Mrrgglll! This month we get to have some fun. Not that the last months haven’t been fun, but I get tired of playing long games. This season I get to go back to my routes and explore a version of Aggro Paladin I have been wanting to try for a long time. Murlocs have always been interesting to me from an aggro player standpoint because it is very rare that so many cards mesh so well together. Now, while that has can be good, it can also be a curse because losing one key card can ruin your board. To offset that, I always thought packing the murloc shell into a deck filled with divine shield and great draw could work well. Now I get the chance to try it.
The reason I love Aggro Paladin is that it is by far the most skill intensive and thought-provoking aggro deck in the game. This is not just a list where you play out your minions and blindly go face (though sometimes it is). Most of the time you have a lot of things you need to calculate, such as playing to your Divine Favor two turns away or trying to figure out how to balance Divine Shield and Knife Juggler triggers. There is always something going on and that keeps it feeling very fresh. Add a murloc sub-theme to that complexity and you have an interesting build that is right up my alley.
What do we want? Damage! When do we want it? Now! This is an aggro deck and your goal is to maximize the amount of pressure you can put on at any given time. As a result, I took the murlocs and paired them with every single aggressive card Paladin has. Weapons, Leeroy Jenkins, divine shield, and an incredibly low curve. Your goal with this deck is to stack on early pressure and then use that to take over the board. Once you have control of the game you want to do everything you can to control the pace, clearing and adding more and more minions.
One of the things that makes this deck interesting is the sheer number of different combos and interactions packed inside its 30 cards. Always be on the lookout to find small interactions in your cards to make your plays better. The murlocs are very strong and good at just spamming bodies on the board, but most of your power is going to stem from your divine shield minions and early game. The whole point of this deck is to always have something to do that furthers your damage or board presence. It feels a lot like Zoo in that regard. However, unlike Zoo you have a much lower curve and don’t have the capablity to build into larger minions. Only finishers. That’s not a bad thing, you just need to know that it pilots a little differently.
The absolute hardest part of making this deck is the sheer number of cards that you could run. There are just so many options for a deck like this, ranging from Keeper of Uldaman to Consecration to Sir Finley Mrrgglton to Steward of Darkshire to Coldlight Seer to…the list goes on and on. That makes this really tough to build and it means I’m sure the core is going to change many times throughout the next couple of weeks. Aggro Paladin and murlocs both have a strong core, but getting to those cores to mesh is not going to be easy.
The last note about this deck is you only have one charge minion in Leeroy Jenkins. This version relies a lot on having board presence, and losing it can be a problem. For that reason, I have already begun to think about different options that can do immediate damage like Argent Horserider and Bluegill Warrior.
This section will discuss some of my early options and what I think to be the best choices early on.
I am honestly not sure if the deck would work without this card. A 1/3 murloc for 1 is fine in and of itself. However, a 1/3 that turns your hero power into a value machine is very, very good. Getting a 1/1 murloc a turn may not seem like a big deal, but it really pushes your sub-theme forward and gives you a ton of extra synergy with things like Murloc Knight and Murloc Warleader. Also, you get to play a murloc each turn. Even if you do not run some of the higher murloc synergy, your opponent isn’t going to know that. As a result, just pumping the board full of a 1/1 murlocs can really put the pressure on and force your opponent to use AOE when they would rather save it. Fear plays an important role and they have no idea what you have.
The other important note about Vilefin Inquisitor is that it is a 1/3 for one. That may not seem like a huge deal, but as any aggro player will tell you, that is one of the strongest statlines around. That enables your minions to trade well with a buff and makes them very, very sticky. The body is so good that I am considering Sir Finely Mrrgglton for it alone. Because I am running two 1/3’s for one (and potentially a third) I think that there could be some buffs I could find a way to fit into the deck. Divine Strength is the most obvious because it costs one and really allows you to slot it into the curve, but Blessing of Might (which has a lot of divine shield synergy) is also an option.
Nothing scares me, except getting my ability wasted. Selfless Hero is an incredibly powerful card that very well may be one of the best one drops in the entire meta. A 2/1 body is par the course for one drops, but a 2/1 body that also gives you that sweet, sweet divine shield is very important. In fact, it is so important that you almost always want to try to get any value out of it that you can. Of course, you should always play this if it is your only one drop, but when facing something that can easily remove the hero like Druid, Rogue or Mage, you typically want to go another route if you can. Selfless Hero’s ability to shield up a two drop (or another one drop) makes her extremely strong. There are a lot of high priority targets (Knife Juggler, Murloc Tidecaller) that you want to hit because you can get your board to rapidly spiral out of control. As a result, you need to do what you can to make sure she hits something. Even getting a 2/2 or a 1/3 to resist removal can put the squeeze on a lot of decks.
