Hey all, just reached legend with shaman and figured I’d write it up.
For the build I owe thanks to Khymera who I saw recommend curving shaman out higher without the usual harvest golems/unbounds on his stream, so check him out: http://www.twitch.tv/khymera11. Not sure if my list ended up the same as his but they’re probably close. Before that I was still trying to fit in golems at the expense of some of the 5 slots.
- 2x Earthshock
- 2x Lightning Bolt
- 2x Rockbiter
- 2x Hex
- 2x Lightning Storm
Early Board Presence:
- 1x Zombie Chow
- 2x Haunted Creepers
- 2x Feral Spirits
- 2x Flametongue Totems
- 2x Defender of Argus
- 1x Gnomish Inventor – You can try thalnos or mana-tide in place of gnomish, if you like. I think a 2/4 does good work on board.
- 2x Azure Drake
- 2x Sludge Belcher
- 2x Fire Elemental
- 1x The Black Knight
- 2x Azure Drakes (Yeah double counting)
- 1x Doomhammer
- 1x Al’Akir the Win Lord
You can see how the deck performed ranking up here:
This is mostly matches from rank 6 to Legend. Early in the season I dusted leeroy for tirion and was trying out control paladin for the first part of the ladder climb.
The quick report is this: Hunter is king of the ladder, followed by zoo, shaman bot, priest, and control warrior, with about equal amounts of handlock, druid, and miracle. Mage and Paladin are rare.
Shaman is strong vs post-nerf miracle, paladin, mid-range hunter, and control warrior. With the mirror you should be able to outplay the bots and outvalue lower curved builds quite a bit.
The problem is you’re 50/50 at best with the dominant ladder decks: zoo and face hunter. So shaman is sort of anti-anti-meta.
You go close to 50/50 with the dominant decks and pick up a pretty positive win rate against most everything else, especially the dominant counter meta deck which is control warrior.
I’ll post match up guides in the comments as I put them together. I’ll start off with Control Warrior here though.
Mulligan: You want early board presence in any form. If you have that, a flametongue isn’t bad to have for early pressure. If you have board presence, earth shock is valuable for shutting down acolytes (or maybe protecting your board from an unstable ghoul). A lightning bolt or rockbiter will also do in a pinch for removing ghouls/acolytes/armorsmiths without them getting much value. In general don’t worry too much about him slamming an acolyte or armorsmith into, say, a haunted creeper. Chances are you’ll get some sort of answer.
Things to watch for:
Weapons are one of the warriors best ways to deal with you, so you want to try to make him get as little value out of those weapons as possible. Try to force him to hit totems with argus and hide valuable minions behind taunts. Roll taunt totem when you need it like a boss. In general, if you have the mana to totem and make plays, do it first and see how it affects your lines of play.
Play around death’s bite: Protect creepers from getting wiped out by whirlwind effects before you can use them – they’re also brawl insurance; try to have drakes protected from death bite’s first swing and try to avoid feeding 5 health minions into the second swing, though a belcher is a good enough way to soak up a charge for an incoming fire elemental. If you’re anticipating a death’s bite, play a 5 health minion into it to make things awkward for him.
BGH: You don’t run BGH targets, but flametongue + fire ellie (or loatheb) = BGH. So does cruel task on the fire ellie/loatheb, or cruel task on an argused or flame tongue adjacent drake or TBK. So be wary of that.
Brawl is a big danger, so avoid it by holding back minions and abusing your totemic call. The warrior has a finite supply of removal and you have an endless supply of totems.
After t5 but before brawl try to minimize the number of midrange minions you extend on to the board. 1 is usually enough and you don’t want more than 2. If you are going to put out two, one of them should probably have drawn you a card or done something important for you when it came into play. For similar reasons, with multiple midrange bodies on board, sometimes it’s reasonable to pass on toteming so you have better odds of a good brawl result.
If Cairne or Sylvanas are on the enemy’s board, be extra afraid of brawl as the deathrattle effects give them a way to come out way ahead after a brawl. Neutralize them before that can happen.
