Totem Shaman became one of the top-tier decks right after Whispers of the Old Gods came out and it had the right mix of both aggressive early game as well as the ability to keep pushing damage in the long game as well. So what changed between Whispers of the Old Gods and One Night in Karazhan that pushed the power levels of Totem Shaman this much? One of the biggest reasons why the deck is now a powerhouse in the meta is all thanks to Wicked Witchdoctor

and Maelstrom Portal
. These two cards made quite the impact in Shaman decks to the point that even Aggro Shaman decks are running Maelstrom Portal. Hunter, Druid, Warlock and Shaman are extremely popular at the moment and the fact that you now have access to an extra area of effect spell that can clear tokens or even bigger minions if you land the spell damage totem is insane. Wicked Witchdoctor brings even more to the table. Now many of you might have dismissed this card when you first saw it because it didn’t feel that good on paper and even I was skeptical about the card until I tried it out. The best thing about Wicked Witchdoctor is that the card summons totems first and then any spell you play takes effect. This is extremely important to note because you increase your odds of rolling a Wrath of Air Totem for that crucial spell damage or a random extra totem for a better Primal Fusion. I have been behind in games and snowballed to victory using Wicked Witchdoctor and a combination of spells in the deck followed by Bloodlust
.

Here is also a back story to the deck that I found mildly interesting. Sempok, one of the writers at hearthstone Players who happens to be a friend of mine and is one of the best Shaman players I know. He was one of the first players to include Tuskarr Totemic

in Aggro Shaman and his deck spread like wildfire through Reddit’s Competitive HS subreddit and we all know how important Tuskarr is in Aggro Shaman at the moment! It all began through him. Before One night in Karazhan was even announced he was telling me how good Totemic Might can be in Totem Shaman and he took a deck that ran the card all the way to legend. And here we are with Wicked Witchdoctor, a card that makes it justifiable to run Totemic Might
and just weeks from his claim, Totemic Might is a viable card in the meta! Let’s head to some of the card choices that are unique to the deck instead of going through standard picks like Totem Golem or Tuskarr Totemic which are auto include in every aggressive or mid range Shaman decks.

Card Choices: The ‘Witchdoctor’ cards


Wicked Witchdoctor

: Well of course, we have to include the card that the deck is named after don’t we?  Now basic totems might not be all that appealing and Shaman generally does not run too many spells but adding Totemic Might an 2 copies of Primal Fusion makes the deck a lot more appealing. Another notable synergy is Thing From Below. Spawning free totems with Totemic Might means that you are cutting the cost of your 5/5 taunts by 1 mana which is great. Once your drop some totems and buff up their health there is not much most classes can do. These seemingly weak 0 or 1 attack totems can be setup for Thunder Bluff Valiant or a massive Bloodlust for insane swings. Another thing that pushes the viability of the card is that you can have more than 4 of the unique basic totems on board in the deck, something that your hero power doesn’t allow you to do. Getting a double Wrath of Air totem for a 3 damage AoE or getting 2 taunts to protect your key minions can be really beneficial and I’m really surprised the card had so much overlooked potential.

Totemic Might

: The card might seem boring or weak on paper but it has won me too many games on its own to count. Having 4 health totems means that a lot of your board is immune to cards like Holy Nova
, Excavated Evil
, Swipe
or Lightning Storm
. It makes it harder for decks to trade against your board and makes cards like Mana Tide Totem
or Flametongue Totem
get more value!

Primal Fusion

: Some mid range decks runs it as a one-off but we have 2 copies of the card in the deck because there is a lot of totem synergy in the deck and you can sneak in some crazy combos. It’s also got synergy with Al’akir the Windlord as well because you can give the elemental lord a massive buff for game ending results.

Card Choices: Core minions


Tunnel Trogg

vs Argent Squire
:
I had been running Tunnel Trogg but decided to cut it in favor of Argent Squire because I wasn’t getting the same snowball effect that you get in Aggro Shaman because I do not run Feral Spirit
and Flamewreathed Faceless
. Argent Squire is a great substitute that works great with Primal Fusion/Flametongue Totem and you can get multiple trades out of it. Depending on whether you want to run Feral Spirit or Doomhammer
in the deck or not you can make your call between the two to suit your needs.

Totem Golem

: One of the strongest 2 drops in the game right now and it works well in terms of dealing with early aggression from other decks. Sometimes coining out a Totem Golem and then dropping your Argent Squire can be better than going for the 1 drop into 2 drop sequence in many matchups and it’s something you should keep in mind.

Flametongue Totem

: Flametongue totem is perfect for getting good trades out of your weaker minions and totems and dominate board presence. Positioning the card is crucial and outside of the normal minion placements you need to keep in mind positioning when Witchdoctor is in play as well. She will always summon totems to her right and not at the extreme right of the board like your hero power does so position your Flametongue to get the most value out of it on your opponent’s turn before hitting the end turn button to make sure your opponent is forced to trade unfavorably against your Stoneclaw Totem or Thing From Below.

