Shamans - Red, Black, and Nasty
Sveik's Masters-Winning List
Duall's Updated List
Previous Version with Deck Tech
One of the most unique decks in Spellweaver, Shamans uses artifacts called Totems to give its creatures "Enters the Battlefield" effects to draw cards, drain life, and deal damage to opposing creatures. The hallmark of the deck is the Offering Yard Priest which can easily be a massive 2-Speed Swift attacker.
What is unique about this deck?
The most unique thing about this deck in general is how it plays. You play a few totems and are trying to keep your opponent's board in check with your Shamans and removal spells, and suddenly you're throwing 2 Swift 7/7 Offering Yard Priests at your opponent's face to take them out from 14. The amount of burst potential and late-game draw power is almost unmatched in Spellweaver, and certainly for any deck that primarily goes 2 levels. It's also one of the best decks to play Burkh in, so that has to count for something. The payoff cards of Offering Yard Priest and Totem of Legends are 2 of the best payoff cards in the game. It's also one of the only decks that frequently opens with either of its Aspects.
What are weaknesses of the deck?
You need some time to set up your totems, and while Fireblast is a great catch-up card, it lacks some of the punch that it used to have especially against decks like Valor. It also suffers from decks that run artifact removal as not only do you lose the Totem effects, your Offering Yard Priest gets smaller. As the deck is Corruption-Rage, it can have trouble taking out bigger creatures, especially creatures that your Offering Yard Priests can't attack like 3+ Speed creatures or Fliers. Haunt on Totems is also a problem as the first time you play a Shaman each turn, your opponent gains 2 Enchained Souls even if you don't use the Totem's effect. A final weakness is that the deck is low on cards before your Totem of Legends gets going so early discard effects can present issues.
How do you play the deck?
You generally want to play your Totems out in the early turns and answer your opponent's board if it starts to become threatening. You also want to get a Totem of Legends out as soon as possible or you'll find that the deck runs out of cards fairly quickly. It takes some practice evaluating your opponent's board to determine if you have time to play a Totem or not, but it really helps to be thinking a turn or 2 ahead. You should try to keep your Totems at 1 energy so they don't leave the battlefield so your Offering Yard Priest is maximum size and your Rahki Tribe Mystic gives energy to more Totems, but it is not the end of the world if you have to expend a Lightning Totem to finish off a key creature or dig another card down with Totem of Legends. If it goes according to plan, you should have chipped away at your opponent's life total with Totem of Torturers and Deathcurse Shaman and you can finish them off with a couple of Offering Yard Priests attacks, removing any potential blockers with your Lightning Totems and removal spells.
Offering Yard Priest: Just a big creature, but that's what the deck needs. Once this gets to 4/4, it starts really becoming a threat, and sometimes a 3/3 is enough to keep the board in check in the early game. Swiftness is a key factor in making this guy a threat, so make sure you always have an energy on your Totem of Swiftness for one of these.
Deathcurse Shaman: One of the best earlygame defensive creatures in the game also happens to be a Shaman. Totem of Swiftness lets this trade with a 3-health 1-or-2-speed creature by attacking it and using the -2/-2 ability on it or kill a 1-health and a 2-health creature if you can attack the 1-health one. There are other tricks you can use with this creature like sending it to the back row right before you Zash hero power to take down a 4-5 health creature or killing it in order to drain your opponent for 2 health postcombat to finish them off.
Ancestor's Guide: The only (playable) 3-speed shaman and serves as the 9th 2-mana shaman. With Lightning Totem, this can easily get to 3 attacking power and in combination with Fireblast can grow to Offering Yard Priest levels of attacking strength against Haunt. This one is optional, but the prevalence of Haunt makes this a decent include.
Rakhi Tribe Mystic: A solid card in the deck giving you a reuse of all of your totems when it hits the field. A 2/3 doesn't kill as much as it used to, but a 2/3 that draws a card, drains your opponent for 1, and deals 2 damage to an opponent's creature is still pretty decent.
Swamp God Emissary: There's very little reason to not bring back Offering Yard Priest with this as by the time you get to 2 levels 5 mana you should have at least 2 Totems and probably more like 3 or 4. The main reason the deck doesn't run more is that a 3/2 isn't that great bodywise and 5 mana is a lot. While this does cost more than Reanimate, the main benefit you get by playing this is that you get 2 Shamans for one card, which is most desirable when you're low on cards but have many Totems on the field.
Totem of Torturers: One of the two 1-mana Totems. This drains the opponent, making a whole 6-point lifeswing when completely drained. There's no reason not to activate this when it isn't on 1 energy, but as the only lifepoints that matter are the last and the 40th, you should only drain it from 1 energy if you are very sure that it will save you from losing on the next turn.
