Our Wild Even Shaman deck guide walks you through the ins-and-outs of this popular deck for the wild format. We’ve got mulligan and play strategy, card substitutions, and the most popular deck list for the archetype!
Introduction to Wild Even Shaman
The Witchwood expansion introduced two new deck-restricting archetypes: odd and even only. Shaman is one of the few classes that can really take advantage of the even-only archetype, not just because Genn Greymane improves its Hero Power, but it also gains Murkspark Eel, a powerful early board control minion. While in Standard the archetype can’t quite compete, the Wild version has access to some of the most powerful Shaman cards ever made.
Even Shaman Mulligan Strategy & Guide
Against fast decks you want cards that trade efficiently with early boards and against slow decks you want cards that pressure your opponent as early as possible.
- Murkspark Eel – This is the big pay off for crippling your deck, and drawing it early is much more powerful than drawing it late. Against fast decks it clears your opponents turn-1 minion much of the time, and against slow decks it’s one the few 2-mana proactive cards you can play that doesn’t overload you (it also removes Kobold Librarian). Keep both against aggro, but if you have a better follow up you can toss the second one back against control.
- Jade Claws – Much of what is good about Jade Claws is redundant with Murkspark Eel (they both trade with opposing minions while leaving a body on the field), which is great at this mana cost because you essentially have four copies of the card you want to start with the most. Claws are a little worse in a lot of situations because they overload you (Coin-Eel is better than Coin-Claws, as you can follow up your Eel with Jade Claws the turn after but not the other way around), but not by enough to toss is back. Keeping Jade cards early also makes your Jade plays later in the game more impactful.
- Totem Golem – We’ll get to this more later, but you don’t want to have Totem Golem in you hand as much as you want to have the previous two cards. Still, 3/4 stats on turn-1 or turn-2 can give you a lot of momentum, and while you would rather have Eel or Jade Claws you would still prefer Totem Golem to most everything else in your deck.
VS Fast Decks
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Maelstrom Portal – Right now Paladin is pretty much the only other aggro deck, and Maelstrom Portal trades so well with it. Obviously it kills Silver Hand Recruits, but it also pops Divine Shields, which is very relevant in that matchup. It also trades well with the fringe Pirate Warriors you will run into sometimes, and helps your minions trade up in the mirror. Not very useful against Burn Mage, so toss it back against them.
- Dire Wolf Alpha and Flametongue Totem – With this deck you always have a minion on board turn-1, making Dire Wolf and Flametongue much more consistently useful. Three of the four possible totems have two health, but no attack. Followed up with either of these cards, your turn-1 totem can often trade with two early minions or one and a divine shield. Going second, this is often better than playing Totem Golem, as you can Hero Power turn-1 into Wolf/Flametongue turn-2 into Coin + 4-drop on turn 3.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Devolve – Devolve is particularly useful against Paladin decks. The current popular lists usually run Nerubian Egg, and the pseudo Silence of Devolve can remove that headache for you. However, the best part of Devolve in this matchup is all the buffs they run. Shielded Minibot with Blessing of Kings or a board of 3/3 Silver Hand Recruits can be brutal, but Devolve ruins those threats for very little mana. Having Devolve is not worth having a weak turn-1 and 2, but if you already have your early curve lined up it’s a solid keep.
VS Slow Decks
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Jade Claws, Jade Lightning, and Aya Blackpaw – Against decks where you know you’re going to make it to turn-6 you want to have Aya, and when you play Aya you want to have played some combination of the other two Jade cards. Do you keep a hand of double Jade Lightning and Aya against control? Probably not, you might keep Aya but you should throw the other two back at least to find a good 2-drop. Turn 2 is one of the most important turns for this deck and you can’t afford to have a weak play there, but if you have something for turn 2 you can keep anything with the word “Jade” on it.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Devolve and Spellbreaker – Against Warlock and Big Priest in particular but anything with ruinous Taunt minions that come down earlier than they’re supposed to having Devolve and Spellbreaker can be very handy. Voidcaller and Possessed Lackey can summon Voidlord which, if it hits the board as early as those other cards can be played, will at the least slow you down significantly. Silencing them or devolving them prevents this from happening and helps you keep your momentum. Similarly, Devolve and Silence help you get through Obsidian Statue in Big Priest. Again, you can’t sacrifice your early curve to keep these cards, but if you have an early plan already they’re great to keep.
Even Shaman Play Strategy
The basic strategy of this deck is to take control of the board by turn 4 and then play increasingly hard to answer minions for the rest of the game.
