Murloc Galakrond Shaman in AoO

   There’s a deck that everyone on the ladder seems to be ignoring. A deck that successfully contends with most of the meta. A deck that is still good even after nerfs, but still is for some reason unplayed. It’s Galakrond Murloc Shaman.

Remember back in Descent of Dragons, when the early meta was Galakrond Shaman after Galakrond Shaman? The nerf patch came, hitting Corrupt Elementalist (from 5 to 6 mana), Mogu Fleshshaper (from 7 to 9 mana), and Sludge Slurper (from 2 to 1 Attack). The deck faded from the best deck in the meta to about Tier 2, but the devs decided that it just wasn’t enough.

   A few weeks later, Dragon’s Pack summoned Wolves with 1/1 less of stats, and Invocation of Frost became 2 mana- a form in which it was no longer good. Galakrond Shaman basically disappeared, apart from a few players using Control-based decks that weren’t doing so well. The deck was no longer viable in the meta, Rogue took over, et cetera.

   During this time, I took Galakrond Shaman (post-Nerf!) from Rank 20 to rank 7. How did I do it? The answer is simple, yet somehow overlooked.

   Murlocs.

   The deck I was using never ran Dragon’s Pack. Corrupt Elementalist was only a way to contest the board in the mid game. Mogu Fleshshaper was just in there because of the combo potential with Mutate- which I actually liked better after the “nerf”, because you got a bigger minion out of it. Sludge Slurper and Invocation’s nerfs hurt, sure, but still, the deck was solid.

   Now, in a meta where Eggro Warrior and Galakrond Rogue reign supreme, where new players just pick up a Tempo Demon Hunter and easily climb, where climbing with bots can be achieved by having the bot use Illidan (fun fact, most of these bots break if you play a Demon Hunter class card as a different class, for example generating one via Thoughtsteal in Priest or Marsh Hydra in Druid), Murloc Galakrond Shaman still works. It’s good vs Tempo Demon Hunter. It can outspeed Big Druid. Eggro Warrior can’t simply ignore your minions  for face, and Galakrond Rogue needs their best cards to prevent snowballing. Which you still do.

   In short, this rarely seen deck breaks the meta. Plus, Sludge Slurper had its nerf reverted, so he’s really good again.

   These are the lists I currently use (1st one is more Aggro, and the 2cd goes for greedy plays):

The Aggressive list, focusing only on getting more face damage
The oddball version, with bigger swing turns- but less consistency

I will be focusing mainly on the version without Mutate and Mogu Fleshshaper. 

Galakrond Murloc Shaman Mulligans

Against Aggro Decks:

Always Keep:

Murloc Tidecaller- As in most Murloc decks, this is for sure the best 1-drop. If you can follow this up with two more Murlocs- or even one- on Turn 2, it becomes more than just a bit good. As a growing threat, this can also eat small removals such as Priest’s Shadow Word: Pain or Druid’s Bogbeam, which helps save your high-value cards such as Murloc Warleader, Underbelly Angler, or a Murloc that Toxfin has made Poisonous. (Watch out for Backstab!)

Underbelly Angler- without this card, I wouldn’t advise playing Galakrond in a Murloc deck. You just wouldn’t have the space. This card is a value generator, and getting a good roll such as Scargil or an extra copy of Coldlight Seer or Murloc Warleader can snowball games to the point of an easy win. It’s even more important in the greedier list, which doesn’t run Felfin Navigator and loves getting it in the late game.

Keep with conditions:

Sludge Slurper- keep if you don’t have Murloc Tidecaller or Murmy in your hand. In this particular deck, the Overload does hurt, because you really want a Fishflinger or Underbelly Angler Turn 2, but the Lackey is usually going to be useful at some point and 2/1 isn’t a bad body in an Aggro deck like this.

Earth Shock- Keep against Druid. Against Spell Druid you need to Silence their Kael’Thas as soon as it hits the board, and against Big Druid you usually need to Silence a Taunt minion if they manage to drop one.

Grimscale Oracle/Murloc Warleader/Coldlight Seer/Felfin Navigator/Storm’s Wrath- keep with a hand full of small Murlocs, just to add that extra oomph to your board in the mid-game. Always keep Coldlight Seer against Priest, to put your early plays out of Breath of the Infinite range.

Invocation of Frost- keep against Demon Hunter and Rogue, to slow down their early-game high-tempo plays.

Against Control Decks

Always keep:

Underbelly Angler and Murloc Tidecaller, for the same reasons as against Aggro.

