Welcome to the part 2 of the Patron Warrior vs Secret Paladin matchup analysis. Last week, I’ve analyzed the matchup from the Patron Warrior’s point of view – today is the Paladin’s time. This part is gonna follow the same schematic as the last one, going through the Mulligan guide first, then the Strategy, closing with the Win Conditions. This time I’ve also included the poll – you guys can vote what you want to read about next time!
The first two sections (decklists and matchup summary) are going to be the same, so if you’ve already read it last week, you can skip to the Mulligan section. If you haven’t read the previous one, I encourage you to do so!
Let’s start with the decklists. Since a lot of lists vary from player to player, it’s impossible to cover all of them. I’ve decided to base my article on the lists I’ve been using for the testing purposes. While Grim Patron lists are all similar with couple of small differences, when it comes to the Secret Paladin, the deck comes in so many shapes that it’s hard to cover them all.
The Patron Warrior list is a very standard one, the only thing that is not that common is Shield Slam. I’ve seen a lot of players using one copy and I’ve also decided to include it after some testing. It combos really nicely with Shield Block and gives you another removal besides the Execute.
I’ve dropped the Dread Corsairs and I don’t really see a lot of players using them right now. One Fiery War Axe is also dropped, because honestly it’s not that great in the slower matchups, and faster decks are running a lot of annoying minions with Divine Shields or Deathrattles. Two Shield Blocks for cycle and to survive – 10 additional health really helps with stabilizing against Aggro decks.
Besides that, it’s just Patron list you’re gonna see on the ladder every day.
Secret Paladin, however, is a lot more tricky. There are a lot of versions that included Secrets and the Mysterious Challenger. There is a faster version with a lot of small drops and Divine Favor, slower one with Dr. Boom and Tirion Fordring and a lot of things in-between.
For this article’s purpose, I’ve decided to use the deck I’m most familiar with – the one I’ve been playing. It’s a pretty slow version with a lot of mid game drops and five bigger drops (including two Challengers). I run no Divine Favor, because the deck is too slow to make a good use of it. Instead, I’ve decided to cut the number of Secrets a little to make the deck more consistent. Drawing into them in the early game is really bad. I’ve left only two copies of Avenge and Noble Sacrifice, which are in my opinion the best Paladin Secrets. It reduces the impact of the second Mysterious Challenger, which draws between 0 and 2 Secrets, but it’s still a 6/6 for 6 in the worst case.
My 1-drop of choice is Secretkeeper. It really helps to snowball the early game in case you draw a lot of your secrets. With Secretkeeper, drawing 2-3 Secrets in the opening hand is not nearly as bad as it would be. I prefer it over Argent Squire and I don’t have enough room for two different 1-drops without Divine Favor. When it comes to the early 2-drops, I use the standard package of Haunted Creeper, Knife Juggler and Shielded Minibot. Not much to say about that, they are pretty much staple in this deck.
I run total of 4 weapons – 2x Light’s Justice (Muster for Battle), 1x Coghammer and 1x Truesilver Champion. I’ve decided to cut one Truesilver in favor of Coghammer – the card can lead to powerful early tempo swings and later in the game when it hits one of your big minions, it becomes very hard to kill. And I think 5 weapons (6 if you count Ashbringer) is an overkill, especially if 3 of them are in the same mana slot (and 2 are one mana point higher, so still not that far apart).
When it comes to mid game – 2x Blessing of Kings, because if you combine them with the early board lead, they can lead to the crazy results. They really help to maintain the curve. 2x Consecration – I’ve seen some builds cutting one, but I’m really against it. With the amount of Secret Paladins running around, Consecration is your best friend – in the mirror it gets a lot of value and can deny enemy big Avenge or Competitive Spirit turn after Muster. 2x Piloted Shredder as the mid game powerful drop. The fact that he sticks to the board really helps when you try to proc the Avenge and Competitive Spirit. It’s also a GREAT Redemption target – getting a 4/1 Shredder back means another 2-drop for free = value.
Higher drops are also pretty standard. Loatheb to setup the turn 6 and protect your board when you start pushing. 2x Mysterious Challenger is the base of the deck, obviously. And after that, Dr. Boom and Tirion Fordring to curve out nicely into the late game.
When making the analysis, I’m gonna cover the fact that a lot of players are running the faster version (Divine Favor one). But you can’t really tell them apart during the first turns, so the Mulligan and Early Game sections are going to be the same.
