[toc]List of Episodes[/toc]
- Episode 1: Introduction & Divine Paladin
- Episode 2: The Death & Resurrection Show Shaman
- Episode 3: Jack Frost Druid
Hello everyone. My name is Stonekeep and I’ll be the author of this episode. Thanks for everyone who voted on my deck idea two weeks ago, I hope you won’t be disappointed.
If you don’t know what Let’s Brew is, check out our first post about the series for all the details. But to make the long story short, it’s a series where YOU decide what you want to see. We give the ideas, you vote for them, then we build, tinker, test, improve and finally write. You receive the final product, a deck with a guide to back it up. Drink with me, friend.
The first deck you’ve voted for is an unique approach to Deathrattle Shaman deck. I called it “The Death & Resurrection Show”. I’ve built it around the idea of using niche cards like [card]ancestral-healing[/card], [card]ancestral-spirit[/card] and [card]reincarnate[/card] and making them useful. To learn about the history, my motivation, card choices and strategy – read further.
[toc]History & Motivation[/toc]
Shaman is probably my least played class. Even though I never played it much, I always found it really interesting. The idea to build a deck like that actually came to me couple of weeks after I’ve started playing (back in the Closed Beta). I had the whole deck in my mind, but I’ve lacked the cards to make it. The idea of using Ancestral Healing was stuck somewhere deep inside my head and even though I forgot about the whole deck idea, it struck me again recently. Now I have both the resources and much bigger game experience, so why not try it?
Shaman is probably the worst class in the meta right now. My motivation was to make some sort of innovation in order to change that. However, after a lot of testing and tinkering I can surely say that the deck won’t be a break-through point for the Shaman. It won’t hit the spotlight and be the next Patron Warrior, no. The class has some problems that are impossible to address. Though, it doesn’t mean that the deck isn’t viable. During the testing period, my total win rate with every version of the deck was 59%. 62% if you only count the newest versions. And that’s between Rank 5 and Legend. It proves that it’s very possible to hit Legend with this deck and I encourage everyone to try! And what’s maybe even more important, the deck is really fun to play. It’s the thing many players forget when grinding the ladder.
Special thanks to modded and Shashthings for helping me with deck’s development and for giving their ideas! It would be much harder without you guys.
And by the way, if anyone’s interested, the deck’s name comes from the song by Killing Joke.
[toc]Thought Process & Card Choices[/toc]
My first thought when making this deck was – why not take the old Deathrattle Shaman, strip it a little, add the Ancestral Healing combos and give it a go? Well, I’ve thrown this idea away very quickly, because the things aren’t that easy. Even though the deck is based on Deathrattle Shaman and at first it looked a lot like it, it plays differently and feels different. I had to build the deck from the beginning and try to fit everything I want. The deck has gone through a lot of changes and cuts, but about those I’ll talk later.
The first and the biggest struggle was to make the deck work against Aggro archetype. Many Shaman builds struggled against rush decks if they didn’t draw the perfect answers. The first versions of this deck also had this problem. They were really hit or miss against Aggro – either you drew correct early cards or died by turn 5. They were too slow and too dependant on early removals and Lightning Storm. I had to make a lot of sacrifices to make it decent against fast decks.
But then, what about the late game? Well, late game is also covered. The deck has a really high value late game. Most of the big minions trade at least 2 for 1. The late game combos also shine in slower matchups, having a potential to get a lot of value.
The last problem was consistency. Some of the cards may be dead without other combo pieces and drawing into them early in the game might ruin the whole game plan. This problem isn’t completely resolved yet – Shaman lacks the consistent draw mechanic the other classes have. We need to wait for the new Shaman cards to hopefully address this issue. I’ve tried to cut as many situational cards as I can and replace them with a more all-around ones. I’ve also added different draw mechanics that work well against different types of the decks.
Core cards are the foundation of the deck. Those are the cards the deck is built around and present the basic idea of the game plan you’re gonna take when playing this deck. In our case, it’s the Reincarnate + minions benefiting from it most and the Injured Blademaster + Ancestral Healing combo.
