Note: This guide is rehosted with permission from Mana Crystals / Hearthstone Players. Full link and credits to the original writer - Sheng.
Greetings, I’m Sheng, a Legend rank constructed and 7.5 win-average arena player. I run HearthstoneCoaching.com where our coaches have helped many students achieve the same.
Welcome to my introduction to the Shaman class. In this guide, I will share with you a Hearthstone Deck constructed completely from Basic cards — meaning these cards are all available to you after leveling your Shaman class to level 10. It requires no dust or crafting to build.
In constructed play, Shaman is known for his overload mechanic. Expert cards like Lightning Storm utilize this mechanic to let you play a card this turn, while incurring part of its cost next turn. This mechanic is unique to Shaman, and enables a good Shaman deck to gain tempo and card advantage over opponents.
Unfortunately, there are no overload cards in the Basic Shaman card set. Thus, designing a deck for this class was a bit of a struggle, because without Expert cards, it’s quite difficult to take advantage Shaman’s ability to generate Totems through his hero power.
The First Iteration
The first iteration of this deck focused on cards with good value; in other words, cards that were efficient for their casting cost. These cards included Gnomish Inventor, Boulderfist Ogre, and Stormwind Champion.
I recognized that there was a potential synergy behind Shaman’s ability to generate Totems and Frostwolf Warlord, a card whose size depends on how many minions you have in play at once, and threw him in for good measure.
A single copy of Bloodlust was used for reach to finish off opponents, as this deck lacked any kind of burst.
After several days of play-testing, I realized that this deck was just too slow. Because Shaman’s Hero Power isn’t able to meaningfully affect the board, I’d often fill boards with useless totems, hoping that I’d somehow be able to buff them with my Bloodlust or expensive Stormwind Champion.
The Second Iteration
The first version of this deck was significantly weaker than the other Basic decks introduced in this series, and I wanted to do better. Thus, I removed all the cards from the deck, and went back to the drawing board.
I made a list of the best Basic Shaman cards.
- Flametongue Totem
- Fire Elemental
- Rockbiter Weapon
How do I build around these cards, and how would a deck built around these cards win? Well, I realized that Bloodlust needed to be the central focus of the deck. In the first version of this deck, I only ran a single copy of Bloodlust because I was afraid I’d draw into two of them early on, making one copy unplayable. While this was a weakness, having two copies meant a greater chance that I’d draw into it during the game when it could be useful, and it also meant that I’d be able to use Bloodlust to clear my opponent’s board without worrying that I’d run out of steam.
The end result was Shaman Zoo — a deck that was stronger than the sum of its parts. I built a deck focused on small buffable minions, with utility minions like Flametongue Totem and Raid Leader that would buff them to trade up against more expensive ones.
While the win conditions — a large Frostwolf Warlord and Bloodlust were unchanged, they became much more effective, and I’d often have 9/9 Frostwolf Warlords for 5 mana, and 20+ damage turns with Bloodlust.
While I’m making this deck sound like the best thing since sliced bread, it’s actually extremely weak to board clear, and is much weaker than Warlock Zoo and Midrange Hunter, as it has no way to regain tempo once it’s lost (no card draw). However, it’s pretty fun to play, and when it works, it’s a blast.
22Acidic Swamp Ooze
32Shattered Sun Cleric
2x Stonetusk Boar
- A simple 1/1, but with an important attribute for this deck — charge.
- Charge allows the boar to combo with Flametongue Totem, Raid Leader, and Bloodlust the turn you play him.
- He’s extremely cheap, so you can play him right before Frostwolf Warlord to get a slightly larger minion.
- Be sure to use him only when you can buff and/or trade with him.
2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
- The best 2 mana minion in the Basic card set. Not only does he destroy weapons, but with 3 attack he’ll also trade evenly with most 3 mana minions.
2x Bloodfen Raptor
- A plain 2 mana for a 3/2. He’s chosen over other 2 mana minions in the Basic set because 3 attack allows him to kill most 3 mana minions.
2x Flametongue Totem
- This is a great card that will let your lesser minions trade up to kill larger ones. Allows a Acidic Swamp Ooze to trade with a Chillwind Yeti, and a Stonetusk Boar to trade with most 3 mana minions.
- You’ll want to use him only when you have minions on the board, otherwise he’s an easy target for removal. It’s important to remember that the Totems you generate with your Hero Power always spawn from the right of your board. If you only have one minion on the board, you should always play your Flametongue Totem to its right so you can get a buffed Totem.
