It wasn’t long after the release of Descent of Dragons that Galakrond Shaman separated itself from the pack as the best deck in the metagame and the one to beat. There were consistent outcries from the community that the deck was “too broken”, unbalanced, and needed to be nerfed. The Hearthstone team heard the community's complaints and implemented the fastest nerf we have ever seen after a set release:

Every single one of the nerfs effected Galakrond Shaman. However, my first thought upon seeing these nerfs was that they didn’t actually touch the core issues people were having with the deck. You could still get a fully invoked Galakrond on turn 7!

Sure, it happens less consistently now as you can see below, but the nuts curve is still there. And the consistency of getting Galakrond after turn 7 is still mostly unchanged after the patch, which is arguably why the deck is still so powerful.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew the deck would obviously be worse but it would still be one of the best decks since the core issue was never fixed. Ironically, people were afraid that Rogue would become our new overlord but they forgot that Shaman actually has the best tools in the game to deal with powerful Deathrattle effects and now they had more than enough room to add them in Hex and Earth Shock.

As soon as the nerfs were implemented I wanted to prove a point that Shaman was still tier 1 - if not the best deck - and got Rank 1 Legend with this list.

### Galakrond Shaman
# Class: Shaman
# Format: Standard
# Year of the Dragon
#
# 2x (1) Invocation of Frost
# 2x (1) Earth Shock
# 1x (2) Witch's Brew
# 2x (2) Sandstorm Elemental
# 2x (2) Novice Engineer
# 2x (2) Earthen Might
# 1x (2) Acidic Swamp Ooze
# 1x (3) Zentimo
# 2x (3) Mana Tide Totem
# 2x (3) Far Sight
# 1x (3) Electra Stormsurge
# 1x (4) Hex
# 2x (4) Devoted Maniac
# 2x (5) Shield of Galakrond
# 2x (5) Dragon's Pack
# 1x (6) Kronx Dragonhoof
# 2x (6) Corrupt Elementalist
# 1x (7) Galakrond, the Tempest
# 1x (9) Shudderwock
#
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# To use this deck, copy it to your clipboard and create a new deck in Hearthstone
# Find this deck on https://hsreplay.net/decks/e6oRimDjMGVUjH9bVsq9Hh/

I started around rank 1,000 and was able to get rank 1 Legend in a few days with this new Shaman list I built. Initially I did try out Shaman lists with post-nerf Mogu Fleshshaper, Sludge Slurper, and Faceless Corruptor but they all felt too weak now. Faceless Corruptor is still playable but didn’t feel right in this list. My suspicion was justified since it felt like one of the easiest legend climbs I have ever had. Instead of having to deal with other people playing Shaman I was able to farm nearly every other class, including Rogue.

The list is heavily teched out for the current metagame.

  • Earth Shock and Hex are to combat Rogue and shut down Necrium Apothecary.
  • Zentimo is incredibly powerful with cards like Invocation of Frost, Hex, and Earthen Might.
  • Earthen Might allows you to apply early game pressure and can be comboed with Zentimo late game to provide you a surprising amount of value. When I was testing it out originally I was surprised at how strong getting a random Elemental is along with the buff allowing you to make efficient trades with Storms.
  • Sandstorm Elemental and Witch’s Brew were added to the deck because I was facing a lot of aggro decks at first like Face Hunter and Zoo. These cards are not necessary if you aren’t facing aggro. In that case you can add a second Hex and cards like Faceless Corruptor back.

When it comes to mulliganing, in the majority of matchups you are going to be looking for Galakrond or cards like Kronx Dragonhoof that help you draw it, since the core strategy of the deck is to get it online as fast as possible and apply as much pressure as you can.

Think hard about each trade you make with this deck because going face is almost always better, unless you are protecting something pertinent. Every time you are able to go face and your opponent has to trade puts you at a huge advantage. Being able to understand the reach of your opponent’s deck and how fast they can kill you compared to how fast you can kill them is the most important skill to have with this deck. That is the difference between players who excel with this Shaman or just do average. Far too often I see the Shaman player not understand how fast their clock is and trade instead of pushing face damage and forcing their opponent to trade which creates a huge snowball effect.

In conclusion, Galakrond Shaman is not the monster it was pre nerf, but it's still a top tier deck for sure. As the metagame changes so will the tech cards. I fully expect cards like Lightning Storm, or even Living Dragonbreath, to cycle in and out of the list to keep the deck relevant. Ok, maybe Living Dragonbreath is a pipe dream but once you unfreeze your board after a Blizzard or Frost Nova to kill a Reno Mage you feel like a genius!

Thank you all for reading and good luck on ladder! If you want to watch me play this and other decks, I stream on twitch.tv/rayc and if you want to see what else I'm up to follow me on Twitter @PG_rayC!

-rayC