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Evolve Token Shaman Standard Deck

Last updated on Aug 18, 2016 at 14:49 by Sottle 16 comments

Table of Contents

This guide contains instruction on how to play Evolve Shaman. Since the release of additional Token-generating cards in One Night in Karazhan, such as Pantry Spider and Arcanosmith, a deck that relies around a pure token strategy for Shaman is a lot more viable.

This deck was experimented with by a number of players including Chakki and Savjz and has shown reasonable early promise, but this particular build was put together by Sottle.

1. About the Author

This deck is presented to you by Sottle, a professional Hearthstone player who plays for compLexity Gaming. Sottle regularly streams on Twitch and explains all of his moves. Watching him is a good opportunity to see how this and other decks play out in practice, and how decisions are made in real time.

2. Evolve Token Shaman Standard Deck

Our deck costs 1,240 Arcane Dust and it is made up of the following cards.

Shaman Cards Neutral Cards

2.1. Mana Curve


3. Strategy

Evolve Shaman is an archetype that relies on Token generation to flood the board with small annoying minions. Token decks are common in a variety of classes and often rely on effects such as Savage Roar, Sea Giant, and Gormok the Impaler to help them snowball their small minions into massive threats. Shaman, however, has an additional advantage in that through use of the card Evolve they can permanently turn a board of small unimposing minions into a much more threatening board state.

In the early game you have most of the high quality early-game cards that Shamans have come to rely on to help you consolidate an early board lead. The only common card missing from this deck is Tunnel Trogg due to the lack of Overload effects. Despite this, you still have access to Argent Squire, Totem Golem, and Flametongue Totem to help you fight for early board control. Nerubian Prophet can also be used as an early-game card as it can be played on curve on turn 3 if it is in your opening hand. Although this deck is fairly aggressive, it plays closer in style to Zoo Warlock than an outright Aggro Shaman in that it tries to fight for board control. Maintaining your minions on the board through favourable trades is extremely important due to how heavily many of your power cards rely on having minions in play.

Moving forward, all of your mid-game cards start to generate additional token minions for you on the board. This is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it will ensure that you almost always have targets for cards like Flametongue Totem which can help you to continue dominating the board throughout the mid-game period. Secondly it starts to build a huge platform for you to land Evolve or Bloodlust for maximum value, which is often the effect that completely crushes your opponent out of the game.

When considering your options for how and when to use Evolve you should pay close attention to the Mana Cost of the Token minions that have come from your minions Battlecries and evaluate how powerful your eventual Evolve will be. Also keep in mind that any time you Evolve a 1 Mana minion, you run the risk of hitting Doomsayer which can be a disaster for you. Pantry Spider is one of the best targets in the deck to catch in an Evolve, as both individual bodies count as 3 Mana minions, meaning an output of two 4-drops. Nerubian Prophet is another card that deserves special attention, since no matter what cost you ended up paying for it, it will be treated as a 6 Mana minion when Evolved.

Brann Bronzebeard is another crucial card in the deck that can be used simply to spawn additional token minions on the board, to double on a Master of Evolution effect, or to deal double damage with Gormok the Impaler, amongst other effects. Timing your Brann is an important skill to learn with the deck as often using it while you're already ahead will be enough to seal the game for you, whereas in other situations it is better to hold on to it to help you to refill the board after an AoE.

As mentioned before, the win condition of the deck is either to use Evolve to create a board state that your opponent is unable to deal with, or to simply finish the game with lethal damage from a Bloodlust. In order to achieve this, you will need to maintain control of the board at all times. This deck is very often riding a fine line, since if at any point you lose your grip on the board it can be very difficult to bring yourself back into the game. This situation is even harder to navigate against decks that play powerful AoE effects and you will often need to time your Evolve effects extremely well to make sure you get out of range of their expected AoE before they are able to use it.

3.1. Synergies & Combinations

The Token-based strategy of the deck synergises fantastically with multiple cards such as Flametongue Totem, Bloodlust, and Evolve.

Particular minions like Pantry Spider and Nerubian Prophet are particularly potent when combined with an Evolve effect.

3.2. Mulligans & Matchup Specific Strategies.

You will be looking to mulligan for Argent Squire and Totem Golem in most matchups. Surprisingly, Nerubian Prophet is also an excellent keep as it can be discounted to 3 Mana to play on turn 3. If you have Totem Golem however, then the Nerubian Prophet can be a little awkward and may be better off being mulliganed away since you will be Overloaded on the natural turn to play it.

Against decks that are minion based, you will simply try to outvalue them through the opening turns using your Token spawning and buff effects, if you are able to secure an early board lead, you should be able to snowball your advantage very effectively. These decks are also the reason that Lightning Storm is included in the deck as it can be game defining in the right matchup.

In other matchups against Control decks that contain more removal cards and AoE effects, the key is to test efficiently for the relevant AoE effects before committing too much to the board. If you establish that your opponent does not have the answer they need then you can quickly try to overwhelm them by flooding the board. Alternatively, you can use a well timed Evolve if you judge that it is likely to pull your minions outside of the range of their likely AoE options.

Against decks with hard AoE removal like Brawl or Twisting Nether, your plan should be to commit enough threats to the board to bait these cards but make sure you hold back enough resources in hand to threaten a huge refill afterwards. Against Warrior for example, you can simply start to build a board full of Totems and small minions and threaten to get enormous value out of Flametongue Totem and Bloodlust to force them to Brawl. After which you can use your more high value Evolve targets like Pantry Spider, Thing from Below, and Nerubian Prophet.

3.3. Card Swaps

Maelstrom Portal can be included in the deck in place of one Arcanosmith if you are facing a lot of Token decks. If you make this change, you should also swap a Loot Hoarder for Bloodmage Thalnos.

Doomhammer can be included in the deck in place of 1 or 2 of the mid-game minions to make the deck more aggressive overall.

Hammer of Twilight is also a reasonable selection for this spot.

4. ChangeLog

  • 18 Aug. 2016: Major changes to improve the consistency and comeback potential of the deck.
  • 16 Aug. 2016: Deck added.
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