By now most of you are probably familiar with Dengxu’s shaman list (affectionately referred to as Senpai) that has been seeing play on ladder the last few days. I decided to take it for a spin this season and did a pretty quick climb to the top 10 in about 120 games give or take since the reset (hadn’t touched shaman in a while it required some relearning). I did not receive the list first hand so it may not be 100% “correct” but it is within 1-2 cards with the flex slots being +1 or -1 Gnomish Inventor and -1 +1 Loatheb. Below is some matchup and mulligan analysis against popular Naxx strategies that I’ve put together. This is just a compilation of key points I think you should know in each matchup and won’t necessarily seem cohesive. Feedback is always appreciated.
http://www.twitch.tv/protohypelol (I stream every day in the afternoon Central time)
http://righteousdawngaming.com/ (My team)
Priority keeps on the play: Haunted Creeper, Feral Spirit, Harvest Golem, Argent Squire, Shock/Bolt/Biter (only 1) Flametongue Totem (if hand allows).
The key to the Miracle matchup lies in your ability to detect what kind of removal he’s packing early in the game. Playing around everything by not playing anything is a fallacy. I like to compare the timing of miracles removal to Handlock, meaning the first few turns are generally free and once you start transitioning into the mid game you need to be more aware about limiting your board presence for sweepers. Depending on how my opener looks I’ll consider keeping a Gnomish because the body is awkward for them to deal with and there is no better feeling than having it Eviscerated.
Priority keeps on the draw: Haunted Creeper, Feral Spirit, Harvest Golem, Argent Squire, Loatheb/Doomhammer with adequate opener.
Knowing how to navigate the coin when your hand is clogged full of 3 drops can be the difference between a win and a loss. T1 Creeper is almost always the preferred play because we can guarantee a creature on t2 with totem. Waiting a whole turn to put 1 more power on the board in the form of a Golem I just don’t feel is worth it. If you have the ability to t1 Creeper t2 Flametongue I would try it almost every time. Flametongue on turns 4-6 just isn’t as scary because of how many cards miracle is cycling, so make it count.
You should be using Loatheb the turn after he plays Gadget with almost zero exceptions. If you play it on curve just because you can and it lands too early he can easily Eviscerate it and your best card in the matchup is gone. The same goes with Doomhammer. If you have the ability to save it until the turn you’re Rockbiting for 10, do so. Using it too early can tip him off as to how much damage is in your hand and allow him the necessary time to recover with Shadowstep/Farseer. On a similar note try to punish his Blade Flurry or Fan with Feral Spirit.
Overall Difficulty: Hard (simply because there are so many nuances).
Priority keeps on the play: Argent Squire, Haunted Creeper, Earth Shock, Lightning Storm, Feral Spirit, Flametongue Totem.
I won’t bullshit you the matchup is hard. You will be behind the entire game because drawing cards is really good (who knew?). That said with a reasonably balanced hand and decent curve it’s winnable. You have to prioritize board position in front of your spells so that when you’re casting them you can take advantage and potentially lock up a lead. Don’t be afraid to Shock a Voidwalker to get your Golem on his Alpha or Juggler. Also, Flametongue has the potential to be game breaking if hooked up to a Haunted Creeper on turn 2. Try it and see how it works for you.
Lightning Storm will be your saving grace in this matchup but if you pull the trigger too soon the overload by itself will kill you. As tempting as it may be you can’t keep Hex in your opener it’s just too slow. If you’re even on board and have a Doomhammer the card will single handedly win you the game, but if you’re behind and can’t punch through problematic taunts it’s effectively dead. Use caution when thinking about keeping it. Don’t be afraid to slam a mediocre Defender on the table to kill one of his guys.
Priority keeps on the draw: Argent Squire, Haunted Creeper, Harvest Golem,Lightning Storm, Defender of Argus (if hand allows), Biter/Bolt/Shock (only 1).
I personally like being on the coin in this matchup because you can accelerate a resilient creature and defend it with 1 cost spells/totems. I’m not sure if there’s any numerical data to back up the preference but it feels pretty good to be doing against Zoo. We’ve talked about controlling the board and how to do it but the reason it’s so important is because of the colossal value that Fire Ele can get you in one turn. If you’re barely behind or even on board going into turn 6 Zoo is in real trouble because Fire ele is for sure killing 2+ creatures when it hits the table. Take every step to get to that point. As a closing note try to bank your Hex for Doomguard and nothing else, but you will occasionally be forced to use it on a 4/4 egg or Dark iron just to survive a turn.
Overall Difficulty: Hard
Priority keeps on the play: Argent Squire, Haunted Creeper, Harvest Golem, Flametongue Totem, Loatheb, Gnomish Inventor, Feral Spirit.
Unlike the previous matchups Warrior is actually heavily in our favor if played correctly. However the difference between Flametongue here compared to say, Miracle, is that Warrior will be trying to get their value engine started by playing a gaggle of 1 power creatures that are really bad against it, which is where we start to build our lead. Our board will naturally evolve faster than his because of the quality of our creatures to the point that he will be forced to brawl or start to use executes/shield slams on cards he would otherwise not. This is where Loatheb is a total bomb. Every single answer that Warriors have is a spell.
