Welcome to the first of a weekly series of articles that will focus on some of the popular, powerful, or just plain interesting deck builds that are out there for the Hearthstone Constructed Deck format. It will walk you through various decks that can be made and how to play with and against them. Some will be popular beginner style decks, some will be powerful decks that require many expensive cards to work well, and some will be interesting combo style or control style decks with some twists that make you think a bit harder.
The constructed format is my personal favorite since it allows you to try different strategies and different deck styles. Since there is a vast number of cards already and you can use them in almost any combination, it means that there are numerous combinations and variations to find and use. It also allows you to build a deck that fits your play style rather than using a pre-made deck or a drafted arena deck where you have no control over how the deck should be played.
Warlock - Murloc Rush Deck
When you first start out in the constructed format, and again when each new season starts, you will start at (or near) the bottom of the ladder ranking system. Since the real action starts to heat up, near the top of the ladder, you generally want to get there as quickly as you can. While almost any deck can get you up to about rank 10, and many popular control decks can get you to rank 5, most of them do so in a slow and controlled way.
This deck looks to break you past all the lower tiers as quickly as possible. It does this by making you play as few turns as possible before the game is over. The deck is build to win quickly, and in most cases that will mean between turns 5 and 8. Obviously no deck wins every game, and that is the case with this one as well, but, even if you lose, it is still over fairly quickly and you can just right back into a new game in 1/2 the normal play time.
Being a Murloc rush deck it should not come as any surprise that most of the key cards are Murlocs. Starting with the basic Murloc Raider, Murloc Tidehunter, and Bluegill Warrior you will have a solid base. Then come the rare and epic Murlocs like the Grimscale Oracle, Coldlight Seer, and Murloc Warleader. Not to be forgotten as well is Old Murk-Eye, a legendary, but one that you get for free as a reward for collecting all the other Murlocs available.
Young Priestess and Abusive Sergeant - These are buff cards that help you keep minions alive or deal more damage. Its a nasty surprise on turn 2 after having gone second to summon a Bluegill Warrior, use the coin, summon an Abusive Sergeant and deal 4 damage that turn. The Young Priestess can help keep your minions alive a little longer, and becomes a target for your opponent rather than picking off your Murlocs.
Flame Imp and Leper Gnome - These two cards are some of the best in the game at causing early pressure on your opponent. The Flame Imp can come out on turn one and has 3 attack! Sure you suffer 2 damage as well, but if your opponent doesn't kill it right away you will come out ahead. The Leper Gnome is another great early aggression card, because even if he gets hit before he can attack he still does 2 damage to your opponent. He is one card that is worth trading against a minion since he will remove the minion and deal damage to the opponent.
Murloc Warleader + Coldlight Seer - These two cards are powerful buffing cards to other Murlocs and help turn the normally weak Murloc minions into powerful entities. It is important to keep the Murloc Warleader in your hand until you have several Murlocs ready to attack and then play it. That way your opponent does not get a chance to remove it before you gain its benefit. The Coldlight Seer should be played oppositely, getting him in play as soon as possible after any Murlocs are on the table to buff their health and keep them alive.
Knife Juggler - While not a Murloc or a buffing card, this minion is a very powerful addition to any rush deck. He is a 3/2 minion for 2 mana which is amazing right away, but his ability pushes him over the top and makes him a must have card. Since all your other minions are cheap, it is possible to bring him in on turn 4 and ensure that you have cause 2 damage with his ability before your opponent even has a chance to remove him.
Ideal Opening Hand Cards
Anything cheap! Which means pretty much anything in your deck is good to start with other than the few cards that cost 3 or 4 mana in your deck. While I have some favorite opening hand draws that I like to see, really, almost anything will work, there are so many great options.
