The Definitive Guide To Paladin
”According to denizens of Azeroth the one thing that you don’t wish for during the Winter Veil is for the Grandafter Winter, the one who carries a christmas tree decorated with yellow globes, to visit your home.” – Completely true and 100% accurate Hearthstone lore stories, vol 2
Welcome, dear readers, to another installment of the ”Definitive Guide To” series where I will be covering the 4th out of 9 classes, the paladin, Uther Lightbringer. Keep in mind that every article is someone’s first so for those of you who are joining us for the first time, the ”Definitive Guide To” is my own weekly series of articles where I cover different deck archetypes that are currently played in the standard format. Since I’ve ran out of deck archetypes I’ve decided to switch gears and move to writing guides on different classes. Although the age of the paladin seems to be over there is much history for us to cover and many old decks to revisit.
Sit back, relax, and let’s dive right into this!
As always, this guide will be divided into three sections. The first section, this one, will cover the basics behind the paladin class including a brief history of the class and the cards and in which directions can you take paladin decks. If you’re looking for a more in depth analysis and/or decks and are not interested in these very basics then feel free to skip ahead to the next section where you’ll probably find what you’re looking for.
Paladin has always had it rough. When I started playing Hearthstone in the open beta the class was almost completely nonexistent. It was worse than it is today because today you have at least one viable paladin deck in the form of murloc paladin but back then you just had nothing and as the game progressed it became worse and worse for the class because all other classes have been receiving cool new decks and paladin was just left out there, alone, with no one really wanting to use it competitively.
To be fair, as much as my memory serves me, there was a control paladin deck way back either pre Curse Of Naxxramas or immediately after it. I remember seeing it in a couple of tournaments and to be fair it preformed decently but it was nowhere near as good as some other decks. Warrior had a much better control deck, hunter had an insane aggro deck, rogue had the miracle deck, mage had the freeze deck, druid had the ramp deck and warlock had the handlock deck. Paladin in priest didn’t really have anything until Curse of Naxxramas came out and priest had received some nice deathrattle cards which had made it viable and paladin was left alone with no one to play with. This, however, changed with the next expansion.
If you’ve been reading this series for the last 3 issues of the ”Definitive Guide To” series, class edition, you might have noticed a pattern with classes doing either good or bad after the Curse Of Naxxramas but then skyrocketing in power once Goblins Vs Gnomes came out. The sole reason behind this was the overall card power increase in that expansion and do this day it remains the most ”overpowered” expansion in the game with Mean Streets Of Gadgetzan coming in close second. Shortly after this expansion had hit, paladin became one of the best classes in the game thanks to many powerful toys that it had received. Muster for Battle, Coghammer, Shielded Minibot and Quartermaster all came out in this expansion and together they made a pretty powerful midrange paladin deck. Later on, at some point in the expansion, face paladin had also appeared and it was also a wildly successful deck.
Blackrock Mountain brought Dragon Consort to the table with the idea of turning paladin into the definitive dragon class but that unfortunately had never succeeded. It was only after The Grand Tournament came out that we’ve received the most powerful paladin deck and one of the most powerful decks in the game overall, secret paladin. Mysterious Challenger had preformed too well and pretty soon we’ve had an entire ladder infested with this deck. That deck is so good that it is still seeing play in the wild format and it will probably continue to do so for a very long time, maybe even forever, unless something is done about it. Last but not the least we’ve received a murloc paladin deck, thanks to Anyfin Can Happen, which came out in the League Of Explorers adventure and currently it is the most played both ladder and tournament paladin deck.
Lastly we enter the era of the standard format and paladin finally falls from grace. Whispers Of The Old Gods brought nothing for the class and neither did One Night In Karazhan. Due to this, paladin has been at the very bottom of the ladder with no new decks to play with and with its old powerful decks being rotated into the wild format. The only paladin that is seeing any play, even at this point, is murloc paladin, but paladin did get some Grimy Goons cards and Ben Brode, the lead designer, had claimed that once the metagame slows down (like it ever had) we will see an increase in playability for both paladin and the hunter but until then we can only wait.
This leaves us at the present day.
Pros And Cons Of Paladin
Why would you play paladin? In truth, there are multiple different paladin decks out there but instead of focusing on each and every one of them I’m going to give you my opinion on the pros and cons of the class as a whole. Things that you need to know before you jump in and start making your own paladin deck. The following is the same for both formats, standard and wild.
Great Hero Power: Paladin has a really great hero power and I know some people who would argue that paladin has the second most powerful hero power in the game. What it does is that it provides you with a 1/1 body on the board for 2 mana which may seem like an awful deal especially when there are other cards which are 1/1 with no effect and cost 0 mana, but the ability to have a constant flow of 1/1 minions, in a class that has quite a few minions buffs, is actually quite powerful. Some may argue that there are more useful hero powers like warrior or priest hero power but back in the day, before the standard format, it was actually midrange paladin which was a counter to control warrior because the warrior just couldn’t keep on dealing with the constant flow of 1/1 minions which paladin was creating every turn. Besides that there are cards that push this hero power even further like Justicar Trueheart which gives you two 1/1 minions for 2 mana, making the base hero power even more crazier and Quartermaster which really heavily punishes your opponent for not dealing with the 1/1 minions created by your hero power.
