Content of the article: "The Problem with Shaman (Apologizing in advance for the essay, I’m truly sorry)"
GreEtIngs, FellOW HuMans
Shaman, ever since the January 9th nerfs, has been performing poorly in the meta. Galakrond Shaman was broken as a deck, and pushed most other decks that couldn't counter it out of the meta, and needed to be nerfed. But the nerfs to Galakrond Shaman, not only killed the deck, but also killed Shaman's standing in the meta as a whole, and it never truly was able to truly come back into the competitive scene. But I believe that the true problem with Shaman goes deeper than any of the DoD (Descent of Dragons) nerfs. Imo, there are 2 reasons why Shaman is in the state it is in today.
1 Rotation of the Year of the Raven sets.
Many of Shaman's core cards rotated in the Year of the Dragon rotation. Essential cards that enabled or empowered many of it's archetypes left Standard, such as: Thunderhead, Spirit of the Frog, Voltaic Burst, Shudderwock, (I personally was happy when this rotated, but still) Electrica Stormsurge, Hagtha the Witch, Likkim, and many more, rotated, leaving the overall mediocre Year of the Dragon sets to compensate, which didn't have the same power level as the Year of Raven sets, either due to design, or nerfs. Now you might ask, even if the Year of the Dragon sets aren't good enough to keep the class on it's feet, can't the Basic and Classic sets, as well as the new Year of the Phoenix sets, support it so it can be competitively viable? Which leads me to my second reason:
2 Shaman's Basic and Classic sets, are for the most part, terrible.
Shamans Basic and Classic sets are very bad, because of 2 things: nerfs, and Overload. Shamans Basic set has received three nerfs over time: Hex from 3 Mana to 4 Mana, Flametounge Totem from 2 mana to 3 Mana, and Rockbiter Weapon from 1 Mana to 2 mana. These 3 cards were centerpieces of many Shaman decks. Hex allowed for an easy to access control tool for control and slower mid-range decks, Flametounge Totem acted as a good tempo and aggression tool, (as well as a great totem, which would very much be appreciated in Totem Shaman) alongside Rockbiter Weapon, a spell that made many Windfury (Can attack twice) cards, (Can't forget about the notorious combos with Doomhamer ) another class mechanic of Shaman, 2 cards that made Alakir the Wind Lord (The classic set legendary for Shaman with Windfury) and the aforementioned Doomhamer worth running. Since The loss of these there cards, heavily weakened Shamans ability to actually push damage and fight for board, with only Hex being still playable, and even it's too slow for most Shaman decks now. The rest of the basic set is overall dependent on other cards to be good, like, Totemic Surge (is it Totemic Surge or the other 0 mana, one, not too sure, but you get my point.) or once considered to be ok, like Fire Elemental, got powercreeped. Now if you look towards the Classic set, it shares the same problems, which are compounded by an even bigger problem: Overload.
For those of you who don't know, Overload gives you a usually broken effect for the cost, in exchange for less mana the next turn. Now, I believe that overload is actually a fine mechanic, but it is too taxing as it stands. Most cards that overload you in the classic set, actually overload you for too much mana, because the developers thought that, after factoring in a card with overload with another card of that type that is similar, without it, added excess overload simply because you can do the same for a lower mana cost, AS WELL AS the fact that it's such a powerful effect for the cost. Let me give you some examples. Forked Lightning is a 1 mana spell that deals 2 damage to two random enemy minions, with overload 2. Now there is a spell called cleave in warrior, which does the EXACT SAME THING, for 2 mana. Forked Lightning, if you factor in the power of the ability, should technically cost 1 and overload 1, right? Wrong. Since it's a 1 mana cleave, according to blizzard, it needs to overload for 1 more as well. Now you might be thinking that comparing one classes card with another classes card isn't a good baseline for an observation such as this, since classes have different designs, strengths, and weaknesses. But the thing is, this type of thinking becomes reasonable because one costs 1 more, and is LITERALLY the SAME. the developers did this with most of the other overload cards, and if their wasn't another card in game to compare it to, they used average card to cost ratios to design overload cards. This resulted in most overload cards overloading one more than they should. Earth Elemental is a 5 man 7/8 with taunt and overload 3, meaning that it costs 8, when it should really be only 7 mana, but that's the end result of a card that is 5 Mana that overloads for 3, when it should only overload 2, but of course theres that comparison again. So many other cards, such as Feral Spirits, Lightning Storm, Dust Devil, (should really be a 1 Mana 2/2 tbh btw) and a couple others that I can't remember, have this in mind. Now some of them are playable, but are reliant on other cards or archetypes to be truly good. Back when you could either coin Feral Spirits on 2 after your tunnel trog, or play it on 3 after your Likkim, It would actually pretty ok. Nowadays, since those cards and many others like are in Wild… Yeah, you can tell why it doesn't see too much play anymore.
3 Not enough draw
The last problem is Shaman's lack of draw. Now, I believe that Shamans classic set draw, is actually fine. Maybe you could buff Mana Tide Totem to 4 health so it doesn't die to corrosive breath, or penance, or holy smite, or soul shear, or lightning bolt, (an actually ok overload card) or wrath, frostbolt, or 2 Mana 3/2's, or… Ok, my bad, you get the point. It would be better. Far Sight is actually ok as a card. Where Shaman's draw needs to come from are new expansions. Come on Blizzard, for the love of God, give the class some actually draw. Without draw, a lot of Shaman decks that might otherwise be good are mediocre or invalidated.
So, with all these problems, how do you fix the class?
4 How to Make Shaman Great Again!
I personally believe that you need to do 3 things to get the class moving again: rework the Classic set cards with overload and make the majority of them with overload 2 overload 1, revert at least the Flametounge and Rockbiter Weapon nerfs in the Basic set, (Not to sure about Hex) and print more draw overtime. If these things can happen, Shaman won't have to rely on amazing to busted expansion cards to be good, so the class can finally get of this ridiculously polarizing pattern of being either insanely busted to straight up trash, and will be able to be competitive in the meta. Until these 3 things happens, no matter what reasonable cards the developers give to the class, Shaman will almost always be either trash tier – or almost tier 0.
Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen, for listening to my ridiculously long ranting. Feel free to talk and respond to me about the topics I have stated in this posted, or anything else Hearthstone related that you feel like talking about.
Have a good night, my fellow friends at the hearth!
- Why is Shaman so bad? What can be done to fix it? A discussion.
- Is Trick Totem Good? Lets do the math.
- Why do you want for each class in the next expansion?
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