[cardinsert card=”ancestral-healing” float=”right”]
[card]ancestral-healing[/card] – This is the main reason why the deck is so different than other Shaman decks. The main use for the card is a to combo it with [card]injured-blademaster[/card]. Remember Priest’s Blademaster + [card]circle-of-healing[/card] combo? It’s something like that, but also gives a Taunt. Awesome turn 3 play. Not many decks have a way to deal with a 4/7 Taunt on turn 3. The second use for Ancestral Healing is the [card]the-black-knight[/card] combo. Again, remember Druids using [card]mark-of-the-wild[/card] + The Black Knight back in the day? It’s a better version of that. For 6 mana you can remove anything and put a 4/5 body into the board. The last use is well, exactly what the card does – healing or giving Taunt. If you’re in bad spot against Aggro, you can Taunt your [card]fireguard-destroyer[/card] on Turn 4 making an improved version of [card]fen-creeper[/card]. Later in the game, you can either use it to heal your big drops for efficient trading or Taunt minions the enemy doesn’t necessarily want to kill – [card]sylvanas-windrunner[/card] or [card]sneeds-old-shredder[/card].
[cardinsert card=”reincarnate” float=”right”]
[card]reincarnate[/card] – This is the base of the Deathrattle part of the deck. While it’s nearly useless in the early game, it’s the main activator for your late game combos. It forces Deathrattles of your minions and gets them back to full health. This means that you might, for example, hit enemy 5/5 with your Sneed’s and Reincarnate it. Not only you get a random Legendary, but your Sneed’s also gets healed for 5. It combos nicely with Sylvanas – in many cases it’s a 2 mana [card]mind-control[/card]. If you use it on [card]alakir-the-windlord[/card] it makes him able to attack again – great way to clear the board or push for lethal. But, sometimes you might be more desperate. If you can’t afford to wait until your late game combos, the card has couple of “weaker” uses. You can use Reincarnate just to heal your damaged minion. Again, it has some synergy with Injured Blademaster – if you Reincarnate him, he gets back as a 4/7 instead of 4/3. You might use Reincarnate on [card]loot-hoarder[/card] or [card]bloodmage-thalnos[/card] to cycle the card. Or if you’re really desperate on [card]haunted-creeper[/card] to spawn two 1/1’s. It actually might be decent play in some situations against Aggro decks.
[cardinsert card=”injured-blademaster” float=”right”]
[card]injured-blademaster[/card] – Shaman has no solid 3-drop. It wasn’t such a big problem back in the Beta, but every expansion is introducing a lot of great 3-drops for different classes and archetypes. [card]dark-cultist[/card], [card]spider-tank[/card], [card]imp-gang-boss[/card] and [card]flamewaker[/card] just to name a few. I’ve tried to fill the gap with Injured Blademaster. The basic 4/3 stats aren’t as strong as 3/4, so it needs a little extra something. That extra something in this deck is Ancestral Healing, making it a 4/7 Taunt. Dropping it on turn 3 as a 4/3 is not that bad if you have no other play, but generally it’s weak to any 3 attack minion or buffed 1-drops. Good thing about Injured Blademaster is that it scales nicely into the late game. If you manage to heal him with Ancestral Healing or Reincarnate or at least play him alongside good, old Healing Totem – 4/7 is always pretty strong. If healed up, it’s also a great [card]defender-of-argus[/card] target.
[cardinsert card=”sylvanas-windrunner” float=”right”]
[card]sylvanas-windrunner[/card] – One of your main win conditions and target of your Deathrattle combos. Dropping her on turn 6 is not a bad deal against some boards, but generally you want to wait a little longer. The basic version of the combo is Sylvanas + Reincarnate on turn 8, making you steal Random enemy minion while still having Sylvanas on the board. A much better version of Priest’s Sylvanas + [card]shadow-word-death[/card] combo. Great against slower decks. If enemy drops a single big minion and you follow with this combo, it works wonders. The deluxe version of the combo is Sylvanas + Ancestral Spirit + Reincarnate. This way not only you steal a minion, but end up with 2x Sylvanas on the board. Unless enemy has some sort of complete board wipe, it’s almost impossible to fight with this amount of value. Sylvanas is best in slower matchups, but might work against some Aggro decks too if you manage to survive.