A lot of people are saying that Patron Warrior has the huge advantage in this matchup, but I tend to disagree. When it comes to the statistics, both on the ladder and while testing with my friend, my final score in the matchup was 17-12 (58%) as the Paladin and 21-13 (62%) as the Warrior since I’ve started gathering the data for this article. So, while the Warrior has a slight edge, I don’t think it’s that high. If I had to rate the matchup, I’d say it’s 45% for Paladin and 55% for the Warrior. 40/60 at max. For example, TempoStorm lists this matchup as 70% in favor of Patron in their Meta Snapshot, which according to my research is completely untrue.
The matchup is very heavily draw dependant. Paladin wants the tools to snowball – good curve, sticky minions, flooding the board, getting good Secret value if he draws them early. Paladin plays very proactive game and aggressively fights for board presence. Warrior, on the other hand, is the reactive deck. He wants to draw into the early answers and minions, like Whirlwind, Weapons (mainly Death’s Bite, but Fiery War Axe can also be useful), Armorsmith, Unstable Ghoul etc.
The matchup is very back-and-forth and has a lot of turning points. Like, Warrior’s second Death’s Bite hit is often a turning point that puts him in the lead. Turn 6 is often a turning point of Paladin thanks to the Mysterious Challenger – Warrior has hard time dealing with Mysterious Challenger if you already have some board presence. But then again, turn 8 (or even 7 with Emperor Thaurissan) is once again turning point for Patron Warrior thanks to the Warsong Commander + Grim Patron combo. But then, once again, Paladin can get back the board with Tirion Fordring, because Patron Warrior has really hard time getting through it.
It’s one of the matchups that should be played to the end – the fact that Patron Warrior clears whole Paladin’s board on turn 4-5 doesn’t mean he won. Just like the fact that Paladin took down Warrior to 10 health and is close to lethal doesn’t mean he has won. It’s really explosive and can turn around very quickly.
Mulligan against Patron Warrior is similar to mulligan against any other slow deck – you want the early threats, but you can keep some mid game cards, because you won’t rush enemy down anyway and you don’t need the early tempo that badly as you need it against Aggro decks. First, let’s start with the cards you always want to keep:
Secretkeeper – Honestly, it’s not the best thing ever against Warrior, mainly because of the Fiery War Axe. But the truth is that even though you don’t want to, you’re often bound to draw some Secrets early. After all, 1/4 of your deck is Secrets. Drawing into Secrets only is bad, but Secretkeeper + Secrets is not that bad. Having a 2/3 or even 3/4 1-drop definitely won’t hurt.
Haunted Creeper – This card is great and bad against the Warrior at the same time. The good thing about it is how removal-proof it is. Warrior can’t even 1 for 1 it with Fiery War Axe, Slam is also pretty useless. Warrior needs to first pop the Deathrattle and then get a Whirlwind effect to really remove it, which is fine for you. The problem with Haunted Creeper is that it’s weak against low attack, high health minions, especially if they also have special effects. Warrior runs three of those – Armorsmith, Unstable Ghoul and Acolyte of Pain (possibly even 4 if you count the Frothing Berserker). But you still want it, since it sticks into the board, which is great, because you have a target for your buffs (Avenge and Blessing of Kings).
Knife Juggler – Another hit or miss card, but still a keep. Warrior should remove it easily with Axe or Slam, but in case he doesn’t have those, Juggler is pushing for a lot. Gives you some of the early board initiative. Not the best in this matchup, but you really don’t want to skip turn 2 and lose the tempo.
Shielded Minibot – It’s THE 2-drop you want. It’s good against enemy removals and fine against their drops – a perfect balance. Shielded Minibot is most awkward minion for Warrior to deal with and it’s the one most likely sticking into the board. Great target to land your buffs on, enemy is either gonna take a lot of damage removing it or it’s gonna go 2 for 1.
Coghammer or Muster for Battle – It’s one or the other, you don’t want to keep both of those. Both have their merits, and while in most of the matchups Muster is much better to start with, against Patron Warrior they’re pretty equal. Both are good tempo plays – not only you develop the weapon, but you strengthen your board too. Coghammer requires a minion on the board to be effective (minion without Divine Shield, because giving only Taunt is not that good), but Divine Shields are very good against Warrior. Even a 1/1 with Taunt and Divine Shield can block two weapon hits. 1/1 tanking even one hit of Death’s Bite is huge. The weapon is also better – 6 damage in total, as opposed to 4 and can swing 3 times, which means you can get the value faster and change it earlier. Muster for Battle, on the other hand, is better in terms of board presence. It gives you three 1/1’s, meaning you can push for more damage and have guys you can buff/trade. It combos with Knife Juggler and Competitive Spirit to some extent (if they survive). The problem with Muster against Patron Warrior is that they have 2x Whirlwind, 2x Unstable Ghoul and 2x Death’s Bite, which all clear your 1/1’s easily. Both Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain also work very nicely against Muster. Still, there is a chance that they’re gonna do something.
