If you guys haven’t seen this month’s episode one, check it out here.
One health minions? We don’t need no stinking one health minions! As excited as I am for Moroes, it is not a good time for things with one health. Not only is Ravaging Ghoul everywhere, but the resurgence of Druid has made Wrath and Swipe (and their hero power) more prevalent than ever. Tempo Mage also has a ton of ways to hit us hard and Hunter still runs Unleash the Hounds among random Explosive Traps. This doesn’t even count the decks that pack different AOE. So, where does that leave us? Do we simply throw in the towel? No, we adapt and evolve.
Where We Are Now
This week’s list is very different than the past one because, in response to the meta, we have rapidly moved away from one health minions. Things like Murloc Tinyin and Murloc Tidehunter are gone in favor or things that just have more health. Though there are still some things with one health, we also have a lot of divine shield to make sure they stay nice and safe from AOE. To be an aggro deck in today’s world you need to make sure you can keep your minions on board, and that’s the entire focus of this new build.
Another big change was the decision to cut Equality. This is important to bring up because it really says a lot about the meta. Though there have been many times where I wish I had a way to turn my opponent’s minions into one health, the game isn’t really built off of big minions like it once was. Rather, most decks usually only pack one big threat here and there. I am much more concerned about swarm and midrange decks that can pump out multiple cards a turn than I am about taunt walls. For that reason, the deck shifted to other sources of removal.
The deck now operates in two different halves. On one you have what I call the “divine shield” package where you run things like Selfless Hero, Argent Protector, Argent Squire, Rallying Blade and Steward of Darkshite. On the other, you have the murloc subtheme with all of your friendly fish-folk, which you protect and back-up with the divine shields. In this way you get to have the quick-burst and aggro synergy of murlocs, but you get to be a little less “all in” than some past versions. Though you are very much an aggro deck, in a lot of games you want to spend the first turns holding down the board before you push. This version works very well toward that end.
This section will help to explain why certain cards are in the list, what I think about them, and how they’ve performed so far.
Blessing of Might
Though I am not crazy about this card, I think Blessing of Might is really important for two reasons. First, it allows you a way to pour on early damage. Getting this down onto a high-health or divine shield minion can really give a lot of decks trouble and allow you to put on a lot of pressure. For instance, putting a blessing on an Argent Squire completely destroys Fiery War Axe. This really helps during the early turns and can punish decks with slow draws. It also gives you a good way to topdeck damage. I often found that there were games where I would draw into a lot of cards only to not have the necessary amount of burn I needed to end things. This just gives the deck more outs and more ways to push during those key window turns.
The other reason this card is so good is how well it can be used to control the early game. Blessing of Might/Argent Squire into a Totem Golem can be a gigantic play, as can Blessing of Might/Vilefin Inquisitor or Blessing of Might/Sir Finley Mrrgglton into Mana Wyrm or Tunnel Trogg. Those moves remove a key threat, give you a strong body and also put priority in your control. The bottom line is that this decks wants some buffs. As of right now, the three options are Blessing of Might, Blessing of Kings and Divine Strength. All three are different, but Blessing of Might gets my current nod because of how aggressive it can be early on.
Sir Finley Mrrgglton
Cup of tea? Sir Finley Mrrgglton was not a card I wanted to play initially because it has anti-synergy with Vilefin Inquisitor (you can’t get the Murloc power once you’ve changed into another class). However, the British explorer has proved to be very valuable in my testing. As mentioned last week, a 1/3 for one is just strong in stats alone. The three health is very good with things like Blessing of Might and Abusive Sergeant, and it also can do some serious work with an early Murloc Warleader. Being able to live through combat is very important in a turn-by-turn list like this one, and that is one of the biggest reason Sir Finley made the deck. Not to mention, he happens to be a murloc.
On top of all of that, Sir Finley Mrrggloton also provides the role here he does in every aggro deck, as a way to turn a lackluster hero power into a more explosive one. While creating Silver Hand Recruits (or 1/1 murlocs) is more than fine, Steady Shot and Lifetap are usually going to be better over the course of a game. Though I would argue that Lifetap is better than Shot, having access to either of those can turn around a lot of games you normally would not have one. Besides those two, Druid, Mage and Rogue are all good and you want to take them if available (with Mage being number one of the three). Shaman is not bad either since it gives you minions that can work with buffs.
