Welcome to HSrewind Part #2: Replay Analysis. We will be going over several replays of Token Shaman in order to learn how to correctly pilot the deck, so that you can climb more efficiently. Each replay will have a few key takeaways listed below it, before taking an in-depth analysis of the replay.
My Replays Rank 5-Legend
Replay #1: https://hsreplay.net/replay/k4y9snVi9G6647HaiCpzYC#turn=11b
● Respect Bloodlust
● Evolve + Devolve value
Turn 12: This is just a quick end of game turn where my opponent has the game won. He has cards in hand he can clear the board with but he chooses to go face with his board. This is more a lesson for the mirror match or if you are reading this guide to understand how Evolve Token Shaman works so that you can increase your win-rate against it. ALWAYS respect and expect them to have a possibility of lethal in their hand. Do not leave a few minions on board because they are no threat and you believe you can set up lethal next turn by going face.
Turn 11: Just a side note if you go back to turn 11 you can see the value of Dopplegangster + Evolve. In this case you even see how devolve can be used. While not the best example/outcome of devolve, it still helped nonetheless. The opponent went from 15/19 (Lethal Threat) stats with a taunt on board down to 11/15 with no taunt. Had devolve not been played we lose instantly, and even if he did not threaten lethal the taunt would have saved him as well.
Replay #2: https://hsreplay.net/replay/SzqLcxyzYthJuwoPJHMnfB#turn=8a
● Minion Placement.
Turn 8: This may be a small thing to mention but it is very crucial. Stonehill Defender must be played on the left of the Flametongue Totem, because when we play Jade Lightning it will be summoned on the far right. If we place the Stonehill Defender on the right of Flametongue Totem then the Jade that we summon will not receive the buff from Flametongue Totem until the Stonehill Defender dies. We played the Stonehill Defender first to see what we get in the off chance we get a taunt we prefer to play this turn. (Not sure of any that I would prefer to play this turn but it is good practice to see what we get first before continuing our turn.) The obvious choice from the discover was Al,akir the Windlord due to the fact that it has charge and can deal 10 damage coupled with Flametongue Totem.
Turn 9: Another key placement turn here as well. First things first: are we trading or going face? Well, we can certainly do quite a bit of damage this turn without counting and with 2 taunts on board and with Bloodlust in hand I am pretty confident that we can win over the next 2 turns by going face. So now that we have decided our line of play ordering and placement are paramount in order to maximize the damage we do. Before playing Al’karir the Windlord we will attack with our minions on board while they both have the Flametongue Totem buff for 7 damage. Now the placement is key here, for starters we want both of our taunts to have a buff since that is what our opponent has to get through in order to get to our other 2 minions on board which represent 8 damage with Bloodlust alone. (After you count out the damage you will see that this play we are about to do deals 17 damage, leaving our opponent with 7, so those 2 minions represent lethal next turn.) So we will play Al’akir the Windlord and go face for 10 more damage. After you count out the damage you will see that this play we are about to do deals 17, leaving our opponent with 7 so those 2 minions represent lethal next turn. This play will set lethal up for us next turn even if our opponent can kill our 2 taunts or put up a taunt such as Thing From Below which would die to either of our taunts with the Bloodlust buff.
Turn 10: We see our placement pays off as our opponent clears 1 taunt and rolls his own taunt totem, but with the Bloodlust in our hand and the 3 minions on board we can clear the taunt and have exact lethal. Had we missed even 1 point of damage in the previous 2 turns we would not have had lethal here.
Replay #3: https://hsreplay.net/replay/nyzsGHoSjcfCaqgWQopDk4#turn=2a
● Playing out turns in advance to make decisions
● Minion Placement
Turn 2: Normally on turn 1 (with coin) or turn 2 (without coin) we want to be playing Primalfin Totem because it is just so strong: it builds our board each turn and it makes Thing From Below . In this instance though our opponent can kill it with his minion and ping or if he plays any spell his minion can kill it for free. Now we have 2 other options: play Firefly into the elemental we get from it or hero power. Hero power reduces Thing From Below and/or could get us a taunt. Playing Firefly builds up our board and if we draw into Flametongue Totem or Jade Claw we can start swinging the board into our favor. This line also leaves 2 minions on board after our opponent trades his minion into one of ours. The hero powering line there is a possibility we get a 1/1 and he can ping it leaving us with an empty.
