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Weekly Legends: Kobolds Aggro Shaman

Token Shaman was one of the most common decks of the past few metas, and something we have covered in the past. While today’s deck may seem like those builds, it is a very different beast. Today, we are taking a trip down memory lane and looking at an Aggro Shaman deck that operates like […]

Tyler Rake Jan 8, 2018 9:58 am

Introduction

Token Shaman was one of the most common decks of the past few metas, and something we have covered in the past. While today’s deck may seem like those builds, it is a very different beast. Today, we are taking a trip down memory lane and looking at an Aggro Shaman deck that operates like the lists you may have hated a few years ago when Thrall dominated the later. It has been a while since people have been scared of Shaman, but there is no doubt that today’s build has what it takes to put it back on the map.

Key Cards

The Burn

A tricky part of any aggro deck is knowing when to go at your opponent’s board and when to go face. It has been a while since a pure face deck has existed, which means many of you may have forgotten how to pace lists like this. The rule here, unlike most builds, is that you want your spells pointed at your opponent’s dome rather than their board. This is something you can see in the video, but anytime I use a non-Jade Lightning (which is fine on the board because it generates a body) spell on a minion, I think about that decision for some time. Typically, you want to get after your opponent’s health and then set them up for a burn finish so you don’t have to worry about taunts or other annoying minions. Not every game is going to go that way, but if you know your opponent is playing towards a big wall (Voidlord) then you need to hoard as many spells as you can. Don’t get caught out in the open or without damage because you pointed your spells at minions when you didn’t need to.

Now, that being said, there are going to be a lot of times where you need to use burn on the board to either stabilize, get ahead, or stay alive. The golden rule for this is to always think about your damage potential relative to your board and your opponent’s health. That is to say, is saving a minion going to end up being more damage than the spell you’re giving up? Yes, you may not want to use Lava Burst to save a Flametongue Totem from a 3/3, but if that totem lives an extra two turns it is going to be worth more damage. In that case, it’s a good trade when playing a aggro or midrange deck. However, if your opponent is going to play a big taunt or strong removal the following turn anyway, you should hold onto the burst because you’re going to lose your totem anyway. Those type of opportunity costs are everywhere with this build, and you always need to weigh them before making a decision.

Dire Mole/Fire Fly

Another important part of understanding this deck is knowing when to be aggressive and when to cement your board. Unlike Aggro Druid, which has buffs a plenty, this build has no way outside of Flametongue Totem to boost its minions. That means Dire Mole is just a 1/3 for two, and Fire Fly is just two 1/2’s for one. So, the question becomes, how can those cards be so strong in an aggro deck? The answer is because of the fact that you’re going to be playing against a lot of different archetypes. Stickiness is always important in Hearthstone, and these two cards are the two stickiest one drops available to Thrall. The three health on Dire Mole means it trades well with aggro and also dodges hero powers and removal from slower classes. Fire Fly is similar. You always want cards that are going to help you against the field, and these do a great job of trading early, giving your board presence, and presenting hard-to-kill minions in a single card. It’s hard to ask for more than that.

Every single body matters in this build. The thing about burn-based decks is that most games are going to come down to one or two points of damage. You get in some early hits, your opponent deals with your board, and then you kill them with burst right before they can heal out of range. Being even just one damage short can be the difference between winning and getting locked out of a game. For that reason, both Dire Mole and Fire Fly are extremely important for making sure you get in a few extra hits of damage in the early game. Three health (or two 2/1’s) means these two cards are likely going to be ignored. That is perfect because it helps you sneak in precious damage hits without bothering your opponent or forcing them to use strong spells. Surprise is very important, and these two cards are a great way to get your opponent into lethal range without tipping your hand.

Devolve

Devolve has been a strong card ever since it was first printed back in MSG, and it is more powerful now than it has been in some time. First and foremost, this card gets rid of taunts. You are an aggro deck, which means you only care about face damage. This card’s main ability is to get walls out of your way. There are not too many big taunts running around right now, but you almost have no way to deal with an early Voidlord. If you see a Possessed Lackey, you need to Devolve it right away. Not only does that stop combo potential if you try to ignore it, but it gives your opponent a four drop rather than an eight drop (which is what happens if you wait after the demon comes out). Being able to transform Carnivorous Cube, Doomguard, or Voidlord crushes Warlock, as does shifting things like Val’anyr or Spikeridged Steed against Paladin. Most of the time this card is going to clear a path, but it can also be used to take out buffs or remove over-statted minions from the board. If your opponent has a large taunt you want to hold Devolve for it, but if you’re going up against another aggro or midrange list, the spell can be a great way to gain early tempo by turning strong one and two drops into weaker minions. This can help offset damage or limit your opponent’s lethal potential as well.

