The recent Patch 8.4 came in with an interesting update for Shaman as Jade Spirit now belongs to the Elemental tribe. Therefore, mixing the Jade package with Elemental synergies feels smoother than before and many players are toying around this.
Today we are taking a look at a variant that makes use of this change to justify the inclusion of Kalimos, Primal Lord without going too deep on the Elemental synergies, keeping open spots for the classic token package that is used in Evolve Shaman.
History of the Deck
After hitting Legend with what I called Hybrid Token Shaman last season, cutting the Evolve combo for Jade Spirit and Hammer of Twilight, I decided to update it for this season with the inclusion of Fire Elemental to add some more late game potential to the deck. I originally cut the second copies of Devolve and Hammer of Twilight to include those as it keeps the deck consistent enough. Then I also gave some playtesting to Kalimos instead of the remaining Hammer of Twilight but it didn’t feel consistent enough to justify it, so I kept it out of the deck.
Then Blizzard came in with this interesting change to Jade Spirit and I felt like it was time to bring in Kalimos again. The card works very well now that we have access to some more Elementals and it gives the deck a better late game potential overall without being too situational.
Finally, the second Bloodlust felt a bit too overkill and I had a hard time making use of the card in some situations against heavy AoE decks. After some research, I found out that Zananananan used the same list to hit Top Legend Ranks, swapping a Bloodlust for a Hammer of Twilight. So I proceed to do this change as well, ending up with this well refined decklist.
“Owning a deck” has always been a vague and confused concept and I think players always get inspired by each other anyway. I just wanted to give a quick insight on the deck’s history from my point of view and the reasoning that brought me to this list. So call it whatever you want and without further ado, let’s dive into the guide!
For reference purposes, here are the winrate I gathered with the deck throughout my climb to Legend this season:
As the archetype revolves around developing cheap tokens to use them for trading and burst damage with Bloodlust, it runs Fire Fly and the Pirate package as 1-drops. Bloodsail Corsair is prefered to Southsea Deckhand as it helps dealing with early game weapons like Fiery War Axe and Jade Claws while the 1/2 body is better as a 1-drop than a vulnerable 2/1 body and it can be powered-up by Flametongue Totem to enable favorable trades.
The Jade package is also used to develop more tokens while gaining tempo with Jade Claws and Jade Lightning. Jade Spirit is used in this variant as it gives the deck a 4-drop to play when ahead and it adds a bit more late game potential with the scaling Jade Golems. Now that it is an Elemental, it also helps triggering Kalimos’ effect. Aya Blackpaw is obviously used as sticky mid-game threat that develops more tokens.
The deck goes all-in on the Totem package to develop even more board presence. Primalfin Totem helps generating tokens and can become a nightmare really quickly, Flametongue Totem enables valuable trades with the tokens while Mana Tide Totem is used as a draw mechanism to prevent running out of steam. Note that all of these Totems can snowball very quickly if your opponents can’t deal with them properly and it can lead them to inefficient plays if they don’t have the board to contest them. Thing from Below obviously comes in the deck to synergize with those Totems as its cost can be reduced very quickly, leading to incredible up-tempo plays. The 5/5 body is very pressuring and the Taunt helps protecting your Totems furthermore.
Stonehill Defender is used to fish for valuable taunts and keep some steam for later in the game while protecting your early tokens and Totems. Al’Akir the Windlord is a wonderful choice to help closing the game while getting another Elemental for Kalimos. Tar Creeper and Hot Spring Guardian also helps in that regard while being very effective against Aggro decks. Thing from Below is obviously a very efficient taunt as well while Earth Elemental can be the perfect pick to wall-off aggression and apply some more pressure with its huge body. White Eyes is also a good choice, especially in slower matchups as it can add another win condition to your deck with The Storm Guardian.
Hammer of Twilight is used as a mid-game board control tool that can also develop some more board presence with its Deathrattle. It fills the curve perfectly and helps preserving your minions when trading against bigger threats during the mid game. It can also be a decent source of direct damage if you need to work towards lethal. Overall it brings much more consistency than hoping for a nice Doppelgangster + Evolve combo during the mid to late game, while fitting the general strategy of the deck.
Note: I'm currently toying with Servant of Kalimos instead and it turns out to be pretty good. Sometimes I miss the board control from the Hammer but the added Elemental comes in handy in a lot of matchups. You might want to try this out if you feel like it. All in all, both cards are viable for this spot.
Similarly, Fire Elemental is a good way of fighting for board control during the mid to late game. Its effect comes in handy to deal with weakened minions which works perfectly with all your tokens that can adjust the damage you need to deal with the opposing threat. The 6/5 body adds a good late game threat to the deck that is also less vulnerable to AoE spells compared to the rest of your board. The Elemental status obviously helps triggering Kalimos, even though it doesn’t curve out perfectly, it is not rare to use it on different turns.
Then comes Kalimos, Primal Lord to make use of those Elementals and provide a versatile late game tool. Fire Fly and its Flame Elemental, Jade Spirit, Fire Elemental and the potential Elementals you can Discover with Stonehill Defender make sure you can trigger the effect reliably. Most of the time, you’ll find yourself using Invocation of Air as it adds a nice board to the deck and can be combined with your small minions to clear the opponent’s board entirely and leave you with a nice 7/7 body. However, the other invocations can be really useful as well in various situations:
Against Aggro and/or bursty decks, Invocation of Water can settle the win if you already managed to stabilize the board.
