Introduction: What is Murloc Paladin?
Now that Karazhan has started to open, lots of decks are transforming and adding the new cards which are having noticeable effects on the current meta. One deck in particular that is an old favorite of mine received a great survivability card as well as potentially being able to get 3-4 copies of their main combo piece, Anyfin Can Happen. This guide will introduce you to the wild wild world of Murloc Paladin and teach you the sneaky paladin tricks that make this deck so deadly.
The Murloc Paladin combo originated when League of Explorers came out and brought a goofy card to the paladin arsenal called Anyfin Can Happen. At first glance it seems like this card is good for refreshing the board but it wasn’t until some pro player (any evidence of who originated it should be brought to my attention so I can credit the creator) came up with the idea to only run Bluegill Warrior, Murloc Warleader and Old Murk-Eye. By allowing these creatures to die or trade early in the match, on Turn 10 you can cast Anyfin Can Happen and bring out, in the best case scenario, all five cards to create a 6/3 charge Bluegill, a 6/3 charge Bluegill, and a 10/4 Old Murk-Eye. But it doesn’t end there! The true absurdity of the deck is when your opponent is able to deal with those threats and stabilize, only to watch you cast another Anyfin Can Happen with the potential to bring back DOUBLES of each of those cards because it counts the second deaths as a separate card. That meant double Old Murk-Eyes with multiple Warleaders to pump them all up and create ridiculous amounts of damage. Sadly with the release of Whispers of the Old Gods, Old Murk-Eye was forced to retire and the deck lost a portion of its insanity and faded into the list of decks that nobody plays….
One of the previous issues with the deck was that sometimes you wouldn’t draw your Anyfin Can Happen and would be left trying to control the board for 7-8 turns while waiting for your combo piece. Thankfully, with the addition of Murloc Paladin’s newest recruit, Ivory Knight, it’s much less of a problem. Ivory Knight allows you to potentially Discover an Anyfin Can Happen while dropping a 4/4 minion onto the board AND healing yourself for a whopping 10 health! This card increased the survivability as well as the combo potential of Murloc Paladin exponentially and is why I believe this deck is about to make a triumphant return. So first, let’s take a look at the decklist and see what’s required to run this crazy murloc train.
Decklist and Alternate Construction
At the moment there are only two versions of this deck going around. The main version of the deck which is also the most affordable is displayed on the right. This version focuses on utilizing all of the main board wipe removal combos that Paladin has in order to sustain and survive until you can cast Anyfin Can Happen for your win. Here are some of the cards that are interchangeable and can be substituted out for other things.
Loot Hoarder: My version runs Loot Hoarder because I like having something early that can trade with small creatures before I have to use up my combo pieces to wipe the board. The version I found of this deck didn’t originally run these but another version which I will mention after the interchangeable cards was why I put them in. The draw effect is great to try and get into more control but the value of the Loot Hoarder really jumps up when you add N’Zoth, the corruptor to the deck and allow yourself the chance to bring them back for more card advantage. Take these out if you’re facing too much control as they are super weak to control and will only be a 2 mana card draw.
Lay on Hands: The version I found online ran two of these while the second version runs none of them. The life gain is great but with the high amount of life gain in this deck already it isn’t quite a necessity. That leaves the card draw. Because my version runs two Loot Hoarders and an extra Solemn Vigil that isn’t in the regular version that runs two Lay on Hands, I dropped it down to one to make room. I’m tempted to alter this deck when Medivh, the guardian comes out and adding the extra Lay on Hands for the spell’s mana cost, but until then I’m satisfied with the singleton and so far I haven’t even needed it.
Stampeding Kodo: The secondary version of this deck doesn’t run any of these but I feel they are irreplaceable. As you will see in the combo section this card goes great with Aldor Peacekeeper because you can effectively kill anything. I’ve used that combo to kill C’thun as well as Ancient of War. I don’t think they should be taken out but the secondary version of this deck is run by a pro player so I have to take that into consideration.
The rest of the deck is all kind of necessary. They are some of the best removal cards that Paladin can use and I can’t think of any other cards that would replace them. Solemn Vigil has been seen going down to a single but I have yet to see a deck list that doesn’t run it at all as it combos great with Doomsayer. In later sections of this guide I will go over combos and cards which will help you determine what cards you need to cut or sacrifice if you don’t currently have all the pieces to this deck.
Alternate Decklist: Thijs’ N’Zoth Ivory Murloc Paladin
This version of the deck costs much more dust to make but has its own strengths since it combines the power of N’Zoth with Murloc Paladin. Here are the changes that you would have to make to my decklist on the right to match his:
-2 Stampeding Kodos, -1 Lay on Hands
+1 Sylvanas Windrunner, +1 Tirion Fordring, +1 N’Zoth, the Corruptor (and make sure you don’t take out the Loot Hoarders because they go with this version as well)
The N’Zoth version of the deck is pretty self-explanatory, you make the same trades as you would normally but now you get to play Deathrattle minions who get to come back into play once N’Zoth, the corruptor hits play.
I’m partial to this deck because it means you have to take out the Stampeding Kodos but if you have played N’Zoth Paladin before or another N’Zoth deck and enjoy using that card, then by all means try this out and see for yourself if it works. Thijs seems to like it and he’s a much better player than I am.
Combos: Things to Know
While most of the cards themselves are great on their own, some of these cards have the best synergies in any of the current decks out there. These combos are what make this deck deadly and the proper usage of them will make your climb up the ladder that much easier. Let’s take a look at what I mean.
