Weekly Legends: Time to Get Big (Legend Overload Shaman)

Last week, in an attempt to expand the decks I talk about here on Weekly Legends, I branched out of the usual classes and covered a very cool Priest deck. This week, to spread a little more love, I decided to look at a legend Shaman list made by Simplexity88. Shaman is a class that, […]

Introduction

Last week, in an attempt to expand the decks I talk about here on Weekly Legends, I branched out of the usual classes and covered a very cool Priest deck. This week, to spread a little more love, I decided to look at a legend Shaman list made by Simplexity88. Shaman is a class that, not only doesn’t see a lot of play, but actually gets hated on quite a bit. “The minions are too weak” and “overload costs too much” are some of the most common complaints, and for the most part they are pretty well founded. However, as this deck shows, overload isn’t always a weakness. Sometimes, if you try hard enough, it can actually be a strength.

This deck is all about big minions. Not quite a control deck, and not quite midrange, this list sits in a very interesting middle game. There are plenty of removal here, but, unlike most decks, you aren’t here to win with some a burst play or hordes of small creatures. Rather, you are just going to keep slamming down large minion after large minion until your opponent runs out of answers. Of course, there are games where things won’t go according to plan, but this deck packs enough early game punch and hard removal to give you the longevity you need to push through to the later turns. At its base, this operates just like the classic Shaman days of old. You have a bunch of small, powerful spells that act as your early drops, and you have giant minions that come crashing down to take over the middle turns. However, this time around, not only do you have Lava Shock, which gives you a way to get around some huge overload setbacks, but between Neptulon, Earth Elemental and Dr. Boom you also have access to a lot more minions to finish off the game with.

Key Cards

Crackle

Lightning Bolt, Earth Shock, Lava Shock and Lightning Storm are all very important forms of removal that will help you stay in games. Crackle, however, is a little different. The reason I am discussing Crackle is because, while it appears to be a lot like Lightning Bolt at its base, it is actually a lot more like Hex. Understanding this difference is extremely important when it comes to playing Shaman. Shaman, even this “go big” build, is all about learning the best way to utilize your removal. While I will discuss Hex in more detail below, Crackle is not an early game removal card. While it may do three damage sometimes, this card can do up to six, which gets even easier and easier to hit when you combine it with spell power. Spell power turns this into hard mid-game removal, and this deck, like all Shaman decks, is chock full of spell power.

In the mulligan guide, I discuss how I don’t keep Crackle in the early stages of the game. That is because, it is a card that you need for the middle turns. Just like Hex, which can be a gigantic tempo swing when you are dominating the board, Crackle can clear away a ton of problem minions that are not big enough for Hex, such as Loatheb and Emperor Thaurissan. Typically, in the matchups that play these cards, you will usually lose the long game if you burn a Hex on midgame minions. Crackle allows you to save your prime removal for the prime targets. In addition, never underestimate Crackle’s ability to go face. This is deck is anything but a burst deck, but sometimes Crackles can get through the last five or so points you need for lethal.

Hex

I bring up Hex for the same reason I bring up Crackle: efficiency. Whereas Crackle is needed for the middle turns of the game, Hex is the best removal card in Hearthstone. This is not a card you want to just throw around willy nilly. Rather, you need to be extremely diligent when using Hex, only saving it for the most extreme minions. Yes, there will be some games where you are forced to get rid of a nerubian or a thaurissan, but you generally want to only hit the prime targets such as Sylvanas Windrunner (for when you don’t have Earth Shock), Ragnaros the Firelord, Ysera, Tirion Fordring or Dr. Boom. However, if you can ever help it, you always want to look for using your other removal first before burning a Hex. The only exception to this rule is if Hex can you a giant tempo swing. For instance, if you have a couple of minions on board, and your opponent tries to recover by putting down a sturdy (but not premium) minion, you can use Hex if it your only removal to push further towards lethal.

The other part of understanding Hex is to know each deck you are playing against. Understanding the meta and each different deck is one of the most important parts of Hearthstone. However, it is extra important when operating Shaman because you need to know what you are saving Hex for. For instance, against Control Warrior you can’t afford to use it on Emperor Thaurissan or Baron Geddon as you will eventually die to Sylvanas Windrunner, Ragnaros the Firelord or Ysera. However, on the other hand, it is perfectly fine to use a Hex on the emperor or Frothing Berserker against Patron Warrior. Why? Because they typically don’t run anything bigger than those cards. There is no set list you need to save Hex for, just know the most dangerous cards your opponent will play, and use it on those.

Fireguard Destroyer

While BGH, which I discuss in the below paragraph, is something you need to be very wary of, silence is important as well. Fireguard Destroyer, besides being an extremely undercosted minion that buffs Unbound Elemental, acts as both silence and removal bait. I will discuss this in two different parts, and both of them are important. Earth Elemental, Unbound Elemental and Sylvanas Windrunner are all cards you do not want to get silenced. As such, all three of those cards get hit pretty hard by Ironbeak Owl. However, you do not care if Fireguard Destroyer gets silenced. Yes, it can be annoying when your opponent gets rid of your four mana six/four, but it is still a 3/6 at the end of the day. As a result, you typically want this card to get silenced or removed with a spell to set up your scarier minions for the later turns.

