OTK Murloc Paladin has been in the game for a while but with the departure of Old-Murk Eye earlier this year, the deck became a lot less effective. However, the deck did retain the OTK potential and with the recent arrival of Ivory Knight the deck became a whole lot stronger.
For those of you who do not know what the deck is all about – it is a hybrid of control and combo elements and your deck revolves around the spell Anyfin Can Happen. All you need to do is play 2 copies of Bluegill Warrior and 2 Murloc Warleader and get them killed. Once they are dead you can just play Anyfin Can Happen twice and you will be able to OTK every deck in existence!
While the idea does sound gimmicky Paladin has been consistently pulling off these combos since League of Explorers. old-murk-eye was one of the key cards in the deck but its departure did not take away too much from the deck it seems. I have been using the deck since the nerf patch this season and it has been working really well. One of the pre-requisites I had in mind for myself when starting my grind this season for Legend was to use a deck that targets Shamans and Warriors at the same time. Hunter has been one of the worse matchups though but the Call of the Wild nerf did make a noticeable difference because your turn 8 plays are exceptionally strong in form of Tirion Fordring and ragnaros-lightlord making it very difficult for them to win on the spot with Call of the Wild.
The deck is extremely fun to play and you can build it in a ton of ways. From having a ‘Curator package’ to including more deathrattle minions and dropping in nzoth-the-corruptor, the deck is very flexible to build and execute as long as you keep the combo pieces in your deck. Unlike other combo decks where you need to play a bunch of cards in the same turn to be able to do anything, this deck allows you to execute it efficiently. The Murlocs on their own are playable cards are and you do not mind dropping your Bluegill Warriors to remove minions or your Warleaders as 3 mana 3/3s to add to the board pressure.
One of the things you need to know about the deck is that if transformation effects like Hex are used on your murlocs or if Entomb is played on them Anyfin Can Happen will not be pulling them back. It’s better to bait out removals on your high threat minions than to get your win conditions removed. Alternatively, you can choose to drop your murlocs when clearing the board to make sure they die and you can bring them back to life using Anyfin Can Happen if you know your opponent is saving spells to make sure your combo is blocked. Another issue that the deck can potentially run into is if other murlocs are played by your opponent which can potentially disrupt your combo. While the first Anyfin Can Happen is almost never affected you will run into all sorts of trouble if you are not thorough with all the possible outcomes of the second spell. The murlocs are summoned randomly if there are more than 7 murlocs that died in a game so you will need to consider what if you get more of your enemy murlocs that your own ones when setting up the second murloc wave. Let’s head to the card choices and explanations behind the inclusion of the cards. We are going to use Neviilz’s Rank 1 Legend OTK Murloc deck which he used last season and it has been doing exceptionally well versus Shamans and Warriors alike on ladder!
Card Choices and Explanation
Forbidden Healing: It has to be the best healing spell in the game when it comes to the raw healing power and the level of flexibility it offers depending on how much heal you need. It can heal you for anything between 0 to 20 HP depending on how much mana you are willing to commit. You can even choose to combo it with Wild Pyromancer to get some 1 HP minions out of the board.
Equality: It is one of your primary means of clearing the board and you can use it with a number of cards. Wild Pyromancer is the best bet for using the card because it leads to a 4 mana full board clear or you can use Consecration after you play Equality as well as another combo for clearing the board. Paladin is one of the most efficient classes when it comes to clearing boards and their only weakness right now in the meta is their early game. That is however not very relevant for this deck because of how much sustain you have and the ability to mitigate damage quite easily.
Aldor Peacekeeper: Paladins are absolutely no fun to play against when you have a bunch of big minions because of this guy. Shaman dropped a 4 mana 7/7? Just tell him to follow the rules and carry on. It is a great minion that works like pseudo spot removal and you will be able to shut down damage really well for high stat minions quite easily. It also works well with Acolyte of Pain because you can get some extra draws out of your Acolyte by getting some trades into the 1 attack enemy minions.
Consecration: Not much to say here, it’s just one of those basic cards that see a lot of play in any Paladin deck and its efficiency is just incredible. You can even combo it with Wild Pyromancer for 1 extra damage. It is very efficient at clearing aggressive boards and makes sure you get to your lategame.
Truesilver Champion: My favorite weapon in the game by a long shot, the ability to mitigate damage while clearing threats is a big plus and it fits into the deck nicely considering you want to get to the lategame to combo your opponent and seal the game. It works exceptionally well with Keeper of Uldaman if you choose to run one in your deck because you can just Uldaman any minion at all and kill it off with the weapon by taking 1 damage only most of the time. Do note that the heal occurs first so if you are at full HP you will be taking the full brunt of the attack from an enemy minion.
