Legend Control Paladin: Putting Aggro In Its Place

Hey there, I’m Shockway and I’d like to guide you on a deck I reached Legend with this month which is Control Paladin! It is now a rare sight to behold on ladder. Paladin can opt to go aggro or midrange so why bother for a slower archetype that is ‘struggling’? I wanted something that could put […]

Introduction

Hey there, I’m Shockway and I’d like to guide you on a deck I reached Legend with this month which is Control Paladin! It is now a rare sight to behold on ladder. Paladin can opt to go aggro or midrange so why bother for a slower archetype that is ‘struggling’? I wanted something that could put up a fight against aggro. My view on archetypes in general is that aggro beats midrange, midrange beats control and control beats aggro. I also did not want to have the drawback of many bad matchups in exchange of beating aggro (hi Priest!) which I didn’t feel it would have. I did learn there is at least one bad match-up which I’ll get to later.

I think there is a misunderstanding of how to build the deck and play it (more on this in ‘Building the Deck’). Control Paladin is all about maximizing value out of every card. Yes every soldier counts! In other words you have to play greedy at times. The “greed” is based on percentages though and not just “eh I think I want to save this maybe I won’t die”. You really need to consider what your opponent may have as follow-up a turn or two ahead as we’re looking to squeeze the greatest value when possible.

Legend Climb

I began experimenting with the deck at Rank 7. I used it throughout my climb to Legend from there while switching to other decks as needed for a quest. The end result was version 1.6 with a solid 70% win rate (21-9). I was pleasantly surprised at how well the deck performed outside aggro match-ups. So much so that I felt it deserved being shared with the Hearthstone Community as my first guide!

Building the Deck

I knew that I wanted cards with a high value individually. I wanted to avoid excessive combos and if I must have combos the combo pieces must still be strong on their own. For example Equality + Consecration. There have been times where Control Paladin builds have used Humility + Stampeding Kodo and though a combo such as that may have been fine in the past it’s too slow for a meta with Aggro Paladin/Hunter/Zoo and ineffective against combo decks (Hi Patron!) From the get-go I felt these were the ‘must-have’ cards:

  • Equality
  • Ironbeak Owl
  • Shielded Minibot
  • Wild Pyromancer
  • Coghammer
  • Muster for Battle
  • Acolyte of Pain
  • Aldor Peacekeeper
  • Big Game Hunter
  • Truesilver Champion
  • Consecration
  • Harrison Jones
  • Quartermaster
  • Sludge Belcher
  • Sylvanas Windrunner
  • dr-boom
  • Lay on Hands
  • Tirion Fordring

Most are ‘staples’ and as such I won’t go over them. I will however discuss particular one-ofs:

1 Ironbeak Owl

Typically every deck will present a situation where a silence will yield a high value play. Playing vs. aggro Paly? Silence that Blessing of Kings minion and put your 1/1 soldier to work! Up against Patron? Silence that Acolyte before they draw with it! Some sort of value play will present itself. Two owls though is excessive.

1 Wild Pyromancer

It’s not uncommon to be in a scenario where simply using a Consecration is ideal and a high value play. Unfortunately that can sometimes lead to having an Equality without a board clear ‘activator’. Having W.P. as an extra activator opens up many more lines of play especially considering it’s a cheaper board clear so late game you tend to follow it up with a solid 5-6 drop.

1 Coghammer

This card is amazing. It serves so many purposes. Weapon to help control the board? Protects a minion for added trade value? Gives me a Taunt for pesky aggro decks? Check check check!

1 Quartermaster

Having 2 is clunky as you often have one combo piece but not the other. Even with only having 1 people will play around your Musters as if you have two so you still gain a lot of value and/or tempo regardless.

This left me with 4 card slots. Looking back I didn’t put much thought to the remaining slots other than being greedy. The picks were:

  • Zombie Chow – The premier anti-aggro early drop
  • The Black Knight – The potential value is out of this world!
  • kelthuzad – Again, so much potential value!
  • Ysera – The lategame value queen!

Long story short as I progressed through my play testing I quickly realized I was greedy with a lack of direction on the final picks. I also got to understand where the gaps in my deck were which lead to these last four cards:

  • senjin-shieldmasta – I wanted a solid 4 drop that must be dealt with. Piloted Shredder would be the value pick but the main goal of the deck is to not lose to aggro.
  • Antique Healbot – During my initial playtesting I was still losing to Hunter though one of the core purposes of the deck was to beat it! I needed heals.
  • Loatheb – I lost to some combo decks such a Maly Rogue & Maly Freeze Mage and thought “Wow I could really use a Loatheb right about now..” A must have to help improve win rate vs. combo.
  • Second Lay on Hands – I wanted to solidify my health even more keeeping my high card value goal in mind. Getting to play a Lay on Hands during a game typically sealed the deal for me and the odds of that only went up with a 2nd in the deck. That said, this is the only card I consider replaceable. It would be replaced with a 2nd Antique Healbot if you’re in an aggro heavy meta. My meta was pretty balanced.