As part of the divine shield theme, Rallying Blade has become the two-of favorite over Truesilver Champion (which is still quite solid). Though blade is weaker against taunts and doesn’t push through as much damage, it does come down one turn earlier and has a very, very nice ability in a deck that has so much divine shield running around. Giving divine shield minions a +1/+1 buff is very strong and can rapidly spiral a game out of control. Being able to make even one or two minions that much bigger can help you trade well while keeping the board, but it can also help you get in a lot of extra damage as the game goes on. In that way, this card serves both avenues this deck wants to take.
I would see this card in a similar vein as Eaglehorn Bow. Not only does it have the same stats as the bow, but it serves a very similar purpose in being able to push for damage or clear out pesky three drops to protect your early board (I’m looking at you SI: 7 Agent). Beyond the ability, the blade is solid for stats alone. Fiery War Axe has proven how good an early 3/2 weapon is, and though this comes down a turn later, it still is fantastic for clearing. What makes blade so good is that your whole gameplan is built around your minions and allowing your early board to take over the game. By having the versatility to clear minions with your face while also buffing your board you have even more ways to get the early game in your favor, which is the point of the deck overall. Playing two of these seems like the right move.
Steward of Darkshire
For those times when you have one health minions, there’s Steward of Darkshire. Though she was a two of during my changes last week, I have moved the 3/3 to a one-of. The reason for this is, as noted, I have moved away from one health minions. Yes, there are quite a few still in the deck (which is why I didn’t want to cut steward altogether) but there are not enough to have two of her. A 3/3 for three is also a little slow, making drawing two of her awkward. You want to be as proactive as possible here, which means having cards sit in your hand is not a good gameplan. She now acts as more of a silver bullet. A card that can really help you at times and pull out some games where you normally would not have won. You almost never want to drop her unless you can get immediate value, but you also should know you don’t have to go “all in” with her ability. Just giving one or two minions divine shield while also playing a must-kill threat (which is what she is) is more than fine. A good card that is very strong in some situations and weak in others.
Keeper of Uldaman
During my shift, I decided to cut Murloc Knight in favor of a more proactive option. While Knight is very good in slower, grindy games, there aren’t as many of those on ladder these days. Most of the ladder is aggro-tempo or aggressive midrange. Those decks are all good at putting on pressure in different ways and playing a string of powerful threats. Often, I would find Knight in my hand and me not wanting to play it because it would just die to my opponent’s minions. Yes, it was very strong if I naturally curved into it off of an explosive start, but those times were too few and far between for me to bank on the card. Rather, I needed a minion that I could use as a threat that also answered my opponent’s board. Enter Keeper of Uldaman.
The number one reason Keeper of Uldaman works in this deck is because of how key turn four is right now. There are a lot of cards that come down on turn four that you want to be able to easily deal with, such as Twilight Guardian, Flamewreathed Faceless, Violet Teacher, Bloodhoof Brave and any number of cards Druid wants to ramp into. Having a minion that can deal with all of those, in addition to being able to clear later threats or last-gasp big minions, is just a must-have here. Also, don’t forget the 3/4 is able to hit your own minions. This is another way to climb your cards out of AOE range, and giving an early card like Knife Juggler or Murloc Tidecaller the buff can devastate your opponent.
These are the five matchups that made up almost all of my games in my climb.
The most popular Warrior deck these days, Dragon Warrior is going to be a tough game that you can absolutely win. The deck has the advantage in that they run both Ravaging Ghoul and Twilight Guardian in addition to Alexstrasza’s Champion and Fiery War Axe. All of those cards are very good against you and can really put the hurt on your early game. However, they are also a deck that can succumb to swarms and is very vulnerable to divine shields. If you can get a lot of early sticky minions down and then back them up with a Rallying Blade or Keeper of Uldaman, your opponent isn’t going to be able to keep up. From there you just pressure them down.
This is a game where you just want to be as aggressive as possible. As strong as Dragon is on the board, they are really weak when they fall behind. They only run two taunts and have no way to gain life outside of their hero power (which they usually change or don’t use anyway). Putting them on the back foot early make it awkward for them to play on curve, taking away their strength. Warrior doesn’t keep a ton of cards in their hand, so it is going to be difficult to try and set up a good Divine Favor. You want to take the cards when you can, but you should never do it over adding more pressure to the board. Warrior does not have any AOE beside ghoul so you want to always put down as many minions as possible.
Note: Be careful about going down to fifteen life to play around Drakonid Crusher.
