Hi again everyone! This article will be about the fun budget deck (no legendary and epic cards) I used for the early April ladder season. Overall, I hit rank 1 with some massive winning streaks along the way.
I believe I would have reached the elusive legendary rank if not for my busy work schedule and other commitments. In addition, I was looking forward to starting on the second part of my Fundamentals of Deck Building series. The series should resume around mid-May as I will be building the most requested new deck based on reader feedback from my previous article for May’s ladder climb.
For this April/Season 1, I wanted try something new instead of the mid-range warrior deck I used during March. Towards the end of the March season, I noticed a huge influx of control decks (i.e. hand lock, control warrior, and priest) into the meta-game, thus stalling my progress at rank 1. Therefore, my motivation for building a new deck was to be able to beat control decks even when the game goes long. Often enough, aggressive and mid-range decks do not have enough firepower to close the deal as the control opponent stabilizes.
However, two cards in my paladin collection really caught my eye: Divine Favor and Blessing of Wisdom. I am definitely not the first person to discover Divine Favor as DKMR came out with an aggro paladin deck article shortly after I had thought about building around the card. Blessing of Wisdom, though not included in the DMKR aggro deck, definitely seemed like it had a ton of potential and thus worthwhile to test.
• Blessing of Wisdom – If played correctly, this card will often yield at least the same card advantage granted by Arcane Intellect but at one-third the mana cost. The only “catch” is that you have to attack with a minion and don’t get the cards all at once. Because of the attack requirement, the card is best put on a minion that is protected.
The two easiest forms of protection are divine shield and taunt. Thus, Argent Squire and minions granted divine shield via Argent Protector serve as a prime candidates for Blessing of Wisdom. As with any “buff” spell, remember to only play Blessing of Wisdom when you can benefit from it immediately. Keep in mind there will be times where you should place it on an opposing minion as well.
• Divine Favor – Anytime you can cheat the mana curve, you’re getting great value out of a card. There are many decks utilizing the Ancient Watcher and Sunfury Protector / Defender of Argus combo to get a Chillwind Yeti for half the mana cost. Similarly in the case of Divine Favor, you’re often getting a Sprint for 4 less mana!
In order to make Divine Favor great, the decks that run it have to have a very low mana curve. Therefore, this deck is fairly aggressive in order to increase the effectiveness of the card. It is not uncommon to draw 4-5 cards as I’ve drawn as many as 8 before. Divine Favor is definitely the strongest card in the deck and gives you plenty of options as the game drags into the mid-to-late stages of the game.
• Argent Squire – Argent Squire is the card I want to see most in my opening hand each game. Aside from playing Earth Shock, your opponent will usually have a tough time killing him. Having the squire allows you to keep Blessing of Wisdom rather than being forced to mulligan it away in the opening hand.
• Leper Gnome – The gnome is very fragile but is guaranteed to do at least 2 damage unless silenced. Similar to Argent Squire, he is included in the deck to increase the consistency of being able to play a 1-drop on turn 1.
• Shieldbearer – Shieldbearer is so versatile despite having an attack power of 0. He keeps your Blessing of Wisdom draw engine going, protects your Knife Juggler and Dire Wolf Alpha, and blanks a big attack from your opponent’s big minion. Pro-tip: remember to place him next to Dire Wolf Alpha to maximize damage.
• Worgen Infiltrator – Other than Argent Squire, this card is the most durable 1-drop that can attack [without the help of buffs]. This is relevant because he can be followed up by Argent Protector on turn 2 against mage, druid, and rogue. Otherwise, those heroes and their respective hero abilities pose a major problem for your early game if squire isn’t drawn. Similarly, he also helps get more value out of Shieldbearer since he can begin attacking on turn 2 uninhibited.
• Young Priestess – Though fragile, Young Priestess helps the your other minions make favorable trades and protects them from the various sweepers out there. Using a coin to put double Young Priestess into play on turn 1 is one of the strongest starts this deck can make.
• Amani Berserker – Amani Berserker is one of the strongest neutral 2-drop minions in the game due to his unique ability to hedge against sweepers. As a result, it is important to play him when you have lower health minions (i.e. other 1-drops) on the board.
This punishes your opponent from playing sweepers such as Explosive Trap profitably since the effect will still leave 5 power on the board for your attack next turn.
• Argent Protector – The protector does as his name states: protect. By granting one of your minions divine shield, he helps against damage-based removal spells and has great synergy with Blessing of Wisdom as stated above.
The protector also gives a total of 4 virtual Argent Squires to combine with Blessing of Wisdom.
• Dire Wolf Alpha – Between the numerous number of low-cost minions and the paladin hero ability, Dire Wolf Alpha usually represents 4 total attack. Correct positioning of Dire Wolf Alpha is very crucial to maximizing damage as well as getting the most value out of your minions (more on this below).
• Knife Juggler – Knife Juggler is a staple in many aggressive decks because he is just that good. There is a running joke that Knife Juggler actually has taunt since your opponents will do everything they can to remove the juggler once it hits the board.
Having paladin for your hero maximizes his unique ability even more because you can repeatedly add minions to the board in order to deal additional damage.
