Our Un’Goro Evolve Token Shaman deck list guide will teach you how to pilot this popular Season 39 deck! Our guide features mulligan, play, and card replacement strategies!
Evolve Token Shaman is a very fresh archetype. While people have experimented with similar decks in the past, they’ve only became popular very recently, over a month after Journey to Un’Goro’s release. Token Shaman is a rather straightforward deck. The play style is a bit similar to Token Druid – you want to flood the board with small bodies and then snowball the game with Flametongue Totem, upgrade your board with Evolve or just finish the game with a huge Bloodlust push.
The deck list used in the guide is the standard one which is seen all over the ladder and in the tournaments. Multiple pros have hit high Legend ranks playing it or took it to the HCT Playoffs. Some players have tried to change it a little, for example remove the Evolve package for the sake of consistency, but most deck builders are going back to this list, as it seems to be most powerful. I don’t know who first came up with this list – if you know, let me know in the comments and I’ll credit the author here.
Update – Evolve Token Shaman in July 2017, Season 40
This list is just super solid and requires no changes at the moment. Evolve Shaman is easily a high tier 1 deck at the moment. We’ll see how it does once Quest Rogue is nerfed and more Control decks can come out of the woodwork.
Evolve Token Shaman Mulligan Strategy & Guide
I’ll divide the mulligan section into two – against fast decks and against slow decks. Fast decks are generally the Aggro decks (e.g. Pirate Warrior) or high tempo Midrange decks (e.g. Midrange Hunter). Slow decks are slower Midrange and Control decks.
Vs Fast Decks
Higher Priority (keep every time):
- Bloodsail Corsair – You keep it every time, no matter if you face a weapon matchup or not. As long as you don’t draw Patches, it’s one of the better 1-drops you can have – 1/2 that summons 1/1 with Charge would be used in every Aggro deck.
- Fire Fly – A little worse than Bloodsail Corsair tempo-wise (because you need to pay 2 mana for a similar effect), but it’s still great. It gives you something to play on turn 1 and it has great Flametongue Totem synergy thanks to the 2 bodies.
- Flametongue Totem – Your main way to snowball the early game. After you have at least 2 minions on the board, Flametongue can be used to trade up or to put a lot of pressure.
- Jade Claws – 2/2 weapon to kill some early minions and you get a small body to buff with Flametongue or Evolve on top of that. Great card.
Lower Priority (keep only if certain conditions are met):
- Maelstrom Portal – Great board control tool vs other fast decks that flood the board. At the same time, it might be useless in some matchups. You want to keep it against the decks that want to put multiple bodies on the board early – e.g. in the mirror, against Pirate Warrior or Token Druid. But you don’t want to keep it against Murloc Paladin, which tend to play only a single minion per turn and focus on buffing stuff or Secret Mage, which mostly plays 3 health minions in the early game.
- Primalfin Totem – Keep it if the rest of your hand is good. The card is great if you have board control, but it’s pretty weak if you fall behind early. So you first need to assure that you will have ways to keep it alive.
Vs Slow Decks
Higher Priority (keep every time):
- Bloodsail Corsair – Similarly to fast matchups, it’s your best 1-drop, as you summon 2 bodies for the price of 1. It’s the only card in the deck you can follow up with Flametongue immediately and get the full value.
- Fire Fly – You really want a 1-drop and Fire Fly is a great one. Multiple bodies are hard to answer in the early game.
- Flametongue Totem – Probably the highest priority card in slower matchups – if you have it and your opponent can’t answer it, you should be able to close out the game really quickly.
- Primalfin Totem – Unlike fast decks, slow decks generally don’t put minions on the board in the early game, or at least not as much. Primalfin Totem has a higher chance to stick, it can also bait a small removal so you can play Flametongue right after.
Lower Priority (keep only if certain conditions are met):
- Jade Claws – Only if your opponent might have a target you want to kill early. For example, you keep it against Priest (because of cards like Northshire Cleric or Radiant Elemental), but you don’t really want it against Jade Druid or Control Paladin – they might not play any minion you want to hit in the first 3 or 4 turns so you prefer more proactive plays.
- Mana Tide Totem – If the rest of your hand is really good. This deck tends to run out of steam pretty quickly, sometimes after a single AoE clear you might not have a way to refill the board. Mana Tide is great, because it has a high chance of sticking (especially if you played either Primalfin or Flametongue on turn 2, because those would eat a removal) and drawing multiple cards with it is really great.
