Is everyone as excited about the new expansion as much as me? I hope you are. A little about me. I started off playing Magic the Gathering for a little over a decade now. I have been in the professional scene before and have travelled to compete. I used to be the number one limited player in my country and have my fair share of understanding the mechanics of the game. I moved on to hearthstone shortly after it was released. Bought a bunch of packs and crafted a fully golden druid deck and played for awhile. Until I got bored and shelved it. From then, I have been playing sporadically every season until now. And can I say I am loving the Old Gods expansion.
update* after one day of exclusively playing this deck in standard ranked. I am currently rank 11 with 2 stars. Will continue playing this deck solely until I reach legend. and from there, I will post video tutorials and screenshots*
So I’ve been browsing the site and looking specifically at the Shaman section and came to realize there aren’t any true control shaman decks. Typically we find the mid-range decks and sm0rc decks. Well, a pro player once said to me during my Mtg days “If you aren’t playing a control deck, you aren’t playing a deck at all“. That stayed with me till this day and so, I create a true control deck for the Shaman. I have only played this deck for a couple of days but so far, I am confident to say that the win rate is close to 75%. I’ve played around 90 games so far and only lost around 15 times. Some losses are due to me being a scrub player and could have been prevented.
About the deck
Ok. One look at the deck and you will realize that it is expensive to craft. It runs 8 legendries which I will touch upon later on. It takes abit of experience to play as it is extremely punishing to make a mistake. But the gameplay you get will be worth mastering this deck.
This deck runs 4 board sweepers that keeps agro off your back, 8 direct damage spells to get rid of single target minions or finish your opponent off with a huge burst late game. 5 and power house minions that usually ends the game by themselves.
With 2 healing waves and Hallazeal the Ascended, you will never be afraid of losing health to fast aggressive decks. And you can always pick up from a single digit health pool into the doubles in a blink of an eye. Which puts you with more time to set up your late game monstrosities.
I have tuned the deck to the point where every single card is good at any point of the game.
Let’s break it down.
Deck strategy and in-depth break down
Let’s start with the minions and why I put them in.
2 x Thing from Below
This card is fantastic in the deck. They usually cost 0 or 1 mana by the time I play them. The combo variant and also the 5 toughness allows it to survive our own elemental destruction or after using up your mana, dropping him at 0 cost is really sweet.
(courtesy of Gotdeathstar for this awesome advice)
1 x Charged Hammer
I put in a single Charged Hammer due to the fact that with an accelerated coin start, it can be really good at picking up the swarmish decks. Giving you the ability to switch your hero power to a 2 dmg bolt is amazing. And with the amount of healing in the deck, you are almost never worried about taking damage from picking out their minions.
Emperor is amazing. He has been tried and tested countless of times. I find myself coining him out at the 5th turn almost every single time. His ability to decrease your costs towards your huge cards is just the best. Play him. Always.
1 x Chromaggus
After tweaking and replacing the end game monsters (I’ve tried Ragnaros, Geddon etc etc) I settled with Chromaggus because:
1) He is beefy by himself.
2) At 8 mana, he fits the curve.
3) At 10 mana crystals, if you drop him and use an Ancestral Knowledge, it’s pretty much game.
4) Whatever you draw out of him, will be a monster and you know it.
Of course, you can replace him with whatever you prefer but for me, he takes the cake. Because he is almost always a “must kill” for your opponents. Which soaks up removal for the rest of the monsters.
1 x Alexstrasza
Alexstrasza is pretty funky. Being a slow deck, the ability to reduce half (most of the time) of your opponent’s 30 health is amazing. Drop her, opponent scratches head and spends everything to remove her and come your turn, a few burns to the face nets you the game. I occasionally use her to heal myself too :D
Ragnaros has always been a fan favourite. I decided to tweak him out by replacing nefarian as I wanted an immediate ability. And him being a finisher on his own is icing on the cake. Being 8 mana helps alot too.
