LOTI 016 : Shaman Strategy Guide

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LOTI #016 – Legend of the Innkeeper – “Shaman Strategy Guide”


Welcome to the Legend of the Innkeeper.  I’m Vastidious and I’m Ariannwyn.  We’re glad you could join us for our sixteenth episode.

This week we are talking about…


What did you do this week?

Top 3 of the week – Shaman Cards

Vastidious: Earth Shock, Hex, Lightning Storm

Ariannwyn: Fire Elemental, Ancestral Spirit, Earth shock



  • Top 16 players going to BlizzCon

Getting Better

Bot Discussion

Playing around bots

How do you know you are playing a bot?  No movement over the cards.  No target arrow.   They don’t emote.  Several seconds between minions attacking.

Article by BlizzPro


How should I feel if I’m beaten by a bot?  Well, it all depends on your personality type.  Let’s analyze this a little bit.  The basics of this situation is that someone is paying a program to do their job for them.  Does it change the game?  Not at all.  You still played a game of Hearthstone whether there was a real person on the other end or not.  You played your best with the cards you were dealt.  Is that different than being beaten when someone IS on the other end of the game?  Are you upset that you’re putting effort into a game and someone else isn’t?  That’s everyday life.  We all have situations where we work harder than someone else, yet they reap better rewards.  That doesn’t mean it’s right, but it shouldn’t be a huge shocker.  I can tell you that bots ARE beatable.  The program is good but it doesn’t work 100% of the time.  You’ve likely beaten bots and didn’t even know you were playing them.  Does the win feel the same or different when you beat a bot?  Did the game react any differently to your win or loss?  I ask these questions so you can sit back and think about “why” you’re mad at people botting.  Blizzard is upset because that affects their booster pack sales.  That’s why 3rd party programs like this are against the Terms of Service.  Also, it affects “fair play” in Blizzard’s eyes, which is completely agreeable. But, if you can go to bed at night and wake up with a fist full of gold in the morning, why would this not sound appealing?  That’s the mindset of the community and player base.  A lot of people have the opinion that “It doesn’t matter what has to happen, as long as my name is in the “W” column”.  It’s called Greed and it’s a trait we all share to some extent. Good dependable botting programs can cost anywhere from $20-$50.  Realistically, you aren’t out the money; they are.  You get to play the game normally and to the best of your ability.  Your gaming experience is unchanged.  Lastly, bots don’t get you to Legend.  They get weeded out around ranks 5-7 as players who can plan in advance for future turns overtake them.

Beating the shaman bot deck:


Getting Better – Shaw-man

When I first heard about Hearthstone and what it was going to be, I immediately made up my mind that I was going to play a Shaman.  As with Ariannwyn was with the Druid, I played a Shaman in World of Warcraft.  I love the class and couldn’t wait to play it in this game.  When we got into the beta, they start you out with the Mage class and I got hooked on the mage early on.  I did try the Shaman but I liked the Mage better.  I just couldn’t get my mind wrapped around the way the Shaman played.

Now that I’ve played all the classes quite a bit, I’ve got a better understanding of how to play each of the classes, and how to work their special features and styles.  I was eagerly looking forward to the week when we got a chance to take a closer look at the Shaman.  And now that week is here!

The hero for the Shaman class is Thrall, at one time the leader of the Horde.  The hero power is called Totemic Call and summons a random totem from one of the four available totems. One thing to note about the totems is that you cannot have more than one of each totems on the board at any one time.  (At least not from the hero power.  You can have the totem put back into your hand as a card and then you can play it again when you already have that totem on the board).  The hero power costs 2 mana to summon a totem and is one of the better hero powers available in the game.

The four totems that your hero power have available to summon are as follows:

Healing Totem – 0 attack – 2 health – At the end of your turn heal all damaged friendly minions for 1 health

Searing Totem – 1 attack – 1 health

Stoneclaw Totem – 0 attack – 2 health – Taunt

Wrath of Air Totem – 0 attack – 2 health – +1 Spell Power

The one I find the least useful is the Searing Totem.  It’s just not as useful as the others.  I love the other three and have won games because of having those show up numerous times.  Unlike the Paladin, which we covered last week, these totems can greatly enhance your game depending on what shows up, which is where the challenge comes from.  Getting the right totems at the right time.

