Mrgrlgl mrgl mr gl gl mrgl glr, mrlg mrglmrgl mrg. Mrgl grl gl? Mrgl. That being said, this week’s deck comes from Thijs, a great player who built a very solid Paladin combo deck. While at first glance this may seem like an odd version of the classic Control Paladin, it’s a little more complicated than that. This deck is two different lists in one. Not only is that hard to achieve, it is very hard to achieve well. This deck is a Paladin shell from the days of old, using combos like Wild Pyromancer/Equality and excessive healing to stay along enough to combo your opponent down. However, instead of slowly wearing your opponent down until they can’t answer your finishers, you are going to win in a wave of murlocs.
So, what on Earth is going on here? The point of this deck is to play just like you are a Control Paladin with murlocs in a lot of your spots instead of some of the more classic choices. Then, you eventually want to play Anyfin Can Happen for a huge final burst of damage that usually sits somewhere between 20-25. Your two primary game modes are going to be healing and card draw. Balancing each of those is key to the deck. The other key is keeping track of which Murlocs have died. Anyfin only summons Murlocs that have gone to the grave, so you want to make sure you have the full combo (or enough of the combo to get lethal) before you actually play it out. It is a very strong card, and really brings a fresh new twist to one of the more classic archetypes in the game.
This is the only Murloc I am going to talk about in detail because it is brings up an extremely important point: you don’t care if your minions die. This is something that may be hard to grasp (I know it was for me at first) but do not be afraid to trade your board. Bluegill Warrior is a perfect example of this because, while it is a minion, it is more of a removal spell. There is nothing remotely aggressive about this deck, which means a 2/1 with charge is not being used to push damage through. Rather, it is going to just remove minions. Paladin has very little removal options outside of Equality. Instead of thinking of this as a two drop, think of it more as a Frostbolt of Darkbomb where Murloc Warleader is spell damage.
While he doesn’t get his own section, I wanted to note that Old Murk-Eye follows the same rules. He is another (somewhat larger) removal spell. This can be even harder to visualize with the four drop since he is a legendary and has a lot of potential to get huge. However, what he really is a combo piece. Instead of using him for board or gradual pressure you are using him and bluegill just to get a good clear when possible. All of your Murlocs are going to come back eventually, but they need to die first. Make sure they die at some point during the game, and you will set up the final combo.
I will admit I did not like this card when I first started playing this deck. Doomsayer is a card that typically only shines in Mage due to the fact that you can lock down the board with freeze spells. Here you have no ways to keep it alive, and no real way to ensure it is going to be protected to clear. However, the more I played it the more I realized that it plays it actually plays a pretty key role in this deck. On the surface, the two drop is a removal spell that also serves as AOE. Dig further, and you realize it is also a very important source of healing. Any time this card is not silenced it is eating seven damage. Yes, there are a lot of decks packing some sort of silence, but a lot of the time they also don’t have it. The extra health usually comes into play, and can buy you some key turns. For that reason, drop it down when you feel the game is about to slip out of control.
One of the most important functions of Doomsayer is its ability to kill two-drops. This is something a lot of people miss. While it is cool to try and clear an entire board of minions, the main use of this card is to deal with many of the annoying openers in the game like Knife Juggler, Secretkeeper, Totem Golem or Shielded Minibot. While this deck has a wide range of catch-up cards, you still want to do your best to mitigate all damage that comes your way. Taking pressure off yourself is the best way to win with this deck. An early Doomsayer gives you the extra cushion that becomes so important as the game goes on.
Man, oh man. What a throwback. It has been a long time since Wild Pyromancer was used in Paladin, but it is wonderful for this deck. Not only does it combine with Equality, but it can be used with any small spell to do a lot of damage to the swarm decks that have taken over ladder. In this deck you want to think of the fire-lover in the same way that Priest does. This is not a two drop. Rather, it is a very strong removal spell that is capable of clearing any board. While you cannot raise its health through things like Power Word: Shield or Velen’s Chosen, pyromancer still usually gives you one or two extra AOE damage. That is extremely important, especially in the current meta where health is more important that ever.
This is a card you want to set up. Wild Pyromancer has two modes the “all in” AOE with Equality, and the more subtle “extra damage” version. Each mode can save you the game, and you want to start thinking about them a few turns before you drop the pyromancer onto the board. A big part of Hearthstone is anticipating what your opponent is going to do. While that is not always easy, you can predict what most decks are going to play a turn or two before they come down. You can then mold pyromancer to those plays. For instance, always try and save it for a turn four/five Imp-losion against Zoo, a turn three/four Muster for Battle against Paladin or for when decks like Dragon Priest or Handlock flood the board with big minions.