Despite the prevalence of Warrior, this is most likely your hardest matchup. Yogg Druid is a deck that has a ton (a ton) of ways to shut down aggro, and if they ever halt an opening push you will get run over with their late game. As such, you just should try and play to your curve and be careful about setting up divine shield minions. Druid is built in a way where their removal is normally going to be them a one-for-one trade. If you have a shield it causes them a lot of problems because it turns off their Wraths, Swipes and Living Roots. For that reason, you shouldn’t just give a random card shield because you can. Try and make a conscious decision about why you’re granting a shield. Beyond that, try and save your Keeper of Uldaman for a huge taunt like Ancient of War (which all Druids run these days).
The way you win this game is by making your opponent answer you. While they do have Swipe, you typically cannot afford to play around mass AOE that Druid might have. Letting them get comfortable or allowing them a window to go big on a Violet Teacher/token turn is almost always going to lead to a loss. In addition, every turn that goes by is another turn closer to one of their game-ending cards like Onyxia, Cenarius or Ancient of War. Though there are times you may want to hold back or take a slower route to avoid getting blown out by x card, you typically need to force your opponent’s hand. The only exception to this is if you are ahead, in which case it is ok to check your opponent’s hand first.
The Shaman match is a toss up that is almost entirely going to come down to the early game. Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem can cause you problems because of their strength-to-health ratio, but if you can start out strong or cement the board while they are overloaded on turn two and three you should be able to quickly run them over. This is a game where you need to start out as fast as possible to make sure you get ahead of them by turn five. You have no way to stop or interact with Doomhammer. As a result, if you are behind or tied when they play the 2/8 you are going to most likely lose. It is very hard to race the weapon, so the way you beat it is by having a board where your opponent is too scared to equip. That type of pushing play is very good at making Shaman take the route you want them to.
If you make it out of the early turns, the way you win this is by anticipating your opponent’s trump cards. Shaman runs a lot of early game cards and a lot of burst. However, they also have a good number of large minions, especially Thing from Below. For that reason, it is easy to fall behind very quickly once you are ahead. You have to be prepared for all of Shaman’s outs, and have a plan to answer them. This usually means holding back one buff card or keeping one weapon equipped just in case. However, this is largely a game read. If you are really far ahead or trying to completely take over the game before a Doomhammer then you might just use those buffs to push. Always compare life totals and potential damage before taking your turns.
This is a matchup that, like Aggro Shaman, can get out of hand one way or another. However, you have the clear advantage. With the loss of deathrattle and direct damage removal, Zoo is a deck that relies on trading up to win games. Not only does divine shield cause them a mess of problems, but so do decks that can swarm as well as they can. Your whole goal is to run out every minion you can, mash your hero power, and use your board to keep Zoo’s threats in check. The most important card in this game (from both sides) is Knife Juggler. Always save your two drop for when you can get two or three juggles, or for when you can clear with it. In the same vein, always keep your opponent’s juggler in mind to plan for any potential clears on your board.
If you ever get ahead of Zoo you need to push as hard as possible. The aggressive Warlock deck loves to Lifetap, and they often will play fast and loose. As a result, they are often going to be in the teens during the mid-game. Use that to your advantage. You have many ways to pour on damage and many ways to threaten lethal with your board. Murlocs and divine shield both are hard to remove, meaning that if Zoo is behind they will most likely not be able to match your threats. Once you get out in front you just need to try and get in as much damage as you can. You also want to play to your hand if you have burst such as Leeroy Jenkins. Just make sure to clear if the board is even or you are behind. Most Zoo decks these days run a ton of burst.
Note: Unless you absolutely need to clear, save Consecration for Forbidden Ritual. The 1/1’s will beat you if you aren’t ready.
This is a matchup you should almost always be able to win. Hunter is a deck that relies on playing one minion (or doing one thing) a turn as they steadily build their OP curve into Savannah Highmane and Call of the Wild. The problem with that is it opens them up to decks that can play strong early minions that trade well. If you make the most of your divine shield and use your weapons/buffs to advance your board your opponent is never going to be able to recover. Though Infested Wolf can be annoying, if you have a quick start you should be able to go right around the deathrattle beast. Just note that, like Doomhammer in Shaman, you have to try and end this game before a turn eight Call of the Wild ends it for you.
Another week, another mrrggl. I am really enjoying this list so far and I am having a blast trying to work with Aggro Paly. It has been a long time since I have played Murlocs and there are a lot of cool cards to experiment with here. It is always fun to switch around to different styles of play and I have to say I am quite enjoying my dive back into the aggro pool. Until next week, mrgg rggg llgg mrglg!