Hearthstone Shaman Detailed Matchup Guide by Xtreme_XTC
Today I (PolarBear ingame) hit legend playing my own shaman deck:
Wall of text incoming!
Keep in mind that this is shaman so it’s decision-heavy and small misplays have huge impacts on the rest of the game. Therefore this is not a deck if you’re new despite it being very very affordable.
Vs Aggro: Try to keep his board clear while summoning totems and higher value minions to eventually stabilize around 15 hp and then stay safe behind a wall of taunts and outvalue him as hard as u can, until u win.
Vs midrange Get off to a good start so u can totem ur heart out, because totems will definetly win u the game if ur opponent doesnt clear them, simply because you will get so much utility out of them by protecting ur actual minions (taunt/healing) or by making his minions easier to remove (1/1 or spellpower). While u can stabilize after losing boardcontrol it will often come at the cost of a lot of card advantage and therefore these games are more often than not decided by who keeps the board his. Note: Play around his sweepers, because getting spellpowerswiped and having 4 actual minions die will also lose you the game.
Vs control: These games will go long and that is 100% OK with me, because shaman has access to the most efficient removal in the game as well as easy silences with earth shock. There basicly are 2 options: 1) you get an aggresive starting hand and manage to not get sweeped and rush him down. 2) you get a control-like hand with hard removal, this is the hardest part to learn about the deck, because for every class u have to ask yourself: what am i saving hex/bgh/faceless/earth shock for, which means u don’t run them out on i.e. frothing beserkers unless you’re desparate. By doing this and having the right removal at the right time u can very often remove literally all of his threats and make him fatigue or just kill him with ur remaining minions.
Miracle rogue: A real inconsistent matchup that is generally slightly in your favour, because you have 2 win conditions:
1) You rush him down, again very simple: the best opening hand vs miracle is argent+flametongue going 1st, simply because they will start bleeding so fast right out of the gate. But even with slightly slower starts you may find yourself in trouble. Note: Harrison Jones is only good here if you play him on turn 5/6, because the game is over by turn 8 (almost literally always) and he is a huge tempo swing if u get a 3/1 weapon (which happens really really often) but don’t hold him back if it’s only a 1/1 weapon. You have to rush him down here and the 5 dpt Harrison brings in is nothing to sneeze at.
2) (this hardly ever occurs) By going aggresive early you force him to sap azure drake/yeti/fire ele for him to maintain the tempo miracle rogue relies on and if this occurs u will often be able to taunt up so incredibly much that you are out of kill range and no miracles will happen
Tempo rogue: You just win, he cannot leeroy finish you with the taunts you tend to have out and your minions outvalue his making him run out of gas a long time before you do.
Zoolock: A matchup that really helps in climbing the ladder, because it’s generally fast and u win alot. You have a guaranteed win if you manage to draw 2x lightning storm or open with argent and manage to remove the first couple of threats, beacuse even in a topdeck situation where he draws 2x as many cards as you do your cards are gonna be so much more valuable (as long as you manage to dodge the topdecked doomguards to which you have no response). The games you lose are the ones where stabilization comes too late and you get leeroyd or the ones where you draw 0x lightning storm and had a mediocre opening hand, because you never stabilized.
Handlock: BGH is the obvious MVP here giving you a threatening minion and killing a giant, try to not lose until you get all of your removal, the burst this deck can put out is very reliant on your hand and very susceptible to taunts. Not a favourable matchup (especially since I’m personally really bad at facing handlocks), but definetly doable if you manage to avoid his AoE and bait out either all his taunt-givers or giants or if you manage to sneak in a nice doomhammer+rockbiter punch.
