Board Control Shaman
About the Deck
Cards That Didn't Make the Cut
Epic and Legendary Crafts and Replacements
Resources and Shoutouts
Having control over the battlefield in Hearthstone is of the utmost importance. This is a recurring theme in our guides because if you control the board, minions fight on your terms. When you are in control, you can “trade up” and use your cheaper minions to kill off larger ones. This strategy is compounded by the fact that buffing minions -- like the powerful Shattered Sun Cleric or Defender of Argus -- make trading up incredibly easy. To succeed in the current metagame, you need a deck that fights very hard for board control to prevent yourself from being abused by opponents looking to trade up.
This new Shaman deck is pretty solid all around with cards than can answer almost any threat in the game. If all you want to do is play ladder you should be able to get a reasonably high win rate playing this deck. If, however, you want to take Hearthstone a bit more competitively and play in tournaments, Shaman is also a good bet due to how versatile the cards are. The mechanic of low costing spells & minions that have the Overload drawback really lets you be flexible in the short term to get out of sticky situations, while rewarding intelligent planning of your turns in advance. In a best of X situation, Shaman is a good opener due to the fact that it can take on just about anything and come out with a victory. Shaman also makes a very good closer if you want to try your cheesy one turn kill decks first for the same reason. Overall, one of the best aspects about this deck is that it's one of the most well rounded decks that exist and has no glaring weaknesses, unlike many of the popular decks out there today.
About the Deck
This Shaman deck revolves around fighting hard for early board control, which usually decides the game in today’s metagame. Many of the modern board control decks feature low mana minions, most notably the Argent Squire. These decks will play cantrips -- like the Loot Hoarder and Novice Engineer -- which can later be buffed in order to get further ahead. This Shaman deck punishes people for using cheap minions with spells like Lightning Storm and minions such as Harvest Golem, Stampeding Kodo, and Earth Elemental which can clear the entire the board by themselves. To top it all off, you still have the Argent Squires and Shattered Sun Clerics to battle on the buffing front. In this deck, you just also have tools to stifle your opponent’s ability to retaliate.
The other strength of this deck is the Shaman specific minion, Fire Elemental. This minion is comparable to Argent Commander in that it kills something on coming into play and then likely kills a couple more minions on top of that. Fire Elemental grants the deck more late-game potential than other board control decks because their mana curve tends to cap out at Argent Commander. Almost every single deck right now runs two Argent Commanders, and the Fire Elemental happens to be extremely good at making sure your opponent misses their 2 for 1 opportunity. Fire Elemental deals three damage on play; and coincidentally, Argent Commander has 3 health. You can see how this deck has a lot of very good answers to the common cards that people use.
Earth Elemental is another very powerful card. With the stats of a 7-8 drop on turn 5, he cleans house in the current meta. There is also a meta bonus due to the fact that almost nobody runs hard removal anymore. 7+ mana minions are all far too slow in the current metagame, but us Shamans can get our 8 drops out on turn 5. You overload 3 mana on the next turn sure, but spreading out that eight mana takes some sting out of it.
Stampeding Kodo is a card that rarely sees play. I would argue that he has been highly undervalued. The Kodo is literally the MVP of the deck because every time you put him down he instantly kills a minion: particularly the sneaky Blood Imps and Harvest Golems in Curi’s oh-so-popular Warlock deck. Not only that, but he also has the money 5 HP making him not die to the Argent Commanders! In any other deck you could easily take two Stampeding Kodo, but because the Shaman has Earth Elemental I have opted only one. Kodo is more readily played when you have Argent Commander or Fire Elemental in your hand as you can follow up on turn 6 with no overload. Stampeding Kodo almost always 2 for 1s in this meta, but the true value is because it kills the Blood Imps you couldn’t otherwise hit.
Turn One: 2x Argent Squire, 2x Rockbiter Weapon, 2x Lightning Bolt
I have two Argent Squires because having that early durable body is extremely useful for buffing in later turns. She can also be played at the same time as the 1 mana removal abilities which I’ve included. These abilities are in the deck for their power in removing minions while establishing your own on the board: they both deal very high damage for their mana cost.
Turn Two: 1x Bloodmage Thalnos, 2x Loot Hoarder, 2x Novice Engineer, 2x Stormforged Axe
Thalnos is included because the deck has enough spells to take full advantage of him. All of the deck’s 2 cost minions cycle through your deck so that you can draw those powerful cards you are hoping will carry the game more reliably. You don’t need beefy two drops in this deck because of the power of Stormforged Axe and Rockbiter/ Lightning Bolt can carry that weight.
