Hello everyone. Today I want to talk about one of my favorite decks lately. I never really liked Shaman class, but ever since I’ve tried this deck I’m liking it a lot. The deck I’m talking about is N’Zoth Jade Shaman – I took the Savjz list, which ran an interesting tech – Devolve
I didn’t have time to hit Legend this season yet (it’s probably my slowest Legend grind in the last year), but I took the deck to rank 5 without any problems. It’s kinda tricky to play at first, but once you realize what is your game plan in different matchups, you should be fine. But sadly, the deck is really expensive (like any slow deck right now) and requires some off-meta Legendaries like Hallazeal the Ascended
If I had to put this deck on a tier list, I’d say that it’s generally low Tier 2 or high Tier 3. It’s not the strongest deck right now, but it’s viable and you should be able to climb with it. I’d say that the Maelstrom Portal version is generally better against Aggro, which the Devolve version was struggling a bit with (mostly Aggro Pirate that could rush you down very, very fast). Right now the decks alright against most of the decks – it generally has slightly positive matchups against Aggro Shaman, Pirate/Dragon Warrior and Control Warrior, pretty even matchup against Reno Priest and Mage + slightly negative matchups against Miracle Rogue, Dragon Priest and RenoLock. I’d say that the only oppressive matchup for Control Shaman is Jade Druid, which luckily isn’t very popular on the ladder.
The deck’s general game plan is to outgrind the opponent. It runs no burst damage, no combo, no early/mid game pressure… Prepare to play long game every single game. Against Aggro, your main win condition is well, just outlasting them. If you deal with their board, heal and Taunt up – you have nothing to worry about. Aggro decks don’t run enough big threats to run your out of cards. The only way they can win against you is rushing you down – which of course can happen, but generally you’re a favorite. Slow matchups are much more difficult and skill-intensive. In Control matchups, you generally aim to win the game with two things – first Jade Golem snowball, second – N’Zoth and third – 10/10 from White Eyes
I’ll divide mulligan section into vs Aggro (either straight up Aggro or fast Midrange decks like Dragon Warrior) and vs Conrol (slow Midrange and Control decks) sections. Since mulligans in fast/slow matchups are completely different, it will make this section much more reliable. I’ll also put cards into one of the two categories: always keep and situationally keep. I’ll try to explain why each card belongs to given category and when you should keep it.
- Maelstrom Portal– Your smallest AoE and probably at the same time the best early game card against Aggro. Best against Pirate Warrior, but it’s really good against any deck running the Pirate package. You’re guaranteed to kill Patches (and maybe other 1-drop 1 health Pirates) and the 1-drop leftover should be enough to contest the Small-time Buccaneer.
- Jade Claws– It’s not great in the early game, because in the end it’s a weaker Stormforged Axewhen you just summon a 1/1. However, any weapon is solid against Aggro. You need ways to deal with their early boards to stop the damage. That’s why you want to keep it if possible.
- Lava Shock– Can be used as a 2 mana for 2 damage, it should kill some of the early game stuff. And at the same time, you run a lot of Overload cards so it might give you some extra mana.
- Lightning Storm– Big part of your early game removals are AoE. And that’s fine – AoEs are great against Aggro. Since it’s very likely that they will play a minion on turns 1, 2 and 3, on-curve Lightning Storm is not a bad option at all.
- Bloodmage Thalnos– With Maelstrom Portal. Sometimes 1 AoE is not enough, but you might not want to overload yourself with Storm. Thalnos + Portal is 2 AoE for 4 mana + you get 1/1 and an extra 1-drop on the board. Quite solid stuff.
- Elemental Destruction– I keep it with a really bad hand. If I have no other early answers, sometimes a turn 3 Elemental Destruction can save you a game. It’s pretty much a guaranteed board clear, but you completely skip turn 4, which puts you behind. Still better than taking 10 damage or something. Having Lava Shock makes this card better – you can use it on turn 5 (or 4 with Coin) and immediately Lava Shock so you won’t skip a turn.