[cardinsert card=”sneeds-old-shredder” float=”right”]
[card]sneeds-old-shredder[/card] – Your main win condition in slow matchups. The first thing that’s great about this card – it doesn’t die to [card]big-game-hunter[/card]. Sneed’s Old Shredder is great in slow, control matchups. He rarely gets removed – enemy usually needs to put a lot of resources into that. Cards like [card]polymorph[/card] or [card]hex[/card] that instantly deal with it are really rare. Absolutely the best target to put your combo on. If he survives for one turn and you use Ancestral Spirit + Reincarnate, you end up with a random Legendary and two copies of Sneed’s. That usually seals the game, because pretty much no deck can compete with that amount of value. When it comes to card’s Deathrattle, the average outcome is great. There are, however, some really bad scenarios. Out of almost 70 collectible Legendary minions, about 5 of them really suck (e.g. [card]nat-pagle[/card], [card]lorewalker-cho[/card] or [card]edwin-vancleef[/card]) and couple more are pretty bad ([card]millhouse-manastorm[/card], [card]old-murk-eye[/card]). The rest of them, however, are between average and awesome. You can sometimes get an outcome that instantly wins you the game – like [card]kelthuzad[/card] which resurrects your Sneed’s at the end of the turn.
Support cards aren’t exactly the cards that you build the deck around, but either synergize with your core cards or are pretty important to achieve your win condition. They might be ways to make your core cards stronger, they might be cards necessary to stall the game in order to pull off your combos or answers against your deck’s counters. In case of this deck, those are either cards that synergize with the core cards (like Ancestral Spirit or The Black Knight) or cards that help us survive and stall the game to be able to unleash the Deathrattle combos (Haunted Creeper, Lightning Storm, Defender of Argus).
[cardinsert card=”rockbiter-weapon” float=”right”]
[card]rockbiter-weapon[/card] – Early removal card. While in many of the Shaman decks it’s one of the main win conditions when combined with [card]doomhammer[/card] or Al’Akir, here you’re mostly using it as a removal. I’ve decided to go with Rockbiter instead of Lightning Bolt because of the Overload. I really hate overloading in the early game, so I prefer the Rockbiter as an early removal option, even if I have to take some damage in exchange. If you draw it in the late game, it might serve as an additional damage to finish the enemy (6 damage for 1 mana with Al’Akir) or just a way to gain tempo and help with trades. All-around card that has its uses during all stages of the game. Remember that if you don’t want to take additional damage, you might make your Totems do the job. You don’t value Totem as much because of no [card]flametongue-totem[/card].
[cardinsert card=”ancestral-spirit” float=”right”]
[card]ancestral-spirit[/card] – The card is really interesting. It’s mainly used for the late game combos – it makes your Deathrattle minions and Reincarnate much stronger, but also allows many other small and big plays. Against Aggro you often have to improvise, because you shouldn’t assume you’re gonna survive until you get an opportunity to use it on Sylvanas or Shredder. If you don’t have any other play, you might use it on your small minions like [card]haunted-creeper[/card] or [card]loot-hoarder[/card] before trading them off. This is basically just as if you’ve played that minion from your hand. No tempo loss, you just change the card into a minion of your choice. You can use it on your Injured Blademaster, again, before trading with something to resummon it as a 4/7. The same goes for pretty much any of your bigger minions. Remember that the card is really proactive, not reactive. Try to use it only when you’re initiating the trade. Using it on a minion and ending a turn means that you just gave your enemy a perfect Silence target. Sometimes you’re desperate and you need to do that, but I don’t recommend it.
[cardinsert card=”haunted-creeper” float=”right”]
[card]haunted-creeper[/card] – A really important card. Even though it doesn’t have the obvious synergy with the deck, the point of the card is to stall the game against Aggro and it does it’s job. Great at dealing with enemy 1-drops and kinda good vs 2-drops. Can be used to finish off minions that survive [card]lightning-storm[/card]. In really fast matchups, you can use Ancestral Spirit or Reincarnate on it just to get the additional small minions. Not that good in slower matchups, but it still requires some attention from the enemy. Sometimes baits a Silence, which isn’t necessarily bad considering what other minions you run. Most of the opponents are scared of the obvious synergy with [card]flametongue-totem[/card], which we don’t even run. But they don’t know that and will want to remove it to deny Flametongue value.