VS Aggro Decks
The strength of this deck vs aggro is how efficiently this deck’s early game tools trade with its opponents. Jade Claws, Murkspark Eel and Maelstrom Portal all trade with a minion while leaving a body on board, and are thus the stars of the deck in these matchups. If you play any two of those cards before turn 4 you’ve probably won if you can keep opposing minions off the board.
VS Paladin – While most of this deck stacks up well against the overall list of most Paladin decks, you will lose a lot of games to Sunkeeper Tarim. Tarim is amazing at stealing the board back from this deck because of how big some of Even Shaman’s minions are. Considering this, you have to trade over pressuring their life for almost the entire game, or until you see Sunkeeper Tarim.
Say you have a Flamewreathed Faceless, a Sea Giant and any 2 basic totems against 2 Silver Hand Recruits on turn 8. The Paladin deck has draw, this deck does not, so you probably have 2 cards at most in hand and they probably have twice that. Smacking the Paladin in the face with your Sea Giant and Faceless sets you up to deal lethal damage next turn, but your opponent can then get a free trade on one of your totems, Hero Power and Tarim. Now, unless you’re holding Devolve or Spellbreaker (Spellbreaker for your own Sea Giant), your whole board only trades for Sunkeeper Tarim himself, leaving 9/9 stats on the board to keep you from ever taking it back. Even if you have those answers your opponent has still gained a foothold and is now in a position to out-value you. Had you traded into the Recruits beforehand, as gross as wasting 13 damage sounds, you would have 4 minions on board against 2 coming back to your turn, and all it takes is 1 damage from hand (very likely with this deck, 1 damage makes your board trade with Tarim more cleanly, and silencing Sea Giant is even stronger in this scenario) to keep your opponent struggling to catch up.
It’s still optimal in a lot of situations to risk it, but because so much of the Paladins ability to win the game rests with Tarim it’s usually wise to play around it. Keep in mind what you have in hand, what your opponent played last turn, and how many cards your opponent has left. If your hand-reading determines that your opponent doesn’t have Tarim and is unlikely to draw him next turn, then pressuring your opponent’s face in this scenario is probably a low-risk gamble. However, at this stage of the game, the Paladin relies so heavily on Tarim to take the board back that unless it looks like your opponent will catch up without him it’s safest to trade. This changes vs Even Paladin. They often play Equality, making them three times as likely to ruin your big minions. Against them you would go face every time in the scenario described. While they’re not terrible in Wild, Odd and Even Paladin are strictly worse than the typical “good stuff” lists, so as you climb you will run into Even Paladin less and less often.
VS the Mirror – Trading as often as possible is really important in this matchup. When you have board advantage it can be tempting to force your opponent to trade with you, but in this matchup board control is very fragile. Every minion left on board makes your opponents Flametongue Totem and Dire Wolf Alpha better, and the threat of your opponent rolling Spell Damage into Maelstrom Portal is always there. The greatest strength of this deck is how easily it can trade from hand (Murkspark Eel, Jade Claws, Jade Lightning) while adding stats to the board, so when you think you have board control it’s often not by quite as much as it seems.
Devolve can be pretty devastating in this matchup. You and your opponent pay 6 mana for Flamewreathed Faceless with overload, but it devolves into a 3 mana minion (Totem Golem also devolves inefficiently).
VS Burn Mage – Burn Mage is made up of some small minions and a bunch of face damage. They don’t have a lot of tools to take the board back once you have it, and if they do use the tools they do have on your board then they have less damage for your face. Keep their early minions off the board, if you don’t take chip damage from the Mage early your board will snowball out of their control in the mid game. In Wild you have to worry about Potion of Polymorph in addition to Explosive Runes, so weigh your lifetotal and your board pressure when considering whether you use Flamewreathed Faceless or Dire Wolf Alpha to pop a Secret. Whichever is less devastating when you guess wrong is probably the best play.
VS Control Decks
Against control you want to pressure as much as possible before mid game Taunts come down and then finish off your opponent with spells.
VS Warlock – Demon versions of Warlock usually have Possessed Lackey, and all controlling Warlock decks these days play Voidcaller. Silencing or devolving these minions before they summon a Voidlord is important. If you silence them, they have a 2/2 or a 3/4, but if you silence Voidlord they have a 3/9 they can trade into a bunch of your minions, or target with Carnivorous Cube. Similarly, devolving Lackey or Voidcaller is relatively low-risk, but if you Devolve Voidlord you risk giving your opponent The Lich King or Tirion Fordring. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use one of these effects to attempt to devalue a Voidlord if your opponent gets one on the board, especially to deal lethal damage, just that it isn’t worth it to see the Voidlord first before you use one. You are looking to end the game well before you see Bloodreaver Gul'dan, so trying to remove Voidlord from his pool just isn’t worth it.