1 x Ysera
To me, Ysera is the ultimate control card. She nets you a card immediately from ending a turn. Immune to Shadow Word: Death and with a 12 health ass, she stands her ground. The dream cards you get off her are also fantastic. She will win you the game single handedly.
Yogg-Saron is a funny card. He brings a sense of awe when you cast him. With the amount of spells you cast from this deck, he nets you a minimum of 5 cards consistently. Granted, the spells cast are random and targets chosen at random but every time I casted him, I get a positive result. Of course, he is replaceable with a solid control monster like Ragnaros but to me honestly, I love this lil’ critter.
Hallazeal is one of the new guys that I have fallen absolutely in love with. At 5 mana for a 4/6 with an awesome ability, he is cost effective and saves my ass more than once. Casting him along with an Elemental Destruction/Lightning Storm nets you a huge amount of healing and with his 6 butt, he can survive an Elemental Destruction. I have gone to 30 health before from 1 with him around.
2 x Kodorider
These two guys are the spirit of the deck. I would suggest holding them back until you have fully 8 mana crystals to inspire immediately when one hits. In a standstill situation, dropping this guy usually means the game is over. Being able to squeeze him out early in a safe situation is also almost always going to tip the scales in your favour. Thus I run 2.
2 x Lightning Storm
These 4 cards are the bread and butter of the deck. They are the ones that saves your ass from becoming murloc food and zoo chum. 3 mana for a 4/5 dmg board clear and 3 mana for a 2/3 one sided clear speaks for itself. Bump it up with a wrath of air and it usually means 1 for multiples. 1 card kills multiple cards = game over.
As I mentioned previously, pairing it with Hallazeal nets you a huge heal as well.
With 3 “unlocking keys” in the deck, don’t be afraid to use it and then use a key to turn the tides and not lose any tempo.
2 x Lightning Bolt
2 x Ancestral Knowledge
2 x Lava Shock
2 x Storm Crack
2 x Hex
2 x Lava Burst
These are pretty standard and speaks for themselves. Single target removal, face melting cards. You know the drill.
2 x Healing Wave
This card should read “Heal 14 to any target” as I have almost never failed the added section of it. With no minions under 5 cost, it will consistently heal you for 14.
Deck game play and class specific strategy
The mulligan options are pretty wide for this deck. You would optimally want to hold an Elemental Destruction or Lighting Storm in your starting hand and ditch the high curved minions right at the start.
I would suggest holding on to Emperor Thaurissan if he’s around. Hold on to ancestral knowledge and single target spells.
An example game would go like this in general:
Muligan into what I said up top. Pass the turn if you start first and likewise pass if you don’t, unless there is something really urgent to lightning bolt.
Totem or storm crack. You optimally wanna keep anything below 3 butt alive and attempt to catch a 1 for many using lightning storm/elemental destruction.
Coin if you have a charged hammer. Otherwise, totem or hex if you face a single biggie. Leave the minions on board till next turn.
Here’s where you wanna coin and use elemental destruction. Follow up with a lava shock or eternal sentinel.
Time to heal up if you are wounded. Totem up to follow.
Turn 6 onwards
You are probably still alive with >6 cards in your hand with >20 health. GO ahead and shred your opponent from now. They will from now on; be on the reactive side of the board. Anything you draw is potentially enough to take the game. Play up till you can Yogg-saron for shit and giggles.
Mulligan till you have a board sweep/a couple of single target spells early. Contemplate to single remove if you see a rush hunter. Otherwise play per normal against a mid-range hunter. Make sure to optimize healing wave for the +14 rather than the +7. Hold Hallazeal until you can pair it with a board sweep. Prioritize Chromaggus > Ysera > Alexstraza > Nefarian (Yogg is optional). Don’t attack If there are traps, you can hold out against them.
Mulligan away the top heavy cards. Might not have to keep a board sweeper. Optimally you want an ancestral knowledge early to get your options open. Save your hexes for their fatties. If he starts ramping, don’t worry. If he’s an agro druid, play as per above against hunter. Prioritize charging up to Yogg-Saron > Kodorider > Nefarian > Alestraza > Chromaggus > Ysera.