[cardinsert card=”lightning-storm” float=”right”]
[card]lightning-storm[/card] – The only AoE removal in your deck. One of the strongest card in your whole deck against enemies that flood the board. The 2 overload hurts a little, so try to use it really early only if you have a follow-up. For example, if you use it on turn 3, you want to have a 2-drop to follow with after. The random damage might be a little inconsistent. Against more sturdy boards, you generally want to have the Wrath of Air Totem (+1 Spell Power) or [card]bloodmage-thalnos[/card] in play before using it. Actually, if you combine both of them, Lightning Storm deals 4-5 damage, which is really, really huge. A solid card that’s necessary against Aggro decks and certain combo decks like Grim Patron Warrior. In slower matchups it might get some vlaue if you combine it with Spell Power, but don’t worry about using it on let’s say 2 minions or to finish their big minions if you really need to.
[cardinsert card=”defender-of-argus” float=”right”]
[card]defender-of-argus[/card] – When it comes to the Shaman, he really needs some way to Taunt up. The 1/4 roll on Taunt Totem is not consistent enough. For a long time I was wondering which Taunts I want to use. I’ve tried both [card]senjin-shieldmasta[/card] and [card]sludge-belcher[/card], but then decided to stick with Argus. It can get much more value and works great with a lot of the cards in the deck. It buffs Injured Blademaster to 5 attack, which is crucial to deal with a lot of meta cards like Sludge Belcher or [card]loatheb[/card]. It has great synergy with the Fireguard Destroyer because of the high health and the fact that after playing Fireguard on turn 4, you’re gonna have 4 mana again on turn 5 (you can fit Argus perfectly). Taunting up Sylvanas Windrunner or Sneed’s Old Shredder is strong because enemy doesn’t really want to kill those minions and he’s forced to if you Taunt them. You have an option to put two smaller taunts with things like Loot Hoarder or Haunted Creeper. It combos nicely with Acolyte of Pain – making him 2/4 is a big difference. It often allows an additional draw and 2/4 minion can easily deal with most of the 2-drops and even some 3-drops. Buffing your minions might also help with the trades – either they trade up thanks to the additional attack or trade more efficiently thanks to the health. Shaman is a great class to use Defender of Argus, because he can always spawn additional minion with Hero Power. The 1/3 or 2/2 Taunt may not seem the strongest, but it can often save your skin.
[cardinsert card=”the-black-knight” float=”right”]
[card]the-black-knight[/card] – I remember the heavy Druid meta, where everyone was either playing Druid or running The Black Knight. Even decks like Zoo Warlock used it. It has fallen out of favor ever since and it’s almost never seen right now. It’s still great in slow matchups – pretty much any Midrange or Control decks runs Sludge Belcher and The Black Knight curves perfectly like it was meant to deal with Belchers. The problem is that it’s generally pretty slow and useless against Aggro, which rarely run Taunts. Ancestral Healing, however, gives this card a nice edge in this deck. For 0 mana, you can give any enemy minion Taunt and then instantly kill it. The Black Knight’s effect is priced at 2 mana, since it has the stats of [card]chillwind-yeti[/card] and costs 6. It means that if you combine it with Ancestral Healing, it’s like putting a Yeti on the board and having a 2 mana “Destroy target minion” card. Especially good in slower matchups – hitting some 5+ drop with this effect is awesome. In faster matchups, it might be used to clear enemy smaller drops or buffed minions – the 2 mana cost means no tempo loss even if you kill their 2-drop. And more often than you expect, you will just find a target for your Black Knight. Sludge Belchers are most popular ones, but cards [card]houndmaster[/card] against Midrange Hunter or [card]defender-of-argus[/card] against Zoo really help with finding a target.
[cardinsert card=”alakir-the-windlord” float=”right”]
[card]alakir-the-windlord[/card] – It was one of the main finishers in the older Shaman decks. In this one, it’s much more flexible. First thing I want to point out – you don’t save him. If you get a good opportunity, just throw him into the board. If you get a 2 for 1 trade, that’s fine. If you deal some damage to the opponent – that’s also fine. The card itself can get a lot of value. In faster matchups, if you manage to survive until turn 8, it’s a great way to clear enemy board and give you some sort of defense. Not only you can instantly attack with it, you can attack with it twice, killing up to two small minions. If you just throw it on the empty board, the Divine Shield and Taunt might be hard to get through without using Silence. You might combo it with Rockbiter Weapon or Reincarnate for 12 damage combo. If it manages to survive one turn, you can add Ancestral Spirit to the combo. I’ve won couple of my games almost solely with Al’Akir. Dropped him on empty board, dealt 6 damage to enemy face. Enemy had no instant answer. 2 more hits + Ancestral Spirit + Reincarnate + Rockbiter for 24 more damage. It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it feels great.
