Welcome to my introduction to the Shaman class. In this guide, I will share with you a 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
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
I recognized that there was a potential synergy behind Shaman’s ability to generate Totems and Frostwolf Warlord
A single copy of Bloodlust
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
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
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
While the win conditions — a large Frostwolf Warlord
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.
Minions – 24
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 Bloodlustthe turn you play him.
- He’s extremely cheap, so you can play him right before Frostwolf Warlordto 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 Oozeto trade with a Chillwind Yeti, and a Stonetusk Boarto 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 Totemto 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 Leaderis 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 Hunterspawns two minions is important — it’s perfect for squeezing a Flametongue Totemin 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 Boltability 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 Ogrefor 3 damage to any target we choose.
Spells – 6
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 Windrunneror Cairne Bloodhoofand 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: Hexagainst Druid to counter early Innervatestarts.
- 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
- 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 Hexfor extremely hard to deal with cards. If you can kill something with a buffed totem or token minion, save your Hexas this deck doesn’t have too many answers to large taunts and legendaries.
- Generally speaking, the 1/1 Searing Totemand the 0/2 Healing Totemare the most useful in this deck. The Stoneclaw Totemhas 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.
- 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 Boarin 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 Totemis a minion too! You can place two next to each other to make two 2/3s.
- It’s an instant 1 damage buff to all other minions on your board.
- Try to avoid playing Raid Leaderon 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.
- 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 Warlordbefore you play him, so make sure you play your other minions first before playing the Warlord.
These are the cards that will improve your deck the most for the dust cost, and are staples of most competitive Shaman decks. In the next section, you’ll be able to see what they can substitute for in the Basic decklist.
- An extremely valuable card that eliminates Twilight Drakes, Scarlet Crusaders, and other minions extremely efficiently. While 1 damage doesn’t seem like much, it’s the silence effect coupled with the 1 damage that is key.
- 1 mana for 3 damage is amazing, but it’s really 2 mana for 3 damage. The good thing is that you’ll pay for half of it on the following turn. This combined with Unbound Elementaldoesn’t make the overload as much of a downside.
- You’ll get even more value out of this with a Wrath of Air Totem.
2 ManaHaunted Creeper
- It’s a mini Harvest Golem, except when it pops, it gives you two 1/1s that can be conveniently buffed by your Flametongue Totem. Value.
- Shaman’s primary board clear, which is notably absent from our deck. This is extremely scary when coupled with spell power.
- While in total it’s 5 mana for two 2/3s, you get to play this on turn 3, netting you two minions with one card.
- What a cheap card! 3 mana for a 2/4 is already cost efficient. This just makes overload less of a downside, which is why you should definitely play this.
4 ManaDefender of Argus
- As a Shaman, you’ll almost always have something to buff with this. Turn those Feral Spirits into 3/4s or Spectral Spiders into 2/2s.
5 ManaAzure Drake
- 5 mana for a 4/4 and draw a card is already good. The added spell power bonus is ridiculous for Shaman.
Full Upgrade List
You can substitute these cards into your Basic deck to improve it over time! Be sure to check out the prior section on Priority Upgrades if you’re thinking of crafting cards. Those are the most important ones. Otherwise, if you’re a collector who doesn’t want to waste arcane dust, but still wants to be able to plow through those daily quests, read along!
Some of these aren’t direct upgrades, so you’ll want to tinker around with the inclusion of these cards to make sure your deck has synergy. As you sub in more priority cards, this deck will shift from a deck focused on generating cheap tokens for Bloodlust
1-2 Mana: Stonetusk Boar
- Common: Lightning Bolt, Earth Shock, Argent Squire, Faerie Dragon, Youthful Brewmaster, Loot Hoarder
- Rare: Stormforged Axe, Knife Juggler
- Legendary: Bloodmage Thalnos
- Naxxramas: Echoing Ooze, Haunted Creeper, Nerubian Egg
3 Mana: Raid Leader
- Common: Unbound Elemental, Harvest Golem, Scarlet Crusader, Earthen Ring Farseer, Raging Worgen, Jungle Panther
- Rare: Lightning Storm, Feral Spirit, Mana Tide Totem, Mind Control Tech, Injured Blademaster
- Epic: Big Game Hunter, Blood Knight
4 Mana: Chillwind Yeti
- Any priority 3 mana card.
- Rare: Defender of Argus
5 Mana: Bloodlust
- Keep in mind removing these two cards may change the identity of your deck.
- Rare: Azure Drake
- Epic: Doomhammer, Sea Giant
- Legendary: Al'Akir the Windlord
- Naxxramas: Loatheb, Spectral Knight
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! For a more in-depth view into the Shaman class, I’d recommend checking out our site’s excellent Shaman section.
As always, questions, comments, and constructive criticism are all welcome. I’ll be happy to answer your questions as best as I can.
I’m Sheng, a community guide writer and 7+ win arena player. I’ve coached over 100 hours of hearthstone to students around the world, and I’d love to coach you! Please visit www.HearthstoneCoaching.com for more information