Solemn Vigil: Do not let the mana cost fool you! With Doomsayer or Wild Pyromancer board clears you will not be paying anything remotely close to 5 mana for the spell. Since the Doomsayer triggers at the start of your turn, the spell will be discounted depending on how many minions died and you will be able to get to your combo pieces quite efficiently.
Ivory Knight: It is one of the best RNG cards in the game and I have talked about it earlier as well in older articles. You are able to get some clutch heal off the card or removals. The level of flexibility the card offers to you is quite unimaginable. You can either choose to go for the maximum possible heal when possible or just choose a usable card that you need. The best part about the card is that you can land an Anyfin can Happen from it, allowing you to get your combo off on curve if you need to. You also let your opponents potentially know what you are getting since they are able to see how much you heal for unless you are over-healing or already are at full health so if they see you heal for 6, they will most likely play around Enter the Coliseum and Avenging Wrath and not over-commit to the board. You can also pull Forbidden Healing from the card and not get any heal from Ivory Knight. However you can setup a larger heal turn using your Forbidden Healing and generate more value out of it. Ivory Knight is here to stay in any Control Paladin deck for quite some time!
ragnaros-lightlord: One of the strongest 8 drops in the game and it’s definitely one of those crazy comeback cards. You not only heal for 8 but force your opponent quite often to trade into it or remove it because they cannot just go face since you will be healing for 8 every single turn. Alternatively they can just damage the minion, making the effect of the card random. Playing the card can get really tricky sometimes because you might have to forego trades to make sure your hero is healed. It is particularly effective versus classes like Mage or Rogue that can burst your down and halts their plans in the tracks!
Tirion Fordring: The wielder of the mighty Ashbringer himself! Tirion Fordring is the best class legendary in the game to a lot of people and I do not disagree on that. The ability to stop minions from going face and then getting a 5/3 weapon when it dies is just borderline insane. It is also one of the better counters to Call of the Wild. With Silence effects being heavily nerfed, it is more than likely that the deathrattle will go off and you will be able to use the weapon for clearing minions or just dealing 15 damage to face across three turns if you are ahead on board and threatening lethal with your combo.
Anyfin Can Happen: This card is what the deck is all about. Being able to one shot your opponents with the second copy of the spell is just crazy. The burst potential of the deck is pretty high even though we do not have Old Murk Eye in Standard anymore. You will be able to win control matchups on the back of this card almost always and it is not very surprising that Priest and Control Warrior have a really hard time versus the deck.
Bluegill Warrior: It is one of the combo pieces of the deck. It is a fairly okay minion on its own because you can just charge into something to remove a minion or use it with Equality to kill a high priority minion. It is better to make sure that it dies on the turn it is summoned to avoid people from disrupting your combo using spells.
Doomsayer: It is one of the best ways to control the early game of most fast decks these days. Sometimes it serves as a 2 mana heal for 7 while at other times it can potentially take out multiple minions and hand you board advantage. Planning your Doomsayer correctly is important. While it can be a great early game drop to take out small minions, it can also be good after board clears to make sure you get complete initiative. You can also choose to play it right before high impact turns against decks like Miracle Rogue and Hunter to prevent their on curve plays.
Loot Hoarder: One of your core cards for card draw, it allows you to establish some minor board presence in the early game allowing you to cycle through your deck a lot faster. It can potentially deal with 3/2s in the early game and deal with small and aggressive minions.
You can consider using Bloodmage Thalnos in the deck as a replacement for one of the Loot Hoarders in this slot. The one attack loss will not be that big of a loss considering you have the trade off of being able to deal more damage with Consecration which can be a lot more beneficial and it will also allow you to potentially save one of your Wild Pyromancers when you need that one extra AoE damage.
Wild Pyromancer: It is one of the more interesting cards in the game and you will be able to combo it in various ways with spells to clear boards or force draws off Acolyte of Pain. The combo with Equality is what you should be looking for since it’s a 4 mana board clear and the cheap mana cost of the combo makes it a worthy fit in the deck.
Acolyte of Pain: Just like Loot Hoarder, it is one of your sources of card draw. It works quite well with Wild Pyromancer and Aldor Peacekeeper allowing you to draw extra cards. More often than not, it will just cycle itself and get you one card only but it is worth the inclusion since the Paladin class doesn’t have cheap card draw like many other classes in general.