The other mechanic that is unique to the Shaman and is what really threw me off originally when I started Hearthstone is the Overload mechanic.  What overload does is allows you to essentially use mana from your next turn.  What I mean by that is that the cards you play that have the Overload effect, usually cost less than they should.  One of the best examples of this is the Earth Elemental.  It costs 5 mana and is a huge minion, 7 / 8 minion with taunt.  Any comparable minion to other classes would cost 8 mana.

The challenge with the Overload mechanic is thinking ahead several turns and planning what for how much mana you will have on the next turn.  You CANNOT just continue to play like you would any other class.  You have to take into account that the next turn you might have 3 less mana than you would normally.  And that really can mess up your game play if you don’t pay attention.


No class is without some pretty unique combos using class cards and the Shaman has those too.  But you do need to keep Overload in mind as you play these combos.  I’ve found myself not planning ahead properly and end up with less mana on the next turn than I expected and unable to play a card I needed to play.  But if you plan ahead you can play wisely and still take advantage of Overload cards.  Another thing to keep in mind with combos is to summon your totems as often as you can.  Those alone combine with other cards to present a solid defense and attack.  And the more you have out at any time, they add more strength to your overall game.

One of the most obvious combos for a Shaman is the Unbound Elemental and any card with Overload on it.  The Unbound Elemental is a 3 mana, 2/4 minion with the text: Whenever you play a card with Overload, gain +1/+1.  The key to using this minion is that you really should have one or two Overload cards in your hand with enough mana available to play them.  If you don’t, your opponent is going to typically target this card first, because of it’s potential power.  The more you play with him, the more difficult he’s going to be to remove.  However, keep in mind that all those Overload cards will hamper your next turn drastically.

Another combo that I use a lot at the moment is playing the Injured Blademaster (3 mana, 4/7 minion, Battlecry: Deal 4 damage to HIMSELF) and Ancestral Healing (0 mana, Restore a minion to full Health and give it Taunt).  If you have these cards at the beginning and the coin, you can play this combo on turn 2 and having a minion like this on the board at turn 2 is crazy.

And one other combo I really like is playing the Earth Elemental (5 mana, 7/ 8 minion, Taunt. Overload: (3)) OR the Sludge Belcher (5 mana, 3/ 5 minion, Taunt. Deathrattle: Summon a 1/ 2 Slime with Taunt) with Ancestral Spirit (2 mana, Give a minion “Deathrattle: Resummon this minion.”)  It’s a fun combo to play and really puts up a very powerful wall between you and your opponent (as long as they don’t have Hex or Polymorph.)

Special Cards

Along with the Overload mechanic, there are several cards that are fairly powerful for the Shaman that at times can really turn the tide of the game.  We’ll look at some of those here:

Bloodlust (5 mana, Give your minion +3 Attack this turn.)

This card is a great closer if you have a bunch of minions or totems on the board.

Hex (3 mana, Transform a minion into a 0/1 Frog with Taunt.)

The equivalent to the Mage’s Polymorph spell.  The only annoying part is that it leaves a Taunt minion on the board.

Earth Shock (1 mana, Silence a minion, then deal 1 damage to it)

This card has come into it own with the surge of the Undertaker in many decks in my opinion.  It’s a great counter to it and many other minions that get in the way.  You can nullify taunts, spell damage, windfury, deathrattles and even the nasty Auchenai Soulpriest.  Oh and word of warning.  DO NOT play this on Ragnaros and think you’ve removed him as a threat.

Lightning Storm (3 mana, Deal 2-3 damage to all enemy minions. Overload: (2)

Great removal spell for the Shaman.  Pro tip here: When about to play this card and you have enough mana, it’s ALWAYS a good idea to summon a totem, because you might get the +1 spell damage totem.  Oh another bit of information that I recently learned by watching tournament livestreams.  There is a chance for this spell to hit each minion for either 2-3 damage (or more if you have more spell power on the board).  You will hear people refer to this as either rolling high or low when it hits for 3 or 2 damage.  Just in case you hear someone (like me) shouting when I play this card, ROLL HIGH!

