Mastering the Aggro Paladin: Advanced Guide

This is part 2 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections: Part 1: Beginner Guide Part 2: Advanced Strategies, Alternate Cards, and Tech Choices Part 3: Match-ups and Mulligans In the Advanced part of the guide we want to talk about few things. We’re gonna start everything with a concept […]

This is part 2 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections:

Introduction

In the Advanced part of the guide we want to talk about few things. We’re gonna start everything with a concept you need to grasp if you want to play the deck successfully – tempo. Even though the deck is a typical Aggro/Rush deck, it relies heavily on small tempo gains to win most of the games. Next, we’re gonna show you the possible combos and interactions. Many of the cards in this deck have synergy with each other and we want to go through them. And at the end, if you feel like you want to tinker a little and change your deck list, you can check out the list of possible alternate and tech cards. We show their strengths, weaknesses and possible cards you can switch them with.

Tempo

Even though Aggro Paladin is not a strictly tempo deck, it heavily relies on the early tempo to be successful. First we need to explain what the tempo is. Good tempo plays are plays that are efficient in terms of mana. Tempo doesn’t take health or card advantage into account – those plays aren’t always great in terms of value.

One of the most simple examples of what tempo is are your 1-drops. You use your leper-gnome and southsea-deckhand on turn 2 against Mage. Mage goes into turn 3 and uses Hero Power to answer one of them. On the first glance, it may seem that the trade is not worth for you. Mage didn’t use a card and killed your minion with just Hero Power. But now, let’s look deeper into it. Mage has wasted 3 mana (2 mana Hero Power + 1 mana floating) to answer your 1-drop. Even though Mage gained card advantage, because he traded 0 for 1, he lost a lot of tempo.

Aggro Paladin deck relies on those small tempo swings to be successful. Most of the minions in the deck gain you tempo. 1-drops are the first thing that are great in terms of tempo. Unless enemy answers your 1-drop with his 1-drop, it’s usually gonna take more than 1 mana to kill your 1-drop. Whether you trade it for his 2-drop, he uses a removal or even a Hero Power – you gain tempo. You might drop couple of them on one turn, which makes enemy waste a lot of resources on trying to kill them. You might also fit them easily into almost any turn – you don’t float your mana thanks to them. Instead of using a truesilver-champion and passing on turn 5, you might fit let’s say argent-squire into your turn. Enemy removing your Argent Squire is a great example of a tempo gain. He needs to hit it at least two times and often use 4+ mana on your 1-drop.

So, like in Argent Squire’s case, Divine Shields might give you a tempo boost. But it becomes even more evident with your two drops – shielded-minibot and argent-protector. While the 1/1 isn’t that scary, 2/2 hits twice as hard. It’s one of the strongest 2-drops in the game just for the sheer tempo it often gains. It usually takes at least 4 mana to remove your Shielded Minibot (some classes like Rogue can do it much cheaper, but that’s because they have great tempo cards like backstab). And the point is – enemy is forced to remove it. Against rush deck like Aggro Paladin, enemy can’t let it hit for 2 damage per turn. Argent Protector is another interesting case. Enemy usually needs to use that ~2 mana to deal with the Divine Shield it gives. He pays 2 mana to deal with the Battlecry – not the 2-drop itself. So next time you play against a class with ping Hero Power – don’t feel bad using your Argent Protector just for the enemy to take the Shield down for “free”. Now imagine the Battlecry on Argent Protector said “destroy two enemy mana crystals for the next turn only” – it would be completely broken. And that’s what Argent Protector often does.