Every deck needs to be able to consistently achieve its win condition. In case of most of the decks, the consistency is boosted by card draws. By drawing cards, you thin your deck and you draw into the cards you need more often. The more situational cards the deck has – the more card draw it needs. Our decks suffers a litle from consistency issues, but we try to address that with different sources of card draw.
[cardinsert card=”bloodmage-thalnos” float=”right”]
[card]bloodmage-thalnos[/card] – Thalnos is a big boost to consistency. It may seem weird, running him with only 3 Spells. But I’d actually run him only for his synergy with [card]lightning-storm[/card]. There are so many situations where you just need to get 3 damage. With the popularity of Patron Warrior, having a way to deal with all the Patrons at the same time once he floods the board is important. Against a lot of Midrange decks, the standard 2-3 damage of Storm is not enough – 3-4 is much better. The 2 damage [card]earth-shock[/card] is also a good way to clear enemy 2-drops like [card]knife-juggler[/card]. And at the end of the day, Thalnos cycles itself and might trade for some 1-drops.
[card]loot-hoarder[/card] – The second card draw mechanic. Loot Hoarder is great in some matchups. Against certain decks that can just ping it, it stalls the game and cycles through your deck – which is fine. Against aggressive decks, it usually trades with enemy small drop. It might push for some damage or make enemy awkward to play something. In best case scenario, it trades with enemy 3/2 minions. And the important thing is that it cycles itself, so you can pretty much always drop him on the board just to get another card.
[cardinsert card=”acolyte-of-pain” float=”right”]
[card]acolyte-of-pain[/card] – I really dislike using [card]mana-tide-totem[/card]. The card is only good when you’re already winning. If you don’t have complete board control, it almost never draws more than 1 card. Acolyte of Pain on the other hand not only often draws 2, but can be often dropped on turn 3, unlike Mana Tide Totem. Against decks like Face Hunter or Aggro Paladin, not only it draws you cards, but can also trade with enemy small drops. Great against a lot of 1/1 tokens or decks that use many 1-drops. The only big disadvantage when compared to Mana Tide Totem is that the Totem draws right away, so even if it gets Silenced it at least cycled itself. If enemy Silences your Acolyte of Pain, you don’t get any draws.
[card]azure-drake[/card] – A really solid 5-drop. It always gets some value – the 4/4 body will either eat the removal, trade for something or AT LEAST damage a big minion. Card Draw is great, because it instantly cycles itself, it’s one of the best things to top deck in the late game. The +1 Spell Power again synergizes with your Lightning Storm and Earth Shock. High value minion and almost never a bad turn 5 play. Azure Drake loses some tempo on the turn he’s played, so be careful and think carefully before you spend a whole turn on playing him against Aggro deck.
Good stuff are the cards that didn’t fit into any other category. They aren’t really necessary for your game plan and they could be easily switched out without hurting your main win condition. They aren’t here because of synergy with your deck – they’re here because of how individually strong those cards are.
[cardinsert card=”earth-shock” float=”right”]
[card]earth-shock[/card] – Having a Silence is always nice in this meta. But because of all the Aggro decks with 1 health minions, Earth Shock is better than let’s say [card]ironbeak-owl[/card]. It’s the killer of [card]leper-gnome[/card]s in fast matchups. It might deny the 2-drop from [card]piloted-shredder[/card] or for example help you with killing Sylvanas if you don’t have a Hex. Earth Shock might be also used on your own minions. For example, if you have a frozen minion and you’re couple of points from lethal – you might Earth Shock it to kill the enemy. It also works against effects like [card]aldor-peacekeeper[/card] or [card]equality[/card]. Remember that it first Silences and then deals 1 damage – that’s why it’s a way to instantly kill [card]twilight-drake[/card], making it great card against certain Warlock builds.
[card]hex[/card] – I’d argue that it’s the strongest single target removal in the game. Because not only it destroys any minion for 3 mana – it also denies any Deathrattles. In the meta where pretty much any deck runs some minions with Deathrattle, Hex is gonna get a huge value. The 0/1 Taunt you give to your enemy might sometimes be annoying to get through, but you can’t really complain after removing enemy [card]savannah-highmane[/card] for 3 mana. Against slower decks, keep it for the bigger minions that are really hard to deal with, like opponent’s Sylvanas. Against Aggro, sometimes even Hexing [card]leper-gnome[/card] to deny 2 damage from Deathrattle might be fine. Remember that if you’re in a really desperate need of Taunt, you can Hex your own minion. 0/1 Taunt might sometimes be just enough to survive.
