Hello everyone! Sempok here, this time bringing you a guide for a deck that I managed to get Rank 1 Legend with, and of course the deck was an Aggro one. I’ve been testing Aggro Shaman extensively for the past two seasons now, trying to optimize the list. This was the deck that I had the best winrate with: An absolutely insane 60-15.
Rank 1 Legend proof can be found here.
In the most recent wave of nerfs, Aggro took a big hit. More specifically, Aggro Shaman took a big hit. Tuskarr Totemic, Abusive Sergeant, and Rockbiter Weapon – all staples in Aggro Shaman – got significantly worse. Because of this, most people thought that Aggro Shaman was dead. This was a fair assumption, but what astonished me was that people stopped playing the deck completely.
The thing about nerfing cards is that people often stop playing the card completely. Yes, Rockbiter got worse, but it is definitely still a really strong card – now it’s just a more versatile Darkbomb. It’s only in people’s minds that the card becomes completely awful, while that may not be true in practice. It was with this ideology that I started trying out Aggro Shaman again.
This Aggro Shaman list is similar to the pre-nerf Aggro Shaman in its playstyle, if not slightly slower. The idea behind this deck is to use your severely overpowered early game cards like Tunnel Trogg, Spirit Claws, and Totem Golem to get board control fast and then close out the game with your severely overpowered damage cards such as Doomhammer, Rockbiter Weapon, and Lava Burst.
Last season, I got Top 10 Legend with a different Aggro Shaman list that ran Lava Shocks and Ancestral Knowledges. However, I found that this deck was way more consistent in both the long game and the fast game. This is because of our inclusion of adding Spell Damage synergy cards like Maelstrom Portal while also having strong mid-late game in Azure Drake and Thing From Below.
As Firebat once famously stated,”The key part of an Aggro deck is not in playing it, but in building it.” (or something along those lines). Well there were a lot of decisions I had to make in deciding what to put and take out from the deck.
Sir Finley Mrrgglton: This is the card that I get asked about the most. While Sir Finley might seem like an obvious choice for this deck at first glance, it’s actually not good in the deck at all. Earlier, people were already sometimes cutting Finley just because it interfered with Thing from Below. Now, changing your hero power also messes with Spirit Claws (and sometimes Maelstrom Portal). Due to these reasons, I felt that not including Finley was the right choice in the deck.
Azure Drake: While this card might not be the most straightforward choice for an Aggro deck, the main this to realise with this deck is that it can play both the slow and fast game. You can often just play for board the whole game and suddenly burst them down using the Doomhammer + Rockbiter combo. Azure Drake also helps a lot in activating Spirit Claws and makes Maelstrom Portal a lot stronger, which is amazing against Midrange Shaman.
Ancestral Knowledge: Ancestral Knowledge is tricky. You might think that it’s pretty good in Aggro deck, but in practice is just isn’t good enough. The deck already has draw present in its thanks to Azure Drake. Ancestral Knowledge can often lead to clunky hands. Using it early game is just horrible as you lose tempo on two consecutive turns. Without Lava Shocks, it just isn’t good enough.
Thing From Below: Due to Tuskarr Totemic being nerfed, Thing from Below definitely became weaker in Aggro Shaman. However, it’s the same story as I stated above. Just because the card isn’t as good as it was before doesn’t mean that isn’t still really strong. Thing from Below still easily gets its cost reduced to at least 3 every game if not more. It’s also more than enough to stop Aggro decks dead in their tracks. And I think a 0 mana 5/5 is preeeeetttyyy goooooood for an Aggro deck (or any deck for that matter).
Maelstrom Portal: This card is just a tech choice for the current meta. It has the potential of singlehandedly winning games against Secret Hunter and Discard Zoolock. It also isn’t bad against other decks like Midrange Shaman and Tempo Mage. In a pure Control meta, this card is obviously not good, but then again, in a pure Control meta, this deck isn’t that good.
Mulligans and Matchups
In most matchups you follow the same basic strategy and have the same mulligan always. You want to get favorable trades on board early while going face whenever there isn’t one available or there isn’t an immediate threat on board. You want to mulligan for Tunnel Trogg, Argent Squire, Spirit Claws, and Totem Golem. However, there are certain matchups where this is slightly different and there is a bit more strategy attached to it. Let’s talk about that.
Druid: While again the strategy is the same against Druids, one card that you usually want to keep as long as you have decent early game is Flamewreathed Faceless. Since most Druid lists have begun to omit Mulch, this card goes up in value by tenfold. Druids simply do not have a clean way to deal with a 7/7 on board on turn 4 and because of that, you can simply straight up win games because of this one card.
Control Warrior: Similar to Druid, you want to keep the 4 mana 7/7 as long as you have early game. However, in this matchup, it is also often correct to keep Doomhammer in your opening had. The reason for this is that due to the insane amount of Armor gain that this deck has, you will invariably be needing Doomhammer to win games. Praying to topdeck it and not actually having it in hand can very often be the difference between winning and losing and hence, it is correct to keep this card as long as you have some semblance of early game minions.
Rogue: This is probably the most straightforward matchup. Since Rogues have no Taunts or Life gain, you can usually just point your damage to their face and not get punished. There is some skill attached to knowing when your winrate increases by trading (like it is often right to trade into Gadgetzan Auctioneer). However, like I said, going face will usually just win you games against Rogues. One thing to note is that 7/7s are much weaker against Rogues than other decks since a Sap on your 7/7 can be devastating and give you a huge setback on Tempo.
Midrange Shaman: One of the tougher matchups for this deck. It relies heavily on realising that sooner or later, Midrange Shaman will draw into their AoE spells in the form of either Lightning Storm or Maelstrom Portal. Due to this, it is essential to get in damage whenever you can since you are never winning the long game. Players often make the mistake of trading more than is necessary and losing games because of that.
Zoo: It is crucial to get strong early game in this matchup. Good cards in the matchup are Flamewreathed Faceless and Maelstrom Portal, along with all the strong early game minions and Spirit Claws. Keep in mind that a Zoo with no board is a Zoo that isn’t winning.
Face Hunter: One of the easiest matchups in the game. The reason is that your early game is much better than theirs. That combined with this decks extremely efficient taunts in Feral Spirits and Thing from Below, this matchup is extremely favored.
It is very clear that Aggro Shaman, although weakened, is still alive and kicking. If you have any questions regarding the deck or playstyle, feel free to leave them in the comments below or hit me up on twitter @Sempok_HS. Cheers and GLHF!