Our budget Totem Shaman deck list & guide for the Scholomance Academy expansion will teach you how to play this budget list. This guide includes Mulligans, Gameplay Strategy, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!
Introduction to Budget Totem Shaman
After the class’ popularity and power around the middle of last Standard year, Shaman has been in the dumpster for the last couple of expansions. Some people thought that things will look brighter in Scholomance Academy, but sadly they don’t. While Totem Shaman has got a few interesting tools, the entire meta around it got even better. Decks are generally well-equipped to deal with the early game pressure (or they put early game pressure themselves), so it’s a bit hard for Shaman to stack multiple Totems necessary to win. It’s not impossible, and in a few matchup the deck works really well.
As for the budget version – it’s pretty close to the full one. Sadly, with two Epics limit, we had to settle on 2x Splitting Axe, which is simply a necessary card in this build. That’s why we had to cut Totem Goliath / Runic Carvings which made the deck rely more on the early game aggression and snowballing. Compared to other budget decks, it’s not really the best, but probably not the worst one either.
Budget Totem Shaman Mulligan Guide
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- 1-drop – Tour Guide is probably your best keep – a 1/1 that summons a Basic Totem is already pretty solid, and it’s really great in a deck built around Totems. Surging Tempest is also great, 1/3 that can become 2/3 quite often. And finally – Sludge Slurper is solid, but it means that you can’t play a 2-drop on T2.
- EVIL Totem / Trick Totem – EVIL Totem is a better one, since it can’t low-roll and gives you consistent value as long as it stays on the board. But if you don’t have it, you can keep Trick Totem too – it can win you the game, but it’s also really risky.
- Totemic Reflection – Might be the strongest card in your deck, if you play it as a follow-up to a Turn 2 Totem (even a Hero Power), you have quite a solid board presence on T3, which then you can potentially copy again with Splitting Axe on T4.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Lightning Bloom – Keep only if you have a good hand for it, only if it will let you do some cool plays. For example, it might be a keep with Totemic Reflection so you can play a Totem and copy it on the same turn to guarantee it.
- Storm's Wrath – Keep if you already have some early game minions, especially Tour Guide (summons two bodies) or Surging Tempest (gets an extra point of Attack thanks to Overload).. The card is dead if you can’t play anything in the early game.
Budget Totem Shaman Play Strategy
Totem Shaman is a deck that lives and dies by the board presence, Totems in particular. The deck has no real comeback mechanics or no way to win the game without minions (you can’t burn your opponent down, you can’t outvalue them etc.). That’s why you need to start your board control early and snowball from there. Because when everything works correctly – the deck DOES snowball really well.
Copying Totems is your main way to win the game. The perfect curve is EVIL Totem (alternatively Trick Totem if you like to live on the edge) into Totemic Reflection into Splitting Axe. Now add Totemic Might + Totemic Surge and you’ve got yourself 4x 4/6 minion that generate 4x Lackey every single turn. Unless your opponent can answer that right away (which is honestly not that likely), it’s a win. Of course – things don’t always work that way, your opponent will try to interact with your Totems and clear them before you get to that state. It’s often worth to buff your Totems preemptively. For example, you can drop a Totem + Totemic Might on Turn 2 to keep it alive if you’re holding Reflection in your hand. Lightning Bloom can also help with those combos – e.g. on Turn 3 you can drop a Totem (even a Hero Power one) and then Bloom out a Reflection. Later in the game you can possibly drop a Totem or two and Bloom out a
Instead of starting with a Totem curve, you might also go for a more “Aggro” game plan. Play a couple of solid 1-drops / 2-drops, then buff your board with Storm's Wrath to either put pressure on your opponent or force them to use the removals before you start dropping Totems. It’s really rare to actually win the game like that, but it happens – a really aggressive hand can lead to a quick victory.
Your best finisher is Bloodlust, a really classic Shaman spell used commonly across the years. With just 4 minions on the board (which is really common in a deck like that), it adds 12 damage. A full board = 21 damage, but that doesn’t happen that often. Think about your potential burst every time you’re holding Bloodlust. Ideally try to set up lethal on board every turn by putting enough minions in there. If your opponent can’t clear the board one turn = they’re dead.
Diligent Notetaker is a cool card that works well with many of your spells. The most basic example is Bloom – you can play Notetaker on curve and then Bloom twice to get access to 4 extra mana. Yes, you skip Turn 3, but you had an amazing Turn 2, so it’s still worth it. There are also other cheap spells you can play with Notetaker – 2x Storm’s Wrath can really make your board scary, while 2x Totemic Might or Surge is super scary on a board full of Totems (in fact, that can be a nice way to get lethal – e.g. with 3 Totems on the board 2x Surge is 12 extra damage out of nowhere). Even playing it on curve and then getting another Serpentshrine Portal on T3 is great.
While you don’t run a lot of card draw / value cards, Totems can still generate that. Trick Totem is – again – RNG, but there’s a lot of card draw / generation effects at 3 mana or less. EVIL Totem generates Lackeys, which – as proven by (for example) Galakrond Rogue can also generate tons of value. And finally – Mana Tide is amazing if it sticks, especially if you copy it a few times, you can potentially cycle through your deck really quickly.
Future Card Replacements for Totem Shaman
Here’s an example full Totem Shaman build you can work towards:
The biggest difference is the inclusion of two Epic cards – Totem Goliath and Runic Carvings (which I’ve talked about in the introduction). Some build run one of those, some builds run both – given the low sample size it’s hard to say which version works best. They play a similar role in the deck – board refill. Goliath is slower, since it’s only a single minion until it dies. However, it has insane synergy with Totemic Reflection – you end up with 2x 6/7 that summon all the Basic Totems on Deathrattle. But since it’s a single body, it doesn’t work that well with your other Totem buffs, and it can be dealt with by some cards more easily (such as Devolving Missiles). Runic Carvings create 4x 2/2, which can then immediately be buffed with Totemic Might to make them 2/4’s – very likely to survive. You can also Rush them and use them as a board clear combined with Totemic Surge – 4x 4/2 minion with Rush should clear whatever your opponent has played. Both have their merits, that’s why some of the most popular builds have decided to run them at the same time. If you ask me, I would say that Goliath is a bit better, but it’s really close.