Lightning Bolt has always been a flexible damage card that could be used as efficient early-game removal as well as burn for aggressive decks. The synergy with overload and spell-damage makes it a very safe inclusion in a variety of Shaman decks.
One of the best 1-drops introduced to the core set. Novice Zapper offers Shaman a 1-drop with great stats to find initiative in the early game, while acting as a terrific enabler for both spell-damage and overload synergies. Particularly disgusting with Landslide and guaranteed to make a huge impact on Shaman decks going forward.
Nimbus was a mediocre card that saw fringe play in Shaman decks that looked for a bit of value and some elemental synergy, but it isn’t particularly enticing to play since the generated elemental pool is of low quality and with a wide variety of costs. Wandmaker will very likely outclass it by some distance, and most good card generators should. We don’t think it’s constructed worthy.
Rockbiter used to be one of the strongest burst cards in the game, until a nerf saw its cost doubled. Now, it only sees play alongside Doomhammer, and we don’t see that changing unless another strong Windfury card that may benefit from the buff emerges.
This is not a good Windfury card. Funnily, this card has seen play in Wild Even Shaman more than it ever saw the light of day in Standard due to that deck’s desperate desire for a finisher. If Shaman becomes this desperate over the next year, it’s probably in a bit of trouble.
Even Overload decks have consistently passed over this card throughout its history, as it requires a lot of support to get going and is a very weak play on-curve. Unbound Elemental is a good introductory card for overload synergies, but that’s about it.
With Polymorph gone, Shaman is left with the only single target transform effect. Of course, this isn’t a highly sought-after prize since Hex is usually too slow unless utilized by very grindy Control Shaman decks. Useful, but not ubiquitous.
This card is very sad when compared to Penance, Eye Beam or the new Drain Soul. The damage-to-mana coefficient is quite miserable here, and potential spell-damage scaling available to the class doesn’t make us feel better about it. Expensive spells are harder to utilize with spell-damage (as well as Mo’arg Artificer), so we give this one a pass.
A small buff that makes this long-standing elemental more comparable with Glaivebound Adept. 4 damage is a critical threshold required to remove many minions in the mid-game, but we’re still not very enthusiastic about it. Removal effects need to be faster in constructed, and the body is not very threatening to decks in 2021. Just ask Savannah Highmane.
This is a case where a buff to an outdated card makes a huge difference, and the reason is that Feral Spirit is a defensive card that protects you and your other minions in the early game. Without the crippling overload mana penalty, Feral Spirit is now a stronger Saronite Chain Gang on-curve. It may not have handbuff synergies, but it does have overload and spell synergies, which should be very relevant to the class. Can find a place in Shaman decks at different ends of the meta spectrum.
One of the best changes to cards in the core set, not just because Storm is now a far stronger and more reliable board clear, but because it’s a great quality of life change. The RNG element in Storm has always felt horrible, especially when combined with the RNG element of rolling a spell-damage totem. Now it’s just a solid board clear that Shaman decks will most certainly find useful.
Mana Tide Totem
Mana Tide is a slow draw engine that usually finds a place whenever there is incentive for running totems, or whenever the Shaman has strong taunts that can protect it. The buff to Feral Spirit, for example, helps the card. We think Shaman will likely prefer draw engines in expansion sets, but this isn’t terrible to have as a fallback option.
The extra health buff means that Totemcarver is, at the very worst, a Chillwind Yeti. In totem-synergy decks, it will likely become a significant pile of stats. The problem is that totem decks generally find it hard to stick a board, and Totemcarver is very weak when Shaman falls behind while not offering an immediate impact upon entrance. Pile of stats cards need to be very strong to see play in constructed these days, so it’s a decent card for the core set, but not too exciting.
The iconic weapon tends to pop up whenever an aggressive Shaman deck carrying burst damage emerges. It has pretty much always sat in this niche, which can be relevant occasionally, but is never a constant presence.
This big taunt got a nice little buff, but not one that makes us think it will see play. Earth Elemental was previously horrendous as any sort of removal put the Shaman very far behind due to its crippling overload. The buff makes it slightly more tolerable, but most slower decks should have an answer to this on turn 5. Its best partner, Ancestral Spirit, is also going away.
Al’Akir the Windlord
Al’Akir is a very weak late game option that has almost never seen play in constructed. One extra health is nice but isn’t going to change that. Far too expensive to be a legitimate finisher or a useful stabilizer. A flavorful legendary but that’s about it.
Core Set Rank: 5th
Shaman desperately needed an update to its very outdated Classic Set, and it got it. Many of the Overload cards that were too expensive before, are now far more playable. Lightning Storm is a great board clear no longer mired by RNG. Feral Spirit is a very solid 3-drop that can be used defensively and offensively. Furthermore, it received a monumental 1-drop in Novice Zapper that works well with pretty much everything the class wants to do. Shaman did lose some finishing potential with Bloodlust and Lava Burst, but it’s something that nearly every class has been subject to. Shaman doesn’t have many all-star cards in its set, but it doesn’t have too many unplayables either. One of the more balanced Core Sets around.