Now that Standard has had some time to stabilize, it is apparent which decks are rising to the top of the meta. Almost every popular archetype is represented in some way, be it midrange, aggro or control. In terms of midrange, one of the strongest options is Tempo Warrior. While Warrior has long been heavy control, this list pilots much more aggressively. If you want to take it to the ladder, you need to be ready for the ever-present Aggro Shaman. This guide will breakdown that matchup to show how Tempo Warrior’s AOE and constant pressure can lead to a win.
There are many versions of Tempo Warrior on the ladder right now. While they all have the damage based core of things like Whirlwind and Ravaging Ghoul, the tech cards and finishers differ greatly. Some decks prefer to run more top-end threats like Ragnaros the Firelord and Arch-Thief Rafaam, while others are more focused on the middle turns with threats like Cairne Bloodhoof or Sylvanas Windrunner. When choosing which way to go you largely want to base it on the decks you see the most. The top-end is much better for a control heavy meta, while the earlier threats give you more options against aggro and midrange. To help you see the core to build around, two deck guides have been linked below.
Almost every Shaman these days is going to be aggro with a minion-heavy slant. Gone are the days where the deck was once all burn with a few early threats. As a result, Shaman relies on the early board more than ever. You need to keep every early card you see and get rid of everything else. Three drops are usually on the fence, but always remember that you do run a lot of slower cards. A three drop may be slow, but it is much better than a late-game finisher. If you have no other early cards, send it back. However, if you have a curve or a turn two play, keep it.
Cards to KeepFiery War Axe Armorsmith Slam
Execute can be kept if you have other strong opening cards, but it is too weak on its own.
Battle Rage can be kept if you have ways to damage your early minions.
Fierce Monkey and Frothing Berserker should always be kept with the coin or if you have a turn two play coming before them.
Ravaging Ghoul should always be kept with the coin.
Acolyte of Pain follows the same rules as Ravaging Ghoul.
Kor’kron Elite is a good keep with the coin and a solid curve.
Bloodhoof Brave is another great keep if it slots in your curve.
If you run Harrison Jones, he should always be kept here to answer Doomhammer.
How to Win
The way to beat Aggro Shaman is by controlling the board. Staying alive and keeping your health up are obviously key, but both of those will come if you limit the amount of minions Shaman is able to play. Due to their minion-centric build, you can stay ahead as long as you are in control of trades. This will make their burst worse and keep priority strongly in your favor. Even killing totems to limit Flametongue Totem can be important.
The other important part of this game is making sure you get in as much armor as you can. You are not a deck that typically wants to be hero powering a lot, but here it is very important. Every bit of health you can gain against Shaman is going to build you towards the end of the game and help you survive their final push. If you can afford to get in a hero power, you typically should.
In that same vein, get as much use out of Armorsmith as you can. So much so that you should’t be afraid to just have a huge Whirlwind turn with her just to get eight or ten armor in one go.
Early Game Strategy
The first turns of the game are going to be the most important. Shaman will come out of the gates as fast as possible, and you want to limit that in anyway you can. Hard removal is good for that (as is Fiery War Axe[/card]), but you also want to set up removal if ever possible. For instance, Slamming a Tunnel Trogg to set up a turn three Ravaging Ghoul is a great play. That type of removal foresight is very important in controlling the board.
Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain are both very important tools, as each gives you a way to stall and push you to the middle turns. These are cards that Shaman is going to try to remove in one hit to prevent their value, and that works really well at slowing down the game. Even if your Acolyte eats a Lightning Bolt, you still drew a card, ate three damage and forced overload. Playing these on curve is more important that going for strict value.
Both Frothing Berserker and Fierce Monkey[/card] are vitally important tools as well. Remember that as long as you have board presence Shaman has to react to you. While it may not feel good to just play them out on curve into other minions, they often will force awkward trades or eat removal, making your next turns stronger.
Note: Turn three is very key because you need to have a board to make sure you can respond or answer a turn four Flamewreathed Faceless.
Due to their lack of late game, the middle turns are where Shaman tries to end things. As a result, you can really take over here. The reason is that Shaman can quickly run out of steam and if you stop their large push they will have a very hard time rebounding. Tempo is the most important thing here, and if you make it through the middle turns ahead, you will control the rest of the game.
Your two best midrange tools in this game are Bloodhoof Brave and Kor’kron Elite. Elite is fantastic because of how well it can clear out totems, giving you a kill spells and a 4/3 in the same turn. It is also very good for running into your opponent’s face or killing Feral Spirit as well. Anytime you can clear and get something to stick you are in a great position to win.
Bloodhoof Brave is particularly strong because it is your only hefty taunt. Fighting through six health is very hard for Shaman to do and can really stall out the board for a turn or two. Even if it is killed right away you are still going to be soaking up six damage (not to mention trading with your opponent’s minions), which is something you will take every time.
Doomhammer is going to be very problematic, and you need to be ready for it when the time comes. If you do run Harrison Jones or have it in hand, the card instantly puts you on a very short clock. As a result, once they do get the hammer you need to pressure your opponent to try and force them back. This does not mean you want to ignore the board, but know that sitting back is no longer an option.
Late Game Strategy
As you shift into the later turns of the game you are either going to be very far ahead or you are going to be fighting for your life. While you are going to cruise once you are ahead, more often than not your life total is going to be in danger range. As a result, you need to squeeze your opponent and really play to your finishers.
The most important part of this game is getting damage and setting up your giant minions. Varian Wrynn is very strong if you are already ahead, but Shaman can topdeck damage at anytime. As a result, you want to play to Ragnaros the Firelord and Grommash Hellscream as much as you can.
Each of the aforementioned cards are your two best sources of immediate damage. While Ragnaros is not as strong as Gromm because of the fact that Shaman can summon a totem, it can really put your opponent on a clock and control the entire board. In terms of Gromm, do not be afraid to push your opponent into that all-important ten damage range. While you never want to ignore the board, if you are ahead in life, you can become the aggressor if the finisher is in your hand.
One of the most important parts of this game watching out for Thing from Below[/card]. The 5/5 is most often going to cost one mana or just be free. As a result, it can jump out of nowhere and ruin your trades if you aren’t careful. While you do not need to keep track of how many totems your opponent has summoned, you should just be ready for a 5/5 taunt during the middle turns.