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 – MIDRANGE DECK
This weeks deck another that I have seen around lately and started playing with a few weeks ago. It is a Shaman deck that tries to cover all bases and hit back hard in the mid to late game. While it has nothing overly powerful in it, it aims to win by keeping control throughout the match and wearing down your opponent over time.
The deck does this by controlling the pace and the board throughout the game and only really applying direct pressure later on in the game.
There are several decks very similar to this out there; this one is very close to the one I use, but is in fact the one used by Firebat to qualify for BlizzCon 2014:
- Shaman Cards:
- 2x Earth Shock
- 1x Lightning Bolt
- 2x Rockbiter Weapon
- 2x Flametongue Totem
- 2x Hex
- 1x Lava Burst
- 1x Lightning Storm
- 1x Mana Tide Totem
- 1x Doomhammer
- 2x Fire Elemental
- Neutral Cards
- 1x Bloodmage Thalnos
- 2x Haunted Creeper
- 1x Loot Hoarder
- 1x Big Game Hunter
- 2x Harvest Golem
- 2x Gnomish Inventor
- 1x Spellbreaker
- 2x Azure Drake
- 1x Loatheb
- 1x Sylvanas Windrunner
- 1x The Black Knight
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 are your core early game removal cards. They are used to help keep the board clear of enemy minions while you set up for the later game.
Hex – This card is in here to make sure that you can safely remove large threats form the game. It is important to save it for the right threats though, especially those with deathrattle so that you do not suffer from it’s effects.
Fire Elemental – An amazing 2 for 1 trading minion, due to the fact that he can kill off an enemy minion with his initial 3 damage and then still stick around to slam into something else. Better yet keep the board clear and slam into your opponent a few times for the win.
Loatheb – A solid card in almost any deck. He allows you to slow down the pace and almost completely deny your opponent their turn since any spells will be extremely expensive. Better yet he is a strong minion all by himself.
Sylvanas Windrunner – Another staple card in many decks. Being able to take away an enemy minion on her death is powerful and a huge threat. Many opponents will just ignore killing her so that they don’t need to give up a minion.
Doomhammer – A strong card all by itself. However when combined with Rockbiter weapon it gets even better, able to do a massive 10 damage in one turn.
IDEAL OPENING HAND CARDS
This deck needs to keep control right from the start, so you should be looking for cards that help you do that. No card over 3 mana and even then, unless you are going second you shouldn’t keep 3 mana cards either.
The cards you want to mulligan for are: Earthshock, Lightning Bolt, Haunted Creeper, and Loot Hoarder.
If you find yourself facing a rush style deck like a Hunter, Warlock, or even a Paladin, then keeping Lightning Storm in your opening hand is also a good option.
If you got even a few of the good starting cards from above, you are off to a strong opening game. Keep the board clear as much as you can and summon totems to gain extra minions if you do not have anything worth playing at the time.
You want to start playing into your card draw early as well. This can be in the obvious way by playing cards that gain you extra cards like Mana Tide Totem or Azure Drake. It can also be by playing cards that trade extremely well or that provide additional minions via their deathrattle ability such as Haunted Creeper and Harvest Golem.
Once you get into the later stages of the game you can start playing all of your power cards. Keeping in mind that your preferance is still to keep a clear board and minimize damage coming your way. Luckly this deck has a lot of options to do this. Even small minions can become huge threats with a Flametounge Totem alongside. Then you have Hex and Earthshock to remove deathrattle minions, and Sylvanas to steal minions and the Black Knight to help you get by enemy minions with taunt.
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.
Undertaker – With several minions that have deathrattle in the deck, having an Undertaker along side them is not a bad idea. He also provides you with another strong opening hand card.
Earth Elemental – A very strong taunt minion for any Shaman deck. If you find that you are struggling to defend yourself in the late game, this bad boy could be your answer. With a huge Overcharge (3) though, he leaves you helpless the following turn.
Feral Spirit – This is an amazing spell, and I keep being torn between using it in this deck or not. It provides a lot of both early aggression and defense to the deck. However, the Overcharge (2) can also mean that you protect yourself one turn only to be helpless the next.
Defender of Argus – A card that I am fond of in almost any deck. It provides both attack and defense all at once for a reasonable cost.
HOW TO PLAY AGAINST IT
This deck has no healing in it, and if it is unlucky in its initial draw can be stuck for early game removal as well. Therefore the best strategy can be going for the player instead of the minions and setting up walls of defense. The deck also lacks taunts and therefore you can usually hit the player for a bit before things are removed.
A lot of playing against this deck comes down to what your deck does well and trying to keep doing that while avoiding what this deck does well. Therefore if you are playing a rush deck, don’t setup a full board to be cleared with a Lightning Storm. If you have several strong minions but have a favorite, keep it until after you make the Shaman burn both hexes on less dangerous minions.
Do not overly complicate your life playing against this deck, just keep pressure up and you stand a decent change. The deck does not dominate any single deck type, but plays well against almost everything.
This deck is an all comers deck and as such is a good option to have available. It does nothing amazingly well, but everything well. That is ok when you don’t know who you will face. I prefer these types of deck far more than the gimmick decks that rock against 2-3 other classes but die instantly to 2-3 different classes. That seems more like a crap shoot than a smart bet. What are your thoughts on this?