2x Raid Leader
- 3 mana for a 2/2 is a terrible stat-line. This is a card that doesn’t do well when he’s thrown onto an empty board. However, he’s extremely valuable once you have two or more minions on the board, and will have impact on the turn he’s played.
- Raid Leader is primarily used to buff our totems and other tokens to trade up against more valuable minions.
2x Razorfen Hunter
- 3 mana for a 2/3 and a 1/1 is fair, but the fact that the Razorfen Hunter spawns two minions is important — it’s perfect for squeezing a Flametongue Totem in between.
2x Shattered Sun Cleric
- An amazing card for tempo if you can utilize her battlecry to buff a smaller minion to trade against a larger one, or when you can increase the health on a minion so it doesn’t die in what would have been an even trade.
- She’s also got a 3/2 body which isn’t bad.
2x Chillwind Yeti
- The best 4 mana minion in the Basic card set. While he doesn’t have any special abilities, his 4/5 base stats allow him to trade with two 2 or 3 mana minions.
2x Dragonling Mechanic
- Razorfen Hunter‘s bigger cousin. For one more mana, we get a 2/4 instead of a 2/3 and a 2/1 instead of a 1/1. An extra 1/1 worth of stats for 1 mana isn’t really worth it, but the fact that this card spawns two minions is useful in our deck.
2x Sen'jin Shieldmasta
- 4 mana for a 3/5 with taunt is pretty good value. He also protects our smaller minions.
2x Frostwolf Warlord
- A primary win condition for our deck. Playing him with one minion on the board on turn 5 is fine, but you’ll want to avoid throwing him onto an empty board alone. Remember to play him last after all your other minions on the same turn.
2x Fire Elemental
- 6 mana for a 6/5 isn’t great stats-wise, but he gives us a free Lightning Bolt ability when he comes into play which can swing the tempo in our favor. We’ll gladly trade the two extra health that we’d get with Boulderfist Ogre for 3 damage to any target we choose.
2x Rockbiter Weapon
- This card compares favorably to Claw. Instead of 2 armor, we’re given an extra point of damage and a choice of which target (either yourself or minions) to buff, which is fair. This is a card that allows you to gain control over the board early, and eliminates most 3 mana minions.
- Awesome unconditional removal. It’ll get rid of that pesky Sylvanas Windrunner or Cairne Bloodhoof and won’t trigger any deathrattles. A key card.
- Our second primary win condition. Use this card to clear your opponent’s board with your buffed tokens, or to finish your opponent off. Be sure to count how much damage you can do each turn. You’d be surprised. Even 0/2 Totems become dangerous.
In general, you want to mulligan for a set of cards that will allow you to play on curve and gain board control as soon as possible.
Good cards to keep:
- 1 Mana: Rockbiter Weapon
- 2 Mana: Acidic Swamp Ooze, Bloodfen Raptor, Flametongue Totem
- 3 Mana: Razorfen Hunter, Shattered Sun Cleric
- Situational: Hex against Druid to counter early Innervate starts.
- You’ll want to play your cards on curve. That means something on turn 2, 3, and 4. If you’re going second, you can subtract the casting cost of one of your cards in your hand due to The Coin.
- It’s usually safe to keep a 4 mana minion, but if none of your other cards are in the 1-3 mana range, then you should mulligan it away as well. Early game pressure is extremely important.
How To Play
This is a mid-range deck, not a fully aggressive deck. This means that board control is key to its success. You want to trade your minions as efficiently as possible, utilizing buffs from cards like Flametongue Totem, Raid Leader, and Bloodlust when you can. It’s very important to plan your entire turn before you play your cards, because you’ll want to count up how much damage you can do with all your buffs.
Bloodlust and a buffed up Frostwolf Warlord are your keys to victory.
- Be extremely mindful of your opponent’s ability to clear your board. Common board clear cards to watch out for are: Fan of Knives, Swipe, Consecration, Holy Nova, and Flamestrike.
- If you’re way ahead of your opponent, resist the urge to dump your hand onto the board. This deck doesn’t have the ability to refresh a hand when tempo is lost.
- Save Hex for extremely hard to deal with cards. If you can kill something with a buffed totem or token minion, save your Hex as this deck doesn’t have too many answers to large taunts and legendaries.
- Generally speaking, the 1/1 Searing Totem and the 0/2 Healing Totem are the most useful in this deck. The Stoneclaw Totem has taunt, and can be useful situationally. The Wrath of Air Totem, which is extremely scary in constructed, is useless in our deck because we don’t have any spells that benefit from it.
- Remember that once you have a certain type of totem on the board, you can’t get it again from your Hero Power until it’s removed from the board. Use this to your advantage when determining which totems to sacrifice.