Your 3-drops are also great in terms of tempo. Let’s start with muster-for-battle. If it was a 3/3 minion, it wouldn’t be anything special when it comes to the tempo. Your 3-drop could be answered with enemy 2 mana removal easily. Yes, you’d still be left with lights-justice, but it’s also worth 1 mana, so it’s not a tempo gain, more of a value gain. But right now, three 1/1’s give you much more tempo. They’re way harder for enemy to answer. The only efficient way to deal with them is fan-of-knives (and that’s one of the reasons why Rogue is a really hard matchup) or maybe some lucky pings from things like arcane-missiles. But generally, they’re often gonna take more than 3 mana to get rid of. And in meantime, you hit with them every turn they stay on the board. king-mukla is another big tempo card. You pretty much give enemy an answer for it – the bananas. But even in the scenario when enemy has a 3/2 minion on the board, buffs it two times and kills your Mukla on his turn 3 – you’re completely fine with that. In terms of card advantage, it’s a 1 for 1 trade. But in terms of the tempo, you trade your turn 3 play for their turn 2 AND 3 plays. 3 mana for 5 mana, unless enemy can also squeeze some drop besides those 2 Bananas. And if enemy has nothing on the board, a 5/5 for 3 is even better. You don’t care about giving enemy a little card advantage, because you’re not playing the value game. You want to finish it fast, so you don’t care if he’s 5 cards ahead of you. You’re actually pretty happy, because it makes your another card much better.

That ‘another card’ is divine-favor. That’s the main reason your deck is so strong. But why mention Divine Favor when we’re talking about tempo? That’s true, Divine Favor isn’t a tempo card. It’s a value card – it sacrifices a little tempo (you do nothing that impacts the board for that 3 mana) to get you card advantage. What’s important is that tempo plays aren’t usually the greatest in terms of card advantage. Enemy is often gonna be 4 or 5 cards ahead. For a slow, control deck the best way to fight against heavy tempo deck is to starve them. Play to survive, kill everything they might play, get the value trades. When opponent runs out of cards – slow deck stabilizes and wins the game. With Aggro Paladin, the thing is not that easy. Even though the deck runs out of steam extremely fast – sometimes as soon as turn 4 or 5 – it has a great way to refill the hand. When you make a heavy tempo plays, you’re bound to have less cards than your enemy. And the less cards you have, the stronger Divine Favor becomes. Without this card, the deck would be really bad. Let’s say you dump your whole hand by turn 5. Yes, you have some board and enemy is pretty low, but you have no way to finish him. Enemy Taunting up or healing is game over. But if you draw 5 more cards with Divine Favor, things might suddenly change. You might drop more things into the board, draw into Silence to get rid of enemy Taunts etc.

One of the most important things when playing Aggro Paladin is to learn how to abuse the huge early tempo you can gain. Using your Divine Shield or dropping a 1 health minion right into enemy ping seems like a bad play on the first glance, but in reality it’s what often wins Aggro Paladin games. You need to know when to use your tempo and how. For example, even though Aggro Paladin often floods the board, you have to be careful about enemy board clears. They put you behind in terms of tempo. If enemy uses 4 mana to clear your whole board, you don’t really gain anything besides initiative (which you had anyway). Baiting enemy removals and swinging tempo back into your favor is another thing you need to learn. Knowing how much can you commit into the board depending on your current hand is important. For example, if you have Divine Favor, throwing your Leper Gnome into enemy AoE is not bad at all. You gain 2 damage for 1 mana and you cycle the card anyway, thanks to Divine Favor. But if you’re running out of steam and have no way to refill your hand, overcommiting into enemy clear is a losing play. Sometimes you have no choice, but think through every possibility first.

Combos and Interactions

While Aggro Paladin is not really a combo deck, there are some little interesting combos and interactions you might think about when playing the deck. The general rule is that you shouldn’t wait with your cards until you draw the “full combo”. For example, if you have muster-for-battle in your hand, you just use it and don’t wait until turn 5 so you can use it alongside knife-juggler. But if you get a good opportunity, definitely try to go for one of the things listed below.