[cardinsert card=”fireguard-destroyer” float=”right”]
[card]fireguard-destroyer[/card] – A really solid card. One of the strongest 4-drops in the game. The average outcome is a 5/6 or 6/6 minion for 4 mana. It means that he can contest everything opponent has played and will play soon. And actually, you want him to have either 5 or 6 attack. 4 is not enough to kill many popular 5-drops and 7 means it’s gonna be vulnerable to [card]big-game-hunter[/card]. It has no real synergy with the deck, it’s just a really solid choice for a 4-drop. 1 point of overload is not that big of a deal on turn 5. It’s important that you aren’t overloaded going into turn 6, which is probably the most important turn in your deck. I’ve decided to use him instead of Piloted Shredder, because the Shredder is much better in Aggro decks and trades down really badly.
[card]harrison-jones[/card] – A meta tech choice. Weapon classes are really popular on the ladder, Warrior and Hunter are making almost 1/3 of the opponents I’ve faced recently. Harrison Jones is really solid card right now. Not only it deals with weapons – it also draws you cards! The card draw part might not be important in certain decks, but it’s really crucial when playing Shaman. Against decks like Paladin you often want to take card draw value over destroying a bigger weapon – for example using a Harrison on 1/3 [card]lights-justice[/card] might be actually better than getting rid of 4/1 [card]truesilver-champion[/card]. It improves your Patron Warrior matchup a lot – destroying [card]deaths-bite[/card] and denying the combos is sometimes the only chance to win. And against decks that run no weapons, well. A 5/4 minion for 5 mana is not really good, but it can serve as a body to play later in the game. This deck doesn’t put emphasis on 5-drops anyway. Many times 5-drops are skipped if Fireguard Destroyer was played on 4 and you have a good follow-up on 6.
[cardinsert card=”fire-elemental” float=”right”]
[card]fire-elemental[/card] – Really strong card with a lot of value. The Battlecry is what makes this card great. Dealing 3 unconditional damage to any target is awesome. It might instantly clear enemy small drops, make your trades much easier or even finish off the low health opponent. The 6/5 body is really threatening and can push for a lot of damage if left unanswered. Great tempo play is what Shaman needs – most of your cards either put something on the board or remove enemy minions. Fire Elemental does both things at once. Just like previous cards, this one has no particular synergy with the deck. Fire Elemental is just the core of most Shaman decks because of how strong the card is. Good in pretty much any matchup, Fire Elemental is gonna win you a lot of games.
In this section, I’m gonna talk a bit about the cards I’ve tried but didn’t make into the final deck. I’m not gonna go through every of them, because most were just experiments and got replaced really quickly. I’ll show the few most promising ones with explanation why I’ve decided to remove them.
[card]cairne-bloodhoof[/card] / [card]piloted-sky-golem[/card] – I’ve put them together because they served the same purpose. Another big value minion and a target for Deathrattle combos. Though, both of them are too slow and bad against Silence. Also, the deck is already heavy on 6-drops.
[card]nerubian-egg[/card] – Those have a great potential. Good in slower matchups, can give you some protection against AoE and 4/4 minion is really scary so early in the game. The problem is that when dropped on turn 2, they do nothing. When playing against Aggro, you can’t lose so much tempo if you don’t get an activator. Also, they’re really bad against Silence. When removing them, I’ve also decided to get rid of [card]flametongue-totem[/card] because Eggs were the main reason I was keeping it around. They were replaced by Haunted Creepers.
[card]flametongue-totem[/card] – I really like the card and I know it can get a lot of value. The problem is that it’s a win-more card. Without board control, it’s completely useless. And the deck already has many cards which are situational, so I didn’t want to put more of those. Worth considering, because it still has good synergy with the early drops like Bloodmage Thalnos or Haunted Creeper.
[card]piloted-shredder[/card] – It was my first 4-drop of choice. It did fit the Deathrattle theme a bit and gave a pretty good [card]ancestral-spirit[/card] target, but in the end, Piloted Shredder is a little too aggressive. The 3 health is bad against fast decks and once Silenced it’s really easy to take down. Replaced by [card]fireguard-destroyer[/card] – overall more solid 4-drop.
