First and foremost, here is a decklist.
Soulfire x 2
Mortal Coil x 2
Abusive Sergeant x 2
Argent Squire x 2
Flame Imp x 2
Murloc Tidecaller x 2
Voidwalker x 2
Dire Wolf Alpha x 2
Knife Juggler x 2
Murloc Tidehunter x 2
Coldlight Seer x 2
Murloc Warleader x 2
Defender of Argus x 2
Doomguard x 2
And proof it hit Legend: proof
(Name is blocked, but this was me, CJHamster, playing the deck)
At first glance, you might notice something. This deck is very similar to zoo. Well, it basically is that, but a lot harder to play, and more rewarding too!
The original design of the deck should be credited to Puffins, who originally created a similar deck awhile back, and is very unlike other Murloc aggro decks, which are very inconsistent, at best. Essentially, you play the deck like a harder version of Zoo, where you seek to maintain board control, but your intentions there aren’t as similar as they appear. In Zoo, board control just lets you make efficient trades with cards like argus, abusive, shattered sun, etc, and just win by sheer mass of creatures. This deck can do this too, but how you really get consistent wins is by knowing your timing. This is key, and why I say with confidence it is not a deck requiring no thought.
What does timing mean? How does it help us, lets see how well I can do to explain. When you play Murlocs to the board, your opponents will do anything they can to remove them, Murlocs are scary. However, as a Murloc player, one must make sure that this commitment is made only under one of three circumstances:
1) The Murlocs will likely be safe.
If you have a Voidwalker out vs Zoo, and they have nothing on board, this is a clear example that Murlocs are safe, play them. This can’t be stressed enough, especially in the early game. Take Board Control, play Murlocs, kill opponent. Easy! (if it works, but usually it doesn’t, see below)
2) It will be inconvenient for your opponent to remove them, so they must make sub-optimal plays to do so.
Remember, this deck is basically Zoo, so if you just play the game with the strategy of winning with Zoo minions, and just forcing bad plays by your opponent to remove creatures, be it a the cost of tempo, or mana, you are doing awesome. You will win games where you take on this strategy by just playing Zoo, this is fine, Murlocs are cool, but will not win every game.
3) There isn’t a better play, or the matchup is shit anyway and you have to take some risks. If you have a warleader in hand and 3 mana, a lot of the time its correct to just play him, it isn’t awesome, but can fall into the previous rule much of the time. Another great example of this, which works splendidly against miracle rogue is this. You have a Murloc Tidecaller, Murloc Warleader, Coldlight Oracle, Coin, and any card in the deck, on mulligan. KEEP ALL 3, but try to find a 2 drop anyway. Miracle rogues, given enough time, will beat this deck, but Murlocs are just about the fastest practical way to kill an opponent in the game, and if you have to risk getting backstabbed / eviscerated turn 1, do it, if they don’t have those cards it will be VERY hard to come back. The existence of hand lock is a great help there too.
1) Plan to turn 3 when you decide what to toss back. Be very aggressive about your curve. If you have 2 three drops and no coin, toss one. If you have a one drop, two drop, and 2 three drops with coin, toss the 2 drop. Sometimes you will play as if coin doesn’t exist and hold it for a mortal coil / abusive too. Especially fish for one drops, if your hand doesn’t have any, toss all of it. (unless you have coin, in which case 2 two drops is acceptable).
2) Plan if you are playing Zoo, or Murlocs for the first few turns. Think about your matchup, Murlocs are riskier, but can win games vs Hand Lock, Rogue, Warrior, etc very quickly with some luck. Zoo minions are more consistent though, and leave your Murlocs alive to be played later on. Many people say to toss all Murlocs at the start with this deck, but as long as you commit to something like Tidecaller -> anything that mrgls, that can be acceptable.
3) Soulfire. This is VERY matchup dependent. I like to always keep this card against Warlock, and Rogue. Both classes rely on tempo, and soulfire denies that in a very big way. That being said, remember Rule 1. If you do not have minions to play, toss it. As a side note, keep this if possible vs paladin, and be very aggressive with it around turn 3, especially if they dump their hand quickly. This can deny divine favor plays very well.
This is a hard one, and you cannot autopilot it. Before playing any minon (especially Murlocs) think about ALL of their removal options, and what you think they have in hand. Play your minions in strict adherence to rule 2, above. If they get to use all their removal the way they want to, you lose. That’s not an easy task to accomplish, but to make matters worse, you have to kill them quickly too. Around turn 7-9 you start hitting a point where you just can’t win, if it even takes that long. Early Murlocs and some lucky risk taking is really all you can use, so don’t be afraid to take some risks when you have to, but still try not setting up the easiest removal set ups imaginable (Remember, TIMING!). Oh, and don’t over-commit against brawl.
I haven’t played much against this deck, but I think it is slightly favored. That being said, it isn’t unwinnable by any means. Keep their board clear, and trust your Murlocs to kill them faster than they can kill you, and you should be doing OK.
Be it aggro, control, etc, play it the same, win quickly. Mage usually doesn’t run crowd removal for the early game, except arcane missiles, so dump your hand on the board and beat them. One major point for this matchup though, is try not to drop doomguard on turn 5. If you drop it on turn 6, it will make flamestrike very awkward, and usually win you the game outright, especially if you won out in the early game and they are at ~9 life when you end turn.
