Xixo’s Midrange Shaman
Ah the lesser spotted Shaman, seldom seen on the ladder these days, but still surprisingly effective with the right deck. Xixo is one of the hottest players around, and though probably best known for the Implosion Warlock Zoo deck he used to stomp to rank #1 on the EU, NA and Asia servers, (more on which later), he’s also a fine Shaman player.
FaKe’s Midrange Shaman
It was a close call not to make this the featured Shaman deck, as it works brilliantly too, but I had to go for the one with the aquatic lord. What’s remarkable about FaKe’s deck is that aside from double Defender of Argus it doesn’t run any Taunts, and the only card draw comes from the two Azure Drakes and Harrison Jones. Nonetheless it took him to top 15 Legend rank. I found it surprisingly effective when I used it, so suggest you read his excellent write-up and give it a go.
This list is a fairly standard Midrange Shaman build, with some judicious GvG additions. Lightning Bolt has been replaced by Crackle, which although more expensive and less consistent, is also significantly more useful when it comes to dealing with bigger minions or going for surprise face damage.
The other noteworthy additions include a single Antique Healbot, which fixes the health problem Shaman has long struggled with, but more fun by far is Enhance-o Mechano. Though obviously a highly situational card, as a class Shaman wins by establishing and holding a board of cheap stuff, after which your Fire Elementals swoop in. Playing Enhance-o’s buffs onto even a half-decent board can often shut your opponent out completely, forcing them to deal with Taunted Haunted Creepers and Harvest Golems with Divine Shield.
The most interesting pick, though, is the new Shaman legendary, Neptulon, over the otherwise ubiquitous Dr. Boom. What I love about Neptulon is that, aside from providing a chunky body to deal with, the instant card draw means he works a bit like Ancient of Lore in Druid, instantly refilling your hand. Yes, the Murlocs are likely going to be trashy, but four of them is enough to ensure they’re going to combo with each other. The key, I think, is dropping Neptulon around Turn 10 when you’re about to run dry and the hefty Overload won’t hurt so much.
Warlock remains the most played tournament class, thanks to its OP card draw hero power and the two strong archetypes—Zoo and Handlock—which that enables. Plenty of pros have tried to make a third Demon-based archetype work, and with the release of GvG it now finally seems viable.
Xixo’s Implosion Zoo
As long as there’s a Hearthstone, there will be a savagely viable version of Zoo. Xixo’s deck uses Implosion to combo with Knife Juggler and to flood the board for a dirt cheap Sea Giant. It lacks direct damage spells and Silence, but is super strong regardless. In terms of Handlock, the main changes have been Dark Bomb replacing Soulfire, Antique Healbots over Earthen Ring Farseers, and, of course… Dr. Boom. MagicAmy also managed to find room for Malganis in her tournament-focused version, which as an owner of a golden version is relevant to my interests.
Darkwonyx used this refreshingly innovative Demonlock to carry him to victory in week 5 of the ESL Legendary Series, where it clearly caught the other players off guard. (Watch him taking on Zalae with it here.) The primary win condition is borrowed from the old versions of Handlock, which combo-d Leeroy Jenkins with Power Overwhelming and Faceless Manipulator for massive burst damage. Post-Leeroy nerf, Arcane Golem provides the obvious substitute.
Other things to look out for include Implosion, which I don’t think many people expected to be as powerful as it is, but combos well with Bloodmage Thalnos for a guaranteed extra Imp. That’s handy against aggro opponents, against whom you’ll also be looking for your Hellfires and the multiple heals in order to stabilise.
The coolest thing about the deck, though, has to be the single Twisting Nether, the previously unplayed 8-Mana full board clear. Even if you lose, dat animation will make you feel hellishly good. Final important PSA: remember that Fel Cannon targets any non-Mech minions, including your own, so it’s best used alone. Sorry, Fel Cannon.
Kitkatz Control Warrior
Throughout this article I’ve tried to lean towards decks which either offered new archetypes, or at least used the new GvG cards in interesting ways. But with Warrior I’ve pretty much come up dry. Control builds continue to dominate, like this one from the deck’s original creator, Kitkatz. Of the new cards he includes double Shieldmaidens, which act as both an insurance policy against aggro, while also ensuring your Shield Slam’s can be used more consistently.
Sjow’s Control Warrior
This version, created by Sjow, who’s Kitkatz’s rival for the Warrior god crown, runs an extra Whirlwind and finds room for Baron Geddon, which makes sense given the prevalence of aggro. They’re pretty much identical otherwise though. *Shrugs*
The only other GvG addition is Dr Boom, who joins the slew of late-game legendaries which your opponent has to answer. Of all the new decks featured in this piece, I think only a couple don’t use Boom, and although I don’t think he’s strictly OP, the fact he’s already close to auto-include status will mean Blizzard must at least be thinking about whether the cackling bomblord needs a slight nerf.
There were some interesting Math Warrior builds floating around pre-GvG, but given that Warsong Commander’s ability seems to be bugged currently, I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending you experiment with them. So, yeah. If you find yourself up against a Warrior, you can be pretty certain it’ll be a Control variant. Get comfortable, you’re going to be there a while.
What have you been laddering with since Goblins vs Gnomes came out? Let us know below…