Playing as Midrange Shaman
Playing Against Midrange Shaman
Hi, I'm Asmodeus, Hearthstone coach and content creator. Today I will share with you my analysis and a guide for the Midrange Shaman mirror matchup. Midrange Shaman is currently the strongest and among the most popular decks for climbing the ladder, which is why it's essential to know this matchup well if you want to succeed in reaching your desired ranks.
During this months climb to legend I managed to achieve a 16-3 score (84% win rate) in this very matchup, despite starting many games with a disadvantage or a bad opening hand. By having a better understanding of this matchup, you can outplay your enemies severely and consistently beat people who are playing the exact same deck.
Matchup overview and analysis
The more I played this matchup, the more I enjoyed it because it's not all about linear tempo. There are multiple opportunities to reset the board, swinging the tempo in your favor, and card advantage plays here a bigger role than usually. There have been games which went close to fatigue, where I would end up with a 7 card advantage at the end of it, against a carbon copy of my list. Which means that I've traded 2 for 1 at least 7 times while my enemy had the same resources at their disposal.
The early game is not nearly as important when you have so many ways to clear the enemy board cheaply. You can have a bad starting hand, you can match up poorly against your opponents hand but the nature of the matchup makes it so you can still comeback very often. The onus of clearing your totems, restricts your enemy from just going face because one Flametongue Totem can swing the board back in your favor and bursting enemy down is not a viable strategy with this deck, since it doesn't have enough direct damage to finish you off in time.
In this matchup, the more patient and efficient player will usually win. You need to be willing to just hero power a couple turns in a row and wait for Spell Damage until you can swing the tempo by clearing enemy minions and developing your cheap cards, such as Thing from Below.
Harrison Jones is also an incredibly important card because the player with more card draw has better chances to draw his AoE in time. That's why you should try to play and use your Spirit Claws either before he can destroy it or after it would matter (when you're closing the game out).
Since this matchup is all about AoE you'll want to mulligan for AoE very hard. Here are the cards you're looking for or keeping in mulligan:
- Maelstrom Portal
- Lightning Storm
- Bloodmage Thalnos
- Harrison Jones
- Spirit Claws
You can look at Bloodmage Thalnos as a fifth AoE since when played in conjunction with an AoE spell it will effectively deal 1 damage to enemy board and summon a Bloodmage Thalnos. That's a Maelstrom Portal on steroids. If you already have AoE or Spirit Claws in your hand, you can also keep:
- Totem Golem
Don't keep anything else. Tunnel Trogg while still being a great card, loses to almost any other opening from a shaman and Totem Golem is also easily dealt with so never prioritize it. The thing about early game minions in this matchup, is that even if your enemy has them and you don't, he'll still be forced to clear your totems and you won't take much damage while waiting for a good swing turn with one of your AoE spells or clearing his minions with Spirit Claws. I start most of my games behind on board and it does not matter.
Using Hex on a wrong target. Due to tempo not being as important, you don't have to use Hex for board advantage, instead you should use it for value and save it for cards which cost 5+ mana. If you have a good lead you should save one Hex for Ragnaros the Firelord.
Wrong mulligan choices. Early board presence is not nearly as important as AoE and Spell Damage. In this matchup you need to mulligan very hard for what you need and make no compromises.
Using AoE too early. About 8 our of 10 times I saw enemy using an AoE spell, I was very happy about it. Why? Because he was using it terribly inefficiently. Usually having two totems on the board, a Barnes token and Barnes himself will already prompt the opponent to use his AoE. He's effectively dealing with one card while I will wait longer for a good Spell Damage turn, take some face damage and prepare a better AoE turn, where I'll deal with 2-3 cards of his.
Playing cards just because they can. This matchup requires a lot of restraint and very often I'll be floating mana and keeping my Tunnel Trogg + Feral Spirit or Thing from Below in my hand, if I already have a decent board presence. If you overextend, a double Spell Damage Lightning Storm will completely crush you and your hopes to win that game.
Not tracking enemy cards. You need to be aware exactly of how many AoE spells, Spirit Claws and Spell Damage minions (Bloodmage Thalnos and Azure Drake) your enemy played. This will allow you to play much easier around them and know exactly if you can push for more board presence or if you should hold back.
Hopefully this will help you gain a big advantage in Shaman vs Shaman matchup against people who attempt to play it as any other matchup. It's not the same and shouldn't be played the same and the predictable success proves it. Good luck on ladder and may the totem RNG be with you!
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