Turn Three: 2x Harvest Golem, 2x Shattered Sun Cleric, 2x Lightning Storm, 2x Hex
Harvest Golem is in this deck because he has two lives, which is a pain to deal with early on. He also provides a reliable buff target and messes up people who are relying on spells to remove creatures: one single spell doesn’t completely deal with him. Lightning Storm can bring games that are snowballing out of your control back within reach, and can also seal the deal in games where you are ahead. Sun Cleric is simply overpowered and there are plenty of good buff targets in this deck. Hex is the best removal in the game, costing 3 mana and handling the popular Sylvanas Windrunner or Ragnaros in stride. Hex gets you out of bad situations cost efficiently and turns them into good situations.
Turn Four: None?!?!?
One of the things you will notice with this deck is the lack of four drops. The reasoning behind this is that on turn 4, you are almost always overloaded by Lightning Bolt, Lightning Storm, or Stormforged Axe. The fewer four drops just help to smooth out the deck’s curve. It is important to not overload yourself into turn 6, due to the power of Argent Commander and Fire Elemental. Earth Elemental, however, is a special case. He is usually safe to drop on turn 5 due to his monumental strength; that said, it is not always a straightforward decision.
Turn Five: 2x Earth Elemental, 1x Stampeding Kodo, 1x Sylvanas Windrunner
Earth Elemental and Stampeding Kodo were touched on earlier, but they are added to the deck because they are durable 5 drops that don’t die to Argent Commander and have the tendency to clear the enemy’s field. Earth Elemental is very powerful right now because of the lack of hard removal in decks; however, it could fall out of favor should the meta swing again. Sylvanas Windrunner is simply overpowered, and often forces the enemy into extremely bad situations where he has to either risk racing your HP down or running his entire field into her so that you don’t steal his stuff. Either case is good for you with the right hand.
Turn Six: 2x Argent Commander, 2x Fire Elemental
Argent Commander is pretty much an automatic 2 of in every deck: it is almost a guaranteed 2 for 1. The same goes for Fire Elemental, it is very often the case that when you cast these two minions you are spending one card to remove two or three of your enemy's in exchange.
Turn Eight: Ragnaros the Firelord
Ragnaros is very powerful because he comes in to play on turn eight and instantly kills almost any minion in the game, or hits the enemy in his face for 8 damage which is potentially game ending. He is a card which, if the enemy can not respond correctly, can be game ending by himself. He is this deck's closer, throwing hardball after hardball.
/ + /Wrath of Air Totem/Thalnos + Lightning Bolt/ Lightning Storm: Increases damage substantially.
+ +Argent Squire + Coin + Shattered Sun Cleric: You get a 2-2 with Divine Shield and a 3-3 out on turn 2.
/ / +Novice Engineer/ Argent Squire/ Loot Hoarder + Stormforged Axe: Lets you kill higher value minions for very low cost.
+Hex + Stampeding Kodo: Instantly kills the Taunt Froggy left behind.
+Sylvanas Windrunner + Lightning Storm - The two most common responses to Sylvanas include running your entire board into her or racing the enemy’s HP down. Should they choose to race your HP, a timely Lightning Storm will quickly end that notion.
+ 2xArgent Commander + 2x Rockbiter Weapon: Gives you 10 direct damage right from your hand, and can be even higher with Lightning Bolts. This is really useful for finishing off opponents who don't have Taunts.
Stormforged Axe + Rockbiter Weapon: Lets you get rid of 5 HP guys in one swing.
/ / + +
Any Totem + Shattered Sun Cleric: If you have no other minion to buff, spawn a Totem and buff that instead!
Healing Totem + Minion + Shattered Sun Cleric: When you buff a 3-3 into a 4-4 and attack your enemy's 3-3, it survives with 1 hp and can die to some of the classes' passive abilities like Mage or Rogue or Druid - the Healing Totem makes this move even stronger because now they have 2 HP instead of 1.
+Stoneclaw Totem + Sylvanas Windrunner: Making Sylvanas hard to kill for the enemy can put him in a position where he has to play minions or else he will die, and then you can steal those minions from him when she does eventually die.