Just a few of the great opening hands that I look for are:
- Flame Imp, Leper Gnome, Voidwalker or Bluegill Warrior
- Knife Juggler, Murloc Tidehunter, Young Priestess or Voidwalker
- Grimscale Oracle, Young Priestess, Murloc Tidehunter
This deck is all about aggression, it should start fast and keep moving fast throughout the game. To make sure that it can 24 of the cards in the deck cost 2 mana or less, and no card costs over 4 mana. This makes it extremely aggressive and able to start out fast with almost any possible card draw. Since so many of your cards are able to be played on the first turn you should always have a minion out on turn one. Since many removal cards cost 2 mana this means that when you go first, you will almost always be able to attack on turn two. On turn two, you will be able to summon at least one more and likely two more minions to keep up the early pressure.
One of the things that allows this deck to win and to do so consistently is the Warlock class ability called Life Tap. So many of the cards in this deck are only one or two mana, that you will quickly empty your hand of cards. With most classes this would be an issue, however with the Warlock, all you need to do is spend 2 mana and lose 2 health to draw another card. This means once you hit turn 4 and you hand is likely empty, you get to draw a card at the start of your turn, see if it is useful or not, then pay 2 mana to draw another card, and in most cases (since most of the cards in the deck are 2 mana or less) still play the card you drew.
It is important to keep in mind however, that while drawing cards you are not doing damage or setting up creatures to do damage. Therefore you should only use your Warlock ability when you can not do anything else, It is also important to considering timing when using the ability. A great example is:
It is your turn 6 and you only have a Bluegill Warrior in your hand and a Murloc Warleader on the table. Don't rush and cast the Bluegill Warrior. Instead use your Warlock ability first to draw a card. You could draw something like a Knife Juggler. If you did you can then summon the Knife Juggler first and then the Bluegill Warrior. This way you get an extra point of damage caused from the Knife Jugglers ability. If you had rushed and summoned the Bluegill Warrior first then used your Warlock ability you would have lost out on free damage.
It is important when playing this deck to keep in mind that you will not be able to deal with an opponents powerful late game minions and spells and therefore you want to do everything in your power to never reach the late game. The means that unlike many decks, that want to trade minions and keep the board clear, you will almost never want to trade minions during your turn. Even if your opponent summons a powerful 4/3 minion on his turn and you can kill it with a 3/2 minion during your turn rather than take the incoming 4 damage next turn, don't kill it. Hit him for the 3 damage instead and make him decide to kill your minion or not. Since you will be coming on fast at the start of the game, you will be ahead on health in most cases and your opponent should be low on life by turn 4. Most opponents will trade minions rather than hit you, because they need to stop the pain of the incoming attack next turn. This allows you to still deal damage, and in all likelihood remove their minion as well. There are obvious exceptions to this, such as minions with taunt that you have to hit, powerful minions that are down to 1 health, or minions with powerful effects that you need to remove, or minions that could kill you next turn, but in almost all other cases you should ignore enemy minions and hit your opponent.
While this deck is about aggression, I find that it is a good idea to have at least some early defense options as well. The defensive type cards in this deck are Voidwalker, Young Priestess, and Soulfire. The first two are cheap minions making them good choices for a rush deck regardless of their defensive abilities, which only make them even better choices. Soulfire is an offensive card, but in this deck is really better used as a defensive card to remove those few cheap early game minions that your opponent may summon.
While any card can finish the game, the two in the deck that are really meant as the finishers are Old Murk-Eye and Leeroy Jenkins. They provide serious hitting power for only 4 mana, and many times can win you the game when they are summoned and hit for 6 or more damage on turn 3 or 4. Often times it can be best to hold off on them just a little longer though to ensure they will be getting the killing blow rather than summon them too early and just put pressure on. Unless you will be killing your opponent, or at least dropping them to 2 health, I tend to hold off on them minions.
Optional Cards / Alternate Deck
There are many other cards that can be substituted into this deck, however they all change it slightly from an all out rush deck to more of a hybrid deck. Some players like that while other prefer to keep it more focused. In the lower tiers of the ladder (20-10) it's a real mix of decks you will have to play against and therefore I find it better to keep it tightly focused.
