Golem, there is no reason to waste your ramp spell if you can simply Deadly Poison/Eviscerate on turn three.
Do not be afraid to Sap early. Shaman has no real late game minions, and all of their punch comes from the first couple of turns. As such, sapping a Totem Golem or Tunnel Trogg (or even a Leper Gnome) can often be the right play. This pushes your opponent back a turn, which can really help you take the tempo advantage, especially if they are overloaded.
The same rule goes for Blade Flurry. While you do typically want to use the card as your finisher, combining it with a buff like Deadly Poison is the best way to clear out Feral Spirit or a board clogged with multiple minions. Do not save this card if you are under pressure, just use it as AOE.
The middle turns of the game are where Shaman wants to typically wrap things up. You need to challenge that by playing your own minions, which will then force them to use valuable burn on your board. Sometimes it can even be right to try to race them if you have a grip full of damage. While you still want to largely be conservative here, try and get in every point of damage you can.
Like your early removal plays, you should never be afraid to show your hand. That is to say, if you have a chance to get in damage, take it. Even if it means just playing a raw turn four Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil on a dagger and going face to set up a turn six kill. Shaman knows what it’s going to do, and it knows how you plan on winning the game. There are no real secrets here, and every point of damage counts.
Loatheb is your best card in this matchup. Not only does it do a great job of setting up lethal or anchoring your board, but it protects your face. Almost all of Shaman’s kills are going to come in the form of multiple spells. However, when they can only play a single card it basically negates their entire turn. In this way, Loatheb can be a great surprise tool that completely ruins your opponent’s plan.
Once Doomhammer comes down the game changes. It is extremely hard to race the five drop weapon, which means you just need to go face hard and fast once it comes down. Being complacent against the epic hammer is a good way to lose. As such, once that turn five comes around you need to start pressing. Even then it will not always be enough.
Late Game Strategy
The end of the game is not going to take long. You are either going to die in a flurry of spells, or you are going to strike your opponent down. You and your opponent do not really run finishers, which means a lot these turns are going to be set up by the middle turns. If you had control of the game your primary mode is going to be finding lethal, but if you and your opponent are even (or they are ahead) you need to be careful.
It is very important to understand the spells that your opponent has played throughout the game. This is because, to pilot through these turns, you need to know just how easy your opponent can kill you. If they have all of their burn you need to clear all the minions they play. However, if they have a spell-heavy game then you can often push and make them use their topdecks on your board.
Similarly, always play to your outs when the game gets tight. Sometimes there is just no way you are going to be able to race Shaman because they have too many cards or your life total is too low. If that happens, you want to try and pressure with your top decks in mind. While it may be risky to make your plays based on a top decked Eviscerate, Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil or Blade Flurry for lethal, not making the attack to put you in that position is often worse than the slim chance of winning.
Though spells are going to dictate your plays, try and put down as many minions as you can. Aggro Shaman is a deck that loves to ignore their opponent’s board, but that is very hard to do when facing down a Rogue. You have as much damage potential as they do, and even something like a Violet Teacher or Azure Drake can bait out a Lava Burst or Crackle.