Mana Tide Totem

: Card draw is important in the deck because you want to get to your Thunder Bluff Valiant or your Witchdoctor combos as soon as possible and Mana Tide helps you do that quite well. A buffed up Mana Tide can be quite powerful and you’re good to go if you get at least 2 cards out of it.

Tuskarr Totemic

: Tuskarr Totemic is one of the most high impact 3 drops in the game because you have very good odds of dropping a Flametongue, Mana Tide or a Totem Golem with the 3/2 body. 3/7 outcomes can swing the game in your favor and even if you get a basic totem it’s good value.

Barnes

: One of the cards I included later in a later revision of the deck after I cut out Tunnel Troggs from the list. Anything other than Tuskarr Totemic and Totem Golem is pretty good for you and getting that surprise Thunder Bluff of Flametongue Totem can help a lot in situations. The good outcomes outnumber the neutral ones by a big margin and if you have Barnes, I recommend you add it to your deck! It also helps you spread out on the board and get some surprise value out of the card. I did not use the card before reaching legend but it has been doing quite well and it’s a fun addition that works well! Do note that positioning is crucial when using Barnes. The best way to do it is to assume you are going to drop Flametongue Totem each time you play the card and position him to suit your needs.

Thunder Bluff Valiant

: It’s one of the cards that failed to break into the meta in consistent fashion because Shaman was not too powerful before League of explorers but it seems that with each content update the card’s viability is increasing. The card can snowball quite hard and has game ending potential if your opponent cannot answer it. Since you are able to generate a ton of totems quite easily the value of Thunder Bluff is quite high in the deck and it’s one of your win conditions.

Thing From Below

: Thing from Below is quite a good card in aggro and mid range shaman but this deck takes the viability of the card to its maximum potential. There are instances where this card is stuck in your hand and then you end up playing some cheap spells with Witchdoctor and drop it for free. Here is an example of such a situation where my opponent had to just give up the game the following turn!

Card choices: Spells


With the Witchdoctor being a core card in the deck you need to include some cheap spells that work well with your totems and effectively push your board state.

Rockbiter Weapon

: It’s a simple spell that works with your hero or your minions and can help your remove things from the board or get better trades. It also has great synergy with Witchdoctor, Doomhammer and Al’akir.

Maelstrom Portal

: It is one of the best portals in the adventure if not the best for constructed. It can be a Consecration with a Wrath of Air Totem and it also summons you a 1 drop minion which is great. Unlike Lightning Storm it does not overload you which is a big plus as well.

Lightning Storm

: It’s one of the AoE options you have and you can run 1 or 2 copies based on your matchups. Generally the combination of 1 Storm and 2 Portals are good enough but if you are facing too many Zoolock decks you can consider adding a second copy for consistently drawing one in time and keeping their board presence at bay.

Hex

: It’s a great removal tool and works perfectly against minions like Flamewreathed Faceless
or other big minions that are better off being Hexed instead of being traded into like Tirion Fordring
and Sylvanas Windrunner
.

Bloodlust: It’s one of your win conditions outside Al’akir the Windlord Doomhammer

, and Thunder Bluff Valiant. Since it’s quite easy to preserve your board presence with the deck using Totemic Might and cheap AoE effects you always get value out of the card. Do not hesitate to use it for emergency clears in the mid to lategame because you have other means of ending games as well in form of Thunder Bluff Valiant, Al’akir or Doomhammer.

Additional Finishers: Doomhammer vs Al’Akir the Windlord


You can include either a copy of Doomhammer or Al’akir the Windlord and if you do not have the elemental lord then it’s not a must include in the deck but it does offer a lot of value. Doomhammer mostly helps you with high damage bursts using Rockbiter Weapon or repeated chip damage/minion removal. Unlike Al’akir you can do your 16 damage burst combo with 2x Rockbiter Weapon on turn 7 while Al’akir comes a lot later. Al’akir does have the advantage of being able to take advantage of not only Rockbiter Weapons but also Flametongue Totem and Primal Fusion making Windlord a lot more appealing as a finisher.

How to play the deck


The goal of the deck is simple, control the early game through Argent Squire, Totem Golem and Tuskarr Totemic combined with Flametongue Totem and AoE effects. Once you get into the mid game you will have no trouble snowballing the board with Wicked Witchdoctor and Thunder Bluff Valiant to seal out the game. A well-timed Totemic Might can save your board from being wiped out by AoE. Brawl

is the only relevant spell that can deal with your board so make sure you do not over commit versus control Warrior decks. Hunter is quite popular at the moment and your early game AoEs can help a lot in dealing with their minions. Board positioning is crucial and you not only have to keep in mind things like Flametongue totem and taunt minion positioning but also allow space to work with Wicked Witchdoctor and Thunder Bluff Valiant to make sure you have space to trigger their effects. There’s nothing worse than having Thunder Bluff in hand with a one-sided board in your favor  but no room to trigger his inspire effect! It’s significantly easy to play but involves decision-making when it comes to planning lethal or using your AoE. Choosing the right minion for Primal Fusion can be tricky and it’s something that you will gain with experience when you play out specific matchups. Also, knowing which totems to sacrifice when playing Flametongue and which to preserve is essential. For example, you might need spell power in you subsequent turn to deal with something like Call of the Wild
or a Mage board full of 2 health minions or require your healing totem to heal up your damaged minions, these small decisions can change the course of games and you need to be thorough with your planning.