I've considered and tested many alternative cards for this deck. Some are solid cards which I sometimes use if I know what deck I'm playing against. Others are less good and I don't recommend them. First let's consider some of the cards I would most often add to the deck against specific opponents.
Unbound Elemental: This deck has enough overload to make this guy worth playing. He can garner enough damage and HP to be a formidable minion under the right circumstances. If you have enough mana to play him and an overload spell in the same turn, or if he survives turn 3, he can become stronger than other 3 drops as he grows.
Earthen Ring Farseer: Against burn decks, Earthen Ring Farseer can be played instead of Harvest Golem since you will most likely attain board control without that sturdy body, and the health will benefit you more.
Feral Spirit: It’s a toss up between the Feral Spirits and the Harvest Golem, I went with Harvest Golem because it lacks overload but this one is open to interpretation. If you remove Forked Lightning for an Elven Archer, Feral Spirit’s overload cost is more reasonable.
Elven Archer: This one can be put in against decks that use Argent Squires to great effect: it’s a toss up between the Archer and Forked Lightning.
Azure Drake: This can be subbed in for the Earth Elemental and Stampeding Kodo in slightly slower metagames.
Defender of Argus: This card can be swapped in if you expect to need more Taunt in a certain match up.
Cards That Didn't Make the Cut
Abusive Sargeant: This card can be really good with Shaman decks due to its ability to buff totems, but it didn’t make the cut because with only one health it’s on the weak side against mages.
Earth Shock: This card is really good against some popular cards such as Argent Squire, Scarlet Crusader, Loot Hoarder, and Bloodmage Thalnos. It is even good against Twilight Drake. The reason I didn’t take it in the deck is because it’s very reliant on drawing it on time to be useful - the cards it is good against are generally dropped on turn 1 or 2. Other than killing these key minions, silence isn’t that special in the current meta.
Dark Iron Dwarf: While Dark Iron Dwarf is a potentially very powerful card, he requires you to have another minion on the field which isn’t as likely early on for Shaman as it is for some other classes like Warlock or Rogue. Having him as a turn four card may end up backfiring because a lot of the time you’re forced into using early mana crystals on stuff like Stormforged Axe and Lightning Bolt. If you spend all your mana removing creatures rather than playing them, he will have nothing friendly to buff and you'll be forced into buffing your enemy's creatures.
Gnomish Inventor: This card could be side-decked into the 4 mana slot as well, but I chose not to include it as I expected a lot of 3-2s and 3-3s to be buffed into 4-3s and 4-4s which would kill it for free.
Doomhammer: This card is very powerful, but at the end of the day it is a slow tempo card. It takes up your entire turn 5 and also overloads your turn 6 preventing you from playing Argent Commander or Fire Elemental. It just doesn't fit the mana curve of the deck - turn 6 is when you want to be ramping up your win conditions.
Al'Akir the Windlord: I actually do not have this card unlocked, but I see him as a potentially strong replacement to Ragnaros. He is similar in that he comes in to play on turn eight and kills a minion, except that in metagames which favor smaller minions (like the one we're in right now) he has the potential to kill two minions and then act as a taunt after all is said and done. I have not tested this myself but it is an interesting possibility - if you have him unlocked then by all means go for it.
Bloodlust, Flametongue Totem, Mana Tide Totem: The reason none of these cards made it into the final iteration of my deck is that if you play them they take up your entire early turns and don't lend themselves to taking board control unless you already have it. I don't have faith in "win more" cards because if you're winning you will win anyway. I put cards in the deck that will help even in losing situations. If you play mana tide totem and it dies the same turn, it's worse than a Novice Engineer and costs an extra mana crystal. Bloodlust only works if you have a commanding presence on the board, in which case you will probably already win. Flametongue is a neat combat trick but can be a dead card if you don't have initiative.
Epic/Legendary Crafts and Replacements
Overall, compared to other top tier constructed decks this this Shaman deck is actually pretty affordable. While there are three legendaries and two epic cards, one of the legendaries and both of the epic cards can be sideboarded out at little to no hit to the quality of the deck. Here are a couple options to put in the deck instead if you don’t have access to the legendaries. If you want to build this deck and had to pick which legendary to craft first, craft Sylvanas - she really is irreplaceable.
Craft #1: Sylvanas Windrunner: She is simply irreplaceable in almost every deck that attempts to be competitive. No other card shares her card text which makes her so uniquely strong. If you don't have Sylvanas, take another Stampeding Kodo or an Azure Drake. Keep in mind that there is no *true* replacement for Sylvanas, but these alternatives also fit the deck’s 5 mana slot.