Just with Crackle, you need to look at this card in two forms. On one hand, it is a giant minion that crushes most early game cards and gives you excellent board control. However, on the other hand it also represents damage. Usually a lot of damage. Due to the high volume of large minions, this deck can put on pressure very, very quickly. This is almost never going to be the premium mode of the deck, but when you get an early six or seven attack Fireguard Destroyer it is more than acceptable to start bashing your opponent in the face. This goes even more for the games where you can play this and start curving into elementals.

Earth Elemental

You will get BGH’d, and you will get BGH’d hard. That is a rule of the deck, and something you have to accept. In fact, this deck was built to overcome Big Game Hunter by merely overwhelming it. There are very few decks (besides Malylock) that run two Big Game Hunters. Depending whether or not you prefer Ragnaros the Firelord over Sylvanas Windrunner, you run either four or five Big Game Hunter targets. Doing that math, your opponent will only be able to get rid of one of your minions easily, and have to fight through the others. This is very important to understand with Earth Elemental because the overload is still a huge setback. You never want to play this card early, and save it for when you either have a Lava Shock in hand, or when you get your opponent to burn their hunter or prime removal.

You want  to careful with Earth Elemental against most control matches, but you can be a little more liberal against aggro. Of course, you typically want to use it in conjunction with Lava Shock, but you also can just run it out against aggro decks and dare them to have a silence. Sometimes they will, and that will hurt, but you don’t have too many anti-aggro cards besides your early removal and Feral Spirits. If you can get Earth Elemental down against Hunter, Zoo or a Mage who has already burned a Fireball, it can just end the game on the spot. A 7/8 with taunt is a beast of a card, and aggro decks need to have an immediate answer. They sometimes will (Power Overwhelming anyone?) but you shouldn’t play afraid with this card. This is not a deck for the faint of heart and the YOLO elemental has won me more than a few games against smaller aggressive decks.

Matchups

Tempo Mage

While I personally do not like this deck (as I have stated many times) Tempo Mage is probably the matchup I have faced the most in the past two weeks. Flamewaker took the deck to the next level, turning it from a gimmicky “draw well” deck to a much more powerful machine. In this match, more so that any other match, your early removal is essential. Tempo Mage, as their name suggests, is a deck that absolutely needs to get control of the early board to keep to their game plan. If you can kill their first minion (Mad Scientist, Mana Wyrm, Sorcerer’s Apprentice) and then play a large minion you should have no problem. However, if you can’t answer their first minion and they can clear the board using a flurry of spells, you will almost have no chance to keep up. This may seem like an over exaggeration, but these games honestly are either decided by those first turns (where you can’t afford to do nothing) or a well-timed Lightning Storm.

In this match, you want to save your Hex‘s for three main targets: Dr. Boom, Archmage Antonidas and Sylvanas Windrunner. While you can use removal (or trades) to clear them out, this is what you want to save the frog spells for. They have two Fireballs and two Flame Cannons for your big things, but can’t really reach beyond that. As always, try to make Mages use their burn spells as removal. Every Fireball and Frostbolt that goes at your minions is less damage you have to worry about going to your face.

Hunter

As always, know and understand what type of Hunter you’re playing against. Face is becoming more and more rare (yay!) but you still need to be ready for it. This matchup is all about Feral Spirit and Earth Elemental. While Antique Healbot can come through in a pinch, you generally are going to draw your taunts much more than your one heal. Though Hunter does run two Ironbeak Owls, you simply cannot afford to play around them. If you get an Earth Elemental to stick, you will almost always win, but that is a hard bet to get. This is a tough matchup, and you will win more often by pressuring them more than they pressure you. That may seem like a hard task, and no doubt it is, but if you can get a big Unbound Elemental or Fireguard Destroyer early on, you should start going face to put them on their heels.

For Midrange Hunter, it all comes down to two words: Savannah Highmane. Hex is the best (and only) solid way to deal with the lion, though Earth Shock can be used in a pinch. However, you typically want to use Earth Shock for their early minions such as Mad Scientist, Webspinner and Piloted Shredder. Just with Face Hunter, you want to pressure their life total. Though they play the longer game, Midrange Hunter still wins by putting pressure on you and finishing you off with Kill Command. If you can keep them back on their heels with your army of gigantic minions, you will usually win the day. This is because, while they do well when hitting your face, they always do poorly when they have to hit your minions instead.

Zoo

Zoo is still powerful, and as long as lifetap exists, it’s not going anywhere. As you should assume, Zoo is a tricky matchup as they prey on decks that live by the “one minion a turn” policy. Power Overwhelming and infinite buffs can make any minion they have trade up for one of our, and cards like Imp Gang Boss and Nerubian Egg make it so Lightning Storm (which is usually the best comeback card we have) is useless. Just like with Hunter, there will come a time where you need to start taking chunks out of their life. However, unlike Hunter, they have a lot of way to trade effectively. This makes it so you can’t really leave any of their minions alive.

