Hi Hearthstone Community,
I was the 7th rank legend at the end of season 1 in NA behind 6 Miracle Rogues. Besides me, there was 1 midrange shaman in the top 16 and amongst the rest we saw a smattering of control warrior, druids and hunters.
This is largely a repost from 2 weeks earlier to answer questions etc. as the community seems interested. The earlier thread can be found here: http://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/comments/23dw7l/an_even_better_case_for_shamans_legend_tempo/
NOTE: the decklist has not changed since then.
My Hearthstone Background: I have been playing since test season 1 and made legend every season except test season 4. I’ve played every single deck archetype at one point or another and can say I have at least decent experience with most common decks out there. My favorite classes are Shaman, Warlock, Rogue, and Warrior.
The reasons I played shaman this season: 1. I think it’s the strongest class 2. It has the strongest class cards for tempo specifically 3. It is not a straightforward curve class like druid(I HATE DRUIDS) 4. Shaman, especially my decklist, has a ridiculous win rate vs almost any druid decklist. At the end of season, I was something like 15-1 vs druids in top legend play. 5. Everyone is hating on Shaman because they think it sucks vs Hunter. Actually, I have a very positive win rate vs all Hunter decks, but the match-up does hinge on them getting buzzard unleash.
Now for an quick look at match-ups:
Aggro-mage: Mully for axe, earthshock, and this will run out of steam fast. I think I saw this once or twice. Easy matchup. Control-mage is almost a 100% matchup as this shaman deck outpaces control-mage by alot. Just be careful of flamestrike. Hex is also way better than polymorph.
Mirror-Shaman: Well, not much to say, but I beat almost all shaman mirrors with this deck because of a few card choices that I will explain later.
Druid: This is a very good match-up for shaman. The most important thing to note here is how many swipes and wraths druid has left. Play the game to bait these removals out and then board-control will cede to you quickly. Use Hexes entirely for tempo. Mulligan for unbounds and flametongues. Wolves are actually terrible in the starting hand as druid typically plays minions that do not die trading into them.
Paladin: I have no idea how this match-up should go. I did lose to specialist’s legend pally deck once, but I think overall, shaman should be favored in that match-up as well. As for Aggro-pally with divine favors, Shaman will have to play out all its removal to keep up. This makes divine favor suck in the mid-late game, and Shaman’s Fire ele’s and flametongues will edge out a large board advantage.
Warrior: Aggro is usually no problem. Just bide for time with removal until you get wolves, or arguses. Tiny taunts destroy aggro warrior’s tempo. Control, on the other hand, is one of the harder match-ups that can go into fatigue if things don’t spiral out of control for the warrior or the shaman in the mid-game. You will have just enough answers for all the warriors major legendaries as they come out, but you will want to save hexes for the 9 drops, and use earth shocks on cairne and sylvanas. Baron Geddon is super annoying, and I find myself having to whack him more often than not with my face to remove him. The key to winning is to not let warrior get amazing brawls and to force him to keep removing your board without planting his own threats. 3 health taunted totems are amazing for doing that. I would say this deck has a 50-50 matchup with shaman (but only with geddon and brawl). If either are not in there, shaman wins in a landslide.
NOTE: the removal of brawl from warrior control has improved this matchup markedly as you no longer need to play around it.
Priest: HAHA. No chance.
Rogue: Tempo rogue doesn’t work against shaman as you will have too many direct removal answers for his creatures. Also, the tiny taunts are way too much for rogue to get through and deal face damage. Miracle rogue fairs much better, but I haven’t played enough against them to get a read on the match-up. I did lose and win once. Maybe 50-50?
NOTE: This has obviously changed since 2 weeks ago. Everyone and their mother was playing some variation of leeroy miracle or malygos miracle rogue at the higher levels. I did lose a few times to them as I was expecting tempo at first. If you can assume Miracle rogue is coming, you will fair much better. Mulligan into aggressive opening threats like squires, flametongues, wolves, and unbounds. You must force the rogue to expend removal BEFORE auctioneer comes out. Played this way, I give this shaman decklist an edge vs leeroy miracle, but it may be close depending on rogue’s draws. Against Maly rogue, hex kinda ruins their day.
Warlock: Handlock is at a disadvantage against shaman solely because they run twilight drakes vs earth shock. Often times, it will be up to who draws what to determine who wins. As for zoo, mulligan into earth shocks, lightning storms, the axe, and argent squires. Unbounds are okay, but wolves in the starting hand is asking for trouble. The tempo lost on the following turn after wolves is often a game loser. Zoo just has too many ways to buff minions outside of 2 damage death. Hexes will wreck doomguards and dark iron dwarves. Expect to lose HP until around turn 5 or 6 when fire ele comes out and you regain board control and presence. Fire ele blows up zoo because it removes a threat and does not die to soul fire. There is a little luck involved in the matchup, but shaman is definitely favored at around 65-35 I’d say.
