Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hearthstone: Shaman

Yesterday, I mentioned the nerf to the Hunter Hero in Hearthstone and the fact that I was looking for a new deck to play. I ended up browsing through the decklists from Blizzcon European Qualifier. Hunters and "Handlock" Warlocks dominated the list, but surprisingly Shaman also seemed to  be a favorite. Even better, many of the Shaman lists didn't include much in the way of expensive Legendaries; typically, only Loatheb and Al-Akir the Windlord.

Now Shaman has always been my nemesis Hero. For whatever reason, I found myself losing to it more often than not. This class is surprisingly good at control, and has a variety of subtle but powerful options at its disposal. So, if I was ever to improve my game against Shaman, I would need to actually get some first-hand experience with it.

So, here's the list I ended up with:

As I mentioned before, one of the great things about this list is that it's relatively cheap. It only has one Epic - Doomhammer - and the only Legendary is Loatheb, which you get for "free" in the Naxxramas expansion. All of the rest of the cards are Rares and Commons.

This archetype is all about value and Control. Haunted Creeper, Harvest Golem, Mana Tide Totem, Azure Drake, and Fire Elemental are all excellent in this department, acting as virtual two-for-ones almost all the time. This deck can also create a wall of defenders using Defender of Argus and Sludge Belcher, slowing down most aggro decks to give you the breathing space you need. It also includes the excellent Lighting Storm as mass removal, as well as Earth Shock, Lightning Bolt, Rockbiter Weapon, and Doomhammer as spot removal. Hex is also amazing in this role, in that it's essentially unconditional hard removal for only three mana. Finally, the deck can put out a ton of damage unexpectedly with Flametongue Totem and Bloodlust.

The hardest part of playing Shaman is sequencing your plays. Overload means you need to carefully think about how your play this turn will effect your options on the following turn. The Shaman's Totemic Call Hero ability also randomly chooses between four different options (although the fact that you can never have two of the same kind does help cut down on the randomness), which also leads to tricky decisions. All other things being equal though, activating Totemic Call each turn is rarely a bad call. And while it can be tempted to using Earth Shock, Rockbiter Weapon, and Flametongue Totem early, often holding onto them into the mid to late game is a better strategy.

Anyway, I've had a lot of early success with this archetype. So give it a try. It may take a few games to get the hang of it. But once you do, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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