Craft #2: Bloodmage Thalnos: He is a staple in any deck that has multiple sources of spell damage. Card draw is a very useful tool in any deck, and the added spell damage makes Bloodmage Thalnos a unique combination of two very strong traits. Craft him second because there are other cards that can fill his role (Loot Hoarder, Kobold Geomancer) whereas nothing can replace Sylvanas. Instead of Bloodmage Thalnos, take Wild Pyromancer or Kobold Geomancer - You get less cycling but these two minions are sturdier than Thalnos and won’t die to Rogue, Druid or Mage hero powers.
Craft #3: Ragnaros the Firelord: He is a great legendary but is not vital to the deck so I rank him third in order of which to craft for this deck. The deck could just as easily be run without him and with more earlier minions to alter the strengths/weaknesses of the deck, but because I favor the late-game powerhouse style I have included him in the deck.
Craft #4: Earth Elemental: He is a flavor of the month card and super strong right now because nobody is using hard removal, but once that changes he will likely not be included in the deck anymore. There are cards listed in the side-board options that can easily replace him. Instead of Earth Elemental take another Stampeding Kodo or an Azure Drake - These cards fit the deck’s archetype as well and are more of a flavor variant each with pros and cons.
Here we'll talk about all the class matchups for this deck in order of worst matchup to best matchup. Generally, classes will do better against this deck if they have more tools to remove its big creatures. For instance, though Priests are considered weak right now, they can actually give this deck a lot of headaches due to using spells like Shadow Word: Death or Mind Control on our Earth & Fire Elementals. However, since this deck is more of a mid-range deck with a lot of flexible removal cards like Hex & Lightning Bolt/Lightning Storm, it can do well against pretty much anything.
You should be able to take board control from the Mage unless they get lucky with the Mana Wyrm + Arcane Missiles synergy early on. You need to kill them as fast as possible or else they will win with Pyroblasts later on. You should be able to kill them quick enough about half the time. This deck has no healing so if they can delay you for long enough they pretty much auto win as long as they draw Pyroblast. Favor hitting them in the face in this matchup so that you end the game sooner rather than later. In this matchup taking your time building up a lead doesn't do you any favors, you have to make it snappy.
I think this Shaman deck has a 55-60% chance vs Warlock, mainly due to the Stampeding Kodo, Earth Elemental, and Lightning Storm. You have the better control spells and also the ability to kill their Blood Imps. Most warlock decks don't carry hard removal so your Earth Elemental will be huge for you. They will most likely have to use Power Overwhelming on a creature and a Soulfire too, just to get it out of the way. Stormforged Axe is also really good at killing the Flame Imps, Knife Jugglers, Faerie Dragons, and other low drops that Warlocks like to spam. Come late game, the Shaman has a better option in the Fire Elemental than the Warlock does. If he uses Jaraxxus, you need to use your bountiful direct damage on his face before he establishes too many Infernals on the board and kills you with his 3 attack 8 durability weapon.
You have Stormforged Axe and Harvest Golems to beat away their Defias Ringleaders, and your two drops are all very poor Backstab targets. You should be able to deal with the S1 Agent should you draw Lightning Bolt or Rockbiter Weapon. Even if they clear your board you always have comeback options by making use of Lightning Storm or Hex. Similar to the Warlock matchup, you have the better late game. The best approach to fighting a Rogue is to always assume they have a way of killing any minion you put on the field unless they have used all of the common cards already (Backstab, SI Agent, Deadly Poison, Eviscerate). The goal is to outlast them. Many rogues win by getting ungodly good opening hands, but they fall off later on. If you can soak up a lot of their damage spells with minions like Earth Elemental and still have most of your HP while not sacrificing the entire board, you are in good shape.
In the mirror matchup, you want to grind really hard for board control. Don't underestimate the Shaman passive. If you let him have Totems which stay on the board, you risk letting him buff them later on. Just imagine all the ways you own the other classes and envision him doing that to you. One Spellpower or Taunt Totem can make a lot of difference about how you make your decisions. Prepare in advance for the potential plays he can make and outplay him. Hex his Earth Elementals leaving him overloaded for 3 on his next turn while trying to bait out his hexes on your weaker minions. Kill Fire Elementals right after their Battlecry. You can't rely on Sylvanas Windrunner as a crutch when you're facing a Shaman like you sometimes can vs other classes because she most likely will just get hexed. Good luck!
