Guide: Zeus Shaman (DKMR)
Hello! [DKMR]BorN back again this week with a deck we believe you will really enjoy! It’s a caster Shaman deck we at Don't Kick My Robot have dubbed “Zeus”.
What sets this deck apart from your standard Shaman is that it utilizes spell power in combination with Shaman’s vast array of removal spells to extract extra value from these cards, while simultaneously creating strong board control. This is an extremely fun deck to play, with a play-style completely different than your average deck.
Zeus was crafted as a challenge to me by [DKMR]Ihmo to try and make a caster Shaman we could surprise other players with. It worked. Zeus was used to get 2nd place in the Topdeck weekly tournament as well as top 8 in the ManaGrind tournament two days later, in its first untested version.
After that success, we took the deck a little further and fixed it up nicely. This is a strong tournament deck as well as one that can be used on the ladder.
Now how exactly does this deck work? Zeus uses spell power to increase the damage of its spells in order to use them to clear your opponent’s board consistently, getting full value out of each card. Rather than throwing multiple spells at one minion to get rid of it, we make a single Lightning Boltdo eight damage, enough to kill a Ragnaros the Firelord.
We make a single Frost Shockdo five damage, enough to kill a Chillwind Yeti. By making efficient moves like this, as well as protecting our spell power minions, we can create card advantage by making one-for-one trades with our spells or huge board clears with our Lightning Storm.
On top of strong removal, our spells can also pose a strong lethal presence. With two Lightning Bolts and a Lava Burstcoupled with +3 spell damage, these three cards alone can do 20 direct damage, add in a Frost Shock or up your spell damage and you have an easy surprise lethal. Let’s look at a few interesting cards included in this deck that allow you to achieve this.
Azure Drakeand Bloodmage Thalnos
Not only does Azure Drake and Bloodmage Thalnos grant spell power, they also add to your draw power. Standard to most Shaman decks, these two cards really standout in Zeus as their effects are used and abused to the point of much annoyance for your opponent. Now combine this with your spells and you will leave your opponent struggling to keep a minion on the board.
Who ever thought Ancient Mage would be used competitively? This old guy works like a Defender of Argus, except instead of granting taunt, his battlecry grants plus one spell power to his adjacent minions. Dropping down this minion prior to playing spells such as Lightning Bolt and Lightning Storm can give you that extra boost you need to clear the board; making Lightning Bolt do a minimum of five damage and Lightning Storm a minimum of four to five damage.
Imagine dropping Ancient Mage onto two minions that already have spell power, devastating. With Shaman’s ability to spam out totem tokens with his Hero Power, Ancient Mage will always have a body to bless with his aggressive battlecry.
Malygos, referred to by some as “MalyGod”, is an insanely strong card hiding in this deck. This dragon grants you plus five spell damage, as well as being a tough 4/12 body.
Costing nine mana, Malygos only allows Shaman to play one of his several one mana spells on the same turn it’s played, but boy does Malygos make it count. Malygos can be combined with Lightning Bolt for an 8+ surprise damage burst, either to your opponent’s face or to take out a beefy minion.
Another strong 10 mana combo with Malygos is Forked Lightning; dealing 7+ damage to two enemy minions, which decimates decks like Handlock which employ tough minions like Molten Giantand Mountain Giant. If Malygos is not dealt with swiftly, your opponent stands no chance against your arsenal of spells.
Play-Style and Strategy
Zeus requires more patience than most decks. At times it can be tempting to play your cards you have at the ready, but to be successful with this type of deck, efficiency of your spells is of the utmost importance.
Sometimes taking a few hits to your face to allow for proper setup is okay. Also, it is equally significant you protect your spell power minions, using your Unbound Elemental, Feral Spirit, and Fire Elementalto trade with the minions you do not have the spells to deal with.
Overextending is something you must not do, losing all of your spell power minions can make for a difficult situation without backup.
Against Aggro decks, you’ll want to mulligan for your Feral Spirit and Lightning Storm to help out your early game. As for going against more Midrange/Control decks, you’ll want an Unbound Elemental as well as a strong early removal spell such as Lightning Bolt; this pairs nicely with your Unbound Elemental’s active effect.
There are quite the number of overload cards in this deck, making Unbound Elemental's big threats to your opponent. Plan out your turns prior to overloading as you might need the extra mana for next turn.
The rest of the game you’ll want to try to have one or two added spell damage on the board. Ancient Mages should be kept in hand and only be played in conjunction with a spell that needs the extra boost. The same goes for Bloodmage Thalnos, unless you need the extra card draw. Use your Hero Power as much as possible to get out the spell damage totem, as it makes the game much easier for you.
Use Fire Elemental's to bait out your opponent’s hard removal so you can safely play Malygos without worry, although a turn 10 combo with Malygos is more than enough to win the game for you.
With all the room your cheap removal gives, it will be extremely tempting to load up your board with minions, however we advise against this. Instead save your minions, when your opponent clears your board with a Flamestrikeor Brawl, you can immediately throw down another wave of minions to heckle your opponent.
Playing this deck should feel like you are slowly strangling your opponent, as you steadily gain card advantage while you continually wipe the board of anything that dares touch down turn after turn. Once you have exhausted the enemy’s efforts, then start bashing their face in.
By the Numbers
As the season restarted this past week, I played approximately 100 games with the Zeus deck using hearthstats.net’s stat tracking software. From the percentages off the graph, we can see this deck is strongest against Druid, Paladin, and Priest; it fairs decently against Hunter, Rogue, and Warlock and struggles against Warrior, Mage, and the Shaman mirror match.
With the exception of a few matches that went unrecorded, we feel a couple matchups are misleading. We feel that this deck does very well against Warrior and Hunter. Although sporting a ~62% win rate against Hunter, this is by no means a good counter to Hunter. Hunter is still Shaman’s worst nightmare, even in the Zeus variant.
It fares better than the standard Midrange, yet we feel there were some lucky wins here. The opposite can be said about Warrior. This variant still counters Warrior in the same way the standard Shaman Midrange deck does, if not performing better. In fact, this deck was used specifically against Warrior in tournaments to bring victory.
I’ll spare you the details on my moral crushing defeats on the ladder (cough cough 1/8 chance to hit face Ragnaros), but we can confidently say the win rates against Warrior and Hunter should be swapped.
All in all, caster Shaman is a viable competitive deck. We’re still trying new things with Zeus to see what works best and gathering stats, but the already powerful deck can only get better. Depending on what you’re having trouble with, Big Game Hunter can be swapped out for Acidic Swap Ooze or Sen’jin Shieldmasta.
Give Zeus a try and tell us over at DKMR how you like it as well as any changes you find suitable. Feel free to reach out to me with questions about the deck or comments @DKMR_BorN on Twitter or drop a comment below! Be careful or...THE ELEMENTS WILL DESTROY YOU!
Track your stats with this deck on Hearthstats.net
Guide written by [DKMR]BorN
Discussions about this topic brought to you by Team [DKMR]
Decks to Watch Out For
This week’s decks that you should be watching out for in tournaments and on the ladder are [DKMR]Hosty's Hunter, showing some impressive performances in this Sunday’s NESL tournament (2nd place) and once again, becoming more popular by the week, Ramp Druid.
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