Mana Tide Totem (Minion, 3 mana, At the end of your turn, draw a card)

This can be an amazing card for the Shaman to play later on in the game behind a Taunt.  It’s can be an endless supply of new cards each and every turn, but often your opponent will not leave it on the board long.  So enjoy it while it lasts.

Doomhammer – (5 mana, 2/8 Weapon, Windfury, Overload. (2))

This weapon is really fun to play.  It strikes twice for two damage each and will last you 4 rounds for a total of 16 points of damage.  Just hope your opponent doesn’t have the Acidic Ooze.

Legendary – Al’Akir the Windlord (8 mana, 3 / 5 minion, Windfury, Charge, Divine Shield, Taunt)

This is the ultimate super-sized combo meal with everything on it from your favorite burger joint.  I mean what more can one say.  He’s got it all.  He charges, He shields, He Taunts, He has Windfury and he slices and dices and make julienne fries!  He also is wearing a t-shirt with a huge target on it saying “Hit Me”.  But if you have the mana, he’s a great minion to use Ancestral Spirit (2 mana, Give a minion “Deathrattle: Resummon this minion.”) on.  Just hope your opponent doesn’t have silence in his deck too.

When doing research, I came across this interesting back story for Al’Akir.  From the Hearthstone Gamepedia article: http://hearthstone.gamepedia.com/Al%27Akir_the_Windlord

Ben Brode stated that during the game’s Alpha he was receiving so much negative feedback about this card that they very nearly buffed the card.  Even top players at Blizzard were asking, “How come you made him so bad?!” and asking him to “make this guy good.”  However, when they examined the backend statistics, they found that Al’Akir has the highest win rate of ANY legendary in the game at that time.  They realized that he was just simply under-appreciated and didn’t make any changes.


Basic Bloodlust Shaman


Sadly in the basic Shaman cards there are no overload cards.  This makes it a bit more difficult to gain tempo and card advantage. So this deck is a bit weaker than decks you will be able to build later on.

This deck is essentially a Shaman Zoo.  The “win condition” (What to save to play towards the end of the game to secure your victory) is to get totems and other minions down to use your Bloodlust for either board clear or damage, and to be able to throw down your Frostwolf Warlord.

The author of this deck has a whole guide on it, as well as videos playing it verses each class.  There is also a list of “upgrade” cards you can add to your deck if you have them.

Deck List

2x Rockbiter Weapon

2x Flametongue Totem

2x Hex

2x Bloodlust

2x Fire Elemental

– Neutral Cards:

2x Stonetusk Boar

2x Acidic Swamp Ooze

2x Bloodfen Raptor

2x Raid Leader

2x Razorfen Hunter

2x Shattered Sun Cleric

2x Chillwind Yeti

2x Dragonling Mechanic

2x Sen’jin Shieldmasta

2x Frostwolf Warlord

Legend Tempo Shaman


I am pretty sure this is the deck the pro’s use.  Each player has their own tweaks of course, but this is essentially it in the current meta. This deck does have Al’Akir the Windlord, so if you don’t have him you can try to replace him, or play another deck.

The idea of this deck is board control.  You have a lot of removal, while buffing up your Unbound Elemental, and a Gadgetzan Auctioneer for card draw.

Deck list

– Class

2x Earth Shock

2x Lightning Bolt

2x Rockbiter Weapon

1x Stormforged Axe

2x Flametongue Totem

2x Feral Spirit

2x Hex

2x Lightning Storm

2x Unbound Elemental

2x Fire Elemental

1x Al’Akir the Windlord

– Neutral

2x Argent Squire

1x Bloodmage Thalnos

1x Earthen Ring Farseer

2x Defender of Argus

2x Azure Drake

1x Gadgetzan Auctioneer

1x Argent Commander

Gyll’s Bloodlust Deck


This shaman deck attempts to take & hold early board control, use that board control to protect an Imp Master, Flametongue Totem or Mana Tide Totem, and eventually win the game with a large Bloodlust.


