February 9, 2017
Table of Contents
Control Shaman Deck-Building Guide
Control Shaman has never been a met defining deck but people have tried various variants of the deck throughout the history of the game. Crusher Shaman, Malygos Shaman, N’zoth Shaman and many other styles of Control Shaman have been tried by professional players with varying amounts of success. apDrop’s Control Shaman lists have been largely successful at the top end of the Legend ladder in the recent past and I have had immense fun with the deck’s offerings. With Jade Golem mechanics being brought to the table along with the introduction of White Eyes to bring forth a ton of value for N’zoth Shaman decks, let’s take a look at the possibilities of the archetype.
Instead of simply focusing on one decklist we will take a look at the deck-building possibilities that we have right now in Standard and how we can build our own Control Shaman deck. Just like any other Control deck, you sacrifice a chunk of the early game in favor of more board control tools and removals coupled with strong minions for the lategame. Control Shaman is quite favored against aggressive decks and it’s mostly an anti-meta deck choice for people who want to try something different to ladder with.
Card Choices: Board Clears
One of the primary strengths of Shaman as a class right now is the availability of powerful mana-efficient board clears. Since you are not worried about curving our each turn, overloading some of your mana crystals is completely acceptable. Let’s take a look at some of the board clear options that you can include in your Control Shaman deck. You can also offset the drawback of locked crystals by using Lava Shock to unlock your crystals. Lava Shock also serves as a removal tool for small minions making its inclusion worth it due to its flexibility.
Elemental Destruction: This is the most powerful board clear Shaman has access to in terms of damage dealt to minions. You can clear out pretty much any board against mid range and aggro decks without any trouble. With the absence of substantial deathrattle minions in the Standard format, the value of Elemental Destruction as an area-of-effect clear is quite high. It also has great synergy with Hallazeal the Ascended because you can get a lot of healing through the card. We will focus more on Hallazeal in a later section.
Maelstrom Portal: One of the most powerful cards that Shaman has access to in the game, this card is the bane of aggressive decks. With so many 1-2 HP minions in the meta, it’s easy to clear them all out in one turn for just 2 mana and also establish some board presence. The synergy with Spell Damage makes your totems a threat to the enemy and they need to keep clearing your board in case of spell damage totem rolls that can blow up their board. It is a very powerful card against the Pirate meta that we are all facing at the moment.
Lightning Storm: It has been the go-to choice of board clear for Shamans right from the release of the game and it’s one of the better AoE spells in the game due to its cheap cost and very little drawback involved. It has great synergy with spell power for clearing out bigger boards. Despite the RNG involved when it comes to the damage that the spell deals, it is still a very reliable card that you definitely want to include in your deck.
Devolve: You might not have thought of Devolve as an AoE clear but it has some great potential in the current meta. With so many 1 drops in the game right now that are used in Pirate decks and Aggro Shaman, Devolve counters every single one of them. Transforming these snowballing 1 drops to 1/1s as a setup for Maelstrom Portal can single-handedly swing the game in your favor. All the 0 drops in the Standard meta are 1/1s, making it a great card to combo with for Devolve. Some of the biggest offenders in the meta like Tunnel Trogg and Small-time Buccaneer can be shut down for good and it can help you negate a lot of repetitive damage. It is also a great card against control decks as well because you can change pesky Deathrattle minions into other weaker minions. Anyfin Paladin is also a prime target for Devolve since they will not be able to re-summon the Murlocs that you Devolve.
Corrupted Seer: A lot of people have tried The Curator in Control Shaman lists to enable more card draw and Corrupted Seer has synergy with The Curator due to the Murloc tag and it also serves as a decent board clear, although an expensive one. It is not essentially a card I would run right now in the current meta but if Jade Mid-Range Shaman becomes more dominant on ladder then it is a great card to run to counter the deck.