Shaman: Every Shaman these days is the more aggresive style like this deck, which is why this matchup is all about the opening hand and whoever gets the initiative here wins 95% of the games, this deck is pretty favoured however since ~~60-70% of the shamans i faced ran doomhammer and Harrison knows where that belongs: in a museum, but do also take any stormforged axe with him if you can, because if the other shaman doesnt run/draw his doomhammer he’s just sitting in the hand. Again: don’t overextend into lightning storm (assume they run thalnos)
Token druid: Hex is a good card here and can be used very very liberally (violet teacher is definetly worth hexing if that’s the only solution, just like innervated yeti’s), lightning storm may seem amazing on paper but isn’t that important in reality, because if you lose boardcontrol here you may as well concede, because after lightning storm you will be too overloaded to fight the onslaught of minions token can pump out resulting in a loss. But generally this is a good matchup for us, simply because we have 3 dmg removal (for 1 mana) and silences on demand, which more often than not results in board control. The games you lose is where trades go somewhat evenly and he manages to refill with ancient of lore and you don’t and the games where u end up clearing the board with doomhammer and dropping to 14 hp (which sometimes is unavoidable)
Watcher druid: Ignore the watchers until you have a efficient solution and hex difficult yeti’s/druid of the claws, avoid getting murdered by swipe and simply outvalue him
Ramp druid: Pray he either misses his ramp or you have some really good solutions waiting, because this isnt an easy matchup if he ramps up, because if his turn 2 play is yeti and yours is a totem the game will get really hard and his high-end will often go 2 for 1 which is not sustainable.
Control Warrior: Save Harrison for Gorehowl unless your opponent is too low to clear your board with gorehowl. Try to clear all his threats and accept the fact that he will build up armor and save your taunts for after the Alexstraza hits, because Grommash from sub15hp is his only win condition in this matchup. You can win here by sitting still and hitting hero power alot and not overextend into brawl (unless u read he is a complete kitkatz warrior copy (signs for this are: 2x korkron, 2x azure, no sylv/cairne) and therefore has none). This is a somewhat favourable matchup.
Aggro Warrior: Pray he doesnt have enough dmg and u roll taunt totem alot, not much to this, it’s a simple coinflip, just keep taunts and your hp up.
Paladin: Every paladin is aggro these days. Much like control warrior: pray for argent squire opening/him not having alot of dmg, generally you will stabilize in time. A favourable matchup overall.
Hunter: The all-around known ‘shaman counter’. This matchups is somewhat of a toss-up which is amazing for a shaman deck, simply because you play this matchup in 1 way: pretend he doesnt have UTH and if he does you just hope he has no buzzard cuz those games are very very winnable, since you can kill a hunters by turn 8 with ease if he doesnt draw his combo.
Mage: Very rare to see on the ladder, but all of them are aggro mages with freeze combos to close the game out, the lack of healing definetly hurts and without bloodlust your finisher won’t cut it here. Slightly unfavourable.
Priest: Seen one of them in the last 50 games but if you do, hope your yeti goes nuts or he has no AoE, save silences for when u need them (sylvanas) and bgh will often hit a rag so a good matchup I guess.
Always keep: Argent squire (except vs control warrior where he is terrible), Unbound, Feral Spirit if you have Unbound in hand as well
Rogue: Assume it’s miracle. Keep Flametongue if u have an argent and are going 1st, it wins you the game. Keep Harrison, because of the expected tempo swing on turn 5. Mulligan the rest. (I will leave this out in the other classes, because the text is long enough)
Warlock: Watch how many cards he keeps: discarding 3+ =handlock, 2- =zoo (sometimes this fails but move on and forget the games where you’re up against zoo with bgh/hex in your opening hand)
Keep Lightning Storm.
Keep Earth Shock (argent sq.).
Keep Lightning Bolt/Rockbiter
VS Handlock: Keep BGH/Hex/Earth shock
Shaman: Keep Earth Shock (argent sq.)
Druid: Assume it’s a more aggresive version of druid
Keep Lightning Bolt/Rockbiter
Warrior: Assume control.
Keep BGH/Hex/Earth shock (acolytes (not for armorsmiths))
Dont keep argent squire, it’s armor/carddraw fodder for the warrior and it doesn’t do anything
Paladin: Assume aggro.
Keep Lightning storm/bolt
Hunter: Keep Feral
Mage: Keep earth shock.
Priest: Keep yeti.
Cuz this post is already getting really long, i’ll skip the shaman staples in this, look at other decktechs for the reasoning behind the following: Earth shock, lightning bolt, rockbiter weapon, flametongue, feral spirit, hex, lightning storm, unbound, azure drake, fire ele.