- Hex– I like to keep it against Aggro Shaman. Flamewreathed Facelesscan really punish you and you really have no other way to deal with it (it’s out of range of any AoEs). But even Hexing a Totem Golemisn’t terrible if it saves you health early – not every class can deal with Totem Golem for 3 mana.
- Healing Wave/Jinyu Waterspeaker– Healing is important against Aggro, but first you need to stabilize. I keep healing if I have good early game. Or even the Ele Destruction + Healing combo, so I can heal up after clearing the whole board.
- Jade Claws– You don’t really have a lot to do in the early game vs Control, but they might play some small minion like Kabal Courier. It’s always good to have a way to remove a small minion and start your Jade train too.
- Jade Lightning– Good, reactive mid game card. Should be enough to answer some of their turn 3-5 plays, especially if you also have Jade Claws, or maybe Spell Damage totem (you generally Hero Power for the first few turns, so you have quite a solid chance to get Spell Damage).
- White Eyes– You REALLY want it to die against Control, so you get your 10/10 shuffled in and you get to respawn it back with N’Zoth. It’s an important part of your game plan. And the longer game goes, the higher the chance is that they will have a way to negate the effect – e.g. Polymorph, Entomb, Sylvanas Windrunner. Dropping it on the curve minimizes the chance of them having those cards.
- Thing From Below– Unlike against Aggro, in Control matchups you will very likely Hero Power A LOT. It means that thing from below usually becomes playable on turn 4-5, making it a solid proactive card. You want to keep it since you don’t have a lot of proactive moves and it’s always good to have some.
- Elemental Destruction– Against the slower decks that can get a lot of board presence. For example, if you play against Dragon Priest, which is far from Aggro, but relies on a huge mid game boards to win the game. Ele Destruction can answer those quite well. If you keep Ele Destruction, you also want to keep the Lava Shock, although it’s not necessary – skipping a mid game turn in slower matchups shouldn’t lose you the game.
- Hex– Against RenoLock. Turn 4 Drake/Giant is too much to handle without Hex, especially if it gets copied with Faceless Shambler(or Manipulator) right away.
- Jade Spirit– Honestly, it might be a solid keep, but I like to keep Jade Spirit for the late game to combo it with Brann (Brann + Jade Spirit + Jade Claws = 2 extra Jade Golems).
- Azure Drake– If you have a pretty light hand, some lower cost cards like Jade Claws and Jade Lightning already, then you can keep Azure Drake. You don’t want to cycle too much in slow matchups, but turn 5 Azure Drake is really solid. Don’t keep him if you’re keeping let’s say Thing from Below and White Eyes already, because it’s too much.
Once again, I’m going to divide the Strategy section into 2 sections – against Aggro and against Control. I will still have to make some generalizations, but talking about each deck separately would be too long.
- Your main game plan against Aggro is, just like always, to survive. As long as you stabilize the board and heal out of the burn range, you just win the game.
- Try to minimize the damage you take in the early game. Don’t be greedy with your AoEs – you run A LOT of them, so throwing a Lightning Stormon 2 minions is okay if you kill them this way. Surviving the first 3-4 turns is most important, after that you should start getting the advantage. But you don’t want to get rushed down.
- Turn 3 Elemental Destructionis a questionable, but often necessary play. Let’s say you play against Shaman with Tunnel Trogg-> Totem Golem-> Totem Golemstart. That’s 9 damage on the board and too much health to handle through the other methods. Even though you skip next turn completely, you just have to go for that. You can possibly wait if you’re 1 turn off the Ele Destruction + Lava Shockcombo, but only if you won’t take too much damage.
- Hexis surprisingly strong vs Aggro. You don’t really care about the 0/1 Taunt that much (it will usually die to one of your AoEs) and you have a 3 mana spell that kills anything they play. If they drop something that you can’t deal with efficiently, even if it’s not huge, let’s say Frothing Berserkeror Kor'kron Elite, Hexing it is really fine. Those decks don’t really run huge minions (besides 4 mana 7/7 by Shaman) so you don’t have to be careful with your Hex and keep it for something huge.
