Ramp Paladin Guide by Eltinho: Card Analysis, Mulligan & Matchups
Hi, this is Eltinho. You might know me from articles like [Wild] Murloc Paladin Guide by Eltinho [Peak #40 Legend] and… well, that’s pretty much it in English, although I had many articles published in Portuguese in the defunct Brazilian site MKTV and also wrote an e-book for Portuguese readers, Segredos de Hearthstone, available at https://www.amazon.com.br/dp/B07MJ3YBFS
“So now here you are with Murlocs again?”. Yeah, I admit I am a Murloc enthusiast, but I swear, I swear I was going to write about something else, back in December. But then came the nerfs that rocketed Evolve Shaman to the top of the Meta, then I went to a road trip to some remote places to wind down a bit, then new nerfs, then a miniset and fate brought me back again to the little fish men.
I’ve played a lot of Tip the Scales/Prismatic Lens on the Year of the Dragon then a lot more after finding the High Abbess Alura version in Wild last September which had me trying to port the deck into Standard, using Alura + Wandmaker to cheat early Tips, but it was too inconsistent, although very fun and good enough to get to Diamond 5 at 10* before switching to a competitive deck to reach Legendary Rank. That saw me playing mostly Demon Hunter in order to get to 1000 wins then getting stranded in mid 1000s not improving my rank by much.
And then hearthstone-decks.net hit me with something I did not expect: a list by @Conway6288 combining a shell of Murlocs + Tip/Alura with the ramp offered by Nozdormu which can be found by the Deathrattle of Redscale Dragontamer, which can drops bombs as Scrapyard Colossus, Darkmoon Rabbit or even a hardcast Tip the Scales as early as turn 5 (4 on the coin). There’s a lot of nomenclatures for the deck right now (Cheese Paladin, Big Paladin, Corrupt Murlocs, etc. etc.), I’ll go with Ramp Paladin, since it’s the most widespread. The only thing I disagreed was that Conway used First Day of School as Alura’s Spellburst activator for the games where you don’t have the Coin. That can lead to Alura fizzling and not hitting Tip, which is the main draw to playing her. Instead, I went back to my old meme deck and suggested playing Wandmaker. That would make triggering Alura a turn slower but would ensure that you always hit Tip the Scales (unless you drew both – trust me, that happens). The deck became more consistent and the release of the miniset gave the final cog to the machine: Crabrider. That little unassuming Murloc is a good early drop, works well with Warleader buff and turns Tip the Scales into a massive board control tool. The high health is just the icing in the cake.
Deck List & Overview
So I took the deck for a ride and started winning. A lot. Warriors, Demon Hunters and Priests were easy prey, Druid was a good matchup, I was splitting even with Paladins, Rogues and Warlocks, Shamans and Hunters were nowhere to be found and only Mage was giving me a hard time. Soon I was into top 1000, then top 500 and top 250, which is where I left when I started writing this article. Then the cat got out the bag and the deck was a secret no more. Twitter was on fire and comparisons between Alura and Barnes started to show up online. Ridiculous Hat from Vicious Syndicate claimed Alura was showing a 95% winrate when played on 4 with the Coin – in his own words – that’s bananas! People started jumping into the Murloc bandwagon and started to toy with the deck. Two main versions surfaced: Conway’s, only running Nozdormu as a Dragon, which ensures Dragontamers will always find it; and Zyrios’s, which also played Circus Amalgam, which makes Tip the Scales way stronger, since it’s a big body that offers a roadblock to opposing minions. But the downside is that not only it messes with Dragontamers, it can also screw N’Zoth resurrection pool. When your only Elemental is Scrapyard Colossus and your only Beast is the Bunny, you know what you are getting with your Old God.
Me, I’d rather err on the side of consistence (see Wandmaker above) and not run Amalgams. Don’t get me wrong, I love the card – I run it on my Wild list and a Taunt Murloc is something I have been asking since playing Tip in old Standard and I was very happy when it was released. But I don’t think it’s worth the sacrifice to the deck Ramp plan. There are just so many games that you want to play a Dragontamer on 2 and have it dying so you can slam Noz as soon as you can and start dropping bombs the next turn. And then you draw a Chillwind Yeti of the Deathrattle and all those Scrapyard Colossi in hand look very silly.