Card Choices: Spot Removals
Hex: It is arguably the strongest spot removal in the game that requires no additional setup. Execute and Shield Slam are more powerful if you have the right setup but you do not need to meet any conditions when it comes to Hex. If you can target a minion, it can be wiped off – that’s as simple as it gets. The fact that the target gets Taunt is not even a drawback since it’s not often that you are applying pressure to close out the game and simply ordering your cards right can help you make trades in the most efficient way possible.
Lightning Bolt: It is one of the cheapest removal spells and it is comparable to other cards like Quick Shot and Frostbolt, except you pay the cost of the card across two different turns. It is a perfect card for early game board control and you can also use it as burn damage.
Stormcrack: Another great card for early game board control and it’s really good against Shaman and Pirate Warrior, it helps the class deal with 4 HP minions without needing to rely on spell damage to power up your Lightning Bolt. The drawback of being able to target minions only is not entirely relevant since the deck does not rely on burst damage at all. This card is mostly a meta call and you can add it depending on your matchups.
Jade Lightning: This card is a worthy inclusion if you are running a Jade themed Control Shaman list. It allows you to generate board presence while also adding board presence to your side of the board.
Card Choices: Healing
Shaman as a class has very powerful healing tools that are matched by only Paladin. Let’s take a look at the options that you can consider when making a Shaman deck.
Hallazeal the Ascended: It is one of the most powerful healing tools in the game and can potentially heal you just as much as Reno Jackson. With a good combo with Elemental Destruction you can heal up all the way back to full HP regardless of how low you are. It is one of the coolest cards from Whispers of the Old Gods and it spells doom for pretty much any aggro deck. He is, however, not a must include with some other powerful alternatives available at the moment, so do not worry if you do not have him. You can do just fine with the options below.
Jinyu Waterspeaker: Jinyu has exceptional stats to combat aggressive decks and it is one of the few 4 drops that have the 3/6 statline which is shared by only a handful of minions. Jinyu can heal you up for a significant amount of HP and it requires you to overload by just 1 mana which is more than acceptable for the value he provides.
Healing Wave: A situational healing spell that can heal you for either 7 or 14 depending on your Joust luck. Even if you do not get the maximum heal possible it is still an acceptable amount of healing for the cost. If you do not have Hallazeal then you can use Healing Wave as a make-do replacement.
A lot of you might want to create Reno Jackson based decks but Shaman already has access to a ton of burst healing and you do not want to reduce the consistency of your deck to enable Reno. Since you do not have the stall mechanics of Mage and the Warlock hero power’s powerful card draw, you are better off running a more consistent list for better results.
Card Choices: Card Draw and Generation
Azure Drake: One of the most reliable minions in the game, Azure Drake is definitely a must-consider when it comes to building a Control Shaman decklist. While the card is used mostly for the draw in most decks, the spell damage is very relevant since you have a bunch of spells that become more powerful as well as Spirit Claws, which requires spell damage to activate itself.
Ancestral Knowledge: It is not the most mana efficient method of drawing cards since you overpay by 1 due to the overload effect when you compare it to other cards that draw multiple cards from your deck. Regardless, it is a cheap way to draw cards since the Overload effect is not very relevant for a Control deck. The mana blockage is only relevant in rare cases when you play the card on turn 2 and need to play a 3 mana card on the following turn.
Mana Tide Totem: The most iconic form of card draw for Shamans. It guarantees you at least one card draw and if it lives it can keep generating infinite value. It forces opponents to use up resources to kill off the totem because of how powerful the card it.
Jeweled Scarab: Shaman has access to very powerful 3 mana cards and Jeweled Scarab allowing you to pull out an extra Mana Tide Totem or Healing Wave can help you in drastic situations. It is not essentially a form of ‘card draw’ in its generic sense, the pseudo card draw can help a lot. There are many times this card has bailed me out by helping me get access to an extra Hex or an AoE for making comebacks.
