Totem Shaman Deck List & Guide – Ashes of Outland – April 2020

Totem Shaman Deck List & Guide – Ashes of Outland – April 2020

Our Totem Shaman deck list guide goes through the ins-and-outs of this powerful Shaman build for the Ashes of Outland expansion! This guide will teach you how to mulligan, pilot, and substitute cards for this archetype!

Introduction to Totem Shaman

In Warcraft lore, Shamans define themselves by using the powers of the elements to their advantage while he Shaman’s totems serve as the manifestation of these powers.

In terms of Hearthstone’s translation of Shaman class identity, Totemic Call – Shaman’s Hero Power – plays the starring role in terms of totem summoning. Over many years, Team 5 tried to provide tools for a Totem Shaman archetype, but it never really took – until now.

With Ashes of Outland, a new card called Totemic Reflection has been released to carry Shaman’s totem synergy to new heights.

Together with the Savior of Uldum totem package featuring EVIL Totem, Totemic Surge and Splitting Axe, Totem Shaman turns out to become a fast-paced tempo deck that not only transports one of the most class-identifying fantasies but quite a unique playstyle as well.

Totem Shaman Deck List

Deck Import

Check out alternative versions of this deck on our Totem Shaman archetype page!

Totem Shaman Mulligan Strategy & Guide

Vs Aggro Decks

Higher Priority (keep every time)

  • Surging Tempest – This 1-cost 1/3 almost always contests turn 1 plays by your opponents and will certainly make it easier to get away with summoning a totem on turn 2.
  • Sludge Slurper – Thanks to the Team 5 overlords, Sludge Slurper received its old stat-line and thus becomes a more than viable turn 1 play against aggro opponents; especially with the coin, enough board pressure should be established so that you can take your chances in terms of totem plays.

Lower Priority (keep only if certain conditions are met)

  • Totemic Reflection – While this may be the highest win rate card overall, you should only keep it in your hand if you have a valid turn 1 play.
  • Sandstorm Elemental – Overload interferes with our plans to get out early totems; however, this elemental can content the board and enable value trades, especially against Demon Hunter.

Vs Control Decks

Higher Priority (keep every time)

  • Totemic Reflection – The earlier you can get your totem combos going, the better – and that goes for control matchups in particular.
  • Surging Tempest – Keeping tanky 1-drops to get in early damage should always be correct against control opponents, right?
  • EVIL Totem – There’s no need to contest the board early against most control archetypes, so this 0/2 has to be a keep, just because it serves as one of the best targets for an early Totemic Reflection.

Lower Priority (keep only if certain conditions are met)

  • Storm's Wrath – Only keep Storm's Wrath if you already have one or multiple 1-drops in hand, because this card should primarily be used to bolster our totem boards in the mid game.

Totem Shaman Play Strategy

General Strategy

When looking at most of Totem Shaman’s current iterations, new players to the archetype could think that the deck plays out like your average Aggro Shaman list. But getting on the board and into your opponent’s face early should not be your number one priority – at least not when you also have the opportunity to build up your totem count over the mid game and eventually defeat your opponent with a board full of beefy totems.

The major reason to favor the totem strategy with this list is Totemic Reflection, the most important of the three totem synergy cards featured in Totem Shaman. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a turn 2 basic totem into Totemic Reflection on turn 3 can already decide the game. On average, this 3-cost spell will net you a 2/4 totem, so an average 3-cost minion body on the board; but the ability to duplicate totem effects turns this new card from Ashes of Outland into a snowball machine.

To get to the turn 3 Totemic Reflection play, one of the least popular Shaman spells plays a major factor: Totemic Might adds health to our totems, and – most importantly – thwarts the opponent’s efforts to successfully trade into our turn 2 totem. It is of utmost importance to delete any memory linked to Totemic Might being a terrible card – because it serves an incredibly important purpose in this archetype.

The third totem synergy spell is Totemic Surge. Added with Saviors of Uldum, this 0-cost spell basically does what Bloodlust has always done in any token-heavy list: It adds heavy lethal potential to almost every board state that features multiple totems. The combination of all three spells makes it blatantly obvious that prioritizing totems over almost every other play turns out to become our leading strategy when playing Totem Shaman.

But are these three low-cost spells enough to justify the development of a whole new archetype? Splitting Axe should end this discussion with one single swing! The weapon that forms out the top end of this list double-dips on the smart use of Totemic Reflection and vice versa. Having up to four buffed up totems on turn 4 or 5 turns not only Splitting Axe itself into a high-value totem creator, but also adds tons of pure power level to Totemic Surge and Totemic Might.

Besides our basic totems, a total of three totem minion cards complete the totem part of this list. First there is EVIL Totem, our main way to create additional token synergy that supports the totem lineup. Lackeys remain an absurdly strong way to build up additional value on your board and in your hand. Ethereal Lackey in particular adds ways to deal with problematic board states and regularly rewards us with additional totem spell synergy.

Mana Tide Totem is one of the two 3-cost totems and will be another juicy target for Totemic Reflection, especially when playing with the coin. Duplicating Mana Tide Totem is tricky because playing it on its own provides zero tempo; however, doubling its effect adds a metric ton of potential to our archetype that thirsts for card draw.

The biggest snowball potential in terms of totem duplication, however, is provided by Flametongue Totem: Its ability to buff up not only its twin but all other minions on the board can be enough to end the game in combination with an early Totemic Surge draw.

It can’t be stressed enough: Defending and building up your totem army will win you the majority of your games. However, Totem Shaman also features a couple of new toys in its lineup to get to that goal while also enabling other win strategies from time to time.

