This is my first Matchup Analysis for Anyfin Paladin focusing on the Mid Range Shaman matchup. Do note that the decks I have displayed in the articles may vary on ladder with people choosing to include or not include specific cards but the listed are indicative of the most common builds that are floating around on ladder right now.
A lot of people expected the number of Shamans to drop on ladder after the recent nerfs but it has not been the case. With so many powerful minions, board clears, weapons and removals – there is not much most decks can do about Mid Range Shaman’s asserting dominance on ladder. Ever since Karazhan came out things have been very difficult for most decks because Thrall and Morgl not only got one of the best cheap board clears in the game in form of Maelstrom Portal, but they also have Spirit Claws allowing them to control the board in the early game quite easily.
Anyfin Paladin continues to be one of the more popular counters to the deck because of the vast majority of board clears they have and the ability to shut down not only large boards but also big minions through cards like Aldor Peacekeeper and Truesilver Champion. There are enough comeback mechanisms in the deck and we will go through the key aspects of the matchup and break it down to maximize our odds at winning versus the deck that’s dominating Hearthstone.
High Priority picks
- Acidic Swamp Ooze (If you run one over Harrison Jones)
- Wild Pyromancer + Equality
- Loot Hoarder
- Bluegill Warrior
- Acolyte of Pain (with good curve/Coin)
- Truesilver Champion (with good curve)
- Aldor Peacekeeper
- Solemn Vigil (with Doomsayer or Wild Pyromancer + Equality combo)
Shutting down any form of tempo initiative from the deck is absolutely essential if you want to win the matchup comfortably. A lot of Shamans tend to coin out Totem Golem and drop a 1 drop or equip their Spirit Claws the following turn, do not shy away from dropping Doomsayer on curve to ensure a guaranteed clear. If you have Solemn Vigil in hand and are able to take out 2 minions (including Doomsayer itself) then you will be able to play it on turn 3 for 3 mana and draw 2 cards. The greedier you are with Doomsayer the less likely it is to survive.
Loot Hoarder is also a great drop when it comes to dealing with totems in the early game. Aldor Peacekeeper is a good minion to keep if you do not have any good answers for their 1 and 2 drops and he will help you shut down a Thing From Below or a spiraling Tunnel Trogg until you are able to clear. Wild Pyromancer with Equality is a great way to clear the board if they go all out with Feral Spirit and other cheap minions.
Tips and Strategy
- Harrison Jones versus Acidic Swamp Ooze is a tricky decision to make when building your Anyfin Paladin deck. One major reasons to include Acidic Swamp Ooze over Harrison despite the latter drawing you cards is that most of the popular weapons in the game right now cost 3 or less mana and if you are able to take out their Spirit Claws and deny value on turn 2, it will help you pressure their board more easily and allow minions like Acolyte of Pain to potentially gain more value. Harrison does have its merits but if you plan on targeting Shamans aggressively and deny them any form of initiative then Ooze is the way to go.
- Bloodlust is a card that is popping up in some of the more recent Shaman lists and you need to keep in mind the maximum damage potential of the board. While being greedy with your board clears is absolutely essential in the matchup, you also need to keep in mind things like Flametongue Totem, Wrath of Air Totem and the total Bloodlust damage possible. If there are a lot of totems on the board around turn 6, you want to clear them out to prevent a snowballing Thunder Bluff Valiant. You also want to clear out totems as much as possible and face damage should be a secondary concern since there is no way a Shaman can avoid your combo OTKs if you choke their board, unless of course you are setting up lethal. Every totem you choose to ignore makes it likely for them to get Wrath of Air Totem if they don’t already have it and it offers cards like AoEs and Spirit Claws more value. Mana Tide Totem is your highest priority totem at all times because it snowballs versus slower decks and you want to block all card advantage for your opponent.
- Bloodmage Thalnos is one of my most recommended additions to the deck over a Loot Hoarder. While the latter might help you kill 3/2s, the spell damage that Bloodmage Thalnos offers helps a lot when it comes to clearing boards with 3 HP minions that Shamans have in abundance.
- Using Ivory Knight correctly is essential in the matchup. Sometimes it’s okay to get expensive bad cards just to get enough heal to avoid possible lethal setups, while most of the time you want to take cards you need the most. If you happen to be offered Anyfin Can Happen, it might not always be the best choice always. An additional board clear or removal might be more relevant than your combo finisher in specific situations and you should go for the safe route always.
- Using your Murloc Warleader is key in the matchup. You generally do not want your Warleaders to get hit by Hex but if you get a value trade by using your Warleader and Bluegill Warrior for 4 damage then you should take it without worrying about the spell. You can choose to hold onto them until the lategame so that your 8 drops can get Hexed and you will be able to setup combo lethals with Warleader by setting them up on board and letting them die. Most players however do not choose to Hex Warleaders because of the big threats that you have and how easy it is for them to deal 3 damage using various tools at their disposal. Even if one of the Warleaders do get Hexed your second Anyfin will be able to deal 24 damage which is enough, assuming the other 3 murlocs die before your first Anyfin.
- Try to plan for their power turns. You need to have immediate answers for their strongest play – Thunder Bluff Valiant, a card that can snowball them to victory. Alternatively, you can setup cards like Doomsayer to shut down such turns temporarily and allow yourself time to find removal.
- A lot of Mid Range Shamans run Harrison Jones these days. Playing a Truesilver Weapon on turn 4 as a tempo play can be devastating!
- Keep an eye out for intricate plays with Wild Pyromancer and Acolyte of Pain to get some extra draws out without wasting cards. If you plan on playing your Pyromancer and Equality combo, followed by a healing spell make sure that you play Equality first to develop a 3/1 on board and prevent your Pyromancer from dying.
Hope these tips help you ace the matchup and do better. If there are other Anyfin Paladin matchups that you feel are popular or difficult, feel free to let me know in the comments below and I will cover them soon. Hope you have fun with the deck and lead your murloc army to high ranks!