Blizzard released the full core set and we're in for a very different new year of Hearthstone! Today we're going to be taking a look at the Shaman class in the Year of the Gryphon by looking at their new set of core cards and giving the new ones a full review.
Let's get to it!
New Card: Novice Zapper
Zappy Boi has come to Hearthstone!
Discuss this Card
To start things off, we have Shaman's new Minion: Novice Zapper. During the Year of the Gryphon Deep Dive, the Devs told us that one of their design goals with the new Core Set was to give each class a 1-Drop, which tells the players what the classes are about. In Shamans case, this comes in the form of Novice Zapper, a Minion that synergizes with your Spells and enables Overload payoffs.
Ever since Scholomance Academy, it has been clear that the Hearthstone team wants to go down the spell damage route with Shaman, given that it received support like Rune Dagger and Imprisoned Phoenix, and pay-offs such as Ras Frostwhisper and Landslide. This only made it all the more baffling when they announced the change to Shaman's Hero Power, which will lead to the replacement of Wrath of Air Totem. Many players have asked themselves: "Why get rid of it, if you want Shaman to have a Spell Damage archetype? Like, isn't that counterproductive?". At first glance, it might seem so, but you have to remember: you only have a 25% chance to get Wrath of Air Totem from your HP, meaning that your go-to source for Spell Damage is unreliable.
So, in order for that type of Shaman to work, they need reliable cards as a backbone, which is where Zappy Boi comes into play. With that, he fulfills a similar role as his Mage counter part, Lab Partner.
I think that, although he might not be as good as a Tempo card, given that he has only 2 health and overloads you, he can certainly serve as a cheap enabler for finishing blows or Spell Damage-related pay-offs. I can imagine Novice Zapper seeing play in more control-ish decks since it has great synergy with Landslide.
Speaking of synergy, we will definitely see some more from the upcoming expansion, Forged in the Barrens, since we already saw the reveal of Chain Lightning (Rank 1) and Bru'kan.
Before we talk about what's new and different, let us take a look at what Shamans will lose.
These cards will rotate out:
There's quite a handful of cards that saw barely play anyway, at least in the last couple of years, like Dust Devil, Ancestral Healing, or Windspeaker. So seeing them go is no big surprise honestly.
What stood out to me though were Bloodlust, Flametongue Totem, and Totemic Might. With them gone, aggressive, board-flooding archetypes will have a much harder time competing with other minion-focused decks. Totem Shaman has been hit especially hard, since it basically lost its win condition, one of their strongest totems, and one of their best board-wide buffs. But that's of course not all! With rotation, Shamans will also loose other vital powerhouses for board-flooding decks, like Splitting Axe, Totemic Surge, or Storm's Wrath. So, with all that, I think it's safe to say that aggro Shamans off the table for a while; Or at least Totem Shaman.
Other noteworthy cards we'll see going are Far Sight and Earth Shock, which were common in slower Shaman decks. Although those losses are by far not as critical as the ones for aggro, they'll surely leave some impact.
Shaman already had a subpar card draw, but now the only cards they have left for that are Mana Tide Totem and Cagematch Custodian. Also, let's not forget that there's a huge amount of card generation leaving standard. For Shaman that means Underbelly Angler, Sludge Slurper, EVIL Totem, and (indirectly) Corrupt the Waters.
With Earth Shock rotating, Shamans also lose a strong tool against powerful minion effects. They still have a bit of burn left to deal with small to mid-sized ones, but the only hard removal they'll have left are pretty much Hex and Devolving Missiles.
What's also worth mentioning is the loss of Lava Burst. I find this one a bit weird, considering the Devs want to push Spell Damage for Shaman. I mean, why not keep the most efficient burn that the class has to offer? The best guess I have is that they want to explore Spell Damage and cards that benefit from that, like Ras Frostwhisper or Molten Blast, a bit more, which means that cards that deal Face damage could be limiting to them.
As you might know, every class saw some of their core cards getting updated. However, Shaman received by far the most changes to their set! 7 out of their 16 core cards ended up being buffed, and some of them also gained the Nature Spell School.
Here are the changed cards:
Overload seems to me to be the biggest winner. With these cards being less of a burden to play, and Lightning Storm becoming an actual, playable card instead of some sucks-because-low-roll-potential trash, it looks like Blizz wants to make Shaman's Overload synergies a bit more attractive, and the mechanic overall more enjoyable and less punishing to the players going forward.
The other change that I quite like is the addition of the Lifesteal keyword onto Tidal Surge. I played that card in my Control Shaman, back when Zentimo and Electra Stormsurge were still in standard, and it was... alright. It always kinda suffered from not dealing enough damage and healing for its cost. However, with the added keyword, and the new Spell Damage direction Shaman is heading in, it's quite possible that this card will finally have time to shine!
The rest of the buffs are minor but nice. The increased numbers should help with certain breakpoints in the game.
Elementals are back on the menu, baby!
That was the first thought that jumped into my mind as I saw Shaman's Core Cards! 5 out of their 8 minions have an Elemental tag, and one of them even generates them. There's also the fact that most of their Core Spells have a Nature tag, leading me to believe that Blizz wants to play more into this nature-bound aspect of Shaman's class fantasy. It's about time! It just feels so weird that the class, which literally has the strongest connection to the elements, went on so long without real support for that tribe. Sure, a couple of minions here and there, but there was never really synergy attached to them. I really hope that all this changes with the upcoming year!
Speaking of nature: Nature! We've already seen the reveal of Bru'kan, and we also have the confirmation that the Mini-Set will have a focus on Spell Schools, so we are more than guaranteed some support for that spell tribe.
The other noteworthy theme is Overload. And like I said, it seems like the Devs have changed their philosophy in regards to that mechanic, given the little overhaul that Lightning Storm and friends received.
I'll be honest, I think Shaman has a challenging way ahead. With the rotation, it seems to me that Aggro/Totems will be gutted, Control will lose quite a lot of their tools, and Galakrond will finally say bye-bye. Even Evolve will take a hit, with key cards, like Desert Hare or Mogu Fleshshaper, gone.
The only viable archetype that I see left (at least for now) is Enhancement Shaman. All of their key cards are still around, and both Doomhammer and Rockbiter Weapon have been added to the Core set, so it stands to reason that we'll see Thrall spending most of his time thunderclapping his opponents for the next couple of months.
Outside of that, there are some sweet cards here and there that maybe get some time in the spotlight. Marshspawn and Shattered Rumbler, just to name a few.
All things considered, I'm interested to see what in store for Shaman. I like the buffs, I like Elementals, and I'm curious how Spell Schools will turn out.
Alright, those are my thoughts, but what do you think? Does Shaman look promising? What are you looking for? Be sure to tell us in the comments!
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We're putting together reviews for all the classes and their core set cards. Here's everything up so far!