Murloc Paladin is one of the most consistent combo decks in Hearthstone. It has a lot of healing, great stall, and a finisher than can pull out a ton of wins, even if you are behind. As such, it is a great choice for ranking up. However, if you want to take the deck to ladder you need to know how to battle the other popular decks in the game. In this guide we will analyze Murloc Paladin and see how, with a little patience and proper planning, it can take down another strong control deck in Renolock.
Despite how key the core of Murloc Paladin is to the overall deck, it is always important to remember that you have a large amount of variation when it comes to the fringe cards. You can run lots of healing and taunts in a “turtle-up” style mode, which lends to a more control playstyle. However, you can also run a lot more minions and play the midrange version. Both lists are strong in their own right, and they both come with cons and weaknesses. When choosing one, you typically want to play the one you understand the best, or the one that is strongest for your current rank. To help you with this, a couple of sample lists have been placed below.
Anytime you play against Warlock you need to mulligan for Zoo. While you may think you are facing against Renolock, you never want to get caught off guard and overwhelmed by aggro. That being said, you have a lot of cards that are good against both style of decks. You are just looking for early removal in this matchup, which means anything that can threaten or negate one of your opponent’s minions. Card draw is also important to keep, but it is secondary to having answers.
Cards to KeepEquality Doomsayer Bluegill Warrior Wild Pyromancer Aldor Peacekeeper Acolyte of Pain Murloc Warleader Truesilver Champion
Solemn Vigil can be kept if you have a minion-heavy opening.
Both Antique Healbot and Sludge Belcher can be kept if you have a strong opening and the coin.
Old Murk-Eye is a good keep with the coin.
Keeper of Uldaman is a strong keep with a good opening and the coin.
How to Win
One of the most important parts of facing off against Renolock is recognizing it as Renolock as soon as you can. There are two main versions of Warlock, aggro and heavy control. Once you know which you are facing, you can quickly adapt and begin to sculpt your gameplan. The best way to do this is to just watch for your opponent’s turn one or two play. While both decks run Dark Peddler (and can run Voidwalker) any minion like Knife Juggler, Nerubian Egg or Haunted Creeper shows you are playing Zoo. If they just tap, you should assume they are Reno.
Being careful is the number one most important part of this game. Renolock has a ton of healing, which can routinely put them out of combo range. To combat that you want to achieve that interesting balance where they are high enough where they don’t feel they need to heal, but low enough where you can get them down. This is a very hard balance to achieve, and you may have several turns where you do nothing. However, patience is a key to this game. Do not be afraid to pass.
Like against so many decks, it is vitally important to stretch out your removal as much as you can. Renolock has the ability to flood the board, but they can also just try and mitigate the game through one or two big threats. You never want to use Aldor Peacekeeper or Equality too early or on the wrong target. Always understand their potential threats (Dr. Boom, Mal’ganis etc.) and have a plan for how to deal with them.
Early Game Strategy
The early game is going to go by very quick without a lot of action. Renolock is going to spend their first turns tapping, and you need to spend yours playing Murlocs, figuring out what style of Warlock you are playing and getting cards into your hand. Those lines of play aren’t very interactive, and it is best to just think of the opening as a classic Control vs. Control mirror.
When it comes to Murlocs, you do want to play them as soon as you can. Renolock does run a couple of early cards, and Bluegill Warrior can be used to trade in with great effect. Even if the board is empty, playing the two drop and going face can be fine since it forces them to react. The same rule applies to Murloc Warleader. Even if they have an answer it won’t matter because you need your fish to die anyway.
Acolyte of Pain is one of the best opening cards you can play because it matches up well against their early minions, draws a card and forces out some sort of removal. The three drop may not do a lot on the board, but anytime you can force them to spend a turn killing something while also drawing cards you are in good shape. Also note that, if they don’t have an answer to Acolyte you can really get a full hand.
The middle of the game can get very spooky very quickly. While Renolock is a control deck, they run a lot of big minions and powerful threats. Anything from Feugen[card] to [card]Stalagg to a Voidcaller or Sludge Belcher can consistently do damage and force your hand. You need to constantly think about your life total, Renolock’s potential damage as well as how threatening their board is.
Truesilver Champion is your most powerful card during these turns. Renolock runs a lot of annoying mid-game minions that aren’t big enough to Peacekeeper, but are still hefty enough to pressure your life. The sword deals with all of these quite nicely, giving you room to save your more important spells.
If your opponent is building a board of midrange threats and you have no sword, you typically want to use your Murlocs and Sludge Belchers to keep pace. Bluegill Warrior and Old Murk-Eye can be great removal spells when used with Murloc Warleader, and even by themselves they can do five damage. Just remember to always attack with the legendary first.
Try to get as much use out of Doomsayer as you can. This is very difficult against Warlock because, not only do they run Ironbeak Owl, but they also pack a bunch of removal. The best way to get a clear off of the two drop is to pair it with a Aldor Peacekeeper. You should also try to wait until you have seen an owl unless you just need to buy time or gain seven life.
Late Game Strategy
The end of the game is all about your combo. As stated, this is where you need to control your opponent’s health and make sure they don’t get too scared into using Reno Jackson. Them going to thirty is not the end of the game, but it does make things trickier. There are many times where not attacking is correct. If you can drop them into combo range, the it is right, but attacking them down to the mid-teens for no reason is often wrong.
Never be afraid to Anyfin twice. The whole five murloc combo does twenty two damage from an empty board. That will usually be more than enough to clear up a Renolock who has no taunts, but sometimes you just want to get the murlocs down to clear out some taunts or take off pressure in the same way you can use the first Druid combo. However, unlike the Druid combo, your second Anyfin is going to do well over thirty damage. Using the first to buy you some extra turns is often the correct play.
It is also important to remember that Renolock, like all Warlock decks, has access to a lot of burst. Hellfire, Lord Jaraxxus, Power Overwhelming and Darkbomb all can be stacked together for quite a bit of damage. It is not always going to come up (especially because of how much healing you run) but if you are in the teens and looking at a sizable board it is best to play more conservatively than you normally would. No reason to die because you didn’t account for damage.
Never be afraid to play a preemptive Doomsayer onto an empty board. This is one of the more interesting uses for the card that people tend to overlook. While the two drop is a removal spell/AOE, it also is an amazing tempo play, because if your opponent can’t kill it on their turn they also cannot play minions since they will just die. Putting down a lone Doomsayer makes it so your opponent cannot really play minions, and is a great way to set up a next turn combo, especially if you play Murlocs alongside it.