Flametongue Totem + Minion(s)
- It’s an instant 2 damage buff to any adjacent minions.
- Placement is crucial, especially when playing Stonetusk Boar. Make sure to attack with the minions adjacent to your totem before placing a Stonetusk Boar in its place so you don’t miss out on two extra damage.
- Be aware that once an adjacent minion dies, another may shift over to take its place. Utilizing this, you can trade and buff multiple minions on the same turn.
- Don’t forget that the Flametongue Totem is a minion too! You can place two next to each other to make two 2/3s.
Raid Leader + Minion(s)
- It’s an instant 1 damage buff to all other minions on your board.
- Try to avoid playing Raid Leader on the board by himself on turn 3 unless you have no other play. With 2 health, he’s extremely fragile.
- Unlike Flametongue Totem, you don’t really have to worry about placement. He’ll make your useless totems useful.
Bloodlust + Minions(s)
- Make sure to count up how much damage you’ll be able to do with Bloodlust. You’d be surprised.
Minions + Frostwolf Warlord
- Any of your 2 for 1 minion cards will add +2/+2 to your Frostwolf Warlord before you play him, so make sure you play your other minions first before playing the Warlord.
How to Upgrade Your Deck
Over time, you’ll collect more and more cards from opening Hearthstone packs. Please follow the guide below before reading the upgrade card list to understand how to incorporate new cards successfully into your deck.
Which Cards Should I Upgrade?
- Before you start, go through your deck and look at each card and understand its role and function.
- The easiest cards to upgrade are minions that have counterparts that are complete upgrades. I define a complete upgrade as a card with the same or better stat distribution and a better ability for the same mana cost. A Knife Juggler would be a complete upgrade over a Bloodfen Raptor. A Spider Tank would not be.
- Replace situational minions or spells that will often stay glued in your hand until the right moment arises with more verstile minions or spells. You can easily replace Kobold Geomancer and Gnomish Inventor in your deck with Azure Drake instead. While Azure Drake isn’t a complete upgrade over either card, the fact that it has a better stat distribution, draws a card, and gives you spell-power makes it a card that isn’t situational.
- After making a list of cards that are potentially upgradeable from the list above, you can move on to the next section!
How Do I Actually Upgrade My Deck?
- Don’t rush the process! Deckbuilding takes time. Each and every card in this Basic deck was chosen for a purpose, and fills an important function in this deck. You would be surprised how much time it took me to think of each of these decks, and how long the process of tuning them took.
- Generally, you don’t want to make more than one or two changes to your deck at a time. Swap out cards one or two at a time, and play your deck with the changes. Each time you draw into your “upgraded” card, ask yourself whether or not you wish it was the card you had previously in your deck. If you consistently say yes to this question over several games, then the “upgraded” card belongs.
- Repeat the testing process with more upgrades until you’re fully satisfied you have the best deck you can make with the cards you have.
Respect Your Mana Curve!
- While it’s tempting to throw a bunch of late game minions into your deck, it’s a bad idea because you’ll find that without an early game, you’ll never get to late game before your opponent kills you. You want to be able to play on curve, and not have to skip a turn without having something to play.
- While this isn’t a golden rule for all decks, this is what a general mana curve should look like for a midrange deck. Please keep this in mind as you swap in your shiny new cards:
- 0-2 One Mana Minions
- 4-6 Two Mana Minions
- 4-5 Three Mana Minions
- 4-6 Four Mana Minions
- 2-4 Five Mana Minions
- 2-4 Six+ Mana Minions
Potential Upgrades List
Here are a few simple substitutions that will make this budget deck even stronger.
2x Raid Leader → 2x Feral Spirit
2x Razorfen Hunter → 2x Lightning Storm
2x Dragonling Mechanic → 2x Defender of Argus
2x Sen'jin Shieldmasta → 2x Azure Drake
Shaman is an incredibly versatile class with many excellent class cards. Unfortunately many of those awesome cards are part of the Expert set, and not available to us in the Basic card set, making those Priority Upgrades pretty important. Nevertheless, it was a great deal of fun to construct this deck within the constraints we had. I hope you’ll have as much fun playing it as I did!
If you’re interested in reaching Legend rank, or earning unlimited gold from arena, my team at HearthstoneCoaching.com would love to help! We’ve provided over a thousand hours of excellent coaching to students around the world.
I also run RankOneCoaching.com, where our top coaches will develop a personal plan for you to achieve your dreams in other games. Personal lessons are an in-depth experience and most students improve significantly after just one full session!
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