Amazing Healing: I know that the priest was supposed to be the healer in this game, just like in World Of Warcraft, but in Hearthstone the main healer is paladin and paladin’s healing spells completely overshadow the ones that priest has. Lay on Hands is crazy good because it draws you 3 cards and heals you for 8. Ragnaros, Lightlord is simply amazing because it can not only heal you but your minions as well as long as you know exactly how to use it and it provides an instant threat on the board because it is a 8/8 minion for 8 which heals a random friendly character for 8. Ivory Knight is amazing because not only does it allow you to discover a spell which is usually something that you desperately need if you’re already playing Ivory Knight but it also heals you for the cost of that spell. It is not uncommon to see a player playing a murloc paladin deck then discovering Anyfin Can Happen and healing his/her hero for 10. Last but not the least is Forbidden Healing which can easily heal you for a crazy amount of health.
High Value Cards: Paladin has some of the most high value cards in the game. Tirion Fordring is, in my opinion, the best and most valuable class legendary minion in the entire game. Ragnaros, Lightlord provides you with crazy value, Truesilver Champion is among the best weapons in the entire game, Equality has some pretty sweet value, Aldor Peacekeeper and Keeper of Uldaman are great ways of dealing with troublesome big minions and there are many other high value cards in paladin with these being only but a few.
Very Board Control Dependant: The glaring weakness of the paladin class is their dependence of the board control and the lack of optimal ways of getting it back once it is lost. Sure, they have the ability to create a minion every single turn, but even with that a 1/1 minion won’t do much against a 6/7 minion. Paladin does have a lot of cards with a very high value but in order for the class to function properly it does need a board control.
No Removal: This one goes hand in hand with the previous post. Paladin completely lacks removal. Besides Truesilver Champion and Enter the Coliseum and the Consecration + Equality combo, paladin has very little to no hard removal. It has ways of dealing with huge minions by making their stats lower but that doesn’t remove those creatures from the board and if that creature is, for example, Ragnaros the Firelord, than making its attack 1 isn’t really going to do you much good.
Types Of Paladin Decks
There are three different types of paladin decks
Aggro paladin is a super aggressive paladin deck which saw play back in the day before The Grand Tournament. Like every aggro deck it revolves around hitting your opponent in the face nice, quick and easy until they lose. What made this deck work are the cheap but powerful buffs that paladin has but the core of the deck were three cards that are now wild exclusive and those cards are Shielded Minibot, Muster for Battle and Coghammer. Muster for Battle was exceptionally powerful when played with Knife Juggler and Shielded Minibot was among the best 2 drop minions in the entire game. Unfortunately the deck is not standard viable and has seen a significant decline in use because of a much more powerful deck, the secret paladin deck.
Midrange paladin is now known by a more familiar name which is secret paladin. The deck revolves around playing stick minions and drawing Mysterious Challenger on turn 6 and then just winning the game once your Christmas tree is assembled. This doesn’t mean that you will win the game 100% of the time on turn 6 but what I meant to say was that it is very hard to recover from a turn 6 Mysterious Challenger, especially if your opponent had somehow managed to keep your board clear until turn 6. If you have a single minion or nothing at all in your hand and you don’t have the necessary spells to deal with this situation that a turn 6 Mysterious Challenger is usually a game ender.
Combo is the third type of paladin deck and there is only one combo paladin deck in the game but that one has had both strong ladder and strong tournament presence ever since its introduction. The deck that I’m talking about is murloc paladin. Murloc paladin focuses on playing specific murloc minions and then staying alive until all of them are dead and until you’ve managed to pull your win condition which is Anyfin Can Happen. When you play your win condition the you’re bringing back all those very specific murloc minions which should then deal enough damage to your opponent’s face to seal you the game. I’m completely bad at playing this deck and thus I don’t consider it an easy deck by any stretch of imagination.
Advancing For Justice
In the second section of this article I will talk about all the cards that you need and why do you need them to construct the three decks mentioned above and how to play them. If you’re looking for decklists they will be at the very end of this section (there is a hyperlink to that part of the section at the article info box).
Constructing Paladin Decks
Now that you know everything that you need to know about different types of paladin decks it is time to check out how to make them, which cards to use and why. This isn’t a full deck guide, the decks will be provided at the end of this section, but more of a construction guide to help you understand how to craft those different decks and why are they made the way that they are.
