Mrrghlggrrhgl, dear readers, and welcome to the third installment of the definitive guide series. The end of the year is upon us so this time around I thought that you would like me to cover something more fun, casual and lighthearted and then next week we’ll be taking a look at pirates. So, for this week’s installment I give you just about anything related to murlocs! They are small, they make funny noises, they are easy to get rid off but they can be extremely deadly when in a large group.
Sit back, relax and let’s dive right into it! 🙂
As always, this guide will be divided into three sections. The first section, this one, will cover the basics behind murlocs including a brief history of both the race and the cards and what role do murlocs have in different classes. If you’re looking for a more in depth analysis and/or decks and are not interested in these very basics then feel free to skip ahead to the next section where you’ll probably find what you’re looking for.
The history of murlocs
They are more than a fish. They are more than a man. They are murlocs!
The origin of murlocs is unknown. It is known that they are one of the oldest races of Azeroth and that they are primarily sea dwellers though some of them had left their aquatic home to settle around larger lakes and rivers of Azeroth. Their small villages can usually be found in a close proximity to various human (or other) settlements, probably because of easily accessible food on the form of cattle or smaller animals.
They are a primitive race with a very low intelligence, though there do exist more intelligent members of their society which is evident in murloc spellcasters. Despite the popular belief that murlocs usually speak gibberish, they actually speak a language called nerglish in a dialect known only as murloc, so what may seem as complete gibberish to us as observers has some actual meaning behind it. Although most murlocs speak nerglish there have been several instances of murlocs, especially murloc spellcasters, who have learned how to speak and use one of more common languages of Azeroth. The first murloc to speak in such a manner in Hearthstone was sir-finley-mrrgglton but in Warcraft games the first time that we encounter murlocs that can speak in such a manner is in Warcraft 3 with one of the instances being the murloc sorcerer who had kidnapped and killed Sen’jin, the father of Vol’jin.
In Hearthstone, murlocs have been around since the very beginning of the game and the idea behind them was to have many small murlocs on the board that buff other murlocs and you will eventually win with your army of buffed up murlocs. The first murloc deck to see competitive play, as competitive as it could be in those extremely early days of closed beta, was murloc warlock. Thanks to the warlock’s hero power it was not a problem to just refill your hand and your board but the thing that had actually made the deck function was surprisingly not a murloc at all but the pre nerfed blood-imp. For those of you who haven’t been around in those days, the pre nerfed blood-imp 1 mana 1/1 demon with stealth that gave all your other minions +1 health which made your 1 health murlocs (which is more than a half of them) into 2 health minions which made them increasingly harder to remove. While the deck itself wasn’t too much of a problem, blood-imp was deemed too powerful and was nerfed into the version that we know today. Murloc warlock had tried to make a comeback several times after that but to no avail.
The only instance in which a murloc card was buffed or nerfed was in the very first card change patch (released on the 22nd of June, 2013) and the card that was change was murloc-warleader. Surprisingly, it wasn’t nerfed but it was in fact buffed from giving +1/+1 to other murlocs to giving them +2/+1 instead.
Over the course of the game we’ve been given many new murloc cards and murlocs began to deviate further and further away from their original design. Nowadays there are murlocs outside of the classic set that buff other murlocs but instead they now have effects like summoning other murlocs when you use a hero power, changing your hero power and drawing cards.
Murlocs in various classes
Over the course of the game there have been various different murloc decks in various different classes but the ones that stood above the rest were murloc warlock, murloc paladin and murloc shaman. I know that some might argue that murloc shaman was never a thing, much like dragon paladin was never a thing, but it was nevertheless one of the only three classes in the game that were actually given support for murlocs and thus made a murloc deck slightly more viable.
Murloc warlock was a powerful deck before the blood-imp nerf but after that it saw barely any play. It did had its spot in the extremely early beta metagame and it was played to a certain degree on lower ranks with a decent success rate, but it quickly fell off the radar as soon as Curse of Naxxramas came and even before that with the introduction of a similar yet far more powerful warlock deck archetype called zoo.
Murloc paladin is a thing even to this day simply because of one card and that card is anyfin-can-happen. Now, I was really skeptical about this one when it was first announced but, surprisingly, it took the ladder by storm and to this day it is the single most played tournament and standard ladder paladin deck. The deck is still viable in both wild and standard and though the standard version had lost old-murk-eye it had retained its efficiency.
Last but not the least is the murloc shaman. Murloc shaman is something that the developers had wanted to make viable for a very, very long time but it never really took off. When the murloc warlock deck had basically died off a couple of months after the game’s release the developers sought to bring back murloc decks and because shaman was one of the weaker classes they have decided to give it murloc support cards in the form of neptulon and siltfin-spiritwalker. The deck didn’t see any play, siltfin-spiritwalker saw no play and neptulon saw some degree of play but it was outside of murloc shaman decks. They’ve tried once more to make murloc shaman work and we got anyfin-is-awesome which did seem like a powerful card at first glance but it ended up being another dead shaman murloc card.
Other classes didn’t really have any murloc decks. There were some experimental decks like murloc token druid and murloc hunter way back before Curse of Naxxramas but those never really took off and other classes already had more powerful decks so there was no need to even bother with murlocs. Poor, poor murlocs.
In the second section of this article we’ll be taking a bit more in depth look at the murloc cards and murloc decks. At the very end of the section you will be provided with the links to several murloc decks. As always, the decks provided come from hearthstonetopdecks.com. In the last section I’ll be talking about the future of murloc decks so if you’re just interested in that part you can skip ahead.
