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Evolve Shaman deck list guide - The Witchwood - Hearthstone (April 2018)

Our essential guide to playing Evolve Shaman in the Kobolds and Catacombs meta.

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About John Bedford

John is Metabomb's Editor in Chief, and is responsible for all of the Hearthstone news, features and guides content on the site.

Our Evolve Shaman deck list guide features the best deck list for Season 49 (April 2018). Our Evolve Shaman guide also contains Mulligan advice, card combos and strategy tips.

Evolve Shaman is a Hearthstone archetype that's constructed around the very basic idea of fielding as many minor minions onto the board as possible, and then making use of a wide variety of buffing sources to turn the whole lot of them into a considerably more powerful army. The Shaman's gained a number of tools to facilitate this process in recent years, and Kobolds looks to build on the concept further with Unstable Evolution.

The general idea is that if your opponent can't deal with your side of the board while it's relatively weak, then they'll rapidly become overwhelmed by the strength of your minions. If you can get a fast start, avoid an early board wipe, and get some kind of buff on your guys then it can be extremely tricky for your opponent to make meaningful progress of their own. If you lose the board at any point though, it can be very hard to mount a second offensive.

In the next of our Kobolds and Catacombs deck guides, we're shining a light on a particularly powerful deck list you can take to the ladder this month. We've also put together some Mulligan tips so you can choose a solid starting hand. We've also significantly expanded on our strategy section since Evolve Shaman became a top-tier deck, with advice for beating aggro and control opponents, and further tips on inching your win-rate up a little higher. Check the very bottom of the page for a combo breakdown too.

UPDATE - 9th MARCH 2018

Although this deck is barely worthy of play in the current meta, it is basically the hero's only option right now. Sad, but then you can't say the Shaman hasn't had a good couple of years overall! The preferred deck list hasn't changed since we last updated this article, but do make sure you are running the latest version (no point making life harder than it already is with this one...)

BREAKING NEWS! - A new expansion is coming! Our massive Hearthstone: The Witchwood guide contains details of the new cards, mechanics and single player content coming to the game.

Evolve Shaman deck list and strategy

Although it's early days for Evolve Shaman in the new Kobolds meta, this is probably the best deck list you can use right now. We'll update the deck list as the meta gathers pace.

ShamanNeutral
2 x Evolve2 x Fire Fly
1 x Unstable Evolution2 x Saronite Chain Gang
2 x Devolve2 x Doppelgangster
2 x Flametongue Totem2 x Corridor Creeper
2 x Jade Claws
2 x Maelstrom Portal
2 x Primalfin Totem
2 x Mana Tide Totem
2 x Jade Lightning
1 x Bloodlust
1 x Thrall, Deathseer
1 x Aya Blackpaw
2 x Thing from Below

Select and copy the long ID string below, then create a deck in Hearthstone to export this deck into your game.

Deck Import ID: AAECAaoIBJMJlL0C688C3+kCDYEE8Af6qgL7qgKgtgKHvALRvAL2vQL5vwKRwQLrwgKbywL70wIA

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General strategy:

There's nothing enormously complicated about playing Evolve Shaman, and you can gain a decent strategic understanding of this deck simply by studying the combo section towards the bottom of this page.

There's one important rule to keep in mind, however, and that this is not a pure aggro deck. Without minions on the board you're stuffed - you'll struggle to replace them without getting beaten down by the opponent, and you've very little in the way of fast damage to close down the match in the event of a total clear. Careful study of the meta, and the risks that lie around every corner, is essential if you want to truly master the Evolve Shaman.

In very simple terms though, you hope to build as wide a board of minor token minions as possible, then use Bloodlust, Flametongue Totem or Evolve to boost them up in strength and send a - hopefully - game-ending amount of damage into the opponent's health pool.

You've more Jade Golem synergy to to play around with in this latest version of the deck, but you've also got loads of low-Mana minions at your disposal too. These can be used to ensure you're developing the board further on every turn, and Primalfin Totem in particular can quickly get out of control if your opponent fails to take it off the board.

Beating aggro opponents

Whoever owns the board owns these match-ups, so shut their board down and don't let them get it back up again. If you can make a trade that leaves a friendly minion standing, do it. Look to cards like Jade Claws to shut them down as well. Consider too the importance of even damaged friendly minions in the context of Flametongue Totem. The more you have alive on the board, the more work you can do.

Remember that Bloodlust is not your sole means of getting over the finishing line. That means you can use it to clear up a problem, get a little extra hero damage in using the rest of the board, and still leave something out in play that can fight another day.

Beating control opponents

Remember when we said earlier on in this guide that you were not an aggro player with Token Shaman? We still mean it, but you should be prepared to push just a little harder and faster against the slower opponent, especially if you haven't got a Devolve on hand. Just be mindful again that you don't have a lot of fast damage in this deck, so you need to keep your board alive at all costs.

More Shaman guides:

Evolve Shaman Mulligan guide

The Mulligan process for Evolve Shaman really isn't complicated and the following cards will serve you well in every match-up: Fire Fly, Primalfin Totem and Jade Claws. That's it really!

Here's a closer look at each of the key keeps in the chart above, with a little extra insight on each one.

1. Fire Fly: Although it's not as strong as the Pirate above, this card does at least provide you with further fuel in your hand. If you get the second Elemental out into play as well, you have the option to drop an early Flametongue Totem onto the board and push hard with two otherwise very weak minions.

2. Jade Claws: The value of this card speaks for itself really. Not only do you get a weapon that you can use to chip an early two-Health enemy minion off the board, you also get yet another minion on the board that can benefit from a buff. Don't worry too much about the Overload penalty as you have a lot of cheap minions to play in this deck.