Be aggressive. They will clear your board a lot, but if you always adhere to rule 2, you should be clearing their hand, and making auctioneer awkward. The main card to play around here is blade flurry, so if you can get them to deadly poison on turn 2 and not play it, that’s a big deal. However, if they play auctioneer and conceal it before they are within potential lethal range, you are in trouble. Otherwise, same routine as always, control the board, hit face, win.
After crying profusely, you should try to take board control and hold it, aggressively. If you have dump a doomguard on turn 2 to kill an si:7 agent, just do it. There are two win conditions for this one though, and they are not unusual, just hard to get to. The first is to just win the board in the first 2 turns, then hold it forever, and win in typical Zoo fashion. This almost never happens in my experience though. Instead, you will usually need to win the board early, and follow the common theme of timing, and decide when to start going face. There will be a point where they just start winning the board, and you just need to kill them before they kill you with dumb Leeroy stuff, so once you commit to killing them, go for it. Murlocs make this a better matchup than Zoo has I think, but its still pretty bad.
Don’t get Lightning Stormed, basically. If you follow rule 2 (especially for lightning storm), and keep the board, you will win by life tap being OP. Trade efficiently, take your time. If you plan ahead, it becomes hard for shaman to take back the board, since you can time your big temp push for when they are in / have to go into overload (Turn 5, they want to fire ele next turn, so make them lightning storm)
This is a fantastic matchup, and I feel bad playing against these decks. Dump your hand as fast as possible to avoid big Divine Favor plays, and have better minions. Keep board control, and play around consecrate. If you do those things, they will have 2 dead cards in their deck, as well as a really hard time getting any tempo going. Defender of Argus is your friend, but try to play him on argent squires, as they can live through equality.
Never over-commit to the board. They can clear it a thousand different ways. Never over-commit to getting lethal, they will just heal, and win the game. Keep the board at all times, and always have a good hand size to respond to your board being cleared for 4 mana. That being said, taking the board early should be fairly easy, so try to get ~4 minions out, then just hold your abusives to take out bigger dudes, and do as much damage as possible before they can start playing cards. Its a balancing act between holding onto cards to respond to board clears, and killing them quickly, but as long as you are playing ~1 minion per turn + tap after turn 4, you should be OK.
Turn 1-3 is very important, this is because they will not do anything significant until then, besides play ancient watcher, which isn’t too hard to deal with (blood imp + abusive is good). On turn 4 one of two things will happen, if they have any chance: They play a Mountain Giant / Twilight Drake, or they Hellfire. Play as if they have both options open every game, because they honestly usually do. The best thing you can do, is to force them to be at about 14 life going into turn 4. If you accomplish this, you will probably win. Note that win 12 life, they can molten + sunfury, and at 13 life they can hellfire + molten. At this kind of life total, if they mountain giant or drake, they just lose immediately through being beaten to death, usually. If they hellfire, they will have no followup, and you can usually quickly repopulate an empty board at this point. If you can’t accomplish that plan, winning this matchup will be hard, and you basically just have to play around AOE removal as much as possible, and pray they don’t get giants. Also it should be noted that molten+molten + sunfury on turn 5 is just a thing that happens, and will make you sad. Such is the way of things though.
I honestly believe this is in the Murloc’s favor, but its still pretty even. You win it by their game though, not yours. Soulfire will ruin any big Murloc plays you make, and their minions are more consistent than yours are. Harvest Golem for example, is the best card ever against Murlocs. However, if you trade efficiently, even if that means letting Murlocs die, you can take the game pretty easily. For example, if you play tidehunter on turn 2, a turn 3 warleader into killing 2 minons is usually game winning. Otherwise, look at any Zoo vs Zoo matchup guide for very in depth information on this, because its basically how you play the matchup.
Buff your Murlocs to 4 attack if you can, otherwise just beat them to death a lot. Be wary of turns 4 and 5 though, as auchenai + circle of healing will make you very sad, and so will holy nova. Overall though, this is a matchup where you just try to kill them before they draw into their combos, without over-committing as much as possible. Also watch out for pyromancer, as he will ruin your day if you played a naked tidehunter on turn 2.
Beat them quickly. This matchup is usually a race, especially with unleash the hounds at 3 mana. Turns 1-4 should be you just beating them up a LOT. The main card to watch out for is explosive trap, especially on turn 2. Try to mulligan as close to the glorious and mighty Tidecaller -> Tidehunter / Coin Warleader -> Seer plays, to beat out explosive trap and make them sad. If they aren’t hurting bad by turn 5, prepare for buzzard -> unleash, usually you just tap before that can happen, unless you can just kill them outright.
Most druid decks you play against more or less the same way, so I will just group them. Stick to your basics here, board control without risking a swipe ending your life, and otherwise win as fast as possible. If they take the board at any time, the game will snowball in a very out of control manner, so stop that at all costs. Around turn 7, you want to be in a state where they have to make a sub-optimal play, such as using ancient of lore’s heal. You will often not be able to take the board so convincingly that you can kill them quickly though, so be prepared to argus the turn before they can FoN+SR you. Also, if you are afraid of ramp druid, believe in your Murlocs! I once played a very epic game, where I beat a guy playing Ramp, when he/she, over the course of one game, played 36 health worth of taunt, plus a divine shield, because of well timed Murlocs hitting the board. This isn’t the usual case, but the deck is fast enough where they should feel very uncomfortable by the time their big minions get dropped.
Hopefully this guide helped some people who want to play the deck, and to everyone else, I’m so sorry for inflicting more Murloc players on the Meta. (I’m not actually sorry at all, to be clear).