Flamewreathed Faceless

Remember this? Flamewreathed Faceless was once the bane of Standard. It has been a long, long time since that point, but there is no doubt that the card still has a lot of power, especially if nobody sees it coming. You are an aggro deck that wants to stack up damage as quickly as you can. As noted in the videos, being able to run this down during the early parts of the game can decimate many decks because, quite frankly, nobody is equipped to deal with a cheap 7/7. Even Priest, which has the best chance to take down Faceless, needs to draw their one-of Shadow Word: Death in order to deal with it. If they don’t have the card in hand, they are going to quickly die. Surprise is always going to be worth something on ladder, and this surprise is something that your opponent will not be able to come back from if they aren’t ready.

As it has so much damage potential, you want to get Flamewreathed Faceless onto the board as quickly as you can. Trying to prioritize certain minions can be tricky in a list like this one because you want to find the path that is going to maximize damage. Sometimes you want to push an early Flametongue Totem, but there are also situations where it is better to go wide with your small threats. None of that is important when trying to decide to play Flamewreathed Faceless. You just get it down as soon as possible. It is easy to shy away from the overload cost (especially when you play this with the coin) but your curve is so low that rarely matters. As long as you can plan ahead from locking down two mana, you should be fine. Even if you lose a turn or can only totem, an early 7/7 is so strong in today’s meta that it should be worth the trade off.

Corridor Creeper

We finish this discussion with one of the biggest players in the current meta game. Corridor Creeper is a monster card that helps out any build. You play minions, they die, you get a free 5/5. Pretty simple, but not as simple as it first seems. Getting the discount is going to matter, and it is one of the best ways you can push your early game. However, you are a deck that wants damage, which also means there is some value in having a board. Trading away your threats in order to get a free 5/5 likely isn’t going to be the correct play against any build except against other fast decks. In those situations you need to trade as much as you can and get down your 5/5 so that your creeper comes down before your opponent’s. Against slower decks, don’t just trade so you can power this out. You want to play your normal game and then fit this into your curve when you can.

The big question here is, how important is a free 5/5? There is no doubt that the card is strong, but you never want to run this out just to run it out. When facing aggro, you need to get to creeper as soon as you possibly can. The card breaks open those matchups, and whoever plays their beast down first is likely going to take the game. Never hesitate when dropping this down against classes like Mage, Paladin, or Hunter. However, when facing slower decks, you need to be careful with creeper because it acts as your AOE insurance. Now, you do not care about AOE as much as other aggro decks because you finish games with burn, but it still matters. Anytime you can push without committing this, you should. Then, as soon as your opponent clears, you drop this down alongside one or two bodies.

Deck Code

AAECAfe5AgSBBO0Fkb wClL0CDfkDqAXUBeAG8Af3qgKgtgKHvALRvA L2vQLrwgL70wKL5QIA

Matchups

The four decks I see the most while playing the ladder.

Kazakus Priest

Kazakus Priest is a powerful build that continues to dominate the meta, which means it is public enemy number one. To beat Anduin, you need to kill him quickly. You are a burn deck, and this is the game where you need to act like it. Priest packs some healing (which gets even more efficient once they drop Raza the Chained), and they also have their armor gain from Shadowreaper Anduin. As a result, you need to go all-in in this one. Trying to pace your opponent or getting tricky is never going to be a good idea. You want to do damage every single turn of the game, and the more time you give your opponent, or the more turns you take off, the easier it will be for them to stabilize. Press from turn one and never stop.

You want to advance the board in this one in a way that constantly pushes or threatens damage. That is to say, put down threats that force your opponent to immediately react. Things like a turn two Flametongue Totem after turn one Fire Fly/Flame Elemental, or a turned three coined Flamewreathed Faceless are the type of plays you want to make. It is easy to overthink Razakus Priest and assume they have every single answer. However, their biggest weakness is a lack of consistency, and you should try to exploit that as much as you can. As you cannot afford to be careful here (expect when playing around AOE) you should just press as if they don’t have the right cards and then react accordingly. You can typically recover from one loss here and there, and the tempo you get from going hard is worth it.

