Welcome to another DarkArbiter’s Weekly Deck Spotlight, where I bring you an in-depth analysis of a recently played deck. For more information on what this article entails, check out my first Spotlight article here.
Since the nerf hammer has hit, it hasn’t been easy picking a deck to Spotlight for this week. As a result, I went with a deck that managed to catch my eye over some of the others that have been making headway. This deck was ran by RDU during the season two finals of DeckWars, a very entertaining event and one I encourage people to watch if they can find a video of it.
Considering the gauntlet of opponents that had to be played against during this series, it’s a considerable achievement for RDU to have taken first place during the finals. If nothing before has, this certainly cemented him as one of the top Hearthstone players, regardless of what others may think of him. Despite one serious misplay earlier in the tournament, his play style has been solid throughout not just the DeckWars finals, but in almost every tournament he has played in recently.
None of that would matter, however, without the right decks, and RDU certainly brought an impressive arsenal to bear during the finals. His decks varied in strategy, from the ever-hated aggro Hunter to a midrange Shaman list to combo decks like Handlock and Miracle. Surprisingly, RDU elected to not run a Control Warrior list, something I found odd due to how powerful the deck is currently, especially in the tournament scene.
Instead, he produced a Paladin Control list called “TauntaWin”, his take on the popular Tauntadin decks that you frequently see on ladder. This deck is the subject of our Spotlight today, as I found the composition interesting. I haven’t paid enough attention to Control Paladin since Naxxramas, even though I was a staunch advocater of the deck and played it even over Control Warrior for a time.
But enough talking. Let’s delve straight into talking about the deck. This is Tauntadin.
Looking at the deck, it actually doesn’t look that much different from other Tauntadin decks I’ve seen before, with a few noticeable exceptions. There are a couple of choices I find a bit questionable, as they tend to lead to less-consistent draws. While this might be ok for tournaments, where you try to include more tech choices to combat the decks you will face, it drives the consistency of the deck lower on the ladder. Because of this, only a full scrutiny will tell if it’s viable on the ladder, which I will discuss in my closing thoughts.
As far as objectives, the goal of any Tauntadin deck is pretty simple. Establish board dominance with taunt minions and force your opponent to often make unfavorable trades, while at the same time utilizing your board clears and healing to hold out to the late game. Once there, you can establish dominance with your legendaries and other strong minions to finish off your opponent.
Sounds easy, right? Well in theory anyways. The fact is though that Paladin decks, and Control Paladin decks in particular, tend to be extremely reactive decks that wait for you opponent to make the first move, which you then respond to. If you don’t have the correct response, you lose whatever advantage your answers give you and subsequently lose tempo as a result.
I’ll talk more about this later. For now though, let’s get into the cards and what each card does for the deck.
As always, we have quite the armament of staple cards for Control Paladin. The unique card and tech choices I’ll get into in just a moment, but we can’t look at them without first looking at what makes Control Paladin tick.
So, let’s get into the first minion that is seen in almost every, and I mean every, Paladin list; Wild Pyromancer. This card is just ridiculous. Combo’d with some of the spells we have in the deck, and this minion lends an extra helping hand to clearing boards and equalizing tempo.
I believe this card has shot up in value since Naxxramas, since it is capable of dealing with the little 1/1’s left by Haunted Creeper and the 2/1 left by Harvest Golem, something cards like Bloodmage Thalnos are incapable of doing.
Next we have the usual pair of Aldor Peacekeepers. This card does a fair amount of work in, essentially healing you for damage a creature might otherwise have dealt you. In addition, this card is similar to Humility, in that it combo’d with Stampeding Kodo is capable of producing quite a significant tempo shift.
For early draw, we have a single Acolyte of Pain. Normally most Tauntadin decks run two of this minion for consistency, but RDU has so many tech choices that it’s not surprising that he ended up cutting one. Overall I’m okay with this decision, as more than one may actually hinder his game plan with this deck.