Legendaries are how the warrior wins. You’ll almost always see Grom, Rag, Sylv, Cairne, TBK, and Alex or Ysera, sometimes both, and sometimes even Geddon and Harrison. If they’re greedy they’ll have a faceless in there too, so you need to answer their threats quickly. Luckily, that faceless doesn’t have much to hit in your deck.
Earthshock can handle Sylv or Cairne, but you can often force Sylvanas to take something of not much worth and just trade out cairne. Only hex them out if you don’t have other options or it sets you up to win before their other legends can get value and you have that second hex.
Aim to trade out at least one of Alex, Rag, or Grom with minions. Ysera is best met with a hex but hard to know whether or not you’ll see her. Unless you’re confident in your board getting you lethal soon, it’s typically correct to trade out a legendary rather than hex it if you have the option. Hex always works, trading doesn’t.
For this reason, unless you see lethal, you probably want to try hold on to your second flametongue. One’s good for early pressure and forcing him to exhaust his hand dealing with your pressure, but you want to get some high value trades or lethal out of the second.
Geddon is perhaps your biggest problem, as he makes rag more efficient and is a magnet for your hexes, as a good warrior will set him up to wipe your board, and five health is awkward for you to remove without a lava burst in your deck. Do what you have to to kill him and remax your board, because you can’t leave him up, but try to be ready for the follow up play.
Harrison is Harrison. You can try and play around it but whatever. You can still burst with Al’Akir and even though you lose however many charges and the value they represent, you can still outvalue the warrior and Harrison just means you deck them faster.
Sometimes you can (or have to) ignore their legendaries. A 10/8 grom still has to go through a 1/3 argused totem or a feral spirit. With a full board Rag will more often than not just hit totems. And Ysera is slow. Yes, Awakens wrecks you but sometimes they don’t hit anything useful and you kill them before that second card does anything.
There are two main paths to beating the warrior: burst them down or deck them out.
Burst: If they can’t get a huge armor lead and you get in enough early damage with plays like t3 ferals into t4 flame tongue, then it’s just a matter of applying pressure until they’re into burst range (and have the cards to do it). If they haven’t played alex, it’s not worth pushing them below 15 unless you’re killing them.
Because of that (and double shield block) use doomhammer judiciously. Clear armor (and board) to protect minions but don’t just wack away their health unless you have good reason to do so.
Loatheb is clutch for an early win: get him low with a strong board, slam loatheb before he can brawl it out, then finish him.
Value: You only run 3 cantrip cards, he has two acolytes, two shield blocks, and maybe a slam or other cycle minion. He’ll probably hit fatigue first and if you’ve traded out his minions well he’ll just be praying his likely life lead and armoring up can save him from whatever you have on board.
With Alex, your first 15 health are a resource to be used, so you can gain more value with an early doomhammer/rockbiter on his belchers, TBKs, and other 5 health minions. Al’Akir can also be used for removal rather than burst in a pinch in the late game. And if he’s removed stuff and is barely alive he’s a poor faceless target.
Exhaust his removal on silly stuff; kill his legendaries and strong minions with doomhammer, al’akir, and flametongue; then grind him out with the midrange minions you’ve saved from brawl and death’s bite.
If they run some excessive combination of geddon, double brawl, gorehowl, and harrison, you might lose the value war, but you hopefully shouldn’t be running into such a crazily teched warrior on ladder. But I’ve been harisonned, geddoned, and/or double brawled and still won the value war so don’t count yourself out.
There are a lot of variants running around now, but without leeroy I think shaman basically out bursts them now. Doomhammer beats deckhand and arcane golem.
Mulligan: Early board presence, 3 damage removal, and loatheb. 3 damage removal kills their early drops, early board forces them to use their spells before gadget and starts pressuring their health. Loatheb is loatheb.
Things to watch out for
It’s the same old stuff. Gadget conceal. Coldblood something conceal. Sometimes you get Alex miracle or Malygos miracle.