You are a combo deck. And, as a combo deck, you just want to stay alive as long as you can. While Paladin’s you have many tools that make the game go long, few do it as well as Antique Healbot. While there is no doubt that the meta is one of the most diverse ever, that diversity comes at a price. This meta is very, very aggressive. Aggro Druid is very popular, and Aggro Shaman and Face Hunter both run rampant. Not to mention that Secret Paladin still holds its place. That means any deck that wants to take the slower route needs to pack as much healing as possible. These two cards are pivotal your game plan in the same way they are to Handlock’s. Life is a very valuable resource, and you always need to be aware of how much damage your opponent can do. If you every feel like you are slipping low, or if you think you are falling into potential lethal range, you should never hesitate to raise your life. Eight is a huge chunk, and every deck these days runs some type of burst.
Anyfin Can Happen
You can’t have a combo deck without a giant combo card, and this ten mana spell is this deck’s Malygos, Warsong Commander or Leeroy Jenkins. Now, I am not saying this card is anywhere near as strong as those cards, but it is fills the same role in this deck as those cards filled in theirs. This card is a pure finisher through and through. The purpose here is to kill your opponent, plain and simple. However, anyfin does have a little more versatility than most classic finishers. And that is where it gets interesting.
One of the best things about Anyfin Can Happen is that there is no way your opponent can play around it. You are a Paladin deck, which means your opponent is going to do their best to remove any minions they play. Usually that can be problematic, but here those dead murlocs just turn into pieces for your combo, a combo that most often wins you the game. However, sometimes this card will not get you lethal. There are many reasons for that, but there are times where you will not have enough burst. On those occasions, it will still get you pretty close and allow you to clear anything your opponent has. As a result, play it anyway, since it puts a lot of “must kill” power on the board immediately. That pressure is usually enough to end games on its own, since it is very hard to answer seven gigantic murlocs. Also, don’t forget that, while some decks can live through one Anyfin Can Happen, they will not be able to survive two.
How to play against the five decks I see the most on ladder.
The first in our matchups, I wanted to discuss Face Hunter over the other iterations of Hunter because it is the one that is currently the most popular. While this matchup can be hard to win, it is fairly straightforward in practice. You just want to play the pure control deck here, doing everything you can to stay alive. Every turn of this matchup is going to be important. So much so that most of the time you want to play things down even if they do not have an immediate effect on the board (such as playing a turn two Wild Pyromancer without a spel). Being reactive against Hunter is often the easiest way to lose. While you do have ways to drag out the game, Hunters can win wars of attrition since their burst, charge minions and burn will eventually wear you down. For that reason, you want to work as hard as you can to gain board presence, which will then allow you to clear their threats the turn they come down rather than waiting to do damage.
There are two conventional ways to fight face. One is through healing, the other is through taunts. While this deck is absolutely chock-full of healing, it does not run taunts. That is import to note because it means you only have one avenue to strike back. You cannot depend on a clutch Sludge Belcher or Tirion Fordring to pull you out of range, you need to make the most of your Antique Healbots and Lay on Hands. Truesilver Champion, while a great removal spell, is also a good source of healing. If you ever feel yourself getting too low, never be afraid to attack thier face just to get the two life.
Once again, Midrange Druid proves to be the bane of combo or slow-control decks everywhere. This is by far the hardest matchup you are going to face. Not only do they have a ton of ways to match your board presence, but they also have a more reliable finisher that comes down much earlier than yours does. The way you combat that is by just clearing their board turn after turn until either you assemble your finisher or they run low on cards (which usually does not happen courtesy of Ancient of Lore). Druid is one of the best classes in Hearthstone, but they usually operate on a one track mindset, which is kill you with Savage Roar. If you can stay above that and prevent them from being able to burst you down you will be fine. Just like with Hunter (and some of the other matchups listed below) you want be hyper-aware of your health and how much damage you’re taking. Anytime you get close to fourteen (or to whatever they have on board plus fourteen) try and get your life up as much as possible. Equality is at its best in this matchup, but you need to know when to use it. You don’t want to pull the trigger too early, but you also don’t want to wait too long where they can Savage Roar you down.
Secret Paladin has (somehow) managed to keep its choke hold on the ladder. While not as strong as it once was, this is a deck you still need to be ready to fight when the time comes. The most important part of this game is controlling when and how they put together their finishers. Secret Paladin, for all of the fluff, only runs three real threats. Those are Mysterious Challenger, Dr. Boom and Tirion Fordring. If you can answer those three cars you will almost always be able to pull this one out. Not because they can’t kill you (Secret Paladin has many other dangerous minions) but because you will be able to drag the game out long enough to burst them down. Unlike Hunter, this is a game where you want to go as long as you can.
