Welcome to the Messiah's weekly series of articles that examines many interesting, popular, powerful, or just plain different deck builds that are out there for the Hearthstone Constructed Deck format.
SHAMAN - ELEMENTAL DECK
This weeks deck is one that has popped up recently in the meta and already proven to be pretty powerful. It has shown up in several of the popular Hearthstone streams and has done pretty well in matchups since not many people suspect that it is any different to a normal Shaman deck until it is too late.
The deck aims to control the pace through the early game and to keep the board clear until the late game. Once it gets to the late game it unleashes what seems like an endless avalanche of Earth Elementals that grind your opponent into submission.
The deck plays very well against many of the currently strong agro and zoo decks as well as doing well against miracle Rogue and Druid. The deck can do well against most decks, but does suffer against Mage and Priest which are steep uphill battles.
There are several versions of decks like this out there, here is the list I have been using.
- Shaman Cards:
- 2x Ancestral Healing
- 1x Earth Shock
- 2x Lightning Bolt
- 2x Ancestral Spirit
- 2x Hex
- 2x Lightning Storm
- 1x Mana Tide Totem
- 2x Unbound Elemental
- 2x Earth Elemental
- 2x Fire Elemental
- Neutral Cards
- 1x Bloodmage Thalnos
- 1x Wild Pyromancer
- 2x Injured Blademaster
- 2x Sen’jin Shieldmasta
- 2x Azure Drake
- 2x Faceless Manipulator
- 1x The Black Knight
- 1xRagnaros the Firelord
This deck has surprisingly few key cards that make up the main win condition in the end game, but does have several key control cards that help you get there. Here are the most important.
Earth Shock, Lightning Bolt, and Lightning Storm – These cards for the core of your early game removal cards. They are used to keep the board clear of enemies while you work towards the late game.
Sen’jin Shieldmasta – A solid mid-game stall minion. At 4 mana for 5 health he can stall an agro deck for several turns.
Injured Blademaster and Ancestral Healing – These two cards provide both a huge early game threat and stall. If you go second, with the coin, you can have a 4/7 minion with taunt out by turn two! That causes a big issue for most opponents and will likely make them use a key removal card very quickly such as polymorph or hex.
Faceless Manipulator – A great minion in almost any deck as it lets you duplicate your best minions to have more of them, or to copy an opponents minion that you may not have. Since it copies all applied effects on the minion it combos extremely well with minions that have Ancestral Spirit on them.
Fire Elemental – A very good 2 for one trading minion. He can kill off an enemy minion with his initial 3 damage and then still stick around to slam into something else.
Earth Elemental and Ancestral Spirit – This is your main combo win element in the deck. Normally the Earth Elemental is a big risk since it takes up a total of 8 mana (5 the casting turn and 3 the next), however if use with Ancestral Recall and Faceless Manipulator it takes a lot of risk out of it. The deck works by not using the Earth Elemental early game as most players would use it, but instead saving it until late in the game and using it only once you can bring it into play with either a Faceless Manipulator or Ancestral Spirit on the same turn.
Ragnaros – This is a secondary end game win card made even better with cards like Faceless Manipulator and Ancestral Spirit.
IDEAL OPENING HAND CARDS
This deck aims to control the game from the start of the match while putting out some damage as well. The control portion comes in the form of direct damage and taunt minions, however sometimes the best defense is a good offense.
To put out a strong offense early in the game you have some of the strongest early game minions around in the form of the Injured Blademaster and the Unbound Elemental. Both of these minions are strong opening hand choices. One combo that should be kept no matter who you are playing against is an Injured Blademaster and an Ancestral Healing.
Other good cards to have in your opening hand are Lightning Bolt, Lightning Storm, Bloodmage Thalnos, and Wild Pyromancer.
When you face off against a druid, keeping Hex in your hand at the start is a great idea, since they can often get a Chillwind Yeti or Druid of the Claw into play on turn 2 or 3.
This key thing to remember with this deck is to be patient. The deck takes a while to develop and if you panic early and burn key combo cards before you have enough mana to combo with them you will lose.
In the early stages of the game you are just looking to use damage spells and cheap minions to keep the board clear as much as possible. If there are no real threats on the board do not hesitate to just summon a totem and pass if you do not have something to put out a taunt with.
Strong opening plays are Injured Blademaster with Ancestral Healing, or an Unbound Elemental and then Lightning Bolt of Lightning Storm. Many times it is better to wait on casting the elemental until you can use an Overload spell on the same turn to help boost his survivability. Against priests you may want to hold off until you can use 2 Overload spells the turn you summon him, to make him safe at 4 attack.
Managing your removal spells throughout a match will greatly improve your odds of winning. While it may be tempting to kill off a 2/1 and 1/1 minion with a Lightning Storm early on to prevent damage to yourself, it is always best to evaluate the situation. If you still are near full health and have few other removal cards in hand, it may be better to wait a turn longer in the hopes of catching another enemy minion in the storm. The same applies to Hex, that 3/5 taunt may be annoying you in the early game, but if you use your Hex what will you do if the other does not come up and you are facing any number of late game threat cards like: Giants, Sylvanas, Cairne, Ragnaros, Ysera, or Alexstrasza just to name a few.
Once you have reached turn 6 the real fun begins, with the ability to summon the feared Fire Elemental and to start going on the attack. The next turn you will have enough mana to summon an Earth Elemental and then play an Ancestral Spirit on it at the same time. This makes it extremely hard to get rid of since many times players will have use their silences on your Azure Drakes and Unbound Elementals earlier. Even cards like Big Game Hunter or The Black Knight will not get rid of this combo since you will get it right back.
Things get even more interesting when you get to turn 10, where you can summon an Earth Elemental and then close it on the same turn with a Faceless Manipulator. A better play though is often to summon the elemental, put Ancestral Spirit on it, hoping it isn’t killed, and then clone it so that you have two elementals that will return from the dead instead of just one.
OPTIONAL CARDS / ALTERNATE DECK
There are many other cards available that you can substitute into the deck if you either don't have all of the cards required or if you feel like making a change in the decks playstyle.
Big Game Hunter – This minion helps control the enemies late game minions so that you do not have to rely soley on your minions with taunt to protect you.
Feral Spirit – This is an amazing spell, and I keep being torn between using it in this deck or not. It provides some early aggression and defense to the deck, which can help. However it can also slow you down significantly due to the Overcharge (2) of it. I keep moving it in and out of thed deck, so leave it to your decision.
Sunwalker – A really strong minion especially in this deck. With taunt and divine shield it will help draw out those removal spells that may otherwise stick around until you play an earth elemental.
Alexstrasza – Being able to knock your opponent down to 15 health after you have a few 7/8 earth elementals on the board can often be the death knell for your opponent.
HOW TO PLAY AGAINST IT
Playing against this deck can be a bit frustrating if it gets the cards it needs throughout the match. It can also be pretty simple if it doesn’t though. The key thing to remember is to play with the same patience that this deck requires to play.
The best way to play against this deck is to either play the same way it does which is to stall until late game and then counter its main threats, or to rush early and finish it off before it can get its big threats into play.
Since the deck is so combo reliant with the Earth Elementals and Ancestral Spirit it is susceptible to silence and complete removal spells like Hex and Polymorph. Though it may be tempting to remove other things early on in the game, you really need patience to wait and remove the real threats later.
This deck is fairly new to the meta and as such still surprises many players. It is also very different than the normal Shaman deck out there that people are expecting. A big difference being that it does not have any real burst in it, which people will expect it to have. Give the deck a try and let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.