If they run…
Malygos – You can go faster than they can. Malygos will try to hold conceals and preps, so if they aren’t being used with auctioneer, that’s a clue. They also tend to run double flurry.
Alex – Again, you’re faster. But if you think they have alex (sprint is a clue) you might want a hex for the dragon.
Violet teacher – Storm kills their tokens, so save it for that.
Edwin Van Cleef – Him and thalnos are your only real earthshock targets. That or something with cold blood. If you earthshock EVC without killing him, he can be shadowstepped and played even bigger, so try to remove him in one turn.
Blade flurry – Don’t over extend 3/4 health minions/taunts against a rogue. You probably only want one of either ferals or argused totems on the board at any given time, unless they’ve shown flurry. If they’re running perditions, assassin’s, or showing signs of malygos, they probably run two flurries, so watch out for it.
Hex: Since you’re faster than the miracle’s with big hex targets, you can be relatively liberal with hex. Drakes, auctioneers, and violet teachers are fine hex targets (in some decks, they’re the best ones), so you don’t have to be too conservative with your hexes and can use it to gain tempo and keep up pressure with your board rather than trading it out.
TBK: Minion-centric miracles sometimes run belcher, but if you don’t have better options a 6 mana vanilla yeti is fine. Don’t hold him hoping for a target to hit if dropping him is a superior play.
In general, miracle is now either slower (Maylgos, Alex), so you move faster, or it’s more board centric, so you out trade/removal them on board, or it’s trying to race, in which case you have argus, belcher, ferals, and taunt totems. Make them deal with more taunts than they can handle, watch their life bleed down as they try to deal with your board and you start working in damage from board presence, then burst them before the slower miracles can get their kills off, or after the faster ones have run out of steam against your taunts.
Priest is typically considered disfavored for shaman, but I’ve ended up with a positive win-rate, though it looked like 50/50 for awhile and I don’t have the most matches vs them so it’s hard to know for sure. In any case…
Mulligan: Early board presence and 3 damage removal. If you’re desperate Earthshock works on a cleric and also responds to undertaker, but they are not as likely to buff it out of range of 3 damage so it’s sub optimal. 3 damage kills cleric, chow, undertaker, and unhealed blademaster. On coin with other good cards, hex is an ok keep in case of Blademaster + Circle. Your minions can’t do much without flametongue, so you want it if you have board presence.
Things to Watch Out For
Holy Nova: Argus is a good tool for keeping totems and such out of nova range. They generally only run one though, and you should be able to recover.
Auchenai Circle: This will pretty much clear everything in your deck. So abuse totemic call and hold back minions so you can remax after a clear, and don’t be too worried about your minions dying when you trade out his board.
Shadow Madness: Belcher is his best target, argus on a belcher can protect it from shadow madness. Be wary of whether he has easy ways to trade out your board, but typically there’s not much you can do about it and there’s usually only one in the deck. If he hasn’t used it yet and it’s late game, be wary of leaving al’akir up.
Cabal Shadow Priest: You have lots of targets, the worst for you is probably flametongue. Anticipate it and try to have a way to remove it. For example, a t5 flametongue to trade out a board can be answered by a fire elemental if he cabals it. In fact, most anything he will cabal can be answered by a fire elemental.
The upside is you are very good at removing your own minions efficiently and you can often put them in a spot where they aren’t going to take anything more than an argus’d totem or some such.
Shadow Word Death: They typically only run 1, and your targets are loatheb and fire ellies. All the same, be somewhat wary of buffing drakes into range.
Mind Control: This has few targets in your deck. But it’s reason enough to be careful with leaving Al’Akir up.
Haunted Creeper: Priest doesn’t ping, and this isn’t control so you don’t have to worry about smite and pyro. Be liberal with breaking up your spiders to set up for flametongue plays and to play around cabal/shadow madness. You need both bodies to remove things like cultist in any case.
