For someone who has been well documented on multiple podcasts complaining about the drip-feed system Blizzard employs when unveiling Hearthstone expansion cards, I’m kind of enjoying mulling over the latest reveals in a slow and calm fashion. That may also be because there are finally enough cards out in the open that I can start thinking of multiple ones to include in archetypes that are already in the game. Whatever the case is, I'm starting to feel like a young kid before opening presents and that's largely in thanks to the cards coming to my first love in Hearthstone, the Shaman.
My personal journey to hype-land began thanks to Kripparrian unveiling the Shaman class Legendary, Hallazeal the Ascended. While healing has never been one of the strongest mechanics in Hearthstone, a complete lack of it is noticed. No class knows this better than Shaman which has had to resort to cards like Earthen Ring Farseer since it wasn’t even worth considering Voodoo Doctor. Antique Healbot evened things out for all classes and Shaman picked up their own (questionably effective) healing spell in The Grand Tournament with Healing Wave. Thankfully Shamans have no shortage of damage spells and many of said spells are seeing competitive play. Hallazeal isn’t asking much of us to see some health returned in exchange for keeping the board (or our opponents face) in check. As long as he is on board (and not silenced) the value of all Shaman damage spells is greatly increased.
Last week Hearthhead revealed their own card from Whispers of the Old Gods, Thing From Below. Here is Shaman card number two that will most likely have me calling on the elements come expansion release. Recently some listeners of The Angry Chicken turned me back onto Totem Shaman, an archetype that I instantly fell in love with after Totem Golem, Tuskarr Totemic, and Thunder Bluff Valiant came in with TGT. The deck is a lot of fun to pilot and plays more to my preference of midrange/control-style play as compared to the now infamous Aggro Shaman. A minion being added to the class that has built in Totem synergy is exactly what I would have asked for if I had any say in the matter. Every Totem summoned (including those from your hero power) discounts this monster meaning it won’t be all that uncommon to get a 5/5 with Taunt on board come Turn 4.
There was no way we could make it through Shaman reveals without some RNG and Master of Evolution has Thrall’s love of dice rolls covered. This Battlecry has the potential to be quite strong and it’s attached to a guaranteed 4/5 minion. I am significantly more willing to take the risk on a random effect if it’s attached to guaranteed stats that are worth the Mana. Transforming a minion that has already removed an enemy minion into a fully-healed minion at one higher Mana cost is fantastic. Yes, Shaman players will have to keep in mind some of the less than optimal outcomes at certain mana costs, like Faceless Shambler or Twilight Drake at four Mana, but the statistical likelihood for value is in our favor. Plus, as my good friend Jocelyn Moffett pointed out, who doesn’t want combo this with Brann Bronzebeard to transform your minion twice into one that costs two Mana more when all is said and done?
The Shaman reveal that surprised me the most though is Hammer of Twilight. Doomhammer has been a staple of Shaman since Hearthstone launched and I didn't see an alternative for the five Mana weapon slot coming. There is immense power in Doomhammer and it has helped lead many of my games to victory, but too often minions must be cleared and Doomhammer tends to cost a lot of hit points in exchange for being used as a removal tool. Hammer of Twilight gives Shamans a more health-efficient way of doing so, not to mention the 4/2 minion left behind when it is broken. This also gives me the chance to equip a strong weapon on Turn 5 and still be able to cast my Fire Elemental on Turn 6 thanks to the merciful lack of Overload.
Shaman is to blame for bringing me into the world of Hearthstone. There was something about card-drawing totems, double ghost wolf tanks, and great weapons that sunk the hooks in. While I’ve strayed far from the class in the past couple of years I have always been on the lookout for a new deck that will bring me back. The guardians of the elements have a strong Legendary minion, elemental-spawning weapons, evolution, more totem synergy, and most importantly no Overload to look forward to. As far as I’m concerned Shaman is four for four so far in Old Gods reveals and I can’t wait to spend time with my old friend.