3. Primalfin Totem: Precisely how much value you manage to obtain from Primalfin Totem is a little questionable, and so you only really want to hang onto this one if the rest of your hand is looking solid in its own right. Even if you don't get too many minions out of this totem, it will very often force a hard removal from your opponent.

Evolve Shaman tips combos and synergies

Here are all of the most vital card synergies contained within this version of the deck:

-The following cards all have synergy with the Jade Golem mechanic: Jade Lightning, Aya Blackpaw and Jade Claws. Your first summoned Jade Golem is a 1/1 minion, the second 2/2, the third 3/3 and so on.

- Bloodlust increases the Attack value of every minion on the board by 3 points each. This - alongside Flametongue Totem - represents your major source of burst damage as you approach the end-game.

- Thing from Below costs one Mana less for each totem you summoned earlier on in the game. It makes no difference whether these totems were created from cards or from your hero power.

- Corridor Creeper is a new card from the Kobold set and is still seeing use in this archetype despite it's recent nerf. For each friendly minion that dies, the Creeper in your hand will cost one Mana less.

- Evolve transforms all active friendly minions, but has particular power with Doppelgangster. Each one of the minions that spawn is considered to be a five-Mana minion in its own right. That means casting Evolve gives you a total of three six-Mana minions!

- You can repeat cast Unstable Evolution for as long as you have the Mana to do so. Even when a match has gone badly wrong you can create a monster out of a minor minion on Turn 10 using this card!

- Watch your positioning with Flametongue Totem. You may need to trade off a number of minor minions into an enemy Taunt, and you'll want that adjacent buff to cycle through multiple units as they die.

Evolve Shaman tips and tricks

While there's no substitute for experience with the meta in Hearthstone, the following tips should help you improve with the deck in pretty short order.

  • Know the signature board-clear spells for each hero, and ensure you do not over-extend right before they might have access to it. Always think about what your worst-case scenario would be, and play to mitigate the impact of it as much as possible. It's very hard to mount a comeback with this kind of token deck, and it pays to be conservative.
  • Following on from the tip above, try to think about how your Jade Golems can be protected from imminent board clears, or how they can at least frustrate your opponent into getting an inefficient clear. You don't have a lot of Jade synergy in this deck, but you may be able to creep a minion or two's Health over the danger zone using a later card like Aya Blackpaw.
  • Watch where you drop your Flametongue Totems. It's always possible you'll need to sacrifice a few minions to get past a roadblock. You'll want the buff to cycle onto the next cheap minion as you trade, so line your minions up carefully so as to benefit from this efficiently.
  • If your opponent is likely to be playing Taunt minions, it's worth holding back your Devolve until you have a few of these problematic obstacles in front of you. You can only ignore the opponent's minions and focus on their Health pool if you can reach it, after all! Remember, you are not a pure aggro deck...
  • Once you've got a relatively broad board in play, start doing your maths to see how close you are to lethal at the start of your turn. If you're close but not quite there, it might be worth popping Bloodlust. If your board gets wiped you'll have nothing to boost, and you'll wish you'd used the opportunity while it was there. Experience will help you make the right decisions in time.
  • Don’t be afraid to be a little greedy and delay playing Thing From Below. While it might be incredibly tempting to add a 5/5 body to the board at a massive discount, consider if you can do more with it later on. If your opponent isn’t threatening anything on their side of the board, then just save it for when you need to fend off some damage.
  • Keep in mind that Jade Lightning is your only direct spell removal so be careful when you decide to use it. Is there a situation where you can trade up using lesser minions buffed by a Flametongue Totem? If so, consider that approach instead and save the Jade Lightning for a target that would eat up your minions or when you have some additional spell power to boost its damage.
  • Think about how you can gain the most value from your Mana Tide Totem. If your opponent has a couple of cheap and unremarkable 1/1 minions on the board then it may be tempting to go for the Maelstrom Portal. If it’s not urgent to remove them though, the extra turn of card draw can cycle through to a vital piece of your deck sooner. The Maelstrom Portal clear will be just as useful next turn!

This article contains additional reporting from James Pickard.

Comment on this article

  • oDrew #1 A month ago
    I've been having decent success with this deck in mid-ranks (15-10) with a slightly different version:

    CLASS CARDS
    2 x Evolve
    1 x Unstable Evolution
    1 x Devolve
    2 x Flametongue Totem
    2 x Jade Claws
    2 x Malestrom Portal
    1 x Murmuring Elemental
    2 x Primalfin Totem
    1 x Far Sight
    2 x Mana Tide Totem
    1 x Hex
    2 x Jade Lightening
    1 x Thrall, Deathseer
    1 x Aya Blackpaw
    1 x Grumble, Worldshaker
    2 x Nerubian Prophet
    2 x Thing From Below

    NEUTRAL CARDS
    1 x Fire Fly
    1 x Saronite Chain Gang
    1 x Dopplegangster


    I know Nerubian Prophet isn't popular, but what I like about it is the consistent cost reduction that doesn't require anything besides drawing it. Plus, 6-cost minions either become 8 drops with Thrall or 10 drops with Murmuring Elemental + Thrall, and with 10-drops there is much less risk of rolling terrible value.

    Ideally, you draw a Creeper plus minion-generating minions (Primalfin, Fire Fly) early to discount it as quickly as possible, plus an early Prophet to get the discount going. Then, you can use an early Evolve to get an 8 drop, and save your Prophets for free 8 drops or 10 drops with Thrall or Murmuring + Thrall.

    If you're playing against a class with poor waveclear, you can get lots of value with 2-turn combos like Dopple + Grumble, Saronite + Grumble, etc.
    Sign in to reply
  • Bedders #2 A month ago
    @oDrew Interesting, I'll try and give this one a roadtest this week.
    Sign in to reply

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