The first obvious combo is Divine Shield + Buffs. Your deck runs 2x argent-squire and 2x shielded-minibot. On top of that, you have two additional ways of giving minions Divine Shield – argent-protector and coghammer. You’re gonna see some Divine Shields pretty much any game. When it comes to the buffs, you run 1x blessing-of-might and 2x blessing-of-kings. Those two things have great synergy between themselves. Giving the buff to a minion with Divine Shield might make it twice more effective. Blessing of Might is a great way to push for more damage. A 4/1 minion with Divine Shield on turn 2 (or 5/2 on turn 3) might be really hard to deal with. They are usually gonna hit enemy at least two times. And if they get Silenced or removed in some way, it’s not the end of the world, because by that time you’re gonna flood the board with other small minions. Blessing of Kings is a much bigger investment. Making a 6/6 minion with Divine Shield on turn 4 (or even 3 with Coin!) is awesome, but risky. On the one hand, almost no deck has a clear way to deal with that monster. But on the other, it’s really vulnerable to Silence. You’re usually gonna do it anyway, but if you play against deck that runs two copies of Silence (like Midrange Druid or Handlock) you might prefer to do another play instead. What you might want to do is to trade off the Divine Shield for their big minion right away. Trading off your Divine Shield for let’s say 5/5 minion is really worth unless you’re pushing for lethal already. It makes the Silence much less valuable and killing a big minion protects the rest of your board.

There is also a nice synergy between Divine Shields and abusive-sergeant. You might force the trades and at the same time have your minions survive. Argent Squire is really great when you have Abusive in the hand. It can trade for every common 2-drop and many of the 3-drops while still surviving, which also means you gain a lot of tempo.

Another big interaction is that between Knife Juggler and pretty much most of your drops. The best one is obviously Knife Juggler + Muster for Battle. Besides spawning three 1/1’s, you throw three knives. It’s big deal because free 3 damage so early in the game, combined with the 1 from your weapon, can easily kill some of the enemy early drops, effectively protecting your board. And if the knives go face – it’s also not bad, because it brings you closer to lethal. Knife Juggler has generally good synergy with the deck. Aggro Paladin tends to flood the board, throws a lot of small minions onto it every turn. Even if he stays on the board for two or three turns, the value is really big. He also synergizes well with Paladin’s Hero Power – it actually makes it much stronger, even taking the RNG into account.

Next point on the list is burst. Even though Aggro Paladin is not a bursty deck, it can get some surprise damage from the hand with a combination of Charge minions, buffs and weapons. Usually, the base of your burst is a minion with Charge. You have three options – southsea-deckhand, arcane-golem and leeroy-jenkins. Smaller Charge minions deal less damage, but also for less mana, giving you an opportunity to fit in many other things into your turn. When it comes to the buffs, Abusive Sergeant and Blessing of Might are the best. They are really cheap and provide good amount of damage per mana. Blessing of Kings is only 1 damage per 1 mana, so that’s not really a thing you can fit into your burst easily, but it might happen that it’s gonna be exactly what you need. When it comes to the weapons, the best way is to prepare for your burst turn and have a weapon pre-equipped. You might even opt to attack minion instead of enemy face if you feel that you’re gonna have enough damage anyway – this way you aren’t telling enemy that you have a bursty hand. truesilver-champion is the best one because of 4 attack, but coghammer also might work. lights-justice doesn’t really add much, but still, the 1 damage might matter. When it comes to the burst you can squeeze out just from your hand, in the best case scenario it’s around 15. But you generally shouldn’t expect more than ~10. Sometimes if you get a big divine-favor turn, you might have enough steam to push two bursty turns. Since you run a lot of Charge minions and buffs, with a decent hand you might easily deal around 20 damage over the course of two turns. ironbeak-owl, even if not the part of your burst, is still important because it allows you to easily get through enemy Taunts. Silencing sludge-belcher (most popular Taunt option) means dealing 7 damage for 2 mana, so Owl might come handy.

One another combo that is worth mentioning is king-mukla + divine-favor. It’s a really simple concept – you give enemy two bananas, increasing his hand size. On turn 6 you might instantly do the whole thing, drop Mukla and follow with Divine Favor. But that’s usually not necessary. Against slower decks, the Bananas are often gonna stay in opponent’s had for quite some time. And if he wants to use them on their early turns, it usually means that he doesn’t do something else, so he still gets to keep more cards in his hand. If it works – you get two cards for free, which is really big.

Alternate and Tech Cards

Aggro Paladin decks are still going through a lot of tests. The lists vary and they try to utilize a lot of different cards. We’re gonna list few of them to show you what can you expect or test by yourself.