So you want to build an aggro paladin? Luckily for you it is quite easy to do. Aggro paladin revolves around playing cheap minions and buffing them with your cheap spells before swinging at your opponent’s face. It plays exactly the same way one would imagine an aggro paladin to be played. I did mention this deck but the version that I have mentioned is no exclusive to the wild format. If you’re someone who wishes to play an aggro paladin deck in the standard format than you’re in luck because although there isn’t a clear functioning standard aggro paladin decklist I do have an idea on what would a functioning standard aggro paladin look like.
How To Play: Playing wild aggro paladin is very easy. What you’re looking to do is to keep up the constant pressure and play your cards really fast. Your hero power works wonders in keeping up the pressure especially because if you fall behind due to the lack of cards in hand but you’ve already dealt a decent portion of damage to your opponent then your opponent won’t have any other choice but to kill your every 1/1 hero power minion because he/she will never know when you’ll pull one of your buffs from the top of your deck and buff that minion. Your strongest combo in this deck is Muster for Battle and Knife Juggler because not only can it deal with your opponent’s minions but it can also deal a large amount of face damage. If you play Equality before playing this combo than you will most likely clear a good portion of your opponent’s board.
Playing standard aggro paladin is easy in theory and I say in theory because although I have an idea on what it should look like there is still no functioning list and until there is a fully functioning list I can’t say, with a 100% certainty, is this an easy deck to play or not, but because it is an aggro deck it is pretty safe to assume that it is quite easy to play. The idea behind this deck is using your completely balanced full hand buffing Grimy Goons mechanic to buff your entire hand and then play your bigger minions. Grimestreet Outfitter and Smuggler's Run are the key cards in this deck. You want to buff all the minions in your hand and then play them as fast as possible to get as much value as you can from a Divine Favor. Another very powerful tool is Small-Time Recruits which is probably a bit better than Divine Favor because it will always draw you 3 minions.
Cards to play in aggro paladin
Weapons: Truesilver Champion
So you want to make a midrange paladin? There have been multiple lists and variations of this deck over the years but the one which I will use is secret paladin. This deck revolves around playing powerful and sticky minions which you will use to clear your opponent’s board and occasionally hit them in the face (some prefer to play this deck a bit more aggressive while others prefer to be a bit more passive) and then usually sealing the game by turn 6 when you play Mysterious Challenger. This deck is wild exclusive.
How to play: Playing this deck isn’t really difficult. At the start of the game you’re looking to get out a powerful early game minion like Shielded Minibot or Haunted Creeper if you can’t hit a 1 drop and shuffle all of your secrets back into your deck. If you have a 1 drop, which should be Secretkeeper, then you should keep at least one secret in your opening hand. Playing aggressive or passive is mostly decided in the first 2 turns depending on your board state. If you’ve skipped turn 1 and played a Shielded Minibot on turn 2 but your opponent already has two minions on the board than you’re most likely going to play passively but if you’ve played Secretkeeper on turn 1 and you’ve managed to buff her once or twice on turn 2 and you have a strong follow up on the 3rd turn than you’re going to play this match aggressively. However this also depends on what kind of deck you’re running.
The general idea is to play Mysterious Challenger on turn 6 and pretty much seal the game although that is not always so. In order for Mysterious Challenger to win you the game you need to have some minions, at least 1 more but 2 would be great, by the time that it comes into play to get more value out of your secrets and your opponent shouldn’t have a strong board presence. If your opponent has multiple minions on the board and knows how your secrets will trigger than they can play around them on their turn and put you into a difficult position. Despite the popular belief, this isn’t an unstoppable deck and those who have played against it many times already know how to respond to your turn 6 to survive.
Cards to play in midrange paladin
So you want to make a combo paladin deck? Very well. The deck that you’re looking for is called murloc paladin and it revolves around playing two very specific murloc minions, getting them killed before turn 10 and then getting them back with Anyfin Can Happen. This deck is mostly identical in both standard and the wild format with the only true difference being one more murloc minion which is wild exclusive and that is Old Murk-Eye.
How to play: The murlocs that you run in this deck are Bluegill Warrior and Murloc Warleader. That is it. The point of the deck is to get those murlocs killed before turn 10 and then get them all back with Anyfin Can Happen as a finisher. That is the entire combo. The problem here is surviving long enough to get your combo out and because of that this decks runs a very large amount of board clears and healing spells and minions. You’re going to be running Doomsayer, Consecration, Equality and Wild Pyromancer to clear your opponent’s board. For healing you’re going to play Ivory Knight, Lay on Hands, Ragnaros, Lightlord and Forbidden Healing. Put some taunts into your deck and minions or spells that draw you cards and you should be able to remain safe long enough to play your combo.
Cards to play in combo paladin
Weapons: Truesilver Champion
Weapons: Truesilver Champion
This brings the 4th out of 9 class articles to a close. So, tell me, what is your opinion on the paladin as a class? Which paladin deck is your favorite? Leave your feedback in the comment section below.As always if you’ve liked this article do consider following me on twitter https://twitter.com/Eternal_HS. There you can ask me all sorts of Hearthstone questions (unrelated to this article) and I’ll gladly answer them as best as I can.