Earth Shock- this is a good way to contest high-tempo plays from most Control decks (you know they’re coming), but especially Priest. This helps a lot with Catrina Muerte and any big minions resummoned and given Reborn by Psychopomp, and it’s especially great when they drop a big Natalie Selene and you kill it for one mana.

Keep with conditions:

Murloc Warleader/Felfin Navigator- keep with a hand full of Murlocs. Against Control decks, you need to kill them quick and fast. These are the cards that will let you do it.

Coldlight Seer- again, keep against Priest so they don’t destroy your board via Breath of the Infinite.

So, how do I play the deck?

   Just like the majority of Murloc decks, your objective is to curve out synergistic cards and win the game on the back of some big Murlocs. However, the deck has the secondary gameplan in the form of the Galakrond package, which opponents rarely see coming and which allows you to put down huge bodies in the late game.

   In this particular deck, you have an edge over Aggro opponents- Invocation of Frost. It’s not a very good play in most decks at two mana, but this particular deck uses it a lot. You can think of it as a way to slow down the opponent and/or get some small removal, since playing it summons a 2/1 with Rush. Against Demon Hunter, I like it as a way to take down Battlefiends, Satyr Overseers, and even Altruis the Outcast. However, this is a very versatile card, and it can both delay big minions for a turn (Big Druid, Highlander Mage, et cetera) or prevent the opponent from attacking with their face (Rogue, Warrior, Demon Hunter, Murloc Paladin). It’s not a terrible play to drop it on an empty board and freeze the opponent’s face either. Worst case scenario, it’s just a 2/1 for 2 mana, which isn’t great, but it’s definitely better than nothing.

   If you can develop any sort of board full of Murlocs, I highly recommend dropping Felfin Navigator or Coldlight Seer, especially against Priest and Paladin. That puts you out of range for a lot of early to mid-game board clears, and also allows you to drop Warleader and leave the opponent staring down a board full of big Murlocs- usually a one or two turn clock.

   Underbelly Angler is a card I recommend putting down as soon as possible in most matchups, the exceptions being against Druid (because of Bogbeam), Demon Hunter (Eye Beam), and Priest (Penance). This is your value generator, and this is a deck that always wants options in hand. It runs no card draw (not that much good card draw is available to Shaman), and it lives and dies by tempo. You need to remember that you can always drop it on, say, turn 5 and then drop one or two other Murlocs to guarantee value from it, too.

   Corrupt Elementalist is a great card against Aggro opponents in the mid-game. You can often kill at least one medium-sized threat, and it makes your Galakrond better.

   Speaking of Galakrond, he’s one of your few late game finishers. Getting two big Storms often ends the game the next turn if the opponent has no answer, and even a pair of 4/4 needs to be answered or they can deal some good damage.

   The deck really does want to close games early, though, and thankfully has several options to do so. On a decently sized board, both Bloodlust and Murloc Warleader can help push large amounts of damage. Don’t forget that Totems from your Hero Power can deal damage with Bloodlust too!

   If the opponent drops a Taunt or pseudo-Taunt (like Ysera or Kalecgos), well, you have Earth Shock for good reason.

   In the Mutate deck, Mutating Mogu Fleshshaper or Corrupt Elementalist in the mid-game often wins games if the opponent doesn’t have single-target removal. It is a greedy inclusion, though, so I prefer the “PureLoc” version.

   Simply put, curve out your Murlocs, use Invokes as small removal, and try to finish out the game with a good Warleader or Bloodlust. Galakrond is an option if the game goes long, and using Kronx’s Devastations can help clear the opponent’s board- or buff yours. 

Card Replacements:

   Neither version of the deck is very expensive, with both clocking in at about 5500 Dust- and that’s if you didn’t get the Galakrond, which was given out for free during Descent of Dragons. Kronx is the only other Legendary in the deck, and he’s a good one to craft given that every Galakrond is playable and one of them (Rogue) is the best deck in the meta.

   No worries, though, you do still have a couple options- the Warleaders aren’t strictly necessary, although they win a lot of games. If you decide to cut them, first- you’ll absolutely need both Felfin Navigators and a second copy of Storm’s Wrath. Adding a second Earth Shock will rarely hurt, either.

   If you decide to drop Kronx, who is honestly only going to add a percentage point or two to your winrate, I recommend adding one of the following:

-Second copy of Earth Shock or Storm’s Wrath

-Shield of Galakrond

   And that’s all! Murloc Galakrond Shaman is a really fun deck to play. You play like an Aggro deck, but you have big swing options and can pull wins out of nowhere. It contests the vast majority of meta decks right now, but it does take practice and has a rather high skill floor to play, so if you’re looking for an easy deck to play, Murloc Paladin is a good option as well.

   See you on the ladder,

                        -Spike

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