Priority keeps on the draw: Loatheb, Haunted Creeper, Harvest Golem, Flametongue Totem, Earth Shock, Feral Spirit, Defender of Argus.
Defender is actually much more valuable on the draw because you can accelerate it onto your turn 1/2 play and a totem. This forces him to waste Axe charges on crappy creatures and it gives us a way to chip his armor down so our Loatheb/Fire ele can’t be shield slammed. Barring he doesn’t have the Axe it also allows us to place a Flametongue behind a pretty resilient defense forcing him to 2 for 1 it. Loatheb is still a great play but much like the Miracle matchup you have to find that critical juncture in the game where you know he can’t deal with your board if you play it. Counting to 10 is a relevant skill that should be sharpened.
Overall Difficulty: Easy
Priority keeps on the play: Argent Squire, Haunted Creeper, Harvest Golem, Feral Spirit, Flametongue Totem, Gnomish Inventor, Earth Shock/Rockbiter. (Preferably Shock for Webspinner)
Our worst enemy. The doge. Securing an early board lead is imperative for not falling behind in the mid game and having to over commit into a UTH combo. Use Flametongue religiously as early as possible to kill his dudes or just to apply pressure before turn 5. He will either have to prematurely use a Hunters Mark or tap out for a Kill Command to get rid of it. Neither of those answers are very efficient for him because he has to use a Boar or already have a creature on board to Hunters Mark and he wants to save Kill Command more than anything.
Priority keeps on the draw: Loatheb (if hand allows), Feral Spirit, Argent Squire, Harvest Golem, Haunted Creeper,Flametongue Totem, Manatide totem (if you have early pressure), Earth Shock.
If we can secure a board lead and follow it up with Loatheb he will be forced to Highmane on turn 6 which will put him even further behind due to Hex being such an effective answer. Doomhammer also fills a similar role constantly clearing his board to make Houndmaster/KC/Timber Wolf bad. Defender/Gnomish are both great in this matchup because of their awkward bodies and overall resilience. If you’re not overextending and you use your cards efficiently the matchup is actually pretty even, but sometimes they just have the nut and double UTH you. Don’t take it too harshly as almost no deck can beat that opener.
Overall Difficulty: Medium-Hard (requires considerable finesse to play around UTH correctly over multiple turns while still applying pressure)
Not worth talking about, almost an auto loss because of Deathlord. 20/80
Priority keeps on the play: Argent Squire, Haunted Creeper, Harvest Golem, Flametongue Totem,Loatheb, Gnomish Inventor.
Feral spirit doesn’t shine in this matchup like it does in others because their entire deck is sweepers and beef. Flametongue is still really effective early in the game because they typically don’t do anything until turn 4-5. Try to establish enough board to push damage through or kill a Senjin but don’t overextend into Pyro/equality on turn 4. Always save a Hex or Shock for Tirian.
Priority keeps on the draw: Mana Tide Totem, Haunted Creeper, Harvest Golem, Flametongue Totem,Loatheb, Feral Spirit.
Even though Feral isn’t insane it’s still fine on the coin to apply pressure before turn 4. I like Mana tide early to net free cards and to potentially force him to use a Truesilver charge just to kill it. Just remember that their only removal is sweepers. The problem with slow rolling pallys is that when you do eventually play threats they will be swept without hesitation because he hasn’t had to use them. It’s better to take an aggressive stance and force one out of his hand so you can play some higher priority creatures with the hope of having them survive for a turn. Overall the matchup is not in our favor but still pretty close if you don’t overextend.
Overall Difficulty: Moderate-Hard
Priority keeps on the play: Argent Squire, Feral Spirit, Flametongue Totem, Haunted Creeper, Harvest Golem, Defender of Argus, Earth Shock (for drake),Hex (if you have solid cards).
Playing against Handlock is the definition of speed racer. Your flametongue is guaranteed to survive until turn 3-4 meaning tons of free damage. If he doesn’t sweep on that turn and plays a drake or giant instead you’re well on your way to winning. Handlock doesn’t have a lot of in between beatdown creatures, just high priority dudes that we have extremely efficient answers to. I think the only time I have ever lost to Handlock playing this list was when all 6 of his threats were played on almost concurrent turns.
Priority keeps on the draw: Loatheb (insane on an open board), Feral Spirit, Haunted Creeper, Harvest Golem, Flametongue Totem, Earth Shock.
Over extend, Loatheb, profit. Your only forethought will come from planning doomhammer lethal a couple turns ahead, otherwise you’re smashing face and removing whatever he plays. I want to offer some sort of well thought out explanation but truth be told there isn’t one. Space your spells well, always save shock for his drakes unless its very clear that he doesn’t have one and you have to fit damage through. For instance he turn 4 Giants turn 5 Sludge Belcher and Soulfires he for sure won’t have it and even if he does it won’t have scary toughness. Don’t be afraid to swing past his one guy if you don’t have an efficient answer for it.
Thanks for reading!