Aggro Shaman is one of the newest decks to hit the Hearthstone scene, but it is very powerful. Some of the best opening minions and an incredible burn package allow it to go toe-to-toe with any deck from other aggro decks all the way to midrange and heavy control. As such, many people like taking it to climb the ladder with. If you are one of those people, you need to know how Aggro Shaman stands up against the other popular decks in the game. This guide will help with that by looking at how Aggro Shaman uses strong opening minions and late game burn to fight against the combo potential of Midrange Druid.
[toc]Sample Decklists [/toc]
When playing Aggro Shaman it’s important to know that you don’t have to be restricted to just a few cards or one decklist. While there are some cards ([card]Tunnel Trogg[/card], [card]Crackle[/card], [card]Lava Burst[/card]) that this deck cannot operate without, you do have a surprising amount of wiggle room. There are a lot of aggressive cards in Hearthstone, and you can freely pick and choose what you want to fill this shell and gives you the best chance of winning. Remember, you always want to tweak the deck to best fit your style. If you want to all-out aggressive with things like [card]Arcane Golem[/card] and [card]Flametongue Totem[/card], you can. However, you can also take it a little slower and do damage through a stronger board presence rather than with charge. To help you understand the core deck you want to build around, a guide to one of the versions has been linked below.
Once upon a time, Aggro Druid was the most popular list for Malfurion. Now, it is combo Druid, which is good because it makes mulliganing against the tree-hugger a little more straightforward. The plan here, just like against most decks, is to use an early curve and then build off of that curve as the game goes along. You want early minions much more than burn, since Druid has a very hard time dealing with high-health minions like [card]Tunnel Trogg[/card] and [card]Totem Golem[/card]. That being said, you also need to answer their early threats as well. Any early [card]Innervate[/card]d minion can spell trouble as can as unchecked [card]Darnassus Aspirant[/card]. To deal with that you want to keep one or two removal spells alongside your early game cards.
Cards to Keep
[card]Sir Finley Mrrgglton[/card]
[card]Lava Shock[/card] can be kept if you have no turn two play or if you have a large amount of overload.
[card]Knife Juggler[/card] is not a good keep on its own, but is very good if it slots into the curve.
[card]Crackle[/card] is a good keep alongside early minions.
[card]Feral Spirit[/card] should always be kept with the coin or a one-two punch coming before it.
[card]Argent Horserider[/card] follows the same rules as [card]Feral Spirit[/card].
[card]Lava Burst[/card] is very strong if you have a fast opening.
[card]Doomhammer[/card], while very slow, can be kept with the coin alongside a super fast opening.
[toc]How to Win[/toc]
This matchup is not an easy one, and it really does move in and out of your favor based on a couple of factors. The biggest one is ramp. Druid has some extremely powerful cards that are often just a turn too slow to fight your early aggression. However, if they get an extra crystal early then all of the sudden they can start taking control of the game because those threats are coming down a turn earlier. You want to plan for that as best you can. Most of the time you cannot fully interact with something like a turn three [card]Innervate[/card], but you should always be planning for it and thinking about what happens if they suddenly push something big out.
Something to always be aware of here is the amount of damage Druid can do at any given time. [card]Swipe[/card] and [card]Keeper of the Grove[/card] are normally clear cards, but they can just as easily put the pressure on you. While you are the aggressor, this is one match where it is ok to blink. That is to say, don’t be afraid to clear. Druid has an insane amount of burst (something we will cover in more detail later) and you never want to die just because you didn’t want to kill one of their minions. It is ok to be careful here and to really think about clearing vs. hitting face.
When it comes to your side of the board, always remember just how powerful your cards are. Pound for pound you have some of the strongest early minions in the game, and that is something Druid does not have a good answer to. Never be afraid to flood the board here, and never hold back from playing everything you got. Remember, you are the aggressor. It is up to them to answer you.