Note: I opted to not have Zombie Chow because though I would really love it in a starting hand vs. aggro I typically don’t ever want it later nor in other match-ups. The upside is too limited and my other additions helped improve the aggro matchup as well.

Deck Advice
  • Playing optimally requires strong knowledge of what play options your opponent may have at their disposal. Take your time with each turn. Even if the current play seems obvious ask yourself if any other line of play will grant you more windows of opportunity for the following turns.
  • You don’t have to kill off something you just used Aldor Peacekeeper on. Often times I see inexperienced players using a weapon to kill what they just nullified instead of either saving Aldor and taking full face damage (which you can typically afford) or simply ignoring the minion after the Aldor. Sneak in some face damage if you can! Granted if there’s a chance that the creature will be buffed that impacts your choice of leaving it or not.
  • You don’t have a Whirlwind effect to immediately gain Acolyte value so if possible look for opportunities to have Acolyte attack into a creature you just used Aldor on. If you only get one card out of it because it soaks weapon or spell damage that’s a fine trade as we’re not lacking in card draw options.
  • I always use my first Muster for Battle for board control or to bait removal. If I happen to make it to turn 5 with Quartermaster in hand and tokens on the field then that’s like winning a jackpot. My Quartermaster typically goes towards my 2nd Muster or to buff whatever tokens I may have for board control/pressure.
  • Loatheb is your combo crusher and helps swing tempo. Use it to interrupt a key spell based turn (Freeze Mage just dropped Alex or you popped their Ice Block). For tempo advantage use it to protect a board that represents lethal or close enough for you to finish even after a board wipe with weapon/consecration.

Muligans & Match-ups

There isn’t a lot of variety in terms of what cards you want to start your hand with. In general look for these unless I state otherwise for a specific match-up:

  • 2x Shielded Minibot
  • 1x Muster for Battle
  • 1x Acolyte of Pain
  • If hand looks steady you can keep Coghammer

Note: I will include the win% and matches played vs. each class using my last deck version. My classification of a match-up (Favorable, Unfavorable, etc.) is more precise and includes my experience throughout the deck building process and matches played in Legend rank.

Druid (100% 4-0)

Highly Favorable

+ 1x Aldor Peacekeeper in case of an innervate play + Acolyte synergy

Vs. Midrange (Fast) play the value game

Control the board. They’ll keep aiming to get you in combo kill range but you have plenty of healing and answers to their slow threats. Their card draw isn’t even impressive with what you’re packing. Don’t be afraid to flood the board.

Vs. Ramp (Taunt)

The gameplan doesn’t change much. You do have to consider what kind of late game threats they may run. Sometimes you’ll see a dragon package, sometimes you’ll get a KT/Rag theme. Just keep your eyes peeled and don’t needlessly waste resources. They might have a Mind Control Tech so play around it until you feel confident you’ll be in a lead regardless of what they steal. Eventually you chip their health to 0.

Hunter (75% 3-1)

Highly Favorable

– 1x Acolyte of Pain

+ 1x Sen’jin Shieldmasta

+ 1x Coghammer

+ 1x Aldor Peacekeeper

+ 1x Consecration if your hand is looking solid

Vs. Face & Midrange the plan is to stabilize

Use Muster early for board control and to avoid a devastating Turn 5 Juggler + Unleash. Make sure to test for what kind of traps they have and activate/answer accordingly with a weapon or soldier. Don’t be afraid to drop a taunt early. Any answers you force them to use early means a safer mid/late game for you and we’re not lacking in taunts or heals. If against Midrange aim to have an answer to key threats such as Savannah Highmane.

Mage (50% 1-1)

Even [1st Match-up]/Unfavorable [2nd Match-up]

+ 1x Truesilver Champion

Vs. Tempo

We aren’t too worried about Mirror Entity. We have enough ways to give something non-threatening or deal with what they get. Duplicate however requires delicate play. If possible avoid activating it until they play a low threat Duplicate target or you can deal with whatever you do happen to Dup. High value AOE plays are crucial for both sides in this match-up. Echo Giants is Highly Unfavorable.