Those are the cards you want to keep. There are also some cards which you might consider as situational keeps, depending on the rest of your hand or preferences:
Blessing of Kings – It’s a solid keep against Warrior if you have a sticky minion – especially Shielded Minibot – and a Coin. Warrior doesn’t keep an Execute in his starting hand against Paladin, so there is a high chance that he won’t have a way to answer it. If you put it on Shielded Minibot with Divine Shield it’s very tricky for the Warrior – not only he has to pop the Shield, but also get through 6 health. Without Execute one early Kings may seal the game. And in case of Execute, that’s pretty bad, but the good thing is that he won’t likely have an Execute for Mysterious Challenger turn.
Piloted Shredder – If you have a good early game, like 2-drop and a weapon on turn 3, you can keep the Piloted Shredder. It puts a lot of pressure on the Warrior, because he has no clear way to deal with it without using weapons. And in case he does, he requires two hits most of the time + the Warrior takes a lot of damage. It’s probably the best unconditional thing to drop on turn 4 – it’s rarely bad even if Warrior has the weapon already equipped. In case of no weapon, though, Shredder pushing for a few turns is deadly for Warrior. It also gets good trades against Gnomish Inventor and Frothing Berserker. You can also keep Shredder if you’re going Second and you get a 2-drop to curve out with 2-drop into 4-drop.
Mysterious Challenger – Turn 6 swing with Mysterious Challenger is your main win condition in most of the matchups. It means that in some slower matchups, you can keep it in your opening hand if the rest of your hand is good enough. It’s more of a play when going second for two reasons. First, you get to choose from 4 cards in total, so you can judge the quality of your starting hand better. And second, if you keep the Coin, you can get Mysterious Challenger out on 5. While most of the opponents expect and prepare for it on turn 6, if you drop him turn earlier it’s often a blast. I rarely keep Mysterious Challenger if going first, but if I get something like Shielded Minibot and Muster for Battle alongside, I’d consider doing it. It’s very likely that you’re going to draw a turn 4/5 plays if you have turn 2 and turn 3 already covered.
What about the Secrets?
The rule of thumb is that you don’t keep them. If you don’t draw them early, your Mysterious Challenger is going to get more value. Most of them are also too easy to play around and let’s be honest – don’t really do much. But there are some that you might actually keep. Good thing about playing a Secret on turn 1 against Warrior is that he’s often going to equip the Fiery War Axe and attack your face, testing for Noble Sacrifice. One less weapon charge is very nice. When it comes to the Secrets you want to keep, Noble Sac is generally not one of them. It does almost nothing against Patron Warrior – it doesn’t kill their early drops, it can tank one weapon hit or deal some damage to Armorsmith and that’s it. Avenge is probably the best Secret and you might actually keep it with a smooth curve. Like Avenge into 2-drop into Muster for Battle. It gets you a lot of tempo and doesn’t reduce value of your Mysterious Challenger much, because you still have the second copy. The Secret I seriously consider keeping is Redemption. With a proper hand, it’s really strong. With Redemption out, you want to use only sticky minions that you want to get resurrected. So, if you have 2x Shielded Minibot start or Shielded Minibot + Coin + Shredder, Redemption is great. The newly spawned minion is at 1 health, but it’s really unlikely that enemy has some mana left after he kills it to kill it again. And in case of something like Execute – you don’t mind! You’ve traded a Secret for their strongest removal, which is fine. Competitive Spirit and Repentance aren’t keeps against Patron Warrior. They might gain little to no value and you prefer to have a lot of other cards instead. But if you don’t want to play with the Secret shenanigans early, you can just throw them all away – it’s definitely viable way to mulligan.
That said, you also have to consider the potential Secretkeeper value. If you draw Secretkeeper, you can keep even the less useful Secrets like Repentance just to boost it. It’s an all-in play, and like other all-in plays, it can backfire. If it works, you can easily snowball the early game. But if it doesn’t and he deals with your Secretkeeper, you’re left with a bunch of 1 mana cards. I don’t think it’s a good idea, but if you feel lucky, you might try it. I’d definitely keep the Secretkeeper + Avenge combo, maybe Noble Sacrifice and Redemption too. But it really depends on your exact hand, so it’s hard to tell.
Secret Paladin has two main opportunities to win this matchup – the first one is early game, the second one is turns 6+. First you want to try to snowball the board lead and sneak some early damage. With the sticky minions, buffs and some good Secret timing, your board should be pretty hard to remove. It means that if enemy doesn’t draw proper answers for your threats, you might just rush him down and then your late game minions will be just formality to finish Patron off. But if he does, you need to bank on your bigger drops to get a lot of value and you want to base your strategy around them. But let’s start from the beginning.