Against slower decks, Invocation of Earth is a nice way to refill your board and set up a potential Bloodlust after your opponent cleared your board. Be careful if you can expect more board clears from your opponent though.
Against heavy Control decks, Invocation of Fire can give you the last bit of damage you need to close the game even though it may happen more rarely.
Decent replacements for Kalimos, Primal Lord are:Servant of Kalimos, Blazecaller, Al'Akir the Windlord, second Hammer of Twilight, second Bloodlust, or even Tech Cards like Eater of Secrets if you face a lot of Mage.
As always, Maelstrom Portal is used as a board control tool that is especially powerful to gain tempo early on against Aggro decks while generating another cheap minions on your side. Devolve helps dealing with sticky board and silence buffed minions while weakening the opponent’s board overall to find valuable trades with your tokens or wipe the board with Maelstrom Portal. It counters Finja and Spikeridged Steed pretty well and can also be used to “remove” Taunt minions and push for lethal.
Finally, Bloodlust is used as a powerful win condition that can close the game in a bursty fashion with your solid board presence. Sometimes it can also be used in the mid-game to enable some favorable trades while pushing for some face damage with your remaining minions. As evoked in the introduction, I’m now running only one copy as the late game Elementals are enough to work towards closing the game and the dominance of Freeze Mage and Control Mage is somewhat hurting Bloodlust usage.
As the deck revolves around getting a swarmy board presence, you need to mulligan aggressively for your 1-drops and follow-up board control tools.
Flametongue Totem: If you have some 1-drops already and going first against classes that can’t deal with the board right away like Paladin. It can help you getting some valuable trades early on, especially with a Pirate start.
Primalfin Totem: It can be kept against slower classes as they will be unlikely to develop an early board presence and deal with it easily.
Maelstrom Portal: This card is a must keep against Aggro decks but not so much against Druid because they don’t run a lot of 1-health minions and also because Jade Druid is more prevalent in the current metagame.
Stonehill Defender: It can be kept if you have a decent start to follow-up and protect your early tokens.
If you have the choice between Fire Fly and Bloodsail Corsair on turn one against a weapon class, it could be a good idea to start with Fire Fly. For example, it can check for a turn two Jade Claws against Shaman and then you can play Bloodsail Corsair. However, you shouldn’t hold on for too long on Bloodsail Corsair as you’re running the risk of drawing Patches the Pirate. It’s still better to use the first one quickly to get Patches out of the deck and keep the second one for a counterplay if possible. Keep in mind that it is a very solid turn one play so don’t get greedy with it, especially if it’s your only play as you want to develop your board as soon as possible.
If you don’t have a 3-drop to play, playing Jade Claws on turn two against an empty board is a decent move as the overload won’t be impactful and the weapon will be ready for future minions. This way, you won’t be overloaded on turn four for a potential Jade Lightning or Jade Spirit, according to the situation. Be careful about decks that are well known for running an anti-weapon tech though.
Always be careful to your minions placement. Flametongue Totem is an awesome card to make some valuable trades. As a general rule you want to have sticky minions on the side and weaker ones (generally those you are willing to sacrifice) in the middle.
Don’t overextend! You are not an Aggro deck so you can afford to hold off on playing more cards while waiting for an opponent’s board clear. It is a good idea to keep Thing From Below in hand sometimes against Control decks, even if it costs zero mana, as you’ll be able to develop a solid body on the board right after your opponent cleared your board.
In a similar way, you shouldn’t hesitate to use Bloodlust during the mid game even if it doesn’t give you lethal. If you have a wide board presence but full of weak tokens and your opponent answered by developing some solid minions on his own, it can be a good idea to trade with your weaker minions thanks to the Bloodlust damage and add some more face damage with what’s left on your board. This is especially true if you expect a board clear from your opponent like a Jade Druid going on turn 8 with a potential Primordial Drake.
As discussed in the Breakdown Kalimos, Primal Lord is a nice addition that can set up the win most of the time. When you have it in hand, you should really think ahead about when you’ll most likely need it and how to manage your plays to trigger it smoothly. A common way of achieving this is to hold on a Flame Elemental from Fire Fly as it is a cheap activators that can be played at any time. In this situation, it is pretty easy to drop your Jade Spirit and/or Fire Elemental as needed, making sure you can use Kalimos at any time, and keep it as your last chance to trigger it. In any case, you are not so likely to hold on Kalimos for so long as every invocations can be useful most of the time, so it shouldn’t be too hard to plan your plays accordingly.
This variant of Token Shaman is particularly strong for its overall consistency as it doesn’t run the situational Evolve combo to include more mid to late game cards that can fight for board control while developing more minions. The Elemental package opens up a neat spot for Kalimos, which is very versatile and can be incredibly useful in a lot of situations depending on the Invocation you need to close the game.
We hope you’ll enjoy the deck and that this guide can help you climb the ladder this season!
Author: Morgan ‘Spark’ Cherioux
Spark is a Legend player since the early days of Hearthstone. Deep understanding of the game and exploring strategies is what he enjoys the most about gaming. He loves innovating and sharing knowledge, so follow him for more content.