– Class

2x Earth Shock

2x Lightning Bolt

2x Rockbiter Weapon

2x Stormforged Axe

2x Flametongue Totem

2x Feral Spirit

2x Hex

2x Lightning Storm

2x Mana Tide Totem

2x Bloodlust

2x Fire Elemental

– Neutral

2x Argent Squire

2x Imp Master

2x Azure Drake

1x Gadgetzan Auctioneer

1x Onyxia

Crusher Shaman


The idea of this deck is to hold the early game with Injured Blademaster + Ancestral Healing, and then to keep your large minions coming back with Ancestral Spirit, Faceless and Kel’Thuzad.  Someone who played this deck ended up with six Earth Elementals on the board.  (Though your opponent usually dies before you can get so many out… either that or you die lol)


– Class

2x Ancestral Healing

2x Earth Shock

2x Lightning Bolt

2x Ancestral Spirit

2x Hex

2x Lightning Storm

1x Mana Tide Totem

1x Unbound Elemental (Or Earthen Ring Farseer)

2x Earth Elemental

2x Fire Elemental

– Neutral

1x Bloodmage Thalnos

2x Injured Blademaster

2x Sen’jin Shieldmasta / Sludge Belcher

2x Azure Drake

1x Faceless Manipulator

1x Loatheb

1x Black Knight (We replaced with weapons)

1x Kel’Thuzad

Shaman in Arena

The Shaman isn’t one of the best Arena but it can be fairly competitive given the right arena draft.  Because the Shaman has many aggressive cards, they can do pretty well and some would say that they have some of the best cards in the game for Arena.

One really good point to be careful of when choosing cards in the Arena, is to not get too many cards with Overload on them.  While they are often really good cards to combine with the Unbound Elemental, having too many of these cards in your deck can end up punishing you more than helping.  Just use wise judgement when choosing your cards and you should be ok.

For overall strategy, the Shaman does really well when you play aggressively especially early in the game.  At times it may make sense to use Overload cards early on, like the Feral Spirit (3 mana, Summon two 2 /3 Spirit Wolves with Taunt. Overload: (2)) on turn two with the coin or Lightning Bolt (1 mana, Deal 3 damage. Overload: (1)) to clear out early threats to keep board control.

Powerful spells like Lightning Storm and Lightning with big minions like Earth Elemental and Fire Elemental help you last even into the late game.  And don’t forget Hex and Earth Shock to neutralize Legendaries.

Cards to Watch for in Arena:

The following list of cards are great cards to keep your eye out for when drafting as a Shaman in Arena.  Alphabetically listed:

Doomhammer – A great weapon for continually clearing out pesky 2 health or less minions and maintaining board control.

Earth Elemental – Massive Taunt Minion with only a 5 mana cost (+3 Overload).  Highly recommended to grab as many of these as you can.  It’s like having a huge offensive line in football.

Feral Spirit – One of the best early game cards.  Really puts difficulty on your opponent early in the game if you can get them out soon.

Fire Elemental – Another powerful Shaman only minion. The added bonus of doing 3 damage when you play it helps clear the board.  Although I often see him removed fairly quickly by the opponent.

Hex – Almost a must have card but I highly recommend saving it for later in the game when the Legendaries come out to play.

Lightning Bolt, Lightning Storm and Forked Lightning – All great cards to keep the board clear.  However I would recommend Lightning Storm over all the others because of the powerful board clear ability.  Just be sure to combine with spell-power.

Rockbiter Weapon – A great tool to give a minion an extra 3 attack to clear out bigger issues on the board.  Plus you can use on a cheap minion to take out a more expensive minion.  Great overall value.


Breakdown of NA Regionals Shaman Decks


Reviews and Emails

iTunes Reviews: no new reviews

Emails: Got a Book from Cridus

Twitter: 75 followers


That does it for this episode.  You can email the show at info@legendoftheinnkeeper.com.  You can also visit our website at legendoftheinnkeeper.com where we will post the show notes with the episode that has links to all the information we discussed.

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Until next show, Happy gaming!


Music by James Marantettehttps://soundcloud.com/james-marantette

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About Author

Vastidious is a long time gamer, father to Ariannwyn and doesn't read the text on the cards.

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