As a Paladin, the thing you want most is the tempo. Having a 1-drop is pretty good, but not necessary against Patron Warrior. Playing Secretkeeper on turn 1 is pretty nice, because then you know what you can expect and play accordingly. If Warrior equips a Fiery War Axe and swings it – you won’t play Knife Juggler into it. And in case Secretkeeper survives and you actually have some Secrets, you might buff her a lot.
Another way to gain tempo on turn 1 is to just play the Secret. The advantage of playing a Secret on turn 1 is that you make your opponent wonder what is that. He might try to play around the Secret you don’t actually have, so that move gets additional “mind games” value. Which Secrets are good to play on turn 1, though? Avenge is always good. It’s a Secret you can just play and continue with your game plan. Sometimes it pops in a bad moment, but generally you’re gonna get value out of it. Noble Sacrifice is another one you can play, but it’s not gonna get too much value in this matchup. You might play it on turn 1 if you want to follow with Knife Juggler to protect it. This might give you an opportunity to play the Muster for Battle and get the good value. Redemption is a great play if you have minions you’d like to resurrect. Shielded Minibot and Piloted Shredder are probably the best ones. Haunted Creeper and Knife Juggler are also okay-ish. But if you intend to play any Silver Hand Recruits soon, either by Hero Powering on turn 2 or playing Muster on turn 3, don’t play Redemption. Getting back a 1/1 feels really bad, especially in this matchup, and you can get a much better value later. Repentance – nah, it’s also much better later in the game. If enemy plays something like Unstable Ghoul on turn 2, your Repentance didn’t really get too much value. It’s better to hit the Warsong Commander or even Grim Patron later (it happens sometimes). Competitive Spirit is a trap people often fall into. If you start with the Coin and have Competitive Spirit + Muster for Battle, would you keep it? In some matchups it’s debatable. But against Patron Warrior it’s a big no-no. Warrior has a pretty easy time countering that – one Whirlwind can ruin your day. And later it’s really awkward for you to play anything. If you just play a single minion and it gets buffed, the +1/+1 for 1 is rather bad deal. And even if it works out, it doesn’t put you that far ahead. So it’s a high risk, medium reward play, not really worth it.
When it comes to the 2-drops, you have three options: most aggressive one (Knife Juggler), most defensive one (Haunted Creeper) and something in between (Shielded Minibot).
Knife Juggler can push for a lot of damage, but is easily killed by Fiery War Axe or Slam. On the other hand, it works nicely against enemy minions – he can kill Armorsmith for free with just one juggle hitting it, he denies more than 1 card draw from Acolyte of Pain etc. Only the Unstable Ghoul really stops is (unless you have Coghammer follow-up). Obviously if you get the Juggler you drop him, but he’s not the best in this matchup. He dies too easily to enemy removals and the chances that Warrior has some answer in the starting hand are quite high. Since you want the board presence, you prefer the more sticky minions. Haunted Creeper is your second option. He’s good, because he’s hard to kill. Unless enemy wants to put a lot of resources into killing it (like weapon hit + Whirlwind), it’s gonna stick for some time. Good if you have Avenge in the play or Blessing of Kings in your hand – it gives you target to get buff on. The bad thing about it is 1 attack – all early game Warrior minions have low attack and high health, meaning you won’t get ANY trades unless you buff it. Again, not the best option, but if it sticks to the board, you want it. Shielded Minibot is your best possible option. The 2 attack makes it trade much better (still doesn’t kil Acolyte of Pain in one strike, but you can live with that) and the Divine Shield makes it hard to remove. Once again, great buff target, can tank 2 removals (or weapon hits) before it dies. Minibot can win you the early board control, which means you really want it. The last option is, in case your Secretkeeper survived, playing Secrets. Sometimes turn 1 Secretkeeper into 2x Secret on turn 2 is a great play – a 3/4 minion for 1 mana and Secrets to protect it can snowball the game. Or just get out the Secretkeeper and play one Secret to end up with 2/3 and 1 Secret in play.