No Tauntadin deck would be what it is without copious numbers of taunt minions though, and sure enough we have the card that was for the longest time the king of taunt minions, Sen’jin Shieldmasta.
Guardian of Kings also makes an appearance. This card is pretty solid, healing you for six while also providing a sturdy body behind it. It’s not Ancient of Lore good, but it is still probably the second best seven-drop in the game.
In addition, Spellbreaker makes an appearance as a one-of. This card is seeing a bit more play nowadays, in part due to the increased number of creatures vulnerable to silence. While the value of a silence can often times be subjective, Spellbreaker is solid for the mana and makes a decent tech choice.
On the opposite end of a tech choice, we have the card people are probably getting tired of seeing by now, Sludge Belcher. I mean, I don’t know that I even have to say at this point how ridiculously good this card is. It’s a solid body for a taunt minion, and the deathrattle can obtain quite a bit of value as your opponent will have to run something big into it. And that’s it. It’s pretty simplistic, and is part of the reason why the card is being ran in almost every deck that depends on gettting to the late-game.
Most of the legendaries are pretty standard for what you would see in a control list. Cairne Bloodhoof and Sylvanas Windrunner are value-generating machines nine times out of ten.
Loatheb is…well…Loatheb. He’s annoying to deal with, he gains tempo, and he’s still one of the top three cards to come out of Curse of Naxxramas.
Other than that, there isn’t anything else to say about the card. In conjunction with the other mid-game Legendaries like Cairne, they won’t always carry the game themselves. However, they often do shift the balance towards you, as they generally draw out your opponent’s answers before you slam down your big cards.
Speaking of big minions, we’re now at the big daddy out of all of the class legendaries; Tirion Fordring. Nothing screams value louder than this card. He’ll lay the smack-down on minions left and right with his impressive stats, and his taunt means that he can not be ignored.
Then, just to reward you for putting your faith in the light, Tirion even gives you his legendary weapon Ashbringer when it’s time for him to go. Overall, there is almost no downside to playing this card once you’ve baited out your opponent’s removal, and he is a very solid win condition.
No deck is complete, however, without its spells, and Paladin brings just enough of them and equipment to turn creatures into little stains on the board. All of these spells have the added bonus of activating your Wild Pyromancer, which lends a lot of additional flexibility to how you can deal with certain board states.
First up is the card that competes with Death’s Bite for best weapon in the game, Truesilver Champion. In fact, it is almost impossible to tell which one is better, as both fit in exactly where they need to in each class’ respective lists.
Their roles are pretty similar though in that you play it as soon as you can and start making trades that are favorable to advancing your board state. However, pick your targets carefully, as you don’t have a bottomless arsenal like Warrior has.
Moving on to spells, we have one of the cards that are combo’d almost every game with Wild Pyromancer, Equality. While not a genuine board clear on its own, together these cards shift the balance of the game, as they will almost always be able to generate value if your opponent over-commits to the board.
Another tactical option is to play Equality, run out Wild Pyromancer, and then use Holy Light to activate the Pyromancer but not kill him while wiping your opponent’s board. Other than that though, Holy Light is normally just what it is; six health for two mana. In a pinch, it works just as well, but I will usually hold on to it for longer than I will a Guardian of Kings as Holy Light is cheaper.
As for Consecration, there isn’t much to say. You want this as soon as possible against aggressive decks, it combos off of either Wild Pyromancer or Equality, and overall is one of the best area-of-effect cards in the game.
Finally, we get to a card some would consider a second win condition for Paladin, Lay on Hands. While I tend to not agree with those people, I do admit that the card is strong. While drawing three cards may not seem like much for eight mana, the health regeneration on top of the card draw can often times seal the game away in ways that Sprint can only hope to accomplish. Normally, health regeneration on you doesn’t always win games, but add on to that all of the taunt minions contained in the deck, and you have a ridiculous amount of health preservation.