Wolfrider

Wolfrider is another option for a Charge minion. You aim to have at least 3 or 4 minions with Charge in your deck, maybe more based on preferences. Wolfriders make the deck have a little more reach. You can compare them to two another minions: southsea-deckhand and arcane-golem. When it comes to Deckhand, Wolfrider deals only 1 more damage for 2 more mana, but the Charge is unconditional. It’s better in the situation where you have no weapon equipped or maybe when you need just one more point of damage to win the game. Compared to Arcane Golem, it has -1/-1 in stats, but doesn’t give enemy a free point of mana. On turn 3, Wolfrider is usually better. But on the other hand, Arcane Golem is better when you push for lethal. Generally the choice is pretty hard, because all of them are good in different situation. We prefer to use two Deckhands, because with 15 charges of weapons you have one up for the most part of the game. If you decide to cut some weapons, though, Wolfrider might be a better choice.

Possible switches: Southsea Deckhand, Arcane Golem

Annoy-O-Tron

This card does what it should do – it is annoying. It doesn’t really pose as a threat to the enemy, the 1 attack on 2-drop is pretty much nothing and it’s not likely that it’s gonna get big value. It does, however, absorb lots of damage. Unless Silenced, he needs to take TWO hits in order to get taken down. He’s great at protecting your other minions from trades and weapons. Awesome against fast decks like Face Hunter or another Aggro Paladin. Most of the 1-drops have 1 health, so he easily takes them down. Annoy-O-Tron might be even better against slow decks. When you play against the deck that puts one big threat per turn and has no way to ping off the Divine Shield, Annoy-O-Tron might actually end up taking 10+ damage. Also, it’s a good way to protect you against some of the combos like Druid’s force-of-nature + savage-roar. Sadly, it completely sucks against grim-patron, because enemy might spawn two of those on your Annoy-O-Tron.

Possible switches: Argent Squire, Coghammer, Argent Protector

Hammer of Wrath

It’s a really high value card when it comes to Aggro Paladin. It has couple of uses in the deck. First, it might help you with trading and keeping your board alive. Second, it migh push for lethal once enemy stabilizes at low health. Spell reach is generally better than Charge minions because it can go through enemy Taunts. Third, it cycles through your deck and gives you more options in the later game. On the other hand, the card is really slow. You don’t really want to use it on turn 4 if you have no board. Having it makes your divine-favor worse, because you can’t easily get rid of it. The card definitely has its ups and downs, but you can try to fit it into your list.

Possible switches: Argent Squire, Argent Protector, Blessing of Kings, Consecration

Equality

Equality was a staple card in most of Aggro Paladin decks, but it has fallen out of favor. The card is really awesome in slower matchups. When it comes to your side of the board – all of your minions besides King Mukla have 1 or 2 health anyway (unless buffed with Blessing of Kings), a lot of them have Divine Shields too, so you don’t mind the effect. On the other side, if you play against slow deck which runs a lot of 5+ health minions, you can get an easy board clear thanks to Equality. Equality + consecration combo also work nicely. Very good card against classes like Druid or Priest. On the other hand, card has a few flaws. First of all, it’s bad against other Aggro decks. Against Face Hunter or in mirror matchup it often does nothing. Another problem is how situational it is. You don’t really want to use it on one minion and often want to combo it with Consecration. Situational cards are really bad in this deck, because you often want to empty your hand as fast as you can. Though, if you face a lot of slower decks, Equality is a great include.

Possible switches: Argent Squire, Argent Protector, Coghammer, King Mukla, Blessing of Kings

Avenging Wrath

Avenging Wrath is usually associated with aggressive Paladin decks, but it didn’t make the cut. On the one hand, using it on empty board means 8 damage, which is a lot. It might also clear some of enemy minions, especially against other decks that flood the board. But once again, it’s a little too slow. The 6 mana cost is really big for a deck where 3/4 of cards cost between 1 and 3 mana. You won’t get it out of your hand too soon, so Divine Favor also gets worse. Avenging Wrath might work if you want to make your deck a little slower and maybe add it alongside something like equality.

