Murloc Paladin is one of the strongest combo decks in the current Hearthstone meta. It is a very reliable list that uses a ton of healing and removal to play a control game that ends with a OTK finisher. When taking the fish to ladder you need to know how to beat the other popular decks the game has to offer. In this guide we will look at Murloc Paladin and analyze how it uses healing and stall tactics to outlast one of the strongest aggro decks around, Tempo Mage.
Murloc Paladin is a combo deck, which means there are a lot of cards you have to run. The Murlocs, healing and removal are all essential parts needed to make the deck work. However, outside of that core you have a lot of wiggle room. Some versions of this list take to more healing and taunts, while others are heavy on removal or take to big minions. Whatever you choose, remember that it is important to play a style that you best understand. To help you with this, two decks have been placed below.
When facing down a Mage you want to assume they are Tempo. Freeze is a completely different matchup, and you can recover from it if you plan wrong. However, it is extremely hard to recover from Tempo Mage because of how quickly they can take over the board (and subsequently the game). Here you just want to look for any opening card or removal spell you can. The game will change once it shifts into the middle turns, but if you don’t draw early answers you are most likely going to die before that happens.
Cards to Keep
[card]Acolyte of Pain[/card]
[card]Solemn Vigil[/card] can be kept if you have a minion-heavy opening.
Both [card]Antique Healbot[/card] and [card]Sludge Belcher[/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]
Tempo is going to be a game of minions. Though your removal is important, you need to challenge Mage at their own game as much as you can. That is going to happen on the board rather than in your hand. Don’t hesitate to put something down. Even something as simple as an [card]Antique Healbot[/card] or a [card]Murloc Warleader[/card] can be important because it one more threat that Tempo has to deal with. You want them to spend their removal on your minions, because that is less damage you can take from burn.
A lot of this game is going to be spent calculating your opponent’s damage potential. Tempo Mage runs two burn spells in [card]Frostbolt[/card] and [card]Fireball[/card]. Those can be lethal, but even small cards like [card]Arcane Missiles[/card] and [card]Flamewaker[/card] can add up to a lot of damage if unchecked. If you are debating whether or not to heal, it is usually right to air on the side of caution.
[toc]Early Game Strategy[/toc]
The start of the game is going to be where you set the table for your middle and later turns. As mentioned, Tempo Mage loves to come out fast, but a lot of their cards are predicated on removal. If you do not play minions they can start out slow, which can be very good for you. However, if they come out the gates firing, you need to get a handle on it as quickly as possible. Do not be afraid to [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card] a [card]Sorcerer’s Apprentice[/card] to get board tempo.
[card]Doomsayer[/card] and [card]Bluegill Warrior[/card] are your two most important early game removal spells. Bluegill does not have too many targets, and often serves as a better play later on (which is explained below), but it can do a good job of picking off a [card]Sorcerer’s Apprentice[/card] or [card]Mad Scientist[/card].
On the other hand, [card]Doomsayer[/card] is a fantastic turn two or three play (before Mage gets access to [card]Fireball[/card]). Not only does it act as hard removal on things like [card]Sorcerer’s Apprentice[/card] and [card]Mana Wyrm[/card], but it also gives your board priority since they cannot add more minions into a sayer.
[card]Acolyte of Pain[/card] is also a very strong tempo play. The three drop may not trade well, but it usually eats some removal or draws a couple of cards. In addition, it also takes of pressure for at least one turn.
Like any good aggro deck, Tempo Mage likes to scale up as the game goes on. Both [card]Azure Drake[/card] and [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] are very powerful midrange minions that you need to be ready to handle. Your murlocs and keepers do a very nice job of this, but also be ready with your healing and removal. Contesting the board gets harder as the game goes on.
Utilize [card]Truesilver Champion[/card] as much as you can. This card is one of the most important removal spells you have access to because of how strong it is against Mage’s midgame. [card]Azure Drake[/card], [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] and [card]Flamewaker[/card] all fall before the weapon, which is important since none of those cards are big enough to warrant a clear, but they all do a hefty amount of damage.
Do not hesitate to use [card]Equality[/card] if the board gets too clear. While it can be very good when used to clear [card]Dr. Boom[/card], you usually have spot removal for the seven drop. Tempo Mage has a lot of minions, but they rarely fill up the board. Anytime they get three or four minions, especially if those minions have a good amount of attack, you should try and clear them out. However, also don’t be afraid to clear if they are killing you with just two.
[card]Sludge Belcher[/card] is one of your best plays during these turns. Mage either has to commit a [card]Fireball[/card] to clear it, or has to trade in and use a smaller spell. Either way you are running them out of resources while also stalling the game. That is the crux of how you want this match to go, and no roadblock is better than the five drop.
Always look to use your midrange Murlocs. [card]Bluegill Warrior[/card] is not great on its own, but when paired with a [card]Murloc Warleader[/card] it is a four damage removal spell. [card]Old Murk-Eye[/card] is also a very strong in this regard, becoming a five damage wrecking ball when paired with a Warleader or Bluegill Warrior.
[toc]Late Game Strategy[/toc]
Unless you are far ahead, the end of the game is going to be very tight. You need to make use of your healing as much as possible while also drawing enough cards and playing enough murlocs to make sure you can set up your combo. While every turn that goes by is another chance for you to end the game, it also gives Mage more time to more burn or threats. Just like when facing against Druid, always take the time to heal up out of their burn range, even if that means leaving minions on the board.
Another reason to keep your health up, Tempo runs two big finishers in [card]Archmage Antonidas[/card] and [card]Dr. Boom[/card]. While it is very hard to Antonidas due to your lack of hard removal, you should always try to save an [card]Equality[/card] for him if you still have one late. Getting him off of the board immediately can buy you some precious turns.
[card] Dr. Boom[/card] is a very annoying card, but you have a lot of ways to deal with him. [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card] and [card]Keeper of Uldaman[/card] are your best options, and you should keep one for when the seven drop comes to town.
Finally, be wary of [card]Loatheb[/card]. The five drop legend is run in many Tempo Mage decks, and they are going to almost be able to play him. Not only does he ruin your AOE, but he also stalls anyfin for another turn. The best way to play for him is to keep [card]Antique Healbot[/card], [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] or a [card]Equality[/card]/[card]Wild Pyromancer[/card] in your hand. All of those can be played through the fungus-lover.
Look out for their secrets. Almost every Tempo Mage runs the classic two [card]Mirror Entity[/card]/one [card]Counterspell[/card] split. You never want to play a key spell like [card]Lay on Hands[/card] or [card]Equality[/card] into a [card]Counterspell[/card], so always test it with your lowest impact card. On the other hand, while most of your minions are low impact, playing Murlocs into Mirror Entity can be a great way to buff your combo, and playing a Doomsayer into it is a guaranteed heal.