- Dirty Ratis amazing vs Aggro, but you need to use it correctly. DO NOT drop it on turn 2. Only if your hand is really terrible and you just need to get lucky to win. Otherwise, keep it until mid game. In the mid game, you’re much more likely to pull out a Charge minion (Aggro decks prefer to play slow minions first to start rolling the damage), possibly even a finisher like Leeroy Jenkins. There is also a chance that they don’t have a minion and it’s a 2/6 Taunt for 2 = amazing! But no matter what they pull, you should be able to answer it without getting screwed. Dropping it on turn 2 is risky. Even pulling out a 3-drop gives them a tempo boost (which you really don’t want), not to mention thousands of games lost against Aggro Shaman because 7/7 was the lucky winner of the RNG roll.
- You can probably count your Healing Waveas 14 healing. You have to get really unlucky to lose a Joust against Aggro. With that in mind, you don’t want to use it when you’re at let’s say 20 health – you waste a potential 4 points of healing.
- Clearing the board > healing. If you clear the board, you prevent repeating damage. By healing when they still have board, you only stall the game, not progress into the victory. Sure, sometimes stalling 1 turn is necessary, but if you have a choice between those two, clear first. Taunts come second, because they both prevent damage AND can possibly kill some minions (or bait burn from the opponent’s hand). So it usually goes like this: Clear > Taunt > Heal.
- If your opponent has no board, turn 5 Hallazeal the Ascendedcan seal the game. The thing is, they have to kill it, because it represents a lot of potential healing (even if you have no spells to back it up, they don’t know that), but they can’t easily do it without board. If Shaman has to use Lava Burstto kill it, that’s fine with you – now he can’t burn your face. There is a case to be made about keeping it until turn 8 to combo with Elemental Destructionor Lightning Storm. If you have one of those combos and you feel that a) you will need healing b) the game will last that long, keeping Hallazeal can be solid choice.
- You don’t really care about getting the maximum value out of your cards. Let’s say turn 3 Brann Bronzebeardis a solid move if you have nothing else to do. They probably have to kill it, and if they won’t, you can get the double value from Jade Spiritor Jinyu Waterspeaker. Later in the game, if you have Brann, you might want to keep it for the Jinyu combo – extra 6 healing (12 instead of 6) is pretty strong. But Hero Powering on turn 3 just because you have those two cards in the hand is NOT a good idea (it’s a turn 7 combo and not dropping a minion on turn 3 might mean you won’t survive that long).
- Hexing your own minion (probably a small Jade Golem or a Totem other than Taunt one) to make a 0/1 Taunt is a viable option in certain cases. It’s really not efficient, that’s true, but that 0/1 Totem might tank much more. Let’s say you face Pirate Warrior with a huge Arcanite Reaperand no other cards in the hand. The chance that he gets a way to kill the 0/1 quite efficiently is very small (Southsea Deckhandis really the only one). There is a huge chance that 0/1 will tank an Arcanite Reaper hit or Warrior just won’t attack, giving you more time.
- Also, against Pirate Warrior it might be a good idea to Hero Power a lot in the mid game. They don’t clear your totems, they have no reason to, they go face. So at one point you will be able to roll Taunt totem every single turn – that’s a huge advantage, because as I’ve mentioned before, a small Taunt usually represents more value against Pirate Warrior. Most of their weapons/Charge minions etc. deal more than 2 damage. Of course, do not prioritize Hero Power over something strong, but if you have no good play anyway (let’s say you can Jade Lightning face or something), Totem is a decently strong move.