No Spotlight deck is complete without a look at the unique cards that often appear with these decks, so let’s take a look at them. Now not all of these cards are specifically unique cards, rather tech choices that I would like to point out and talk a bit more in-depth about. Unlike other Spotlights, there aren’t as many this time, meaning this section will be a bit shorter.
Earthen Ring Farseer: This card sees sporadic play in Paladin, especially Tauntadin. I’ve included it in many of my Paladin lists simply because it provides you with something to play on turn three, a part of the curve where Paladin usually has trouble filling. Often the heal can do some work, but you already have enough healing that you often times won’t have to worry about getting maximum value out of this minion.
Big Game Hunter: Another three-mana minion, this card is utilized in most Control Paladin decks, as you generally want it in order to save your Equalities or in the event that you don’t have the card in hand to combat a huge threat. Often times it may be difficult to keep this card in the deck, but I often times want it to deal with situations. In particular, with Handlock becoming a possible contender on the ladder once more, you will want to have one of these giant-killers in your deck.
Harrison Jones: This card has been doing quite a bit of work recently. Between destroying Hunter’s Eaglehorn Bow, Warrior’s plethora of weapons, and everything else in between, Harrison has been a favorable tech choice recently over cards like The Black Knight.
With Hunter moving out of the meta for the most part, one would think that Harrison might see less play, and indeed this may be the case. However, I believe that with Warriors remaining so strong on the ladder, you will often want a way to disrupt their tempo, and Harrison is a pretty solid contender for that disruption.
Kel’Thuzad: Back when I reviewed the cards coming out of Naxxramas, I gave this guy a pretty harsh score. While I did say we would have to wait and see what would come of the meta before we could determine his role, I still didn’t think he would be a common inclusion in decks like he is now.
This doesn’t mean I’m no longer skeptical of him. Quite the opposite, I’m even more skeptical now that I’ve seen him in play. Often times he is a “win more” card that can only get full value when you already have a stable board presence. Despite this, I have eased up a little and admit that he is another potential win condition for Paladin, as you will often want to get as much value out of each minion as you can, and he certainly can help in those situations.
So, with everything above in mind, what do I think about the deck? Well, I think it’s an interesting deck, but I don’t believe it’s for the faint of heart. There are a few tech choices that can probably be switched out depending on the meta you are seeing on the ladder, but overall the deck is solid.
There is one thing you have to keep in mind when playing Control Paladin though. The play style for this class is very hard to learn and even harder to master. This is in part due to the Paladin’s Hero Power, which is one of the worst in the game. It doesn’t synergize well with your other cards, and overall the minions die easily to everything from your opponent’s minions to your own board clears.
Those aren’t the only reasons though. Overall, mastering Paladin means having a better understanding of the game than your opponent. You will often have to think several turns ahead of your opponent, understand as soon as you can what deck they are playing and how each deck in general plays, and have a better understanding of how every card interacts with yours. In addition, Paladin leaves very little room for messing up. Every card that you cast is crucial to getting to the late-game as well as maximizing the amount of value you can out of each card.
If you can master these though, you can play a class that is probably the most satisfying to play on the ladder and be successful with. As for this deck, I think it will continue to be viable on the ladder, as it will more often than not provide a favorable matchup against other control decks, Handlock, and some aggressive decks. Some matchups will be decided by your opening hand, as you will want to mulligan aggressively for whatever counters you’ll need to face a specific class.
That’s it for this week’s Weekly Deck Spotlight. The DeckWars finals were a blast to watch, and this was just one of the interesting decks to come out of the competition. It was cool to see many of the big-name Hearthstone players duke it out, and in the end RDU and everyone else provided for a great show. As always, I hope you enjoyed the article, and tune in next week for another deck to come under the Spotlight.
If you have questions or comments about the article or the deck, feel free to email me at [email protected] or just leave a comment in the section below! In addition, if you have a deck list you would like to see in a future Spotlight article, feel free to message me as well, and I will showcase it if I can.
Thanks for reading!