The first of two new Shaman cards in this list is Marshspawn: Straight out of Outland’s swamp zone known as Zangarmarsh, Marshspawn adds another way to create random spells and thus more potential to bolster our totem army. A solid 3/4 body on turn 3 not only leads to decent board presence; its Battlecry condition can be met easily by casting on of our cheap totem synergy spells early.

Another way to trigger this Battlecry effect will be Serpentshrine Portal. Taking a glimpse at Lady Vashj’s domain called the Serpentshrine Cavern rewards you not only with 3 damage but also a random 3-cost minion – similar to other iterations of Hearthstone’s iconic portal spells that lead to WoW’s raid instances such as Firelands Portal. The Overload portion of Serpentshrine Portal almost doesn’t feel like a disadvantage just because Totem Shaman mainly curves out on 3-costs cards anyway; in addition to that, it enables Surging Tempest and another Overload synergy card: Vessina.

In most iterations of Totem Shaman, Vessina serves as a weaker form of Bloodlust on a stick. But together with Totemic Surge, it does not only net more damage for less mana in the deciding lethal turn; its cost also makes it more versatile in combination with Overload caused by Storm's Wrath or Serpentshrine Portal.

Last but not least, most iterations of this archetype try to double down on Overload synergy. Unbound Elemental serves as another way to build a scary board in the mid game, and Lightning Bolt together with Lava Burst provide additional reach while Sandstorm Elemental significantly improves our matchup against token-heavy archetypes like Tempo Demon Hunter or Galakrond Warlock.

In summary, Totem Shaman wants to add a new layer of archetype flavor to the class and develop a unique playstyle provided by the fantasy of Shamans summoning and buffing up their elemental companions.

Current data shows that it has its place in the meta, and the upcoming second round of balance changes will only improve its overall performance – so go out and let the elements guide you!

Vs Aggro Decks

Thanks to Totem Shaman’s ability to buff up its board and enable high-value trades thanks to cards like Storm's Wrath makes it a great choice against other aggro and tempo decks such as Galakrond Warlock or Face Hunter; Healing Totem in particular adds tons of pressure and invites to take favorable trades. Totem Shaman is also one of the few archetypes that uses weapons like Splitting Axe, a fact that puts weaponless tempo or aggro lists to an enormous disadvantage.

To nobody’s surprise, Totem Shaman still has the best win rate against Tempo Demon Hunter across all Shaman archetypes played in the current meta game.

However, cards like Altruis the Outcast will almost always create problematic board states. However, the upcoming nerfs to several Demon Hunter cards and Altruis will vastly improve our chances to build up an early totem board to a point where we could see a massive shift in win rates.

Vs Control Decks

Right now, Totem Shaman has a field day against every single control deck. Yes, there will be games when control decks just have all the early game answers; but on average, your performance against archetypes like Spell Druid, Spell Mage or Resurrect Priest will end in a positive game score.

Normally, tempo decks should try to not overextend against waves of board clear solutions played by control decks. However, Totem Shaman is different: Your mid game board states will be incredibly beefy; that way you can safely play all your totem synergy as early as possible because your board can’t be answered through spell removal within one turn anyway.

In case of random Doomsayers and other hard early game board removal entering the meta, you still have Marshspawn and EVIL Totem to create more valuable plays over multiple turns.

Totem Shaman Tech Cards and Card Substitutions

  • Blazing Battlemage/Beaming Sidekick/Magic Carpet: The “neutral 1-cost” package can work wonders against other mid-range tempo decks such as Tempo Demon Hunter. However, it is imperative to not lose sight of our main win condition instead of buffing and rushing up weaker 1-cost early game plays.
  • Bloodlust: As already said, a 5-cost spell often feels very clunky in Totem Shaman hands. However, we all know how Bloodlust can improve Taunt-heavy control or armor/heal matchups significantly.
  • Vessina: This young serpent lady may not be the highest priority craft; if you don’t own it, Bloodlust serves as a perfect replacement.
  • Lady Vashj: Not only would Lady Vashj be a great addition in terms of card flavor; she can also provide crazy late game value. However, you have to keep in mind that our win condition revolves around totems in the mid game, and not about large amounts of spell damage in the late game!

Tharid

Julian "Tharid" Bischoff, a dinosaur in the fast-changing world of esports and self-proclaimed Warcraft expert, already created Hearthstone-related content for Red Bull, ESL and Hearthhead.

Check out Tharid on Twitter!

Leave a Reply

4 Comments

  1. Solaris29
    April 26, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    hope we get a legendary and some support to totem next time, i really love totem because it define what shaman should be (instea of rng evolve).

    • Tharid - Author
      April 27, 2020 at 1:02 pm

      Well said! It’s a very hard archetype to balance though, just because it could become the beast we never wanted as Totem Shaman. Maybe a 1-mana named Totem or something would be cool!

      • Rumblefish
        May 12, 2020 at 1:54 pm

        How do you feel about taking unbound elemental out and adding in lady vashj and taking out lava burst and adding in earthquake??? I found both of those help a lot because this deck is lacking board clear. And near the end once you re build board you can draw three spells from vashj and go for lethal. Do you really think the reach from lava burst is better than a board wipe on turn 7?? This deck seems very easy to counter just don’t let them get any totems up and it’s over. Idk I’ve been struggling.

        • Tharid - Author
          May 14, 2020 at 5:20 am

          The meta has evolved a lot since writing this, so I can see Vashj make an even more huge difference in terms of reach.

          I’m not a big fan of Earthquake, because if your opponent has board advantage, they will likely gain board advantage again after you’ve cleared with Earthquake. We’re not a control deck, because we will face aggro by being aggro ourselves. 🙂