Taunt minions such as Shieldbearer and Defender of Argus in addition to Argent Protector’s divine shield should always prioritize protecting Knife Juggler and minions with Blessing of Wisdom them.
• Aldor Peacekeeper – The peacekeeper has a decent 3/3 body but is crucial for neutralizing large minions such as Molten Giant or a buffed Scavenging Hyena. Because the deck doesn’t run any silence effects, it becomes imperative to draw Aldor in the late game to negate opposing legendaries with him.
He is also excellent with Shieldbearer as that will slow down your opponent’s progress heavily.
• Defender of Argus – Defender of Argus is usually able to make use of the full 4/5 stats due to the high number of low-cost minions in this deck. In many situations, Reinforce can provide the second minion in order to get full value out of the defender.
In addition to having great stats, the taunt(s) he grants to other friendly minions helps protect more important minions such as Knife Juggler and minions with Blessing of Wisdom. With Shieldbearer, this deck has a total of 4 cards that grant taunt. This becomes very relevant against other aggressive decks such as zoo and murloc.
• Truesilver Champion – Though it is the only weapon in the deck, Truesilver Champion is an auto-include because it helps you get past big taunt minions. Also, it gives the deck some burst damage that it otherwise lacks.
Therefore, the weapon serves as a great finisher and top-deck in the late game. In addition, it can also help gain board control in the mid-game due to the burst damage and 2 weapon charges.
• Consecration – Consecration is very important for regaining and maintaining board position in the mid-game. Similar to Defender of Argus, it helps prevent you from being overwhelmed by ultra aggressive decks while also clearing your opponent’s board so your minions can continue attacking.
Moreover, it can also help get through the last two points of damage when your opponent has begun stabilizing with multiple taunt minions and has gained board control.
General Strategy and Tips
It is crucial to mulligan aggressively into a 1-drop in order to establish board control early and gain tempo. However, due to the plethora of 1-drops in the deck, this isn’t too hard to accomplish. The high volume of 1-drops also makes the deck more consistent over the course of a ladder climb due to the built-in redundancy.
Moreover, Blessing of Wisdom should not be kept unless you have Argent Squire, Argent Protector, and/or Shieldbearer. This further reinforces the notion that the deck needs to apply pressure early with minions. With that said, Argent Squire with Blessing of Wisdom is one of the most powerful plays this deck can make early.
Similarly, a 2/1 minion with Shieldbearer protecting it is also a decent play in the early game. Without these cards however, the other minions in this deck are too fragile and thus cannot get full value out of Blessing of Wisdom. Playing Blessing of Wisdom for one card also does not compensate for the loss of tempo.
Unless going first, 2-drops contingent on board position should not be kept as well. This includes Dire Wolf Alpha and possibly Argent Protector. Moreover, because Knife Juggler can do more damage with additional creatures available, he should not be kept as well. This is due to Knife Juggler requiring more mana in order to have a greater impact in the game.
As expected, 3 and 4-drop cards should definitely not be kept. The 3-drops are situational and typically only good in the later stages of the game. Aldor Peacekeeper helps against minions while Divine Favor is a blow-out against many control decks. The 4-drop cards serve as very strong tempo plays and can definitely help in the mid-to-late game but are better if naturally drawn as well.
Due to Dire Wolf Alpha [and Defender of Argus] being in this deck, positioning your minions correctly is of utmost importance. Many games can be won due to careful positioning in order to maximize the board state. Some typical guidelines include:
1. Place Dire Wolf Alpha next to Shieldbearer (and vice versa) in order to increase the damage output of your minions. Because Shieldbearer has taunt, your opponent will be forced to take additional damage from Shieldbearer since he will need to clear the taunt first before attacking you or another minion. This strategy applies to other minions given taunt via Defender of Argus as well.
2. Keep your Shieldbearer on the right side of the board. Because the Reinforce hero ability naturally generates minions on the right side of the board, this placement allows the Reinforce minions to get the boost from Dire Wolf Alpha upon your opponent killing your Shieldbearer.
3. Place minions with unique abilities (i.e. Knife Juggler, Young Priestess, and Blessing of Wisdom minions) to the left side of the board. This will allow you to smoothly play Dire Wolf Alpha and Defender of Argus next to less important minions on the right side of the board, giving you the opportunity to trade with opposing minions if you so chose.
Moreover, it will allow Defender of Argus to protect these high priority minions because the taunt will be granted to vanilla minions. This also effectively gets more value out of creatures such as Argent Protector and Aldor Peacekeeper, who have battlecry effects.
4. Place divine shield minions to the left side of the board but on the right side of Knife Juggler and Young Priestess. This allows you increase damage from Dire Wolf Alpha when “chaining” trades with your opponent. With each minion that dies, its neighbor also receives an additional +1 attack for the turn. This effectively allows Dire Wolf Alpha to generate more than 4 attack power on a single turn.
Current Popular Match-ups
This match-up was easily the toughest for the deck before the inclusion of Consecration (late addition) as both decks have a similar tempo play-style. However, zoo has the upper hand due to Flame Imp and Voidwalker coming down on turn 1 while we rely only on neutral 1-drop minions.