Priest decks are generally too slow to keep up with decks that are as aggressive as this one, and they struggle to deal with a lot of the minions you have like Harvest Golem and Argent Squire. Popular Priest minions like Blademaster can be struck down with Lightning Bolt and the Northshire Cleric can get swatted away with Rockbiter Weapon. Priests have the potential to be good against this deck due to Shadow Word: Death being effective against the Earth Elemental and the Fire Elementals. Mind Control is a big threat so be careful about playing them past turn 8. Shadow Word: Pain also kills the Kodo, and generally Priests don't use many minions that the Kodo can kill. You may run into problems the later the game goes, but because this deck is so aggressive I don't rate Priests as a very big threat: they usually die before turn 8.
Paladins usually play a little slower with cards like Truesilver Champion and Sword of Justices taking up their entire turns, so just play the normal board control game and beat him down. Be very careful not to overextend and walk your entire hand of minions right into an Equality+Consecration combo. Use your Stormforged Axe to pick off any minions or Recruits he plays so that he never gets the chance to buff them with Blessing of Kings. If your opponent plays the almighty Tirion Fordring, turn it into a cute little froggy. RIBBIT. This matchup can be difficult if he gets the Sword of Justice off safely, because it will increase the odds his next 5 minions will trade super efficiently for him. If the enemy plays Sword of Justice and you can't punish him that turn, I suggest holding on to your Lightning Storm + Thalnos because chances are you will need it in a couple turns.
Earth Elemental is especially good against Druids because the only hard removal spell they carry is Naturalize, and that gives you back 2 cards so a lot of players don't like using it in their decks. With no hard removal, their only option is to waste 2-3 minions/swipes running into the damn thing. Kodo kills Keeper of the Grove in stride. Hex deals with Druid of the Claw, Ancient of War, Iron Bark Procetor, and Cenarius very easily. Your Stoneclaw Totem will also mess up his ability to use his passive to kill your minions. This should be an easy matchup. The one thing to watch out for is that Druids like to play very slow/control oriented and will definitely try to bait your hexes. You should always assume he has an Ancient of War or some such huge minion in his hand that you will need at least 1 hex for, so always have a back up plan if you want to use your hex prematurely. If you fail to do this properly, you could see yourself getting mauled by his giant creatures once the game goes into the later stages.
Argent Squire and Harvest Golem give Warriors a lot of problems because they don't die in one swing of the Fiery War Axe, thus negating the Warrior's best card. You should be able to kill his most dangerous minions -- like the Warsong Commander and Kor'Kron Elite -- using spells like Lightning Bolt. Kodo can even kill Warsong Commander! This is a pretty good matchup for Shaman, especially because one of the passive Totems is a Taunt which can screw up the Warrior's ability to target you and your minions with his weapons. Just don't let him gain board control and keep him hitting your minions with his axe instead of you. AND DON'T LET HIM KEEP THE WARSONG COMMANDER ALIVE OR IT WILL GET VERY UGLY VERY FAST.
The first step to beating Hunter is to figure out what his traps do, and to trigger them optimally so that you lose the least amount possible by triggering them. Drop your Loot Hoarders to trigger Snipe, and attack with your smallest minions first to avoid smacking yourself in the face for 7 because of Misdirect. When presented with a trade vs a Hunter, sometimes it is better to value one minion's Divine Shield higher than another minion's life due to Explosive Trap and EagleHorn Bow. Other than that, this matchup is very simple -- you need to spam the board with minions as fast as possible, buff them up, whip out your Stormforged Axe and kill him before turn 7-8. You have Stoneclaw Totem and Earth Elementals to help you survive the eventual attack, but you shouldn't need them most of the time because of how aggressive this deck can be. If you fail to kill him in time, keep in mind he can silence your taunt and execute his one turn kill perfectly into your face if he draws his Iron Beak Owl. Most hunters use this one turn combo style, but for the ones that play a more control oriented style just remember to position your minions in such a way that prevents 'value explosive shots'.
Videos and VODS
Resources and Shoutouts
- Finals of Managrind NA Open Tournament, Kisstafer vs glory7
- Finals of TKS Open tournament, Kisstafer vs Twisted-shows both a Shaman and Mage deck