Murloc Warleader: Two of these cards allow you to buff up your Bluegill Warriors when you play your Anyfin combo to deal additional damage. I will talk more about the card for specific matchups later to help you guarantee a combo setup when you reach the latgame.
Barnes: Barnes has a lot of good outcomes in the deck and being able to pull an extra murloc or getting an extra card draw can be highly beneficial. It has a lot of good outcomes but in recent times I have been trying out Harrison Jones to deal with pesky weapon classes.
Replacements and Tech Choices
Harrison Jones: You can replace Barnes for Harrison Jones in case you are facing a lot of weapon classes. With Shaman being extremely popular, it is not unreasonable to include the card for additional card draw. If you do not have the card you can choose to go for Acidic Swamp Ooze as well.
Keeper of Uldaman: Keeper of Uldaman is a solid card to include as an additional removal. I would tech the card if Dragon Warrior and Aggro Shaman become too popular again since they have a lot of big bodies on the board that you might not be able to deal with your package of tools and an additional spot removal might be better than running Barnes in the list.
Lay on Hands: It can replace Tirion or Ragnaros, Lightlord in the deck if you do not own them or happen to lack dust. They make fine replacements since you are able to draw and heal at the same time and you can potentially get to your combo pieces a lot faster.
Crazed Alchemist: Shaman totems can be pesky to deal with, especially Mana Tide Totem in control matchups. Feel free to add an Alchemist to clear out totems and also deal with high health, lot attack minions like Flamewaker and Thunder Bluff Valiant. You can also setup a more elaborate combo with Aldor Peacekeeper to create a 1 HP minion and take it out with a minion on board.
Spellbreaker: One of the cards I’d run if Hunter becomes overly popular in the game. Dealing with sticky minions is exceptionally difficult and as a Paladin dealing with deathrattle creatures can be very troublesome. Consider adding this tech card only if you see it being crucial to beating popular tier 1 decks on ladder.
Two builds that come to mind include The Curator package and the deathrattle theme package with more lategame and N’zoth, The Corruptor as a late game win condition. I do prefer the vanilla deck over the deathrattle package because you will be winning versus Control decks anyway with or without the additional lategame. The Curator version is interesting though because you get access to Stampeding Kodo and Azure Drake which help you remove minions and cycle through, and the additional draw for a murloc is helpful as well. I am including the builds for both decks that have been tried and tested by pros at the highest of ranks so feel free to give them a spin!
If you want to play the deck in Wild all you need to do is add Old Murk-Eye and you are set. It leads to a lot more burst potential and if you happen to own the card, do give it a swing in the format. You can also consider using Antique Healbot and Sludge Belcher for better sustain as well. The deck is well suited for the Wild meta because it works perfectly well against Patron Warrior, Control Priest and Grim Patron Warrior – three popular decks in the format.
Here are some of the intricacies of the deck that you should keep in mind when piloting an Anyfin Paladin deck and these little tips can help you push your winrate versus specific classes significantly.
- If you plan on playing Pyromancer and Equality followed by Forbidden Healing late in the game, are you doing it right? This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people making and it happens way more often against me than it should. You should play Equality first, then drop the Pyromancer and heal yourself. It will help you have a 3/1 on board.
- If you are ahead on health versus a non burst class, feel free to set up Pyromancer combos with Acolyte of Pain and Humility/Forbidden Healing to get to your combos faster.
- Never be greedy with Doomsayer, shut down their early game as soon as possible instead of trying to take out multiple minions.
- Do not play into Entomb or Hex in slower matchups. Even if it means dropping Murloc Warleader when using your Pyromancer and Equality to make sure it dies and you are able to pull the combo off. Or consider dropping Murlocs with Doomsayer on an empty board. If they use transformation spells or Entomb your murlocs your combos get a lot worse and it is advisable to seal your win condition instead of losing out on your burst damage and losing otherwise favorable games.
- Save your board clear versus Rogue to avoid a Concealed Gadgetzan Auctioneer from getting value. It is one of your worst matchups and there is not much you can do about versus Tempo Mage and Rogue except staying out of their burst range at all times. Allowing them to amass card advantage means they will be able to out tempo you almost always.
- Your Anyfin turns are very crucial. Sometimes people are not able to deal with all of the board with you play your first Anyfin. Be careful about getting those leftover minions killed. Do you want that Warleader to die just to double the odds of getting an additional one in your second wave and then potentially not get enough Bluegill Warriors due to a packed board? Probably not.