Vs. Freeze

Apply moderate board pressure. Enough to where they feel threatened and use board freeze/removal but not enough to where your hand is left empty. Aim to have an answer ready for their Alexstrasza turn. Whether it be BGH + Healbot or Pyro + Equality + Loatheb, etc. Keep track of their potential burn damage each turn. This is a tough match-up as we specialize in board control and they just skip that with burn. If you come across Maly Freeze this becomes Highly Unfavorable.

Paladin (80% 4-1)

Highly Favorable

+ 1x Consecration

+ 1x Sen’jin Shieldmasta

Vs. Aggro

Don’t worry about using the most cards you can per turn. They will inevitably get a strong Divine Favor. Just be efficient. We have plenty of answers that even after a 6 card Favor the value of our few cards played match or exceed that of their many low value threats.

Vs. Midrange

It’s typically a battle for value but unfortunately for them that’s what we specialize in! Save an answer for Muster (avoiding a Quartermaster follow-up or a full wipe if played same turn), Sylvanas and Tirion. Depending on the pace of the game you can save Harrison to wipe Tirion’s weapon the same turn you kill him. They for the most part use the same cards as us but we’ve rounded out with stronger individual cards while they have non-consequential cards such as Knife Juggler and Zombie Chow.

Priest (0% 0-2)

Highly Unfavorable

+ 1x Aldor Peacekeeper

+ 1x Sen’jin Shieldmasta

Vs. Control

Buckle your seatbelt. This will be a bumpy ride. We run few large threats so their Death’s are typically sufficient and anything else we play they’ll either wipe, steal or use against our own other creatures. Minimize Cleric draw if possible. We don’t want to allow them to keep up with our card draw and we don’t want the game to go to fatigue. You typically want to play Tirion as soon as you can. Nothing you play will bait Mind Control so your hope is for them to simply not have it.

Rogue (50% 1-1)

Even

+ 1x Truesilver Champion

+ 1x Sen’jin Shieldmasta

Vs. Oil

You’ll often be the aggressor. When they do drop something on the board Truesilver is an MVP. Don’t overextend to a Blade Flurry, keep your health relatively high and aim for a key Loatheb/Taunt turn (you usually bait direct dmg or saps early on).

Shaman (0% 0-1)

Favorable/Even

+ 1x Consecration

+ 1x Sen’jin Shieldmasta

+ 1x Truesilver Champion

Vs. Mech

You should have a fairly straightforward game. They drop stuff. You answer it. They run out of steam. You win. Prioritize keeping a clean board over attacking face and removing mechs lowers their Mech-dependant card value so if you must choose between what to clear typically kill the mechs.

Vs. Midrange

It can get nasty. Granted I only played against it once but when I did my 2 Acolytes were silenced and I could not keep up with their midgame. To be honest I’d need to look into this match-up further before I could offer a solid gameplan. That said, don’t expect to come across it much if at all.

Warlock (80% 4-1)

Highly Favorable

+ 1x Consecration

+ 1x Truesilver Champion

+ 1x Aldor Peacekeeper

Vs. Midrange Zoo

You’ll be surprised at how effective the deck is. Do your best to control the board. Their goal is to buff minions to trade up in value. Fortunately we have plenty of aoe or little dudes to avoid that for the most part. You will eventually stabilize. It is not rare to get to single digit HP at one point of the game and still win. Key turns are clearing imp-plosion and having an answer ready for Mal’Ganis/Doomguard.

Vs. Handlock

Slowly chip away at their health while baiting board clears and nullifying their threats with your own clears and Aldor Peacekeepers. You can be greedy with equality thanks to Aldor, our heals and their damage/threats being predictable.

Warrior (80% 4-1)

Even/Highly Favorable

+ 1x Truesilver Champion

+ 1x Sen’jin Shieldmasta

Vs. Patron

You have a delicate dance ahead of you. Early game you want to reduce their card draw and armor gain aka Armorsmith and Acolyte are Kill on Sight. Midgame though, if you have the cards for it, you want to switch to full pressure mode. Attack face with weapons, send loatheb to face, sylvannas, etc. By turn 8 (7 if they have coin or used Emperor) you want nothing lower than 3 attack on the field. Yes that means not even dropping Dr. Boom. If you have equality & an activator in hand you should look to bait a combo out of them. You will eventually have enough damage and healing to kill them or survive whatever remaining damage they can do.

Vs. Control

You have a near guaranteed victory. Keep track of their remaining large threats, have an answer ready and proceed as normal. Soldiers are MVP in this match as they have a hard time keeping up with a constant barrage of minions and will be in fear of the non-existent 2x Quartermaster forcing bad plays on their end.

Conclusion

If you’re in a Control state of mind this is the deck for you! It’s underrepresented and as such no one expects this kind of Paly. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the guide and took away some valuable information. This is my first written guide so please feel free to give all and any feedback. Cheers!