The Grand Tournament is finally here and professional hearthstone players are already producing quality, meta-changing decks. Strifecro has come up with a ladder viable, midrange totem deck, which has experienced success at the high legend ranks. In this article, I break down Strifecro’s deck by highlighting some of its key aspects while also providing some feedback on possible replacements.
How to Play:
Obviously, the deck’s core characteristics revolve around the use of totems. Totem synergy is where it’s at, either to play off of them with a Draenei Totemcarver or to intrinsically strengthen them with cards like the Thunder Bluff Valiant. If you keep your totems alive, they can turn into an omnipotent, killing machine, taking down anything in its way at the cost of just a few pings of the hero power. You’ll live by the totem and die by the totem and how you use them is crucial to your success.
Early Game: Traditionally, all you’ll want to be doing is generating totems for the first few turns; sometimes the opponent will be wise to this and do everything in their power to consistently remove them. This is fine, let them remove your totems, wasting removal cards or potential damage on totems will only strengthen you position later in the game. Playing the Totem Golem can be tricky due to its overload, so be sure to either use it on turn-2 or to coalesce it with your hero power on turn-4. Playing the Totem Golem on turn-3 is a weak move because it inhibits your ability to effectively play a Draenei Totemcarver on turn-4. The only viable time to play the Totem Golem on turn-3 is if you have theTuskarr Totemic; the Tuskarr allows you to continue to push tempo on turn-4 by continuing to solidify your board position.
Mid-Late Game: If played right, most of the opponent’s removal should be exhausted by turn-5-6 on both totems and an extremely buffed up Draenei Totem Carver. This is where the game starts getting fun, as you will be able to pull off large combinations and plays fearlessly, knowing that the opponent has wasted most, if not all, of their removal. The Thunder Bluff Valiant almost works like a late game token card; its value comes in with its ability to unremittingly strengthen the board while adding a minion in itself that is not easy to remove. Dr. Boom, Al’Akir the Windlord, and Fire Elemental provide additional tools to finish off the opponent, especially if you are beginning to stall out. The opponent’s removal should all be depleted by the time one of these three minions hits the board and by that time your opponent should be close to defeat.
Against Aggro/Midrange: Mulligan hard for a Zombie Chow, Haunted Creeper, Rockbiter Weapon,Flametongue Totem, Totem Golem, and Lightning Storm. The Early game minions should be able to control or stymie the board while cards like the Rockbiter Weapon and Lighting Storm can remove other pesky threats you can’t readily get to.
Against Control: You should primarily be looking for Draenei Totemcarver and Tuskarr Totemic to play off of cards like the Totem Golem and Flametongue Totem. Getting a big Totemcarver play off around turn 4-5 is a huge tempo swing and just getting off a Tuskarr Totemic on turn-3 will set the opponent back.
Ancestral Knowledge: Shamans desperately needed a card draw mechanic that synergizes well with their playstyle, and I think Ancestral Knowledge is just that card. Yes, it overloads you for 2-mana, but in most cases I found myself using it later in the game when the overload mechanic is not as detrimental to the mana curve.
Totem Golem: This card just might surpass the Shielded Minibot for the best class specific 2-drop in the game. Playing it on turn-2 is fine, dropping another totem or 2-mana costed minion on turn-3 doesn’t usually affect the overall tempo of the deck and getting 3-4 worth of stats for 2-mana is just too damn good!
Tuskarr Totemic: Just another card that Team-5 sanctioned that will help ameliorate the overall quality of the Shaman class. It’s another high value card but in this case it doesn’t penalize you with overload. 5-6 worth of mana for 3 is too good to pass up and I can see this card being a staple of Shaman decks for a long time. Oh yeah, did I mention it is a common card, helping boost Shamans in Arena too!
Draenei Totem Carver: I’ve found that it’s really hard not to get good value from this card. Specifically, it synergizes well in this deck, playing off the totem cards, Tuskarr, and the Shaman hero power.
Thunder Bluff Valiant: This is a really fun card to play, but in my opinion, is too slow of a card to be consistently effectual. Yes, it will repeatedly buff your totems, but for 5-mana it slows down the deck too much.
Hearthstone Hub / Forum Possible Replacements:
Gadgetzan Jouster/Lowly Squire > Zombie Chow:
I’ve never been a fan of Zombie Chow, getting this piece of shit after turn-3 makes me angrily shake my fist in a vaudevillian fashion. I hate it and if you don’t get it really early, it’s practically useless. That is why I was really excited to see the release of the Jouster and Lowly Squire, both effectual 1-drops that don’t have the lurid drawback of the chow chow.
Fencing Coach > Vitality Totem:
The upside of the Fencing Coach far outweighs the positives of the Vitality Totem. It still synergizes with the totem theme, making a turn-4 Draenei Totem Carver or turn-5 Thunder Bluff Valiant combo much more effectual. Yes it lacks heal but it substitutes that health for a faster and more consistent deck that synergizes more successfully with its inclusion.
Doomhammer > Al’Akir the Windlord:
This is essentially just a budget replacement. The Doomhammer synergizes well, but the Windlord is better: providing a minion to take damage over the hero and placing a wall on the board that opponent has to deal with.
I’ve been having a blast playing TGT and it has been worth the prolonged “hype train” to get here. I think decks like these are just the begging, and hopefully classes like the Shaman and Priest will see resurgence in the near future. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, make sure to leave them below!