I’ve gotten a number of inquiries about the deck list that I played to reach Legend rank in Hearthstone earlier this week, so I thought I’d share it even it predates and doesn’t take into account the new Naxxramas cards. I built the deck after opening the packs I’d earned playing Arena and managed to reach Legend a week later after 175 total wins, all with Shaman. While I tweaked and tuned the deck as I went, the core remained the same, and I was just refining it to better deal with the different decks I was facing as I went up in ranks. I didn’t have any Legendary cards that felt like they fit in the deck – I did open a Leeroy, but it didn’t seem to fit the general strategy I was going for.
This is really a mid-range style deck, which should come as a surprise to absolutely no one who knows my tendencies in Magic. Cards like Feral Spirit, Lightning Bolt, Fire Elemental, and Rockbiter Weapon can all be used to protect you from opposing creatures, but can also be used to pressure and finish off your opponent. One of the most important additions to the deck from my initial build was Doomhammer, which – along with Rockbiter – can do a ton of damage to your opponent out of nowhere, which is very important against decks like Miracle Rogue and Druid where you can have limited windows to win the game before your opponent combos off or takes the game out of reach.
Perhaps the single most important card for the deck’s ability to switch gears effectively is Flametongue Totem. Flametongue allows you to trade up with bigger creatures by sending your other totems and smaller minions to die, and also represents four damage for two mana against a board with no taunts, assuming you have at least two creatures in play that can attack. You’ll rarely want to play out a Flametongue just to do a few points of damage if you have another productive play, but it’s important to learn to recognize those occasions when you do need to go aggressive.
The other key strategic element you need to keep in mind is managing your mana. The Overload cards in the deck mean that you need to be constantly planning ahead and mapping out your mana usage for future turns. For instance, while it may seem great to coin out Feral Spirits on turn two for the board presence, you’ll rarely want to do so, because that will leave you with only a single mana on the following turn, with which you can’t really do much. You’re much better off coining out a Harvest Golem or Unbound Elemental first and then following up with Feral Spirits on turn three, because then you’ll at least have two mana to summon a Totem on your next turn. Similarly, you’re usually better off using individual removal spells and playing creatures early to defend yourself against creature rushes rather than firing off a Lightning Storm at the earliest opportunity, since pinning down your mana on future turns makes it harder for you to fight back when they refill their board.
If I were to flesh out this deck with Legendaries, I’d look to cut the Knife Juggler and Sunwalker, most likely, who have been relatively unimpressive, and add Bloodmage Thalnos and Al-Akir, the Windlord. Thalnos seems just generally excellent as a way to guarantee bonus spell power for your Lightning Storms especially, so you don’t have to pray to whatever RNG deity you believe in to hit three damage on Voidwalkers and the like. Al-Akir seems less appealing, but another source of burst damage that can double as removal could be valuable in a lot of situations, and Sunwalker has been generally unimpressive so far.
I haven’t really thought much about the impact of the new Naxx cards on either the metagame in general or this deck in particular, since the expansion came out the day before I left to playtest for the Magic Pro Tour. What do you think? What will Naxx change about the Hearthstone metagame, and how should a deck like this adjust to it?