Matchups and Mulligans


  • Druid: Highly favorable against all currently viable archetypes unless an early Innervate
    stops you in your tracks.

Keep:
1. Argent Squire

2. Totem Golem

3. Tuskarr Totemic

  • Hunter: Favorable vs all archetypes. If you get a slow start things can get difficult so you need to mulligan hard for early game.

Keep:

1. Argent Squire

2. Totem Golem

3. Maelstrom Portal

4. Rockbiter Weapon

  • Mage: Favorable vs Tempo Mage, bad vs Freeze Mage.

Keep:

1. Argent Squire

2. Totem Golem

3. Rockbiter Weapon

4. Tuskarr Totemic (with Coin)

  • Priest: Favorable if you push minions out of AoE range with Totemic Might. Current lists are mostly running the AoE package instead of Auchenai combos. Do not play into Resurrect, Hex helps against it a lot!

Keep:

1. Argent Squire

2. Totem Golem

3. Tuskarr Totemic

4. Mana Tide Totem

5. Wicked Witchdoctor/Totemic Might with Coin.

  • Warrior: Good vs Dragon Warrior, unfavorable vs Control if they stabilize which is more than likely. Focus on getting good burst finishes as soon as possible.

Keep:

1. Argent Squire

2. Totem Golem

3. Tuskarr Totemic

4. Mana Tide Totem

5. Wicked Witchdoctor/Totemic Might with Coin

(Keep Rockbiter if you are facing lots of Dragon Warriors)

  • Shaman: If you have removals for their early board spam you will win almost always. I love keeping 1 Storm if I have early drops in hand. Do not over-commit to their AoE if you do not have Totemic Might for protection.

Keep:

1. Argent Squire

2. Flametongue Totem

3. Totem Golem

4. Maelstrom Portal/Lightning Storm (if you have early game minions)

5. Rockbiter Weapon

If you have turn 1 and 2 plays, keep Hex too.

  • Warlock: Very unfavorable vs Zoo if you do not get early AoE removal. However, if you manage to keep them at bay and dominate the board they have no comeback mechanisms to win the game efficiently. Reno is an even matchup and it all depends on how fast you are able to buff up your board to avoid Hellfire
    . I really didn’t face too many Zoolock decks to comment much on this matchup but the ones I did face didn’t turn out too well and I had to claw back with surprise Bloodlusts or multiple AoEs to stabilize and win games.

Keep:

1. Argent Squire

2. Flametongue Totem

3. Totem Golem

4. Maelstrom Portal/Lightning Storm (if you have early game minions)

5. Rockbiter Weapon

If you have turn 1 and 2 plays, keep Hex too.

  • Rogue: Even matchup. If they get ahead on tempo it is going to be really difficult. You need to deal with their minions and your goal should be to restrict their tempo at all costs. Hex is a must keep in this matchup and even if you have a slow start you should be able to grind them out. Timing your AoE is crucial because of Conceal and you might need to spend more than 1 spell to avoid them from getting Gadgetzan Auctioneer
     value or killing you. Being aggressive helps a lot too and aim for finishing them off early without going too deep into Bloodmage Thalnos
    /Azure Drake
    + Fan of Knives
     Territory. Totemic Might is really good in the matchup.

Keep:

1. Argent Squire

2. Totem Golem

3. Tuskarr Totemic

5. Hex

Ladder experience


I used the deck for my grind to legend from Rank 4 and I’ve had no trouble dealing with Hunter and Druid, 2 classes that were the most popular during the grind. In Shaman matchups, your AoE often decides games and you need to time them well as well as avoid falling too hard into Lightning Storms or Maelstrom Portal. If you are able to maintain a stable board versus hunter and have removal for Savannah Highmane and other key threats you will have no trouble winning even if they consecutive Call of the Wilds. Totemic Might is very powerful in these matchups and you will have no difficulties making massive swing turns something aggro decks will not be able to deal with too easily.

Closing Thoughts


It’s good to see decks come up that include seemingly underpowered cards that shine through and push new flavors of existing decks. It’s not a difficult deck to play and simple understanding of the metagame should be good enough to pilot the deck well. Hope you have a great time with the deck and it’s not only fun to play but super effective against all the Druids and Hunters that are ravaging the ladder. Have fun and let me know if you need any help with the deck and I’ll be glad to do so. It’s a fairly cheap deck to build if you ignore Al’akir the Windlord, which isn’t a must have.