What is in there:
Argent squire: Rush down control opponents, gives a nice turn 1 plays vs aggro and clear the 1hp minions really nicely as well as being a nice durable body to buff for flametongue
Big Game Hunter: MVP in any control matchup, just incredibly efficient, but terrible to draw vs aggro, the huge benefits in control outweigh the drawback and therefore it got a single copy.
The 4drops: Yeti: The definition of value, the deck struggled vs midrange so having the king of value himself helped alot.
Sen’jin: Almost a yeti but with the upside of being a taunt this is a better stabilizer at the very last moment, when it really matters the most and since this keeps you alive so often it eventually earned a 2 of.
DoA: Again this card makes ur other cards trade up and since you’re shaman and therefore trying to flood the board he will really often have 2 buff targets (DO NOT BUFF FIRE ELE EVER (BGH/black knight)), but drawing 2 of them is awful so it’s a 1 of.
Doomhammer: Wins the mirror on it’s own with ease, because u can now deny his most valuable resource: hero powering On top of that it’s a finisher if combined with 1 rockbiter (10 dmg) or 2 (16 dmg) and since harrison isn’t that popular the massive amount of charges isn’t that big of a drawback, it’s also a nice boardclear vs zoo if u managed to stay healthy so far vs zoo. The last upside in this deck is that it has no stormforged so your HP tends to be relatively high (mostly full) for a shaman.
Faceless: Combine with hex or bgh and u have basicly just casted mind control, amazingness all around and superimportant to fight the control ‘fire’ with ‘fire’.
Harrison: One of the most stand-out cards in this deck, given that it seems to be too slow vs miracle, but as mentioned before u shouldnt hang on to it vs miracle, because value is not the issue there. Wins control warrior if you can grab the gorehowl, because thats a value machine in the matchup and it’s nog a worthless card if you’re already ahead (basicly a 5dpt). The times when u Harrison a doomhammer u just feel amazing and he wins the game instantly. THAT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM
Left-outs: Thalnos: slow, spellpower is not needed as often and it would make for a silence target which the deck is fortunate enough to lack atm (flametongue aside) and on top of that i don’t have him
Ooze: I don’t value it being a 2drop highly enough for it to replace Harrison
Mana tide totem: The deck has very few silence targets so this could give use to your opponents 1 silence card and that aside it is too slow vs aggro and too asy to remove for control and vs midrange it tends to be a win-more card which is not what you’re looking for as shaman as it is already a very snowbally class
Gadgetzan: This deck is low on carddraw, because it’s mostly about neutralizing the opponent and being as efficient as only shamans can be so you tend to not have a lot of spells and it sits in my hand staring at me way too often (vs aggro).
Cairne/Rag/ysera: Too lategame, this isn’t a control deck, but if i wanted it to be those would be decent inclusions although rag would give bgh target and cairne would give silence-targets for your opponents.
Black knight: The last card i removed as with this card druids stood no chance vs this deck but by removing it ilet them get back in, but my other matchups profited so much and Harrison feels better as a tech card because he is 1 mana cheaper for the same total stats (9), but if you face even more handlock or druid increases in popularity he is your best friend
Bloodlust/Leeroy(+windfury): I use Doomhammer as a win condition because the card isn’t dead if it’s not the last turn of the game in which you play them, although i would definetly consider switching my doomhammer for one of these if freeze mage/handlock got more popular, bacuase of the blowout
Harison->Ooze (Ooze is even more reliable vs miracle, but worse vs shaman/pally/warrior)
Faceless->something lategame (ogre/cairne)
Doomhammer->bloodlust (/leeroy) (change up your wincondition)
Last notes: This deck requires you to take the initiative in most matchups, so your opponent starts playing defensive creatures and u can then remove them as efficiently as possible and by doing so you will outlast your opponents.
Finally count the cards your opponent have remaining and vs heavy control decks save your hexes for the specific targets, dont get baited into using them unless there is no other way.
TL;DR Decklist, Keep pressure up on your opponent and then abuse your HERO POWER and shaman’s efficient removal to win. “That belongs in a museum”
Hope some of you will enjoy playing this.
Regards, PolarBearOther Hearthstone Articles
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