Evolve Token Shaman Win Rates
Evolve Token Shaman Play Strategy
Evolve Token Shaman can be classified as an Aggro deck, but more precisely a board flood Aggro deck. Just like other decks of this kind, Token Shaman is incredibly board-reliant and can’t really do much without minions. The deck has almost no reach – the only burn spell (assuming no board) is Jade Lightning, there are no Charge minions and the only weapon in the deck is 2/2 (Jade Claws). I just want to emphasize how important keeping your board alive is – you want to protect it, you want to make trades yourself most of the time, because if you lose board control, your main win condition is gone. You’re left with a lucky Evolve.
About Evolve, the card serves two purposes. First is “AoE buffing” of your board, something a bit like Druid’s Mark of the Lotus. When you have a big board of small minions, mostly tokens, Evolving it will usually result in a stat upgrade. Evolving 1/1 into a random 2-drop will on average give him at least +1/+1, maybe some effect, maybe it will even turn him into a 4/4 (Millhouse Manastorm). Of course, there is always an off-chance of getting a random Doomsayer, which is terrible, but that’s the risk of playing this deck. The second purpose is the combo with Doppelgangster. The card summons three 5 mana minions, so if you combo it with Evolve, for the cost of 6 mana you get three random 6-drops. Most of the time that’s a huge tempo gain. There are some low rolls like Big-Time Racketeer or Corrupted Seer, but there are also high rolls like Savannah Highmane, Cairne Bloodhoof or even the Frozen Crusher.
Your main goal against Aggro is to get board control and keep it. Most Aggro decks also rely on the board to do something (like Token Druid or Murloc Shaman) or have ways to burn you down in the mid game (like Pirate Warrior), so you need to burst them down first. You want to initiate the trades all the time. By being proactive you can pick the trades which are best for you. For example, if your opponent has a 1/1 minion and you have a 1/1 and 1/2 of your own, if you’re the one trading, you can trade it with a 1/2 and now have two minions alive. Being ahead on the board makes your cards significantly stronger. Especially your Totems – Flametongue Totem, Primalfin Totem and Mana Tide Totem are all incredible if you’re ahead and very weak if you’re behind. Those cards gain value over time – the longer they stay on the board, the better they are.
Stonehill Defender is very weak in Aggro matchups. It’s one of the most common mistakes – you should NOT keep it and you should NOT play it unless you don’t have any other plays. While yes, it gives you card advantage, it’s a very weak tempo play. You spend 3 mana to get a 1/4 minion on the board, one that can get easily cleared etc. Sure, you have your Taunt card, but it doesn’t matter if you’re going to lose board control. Playing for the tempo is your best bet in the early game – play your slow cards once you gain board control to refill. Same goes for the Mana Tide Totem, it’s even slower than Stonehill Defender and has even bigger snowball potential when you’re ahead.
You can’t be too greedy with your Evolve in those matchups. Most of the time you can’t really wait until turn 6 to combo it with Doppelgangster, you want to Evolve your board if you have some spare mana. Of course, if you have one of the Totems rolling and it doesn’t look like it’s going to die, it’s better to not Evolve and keep your totem value going. But if you managed to stack a bigger board without Totems or you’re about to lose the board control, Evolving might be the best choice.
Bloodlust can be used for board control – if you have a bunch of small minions you can pop Bloodlust, trade up with some of them and use rest of your board to push for face damage. Since your Aggro opponent will try to constantly fight for board control, it might be hard to use it effectively. But if your opponent ever decides to ignore your board and start pushing face damage (e.g. Pirate Warrior in a desperate situation), you want to play as many minions as possible one turn (since they won’t likely get removed) and then Bloodlust, probably for lethal, the turn after.
Games vs slower decks can be divided into two categories. There are games where you snowball the board early and finish it with a quick Bloodlust. This is the perfect case scenario and the main goal of your deck. Those games will happen more often than you think – if your opponent doesn’t draw AoE until turn 5, they might be dead. But, if they draw the AoE or your early draws were poor and you didn’t put much pressure, you need to have a plan B. The deck can go for a bit longer game. Tempo, board floods and burst victory are still your ways to win, but you want to achieve them in a bit different way.
There are tons of cards that are played specifically for slow matchups. First and most important – Doppelgangster + Evolve. Remember that your opponents were likely using AoE clears on your boards full of small minions. E.g. it’s very common that the Warrior will Brawl a bunch of 1/2’s and 0/2’s just to not get bursted down with Bloodlust. Three random 6-drops that suddenly appeared out of nowhere might be too much for your opponent to handle, and so they might not have a way to deal with all of them.