As I did on my last article, I like to sort the cards in a list in 3 types: key, main and secondary cards. Key is what the deck is built around, there’s no negotiation here, no “what can I replace this Legendary with” – if you want play this archetype, those are the cards you gotta have. Think Raza+Anduin in Highlander Priest, for example. Then there are the main cards, which you’ll see in most lists because they are very important to the strategy and you’re not likely to cut any of them, but there’s room for argument for trimming some here or replacing a Legendary there. And finally the secondary cards are tech cards, meta calls, personal preference or even lucky charms. Those are your flex spots.
Key cards: Nozdormu the Timeless, 2 Redscale Dragontamer, High Abbess Alura, 2 Tip the Scales.
I have seen people asking on Twitter “can I replace Nozdormu?” Polite answer is: no, you can’t. Until this deck rose, it was a very niche Legendary that was about to rotate soon, so it’s ok to not want to craft it. But then you’ll have to pass on this deck – one of its names isn’t Paladin Ramp by accident.
Dragontamers are here to make sure you draw Noz and getting everybody 10 mana crystals. It’s not your fault you opponent doesn’t play 10-drops!
Alura into Tip is your other way of doing early broken stuff – Tip is awesome at erasing opponent’s boards and leaving a trail of dudes behind, and just so many deck simply fold to it.
Main cards: 2 Wandmaker, 2 Murloc Warleader, 2 Crabrider, 2 Fishy Flier, 1 Murgur Murgurgle, 2 Underlight Angling Rod, 2 Scrapyard Colossus, 2 Carnival Clown, 1 N’Zoth, God of the Deep
The only thing that kept me from adding Wandmakers to the Key tier is that someone might think it’s better to run First Day of School instead, as the deck used to before. These old ladies are the only way you can trigger Alura on the games you don’t have the Coin, so it’s a smart move to keep them on your mulligan on those games.
The Murlocs above are what you are looking to bring with Tip the Scales. The rushers clear the way and Warleaders add a lot of power to your board. Murgur is just good value that can translate in a bomb if drawn later – but it’s not uncommon for it to be pulled by a Tip and lose it’s Battlecry.
Angling Rod is just a good tool to remove stuff from the board while adding cards to your hand. Unfortunately, those cards are Murlocs. Luckly, this deck can take advantage of this fact. The Shaman Murlocs are a particularly good pull and it’s a nice card overall.
After a Noz turn, your opponent has a free turn to try to overwhelm you before you get your shot at 10 mana. Scrapyard Colossus and Carnival Clown (hopefully in that order) help you hold the board until you can deal with what your opponent managed to do. And if your walls are dealt with, N’Zoth can rebuild it up again. This is a spot where I like to resurrect a 7/7 taunt, even without Deathrattle, than a 4/5 taunt, which is a possibility that Amalgams bring to the table.
Secondary Cards: Darkmoon Rabbit, Carousel Griffin, Y’Shaarj the Defiler, Circus Amalgam, Strongman, Armor Vendor, Animated Broomstick, Lord Barov, Bluegill Warrior, Murmy, Murloc Tidecaller, Sphere of Sapience, First Day of School, Acidic Swamp Ooze, Vulpera Scoundrel, Loot Hoarder, Novice Engineer, Making Mummies + Licensed Adventurer and Questing Explorer.
The Bunny seemed like a card that would NEVER see play in competitive play, but here we are. It works as a board clear after Noz, Corrupts any card in your hand and it’s a Beast, meaning that N’Zoth will bring it for another round of shenanigans (unless Amalgam mess with the pool). Most lists are just running one now, but since it’s good in the mirror, this might change in the future.
Carousel Griffin is an average card that gets a lot better after being Corrupted. The reason most list are running one is that since it’s a Mech, that’s another minion for N’Zoth to bring back – remember that if it died Corrupted, it will resurrect Corrupted. It’s also another minion to fuel Y’Shaarj’s Battlecry.
Speaking of Y’Shaarj, he is a less reliable N’Zoth, but as the games goes long, his power goes up. Playing him is a reason that I like also using Strongman in order to increase the amount of value generated. One mistake that I have made is to get too greedy with him – sometimes just returning a Corrupted Clown for another ride is enough.
I have already said my concerns about Circus Amalgam above, but I can’t argue that lists running him are doing well too. You can go that way by your choice and risk, but I stand by my point.