When it comes to turn 3, you have only two 3 mana options and both are the weapons. Depending on the board state and cards in your hand, one of them is usually much better than the other. Muster for Battle isn’t the best card against Patron, because the 1/1’s die too easily to all the Whirlwinds. But it still gives you a 1/4 weapon, which is nice (helps with trading or pushes for a little damage to enemy face – every point of damage matters in this matchup). The Coghammer is great, but you need to have something on the board. Even buffing a 1/1 turns it into a mini-Annoy-o-Tron, very nice way to protect the rest of your board. Coghammer is also great if you want to make a trade on the board. Like, if enemy played the Unstable Ghoul while you have the Knife Juggler. You might equip the Coghammer and then make a trade, this way your Juggler is gonna survive. Muster is good if you have Avenge in play – unless enemy removes all the Recruits at once, it’s going to proc. It’s really hard to tell which weapon is better, because it very often depends on the situation. But since you only have 3 weapons and sometimes they aren’t even that great on turn 3, you’re often gonna end up playing another 2-drop on turn 3. Or something like 2-drop + Secret to fill out the curve. Your turn 3 against Patron isn’t particularly strong, but the great turn 4 should compensate that.
What can Patron do in the early game, though? He has a lot of options to choose from, a variety of removals. Inner Rage is generally not great against Paladin, but it might work if you have some injured minions. For example, if you trade the Juggler into Acolyte of Pain, enemy might finish it off for 0 mana with Inner Rage. Whirlwind is very strong and you have to play around it. Leaving too many 1 health minions on the board against Patron Warrior is really risky, thus you should trade your low health minions in, even if you could get better trades. Let’s say enemy has a 2/2 minion – instead of trading your 2/3 and killing it for free, you might consider killing it with 2x 1/1. This way you’re less vulnerable to 1 damage AoE. Another thing you might consider is not popping your Haunted Creeper unless you have to – it gives you some protection against AoEs. Another removals that Warrior has can deal with your single early game threats – Execute, Fiery War Axe, Slam and possibly Shield Slam. Execute you don’t have to worry about, unless you have a buffed guy. If you have something with Blessing of Kings on it, try to either not damage it (do the trades with other minions) or get a really good trade. The first play means that enemy has to find another way to damage the minion before executing it, the second play means that you got some value before enemy executed your minion. Fiery War Axe and Slam are the best ways to kill the Secretkeeper (unbuffed) and Knife Juggler, but they are pretty bad against Minibot and Haunted Creeper. Shield Slam isn’t really scary in the early game, because Warrior won’t likely have much Armor. He can do something like Armor Up + Shield Slam on turn 3 for 2 damage, but that’s not really scary until he can combo it with Shield Block.
When it comes to his early minions – most of them are annoying for you. Armorsmith has 4 health, which means it can take some beating. Early in the game it won’t gain too much Armor, but even 2-3 points is pretty nice value. It can pop your Minibot’s Divine Shield, it can clear your Recruits, it’s great against Haunted Creeper – even though in theory it trades 1 for 1 in the long run, Warrior also gains 4 Armor. Another great minion against Paladin is Unstable Ghoul. It trades 1 for 1 with all your early drops and you can’t ignore it, because of the Taunt. It’s great against Muster for Battle and in some cases might even completely deny your turn 3. Like, if you have a 1/2 attack minion on the board and you wanted to Muster for Battle, you can’t really do that, because all the Recruits are going to die to the Ghoul’s Deathrattle. The last “annoying” minion is Acolyte of Pain. This one you want to take down in one hit, so the Warrior won’t get more than one card. The worst case scenario is when you have a lot of 1 attack minions on the board and you can’t buff them or kill Acolyte in other way. You have to expect that enemy is often going to get 2 cards from his Acolyte and you can’t do much about it. Good thing is that Acolyte of Pain is a slow play, playing 1/3 on turn 3 is very weak in terms of tempo and sometimes you can punish it. Enemy might drop a tempo Frothing Berserker. The 4 health might be hard to take down, but in certain scenarios it’s very easy to kill. For example, it dies to the Truesilver Champion. It’s also bad against Coghammer (if you have a 2+ attack minion on the board) and Blessing of Kings (if you have any minion on the board). But in case you have no answer, it’s gonna get some good trades – usually at least 2 for 1. Enemy might try to push the damage with it, but that’s generally fine with you, the Warrior is not an aggressor in this matchup anyway. Warsong Commander is not really a 3-drop, if you have any board presence, Warrior won’t likely drop it. If you have no board or 1-2 damage in total, Warrior might do that and try to get the Charge value next turn. I’ve lost one game where Warrior played Warsong on turn 3, I had only a Creeper on the board and no answer, then he coined out the Grim Patron. So if you have a way to kill it – just do it. Depending on the build, Warrior might also use Cruel Taskmaster. He’s not great against your deck – it’s usually going to be used in order to activate Execute or something. The only good combo Warrior might do is the Taskmaster + Inner Rage on your 2 health minion, killing it for 2 mana and developing a 2/2 – nice tempo play.