[card]baron-rivendare[/card] – An obvious choice for a Deathrattle deck. It allowed me to make a crazy late game combos once or twice. But I almost never needed him to win the game. In most of the matches, he was a dead card just sitting and waiting for a good opportunity to use, which rarely came. The 1/7 minion just doesn’t put enough pressure to justify the potential gain from his effect.
[card]sludge-belcher[/card] / [card]senjin-shieldmasta[/card] – I was looking for a good Taunt option and gone through both of those. Both were pretty good, don’t get me wrong. They are solid choices, but they felt a little too weak compared to Argus. While they’re much better to drop on an empty board, Defender of Argus has a potential to gain a lot more value – even the fact that it puts two Taunts instead of one is important. But you can definitely try either of those instead of Argus.
[card]mana-tide-totem[/card] – Another source of card draw. I really dislike this one, but I’ve tried it. The card is really good in slow matchups once you get the board control. It either forces a removal (while still cycling itself) or gets a lot of value with couple of draws. But in most of my games I was either keeping it in my hand with no good opportunity to drop it or just dropped it as a 3 mana cycle, which is a huge tempo loss. When it works, it’s great. But when it doesn’t, it sucks.
[card]antique-healbot[/card] – I really wanted to fit it, but I couldn’t. Since Shaman has no way to gain life, Healbot is great in some of the matchups. In case Patron Warrior gets nerfed and Harrison Jones won’t be a necessary tech card, I’ll definitely put a Healbot in his place.
In faster matchups, you want to mulligan for [card]earth-shock[/card], [card]rockbiter-weapon[/card], [card]haunted-creeper[/card], [card]loot-hoarder[/card] and [card]acolyte-of-pain[/card]. Those are either ways to refill your hand and cycle or to deal with enemy early threats. In slower matchups, you can keep [card]injured-blademaster[/card], [card]fireguard-destroyer[/card] or even [card]azure-drake[/card]. If you get both Injured Blademaster and [card]ancestral-healing[/card], keep them – it’s a great way to stall the game and deal with enemy early threats.
The deck is relatively slow, so the general strategy for early turns is: survive. That’s the most important thing. Especially against Aggro. Your health is really important, because you have no way to gain life. You want to be at relatively high health total so once you stabilize, enemy can’t finish you off with spell burn. But even some Midrange or Control decks might push you if you’re gonna get bad draws.
In the early game, play the reactive game. Answer their threats or drop your card draws / cycles. If you don’t really value Spell Power highly in certain matchup, you might also drop your [card]bloodmage-thalnos[/card] just to cycle. If you didn’t draw really poorly, you should have enough tools to at least slow enemy aggression.
Turn 4 is really big. If you already have some board presence, [card]defender-of-argus[/card] is great. Especially if you have something like Acolyte of Pain on the board. This combo is awesome. On the empty board, you usually want to drop your [card]fireguard-destroyer[/card]. If enemy won’t have a clear way to deal with it (which is often the case), he’s gonna ignore it and go face. That’s when Argus comes handy again, making your Fireguard Destroyer at least a 5/7 Taunt. Pretty hard to get through.
Against Aggro decks, in mid game you want to stick to the survive plan, but slowly start pushing them back. You can’t afford to play a really long game against Aggro as a Shaman, because even something like Hunter’s Hero Power is gonna eventually finish you off. Argus is a great way to transition from defense to offense. If you put two pretty big Taunts on the board, you might start ignoring their board and going to the face. [card]fire-elemental[/card] is absolute MVP against faster decks. Not only it instantly deals with their threats but it also puts enemy on a rather short clock – if he sticks to the board, enemy won’t survive longer than couple of turns. Your Deathrattle combos are pretty bad against rush decks and the only real late game minion that is gonna come handy is [card]alakir-the-windlord[/card]. It’s great because it can both clear enemy board and put a pretty hard to go through Taunt. It’s also a nice way to finish the game, especially combined with Rockbiter or [card]reincarnate[/card] for some burst to end the game.
