Content of the article: "Refining Totem Shaman"
After tearing from D9 to Legend in a single afternoon losing only 4 games in the process, I am feeling that Totem Shaman will be at least a viable — if not a powerful — archetype for the remainder of this expansion. For those with a HSReplay premium subscription, you can now filter data to see only games played since Darkmoon release, and in the “diamond through legend” bracket Totem Shaman is currently sitting high in tier 1. I know it is impossible to make accurate projections this early in an expansion, but the archetype was already borderline-viable prior the release and gained several new options that help to make it more consistent and less highroll-y.
The list I currently use can be seen below. The only changes I made since making my climb were adding in the Circus Amalgams and swapping out single copies of Devolving Missiles and Serpentshrine Portal. Rather than talking about every card in the deck, I’d rather focus on the new cards and cards that may or may not be optimal.
Let’s start with the new cards:
Cagematch Custodian: This is a fantastic new weapon tutor that will see play in any Shaman deck that uses weapons. At least 1 is definitely core in Totem lists that only run Splitting Axe but 2 are core for lists that also run Whack-a-Gnoll Hammer.
Grand Totem Eys’or: Makes Mana Tide core again and makes Trick Totem possibly worth running as well. You will win the vast majority of games where you manage to clone this – often on the spot.
Whack-a-Gnoll Hammer: I have seen several lists running one of these but have not tried it out yet. While it is a stand-alone good card, there may be situations where you need that Splitting Axe pull from your Custodian and get this instead. I would love to hear from people who have tried running this. I think it could potentially be great in the archetype.
Stormstrike: I really, really like this card. It seems like Serpentshrine Portal but better in every way. It can kill 2 small minions or one big one, which gives you a comeback mechanic in games where you brick your mulligan and your opponent plays minions on turns 1 and 2, which was an auto-lose scenario for Totem Shaman before the expansion. More flexibility and less overload? Where do I sign?!?!
Circus Amalgam: I’m not sure if this would be worth the slots if it weren’t for Eys’or, but with him in the deck it certainly is. As the only Taunt in the deck, it protects your value totems, and with even only 1 or 2 Eys’or buffs it is a fantastic standalone midgame drop that also benefits from your 0-mana totemic spells.
Inara Stormcrash: There are lists out there running a weapon variant with 2 Splitting Axes, 2 Whack-a-Gnolls and this new legendary. I have not tried it yet but would be interested to hear from someone who has.
Old cards worth discussing:
Surging Tempest and Tour Guide: I still feel like these 1-drops are both core, but I have seen lists that cut Tour Guide, which I honestly feel is the more valuable of the two. With Serpentshrines and Sludge Slurpers seeing less play, Tempest is a lot less likely to be activated on any given turn, but I still feel that having a 1/3 1-drop with a potential upside is worth it.
Sludge Slurper: I still see a lot of lists running these, but I don’t like them at all. They were great in Polkelt lists because there was less risk of drawing them later in the game, but the prevalence of 1/3-statted 1-drops and DH’s hero power make this a terrible turn 1 play most of the time and the overload on turn 2 is really crippling.
Trick Totem: Historically, this card had one of the worst mulligan, drawn, AND played winrates in the archetype, but now that Eys’or exists, it may actually be worth running again. I watched Dekkster streaming the other night with a Trick Totem list in high legend and he was maintaining a 70% win rate over 20 or so games.
Serpentshrine Portal: This seems outclassed by Stormstrike in every way. Might still be worth running if you really want the overload synergy, but is 1 extra attack on a Surging Tempest really worth including this for?
Instructor Fireheart and Vessina: I feel like these were only included in lists prior to the new expansion because of a lack of better options. With new cards that actually further the deck’s game plan, I think these are both safe to retire from totem lists.
Lorekeeper Polkelt: I strongly preferred Polkelt lists to non-Polkelt ones prior to the expansion, but like the 2 previously mentioned legendaries, I just don’t think there’s room for him anymore — especially if you’re not running Sludge Slurpers.
Bloodlust: I think 1 is core. I think 2 is too many. And there are people who feel that, between Totemic Surge and Storm’s Wrath, it’s not even necessary. I’d be curious to hear your opinions.
Totem Goliath: I’m including this in my writeup because the most popular list on HSR currently only runs one copy. I think 2 are core and, as the only sticky minion in the deck, it has been my saving grace against control decks time and time again. Having the option to cheat this out on turn 2 or 3 with Lightning Bloom is extremely valuable in many matchups.
Runic Carvings: I have always hated this card in Totem Shaman. Unless you combo it with one of your 0-mana buffs or Storm’s Wrath, it’s just lousy. Paying 6 mana for a board that dies to AoE spells which cost half as much is a bad investment, and using the overload option to give them rush means that you’re spending 8 mana to clear 8 health worth of enemy minions.
That’s where I’m at now. I would love to hear from others who have been experimenting with Totem Shaman this week. Thanks for reading!
# Class: Shaman
# Format: Standard
# Year of the Phoenix
# 2x (0) Lightning Bloom
# 2x (0) Totemic Might
# 2x (0) Totemic Surge
# 2x (1) Storm's Wrath
# 2x (1) Surging Tempest
# 2x (1) Tour Guide
# 2x (2) Cagematch Custodian
# 2x (2) EVIL Totem
# 1x (3) Grand Totem Eys'or
# 2x (3) Mana Tide Totem
# 2x (3) Stormstrike
# 2x (3) Totemic Reflection
# 2x (4) Circus Amalgam
# 2x (4) Splitting Axe
# 1x (5) Bloodlust
# 2x (5) Totem Goliath
# To use this deck, copy it to your clipboard and create a new deck in Hearthstone
- The Problem with Shaman (Apologizing in advance for the essay, I’m truly sorry)
- Is Trick Totem Good? Lets do the math.
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