The typical warlocks I’ve seen roaming around recently are agro based. I have yet to face a demon warlock so I can’t advice against that. But, for the agro versions, don’t be afraid to spam your board sweepers early (do it even if it’s only 1 for 2). Keep his numbers down and save a hex in-case they run a singleton malganis. Save your burns for his face if he goes trigger happy with life tap. Prioritize Alexstraza > Ysera > Chromaggus > Nefarian > Yogg.
Rogues are really tricky. You never know what kind they are until it is too late. Play as per normal against oil/agro rogues. If you spot any miracle cards, hold your healing waves till the decking out phase. Spam your burns against their minions and don’t save it. Try to drop a kodo early to force them to react to you. You can coin out one at the 5th turn instead of doing a 8th turn kodo/inspire. Prioritize Kodorider > Ysera > Nefarian > Chromaggus > Alexstraza > Yogg.
Cross your fingers that you don’t meet a freeze mage. Otherwise, if it’s a tempo mage/control mage, you should have no problem. Try to bait out his fireballs against your kodoriders. You are pretty much invulnerable against flamestrike. Kill his flamewalkers early and you should do good. Prioritize Kodoriders(as bait) > Nefarian(pyroblast yo!) > Chromaggus > Ysera > Yogg > Alexstraza.
Play against his secrets. They usually have a few dead ones against you (spirit of competition, noble sacrifice etc). Otherwise, be reactive and remove his singleton fatties AFTER he buffs them. Board sweep early if you face a murloc/recruit deck. Don’t be afraid to leave the murloc knight active for a turn or two and let him waste a turn inspiring and then board sweep and heal up. Prioritize Chromaggus > Nefarian > Yogg > Alexstraza > Ysera.
Like wise, be reactive against warriors. Let him armor up all he wants. Make sure to bait out early shield slams and executes with your kodos/totems. Use your burns against his minions rather than to the face. Prioritize Ysera > Alexstraza > Nefarian > Chromaggus > Yogg.
Play per normal if you face a murloc/agro shaman. Against the mirror, try to save up your burn spells until you can trigger Hallazeal+burn. If he totems up, you totem up. If he kills your kodos, kill his kodos. Your minions should be better. Save a hex for Alakir. Prioritize anything you deem fit. Yogg saron works really well here.
Against Current Meta Decks
C'thun whatever decks - Remember to never be afraid to soak up damage. You have 30 life and a whole bunch of heals. Let them drop their minions. Start by totemning for a couple of rounds. Take some damage. >15 is fine even. Let them overextend the board and wipe it out with a well timed wrath of air + elemental destruction. Keep your health above 20 and you will be fine. Force him to trigger effects to stop your minions rather than casting their late game fatties. But remember the most important part - ALWAYS KEEP 1x HEX ON HAND FOR C'THUN.
N'zoth rogue/hunter decks - Ok, I have to admit these decks are more tricky. The only way to play against them is to use your single target removals for their minions one by one. By the time they cast N'zoth and bring back a bunch of minions, thats when you use your elemental destruction. You can use your lightning storm early against their death rattle minions. Force them to use spells against your minions.
Control Warriors - I really hate control warriors. I faced less than 10 of them recently but they all didn't go too well for me. I would say a 50/50. You need to make sure to not step too hard into brawl. Drop kodoriders early (at 6 mana) and force them to brawl these. Always keep some fatties in hand against the fatigue draws.
I will periodically update this guide with my wins and stats. I am now only playing this one deck and will continue to tune different additions if necessary. Due to work I play around 10-20 games a day only. And so far, the 75% win rate still applies.
I am now ranked 11 with a streak going on.
Have fun and good luck!
edit- Currently removed 1 Shifter Zerus and 1 Eternal Sentinel due to healing wave fizzling too often. Removed 1 Nefarian and replaced with 2 x Thing from Below and 1 x Ragnaros