There is however a still aggressive version that has a little more late game staying power if you prefer. It is shown to the right and uses some of the cards talked about in this section. It does not use all of them as that would pull too much of the core deck apart and not really leave a Murloc Rush Deck.
Murloc Oracle - While more Murloc cards add even more synergy to the deck, I prefer not to use this one. While it is a great card, giving you 2 cards and a Murloc, I don't like giving my opponent 2 cards as well and therefore leave it out. Getting additional cards is great, but giving your opponent more options is not something I am willing to do.
Hungry Crab - This is a viable option card that helps you deal with opponents a little later in the game. It's cheap and fairly large which makes it a good deal.
Power Overwhelming - This Warlock only card is a great addition to a rush deck as it allows you to deal 4 more damage pretty much whenever you want to as it only costs 1 mana. The downside it that the minion dies at the end of the turn. It makes for trading against a big nasty enemy minion a good idea though, or combined with the Hungry Crab above. Use it on a Murloc, attack, and then have the Hungry Crab eat the Murloc.
Doomguard - This card offers some really solid mid-game punch. Five mana for a 5/7 minion with charge is a real bargain, and with this deck the downside of having to discard two random cards is not that big of a deal. Most of the time by turn 5 you will not have any cards left in your hand anyway, so when you draw him, you can summon him and have no other cards left to discard.
Lord Jaraxxus - This is a super powerful end game minion / class change that lets you finish off an opponent. Nine mana to jump to 15 health, gain the ability to summon 6/6 minions for 2 mana, and attack! What's not to love! The only issue I have with the card is that at 9 mana, no matter how good it is, it almost has no place in the deck. With this deck you should win by turn 7 at the latest or you will likely be dead anyway. It does give an almost get out of jail free card as a retry if you are forced to the end game, but it's not really the theme of the deck.
Ragnaross - Another minion along the same lines as Lord Jaraxxus. While not quite as strong as Lord Jaraxxus as he does not heal you, nor change any of your abilities, he does do 8 damage the turn he comes into play. Therefore if you get to turn 8 and have your opponent down to 8 or less and can clear his minions, Ragnaross guarantees you the win.
How To Play Against It
If you come up against a Murloc Rush deck the single more important thing to do is stall. As discussed above, the deck works best when tightly focused on killing its opponent quickly. It can continue to apply pressure for a long time thanks to life tap, but that also hurts the Warlock, so it can not apply pressure indefinitely.
Make sure you trade minions whenever you can to limit the incoming damage as that is the decks primary source of damage, in fact almost it's entire source of damage. If you have access to minions that deal damage or silence enemies when summoned make sure you time them for best use. This will generally mean killing any minion off with the damage as soon as possible before they gain any buffs, and saving silences for minions that provide buffs.
AOE damage spells and effects are devastating against this deck and should therefore be timed for maximum effect. If your opponent has 2 Murlocs on the board and 3 cards it their hand, you may not want to cast you board clearing AOE this turn, but instead wait for the next turn to catch more minions. The risk of course has to be calculated as some of the cards in their hand could be buff minions and make it so that your AOE does not deal enough damage to kill everything.
Taunt minions have real power against a rush deck since most rush decks do not have much direct damage ability and trade poorly against most minions with taunt (since taunt minions tend to have more health). Getting a few minions with taunt on the table early can wreck this decks day.
Again, it's all about stalling. Minimize the incoming damage, don't worry about killing your opponent, worry about keeping the board clean. If you can stay alive and with 10 or more health until turn 10, you have pretty much guaranteed a win against this deck. However, doing that will not be easy. Remember the famous British slogan, "Keep Calm and Carry On" and you will maximize your chances.
Any deck is open to interpritation and change to match a players preferences. The optional cards listed here should provide you with a solid base of options to tune the deck more to your liking, but you can look at other cards in your collection as well. If you come up with something new that you feel is even better, post it up here for everyone to benefit from.