Journey to Un’Goro Card Spotlight: Spirit Echo

In this Hearthstone Journey to Un’Goro card spotlight, I take a look at Spirit Echo. Shaman has limited means to generate additional resources, and Spirit Echo can often create multiple cards, so it seems like a powerful addition to the class’s repertoire. It is also a lot of fun to play with!

Spirit Echo

Spirit Echo is an epic Shaman class spell from Hearthstone’s Journey to Un’Goro expansion. It is a 3-mana spell that gives your minions deathrattle to return them to your hand.

It is notable that if you cast Spirit Echo on a minion twice, you still only get one copy of the minion back to your hand, as the deathrattle does not generate copies of the minion in question.

Overall, Spirit Echo is a huge value and resource generator for the Shaman class, which is otherwise finding it quite hard to draw additional cards.

Card draw in Shaman

After Ancestral Knowledge rotated out to Wild, Standard Shaman has been left with just one class card that draws multiple cards, Mana Tide Totem. Mana Tide Totem is indeed a great card and can often find a spot in any non-aggro Shaman decks, both midrange and control variants.

Other than that though, it is slim pickings for Shaman. Control Shaman can find uses for Far Sight and Ancestral Spirit to enable combos that create big and hard-to-remove minions on the board, but they are both still just cantrips, generating an additional card to replace themselves.

Shaman also has a pair of discover cards, but they are not that great either. Finders Keepers is simply too weak to see any play, and while Lotus Agents does see some niche play, it is generally not that awesome either.

The regular neutral options are of course available for Shaman as well, Acolyte of Pain being the most common choice. With Shaman’s ability to naturally flood the board, you could also use Cult Master to draw cards, and it sees some play in token-heavy variants. Control Shaman could also find a use for Fight Promoter, but it is usually more interested in Ancestral Spirit shenanigans.

So, slim pickings indeed.

Spirit Echo to the rescue!

Luckily, instead of resorting to mediocre neutral options or downright bad class cards, Shaman has access to Spirit Echo.

It is often possible to set up boards where you can Spirit Echo multiple minions, and you can also often set it up so that you get cards relevant to the particular matchup:

  • Taunts or heals against aggro decks – Tar Creeper and Hot Spring Guardian are really good ones here
  • Heals against Burn Mage or Freeze Mage – Hot Spring Guardian and Jinyu Waterspeaker work wonders in these matchups
  • Big value cards against control decks – Jade generators for Jade Shaman, top-end Elementals for Elemental Shaman
  • Flametongue Totem is just generally good to slip into a Spirit Echo – you can make all of your trades more effective with a Flametongue Totem, and create a huge dilemma for your opponent when he knows that even if he kills the Flametongue Totem, it can just come back at any time

I generally aim to Spirit Echo around three cards: one or two key targets and something small but useful that I can slip in, such as Fire Fly (generates even more tokens later) or Flametongue Totem.

How greedy you can go with Spirit Echo depends on how good your opponent is at clearing boards and removing your targets just before you get to cast the spell. Furthermore, it is important to recognize your hand size and plan accordingly: perhaps play some minions only after playing Spirit Echo or trade away undesirable minions before playing Spirit Echo so that you do not overdraw. You can also replay some minions on the same turn if you trade them away after playing Spirit Echo!

Because Spirit Echo gives the minions a deathrattle, they have to actually die for you to get them back. If the opponent has access to transformation effects or silence, you might not get them back. Therefore, it is often more reliable to Spirit Echo medium threats that the opponent will feel bad Polymorphing or silencing than go all in on one big threat. Obviously, if you know whether your opponent has access to transformation effects or silence, it helps in making the decision.

Spirit Echo in Jade Shaman

For example, in Jade Shaman, Aya Blackpaw is of course the highest-value target possible, and when possible I do try to set thing up so that I can Spirit Echo Aya. I might also avoid trading away a Jade Spirit when setting up for a Spirit Echo, because if it survives to be included in the Echo, that’s yet another Jade Golem.

However, a board consisting of a Jade Spirit, Flametongue Totem and a Jinyu Waterspeaker can be a great target for Spirit Echo: you get more Jades, more healing, and more damage – effectively three new cards – and none of them are particularly worthwhile to use a silence on.

Spirit Echo is also great with the Jade Golems themselves, especially in the mid-game. It is often possible to slip in a 4-mana or 6-mana Jade into your turns, they are already credible threats but not yet so expensive that you can do nothing else than play them. Before I started playing with Spirit Echo, I did not fully appreciate how good these vanilla threats can be in control matchups, where just putting an endless stream of stats on the board can make a huge difference.

Spirit Echo in Control Shaman

In Control Shaman, Spirit Echo is actually contesting the traditional Far Sight + Ancestral Spirit combo. It takes up less space from the deck and affects multiple minions at once, and while you need to play the minions again, that can also be an advantage: the battlecries of Stonehill Defender and Jinyu Waterspeaker are usable again so they too are viable targets for Spirit Echo, while you only want to Ancestral Spirit your big bombs.

I have never been a huge fan of Far Sight myself, as it is a bit of hit-and-miss, so I’m a big fan of this development where Spirit Echo is becoming the value-generation tool of Control Shaman.

Spirit Echo in Elemental Shaman

Of the slower Shaman decks, Elemental Shaman has the hardest job in finding room and justification for running Spirit Echo. This is a little bit ironic, as the deck is full of battlecry minions that can be really beneficial to play again.

Elemental Shaman resembles the Dragon Priest of old in many ways: playing stronger-than-average minions on curve and not including that much card draw.

Elemental Shaman also has access to a premium resource-generation tool: Servant of Kalimos. With the ability to play a 4/5 Elemental on the board and discover another, usually powerful, elemental while doing so, Elemental Shaman can satisfy some of its resource needs with two copies of Servant of Kalimos.

Add in a Bloodmage Thalnos and maybe a Mana Tide Totem or Harrison Jones, and the relatively low card needs of an on-curve deck can be satisfied.

This is not to say that Spirit Echo could not find a spot in Elemental Shaman: the many battlecries definitely make it an attractive option, but the on-curve nature of the deck makes it a little difficult to find the exact right spot for it.

Conclusions

Spirit Echo is a powerful and fun addition to the Shaman class. It is a card that takes a lot of thought to use well, but good Spirit Echo plays are also a lot of fun and extremely rewarding.

It is still somewhat underexplored, and I expect it to grow more popular as its power becomes better understood.

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