Totem of Swiftness: The Totem that separates Offering Yard Priest from other big creatures and lets Deathcurses act like removal spells. This is one of the Totems you don't autoclick "Yes" on as 1 energy from this is not usually worth 1 damage from an attacking Deathcurse Shaman. This is also the weakest Totem when it comes to having multiples, so it is often Divine Offering fodder when you already have a healthy one on the field.
Totem of Legends: The legend itself, potentially the strongest card in the deck. This thing draws a total of 4 cards for 2 mana, and that's without and Rahki Mystic triggers. While you'd like to have all 4 out, you usually only need 2 or 3 out to get all the cards you could ever want. This one is a trickier decision on whether to use the last energy on it. It's really going to come down to each individual situation, but if you have 3+ cards in hand, it's usually wrong to do so, especially if you have a Rahki Mystic in hand.
Lightning Totem: Probably the worst totem in the deck for the cost, but it does give a valuable service of controlling the board before you kill them and removing blocks as you kill them. It is really nice to get this off Summon Totem.
Noxious Fumes: The number of this can vary, even down to 0, but it depends what you want your removal suite to look like. As you often have to use multiple effects to keep the board under control, the fact that this is 1 mana is invaluable.
Fireball: The best rage spell, good for offense and defense in this deck. You usually won't be holding it up at instant speed due to how proactive this deck is, but there are times you'll want to stop an Aezheris or a Flame Serpent.
Fireblast: The extra spread damage can really help take down multiple creatures when combined with other effects like Deathcurse Shaman. Value this highly in your opening mulligan if you know you're against a bunch of 1-health creatures
Reanimate: The only spell that not removal acts as another Shaman. Usually this gets back Offering Yard Priest, but Rahki can be a good choice if you need a bunch of Totem triggers but you're low on energy. Don't forget that Swamp God can still return a Offering Yard Priest if you Reanimate the Offering Yard Priest, and it still only costs 5 mana total.
Mountain Sanctuary: Summon Totem is a fairly powerful Hero Power, but if you have the choice of a Totem of Legends in hand or activating this, you should play the Totem of Legends most of the time unless you're in the mid-lategame and low on cards. When you use this is going to depend decently on the board state, but you should use this to begin your turn on any turn you plan to activate this to give yourself maximum information and maximum effect with your Shamans. It is not unreasonable to play 3 of these, especially if you are gunning heavily for Control, but I would drop the Mausoleum in that case.
Mausoleum of the Damned: A way of letting you kill 3 speed nonfliers in combat and another removal option given all of your Shamans are level 1. Remember that using Reanimate does not count towards this.
So Reanimate vs. Swamp God? Which one is better? As mentioned before, Swamp God is a choice between Deathcurse and Offering Yard Priest making 2 Shamans for 5, but Reanimate is any Shaman for 3. While Swamp God seems superior, sometimes it is just too slow especially before you get to 7 mana. That's why I've opted for the 1 Swamp God-2 Reanimate split.
Herald of Despair: It resets Angelic Temple, kills the first life of Phoenix, drains a Totem in the extremely uncommon mirror, and little else. You have to be very confident about what your opponents are running to play this, but it is an option to get back with Swamp God.
Disciple of Zash: Pinging a creature can be the difference between killing it and not killing it, but the fact that it takes a mana is frustrating. You can plausibly swap out Ancestor's Guide for this. Also can be returned with Swamp God.
Detonate: If you need a cheaper AoE effect that can destroy artifacts, this is it.
Dragonfire: Lets you kill a 5-health creature and sometimes an artifact, the latter which is especially nice against Helm of Dominion.
Suffocate: If you feel like hating out 3-speed creatures instead of 1-health creatures, this will do. Can be combined with Deathcurse similar to your Hero Power
Mescatian Phoenix: A nice value creature, but does force you to level up earlier than you usually want to and it makes your deck vulnerable to Parallel Evolution.
Totem of Rogn'okh: The rare totem is just a sidenote? Yes, due to being a 3-level totem, this is very awkward on the curve. It is better if you're running Phoenixes, and it is generally the best totem to hit off Summon Totem.
General Matchup Scheme
As mentioned before, there are a number of things that Shamans struggles against. Bigger-bodied aggro decks, creatures that Offering Yard Priest can't kill, and early discard will all give Shamans trouble. What is it good against then? Wisdom-Dominion is the key prey for this deck as it lets you set up Totems and hates Offering Yard Priest. Hatebears and other decks that rely on 2/2s can be destroyed by repeated Lightning Totem activations.
You want to run this in an anti-New Horizons lineup as New Horizons decks are what this deck is best against. This is friends with decks like Blue Demons and other aggro decks, but be wary of where your Noxious Fumes and Fireballs are.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the deck!