[toc]Early Game Strategy[/toc]
The first stages of the game are going to be attempting to get some kind of hold on the board. Druid does not have too many great early removal options, but they do have [card]Innervate[/card], [card]Wild Growth[/card] and [card]Wrath[/card]. Each of those three cards helps further their gameplan by stalling or pushing them ahead in mana. Your job is to play cards in such a way where you can just keep something on the board each turn.
You need to kill [card]Darnassus Aspirant[/card] at all costs. For this reason, always try to keep one [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] or [card]Rockbiter Weapon[/card] should it come your way. While you may not want to trade into it, remember that keeping Druid off of their ramp is always priority number one. The only exception to this rule is you can leave Darnassus alive only if Druid has no coin and is going into turn three since they often are going to play shade or nothing. However, if you do that make sure you can kill it next turn.
[card]Totem Golem[/card] and [card]Tunnel Trogg[/card]. This duo is very strong (and the reason the deck even exists in the first place) but here they are an absolute powerhouse. If Druid does not have [card]Wrath[/card] or early ramp they almost have no way to interact with either of these minions. For this reason, these are the two cards you need to mulligan for over everything else.
[card]Feral Spirit[/card] is also extremely strong against Druid. They have never been good at dealing with a pair or 2/3’s and this matchup is no different. For that reason, play them on turn three almost always. Not only do they survive a turn four [card]Keeper of the Grove[/card], but they also make [card]Swipe[/card] almost useless as it only deals with one of them and leaves a 2/2 behind.
This is the part of the game where you can fall behind if you’re not careful. Despite the fact that it wins through the combo, Druid makes most of its money during turns four through seven. These are the turns where the giant minions start to come down and where Druid amps up its power level. That makes it hard to push through on the ground and forces you to rely on your burn.
Be very careful of [card]Keeper of the Grove[/card]. The four drop may seem harmless on paper, but it almost always kills a minion and drops a 2/4 into play. You simply don’t have the resources to deal with a 2/4 in the way you want to and it is going to eat all of your minions. That does not mean you shouldn’t kill it if you can, just make sure it is clean.
If you run it, you absolutely need to save [card]Earth Shock[/card] for these stages. At some point in this game you are going to have to deal with taunt, and if you can’t you will often be locked out of the game. Earth Shock is one of the only cards in your deck that completely bypasses something standing in your way. If you don’t run Earth Shock, [card]Lava Burst[/card] can be used as a form of clearing as well.
As unfortunate as it is, you need to always kill [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card] unless you are setting up a turn two lethal. While you have a good idea of what your opponent has, you do not know the exact cards your opponent is playing. Druids run a lot of different cards, and you never know the creative ways they can kill you if you leave the Emperor up for more than a turn.
When moving through the middle of the game you always want to look for an opportunity to play [card]Ancestral Knowledge[/card]. The end of the game is most often going to be a race to lethal, and you need to get some damage cards into your hand to prepare for it. This card helps you do that by enabling you more minions or just putting more burn into your hand.
[toc]Late Game Strategy[/toc]
This part of the game is going to be a race, with a small caveat. While you are racing, you are also keeping very careful watch over your opponent’s board. As stated, you don’t want to lose a game just because you got lazy or greedy. While you may not want to trade your [card]Totem Golem[/card] away, it is the right move to do if it takes care of something like [card]Ancient of Lore[/card] or [card]Loatheb[/card].
When racing, you want to constantly throw damage at your opponent’s face and hope they can’t kill you before you kill them. There are a few ways to go about doing that, but the best is with a ton of burn spells. While in some matchups you want to hold back burn to bait out your opponent or survey the board, this is not one of those matchups. Some turns you are going to just [card]Crackle[/card]/[card]Lava Burst[/card] them in the face and then plan to do it again a turn later. This game often ends by turn nine because either you kill them with your direct damage or they combo you down.
Be constantly aware of [card]Savage Roar[/card]. This may sound like a really obvious tip, but it is one people forget all of the time. Druid does not need the full combo to kill you. Only a few minions on board paired with a [card]Swipe[/card] or some other damage can often do the trick. When going face it is easy to forget about game state, so just always be hyper-aware and add two extra damage to all of your opponent’s minions.