Possible switches: Blessing of Kings, Consecration, Leeroy Jenkins

Defender of Argus

Potentially, Defender of Argus might get a great value in this deck. He’s a strong pick in pretty much any Aggro deck. First, the +attack makes your board more threatening. The +health might put some of the minions out of range of removals (especially AoE). Defender of Argus has great synergy with Divine Shields. For example, if you put it on argent-squire, you make an upgraded version of annoy-o-tron. Minions Divine Shield are great targets for both Taunt (twice as hard to get through without Silence) and buffs (harder to remove, getting better trades and more value). Defender of Argus is gonna be much better in Aggro matchups, it’s gonna deny enemy the ability to rush you down, especially if you Taunt something with Divine Shield. What goes Paladin’s way is that the class can always make a minion to buff with a Hero Power. The problem with Argus is that when you have an empty board (which you shouldn’t, but it can happen on turn 4) a 2/3 minion for 4 mana is really bad.

Possible switches: Coghammer, Blessing of Kings, Consecration

Haunted Creeper

Not exactly the strongest and most aggressive minion. He’s however good at being sticky and hard to deal with. The 1/2 body is not really threatening, but enemy has to deal with it at some point – he can’t let him hit for 1 damage every turn, because after couple of turns the damage is gonna become meaningful. And if he does kill it, it spawns two 1/1’s – making it even worse. Great minion to trade off – good target for your abusive-sergeant buff. Has nice synergy with knife-juggler. Once he dies with Juggler on the board, he throws 2 more knives, which may be really crucial in early turns. Resilient against AoE clears – you can safely drop him on the board into enemy AoE. His role is similar to that of argent-squire. It’s hard to tell which one is better, it really depends on the situation and your exact deck list.

Possible switches: Argent Squire

Piloted Shredder

A perfect 4-drop for an aggressive deck. The 4/3 stats are big enough to be threatening for enemy, but on the same time he’s pretty sticky and hard to completely kill. The average 2-drop outcome is good enough for Piloted Shredder to be the best 4-drop in the game when it comes to fast deck that want to push for damage. Aggro Paladin is exactly a deck like that. You run no real 4-drop minions, only spells and weapon, so having a minion to drop on turn 4 might be pretty good. It’s a decent turn 4 play no matter what the board state is and who you play against. Sometimes it’s gonna drop doomsayer and ruin your day, but other time you’ll get millhouse-manastorm which is gonna outright win you the game. A really solid minion. The only problem is that the deck is already heavy on 4-drops, so you’re gonna need to cut some of them to fit your Shredder.

Possible switches: Consecration, Blessing of Kings

Tirion Fordring

A really interesting one. In terms of sheer value, Tirion Fording is one of the best minions in the game if not Silenced. Not only the first body is pretty big, but the ashbringer might either push for 15 damage or kill 3 mid game minions. Many Aggro Paladin lists were including Tirion, but just like Avenging Wrath, he has fallen out of favor. The main problem is that the card is too slow – turn 8 is when you want to finish the game with your burst, not drop a minion. It clogs your hand if you draw him early, once again making your Divine Favor worse. On the other hand, what goes your way is that your deck runs a lot of Silence targets, so by turn 8 enemy is rarely gonna have one. Against slower deck, he might swing the game in your favor once you have ran out of steam. The 5/3 weapon is so strong that if enemy doesn’t Taunt up or destroy it, hitting him for 15 is usually more than enough. Tirion might be used as a trump card, especially if you make your deck a little slower and add couple of mid game threats to fit the general theme. If you run the hyper-Aggro list, he probably doesn’t fit.

Possible switches: You can’t fit him into this list by just switching one card, you’d have to make a lot of different changes.

This is part 2 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections:

Team HSP

Team HSP is a group of professional Hearthstone players. Consist some of the top players of the game and we love sharing our knowledge through articles and guides such as this. These guides are the result of hundreds hours of playing, research and analyzing games by the team. We hope you find these guides useful!