Besides the big three, Secret Paladin spends most of their time building threats in different ways. They can swarm the board out of nowhere, or they can buff their minions through Avenge or Blessing of Kings. As a result you need to balance your AOE with your spot removal in Keeper of Uldaman and Aldor Peacekeeper. Both keepers should almost always saved for the big minions. However, don’t hesitate to use them if a small minion got buffed. When it comes to AOE, you need to be ready to do a full board clear. Even leaving one thing alive can ramp up the pressure with their buffs. For this reason, always try to trigger all secrets before using Equality or Wild Pyromancer.
While I greatly respect Reynad as a deck builder, I do not like Tempostorm. There are many reasons for that, but the most recent is this deck. Putting Aggro Shaman as their “best deck” has pushed the list all over the ladder, which means it is not something everyone had to deal with. While I do not think it is anywhere close to tier one, it is quite a strong deck that is capable of doing some serious damage if you aren’t careful. The most important card here is Doomsayer. Remember, this card excels at killing two drops, which is very, very important against aggro Shaman. Even dropping this to take them off their curve and kill a Tunnel Trogg can be a great play. The most important card to watch out for is Feral Spirit. This is the only taunt card they run, but it does a great job at protecting their high-damage minions.
What makes Aggro Shaman so unique is that it operates like a burn deck rather than an aggro deck. Instead of relying on hoards of resilient or charge minions to kill you, they actually use direct damage. This is the first time we have ever seen as deck that uses minions to back up burn rather than burn relying on minons. The reason I bring this up is because you need to understand how Shaman operates to win this match. Where in some games you want to be careful with your health, in this matchup you need to do everything you can to not take damage. Their damage ceiling is nearly infinite, which means you are never truly safe from dying (just yesterday I won a game against a Shaman by healing to 19 health when they had seventeen in hand). Never get lazy here, and always try to clear the board with your minions rather than with Truesilver Champion, which should be saved for healing purposes.
When going up against Zoo you need to be very careful with both your removal and your clears. They are a deck that thrives on board presence, and you need to do your best to take that away. Similar to Paladin, this is a game that you want to drag out, clearing the board as much as you can until you have enough burst to end it. While Zoo does not like AOE, they are insanely resilient to it. Not only do they have a ton of deathrattle cards, but their hero power and Imp-losion help them jump right back into the game. You want to make the most of your Equality, but also know that Wild Pyromancer is an all-star here. This is because it gives you a great option to clear out small boards you normally don’t want to use your bigger removal on. That resource management is key against a value-centric deck like Zoo.
The most important part of dealing with modern Zoo is having a way to deal with their giant finishers. always be ready for their giant finishers. Most Zoo decks these days run a combination of Mal’ganis, Sea Giant, Dr. Boom and Doomguard. Save your keepers and Equality for those, because if you don’t you have an immediate answer you will surely lose. Most of the time when facing Zoo you are facing their small hoards, but planning for the future is just as important as staying alive. Always think a turn or two ahead, and try to calculate the moves that Zoo will typically make.
Mulliganing with this deck is a little different from what you may be used to. That is because you are planning on going really long, which means you can keep more “fringe” cards instead of playing to a set curve. For instance, I usually keep Equality in my opener because I know I will need it in the middle game. While you still want to play to your curve, it is nowhere near as important as it once was. In terms of “must keeps” you are looking at Doomsayer, Acolyte of Pain[/card], Bluegill Warrior, Murloc Warleader, Equality and Shielded Minibot. Those cards will help you out in the early game, while also giving you the necessary tools to go long. Aldor Peacekeeper is very good against a lot of the “big aggro” decks right now, and Wild Pyromancer should be kept against any swarm deck (Zoo, Hunter, Paladin).
The most interesting mulligans are your four drops. Unlike other decks, not having the coin or a curve is not the death of four drops. This once against goes back to your plans. You don’t need to stick to a strict curve in this deck, rather you just want to have answers to what may come. Truesilver Champion can be kept against Midrange, since it is extremely strong at beating back the middle aggression, and Consecration should be kept against any swarm type of deck you would also keep Wild Pyromancer against. The one card you want to have a curve before is Hammer of Wrath, since it can be a little slow. However, if you have a good opening curve it should be kept every time. Old Murk-Eye and Keeper of Uldaman should not be kept without the coin, but with it they can both be very good at helping you survive an early push.
Mrglglglg. Mrgl, mrgl mrg mrgl mrg. Honestly, I’m not sure if that’s true, but I this is a very cool deck that blends two interesting archetypes together. I rarely cover decks made my pros, but this is so out there is deserved a slot in my lineup. I hope you all enjoyed this foray into the Murloc side of things, and I hope you are also having a great December no matter what you celebrate. For me, that’s Christmas, which is my favorite time of year. I cannot wait for the coming days, and I cannot wait to finally crack open some presents! Until next week, have a happy holidays and mrglrmrgmrglmrg mrgl mrg mrgll mrg!