Doomguard is the only card they have access to that has charge. This is something to remember because, without minions, they have a very hard time doing damage. While it may be tempting to Hex a Nerubian or buffed Imp Gang Boss, you need to save Hex. Dr. Boom is run in just about every Zoo deck these days, and Sylvanas Windrunner is also very popular. Both of those cards should be turned into frogs on sight. Doomguard, due to it’s seven health should also be Hexed as well. However, remember to save your Big Game Hunter, not just for Dr. Boom, but for Sea Giant as well. Earth Shock is very key in the early stages of this game, and can be combined with Lightning Storm to actually give you a real board clear. Once the board is empty, the game will usually fall in your favor. It is not easy to get to that point, but it is possible. Just keep clearing everything they play, and know that it is ok to use Lava Shock on a turn two Knife Juggler.

Patron Warrior

Control Warrior disappeared over the past week, which means that Patron is back in action. We have a very versatile deck that has a very wide range of answers. You want to try and keep your health above twenty, and always save Lightning Storm just in case your opponent tries to go for a huge Patron turn. Typically, the only way you are going to die is through a giant one-turn combo. This is because, due to your AOE and the fact that all of your minions are huge, you won’t die to the swarm of Patrons. As such, always be aware of your life and track the combo pieces they have used. Though not as extreme as Zoo, you want to remove all of their minions right away. The exception to this rule is Armorsmith, since you don’t really care about the amount of armor they gain. These days some decks aren’t running Grommash Hellscream, but even if you survive two Warsong Commander onslaughts, you need to be ready for the angry orc.

An important thing to remember in this matchup is that Patron only runs two Executes as their hard removal. Yes, they do run two Fiery War Axes and two Death’s Bites, but they usually aren’t going to be willing to take ten or more damage to clear your board. Execute, just like Big Game Hunter, is a card you want to bait out early. If you can get them to use it on something like a large Unbound Elemental or a Fireguard Destroyer you will be able to cruise during the middle stages of the game. Earth Elemental, while not as effective here as in aggro matchups, can give them absolute fits. However, save it until you see an Execute hit one of your other minions, and always save your Lightning Storm at all costs.

Midrange Paladin

While not the hardest matchup, Paladin is one of the trickiest. Equality, Big Game Hunter and Aldor Peacekeeper are all great answers to your threats. This game is a war of attrition, and will be won on the back of understanding what they have. Hex is for the big three of Sylvanas, Dr. Boom and Tirion Fordring. However, you absolutely need an answer to Tirion. You should save Hex for him at all costs. In terms of Aldor Peacekeeper, there is no real way to play around them, but giving you a guy killer is better than getting BGH’d. Lightning Storm is also very important in this match, as it is the only way you can reply to a Muster for Battle or a Muster for Battle/Quartermaster combo.

This match should be treated like a control mirror. Paladin is a deck that excels at shutting down larger minions and staying alive. That will happen here, which means you should prepare for the long game. The main way you win this is to just keep putting threats onto the board until they finally run out of answers. Paladin is a deck that has very little burst, and you can take advantage of that by going down to low life totals without the fear of dying. However, you also need to be aware of Quartermaster and Truesilver Champion, which can kill you if you’re not careful. Always save Hex for their end-game threats, be wary of Equality/Consecration, and never stop playing big minions. They will remove the first few, but you eventually get some to stick. If you follow those rules, it should be easy to lock down this matchup in your favor.

Mulligan Guide

There are no “cute keeps” with this deck, and that is very important to note. The number one rule of this deck is to survive the early turns, which is something that you cannot do with a hand full of big drops. Anything that is larger than a Fireguard Destroyer gets tossed back, and Fireguard Destroyer can only be kept if you have the coin and removal before it. The “must keeps” are the removal spells, more specifically Earth Shock, Lightning Bolt and Lava Shock. All of these cards are great in the current meta, and will pave the way for your first three turns. With the coin, Unbound Elemental and Feral Spirit are both essential, but you should also keep them if you have a spell of two coming before them. You just never want to not keep removal and then hope you will draw it. Spoiler alert: you won’t. You will draw three huge legends, and you will lose.

In terms of individual matchups, there really isn’t that much discrepancy. Crackle should never be kept unless you have no other removal, and Hex is only a keep against Druid (to fight Innervate). Lightning Storm should be kept against aggro (Mage, Hunter, Zoo) as well as against Paladin. While the storm is always essential for the Patron Warrior matchup, I never like to assume I’m playing Patron but rather just mulligan for other removal and Unbound Elemental. Beyond that, you just want to go every match the same way. Look for your early game, elementals and removal, and hope to draw a smooth curve for the later turns. Of course, there are slight differences based on if you have the coin, and what else is in your hand, but this is the best way to approach mulliganing with the deck.

Conclusion

Another week, another deck. Thanks so much for reading/watching, and I hope you are enjoying the series as much as I am. Moving forward into a new season, I am going to try to hit legend with a truly crazy deck (which hopefully I will cover later on). However, until that time comes, there are plenty more innovators in this game, and plenty more legend decks on the way. Enjoy the sunshine, enjoy the summer and, until next week, may your Earth Elementals always stick.