I identify as a murloc
In the last section I’ve briefly touched upon the evolution of murloc cards and how they went from minions that buff other minions to minions that interact with your hero power in various ways or have other unique effects depending on the class in which they are in. In Mean Streets of Gadgetzan we’ve even got our first murloc that actually deals damage as a part of its battlecry. Identifying which murlocs you wish to use in what deck is key to constructing a viable murloc deck. With that being said we’re going to take a look at most murloc cards and different murloc deck archetypes to see what role does it fill in those kinds of decks and how you should use it (or should you even use it).
March of the murlocs deck archetype
March of the murlocs deck archetype is the evergreen classic which revolves around playing murlocs that either buff other murlocs or create additional murlocs. The first type of this deck was the old murloc warlock and while the deck itself hasn’t resurfaced in the higher ranks or on the competitive level it is still a very viable deck archetype for those who seek to give murloc decks besides murloc paladin a go.
The staple murloc cards for this deck are grimscale-oracle, murloc-tidecaller, bluegill-warrior, murloc-tidehunter, coldlight-seer and murloc-warleader. You need two of each of those cards in order to make the deck work and I would not advise you running this deck without those cards.
There is plenty room for additional murloc cards so let’s take a look at those. bilefin-tidehunter is a decent murloc which serves the purpose of protecting your more important murlocs. If you’re playing this deck archetype in anything but warlock that this is the early defender minion that you need. Otherwise use voidwalker instead.
As with the previous card, another option for non-warlock murloc decks is coldlight-oracle. Warlock works best with murlocs because it provides the player with the much needed card draw. coldlight-oracle is a replacement for that card draw in other classes and while it does give your opponent additional cards, drawing 2 cards and getting a murloc onto the field is not a small deal.
The last neutral murloc minion that we’re going to take a look at for this deck archetype is finja-the-flying-star. Because you want to get as many murlocs as you can onto the board it would be crazy to underestimate the value of Finja. In a deck that is based around swarming your board with murlocs, especially those that buff other murlocs, the ability to get 2 murlocs, possible something like murloc-warleader and/or grimescale-oracle, from a single minion is too powerful to pass up. Yes, Finja is expensive to craft but it is well worth it.
Moving onto the class murloc cards we have only two good options and both are in shaman. call-in-the-finishers is a great card for a deck like this because a) you want murlocs on your board and b) you’ll probably either buff other murlocs with the ones that you’re getting or have them buffed when they enter the play. If you’re running a murloc shaman for some reason than run two of those cards.
The other cards is everyfin-is-awesome. Nowadays there are more ways to get murlocs into play than ever so you can play this card for a really cheap cost. Combine it with something like call-in-the-finishers or lower its cost by 2 thanks to the two murlocs that finja-the-flying-star gets you or even run a pair of murloc-tinyfin to reduce its cost. It is not that hard to cast and the bonus that it can provide, especially because it buffs EVERYTHING on your side of the board, is crazy.
Combo murloc deck archetype
The other murloc deck archetype is the combo murloc deck and there is actually only one combo murloc deck out there…the murloc paladin. This deck is less flexible than the previous one because it requires a very specific few murlocs to die and if any other murlocs die than it has the chance to mess up the combo.
The murlocs that you run in this deck are bluegill-warrior and murloc-warleader. That is it. The point of the deck is to get those murlocs killed before turn 10 and then get them all back with anyfin-can-happen as a finisher. Needless to say the deck is a paladin deck only.
Though it isn’t a combo deck per se, mill rogue heavily relies on coldlight-oracle so I thought that it might be worth mentioning it. What you do with this deck is that you play coldlight-oracle to force your opponent to draw cards and combine it with gang-up to get even more card draw for your opponent while protecting yourself from milling yourself to death. Then you simply bounce around coldlight-oracle with shadowstep until your opponent eventually runs out of cards and loses due to fatigue damage.
As promised here are links to some murloc decks that you can try out.
The future of murloc decks
In the last two definitive guides I was a bit sad for the future of those decks (Reno and dragon decks) because it really isn’t bright and there is a high chance that those decks will fade out of existence quite quickly. With murlocs, however, it is a bit of a different story. While murloc paladin will die out come April the march of the murlocs deck archetype will be here forever because the key cards are all from the basic or classic set meaning that they won’t ever rotate out. I’m not sure if that deck archetype will ever be good again but it will at least always exist which is more than I can say for Reno decks and dragon decks so the future of murlocs is a bit brighter than that of the previous two decks that we have covered.
My personal stance on this is that I do want to see murlocs thrive in the next year of standard. I like murlocs, the march of the murlocs deck archetype is a very unique one, and it has always bothered me that they aren’t seeing as much play as they have been seeing before in the oldest days of Hearthstone. As for murloc paladin, well, I personally don’t play the deck, I don’t like it and I don’t like having it played against me unless I’m playing something like a heavy control warrior deck so I won’t mind seeing it gone. Those who love the deck can always play it in wild and if they don’t like the wild format and don’t care for the wild format cards well then it is just a couple of extra dust come April.
We’ve reached the end of this week’s definitive guide. I realize that it is a shorter guide than the previous ones but that is because of two main reasons: there really isn’t much to say about murlocs yet I wanted to cover them anyway before moving onto something more serious like pirates and I’m working on something HUGE that will come out on Thursday. Working on that other article and having the family here for the holidays does consume a lot of time and I didn’t want to deprive you, dear readers, of your weekly definitive guides so this one had to be a bit shorter than the previous ones.
What are your opinions on the murloc decks? Would you like to see more murlocs seeing play in the future? Will you play murloc paladin in the wild format once it rotates out? Let me know in the comment section below. As always if you’ve liked this article do consider following me on twitter https://twitter.com/Eternal_HS. There you can ask me all sorts of Hearthstone questions (unrelated to this article) and I’ll gladly answer them as best as I can.