VS Big Priest – Devolve is both important and very risky in this matchup. If your opponent plays Barnes into Obsidian Statue, you don’t have gas to power through the next several Statues that your opponent will bring back. Devolving the statue could turn it into something that isn’t worth resurrecting, but not only is it likely to summon another big taunter, but it will devolve into more stats. Barnes is a highroll card (that should probably be changed), so don’t be discouraged when you lose the games he’s played on curve, but Devolve gives you a small chance to come back from it. If your opponent gets Ragnaros the Firelord off their Barnes, do kill the Barnes but don’t kill the Ragnaros. One Ragnaros dealing 8 damage to a board of totems can slow you down a little, but 3 Ragnaros dealing 8 damage each means you lose. The latter is not possible if you don’t remove the 1/1 Rag. Due to how much removal Big Priest has this is one of your worst matchups but it’s also not as popular as it used to be, as it doesn’t have a very good Paladin matchup.
VS Druid – This matchup is similar to other control matchups in that you want to create as much pressure as possible while they don’t have a lot of mana. Druid has two big tools to slow you down: Spreading Plague and Poison Seeds. As Shaman you have one of the best answers to Spreading Plague in Devolve, especially when coupled with Maelstrom Portal. There is almost no situation where you should waste Devolve on anything other than Spreading Plague. Poison Seeds is Druids best answer to your biggest minions (Faceless and Sea Giant), but there is a really easy way to play around that: Hero Power a lot. If you play big minions on a board of many totems they buff much of your board with Poison Seeds and if they try to punish you with Spreading Plague you can just Devolve. If you don’t draw Devolve, holding onto a Flametongue Totem can be a decent answer to Spreading Plague.
Totems and Overload
After a turn-1 Hero Power, you can play Dire Wolf Alpha or Flametongue Totem to efficiently trade into early minions. Of the basic totems, Healing Totem is one of the strongest in this situation, as it trades for free with many of the more common early minions during the early turns, so when roll it try to maximize the value you can get from it as best you can. No matter which totem you roll on turn 1, if you have a minion to buff its attack it’s often best to prioritize getting some value out of it over playing something else that would have value regardless.
Think about the next two turns before you Overload in the early game. Managing your Overload in the early turns is really important. Only using your Hero Power on turn 1 is okay, but any turn after is going to be weak in most situations. Overloading at the wrong time will often force you to do this. The safe turns to overload on in the early game are turn 2 going first and turn 2 or 3 with The Coin. When you Overload into a turn where you would have otherwise had an even amount of mana available restricts your options. Going first, if you Overload on turn 2, you can still play a 2-mana card on turn three. If that card doesn’t have overload, then you can play a 4-mana card or two 2-mana cards on turn four. Overloading on turn three forces you to play a 2-mana card and Hero Power on turn four, which is not as strong as Flamewreathed Faceless or Piloted Shredder.
Going second, you may be tempted to coin out Totem Golem. With traditional Shaman aggro this was a decent play. You could follow that up with a Tunnel Trogg or Argent Squire the next turn, and the turn after when you have three mana you could play Feral Spirit or Argent Horserider. This deck doesn’t get to play any of those cards, as they are all odd-costed. Imagine you’re up against an aggressive Paladin deck going second. A curve you’re likely to see is Righteous Protector > Shielded Minibot > Rallying Blade. If you coin out Totem Golem on turn 1, they play Minibot on turn 2 and attack your face with Righteous Protector. On your turn 2 you Hero Power and pop the Protector’s Divine Shield. On their Turn 3, with some small variance depending on which totem you rolled, they play Rallying Blade for value with the Minibot, trade with your basic totem for free 3/4ths of the time with Minibot, and kill your Totem Golem with the Rallying Blade. Half the time the Righteous Protector lives, the other half it trades into Searing Totem or Totem Golem if you rolled Searing or Healing Totem. Either way, your opponent has a 3/3 Minibot with Divine Shield intact along with a charge of Rallying Blade, and you have an awkward 3 mana to deal with it. Coining out Jade Claws in this situation is slightly better, as it leaves the Minibot a 2/2 without the Divine Shield, which you can at least respond to with Eel or Claws and pray for Stoneclaw Totem. Still, it’s best to have 4 mana as soon as possible as various combinations of Devolve, Murkspark Eel, Jade Claws and Maelstrom Portal put you ahead after all that, and if your opponent had a less than perfect curve Coining out a 4-mana minion on turn three is really strong. Basically, don’t Coin/Overload turn 1, and aim to Coin on turn 3 if you didn’t coin out Murkspark Eel turn 1.
