Anytime you take on the ladder you need to be ready for Aggro Shaman. The fast deck has a ton of burst, strong early game and can run anyone over with the right pieces. This guide is going to analyze the aggressively-tuned list through the lens of Yogg Druid, one of the other strong meta contenders. In this guide we will study the matchup between the two decks and show how Yogg Druid can use its efficient cards and plethora of ramp to out match Shaman.
Yogg Druid is one of those lists where twenty or so cards are locked in. However, the other ten cards have a lot of variation. This is a fluid token list that has a lot of one-of options. Some decks choose to play things like double Mulch, while some run Onixia over Cenarius, or more threats over things like Azure Drake. As long as you have the core token package of Violet Teacher, ramp and spells, you can freely tweak the deck to your liking. To help you, the most common version of this deck is shown on the side.
When facing Shaman you want to find removal or ramp that helps you put cards out as quickly as you can. Most Shamans depend on their first turns to put on enough pressure to set up their middle game and late damage. You want to fight that as much as you can. Play to your ramp and only keep slower cards if you can cheat them into play early.
Cards to KeepInnervate Living Roots Raven Idol Power of the Wild Wrath Wild Growth
Mulch is a good keep with a strong curve.
Feral Rage and Swipe follow the same rules as Mulch.
Mire Keeper can be kept with early ramp.
How to Win
The number one rule of this game is, plan ahead. Though you do have a token core, you are a ramp deck. That means you need to spend a lot of your early turns accelerating your mana, and while you are doing that Shaman is going to fill the board with huge minions. Falling behind is very easy in this game, so you have to be very careful that your ramp is actually going somewhere. Just gaining mana to gain it is not better than putting down a body or using a removal spell.
In this match you are going to play the role of a strict control deck. That is to say, you want to allocate all of your resources to clearing, being as careful as you can with your mana and controlling the board. The goal here is to get a minion down onto an empty board, which then puts you in control. Once that happens you can use your spells to push for damage and pressure your opponent. However, until that occurs you need to play this safe and do everything you can to stay alive.
Early Game Strategy
You are going to start the first turns of the game by removing all of your opponents minions or playing ramp. The way you balance that is calculating how much damage something like a Tunnel Trogg might do in comparison to how much value you are going to get from your ramp. For instance, getting to a turn two or three Druid of the Claw is usually better than killing a turn on trogg, but it may not be better than losing the board to three minions.
You want to use all the removal at your disposal during this part of the game. This will help preserve your life total and preserve your middle turns. You have a ton of ways to clear small minions, ranging from Wrath, Living Roots, Swipe and Feral Rage. Use them all efficiently and try your best to make sure Shaman has the smallest board moving into turn four.
The other important part of these turns is to track Shaman’s plays. While they want to begin the game with a one drop, they also have a lot of different avenues of play (especially if they have the coin). Totem Golem can cause you a lot of problems, as can things like Feral Spirit and Tuskarr Totemic. You need to anticipate these different moves, which will then tell you the most efficient way to use your removal.
Note: Always use Raven Idol as a spell during these turns. You do not need minions, and spells will almost always give you removal or ramp.
The middle turns of the game are where you start to play minions of your own. Most Shamans these days do not have much removal, which means any big threat you can stick is going to cause them problems. As mentioned earlier, your job in this game is to get ahead of Shaman, and this is where that happens. Don’t be afraid to play your threats, but try to play them when your opponent will have the hardest time getting rid of them
These are the turns where you want to make the most of Mulch. The removal card may give your opponent a minion, but it does a great job of slowing them down. Save this for big threats like Flamewreathed Faceless and Thing from Below.
Your best card here is Violet Teacher so play to her as much as you can. A 3/5 is strong enough on its own against Shaman’s early game, but once you get the train rolling your opponent will not be able to keep up. She is so good it can be right to save Innervate to use with her if you can afford it. Once she lives a turn just play as many spells as you can.
It is also important to always watch out for Thing from Below. Though it can be hard to know how many totems your opponent has played, just be aware than they can suddenly drop down a 5/5 with taunt out of nowhere. This will help you to know the best way to utilize your removal and power on the board.
Just as with Thing from Below, you need to watch out for Doomhammer. The five mana weapon is a powerhouse that will instantly put you on a clock, if not hit you for ten or sixteen damage. Once this card comes down you need to race as quickly as you can to try and end the game before your opponent can. In addition, always look at your life total minus ten to try and visualize what it will be like if your opponent does have the epic weapon.
As important as ramp is, there are many times where using Mire Keeper to make a 2/2 is right. Controlling the board should always be your first priority, and if you cannot get immediate value from your mana crystal just putting more stuff down is a good way to go.
Late Game Strategy
The end of the game is going to be a race of sorts where you trying to get that one big stabilize turn before your opponent can put the finishing touches on their burst. If you do make it to the end of the game you are often going to be at low life or pushing for damage. Either way be careful to clear Shaman’s minions to limit their damage potential.
Know when to play Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End. Getting to ten mana does not mean you want to just slam the Old God. You only want to use him if you are out of options, facing lethal, way behind on board, or staring down a solid threat and are low on cards. Never use him while ahead. He is your fail safe, and should only be used as such.
One thing you never want to forget about the ending of the game is your damage. Since you are going to spend a lot of the time mitigating your opponent’s plays, it is easy to overlook how much damage you have at your disposal. Do not be afraid to push and constantly calculate the threats you have in your hand.
Always slam down Ancient of War or Cenarius if you can. Each of these cards are trump cards and one of the best ways to completely lock Shaman out of the game.
Always calculate what you can do with Azure Drake. Spell damage is very important against Shaman and can allow you to make some huge turn arounds, especially if you’re ramping early.