Card Choices: Tech Cards
Doomsayer: Early game Doomsayers are very devastating against aggressive decks and you can gain initiative very handily. Even if you are unable to get the effect of the card off, your opponent will have to spend resources to deal with your Doomsayer allowing you to save some face damage. Do not be too greedy when playing the card since the card is unlikely to survive in the current meta if you are too late. You can also use it as a follow up to a board clear to help yourself stabilize and deny your opponent board control.
Acidic Swamp Ooze and Harrison Jones: Both cards are great anti-weapon tech choices but the prevalence of so many early game weapons makes Acidic Swamp Ooze a bit more appealing right now. Most weapons that are popular in the current meta are cheap and sometimes Harrison is just too late. You also tend to hoard a lot of cards since they are heavily situational and you might overdraw with Harrison.
Dirty Rat: A card that can offer mixed results and needs to be played smartly. It is an auto-include in Renolock lists and it can be potentially good in Control Shaman lists as well. I have not personally tried Dirty Rat much in Control Shaman but it does have potential.
Jade Golem: Jade Golems are definitely strong but they take time to make an impact. The Jade Golem mechanic by itself is very powerful against control decks and if you manage to mix the anti aggro tools and Jade Golem cards perfectly, you will be able to make a very effective Control Shaman decklist. apDrop’s Jade Control Shaman is a very powerful deck that you can try out and he has been getting very positive results in the current meta. Jade Lightning, Aya Blackpaw and the other Jade Golem cards become worthy inclusions in such decks. Depending on how you want to balance removals and the Jade Golem mechanic, you have plenty of options to choose from.
N'Zoth, the Corruptor: Deathrattle decks are very powerful due to N’zoth being able to revive your Deathrattles and offer some incredible value. White Eyes is one of the most interesting legendaries that came out in Mean Streets of Gadgetzan and you definitely want to include him in your deck. Sylvanas Windrunner and Cairne Bloodhoof are also powerful inclusions that you can consider. Ancestral Spirit is also a worthy inclusion and the sheer amount of value you can get by using it on sticky deathrattle minions is pretty crazy.
One of the problems that Control Shaman has is that they go into fatigue very quickly against control decks due to the amount of powerful card draw they have and White Eyes helps you negate it to some extent. Being able to put at least 2 copies of The Storm Guardian in your deck (if you play N’zoth) makes the deck better against fatigue decks like Control Warrior and helps your sustainability against Control decks.
Crusher Shaman: This is the deck type I have had the least success with due to the very situational requirements that total up to the win condition of the deck. The deck relies on cheating out minions and then you want to play Ancestral Spirit on them and just smack your opponent in the face. Some of the cards you want to run include Earth Elemental, Bog Creeper, Far Sight and the general package of removals and spells. Far Sight is not very consistent at what it does and there’s a lot of luck involved since your draws with the card can be terrible and you might get cards you don’t want to be reduced in cost.
Dragon Shaman: You can tune your Control Shaman list to be very tempo oriented and have powerful cards like Twilight Guardian, Netherspite Historian, Blackwing Corruptor, etc. Shaman does not have its own Dragon synergy cards like Priest, Paladin and Warrior but the neutral options are quite appealing. It goes into a more mid-range style of play and you can run some powerful lategame dragons like Ysera and Alexstrasza.
Malygos Shaman is also something you can consider building but the lack of and Crackle in Standard makes the deck a lot less appealing.
- Aggro Shaman
- Pirate Warrior
- Miracle Rogue
- Dragon Priest
- Dragon Warrior
- Anyfin Paladin
- Freeze Mage
- Reno Mage
- Mid Range Jade Shaman
- Jade Druid
- Control Shaman
- Control Warrior
We hope you tinker around with the cards and try out the possibilities Control Shaman has to offer. It is definitely a great anti-meta deck that you can try if you are bored with the meta decks and it has been offering consistent value against aggressive decks and it does fairly well against Dragon decks as well. Let us know what variant you feel is the strongest based on your playtesting. Based on ladder experience Jade Control Shaman is a clear winner due to the mix of Mid-Range play style and the large pool of heals and removals.