- Control games are more tricky, in a way that you completely drop playing for the tempo in 9 out of 10 games. Outside of a perfect Jade Golem curve, this deck has zero ways to put the pressure. First few turns are usually Hero Power + pass, you sometimes drop a Thing from Below or something, but that’s pretty much it. They can deal with whatever you do, so there is simply no reason to try to push the tempo. You try to maximize the value you get out of each card you play. Especially out of your AoEs – you simply don’t need that many AoEs in the Control matchups, so you often end up wasting them a bit.
- First things first, the early game is very slow. You won’t really drop minions, they probably won’t drop too many minions too. I mean, they might have some turn 2-3 plays, but those are mostly small minions that won’t be any threat. So far, only 2-3 of my games vs slow decks have ended before turn 10, so you don’t have to worry about that. If they drop something bigger, try to Hex it. If you don’t have Hex – don’t worry, you have quite a lot of healing so any early pressure shouldn’t be that bad. You should also be able to answer any bigger threats with Elemental Destruction(+possibly Lava Shock). If you kill something bigger with it, it’s actually solid use of the card. Anyway, your opponents won’t likely play too many stuff on the board to not get screwed by Ele Destruction.
- You really start playing minions around turn 4-5. As I’ve mentioned in the mulligan, you want to play White Eyesas soon as possible if you have it. It’s the best target for cards like Polymorphor Entomb, or even Sylvanas Windrunnersteal. It gives you an edge you need, because you get two extra 10/10’s in your deck and you fatigue 2 cards later. Opponents never keep those cards, because they assume that you play Aggro (who wouldn’t?) – it means that until they get them in the first few draws (which is unlikely), you get a nice advantage. Same goes with slower Shaman lists and Hex – that’s the best Hex target for them.
- So, since you’re going to get at least one of your N’Zoth targets transformed, you prefer them to deal with your Sylvanas Windrunnerthis way. While the card is obviously strong, it’s the weakest one to revive out of the 3. So later in the game, you can actually drop a Sylvanas into obvious Poly/Hex/Entomb/whatever just to bait it, so you can drop your Aya and White Eyes without worrying. The reason for that is that both Aya and White Eyes give you some advantage when revived even if the board gets removed. Once they realize that you probably play N’Zoth, they should keep at least one big AoE for it. If Sylvanas gets killed by Twisting Nether or something, it does nothing. But Aya spawns a (probably) big Jade Golem and White Eyes gives you 10/10 in your deck.
- Jade train is one of the ways to win the late game. I’d say that you want to keep one Jade Clawsand Jade Spiritfor the Brann combo. Normally, you can get your Jade Golems up to 7/7, which is big, but might not be big enough. After resurrecting Aya, you get it up to 8/8, which is better. But it’s even better if you combo Brann with 2 of your Jade cards – now they go up to 10/10, which is really, really big. You get two extra big threats in the end, that’s the best use of Brann in the slow matchups.
- Another possible use of Brann, if you didn’t save two Jade cards to combo it with, is Dirty Rat. You really want to get out a big condition from your opponent without it proccing. For example, RenoLock is a bad matchup. But it’s becomes a good matchup if you manage to Dirty Rat the Lord Jaraxxus. Against Reno Mage, getting outor Medivh, the Guardiancan be game-changing etc. Pretty much every slow deck runs some things you want to kill on your terms. However, you want to have a way to answer them, otherwise it doesn’t make sense – prepare with Hexin your hand before you Rat something out.
- On the other hand, Dirty Ratis also one of your worst enemies. You keep N'Zoth, the Corruptoruntil the very late game, when you’ve played your 3 big Deathrattles already. So in the end, it’s very vulnerable to Dirty Rat. Try to not ever have it as a lone minion in your hand or you can get punished. Try to keep at least 2-3 other minions. Anything is better than N’Zoth.