The deck runs the basic Jade package – Jade Claws, Jade Lightning and Aya Blackpaw. To be honest, they aren’t enough to really win the game by themselves, as your Jades will ever only go up to 6/6. But it’s enough for tempo plays. For example, if your Jade Claws summon a 4/4, now you’ve played a 2 (+1) mana 4/4 with a 2/2 weapon attached. Your Jades are generally good Evolve targets too, because they’re only vanilla minions with rather weak stats. For example, a random 3-drop will be on average a big improvement over the 2/2 Jade Golem.
Stonehill Defender is there also mostly for the slow matchups. The card is weak in terms of tempo, but gives you more steam to work with. On the other hand, Thing from Below is a very high tempo card – not only you’ll be using your Hero Power quite often in the mid game, but all the Totems you actually run in the deck will make it go down to 0-2 mana very quickly. It’s also a great Evolve target – especially if it was on the board, you’ve attacked something, but it survived e.g. as a 5/2 and then you Evolve it. It Evolves into a random 7-drop, so it should be a nice upgrade on average.
- Devolve is best when used on the minions that have high stats. It’s bad to Devolve something that has low stats and a good effect, because it won’t really help. You can Devolve to negate some Deathrattles, card draw (Acolyte of Pain), synergies (Murloc Warleader) or buffs (Spikeridged Steed). It’s also a solid way to get through a Taunt – you can ignore a big minion and go face, but you can’t ignore a big Taunt. Devolving it probably means that you can now ignore it.
- Sometimes it’s better to just not Evolve your board if you’re afraid of the Doomsayer. Most of the time it doesn’t matter, but if you’re really ahead and you’re winning the game anyway, it’s better to not take the risk.
- When it comes to Stonehill Defender, you generally want to pick the high tempo cards, especially ones that can put on some pressure. Thing from Below is probably the best pick, because it’s both pretty big and it’s a high tempo card. Earth Elemental is also surprisingly good – Aggro decks will have a hard time to get through it and it’s a big threat in slower matchups.
- It’s good to not overextend on the board. If you go all-in and the board gets cleared, then you might lose. But if you only play as many minions as you need, your opponent might hold onto the AoE or just AoE a smaller board and give you a way to refill the board. Try to play enough minions to set up the Bloodlust lethal. You can go all-in and flood the whole board only if you have a lot of cards in your hand and you will be able to refill easier. Also remember about your Hero Power – it increases the board size without committing any cards. 0 attack Totem threatens 3 extra damage with Bloodlust, so it’s not useless and might force your opponent to clear even a weak board.
- If you have a big board but you’re few points short off lethal, you can still use Bloodlust and make a big push. The thing is, your board might disappear soon after. If you don’t pull the trigger in time, you might not have another opportunity. If your opponent doesn’t have a clear, they will die next turn to the rest of your board anyway (most likely) and if they do, you might be able to finish them with more minions, Jade Claws or Jade Lightning.
Evolve Token Shaman Card Substitutions
Evolve Token Shaman is a relatively cheap deck and even though it runs 2 Legendaries, it can be played on a budget. The deck will be weaker without those cards, but it will still be viable.
Patches the Pirate – The card is pretty important, as it turns the Bloodsail Corsair into a great 1-drop. Without Patches, there is no reason to play the two early Pirates – you want to remove them too and replace all 3 with other early game minions. Argent Squire might be an okay choice, as it has a good synergy with Flametongue Totem. Glacial Shard is an okay replacement, as it can buy you some tempo and protect your important minions for an extra turn. Alternatively, Southsea Deckhand can be played even without Patches, as it’s sometimes a 2/1 with Charge for 1 mana (as long as you have Jade Claws equipped). You can also put a tech card like Hungry Crab if you keep facing Murloc decks.
Aya Blackpaw – Aya is a cheery on the top of the Jade package. It’s the only card that gives you +2 Jade procs. You can try running Jade Spirit as a budget option, but it will make your Jade package a bit weaker. You can also play Cult Master to have a better refill option – if you’re going to trade a few minions anyway, having Cult Master to draw a few cards on top of that is great.
Maelstrom Portal – The card is from One Night in Karazhan. I would recommend just getting it, as it’s from the 1st Wing, but if you can’t you can just pick some 1-drops from the ones I’ve listed before and play them instead.