And since I’m not running the taunt above, my choice is to go with Strongman. It’s a good follow up to your Noz turns, coming out free after Colossus, Bunny, Tip, Clown or even an early Old God. He even offers extra value for your Y’Shaarj too.
Armor Vendor is a nod to Aggro matchups, who can overwhelm you before you get your guns blazing. You really don’t care about the armor you are giving, but the 1/3 body + armor really help to stall while you go for your big plays.
Animated Broomstick has already proved over and over that it’s one of the most busted cards from Scholomance and it’s good to control boards, either with big dudes, tempo plays with smaller critters or in combination with Lord Barov – which is a card that you should run in case you go with Broomsticks, being a full board wipe by just 4 mana.
Bluegill Warriors were a mainstay on the original forms of this archetype before Crabrider stole it’s place. The face damage isn’t as relevant here as it is in the Wild Aggro version, where it’s a key card. But if you want more Murlocs for your Tips, these Chargers are a good option and offer even more board control potential after filling the board with the fish men – it’s very unlikely you get the full 4 Rush minions since you are likely drawing one or two before casting the spell, so having Bluegill(s) increase your odds of dealing with your opponent’s minions.
Murmy and Murloc Tidecaller are options if you want to have more early presence and fuel for more than one Tip the Scales, but right now I think that’s not necessary – your main concern is that Tip works as a board clearer.
Sphere of Sapience is a way to increase your odds of finding your combo pieces that doesn’t mess with Alura’s Spellburst. The only thing about it is that sometimes you have to waste it in order to land an Angling Rod, but for a deck that lacks card draw like this one, it can be awesome to find your bombs.
First Day of School can be used as an earlier Alura triggering spell at the cost of diluting your odds of hitting Tip the Scales, specially when you are on the Coin and haven’t drawn it (50% of hitting Tip if all of them are left in the deck, 33% if you have both Days and have 1 Tip in hand). I think it’s just not worth the risk.
Acidic Swamp Ooze is the tech card you go for when Weapons are running rampant and Nitroboost Poison is a card that’s really widespread since the miniset release. Hitting a Self-Sharpening Sword is a game winning play, so keep this as an option for your Meta.
Vulpera Scoundrel is a card that I’m testing as either an extra Alura activator and for late game value. I have had some good outcomes and I guess it’s worth testing a bit more.
Loot Hoarder/Novice Engineer are options for increasing your odds of drawing the cards you need in a deck that can’t run card drawing spells.
Recently there’s risen another version of the deck using Making Mummies as Alura activator instead of Wandmaker, since it never fails when you’re off the Coin at the cost of having a dead card, since you have no way to activate the Quest. This also weakens your Mulligans. An option with this path is running Licensed Adventurer, which will can speed up your Alura turn, and Questing Adventurer, adding a reasonable body while fetching for combo pieces. This allows the Quest to no be a dead draw.
This is a deck that is very reliant on your Mulligans, since you need to draw specific cards to work. Basically, if I don’t have either Dragontamer, Alura or Nozdormu, I throw all my cards for them when on the Coin. Without the Coin, I also keep 1 Wandmaker. If you have the Murloc or Noz, then you can keep some beef to follow the Ramp turn, like Colossus or Tip the Scales.
Despite being a highroll deck, Ramp Paladin has a lot of value generating cards, which can easily overwhelm Board Wipes decks like Warrior, Priest and Soul Demon Hunter have and you usually can power through them. There’s just so many Brawls and Barovs to deal with full board of Murlocs backed by recurring 7/7s and waves after waves of 4/4 Clowns.
Your main trouble are decks that can exploit the sudden 10 mana charge, like Miracle Rogue, OTK Demon Hunter and Mozaki Mage. Against them, you are better off an early Alura than an early Noz and can hard mulligan into that. If you got nothing else, you can always roll the ramp wheel and hope they don’t have it, but it’s unlikely.
Against Aggro, you are looking either for an early Tip or a flood of Taunts, so don’t be afraid of throwing cards just to stall the early turns if it means you’re alive for the big turn. Large Weapons can be a problem since outside of a free Strongman or a pulled Circus Amalgam, they ignore your Murlocs.
That’s it folks, the secret has been spilled out and Ramp Paladin is a real deck. If you meet me, you can rest assured that I’ll be cheating boards of Murlocs in play, be it Wild or Standard – for as long as Dev Team allows me to do it! Thanks for the read and you can contact me through my Twitter @oEltinho.