- Counting damage when the game goes as planned is easy but when your opponent drops a murloc of his own you need to be super careful about how you plan your combo turns. You do not want to play your Anyfin Can Happen for the second time and be left with inadequate damage!
- Foresee your curve. You should try to foresee your plays when you do your mulligan. You might for a turn 2 Doomsayer and if it looks like you will be able to take out one of their one or two drop then you should keep a Solemn Vigil as well because you will be able to play it for 3 mana on turn 3.
- Mirror Matches: Equality and Pyromancer will NOT clear the board if there is a Warleader on board. The number of times I see people use the board clear combo and then concede is amusing. Even if you use Equality, Murloc Warleader will keep other murlocs buffed at 2 health and it will not clear the board.
Unlike normal matchups, you will need to consider enemy murlocs too when playing Anyfin to count the damage. If you do not draw Anyfin fast enough you stand to lose and when you play the combo card is crucial depending on your own HP (for a counter Anyfin play by your own HP) and your opponent’s HP (if they played Anyfin first).
- Anyfin Damage Counter: You will get a 12 damage burst combo out of the first Anyfin and the second one can vary between 30 to 32 damage depending on how many Warleaders and Bluegills are summoned (3-4 of each).
Do note that you do not always need to get all 4 murlocs killed to be able to combo your opponent to death, having 1 less Warleader also works out if you do not seem to be drawing it. With just 1 Warleader dead you will deal 8 Damage in the first Anyfin combo but the second one will jump up to 24 damage once all of them die. If it goes the other way around and you draw 1 Bluegill and 2 Warleaders, the second Anyfin will go up to 20 damage which should also be enough versus decks that do not heal. So if you were thinking you need to draw all of the murlocs to win, then the above information might come as a breather for you! If you want to check out all of the combinations check out this handy tool to calculate all of the potential outcomes in any scenario at all including partially filled board states.
You want to cycle through your deck as fast as possible as well as keep threats at bay through Doomsayer, weapons and AoE effects. You have enough heal and stall to get to your lategame very consistently and only burst heavy decks are the real threat to the deck. High tempo decks with a lot of burst like Tempo Mage or Miracle Rogue can feel hard to win. Malygos decks (Rogue and Druid) are really hard to win as well. In such matchups you just want to draw and survive as fast as possible and kill them before they kill you. You have enough powerful lategame outside the combo as well with Tirion and Ragnaros, Lightlord keeping you alive until turn 10 easily.
The mulligan is consistent for almost all aggressive decks and I will list the general mulligan for aggressive/tempo decks here only since the control matchups need only your draw cards and you can afford to take it slow with no real threat.
- Doomsayer (Keep Solemn Vigil if you are likely to trigger Doomsayer on turn 2)
- Wild Pyromancer + Equality
- Aldor Peacekeeper
- Truesilver Champion (with coin)
- Loot Hoarder
- Acolyte of Pain
- Bluegill Warrior
These are the basic mulligans and you might have matchup specific tech cards that you include in your deck and you may keep them in your hand as and when required. The focus of the deck is to simply stall till about turn 5 and you will be able to keep dropping minions like Ivory Knight and cycle through your deck easily. Planning for your opponent’s potential plays is something you need to be wary about.
Positive and Negative Matchups
Here is a compilation of all the favored and unfavored matchups from experience since the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion came out.
- Secret Hunter
- Mid Range and Aggro Shaman
- Zoolock (Doomguard version, Leeroy version is slightly unfavorable)
- Control Warrior
- Dragon Warrior
- Malygos Druid
- Miracle/Malygos Rogue
- Tempo Mage
- Freeze Mage
- Mid Range Hunter
- Beast Druid
- Pirate Warrior
Ladder Experience and Conclusion
So far I got to rank 4 with the deck this season in 4 days of play time after the patch got out. I might consider using it further if the Mid Range Shaman continues to be popular. The deck will fade away from standard in a few months once the first expansion of 2017 comes, so if you have not tried the deck yet do give it a shot. The deck is one of the more solid options available right now to counter the meta and its power levels have become even more impressive because 2 bad matchups have become significantly better – Aggro Shaman and Hunter. While Aggro Shaman had a lot of its burst potential and early game limited, Hunter’s Call of the Wild being 1 mana more makes all the difference in the world since your 8 drops perfectly counter Call of the wild and Tirion alone can hold off Call of the Wild on their own quite easily. It is a fun deck that has a unique win condition and you will be able to have some really great matches. S