Hex: Deathrattle Priest has three targets: Cairne, Sylvanas, and Ysera. Earth shock also works on the first two, so you can be liberal with one hex. It’s worth it to kill a healed up blademaster, or even a dark cultist that’s threatening to destroy your board over and over again. Auchenai is also a potential target. It makes their hero power a totem killer.
Earthshock: Standard use vs sylvanas and cairne, but also useful to negate PW:S and Dark Cultist buffs or stop a cleric or auchenai.
Argus: Use him as a tool to play around nova (buff things to 3 health) and circle (buff multiple things to 5 health. On t6 he can only heropower one thing, so 2+ 5 health minions are a problem).
Doomhammer: Use doomhammer + rockbiter, and your health, aggressively to control the board.
Deathrattle priest lacks burst and lacks, ironically, sustain. They win off of board presence and their healing cards chiefly help their board, not their face. So the key to winning the match is denying them that board presence. This requires strong early game removal.
Use flametongue, spiders, ferals, and your removal spells aggressively to shut down their minions as soon as they hit the board. Deathrattle priest gets value by trading and healing, so trade their minions out on your terms before they can do that.
They are unlikely to get a chow burst off because they need him for early pressure and you will likely trade him out when he heals you. So you can get quite low without worrying through aggressive use of doomhammer.
Their other strength is card draw. The cleric must die. It’s often a bigger threat than their 3 or 4 attack minions. If they have the ability to make a board bigger than yours by slamming lots of minions and buffing their health, you’re going to struggle to remove it. Cleric gets them their minions and their clears.
They’re like you but with higher health minions. They buff minion health, you buff minion damage (if not directly, then with spells and doomhammer). So you have a relatively limited window to outvalue them, and you need tempo to do it.
They only have their hero power and typically just one holy nova to heal back up, so your damage on them is relatively sticky. Prioritize removing their board over hitting them, but with luck you should accumulate damage on their face. From there it’s a simple matter of bursting them down. Loatheb is an important tool to protect your board before going in for the kill. Holy nova costs 10, auchenai circle costs 9, death costs 8. If you slam loatheb on a powerful board chances are it’s sticking.
The dreaded hunter. It doesn’t matter if it’s face or midrange, you mulligan the same. But if they try to slam highmane on you, you’re probably winning this one.
Mulligan: Earth shock, early board presence, three damage removal. Rockbiter over lightning bolt, as you can’t afford overload, but better to take a guaranteed response to undertaker than a chance at one. Keep ferals on coin or with earlier plays.
What to watch out for
Traps!: In general, don’t proc unless you can handle it or in anticipation of a bow. If he’s got a bow up you can often afford to wait for a more favorable position.
Explosive: argus can be a good response, especially if you argus a healing totem. Sometimes you’ll want to pop it even if it gives a charge if you’re setting up taunts.
Snakes: Ignore it until your board can handle it or you can storm it out. If he gets up a taunt, well, crap. Signs its snakes: he slams a juggler or a taunt. Try to use spell removal for a taunt or juggler and truck face.
Freezing: You want to send back argus or a totem activated by flametongue or rockbiter. Just let your taunts sit.
Snipe/Misdirect: Whatever. Misdirect shouldn’t matter. Just roll some totems and attack with something weak. Argus is good if you know it’s snipe, or pop a creeper. Spirit wolves don’t get sniped.
Bow: Wolves stop the bow from getting to your face. If it’s t2 and he has a trap, try to pop it to avoid bow charges if you can.
Houndmaster: t4 (or 3 with coin) is houndmaster turn. Kill beasts before that, even if popping that creeper gives him more damage.
Unleash: Without buzzard this is less potent, but now they run juggler, cult master, dire wolf alpha, and/or timber wolf. There’s not much you can do. Play around it a little bit, but don’t worry too much. Lots of things with more than one health are a problem for unleash – more than two with buffs/juggler – so spirit wolves, belcher, and argused totems are a good stop gap. And now they don’t get insane card advantage after doing it, usually.
Highmane: You want hex, but you have other methods of removal. A fire elemental in response takes out a chunk and you can use spells/board to clear the rest. If you’re desperate you can just taunt up as well to get it weakened then follow up with a better answer next turn.
