Evolution: Shaman’s best deck in standard Hearthstone
Since the release of Journey to Un’Goro, Shaman has struggled to find a winning identity. Versions of Elemental and Jade Shaman have been tried and tested, but neither strategy has reached the dominance Shaman once displayed in previous expansions.
Over the last month, however, a new strategy within the class emerged and quickly rose in both popularity and win rate: Token Shaman. Currently, Token Shaman represents a pillar in the format—a deck every player must respect and understand before jumping into the queue. Learn how to play it or figure out how to beat it on your climb to Legend this month.
Token Shaman is an aggressive strategy that preys on other aggressive decks through its ability to go over the top with Bloodlust and Evolve. The deck floods the board early with cheap minions and its hero power for a burst finish with Bloodlust. Alternatively, the deck upgrades its minions with Evolve and leverages its newly empowered board state to end the game.
Token Shaman creates Bloodlust opportunities through early board pressure from low cost minions. Fire Fly, Bloodsail Corsair, and Primalfin Totem each impact the board early, but more importantly, generate additional minions for the potential Bloodlust. Fire Fly provides a Fire Elemental to the hand, Bloodsail Corsair plays Patches the Pirate from the deck, and Primalfin Totem generates a murloc at the end of every turn.
Because of the threat of Bloodlust in the deck, the opponent must deal with each of these minions, fearing the turn five blowout. Stonehill Defender, Jade Claws, and Jade Lightning protect the developing board state and provide additional Bloodlust beneficiaries. Flametongue Totem creates profitable trades with the opponent’s board, and if unanswered, provides a quick clock. Bloodlust rewards this strategy and buffs all your minions on board into legitimate threats. The ensuing attack should end the game or put it within reach the following turn.
Token Shaman plays Evolve to leverage its board state over its opponent. Evolve upgrades each minion on your side of the field to a random minion that costs one more. It also generates the most value when paired with Doppelgangster, creating three six mana minions for the price of one. Doppelgangster plus Evolve develops up to 27 attack on the board, overwhelming most aggressive strategies and taxing the resources of control decks. Thing From Below evolves to a seven mana minion, but often enters the battlefield for less. Evolve Stonehill Defender into a more formidable threat after board control has been secured. Use Evolve on a board of cheap minions to avoid an early board clear or find the last bit of damage to end the game. You’ll never be happier to see Millhouse Manastorm in your life.
While Token Shaman excels against aggressive decks, it struggles against control strategies. Mana Tide Totem is the best card in the deck in these matchups—protecting it is essential to success. Mana Tide Totem keeps your hand threat dense and lets you fight through your opponent’s removal and board clears. Keep track of your opponent’s used removal and board clears. Apply enough pressure to force out a board clear, but don’t overextend. In these matchups, use Bloodlust when you feel its value is highest or to wrestle back control of the board. Play Devolve to efficiently deal with troublesome minions, such as Doomsayers or Taunts. Inevitably, as the game turns toward its later stages, you’ll begin to run low on resources. At that point, you go all-in. Sometimes you just have to make them have the card that beats you.