The board clear that time forgot, I believe Equality to be one of the best cards for this deck based on the current meta. Making all of your opponent’s minions have one health has long been a staple of Paladin, but it works extremely well in aggro because it instantly shuts down taunts. While there are other options to run in this spot (most notably Consecration) there are so many big threats running around that I think you want to stick with the two mana card. Though taunts were once far and gone from the meta, they have started to slowly creep back into a ton of different decks due to the prevalence of Combo Warrior and classic Aggro Shaman. Slow Control Shaman runs them, as do all Druids and most Tempo and Control Warriors. Not to mention the numerous decks that also have random taunts here and there. Having a way to instantly invalidate those options is very valuable.
Equality is a card you typically want to use as a one-for-one when facing down a large taunt, but you only want to use it if it’s the best play at the time. That does not simply mean “big taunt, use Equality”. You need to know when you would rather trade your board or when you have other options in your hand. Your weapons can be a great way to break through taunts, as can some of your bigger threats. However, there are some games where your opponent will play a hail mary taunt and you want to use Equality just to keep tempo and the pressure. This is one of your best trump cards, but knowing how to use it is very key. Also note that this card works wonders with Knife Juggler and does a good job of taking down a big threat if you are being pressured.
As with any Aggro Paladin deck, murloc or otherwise, Divine Favor is going to both be your best card and the hardest card to use. Most of your games are going to come down to how well you both use and play to Divine Favor. Trying to maximize having the lowest amount of cards when your opponent has the most cards is very hard and will usually come down to one key turn. For example, Druid is a deck that tends to have a lot of card in their hand up into the middle game where they try to go off with Innervate or push into some big token combo. You typically want to get your cards out of your hand to favor before that happens.
Every deck has that one turn where they can dump a lot of their hand out of nowhere. You need to realize when that is for each class, or when it might it happen based on the way your opponent is playing. Some decks like to get rid of their cards right away and some like to hold them for much longer. Other decks (especially Rogue) like to play some cards early and then draw them late. Whatever your target, just do your best to have the lowest hand count at the time without making huge misplays. Also, know that you do not have to be greedy with favor. While it feels good to draw six or seven cards, sometimes it is perfectly fine getting three or four. Anything to keep your tempo going.
The big baddie of Murloc Paladin, Murloc Knight is traditionally a midrange card that I think could work absolute wonders in this list. I see this card a lot like Doomguard in Zoo. While you don’t get the charge or immediate damage, you are often going to get two solid bodies that both synergize very well together. That gets furthered even more if you have the 1/1 murloc hero power on top. What makes the knight so good is that it has to be killed immediately or it can quickly take over the game on its own. If you can bait out some early removal and then drop this on turn your, you should be able to rapidly put the game out of reach. This also makes a great end-game threat that you can draw and instantly get some board presence in three bodies that all happen to be murlocs.
I am not really sure if this deck wants two Murloc Knights, but it is definitely a possibility. The reason there is only one is because I want to keep the curve as low as possible. We are not Shaman, which means we are not guaranteed to draw are one drops every single game. You need to make sure you start the game on turn one as often as you can because it is very easy to falter. As a result, cutting some of the early game for more four drops does not seem like the right route to go. However, depending on how good this card is, and how much midrange or control I see, it could up it to two. This is a great control card, but it gets much worse against decks with a faster curve.
First Week Recap
Note: As usual, there will be no matchup or mulligan guide from me just yet. The first week is to flesh out the different cards and look at how the deck is performing right off the bat.
Out of all my options right now, I think the two that stand out the most to me are going hyper-aggro or super-murloc. There are a few synergy cards that I haven’t used, such as Coldlight Seer. I think a big point in this deck is going to be discerning just how aggressive I want to be and how many murlocs I want versus how many traditional cards. Knife Juggler feels like it needs to stick around, but I think I may be able to shave some cards and go heavier on the divine shield theme. This would also be a good way to deal with any pesky AOE running around.
For next week I will most likely switch to a more murloc-heavy version that takes advantage of Steward of Darkshire (a card I think could really pack a punch in this list). Both two mana murlocs have one health and they both come with a 1-1 tacked on. You also have the natural aggro synergy as well as the Murloc Tinyfin combo. If I do that I may even try to play one Anyfin Can Happen. It could be too slow, but if there are enough Warriors running around it could be an option.
Finally, Consecration is going to be worth testing. I am not a huge fan of the card right now, but there may be enough token Druid combined with Zoo to really make it worth a spot. At the very least it is worth testing for two damage to get through taunts.
Mrgglglgllgl. That’s “week one” in murloc. The opening days are always going to be rough and I know there is going to be a lot of changes coming to this deck simply due to the sheer number of potential options at your disposal. There are so many options I have yet to explore and there are so many avenues to take. Tweaking a deck like this is what I know, and I cannot wait to hit the ol’ drawing board. Hope you guys enjoyed the first. Until next time, mrrggllgrlglg!