Earth Shock: It can be worth it for tempo to shock out a t1 leper gnome to protect early totems, but ideally you want to hit scientists, then creepers, with spellpower or one damage from the board. T1 webspinner is not a threat, but he is a threat t3. Try to shock out beasts before they get houndmastered, not after, but if you draw into it earthshocking a houndmastered creeper or webspinner is good value.
Mad scientist is a huge tempo swing for the hunter and you don’t want him to get it. If he wants a secret make him pay for it. In the mid to late game, if he’s card poor, loot hoarder and webspinner also become good targets. Keep him top decking.
Rockbiter: Probably your best response to a t1 undertaker on coin or a t1 undertaker coin lepergnome, as it doesn’t slow you down with overload.
Lightning Bolt: It’s pretty expensive for the early game, but on coin it works in a pinch to shut down undertaker and you can still coin into a two drop/totem or follow up with another 1 mana removal. It’s best mid game for killing jugglers, cult masters, houndmasters, and animal companions while also developing your board.
Creeper: Unless you’re handling an undertaker, you want the spiders out on board before you start spending one mana removal. Hunters dont ping so pop him for more damage. Worth coining out.
Hex: If you think they’re face, you aren’t going to find better targets than companions, scientists, houndmasters, and your other earthshock targets. I’m still not clear on what’s what with Hunter, lots of variations. It’s hard to predict whether you ought to hold out for highmane. I mean wolfrider’s a pretty good tell but other than that, cult master, juggler, houndmaster, owl, even tbk and belcher, get run in both highmane and non-highmane builds. So you’ll have to go off ladder experience.
Lightning storm: This is a big tempo loss early game. You want it mid game to deal with snakes, unleash, or a flood of small minions after they draw off of loothoarders or cult masters. Also cleans up the second half of a highmane and other assorted hunter rubbish on the board. Good odds it can kill a houndmaster. Really, there’s not much storm can’t kill with a little help in a hunter deck. The question is whether it’s worth the cost – usually it’s awkward, as it’s blocking your 5 and 6 drop minions.
Feral Spirits: In contrast, ferals are definitely worth the cost early game. They trade favorably with all the early drops and eat up bows. If you have 1 mana removal in hand coining them out can be a good way to get early tempo. Even without one mana removal coining them out can be good if you have plans for your 4 mana turn.
Flametongue: In most other matches you want to make sure you get value out of flametongue. Vs hunter, use it whenever it works. You don’t often need +2 attack to clear anything other than an animal companion, so just activating a totem and forcing them to expend a bow charge or a huffer attack can be good enough. It can draw kill commands if you can set it up behind a taunt as well. You use it to stall, activate totems or even pair with argus and another fresh totem, and threaten them when you get some tempo on board forcing them to use their reach on it.
Argus: sometimes it’s hard to double buff with him, but a 2/3 and one buffed totem is typically good enough if you have to do it. When you have board, try to protect your damage output (drakes, fire ellies, tbk) rather than taunting it by taunting totems and spectral spiders.
Doomhammer: You can use it for some board control but be careful. Your health is important so it’s best to let your board take the heat and use the hammer on their face.
Al’Akir: Use him aggressively to protect yourself and get board control, no point in holding on to him for a finisher combo when you’re under pressure from the hunter.
You win by shutting down their early board with removal and board presence, outvaluing them with midrange minions leaving them topdecking, then racing them down. Your concern here is gaining tempo against the hunter, not outvaluing him.
In early game you’re mostly fighting for board, but in the mid-game you need to start judging when you need to trade and when you need to put the pressure on him. If you aren’t getting in damage in the mid game you might not be able to finish him fast enough in the end game.
At some point you’ll get a stronger board and some defense and he’ll have to make the trades. Just keep in mind the ways he has to blow past your defenses (houndmaster, unleash, mark, kill command, tbk) and play around them the best you can by denying beasts and setting up multiple taunts.