If there's one thing that separates the Shaman from the other Heroes of Hearthstone, it's the unique Overload system the character can make use of. In essence, this special power allows the Shaman to “borrow” Mana from the next turn, in order to field a handful of special powerful cards on the current turn. The flip side of this is that you'll have less Mana to play with on the subsequent turn.
The Shaman's Hero Power also gives the character access to a series of special totems – a weak Taunt minion to hold the enemy at bay, a weak 1/1 minion, a totem that boosts spell damage, and a totem that provides a healing effect to all friendly minions at the end of each turn. You should try to bring these useful tools into play whenever you have the Mana spare.
All things considered, it can take a little while to get used to the Shaman's unique playstyle, but it's well worth perservering as the Hero's assumed a dominant position since the release of Goblins vs Gnomes. It certainly pays to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of this formidable character – whether you're making use of the Hero yourself, or facing him down.
Important Shaman cards
You should spend time getting acquainted with all of the Hero-specific cards each character can take advantage of in battle, but to get you started we've put together a list of some of the most powerful Shaman cards in the game. Whether you're playing as the Shaman, or playing againstthe Shaman, you need to be aware of precisely when these powerful spells and minions can make an appearance on the game board.
The Stormforged Axe comes with an Overload cost, but it's a weapon that can give the Shaman a huge tempo advantage in the early stages of a match. It's not seen as often as it used to be, but it's still worth being aware of the potential for this spell to ruin your game.
Flametongue Totem is a card best played onto the table when other minions are already out – otherwise you're painting a great big “kill me” target on a card that can often win you games. Instead, get it out on the board when you already have some creatures to boost up, and ideally when you have a Taunt minion or totem in play too. If you're using this totem to trade minions off, always position it on the board so that successive creatures get the benefit of the boost as earlier ones die off.
Like the Mage's Polymorph spell, Hex provides the Shaman with the ability to completely neutralise a target – big or small – albeit at the cost of granting the opponent a weak Taunt minion. This hard removal spell must be saved for the very biggest of threats – play it too early in the game and you'll wish you'd held onto it when something bigger comes blundering along. Likewise, if you're playing against a Shaman, assume they always have this card in their hand, and try to bait it out with a decent – but not outstanding – minion of your own.
The Overload penalty of Lightning Storm very rarely stops this card from being played against aggressive decks. The ability to wipe out a Hunter or Warlock's aggressive push with one button press is a delicious display of power, and it's a rare Shaman deck that doesn't include at least one of these spells. When you're playing against a Shaman, don't over-extend on the board, and try to trade your minions off so that you're left with one that could survive this magical onslaught.
The Fire Elemental would be a decent enough minion on its own, even without the damage-dealing Battlecry. The ability to ping three points of damage at a character really strengthens this brutal minion though, and makes it a very common pick in all types of Shaman deck. Always be aware that your low-health minions are at risk from this creature on turn six, and try to trade off your minions so that your preferred target can't be picked off with this powerful effect.