Cube Warlock

Well, it finally happened. Cube Warlock has completely taken over the meta, and any time you see Gul’dan, you want to assume you’re facing off against combo. Cubelock is a strong deck, but it does have a large weakness in that it loves to hurt itself. Yes, Warlock does have quite a bit of healing, but you should never give them a chance to use it. The way you do that is by constantly forcing their hand with a strong or threatening board. Running out powerful threats ahead of Gul’dan will make it so they need to constantly keep up with spells. You need to treat this game like Priest in that you cannot afford to play around anything. Warlock simply has too much healing for you too mess around. Giving them a window to gain four to eight life can be a disaster.

This is a matchup where your big bodies are going to do a lot of work. Warlock’s hard removal has dropped significantly with the addition of their combo pieces, and if they do not have a ready Lesser Amethyst Spellstone they are going to be in a world of hurt against an early Corridor Creeper or Flamewreathed Faceless. Just remember to point all of your big damage swings at your opponent’s face. You cannot sacrifice damage here, and it is ok to give your opponent priority as long as you keep pushing. Burn is also very strong in this one because many of Warlock’s big plays cost quite a bit of mana. If you can hoard a lot of spells, you should find a window to kill them regardless of what’s on the board. Finally, just know that you are never going to be able to beat Bloodreaver Gul’dan. Turn ten is the timer here.

Aggro Paladin

Aggro Paladin is one of the strongest decks in the meta because of how well it can push the early game and constantly re-fill the board. This match is going to be hyper-focused on the first three turns. Paladin has a lot of early threats that you match-up well against, but they also have Call to Arms. The four mana spell is Paladin’s ace-in-the-hole and the card that helps them blow out other aggro decks. You need to be ahead when it comes down or, barring a strong Maelstrom Portal, the game is going to be over. Trade aggressively in the early game and always try to make it where you have board advantage. Even a simple 1/1 trading into Southsea Deckhand can be a good swing towards your middle game.

This is a game where your burn is typically going to be used on the board. Paladin is powerful because of their ability to swarm, but they can quickly become outclassed if their opponent’s get too big. For that reason, you first inclination should always be to play to your Flamewreathed Faceless and Corridor Creepers. Those cards are how you bounce ahead, and they are how you pressure your opponent. Taking out the board and taking this one slow is fine because, at the end of the day, your threats are simply stronger than your opponent’s. Though it rarely comes up, if you are pushing for lethal damage, do not be afraid to send a few spells directly at your opponent’s face as a way to empty your hand and play around Divine Favor. If you play your turns right you should steadily wear Uther down and run him out of cards. Don’t let your opponent a chance to get back into the game if you don’t have to.

Tempo Rogue

We finish our list with Tempo Rogue, a deck that has come exploding back onto the scene within the last two weeks. The way you need to play this one is, as shown in the video, by getting ahead of your opponent. Think of this matchup as if you are Aggro Druid or a similar build. That is to say, pump out as many threats as you possibly can. This is the only game where you just need to flood the board without worrying about what your opponent might do. Valeera has never been able to deal with wide boards, and Tempo Rogue runs very limited spot removal. For that reason, if you come storming out of the gates your opponent is never going to get a chance to recover. Then, as they fight to keep you back, you can easily take them down with Lighting Bolts and Lava Bursts. Your whole goal in this game is to beat your opponent during turns one and two. Once you take care of that, they are going to be behind for the rest of the game. The only tricky part of this can come turn seven with if your opponent sets up a strong Bonemare (especially if you’re pushing for lethal on the board). Try to save a Devolve for the undead horse. The spell is a great way to shut down Kelesethed minions as well.

Mulligan Guide

You need to be fast here, and your mulligan should reflect that. Dire Mole, Fire Fly, Southsea Deckhand and Jade Claws are your must-keeps. Lightning Bolt should always be kept against aggro, as should Maelstrom Portal. Bloodmage Thalnos is good in the early game with portal against aggro decks, Flametongue Totem is powerful when you have a strong opening, and Devolve should always be kept against Warlock. Mana Tide Totem, Southsea Captain, Flamewreathed Faceless, and Jade Lightning should all be kept on curve. Finally, you always want Corridor Creeper against aggro or when you have a good opening versus control.

Conclusion

Ah, this brings me back…to a much darker time. It has been years since Aggro Shaman dominated the ladder and caused me to pull my hair out, but this deck definitely brings back some of that power. While you no longer have access to Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem, there is still something to be said for the amount of pure damage Shaman can generate from hand. Start fast, go face, and end the game before your opponent knows what happened. Until next time, may you never see turn six.


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