Murloc Paladin is one of the premier combo decks in Hearthstone. It has an exceptional amount of late-game burst, some very powerful mid-game threats and an exceptional amount of removal and healing. As such, if you want to take the fish to the ladder you need to know how to play against the other common decks on ladder. One of the most popular is Aggro Shaman, a start-fast style deck that can take over a game with strong opening minions and seemingly endless burst. In this guide we will break down the list, and look at how Murloc Paladin can use its healing and removal to outlast it.
There are many cards you have to play when building Murloc Paladin. The healing is essential, as are all of the assorted combo pieces. However, beyond those set cards, there are many changes you can make. Some lists run a wide range of healing and taunts, while others choose to pack in more removal. There are even some lists that like to run heavy minions in order to better play the midrange game. Whatever mode you choose, just try and sculpt a list that best fits your style. You never want to get caught playing something you don’t understand. To help you with this, two stock Murloc Paladin lists have been placed below.
There is only one Shaman in today’s Hearthstone, and that is aggro. While that is a scary prospect, it also makes mulliganing very simple. The way you need to play this game is to keep your early removal options (such as [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card] and [card]Doomsayer[/card]) and look for your healing where you can find it. Though Shaman makes most of their money through burst, they need minions to get going. Always look for early answers to things like [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card] and [card]Tunnel Trogg[/card].
Cards to Keep
[card]Acolyte of Pain[/card]
[card]Solemn Vigil[/card] can be kept if you have a minion-heavy opening.
[card]Antique Healbot[/card] can be kept if you have a strong opening and the coin.
[card]Old Murk-Eye[/card] is a good keep with the coin.
[card]Keeper of Uldaman[/card] is a strong keep with a good opening and the coin.
[toc]How to Win[/toc]
There are two different things you need to win this match, removal and healing. While the latter is how you are going to seal the win, the former is actually much more important. Even if you do heal up over the course of the game, it won’t be enough if Shaman’s minions keep getting in hit after hit. Lucky for you, Murloc Paladin comes with a wide array of removal options. It does not matter what you are getting off the board, as long as you are clearing something.
Removal is for the early game and Shaman’s cheap minions. Once that ends, their game becomes all about burst, and yours becomes all about healing. [card]Antique Healbot[/card] (which will be discussed more below) is your best heal because it also adds to the board, but every piece of life matters. Even using [card]Truesilver Champion[/card] to attack their face and go up two points can be the difference between winning and losing. When deciding whether or not to heal, just know that Shaman can kill you from almost any life total if they have enough options. You should deal with the board first, but if they only have cards in their hand and you are lower than twenty, healing is better than almost any other line of play.
[toc]Early Game Strategy[/toc]
As mentioned, Shaman begins (and gets most of its damage) from the first three turns of the game. [card]Tunnel Trogg[/card] has one of the highest damage ceilings in the game, and both [card]Feral Spirit[/card] and [card]Totem Golem[/card] are absolute beatings when left alone. You typically never want to let Shaman have a minion sit on board for more than a turn, and you want to use as many resources as you can to
Shaman’s minions are very important to them. That means when you put a minion down that can challenge their own, they tend to use burst on it. Not only does that slow them down, but it is also less damage you have to worry about later on. While they may not bite on everything, they usually will use a spell on [card]Acolyte of Pain[/card] and [card]Murloc Warleader[/card]. As a result, unless you have a removal spell in hand, you want to play those come turn three.
[card]Doomsayer[/card] is your best opening tool, bar none. This is because when the two-drop is usually going to result in one of two things. One, your opponent is going to have no answer. That gives you a free kill and takes away their turn two (or three) minion. On the other hand, they are going to remove it, which means your two drop gained you seven life. Furthermore, they may even burn it down, which locks them up with overload as well. Yes, most Shamans run an [card]Earth Shock[/card], but it is a one-of and not something you can typically play around.
Another great early game tool is [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card]. Normally the three drop needs to be saved for the bigger minions at the end of the game. However, Aggro Shaman runs no big minions. All of their cards come early and fast. Taking away of their minion’s attack while also putting down a 3/3 for three is an amazing deal that you can use to leverage the board as the game moves on.
The middle of the game looks a little like the first and a lot like the last. That is to say, Shaman is still going to be playing minions here, but they are going to be mixing that in with a lot more burst. You want to be very careful during this stage of the game because Shaman can kill you out of nowhere. Anytime you fall into the teens you need to try and use your healing, especially if Shaman has three or four cards in hand.
[card]Doomhammer[/card] is public enemy number one. If you are not running weapon removal (or if you don’t have it in hand) the game becomes a race as soon as they have the weapon. Sixteen damage is a lot, and when paired with [card]Rockbiter Weapon[/card] that rapidly stretches into lethal. You need to outlast that damage as much as you can just to get to your finisher.
Your two most important cards here are [card]Antique Healbot[/card] and [card]Sludge Belcher[/card]. Both of these really set Shaman back in different ways, and you always want to value them each differently. Healbot, which is board presence and healing, is usually the best choice if you are scared of dying, but Belcher can be a great way to slow down a minion rush or a [card]Doomhammer[/card] if you have already seen an [card]Earth Shock[/card].
Never forget to use your Murlocs. Both [card]Old Murk-Eye[/card] and [card]Bluegill Warrior[/card] are great removal cards that, when paired with [card]Murloc Warleader[/card]. Even on their own, they can be a great way to put something into [card]Consencration[/card] range or to push damage through.
You should not hesitate to use [card]Consecration[/card] or [card]Equality[/card]. While these cards usually exist for big boards, Shaman rarely builds up minions if you play your cards right. You should simply view these as removal spells and use them accordingly.
[toc]Late Game Strategy[/toc]
Whether you are at a high life total, or if you are just struggling to hold on, the end of the game is going to be spent looking for your combo. [card]Anyfin Can Happen[/card] is usually going to seal the deal in this one, but you need to stay alive long enough for that to happen.
Shaman’s end game is the similar to their mid, except they are going to be playing burst each turn instead of minions. It is important to remember that almost all of their cards are live, from [card]Lava Burst[/card] to [card]Crackle[/card] to [card]Argent Horserider[/card]. Always take in account their potential damage when deciding your play.
Your best tool (besides Anyfin) is [card]Lay on Hands[/card]. This card is just like Antique Healbot[/card], but usually draws you into your finisher as well. While it is worse than a removal spell when facing down a board, any time you have cleared Shaman’s board you should heal up and get some cards.
Don’t be afraid to get aggressive. While you are a control list, you also run a lot of Murlocs that enable you to play a midrange style extremely well. Shaman will try to burn you out as fast as possible because they are going to be scared of your healing. That means you can really stack up the board and push for damage. This will then force them to use burn on your minions, which is always a good thing.