Even Shaman Card Substitutions
This deck is already pretty restrictive by nature, as you can’t include any odd-costing cards, so there isn’t anything too creative you can do with the deck. The reason this deck is so good in Wild when it’s unplayable in Standard is primarily due to the Jade package. This in mind, Aya Blackpaw is probably core, and can’t really be replaced. If you don’t own her and still want to try the deck out the rest of the Jade package is still strong without her but not nearly as good. Murkspark Eel is the best card in the deck and the only competitive reason to play it. Genn Greymane keeps the deck from being garbage without its odd-costing cards and is thus irreplaceable. Since Aya and Greymane are the only Legendary cards the deck plays and are both core to the list there aren’t really budget replacements. Sea Giant is the deck’s only Epic, and if you want to try the deck out before crafting them (craft them eventually if you like the deck, they’re great against decks that fill the board) you can play Fire Elemental in their place.
There is a version of the deck that plays Corpsetaker, including Whirling Zap-o-matic and Argent Commander to activate it (it gets Taunt already from Thing from Below). Having played both versions a bunch a can say the featured list is significantly better, but the Corpsetaker list is more fun. So, what you value most about your Hearthstone experience should dictate which route you go. If you want to fit in the Corpsetaker package, it consists of 2x Corpsetaker, 2x Zap-o-matic, and 1 Argent Commander, and to make room for it you remove 2x Piloted Shredder, 1x Devolve, 1x Knife Juggler, and 1x Spellbreaker in the most common list. Vicious Scalehide gives Corpsetaker Lifesteal but probably isn’t worth it. It does benefit from having its attack buffed though, and trades with Silver Hand Recruits.
If you want to tech out the list and make it your own here are some cards to consider:
- Bloodmage Thalnos – Combos really well with Maelstrom Portal against aggro and helps push for lethal with your burn spells. Thalnos is starting to pop up in a lot of lists and might soon be staple. Replaces Knife Juggler.
- Cult Master – Gives the deck some draw potential and, if you have a way to buff their attack, gives some extra value to your totems. Replaces Knife Juggler.
- The Lich King and/or Ragnaros the Firelord – Powerful endgame minions, The Lich King gives you some value and Ragnaros adds a lot of pressure. In a pinch Rag can steal you games too. Including 8-mana minions is risky because of Overload but it can pay off, especially if you play a lot of control. Replaces Sea Giant.
- Spirit Claws – Woo-wee if only you could guarantee turn-1 Wrath of Air Totem every time. This could be strong when your Spell Damage totem is up, and/or if you add Bloodmage Thalnos to your deck. The card hasn’t seen much play since it was nerfed from 1 mana, but considering only this deck that was actually a buff. Replaces a 2-mana card.
- Primalfin Totem – Synergy with Thing from Below, Sea Giant, Knife Juggler and with the attack buffing cards. Primalfin is a strong card in general and as the archetype evolves I expect to see more experimentation with it. Replaces a 2-mana card.
- Draenei Totemcarver or Totem Cruncher – Both reward you for all those turns you have to Hero Power and get stronger as you add cards like Primalfin Totem. Will probably never be top tier but possibly worth some experimentation. Replaces Piloted Shredder or Spellbreaker.
- Al'Akir the Windlord – Another 8-mana minion to be careful about adding to your deck, but if you’re going with a Corpsetaker list it could be worth it. If your opponent left you with a Flametongue Totem on board he’s also an excellent way to punish them. Replaces Sea Giant.
- Emperor Thaurissan – No odd cards? No problem. Thaurissan adjusts the cost of the cards in your hand so you can use your mana more effectively later. This deck gets worse as the game goes on (as it has no draw) so its hard to justify the tempo loss of playing a 6 mana 5/5, but in some matches it might be worth it. Replaces Sea Giant or Spellbreaker.
- Sylvanas Windrunner – Gives you an answer to Voidlord and Obsidian Statue, but because of those cards Silence is everywhere. May work its way into some lists eventually if Blizzard ever does something about Barnes and Voidlord. Replaces Sea Giant or Spellbreaker.
- Ancestral Knowledge – Adds some draw and thus some late game gas, but overloading two is harsh. Maybe there’s a world where Lava Shock is worth it and you can afford it, but it’s hard to justify Ancestral Knowledge in a tempo deck without Tunnel Trogg.