Against slower decks, the game is much more interesting. In the mid game, you want to start playing the value game. You don’t value tempo that much, so try to squeeze out as much as you can from your every minion. Dropping your card draws just to cycle is fine, but try to not let’s say drop [card]sylvanas-windrunner[/card] on an empty board if you already have Reincarnate in your hand. Wait for the moment enemy plays a big minion and then do the combo. Against most of slow decks, you’re in no rush. You’re probably at pretty decent health total and enemy can’t pressure you with small minions – he’s bound to drop something big sooner or later. Ancestral Healing + [card]the-black-knight[/card] combo also works wonders against slower decks if they don’t play any Taunts. This way you can kill pretty much anything – a great way to deal with their big Legendary minions like [card]ragnaros-the-firelord[/card]. Your main win condition against slower decks is [card]sneeds-old-shredder[/card] and combos around it. It’s likely gonna stick to the board, and if it does, you’re often gonna clone it and get a lot of random Legendary minions.
Against both types of decks, try to play on the curve. Since you don’t have too many flexible, small drops, you can’t fit too much into each turn. Most of your mid game turns will be you just dropping one minion and passing, so you want to drop the strongest one. Take the Overload into account. The deck hasn’t got too much sources of Overload – just [card]lightning-storm[/card] and Fireguard Destroyer, but you still need to plan ahead. For example, dropping Fireguard Destroyed on turn 5 if you have a Fire Elemental in your hand is usually not a good idea, unless that’s the only play you can make.
Also, don’t be too conservative with your combo pieces. Using Ancestral Spirit on Haunted Creeper in control matchup is obviously bad, but for example if your hand is really bad, you might use the Reincarnate on Loot Hoarder just to cycle the card or Ancestral Healing just to restore 3-4 health to a minion. When it comes to the win conditions, this deck is really flexible – it rarely relies only on Deathrattle combos to win the game. It runs a lot of big threats and even mid game minions like Injured Blademaster or Fireguard Destroyer might push for a lot of damage. Al’Akir should also be used whenever you get a good opportunity – if you killed a minion or two and it took a removal on top of that, the value is definitely enough.
Generally, the deck struggles a little against rush decks, but I guess that’s the general theme of slower Shaman decks nowadays. It also can struggle against combo decks like Patron Warrior or Freeze Mage. Against Patron Warrior Taunting up sometimes isn’t enough and you don’t really have a way to stop their combos. Against Freeze Mage you have no life gain and it’s hard to pressure Mage enough to kill before turn 9. Turn 9 Alexstrasza followed by burn means you can’t do anything. It’s however great in Control matchups. Against decks like Control Warrior or Handlock I was winning 70%+ of the games. The long games were going in my favor thanks to Deathrattle combos on Sylvanas and Sneed’s.
As I’ve mentioned at the beginning, you’re the ones who are choosing what we’re gonna do next. We’ve decided to incorporate the “reader’s choice” option – we take the most interesting idea you’ve gave us last week so you can also vote on it! This one is taken by whoever finds the concept most interesting. Here are the options for this week:
Option 1: Rogue – Bounce Bounce Bounce Rogue – Newton
Using Shadowstep and possibly Anub’ar Ambusher, the deck aims to reuse and replay ETB (Battlecry) minions such as SI:7 Agent, Azure Drake, and Loatheb.
Option 2: Mage – Echo Troll Mage – Smashthings
Basic Idea: get value out of Echo of Medivh by playing cheap minions (e.g. Mana Wym) and minions that summon other minions (e.g. Gelbin & Dr. Boom).
Option 3: Warrior – Worgen Warrior – modded
Worgen Warrior: A deck similar to patron warrior, wielding all the draw but with a different combo.
Option 4: Druid – New Watcher Druid – Reader’s Choice
Updated version of the old Watcher Druid deck. Midrange Druid deck that incorporates synergy between minions with negative card text (like Ancient Watcher or Deathlord) and Silence (Keeper of the Grove, Wailing Soul).
Here is the link to the poll, please vote for the deck you’d like to see most in the next Brew! Voting closes three days from now, so if you’re not sure what to pick yet, take your time.
Thanks for sticking in for the second episode of Let’s Brew! I hope that you’ve liked the deck and that at least some of you are gonna test it. The whole process of building an innovative deck from scratch and then writing an in-depth guide about it was really fun.
If you have any ideas or suggestions, be sure to leave the comment below. Also, I encourage every one of you to participate in the voting – we want you to be the ones deciding what we’re gonna build next. If you have your own deck concepts and want us to try them in future Brews, leave them in the comment sections with short description!