Elemental shamans kind of get the poop end of the stick in the WoWtcg.
They have few talents that are notable and many of the synergies the spec offers can be done in a better fashion through other classes. If you want nature damage then hunter or druid is probably a stronger bet. The ability to split damage is nice, but if an Unholy Power is on the table or there is a pack of werewolves staring you down then casting something like Arc Lightning isn’t all that enticing. You know what that means of course? We have to build elemental shaman!
This was a part of my thought process preparing for Gencon 2017. Maybe not the best way to start things off but in theory shaman offered a lot of tools to combat what I was expecting. The original idea was trying to utilize Feedback.
Elemental Talent Ability
Ongoing: When you play an ability, you may reveal the top card of your deck. If it has the same cost as that ability, you may put it into your hand.
Among other weaknesses, the shaman class generally has difficulty drawing cards. Enter Feedback. The goal was to try and set the majority of the deck to have consistent costs so you are (hopefully) drawing multiple cards a turn. Unfortunately choosing a single cost didn’t really work out, there just isn’t a critical mass of cards that justify that sort of restriction. That being said there may be potential in this card but it is going to require a lot more work.
It didn’t take long for me to Ditch the ongoing and move to a sweeper:
Elemental Talent Instant Ability
Your hero deals 2 melee damage to each ally. Then, exhaust each ally with 5 or less atk.
I “discovered” this card as I was sorting through boxes looking for other stuff actually. It fit a lot of the criteria I was looking for. Namely it came down early enough, it impacted the entire board, and as mentioned was an elemental talent. Why do we care about being elemental again? Here’s why:
Neutral Tauren Hero
Argent Crusade Reputation
Flip Rimblat, remove a shaman in your graveyard from the game à Destroy target ability that’s not attached to a friendly card.
Deckbuilding: You can only include either [alliance] or [horde] cards, [shaman] cards, [shaman] Elemental Talents, and Argent Crusade cards. You can’t include cards with other reputations or other text restrictions.
Rimblat (alongside Shalu Stormshatter) present an immediate answer to a host of nasty ongoing abilities your opponent might play. Unholy Power, Wondervolt, Tuskarr Kite, doesn’t matter your opponent needs a way to answer your hero flip to get out of having to draw multiple copies of their key ongoings. Of course they could remove your graveyard, but let’s focus on the positive for now. Let’s break the list down:
Ability/Ally Cards (8)
Total cards in deck: 60
I elected Rimblat over Shalu for a few reasons. The first is the cost of the flip, “free”. Granted you need a shaman in the ‘yard first, but that isn’t all that difficult. Keeping 3 open on key turns is much more challenging. Second, the tauren sports a higher health total over the orc. Third I liked the idea of potentially confusing my opponent by dropping a hero that could be either faction.
The base of the list is pretty similar to most of the cow-centric builds that I drew up. Since the class inherently lacks decent card draw Sixto comes to the rescue. Combined with Kahul you can stabilize against aggro and/or burn your opponent out with even just a handful of allies. Joru compliments both by presenting a tough to deal with threat while also triggering tribe roughly a bazillion times, give or take a few, each game. This concept was already covered in the Gencon recap article, but it is worth repeating.
Although Sixto does offer a huge amount of value if he gets rolling, he isn’t quite up to the task of carrying the entire deck’s draw engine without Tuskarr Kite. Since I wanted to dodge my opponent’s ability hate I elected to lean farther into the bovine theme and include 2-for-1 oldies Tatulla and Doshura. While the former could considered be extraneous given the flip, you’ll definitely be glad the druid is around in a lot of matchups. The latter actually is strong than you might think in classic. Although a bit slow at 4 the fact that you can eliminate any opposing exhausted ally while simultaneously impacted the board again via a protector is pretty important. You can stabilize pretty quickly if you say flip to destroy an unholy power, destroy an exhausted demon, then protector against another.
Bhenn and Squall Totem are best buds with Doshura. While useful in their own rights it isn’t difficult to use one to setup the other. The totem of course has been in many people’s starting 60 for a long time now. Comparatively Offender Gora hasn’t been front and center for a significant period of time. My thought for her is simple: I want more turn 1 plays to address X/2’s and I need shaman. She checks both boxes and earns a slot. The now former warchief also was included due to his class. Not to mention that he also makes the tauren who typically have low attack values into sizable threats while recurring fallen allies.
Sounds great right? So why didn’t I play this at Gencon? The deck is a lot of fun and felt very strong, however while it beat up on 2 of the 3 decks I was concerned with it got absolutely slaughtered by the 3rd. Let’s take a moment to discuss that.
If you look carefully you’ll notice that there aren’t actually any elemental talents in the deck despite starting out wanting to include them. Not even Earthquake. The Warcraft 3 ability actually was in a number of versions of the deck and could still be considered, but it relinquished its spot to Voice of Reason. The explanation is one you are likely to expect, those furry alliance aberrations caused the deck fits. Even with the fact that Earthquake could exhaust their board, you essentially were paying 3 for a single use Squall Totem. If you operate on the assumption that your opponent isn’t paying attention, sure you could get some value out of EQ. Maybe they just play their entire hand including that Grumdak and you not only off the ferocious hunter and stop their attacks, but you can’t reasonably rely on that. Even assuming that worked game 1, your opponent is 1000% going to be playing it slower in games 2 and 3. Despite Doshura putting in work, you just lost virtually every single game that Mast Sniper Simon landed and Envoy of Mortality. You can Tatulla it, but they are generating their own card advantage through it and applying pressure. If only the reclaimer had protector as well.
In the end Stormy Cows could stomp both Tyrus and Wondervolt relatively consistently. Although you didn’t present an incredibly fast clock, you had a variety of ways both pre and post sidedeck to address the important ongoing abilities. Unfortunately, since pretty much all shaman removal is damage based the deck is collateral damage in the fight against mage control decks. It is a grim matchup and there really isn’t another way to describe it. In the end I shelved the deck in favor of something I was more comfortable with that didn’t have quite the percentages against Tyrus or Wondervolt but had a substantially better matchup against the blue armies.
I don’t think this is the end of the road for the deck. Werewolves could be dealt with out of the board given the correct configuration or if the deck falls out of favor (no one even tried to play it this year!) then lightning wielding bulls and cows could rampage. There were some notable exclusions such as Wavestorm Totem that would actually impact the threat of aberration allies and also deal with gigantic demons or whatever other allies your opponent throws at you. This is even before you consider that the Argent Crusade works with both factions, just not at the same time. You could eschew the entire bovine build and instead focus on utilizing dwarves, humans, night elves, gnomes, and worgen. I mean if you really wanted to. Personally, I like building the deck to be red. These of course aren’t the only options as you could even take a far more aggressive path and focus on shaman. Let’s take a peek at Bath’rah
Neutral Ally Troll Shaman
Unique 5[nature] / 5[health]
When each Shaman you control exhausts for the first time each turn, you may ready it.
This guy can get out of hand quickly, and keep in mind that he also allows your hero to ready. That means addition Broderick infused swings, or extra Gromble enabled resources. That’s of course to say nothing of the additional attacks from your allies! The “class matters” portion of the hero flip works well with other cards and abilities such as empower allies. It is fun looking for these synergies across the various sets.
We didn’t really get there with the elemental specialization as hoped, but there has to be a list out there that is viable right? I know I’ll keep looking. Ancestors watch over you!