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It's not everyday that a new archetype emerges from the field of cards we find ourselves yielding day in and day out. As one of the main classifications of deck types out there, theoretically Control Shaman has existed since the dawn of time, it's just never been very competitive. And now, when Aggro and Midrange Shaman are two of the best in the Standard meta, why are we starting to see hints that this new breed is starting to emerge as something worth running?

The Shaman class itself is an interesting being. The Overload keyword is highly controversial. Not only does it allow to cheat out powerful minions before any other class in the pool, therefore giving birth to Aggro Shaman, but it also allows you to put up huge walls before your opponent has the means to get rid of them. And this is where the foundation of Control Shaman has always been. The Grand Tournament released Healing Wave and everyone was clamoring to give it a shot. Sadly it didn't do much other than help bolster the likes of the Deathrattle Combo Shamans out there who will likely never be all that competitive. Then Reno Jackson came along with The League of Explorers and yet still we saw nothing, partially because Sir Finley Mrrgglton helped push the class in another direction as it helped deal with the age old Shaman problem: its hero power.

So when Blizzard announced that Standard would be the new competitive Hearthstone format, many were worried that Aggro Shaman would be leaps and bounds more powerful than its closest equals. And it is currently largely accepted as one of the strongest archetypes in existence across both Wild and Standard.

But you may have started running into something a little different on the ladder recently.

Elemental Destruction. Far Sight. Earth Elemental. Surely these are pieces of some gimmicky Malygos combo deck, right? When we first saw it on the ladder this month that was exactly our thought process. But that's not the case.

Popular streamer Purple recently took to the ladder with his own N'Zoth Control Shaman and saw decent success with it. Inevitably players have been trying to emulate his good fortune on their own accounts.

Multiple times this month we've ran into this exact decklist which seemed particularly popular around Rank 10. So while it is by no means a mainstream deck, it's certainly something worth following for the time being. TempoStorm has even gone as far as to add it to their Meta Snapshot - albeit as a Tier 4 deck.

Will it ever be more competitive than that? Probably not. At least until the next set releases. Control Warrior is leaps and bounds ahead of every other control archetype and the way things inevitably shake out is that players usually go with whats best. Consider some other control decks: C'Thun Warrior, C'Thun Druid, Freeze Mage; good but not nearly as great as Control Warrior, and then we have the likes of N'Zoth Rogue, N'Zoth Paladin, and Renolock; all solid, but again they really aren't all that fantastic at the moment. There's a very clear winner currently, so unless the meta really shakes itself up before the next set introduces new cards, Control Shaman should remain a niche pick which you can use to surprise your opponents.

Purple's N'Zoth Control Shaman

A somewhat competitive Control Shaman that relies on early game spell removal into mid-game taunts before outvaluing with late game Deathrattles and N'Zoth.

Deck by Purple, Guide by Skiffington.

Starting Hand

Removal! Stormcrack, Elemental Destruction, Lightning Storm, etc.

Can probably keep a single Earth Elemental if you feel like you're really going to need a massive Taunt on Turn 5 or lose.

Strategy

  • Remove all of the early game minions.
  • Use Far Sight to (hopefully) cheapen some of your more expensive minions.
  • Earth Elemental to stall works excellently when combined with Ancestral Spirit.
  • Hallazeal + spell damage is key to dealing with aggro decks as it's your only healing outside of Healing Wave.
  • Play sticky minions and keep the enemy down.
  • Don't be afraid to go aggressive if you have board control.
  • N'Zoth for extreme value.

FAQ

Can I play this without Hallazeal?

Probably? It's rough because Hallazeal is just so good. Assuming your enemy has any board presence at all your deck suddenly becomes full of spells that not only remove minions but also heal you. It's not all that unlikely that he doesn't function as Reno Jackson.

What about N'Zoth?
You'll get destroyed in Control matchups, but yeah, you can feasibly get away with not running it.

Far Sight doesn't seem all that important.

Not a question, but many do have concerns about Far Sight. Whether it's because they simply don't want to craft it or they think something else will do better, you're going to hear a lot of this. It can really help in more aggressive or midrange matchups where you're just a tad bit too slow. This can at least give you a chance at dropping Chillmaw on Turn 4 or simply help you combo your spells.