As a Secret Paladin, unless your early draws were really terrible, you should have a Mid Game advantage. Your turns 4-6 are usually very strong and Warrior should have a hard time catching up. Let’s first talk about turn 4.
All your turn 4 plays are very strong. The first and most straightforward one is Piloted Shredder. It’s a solid drop and you can drop him on turn 4 pretty much always. The 3 health is a little low, meaning it’s vulnerable to weapons, but the Deathrattle is very strong. It always spawns something back, meaning it’s pretty easy to have board in the mid game. Another plays are more situational. Truesilver Champion is great against cards like Acolyte of Pain and Frothing Berserker, but you don’t really want to use it when enemy has no minions in play. Hitting face with Truesilver is not fine, since you play the more Midrange version and you don’t want to waste your resources like that. Blessing of Kings requires you to have some minion on the board on turn 4, which usually isn’t that hard. Even buffing a 1/1 is not bad – if you start pushing face, that’s a lot of damage enemy has to deal with and if you trade, enemy still has to use weapon/Execute to finish your minion off. All those plays are good against Patron. What I’d recommend is to try to develop the board as your first priority, especially if you have Mysterious Challenger in your hand already. The last thing you can do on turn 4 is Consecration, but it rarely gains value on turn 4 against Patron. It actually rarely gains value against Patron at all. Later in the game, if Warrior spawns a lot of Patrons and you can kill the 3 health ones, you can then finish the rest with Consecration. But in the mid game it probably won’t get too much value.
Warrior, on the other hand, has only one really strong turn 4 play – Death’s Bite. This card is your worst nightmare, every time you play against Patron, you pray that he doesn’t have it. It kills two of your minions AND gives Warrior a free Whirlwind effect. The only way to play around it is to buff your small minions out of range or to play the sticky guys that won’t die. Besides that, there is not much you can do. What’s also bad is that not only the Death’s Bite clears your board, but it can also benefit the Warrior minions. It might be used for the turn 5 Grim Patron combos – Grim Patron + Inner Rage + Death’s Bite hit = crazy value. Warrior might also play Acolyte of Pain and get one instant card draw or Frothing Berserker to buff it a lot. If Warrior starts spawning Patrons on 5 and you don’t have any answer, it’s usually the game. Grim Patrons are just too good against Paladin. What’s worth noting is that it’s a good time for you to play Repentance. When Warrior is going into turn 5, with one charge of Death’s Bite (especially if he saved it for one turn!), it often means that he has Patrons. Repentance denies them – if he plays Grim Patron, he becomes 3/1 and just dies to the Whirlwind effect. And if he doesn’t play Patron – that’s still fine, you just denied him the opportunity to combo.
Other turn 4 play Warrior has is Gnomish Inventor. Once again, it gives Warrior card advantage, but it’s a really slow play. 2/4 is easy to remove and you can push your board advantage after. Depending on what you have on the board, Warrior might also do some combination of cards. Something like Shield Block + Shield Slam or Slam + Execute to deal with your big minion. He might Whirlwind your board or play Unstable Ghoul if you have a lot of 1/1’s etc. But those aren’t as strong as the Death’s Bite and shouldn’t put you far behind.
You run only one 5-drop and it’s really, really great. Loatheb is awesome way to set up the Mysterious Challenger turn. It makes your board much harder to remove, and the more minions survive until turn 6, the better it is for you. 5/5 body is also pretty big, if Warrior has no Death’s Bite with 1 charge, it’s probably gonna stay. You deny any Execute or Whirlwind plays, because both of those cost 6 mana. Enemy has to spend his whole turn doing it (or even can’t if he’s going Second). Even if the Warrior has Death’s Bite equipped, Loatheb is still great. Even though it dies, it deals 5 damage, protects the rest of your board (minions that won’t die to 1 damage AoE) and denies Warrior the ability to clone Patrons. He can just play the Patron and attack, but then he’s left with 2 of them instead of 4 (if he could use Inner Rage). Since it baits the Whirlwind effect, Warrior’s next turn is also gonna be weaker.
But since Loatheb is your only 5-drop and you have a lot of 4-drops, you’re often gonna play one on turn 5. Possibly with Secret or Secretkeeper for the tempo. From turn 5 you can also start comboing Knife Juggler with Muster for Battle. It doesn’t really work that well against Patron Warrior, though. Maybe if he played Gnomish Inventor on turn 4, you can do the combo to make your trade easier. But the 3x random 1 damage is sometimes nuisance against cards like Acolyte of Pain or Grim Patron.
