It’s a weird time to be talking about Shaman. Since the Shudderwock nerf, it’s fallen massively in popularity. Now, it’s barely above Druid in playrate. On the plus side, it’s one remaining popular archetype is an enviably potent Midrange deck. But as with every class, the upcoming rotation brings both uncertainty and opportunity. Can Shaman capitalise on the weaker field? Or will it lose too many core tools?
Un’goro: Elemental fury
Shaman got a decent package in Un’goro. While the Quest was one of the weaknesses (Murloc Shaman, anyone?), the class received a number of powerful Elementals. Most of these were pretty nondescript, but Kalimos proved powerful enough to include in a number of decks (including Even Shaman). Beyond this, both the potent 2-mana Primalfin Totem and the brutal board clear Volcano were a boon to board-based and control decks, respectively.
Every Shaman deck will suffer from the rotation of Un’goro. Shaman players will most likely mourn Volcano the most. Without any other big board-clear, virtually all Combo or Control Shaman decks will be dead on arrival. Otherwise, Even Shaman will likely do alright without Kalimos or Primalfin Totem.
Knights of the Frozen Throne: When Shaman Froze
Knights of the Frozen Throne wasn’t the best for Shaman. While Druids got Spreading Plague, Warlocks got Defile and Paladins got Righteous Protector, Shaman largely received meme garbage. Freeze Shaman was one of the most laughably underpowered archetypes ever introduced, its instant failure surprising no-one. In between the Moorabis and Avalanches, there were a couple of passable cards. Thrall, Deathseer wasn’t horrible, and Snowfury Giant spawned its own low-tier archetype.
Despite this, it’s unlikely that Shamans will miss any of these cards. Thrall was decent, but never a must-have. Meanwhile Snowfury Giant lacks a real raison d’être as Sapphire Spellstone also rotates out. Freeze Shaman will do just as terribly in Wild as Standard.
Kobolds and Catacombs: Spells for Days
Kobolds and Catacombs brought slews of incredibly powerful options for every class, and Shaman was no exception. While its minions and legendary weapon leaned towards the weak side, some of the spells were spectacular. Unstable Evolution and Healing Rain (and to a lesser extent, Sapphire Spellstone) were great options for all sorts of decks. Unstable Evolution was a mainstay in non-even Tempo Shaman decks, and Healing Rain was a vital support piece to give incredibly efficient heals for all kinds of late-game decks. Honourable mention to Grumble, which was a Shudderwock mainstay but had little utility elsewhere.
Along with Volcano, Healing Rain was one of the cards that made Control and Combo Shamans possible. While token Shamans may survive without Unstable, it’s hard to see a world where Shaman can go the distance in the late-game without this card or something like it.
Like Warrior, Shaman won’t be too affected in its main deck. Even Shaman will soldier on as long as Murkspark Eel and Flametongue Totem exist in Standard. Though it might curve lower without the Lich King and Kalimos, it’ll undoubtedly look very similar and be extremely competitive in the new meta. With a solid grounding, Shaman looks like a good template onto which Blizzard can introduce experimental new Control and Combo archetypes. Just no more Freeze Shamans please.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via hearthstone.gamepedia.com.
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