Hearthstone's Shaman class has a few mechanics which set it apart from the others in the game. For a start, the Shaman's Hero Power doesn't throw any damage around or boost health, instead it summons a single totem minion, selected at random from a special pool of totems, and then plays it onto the board.
Additionally, there's the class's Overload system. This allows the Shaman to borrow a mana crystal or two from the next turn, and use it to play certain Overload cards during the current one. A handy tool indeed, albeit one that can easily backfire and leave you short of spending power if you make the wrong play.
It's not necessarily a class that's suited to the most inexperienced Hearthstone player, then, but with just a little bit of practice you can easily catch your opponent off-guard, and throw more than a few surprises their way.
Popular Shaman cards
Windspeaker - Battlecry: Give a friendly minion Windfury
Windfury - Give a minion Windfury
The Windfury mechanic in Hearthstone allows a card to make two attacks each turn, assuming of course that it isn't destroyed in the process of finishing the first one. The Windspeaker card allows you to put a 3/3 minion on the board and grant another minion you own the Windfury effect. Windfury the spell, on the other hand, allows you to give a minion Windfury for two mana.
It shouldn't come as a surprise to learn that you should prioritise killing a minion with Windfury over just about anything else. The more efficiently you can make this trade, the better. If your hand lacks a solution for this problem, pray that a Taunt, removal or damage spell card turns up when you next draw from your deck...
The Shaman's weapon is one of the weaker ones in the game, but it's still effective enough to deal with the early-game threat while you develop your own side of the board. Focus on using the weapon to finish off your opponent's minions, rather than their Hero - even if that means taking a little damage yourself.
As with all weapons in the game, the Acidic Swamp Ooze will instantly destroy the Stormforged Axe, but it's a relatively weak weapon to deal with so don't feel too obliged to hang onto your Ooze if you have nothing else to play. If you don't have any Oozes to play, focus on getting your highest-health minions out on the board so they can at least soak up some of the damage.
The Flametongue Totem is an incredibly powerful card - so powerful in fact, that it can't just be conjured up using the Shaman's Hero Power. You'll ideally play this card in the late game when you have meaty minions on the board, but it's versatile enough to save the day if you find yourself in a pickle earlier on. Positioning is key with this card, as it will only affect the minions immediately to its left and right - think carefully before placing this down on the board, and plan ahead.
Cards like Flametongue Totem are a pain to remove, particularly when they're protected by an enemy minion with Taunt. If you have any spells that can target this totem directly, do whatever it takes to eliminate the threat. Otherwise, keep playing your minions and take Flametongue down as soon as you have the chance to do so.
Like the Mage's Polymorph, Hex is a very powerful removal spell that eliminates the damage threat of a minion, reduces its health to a single point, but does at least leave the opponent with a Taunt minion in its place. Resist the urge to spend this card in the early days, as it can mean the difference between victory and defeat when Legendary cards get brought into play in the late game.
If you're playing against the Shaman, and you haven't seen your opponent pull out a Hex in the early game, assume they're holding it back for when you put something meatier into play later on. For this reason, it's essential that you try to bait Hex card out with a target that's good - just not your best.
This area-of-effect spell is one of the Shaman's key Overload spells, and while it's one that's ideally played with a spell-damage totem to boost its damage output, it's capable of shutting down aggressive decks very early on in the game. It's good to have a few low-mana minions in your deck too, so you have something to lay down in the following turn when you've less mana to play with.
If you're playing against the Shaman and your strategy depends on delivering a steady flow of low-health minions, you need to buff their health up beyond Lightning Storm's range as quickly as possible. If you're playing a more balanced game, work towards getting your minions with three-plus health onto the board as soon as you can.
Shaman totem guide
For the price of two mana, the Shaman can use its Hero Power to summon one random totem from its repertoire. Summon another totem while the current one is still in play, and you're guaranteed to receive a different one from the collection. This allows a certain amount of predictability to come into play as you gradually bring more and more of them onto the board.
Here's a quick run-down of all the totems available to the Shaman through this system. Other totems are available as class cards - check out the My Collection section of the game's interface for more details on these.
|Healing Totem||At the end of your turn, restore 1 Health to all friendly minions.|
|Searing Totem||Acts as 1/1 minion|
|Stoneclaw Totem||Acts as a 0/2 Taunt minion|
|Wrath of Air Totem||Spell Damage +1|
The best basic Shaman deck
It's not just the Shaman's unique totem and Overload powers that make it a tricky class for the new player to get to grips with - popular opinion is that the basic free cards unlocked early on lack the necessary oomph to take on other classes in ranked play.
We thought the same until we took this completely free deck - sourced from Icy Veins - into Ranked play and won a shocking number of games - even against much stronger decks packing some of the meatiest Legendary cards.
The secret to succeeding with this free Shaman deck is to keep a steady drip of low-value minions and totems coming onto the board, deal with your opponent's own early-game development, and prepare - ultimately - to unleash Bloodlust and/or a Flametongue Totem to boost your minions up to form a devastating attacking force.
You'll be surprised how many opponents fail to see this coming, and ignore your low-value minions for far too long. Use your Taunts to maintain your presence on the board, your Fire Elementals to pick off meatier mid-game threats, and try to get all your heavyweight minions in play before popping your boosters.
Head back to the first page of this article to see more of Hearthstone's best basic decks.