You can also go for the big tempo play and flood the board with small drops. You can go for something like 1-drop + 2-drop + 2-drop, but it’s really rare, because most of time you’ve used them already. But if you have the Mysterious Challenger, going for as much tempo as you can is great.
For Patron Warrior, turn 5 is the first turn when he can start doing his Patron combos. But besides those, there is nothing you should really be scared of. He doesn’t have any 5-drops, so he’s usually just going to continue his board clearing/drawing cards duty and try to stall the game.
Turn 6 is probably one of the most significant ones in the game. First big thing is whether you have the Mysterious Challenger or not. It can be a matter of life and death, because Patron Warrior starts getting serious and threatens you with the combos really soon. It means that you want to push your advantage, if you have one. Mid Game should be in your favor (unless Warrior started cloning Patrons and you have no way to clear them), but to not lose that lead you really need strong turns 6+. Mysterious Challenger is pretty much a no-brainer play. You drop him on turn 6 90% of time. You need a really good play (e.g. 3 for 1 Consecration) or enemy forcing you to answer their play to not drop it. For example, if enemy drops Emperor Thaurissan and you have to equip Truesilver to kill it – sure, do it. But generally Challenger is the best. Patron Warrior has hard time playing around all the Secrets. And that’s why you wanted to have strong board – enemy can’t possibly deal with the Secrets, with Challenger and with the rest of your board at the same time. And the more minions are gonna survive, the bigger value Competitive Spirit is going to get. From Paladin’s perspective, not much to say about this turn, if you want to read how Patron can deal with it, check out the first part of the article.
In case you don’t have Challenger, you need to improvise. 4 drop + 2 drop for example, you might also set-up the Redemption and play Shredder etc. A lot of possible moves, but they aren’t really as strong.
Warrior is probably either busy dealing with your Challenger turn or starts thinking about killing you. Combos become serious threat really soon – especially if Warrior has Emperor Thaurissan already. Dropping it on turn 6 means that he can start doing crazy stuff next turn. If you can, deal with the Thaurissan no matter what. Even if you’re close to lethal, don’t push that 5 damage into the face, but kill it. Thaurissan proccing for 2-3 turns when playing against Grim Patron is like certain death. The only situation where I’d consider ignoring him is when Patron has almost empty hand and you’re close to killing him.
Generally, the game won’t last more than ~10 turns. If it does and you didn’t kill Patron, you probably have no chance to win anymore. Patron has much stronger late game, besides the few big drops you have, you can’t do much against their combos. You have only one way to Taunt up against Frothings (Coghammer) and no way to remove board with full health Patrons. It means that the clock is ticking and you need to kill enemy before he finds the right cards.
With proper draws, you can easily overwhelm Patron Warrior with your big drops. Dr. Boom is the first one. The only easy way to kill it for Warrior is obviously Execute. Another, less obvious way, is actually Grim Patron. It’s a high risk, high reward play for Patron Warrior, but he might go for it. If he plays Warsong Commander + Grim Patron (+possibly Inner Rage) and runs his Patrons into the Boom Bots, they might either die, or the bots will hit wrong targets for 1-2 and spawn more Patrons. It’s one of the most unpredictable turns in this matchup, it might decide the whole match. Patron Warrior might end up with something like a single Grim Patron or a board full of them. Even though Boom Bots might backfire in this matchup, Dr. Boom is still great because of the main body. Besides Execute, Warrior has no easy way to kill it – he doesn’t run Big Game Hunter. And pushing for 7 damage per turns puts him on a really short clock – you definitely want that.
Your biggest drop, and possibly even the best against Patron Warrior, is Tirion Fordring. Patron will rarely have easy way to remove it, the body itself is often going to get 2 or 3 for 1. Not even talking about the weapon – pushing for 15 damage if you’ve already been beating on the Patron usually means you win. It’s also your only good way to stop the Patrons – with some luck it can kill 3 of them (+more with the weapon), potentially not letting enemy clone more of them. Patron Warrior runs no Silence, so the only tech card that can work against Tirion is Harrison Jones. Not every build runs it, but have that card in mind – you can’t really play around it (enemy can kill Tirion and Harrison on the same turn), but don’t keep your weapon charges in case he might have him in your deck. Attacking face if enemy has nothing good to hit is a valid play. Especially since the match is rarely going for a lot longer or you might draw another weapon.
Your late game is mostly limited to those two cards. I mean, you can get some other big stuff like the second Mysterious Challenger (it’s gonna draw out 0-2 Secrets, but that’s fine – you want him for the 6/6 body) or Loatheb – those are good late game topdecks, but your biggest stuff is what you really want. What’s interesting about this deck is that after the first Challenger, your chance to topdeck a Secret is really low – you’re left with up to 2 of them in your whole deck. It means that you’re much more likely to draw into something viable. The problem is that a lot of your cards are really, really bad against late game Patron. Cards like Muster for Battle or Haunted Creeper are pretty much dead – you can’t really play them if enemy might have Warsong Commander + Grim Patron combo.