Doomsayer+Solemn Vigil: The great thing about Doomsayer is that the minions it kills are all killed on your turn which cheapens the cost of Solemn Vigil. The best time to set up this combo is when you can also toss in your hero power, like on turn 4. As long as you make sure that your opponent doesn’t have 7 damage on the field this means that they have to either attack and cast something to kill it or let it wipe the current minions that they have. Most of the time you’ll get two or so minions of theirs killed but when you add Doomsayer and your hero power’s minion that brings you Solemn Vigil down to 1 mana for some easy card draw. Just yesterday I dropped two of them down against a Hunter who decided to attack my face and next turn I cast both Solemn Vigils for 0 mana.
Equality+Wild Pyromancer or Consecration: This one is pretty easy to figure out. For 4 mana you can go Wild Pyromancer into Equality to wipe the whole board, or if you’re feeling extra sneaky, there is even Equality into Wild Pyromancer into another card like Forbidden Healing if for some reason you want your Pyromancer to live. The other option is to use 6 mana and go Equality into Consecration which will wipe your opponent’s field. The important thing you have to remember about this combo is that it is very limited and hard to pull off twice. Use your first Equality combo wisely unless you have your second one in hand in which case go ahead and use it on a small amount of creatures. The most effective way is to bait your opponent into a very large field and take care of them all at once.
Aldor Peacekeeper+Stampeding Kodo: Cast these two in order and you can kill pretty much anything. As mentioned above, I’ve used this to kill a giant C’thun, a 5/10 Ancient of War and I almost forgot, a 14/14 Edwin VanCleef once. This combo costs 8 mana to pull off so don’t try to rely on it but keep it in mind when you’re fighting against a C’thun deck or a Ramp Druid deck because they will crumble when they see their huge creature get eaten up by two nice strong minions. Now that I’m digging through my memory other good targets have been Tirion Fordring and Grommash Hellscream.
How to Play: Learning to Control
One of the most important things to remember about Murloc Paladin is that it is a combo deck. 90% of the deck is powerful control cards that wipe your opponent’s field, heal you for lots of health, all so you can get to 10 mana and cast Anyfin Can Happen.
Mulligans: The main things you’re looking for in your opening hands are Bluegill Warrior, Wild Pyromancer, Doomsayer and Equality. Murloc Warleader isn’t bad if you think you aren’t playing fast aggro, same with Consecration. Equality is probably the most important card, without it Wild Pyromancer is pretty much useless as you won’t want it on turn 2 as just a 3/2 minion, you should only be saving him for Equality combo or maybe something like Consecration to board wipe. My personal favorite to play with the coin or on turn 2 is Bluegill warrior. I try to mulligan for them pretty aggressively as I like to have them die early so I am set up for Anyfin can happen later.
Early Game: The things you want in your opening hand are things that trade fairly easily during the early turns. Loot Hoarder is great but your best options are Bluegill Warrior and Murloc Warleader. It’s important that these creatures die so that Anyfin Can Happen can revive them so don’t hesitate to trade as quickly as possible. Use Bluegill Warrior as a 2 mana 2 damage removal spell, don’t worry about keeping him around to attack a few times, because when your Anyfin Can Happen goes off you’ll do upwards to 24-40 damage in one turn. Just Trade, Trade, Trade!
Another thing to remember is to use your Doomsayers early also. The best situation is when they only have two minions in play because it means either you’ll kill his minions or he’ll waste an extra card just to take out your Doomsayer. Also, Doomsayer prevents aggro. My favorite thing to do is drop it against a single creature. What this also does is shuts down your opponent’s turn if they’re playing something like Shaman Aggro or Zoolock because if they can’t deal with the Doomsayer then they have to wait it out. Also keep in mind that a Doomsayer on turn 3 can set up for a good Solemn Vigil on turn 4 that can get you into your mid game.
Mid Game: Arounds turn 4-6 is when you should be setting up for your first board wipe. Make sure you’ve gotten an Equality by now and go for the Wild Pyromancer or Consecration combo. If they don’t have enough minions out yet try to handle them with a Truesilver Champion or just dropping down stuff from your hero power. Don’t worry about early damage. Things like Ivory Knight and Forbidden Healing as well as your late game Ragnaros, lightlord or Lay on Hands will keep you alive. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fought an aggro deck and healed myself for 40+ health during the match. Obviously don’t get too low where they can burst you down if you’re fighting Hunter or Shaman, but even at 12 health versus Hunter I was able to drop a decent Forbidden Healing and keep myself in the fight to recover.
Late Game: During the turns leading up to 10 mana, you need to make sure that you’re doing a few things. First, make sure you’ve got a few murlocs killed. I usually don’t cast Anyfin can happen unless at least three of them have died. If you end up casting one off of two murloc deaths make sure you remember which ones died so you can calculate accordingly. Second, you need to make sure you’re drawing Anyfin can happen or the murlocs that you need to get killed. This means getting your Loot Hoarders killed, dropping a Solemn Vigil or two and maybe even casting Lay on Hands if the opportunity presents itself. Last and most importantly, keep yourself alive. If you start getting down towards 10 health, don’t risk it. Wasting a turn to cast an 8 mana Forbidden Healing is totally worth it. Even if it means only healing the 16 damage that you took the turn before, it’s okay. You can always draw into an Equality combo and that’s when the tides will turn in your favor.
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I hope this guide gave you a good idea of how to build and run your own Anyfin Murloc Paladin deck in the current meta. In the upcoming week or two I will be streaming and playing this deck on Twitch while taking some notes when it plays against strong competitive meta decks such as Zoolock, Aggro Shaman, Midrange Hunter, etc. Once I’ve collected enough data to write up some guides I will be releasing “Ivory Murloc Paladin vs (insert class here)” guides and they will breakdown each of the top tier decks of that class and what to expect when entering a match with them.
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