If there were a decent 1-drop minion for paladin deck, it would help this deck a lot. Unfortunately, Noble Sacrifice did not seem proactive enough and your opponent can often play around it anyway. Aldor Peacekeeper is your only chance of winning if the game goes long since he is a good counter to Doomguard.
The only way to win this match-up is to play aggressively fast and hope to get Blessing of Wisdom with a divine shield minion up. Unfortunately, this is one of the rare match-ups where Divine Favor is usually a dead card.
Unlike its aggressive Warlock counterpart, hand lock is actually a good match-up. Your opponent is actually helping you through self-inflicting damage. Moreover, Divine Favor is a complete blowout. Just make sure to find Aldor Peacekeeper to get past Molten Giants in the late game.
Kolento Mid-range Hunter
This match-up is a toss-up. If they have one of their Unleash the Hounds combo, it can be very hard to win. For this reason, I’ve found that the best way to beat them is to go fast and make them exhaust their resources early.
Try to play around Unleash the Hounds if possible by having only 2 minions on the field at a time. Defender of Argus is the best counter to their deck. Some Hunter players still run Explosive Trap so the extra health given to your minions can be very relevant.
This match-up is an easy one. Since their game-plan is very linear, it is very easy to play around their traps. Just make sure to hedge against Explosive Trap by using Amani Berserker, Argent Protector, or Defender of Argus when appropriate. Also, Truesilver Champion is an excellent finisher due to the burst damage it provides and by not being an extra minion.
The Shaman match-up is largely contingent on being able to play around Lightning Storm while applying a decent amount of pressure. Always make sure to kill their totems if possible since maintaining board position is critical. If they don’t apply a lot of pressure, it might be possible to win with sheer card advantage off of Blessing of Wisdom.
They typically won’t be playing too many minions early on. As a result, you should be able to establish board control early on and semi-flood the board. However, try to play around their hero ability and Swipe. As usual, Amani Berserker is a good hedge against Swipe as long as you have 1 other relevant minion (i.e. Knife Juggler).
Similar to all of the other control decks, they don’t apply much pressure in the early game. This allows you to set up your Blessing of Wisdom draw engine and gives flexibility in playing around Whirlwind. Aldor Peacekeeper is excellent for neutralizing Cairne Bloodhoof and Grommash Hellscream. Because Divine Favor punishes them for all of their card drawing, this match-up is fairly good as well.
Against Warlock, mulligans can be tough because you cannot tell whether they are playing aggro (zoo/murloc) or control (hand lock).
In either scenario, it is best not to keep Aldor Peacekeeper because he is better in the mid-game for handling Doomguard and Molten Giant respectively. The Dire Wolf Alpha is a better keep against hand lock since they cannot pressure it.
However, it is not that great against zoo since you have no way of protecting it in the early game. Though keeping one wolf is fine, keeping the second would be excessive. Due to the fact that zoo can be a tough match-up if Consecration isn’t drawn while hand lock is an above average match-up, I would hedge towards the zoo match-up.
Against Hunter, divine shield pulls a lot of weight by protecting your minions from Explosive Trap and the reviled Unleash the Hounds. Selecting what to keep when going first is tough for this deck as turn 2 can be somewhat awkward. However, Argent Protector is a decent keep in this instance since there is a good chance of you drawing another minion to put the divine shield on with 2 draws. You can always Reinforce on turn 2 as well.
Typically, Aldor Peacekeeper is a poor keep in most match-ups. With that said, most Hunter players in the lower ranks are running a mid-range build instead of the all-to-your-face aggro decks of last month. Scavenging Hyena is a nightmare to deal with and somewhat hard to play around. Thus, it is almost necessary to keep Aldor Peacekeeper to counter their growing beast.
Against Shaman, Aldor Peacekeeper does not have the same value early on as he does against Hunter. Therefore, it is wise to not keep him now. Without Argent Protector or Shieldbearer, Knife Juggler should not be kept since Shamans have a plethora of efficient removal.
Finally as expected, Divine Favor should never be kept in any opening hand.
Even against a hero like Druid (who can deal with most of your 1-drops), it is crucial to mulligan for a 1-drop to establish board control early. Thus, I would definitely mulligan aggressively in order to search for a 1-drop to play on turn 1. Knife Juggler and Divine Favor are usually not great keeps anyway.
Even against control Warrior, this is a fantastic hand. You can coin out Young Priestess and Leper Gnome on turn 1 to play around Whirlwind. Amani Berserker on turn 2 is better than usual since it allows you to play around Whirlwind again in consecutive turns. Finally, Argent Squire can be played in addition to your Reinforce hero ability or another card drawn on turn 3.
I hope this article regarding my “Divine Wisdom” deck has been a nice read. As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and hope you give the deck a try since I believe there’s nothing more fun than drawing cards [other than maybe winning]!
My most memorable experience with the deck was watching an opponent concede on turn 4 after I put two Blessing of Wisdom on Argent Squire backed by Shieldbearer. Not all games are like this of course but one can dream!