Turn 3: Rewarded! Had we hero powered or played Primalfin Totem we would have been punished. We also drew Flametongue Totem and we already saw 1 Frostbolt so it is pretty safe to say he will stick around for a turn or two. I made a mistake in my placement of minions, the correct placement would be to play the elemental and then our Flametongue Totem all the way to the right. I could have fixed the placement by simply trading in with the elemental on the right side as well. (This is a key placement because any time we hero power the totems will appear farthest to the right. This placement ensures the totems get the buff and are not blocked out by an elemental so both sides of Flametongue Totem are being taken advantage of.)
Turn 4: We are not punished by our minion placement since we will be trading in our elemental here anyway along with Patches. In order to have this happen we need to place Stonehill Defender next to Flametongue Totem and then Bloodsail Corsair to the left of that since we prioritize buffing our taunt minion.
Turn 5: Yet another small placement point that needs to be noted in this game. Our strongest play here is to play both totems from our hand. With that in mind we need to remember that the murlocs from Primalfin Totem will spawn to its right so we need to make sure Manatide Totem (a minion we don’t want to be attack with anytime soon) farthest to the left. There could be some argument to play Primalfin Totem to the right of the Flametongue Totem, but we really don’t want it to be trading in and dying; we value it too much. Plus, in future turns we may be hero powering and this would block those totems from receiving the buff.
Turn 6: Not too hard, we just place the 2nd Flametongue Totem so that we can trade in with our Stonehill Defender and keep all our minions alive and go face.
Here are all the important takeaways we went over in the replays:
● Planning out turns in advance to make decisions in the present turn
● Minion Placement
● Respect and Plan around and for Bloodlust
● Evolve + Devolve value
I was not able to track 100 games before the end of the season unfortunately. After the season finished I started to test out various decks to climb up to rank 5 before the next guides are released so I can track their stats at high ranks.
Miscellaneous extra info:
● When it comes to minion placement minions you value to stay on board the most will go as far to the left as possible since towards the center is where you will be putting the Flametongue Totem and where all the minions you will be trading with first will be. Also in most situations always place minions to the left of Flametongue Totem since you want your hero power totems to gain more value by being buffed. (There are a few instances you can place a minion to the right and that is if it is another taunt minion, or like in replay #2 when I place the Al’akir the Windlord to the right because it was a taunt and pushed more damage.)
● Each turn think of each possibility you have and what your opponent is likely to do the next 1-2 turns. Think about what your board will look like and what your objective at that stage in the game is: whether you are switching to going face to setup lethal in a turn or two or if you are maintaining the board. Also think about what cards you can draw and what you would be able to do if you drew that card with the current board that you have.
● When using Evolve make sure you attack with minions before Evolving, whether it is face damage or trades that keep the minion alive it allows you to get the most value out of the spell. Also do not always wait for Dopplegangster to be coupled with it. While it is the dream combo there are times you will need to Evolve without them in order to preserve your board and/or apply more pressure to the opponent.
● Count the damage you have on board and what you have in your hand during your opponent’s turn so that you have more time on your turn to think out all of the options. This deck has the ability as you have seen to threaten lethal out of nowhere so be sure to count and know what your opponent’s life total is at throughout the whole game. This includes thinking about how much damage you can put out over 2-3 turns like we discussed in replay #2.
● Secret checking those pesky Secret Mages with this deck is fairly simple, against mage you don’t really need Devolve or Maelstrom Portal, at least not compared to Bloodlust or Evolve. Mirror Entity is very easy to play around: either play one of you various 1 drops or just make sure whatever you play you can easily take care of that turn.
● Take a look at the neutral and class specific 2-drops and 6-drops (mainly) and be aware of what things you could get when you Evolve. This is because most of the minions on your board will be mostly 1 or 5 mana. Doomsayer is a thing so if you are ahead be wary of casting Evolve if your board is loaded with 1 mana minions as it could turn the tables on yourself.
● Have fun! If you make a mistake do not beat yourself up over it, there are tons of intricacies to this deck and it takes a bit to learn all of them.
As always everyone is welcome to join my Discord channel: https://discordapp.com/channels/315247405429817347/315247405429817347
Here is a poll for what type of Warlock you want me to bash my head against a wall trying to make good and going over deck guide and replays. https://strawpoll.com/4r7dexc
Several people are willing to watch your replays and help you learn from them. I am always looking for more replays to showcase in future articles! It is also just a cool place to discuss Hearthstone in general, take a break from the grind and just chat or find a practice buddy. I always take a poll for what deck to do next and the link to the poll is in the Discord as well. Hope this guide was helpful to you Happy Climbing!