Talking about the combos, Patron Warrior definitely wins the late game. Grim Patron is something you can’t really deal with – if he clones it enough, you’re gonna run out of ways to kill them. And then, when enemy has Patron on the board, half of your cards are dead – they’re just feeding the Patrons. Enemy might clear your board easily and get a lot of them. Their secondary win condition is Frothing Berserker – this one isn’t as scary as Patron. You should be at rather high health and enemy should be low on Whirlwind effects (he requires a lot of them to clear your board), meaning Frothing OTK is pretty rare. He might be used as a finisher to deal last 10-15 damage, but that’s fine, if you haven’t killed the Patron Warrior at this point, you probably wouldn’t win the game anyway.
It means that you want to finish Patron Warrior as fast as you can. Especially if he had Emperor Thaurissan that hit a lot of cards. With or without, around turn 10 not only he has all the mana he needs to work with, but he also cycled through the big part of his deck. Unless he’s terribly unlucky, he should’ve drawn his combo pieces already and he’s just waiting for a good opportunity to unleash them. Sometimes it happens that Warrior has both Patrons at the bottom of his deck and you just win – that’s good for you. But you generally shouldn’t count on that. Try to rush him down as fast as you can after you’ve dropped your big bombs.
Also remember that if you’re setting up for lethal, you want to take their potential Armor gain into the account. Besides the standard 2 from the Hero Power, they can gain +5 with Shield Block and possibly some with Armorsmith. From an empty board, one Armorsmith shouldn’t gain more than 3-4 Armor, but if they already have some minions on the board, Armorsmith turns might be big, 10+ Armor is pretty standard. It means that in case Patron didn’t use any of his Armorsmiths, it’s often more worth to kill some leftover minions from his board than to leave them be.
Another advice is to finish off the damaged minions. Even though you might want enemy to do the trades instead of you, you also want to deny the potential Battle Rage turn. When Patron has to cycle Battle Rages for 1 card, it’s really good for you – when he gets an opportunity to draw 2-3 cards, it’s much worse.
In Patron Warrior matchup, you have two win conditions. First one is usually hard to achieve, because of the amount of answers enemy has, so you usually will go for the second one.
First one is the early/mid game aggression. While your deck is pretty fast (and furious), Patron has so many answers that you will rarely get him very low in the early/mid game. Still, you want to deal as much damage as you can – don’t play into obvious removals, but have some power on the board every turn and try to hit enemy. In some cases, if enemy doesn’t draw the removals, you can overwhelm him in the mid game with the sticky minions and buffs. Something like Blessing of Kings on Shielded Minibot might make Warrior take 6 damage per turn, because he didn’t find an Execute. The biggest thing you bank on is him not having Death’s Bite – if he doesn’t, your mid game is so much stronger. But in reality, Patron has too many answers and he usually draws the one he needs.
The second win condition happens during turns 6-8. You once again want to overwhelm Patron Warrior, this time with your big drops. This is why the matchup is so draw dependant – if you get turn 6 Mysterious Challenger into turn 7 Dr. Boom into turn 8 Tirion Fordring, Warrior rarely can answer all of them – and if he can’t, he just loses the game. But in case you don’t get late game curve, it’s much harder. Try to get as much value as you can from those late game cards and push with them for the win. And remember – time works against you, so finish the game as soon as you can!
Please vote which matchup you’d like to read about next! If you have your own suggestions, feel free to leave them in comment section.
- #1 Zoo Warlock vs Tempo Mage
- #2 Midrange Druid vs Dragon Priest
- #3 Midrange Hunter vs Control Warrior
- #4 Mech Mage vs Aggro Paladin
- #5 Token Druid vs Handlock
So that’s it for the first In-Depth Matchup. I hope that you’ve learned something and enjoyed the read. Patron Warrior vs Secret Paladin is one of the more common matchups we see right now. Both are the top meta decks, very strong, with a lot of potential – both on the ladder and in tournaments. Secret Paladin was a big hit when it was first popularized, now it became a little less scary when people have learned how to play around the Secrets. Still, Mysterious Challenger is strong enough card to carry the deck even against strongest competitors.
New episodes will come out probably 2 weeks from each other, but it might be even longer, considering that it takes a lot of time to research those matchups in detail.
If you have any suggestions, questions or comments, leave them in the section below!