- Try to not draw cards if you don’t have to. If your hand absolutely sucks and you have to cycle a bit, it’s okay to draw, but playing Mana Tide Totemcan be very risky. If your opponent identifies that fatigue is the win condition and lets you draw a few cards, it can lose you the game (drawing 3-4 cards is not enough to win the game with the tempo, but it’s enough to start fatiguing much faster). Same goes for playing Bloodmage Thalnos– drawing one is fine, but remember that you get it back with N’Zoth, probably when you’re close to fatigue already and you don’t want to draw more. So it might be a good idea to just not use Thalnos. Azure Drakeis fine, as it also provides a decently sized body and it’s only a single card (you can expect them to draw at least 1-2 cards throughout the game too).
- One note, against any slow deck that runs some kind of burst, try to save your heals instead of wasting them. For example, sometimes you really want to drop that Jinyu Waterspeaker without getting Battlecry value to have a body on the board. But it’s not always a good idea. Let’s say Reno Mage, they can Alex + burn you in the late game and if you use your healing cards before that happens, you just lose. If you don’t – you can heal up to full quite easily.
There are some cards that aren’t in the list, but can be used as the techs or alternatives. Some of them make the Aggro matchups better, some make Control matchups better, but generally they’re all worth considering.
The original card used in Savjz’s list instead of the Maelstrom Portal
My problem with this card is that sometimes it does absolutely nothing. Even more – sometimes it makes your opponent’s board stronger. Against Aggro it’s a pretty bad card. You’d rather prefer to AoE down the minions instead of transforming them – transforming small stuff into a bit smaller stuff rarely saved a lot of health. And the problem with this card against Control is that they rarely run cards with huge stats, most of the cards have quite low stats for their mana cost and a strong Battlecry. Let’s say you’re against a Dragon Priest with Azure Drake
The card was shining sometimes, but most of the time it was dead card for the 90% of the match, which you definitely don’t want.
Anti-Aggro option. Doomsayer is one of the best Anti-Aggro cards in the game. The deck is already fine-tuned to answer Aggro decks, BUT turn 1-2 is what you often struggle with. The problem is that deck like Pirate Warrior can get you down to 15 health before you play your turn 3 AoE and that’s A LOT. Even if Doomsayer won’t proc, it always saved you 7 health (because they have to kill it) and 7 healing for 2 mana is quite solid, since it gives you more time to get to your AoE and then stabilize with Taunt/healing.
However, it’s another card that’s pretty bad in Control matchup, so it’s hard to fit it to not ruin your Control win rate by a lot.
This, on the other hand, improves your Control matchups. It’s a high value minion that improves your N’Zoth, because it gives another body you resurrect AND that body spawns another body in case your N’Zoth turn gets answered. Cairne combined with Aya makes the N’Zoth turn very hard to answer, because you get a 4/5 + Jade Golem back even after a big clear. On the other hand, the card is very slow and thus not too good against Aggro.
Another card that’s strong against Aggro, but not necessarily good against Control. I mean, it can get you some value, but it won’t likely win the game. The good thing is that since you generally Hero Power a lot, you will quite consistently have the 3 damage active. It also gives you something to potentially do on turn 1 – without it, you always pass when going first.
If you like to go all-in on your Deathrattles. The card is kinda cheese and gave me a very mixed results, but when it works, it works really well. In slow matchups you want to Ancestral Spirit your White Eyes. When it dies, it respawns. Then it dies again. Then you summon TWO MORE with your N’Zoth. That’s 4x White Eyes = 4 cards more in the deck and 4x 5 mana 10/10. This alone can win you the games. However, playing White Eyes AND Ancestral Spirit is like asking to get it Polymorphed, Hexed or whatever. However, if you can bait that first, you’re in a great spot.
In fast matchups the card is pretty poor, but if you manage to get your Thing From Below
That’s all folks. I hope that you’ve learned something from the guide and that those of you who will try the deck will enjoy it as much as you do. I’ve seen a lot of different versions of Control Shaman on the ladder, since it’s not really a common meta deck each player has its own variation. If you’ve played Control Shaman before, please share your list in the comments and tell what you think about this one!
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Good luck on the ladder and until next time!