Hunter: My laddering occurred before the popularization of midrange hunter(which this shaman variation is very favored against), but against face-hunter, I also have a favorable win-rate of about 60-40. Mully for earth-shock, wolves, unbounds, squires, and flametongues. In the face hunter matchup, it is all about the race. You need to keep the pressure on him to stay alive. If you can force a kill-command on a minion or an unleash on turn 4 or unleash without a buzzard, you’ve probably won.
ONTO CARD CHOICES!
Earth shock x2: A Shaman Staple. It is an aggro murderer, and against control, you will find it silencing cairnes with +2 or +3 spell damage. It is gross.
Squires x2: Originally had 1. Now have added 1 more to counter super aggro decks as well as get more value out of arguses and flametongues. Squires can get insane value in this deck.
Lightning bolt x2: Like earth shock, this is amazing vs aggro because it removes a threat instantly and it is also amazing against control because spellpower often brings it up to 4 or 5 or 6 damage.
Rockbiter x2: a win condition with al’akir and another removal. Very versatile. Must have.
Stormforged Axe x1: Originally tried doomhammer, but found that I couldn’t take the face punishment that it required after spending 7 mana. Also the axe comes out much earlier against aggro decks, and I find the damage early on critical to take back board. It is also an ez way to buff unbounds.
Bloodmage Thalnos: Loothoarder with a bonus. The spellpower unequivocably benefits shaman decks more than any other class.
Flametongue x2: Originally had 1, but 2 is just too good. I 100% believe tempo shaman is strictly better than control shamans that run 1 flametongue.
Feral Spirit x2: 2 2/3’s for 3 mana is insane. Only drawback is your next turn is at 2 less mana, which makes this card situational in a lot of matchups that can produce answers to the wolves. Nonetheless, this is a critical card as both wolves have taunt, and their possible presence in the hand makes T3 unbound terrifying.
Hex x2: your anti-control card that puts your win-rate against most control decks into unfair zones.
Lightning Storm x2: Same price as wolves, but more reactive. Insanely good with any amount of spellpower. I tried removing 1 for a forked lightning, but in the end, storm is just too versatile both in early and late game to be missed.
Unbound Elemental x2: This is the shaman turn 3 or turn 2 pressure card. Few classes can remove it efficiently on these turns and it will force alot of bad plays. Like all other shaman cards, It has early game potential and late game viability as you can play it with overload cards on the same turn when at 6+ mana
Earthen Ring Farseer x1: I included this card to put myself slightly out of lethal range against hunters. It makes the matchup much better(like 5% better–it’s that good), and it finds use in control games healing fire ele’s and unbounds.
Defenders of Argus x2: a 1/3 totem is way way way better than a 0/2 totem. Argus is one of the cards that will create instant board presence with your hero power. You will find that argus gets full value ALOT when playing this tempo deck.
Azure drake x2: 2 of the 3 card draws in the deck. It is like a neutral ancient of lore, but the spell damage is also dangerous in such a spell heavy deck. This makes drakes a huge threat. It’s my opinion that drakes are the best in shaman decks.
Gadgetzan Auctioneer x1: Since this deck does lack a little card draw, I stuff one of these in there. I originally had a mana tide, but I have always hated that card because it doesn’t actually present a real threat. Auctioneers are similar to drakes in a shaman deck because they make spells much stronger.
Argent Commander x1: Just one for the potential utility with flametongue or rockbiter. I find the 2 health very unreliable, but sometimes you just need the charge with the body to regain board.
Fire Elemental x2: Every card in the shaman arsenal is so much value. I hope I don’t have to explain this one.
Al’ Akir: A possible finisher against control, and the door closer against aggro. What was once a legendary I DE’d twice, is now my favorite one after recrafting it :/
NEW SECTION – Notable Cards that Failed the Cut
Mana Tide: This card was a death sentence vs aggro hunter and zoo 2 weeks ago. There is an argument for adding 1 into a more controlling shaman decklist right now, but I think the argument is weak. Mana is just too high variance a card for me to like. At best, it will draw maybe 2 – 3 cards and a removal. At worst, it’s a 3 mana draw 1 card and heal 3 hp if you’re behind. For tempo purposes and variance reasons, this is a no go.
Doomhammer: Another card that didn’t make the cut mainly for tempo reasons again. Shaman REALLY REALLY wants board control. Paying 7 mana for a weapon is really really slow, and if you are forced to attack anything with more than 2 hp, You’ll be paying to lose HP as well. On top of that, I have intentionally crafted this shaman deck to avoid BGH targets, Black knight value, oozes, and harrison jones.
Cairne Bloodhoof: I think the hype on this guy is dying down finally. He really is just a chillwind yeti. Sometimes you play him T6, and lose the game to sap, earthshock, or a full board that just faces you to death. Cairne is a great card in heavy control decks that don’t mind clear boards, but I’d rather totem and chillwind yeti than play Cairne. All the shaman cards come onto the field and gain immediate value(ex. flametongue, fire ele). Cairne doesn’t follow the theme, and he represents a tempo loss on turn 6. I originally had him in the list, but later cut him.