This is part 3 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
Matchups and Mulligans
In this section, we’re gonna show you how to play against other popular decks – whether you’re a favorite and the general strategy of playing against it.
When it comes to mulligan, we’re gonna make a general mulligan table, since your mulligan against each deck is really similar. If the mulligan will be different in a certain matchups, we’re gonna point it there.
Cards you look for: Argent Squire, Leper Gnome, Knife Juggler, Shielded Minibot, Muster for Battle OR Coghammer
Cards you might keep: Blessing of Might (with Argent Squire or Shielded Minibot), Abusive Sergeant (with another 1-drop), Argent Protector (with another 2-drop), Ironbeak Owl (against decks running early Silence targets like Mad Scientist and Nerubian Egg), Divine Favor (against very slow decks like Handlock), King Mukla (with smooth curve)
Midrange Druid have limited ways to stop your aggression, so if you dodge the swipe, he can’t do anything with your board.
- It’s pretty easy to rush Midrange Druid down. You have at least 2 or 3 turns to develop the board in the early game.
- Divine Shields are great against Midrange Druid. They make your board much more resilient.
- Develop the board but don’t overextend with too many 1 health minions (without Divine Shields).
- king-mukla is also great, Druid has really hard time dealing with the 5/5 and no really good way to use bananas – he has to play on the curve and rarely has free mana.
- Turns 4 and 5 are most important against Midrange Druid. On turn 4 he gets his answers – keeper-of-the-grove and swipe. You can’t play around Keeper, but Divine Shields make your board resilient against Swipe. Turn 5 is usually a Taunt turn – either druid-of-the-claw or sludge-belcher. Having Silence against those really help, but truesilver-champion is another fine answer.
- Your game plan is to rush Druid down while playing around Swipe a little. The great Swipe, getting your whole board is probably the best way for Druid to win. Trading off your 1 health minions is a good way to play around it.
- Druid has two Silences, so don’t put all of your eggs into one basket – spread your Divine Shields and buffs around different minions.
- You generally don’t want to trade against Midrange Druid – push with damage and let them answer and make the trades.
Ramp Druid is much harder, because of zombie-chows and late game Taunts. You need to push hard early and pray that Druid doesn’t draw too well.
- While first turns are also gonna be pretty slow, Ramp Druid pretty much always runs Zombie Chows. If he draws them early, they are gonna be pretty annoying, often getting 2 for 1.
- You want to play more risky in this matchup. Playing into enemy Swipe is not that bad, because you NEED to sneak a lot of damage early in order to finish enemy off in late game.
- Once again, sticky minions with Divine Shields are really good against Druid. He can’t ping every Shield off and they are resilient against Swipe.
- Ramp Druid runs a lot of Taunts. He might Taunt up every turn since turn 4, so be prepared for that.
- ironbeak-owl is really important, but don’t waste it on early Taunts. Keep it for enemy ancient-of-war, because that’s the biggest value.
- Ignore every enemy minion that is not Taunt.
- divine-favor might get a lot of value in this matchup. Ramp Druid is usually pretty slow, playing only one threat per turn.
- Teching in equality greatly increases your chances in this matchup.
Both you and Face Hunter have pretty similar game plan. This matchup is heavily draw dependant on both sides and can go either way.
- Face Hunter will pretty much always curve out well, so you shouldn’t count on them missing an early turn. You also need a good curve – 1-drops are really important.
- argent-squire is really good 1-drop against Face Hunter – it trades with their 1-drop and survives.
- shielded-minibot does the same that Argent Squire, but with 2-drops. It trades for both knife-juggler and mad-scientist while still surviving.
- Early Ironbeak Owl is really important, so mulligan for it. Dealing with their mad-scientist is crucial – explosive-trap is a great way to put you behind on the board and Hunter gains a lot of tempo.
- Kill all their early minions. You’re gonna start pushing a little later – focus on trading during the first turns.
- muster-for-battle and coghammer are great. The first one allows you to trade with their 1-drops (weapon) and putting three 1/1’s makes your trades much easier. It can only get kinda punished with unleash-the-hounds. Coghammer is awesome when you have anything on the board – even a single 1/1. Not only the 2 attack weapon kills pretty much anything Face Hunter is gonna play, but the Taunt + Divine Shield blocks their aggression.
- consecration might come handy, but don’t wait for too much value. 2 for 1 is already good enough.
- divine-favor will rarely get any value, because you need to sacrifice tempo and Face Hunter isn’t gonna have a lot of cards anyway.
- truesilver-champion is important for the heal. The 4 points of health often matter in this matchup, because most of the games are gonna be really close.
- Knife Juggler + Muster for Battle combo is pretty good against Face Hunter.
Much easier than Face Hunter. A lot less chargers and aggression – once you get an early board control and start pushing, few things can punish you.
- First few turns are pretty similar, Midrange Hunter also runs many small drops. While less aggressive, things like haunted-creeper are pretty good against you.
- Your early game is generally stronger. Divine Shields are especially strong – they gain you a lot of tempo.
- From turn 4 on, Midrange Hunter gets much slower than Face Hunter. You should establish board control easily. Midrange Hunter runs no explosive-trap, so that’s one AoE less. He runs freezing-trap which you can proc easily with a 1/1 guy or 1-drop. As a one-of, they often run snake-trap. Test for the Freezing Trap on their face – if it doesn’t proc, it means that it’s Snake Trap. At this point ignore his minions and don’t proc it unless you have something like consecration to instantly clear those.
- The only thing you really need to worry about is Knife Juggler + Unleash the Hounds combo. It can easily clear most of your board. Divine Shields are pretty good, because they at least tank one knife / Hound.
- Most of Midrange Hunter builds run some Taunts. Two most popular ones are sludge-belcher and houndmaster – Owl is great against both of those.
- Try to finish the game as fast as you can. Even though the Midrange Hunter is slower, once he drops his big minions like savannah-highmane they are gonna push for a lot of damage.
- Divine Favor might get some value, but don’t expect a lot of cards. Taking 2 or 3 draws is usually fine.
- Don’t slow down – be aggressive. Midrange Hunter has hard time dealing with rush.
When you play against Freeze Mage, outcome mostly depends on enemy draws – if he draws key cards to stop your aggression, you can’t win this, but if you rush him down and he doesn’t get enough answers – you win the game.
- Freeze Mage isn’t gonna stop your early game development. You want to start with a smooth curve, but don’t use your abusive-sergeant or southsea-deckhand on turn 1. A small tempo gain isn’t worth against Freeze Mage. Use them when they’re gonna get instant value – by buffing a minion or Charging into enemy face. Starting game with either argent-squire or leper-gnome is best.
- Knife Juggler is pretty safe play on turn 2. The only thing that Mage can counter it with is frostbolt – and you don’t mind it that much. On the other hand, shielded-minibot is also nice. The Divine Shield isn’t as strong in this matchup, but Mage is often forced to ping instead of dropping his loot-hoarder or mad-scientist.
- Ironbeak Owl is really important – it serves three purposes. It might deny enemy a Secret (Mad Scientist), card draw (Acolyte of Pain) or save your board against doomsayer.
- Never play arcane-golem on turn 3. Giving Freeze Mage additional mana is really bad – you don’t want him to get into his AoE turns earlier. On the other hand, king-mukla is really good – Mage’s only good way to deal with a 5/5 so early is fireball and he can’t really get a good use of Bananas until archmage-antonidas, but it’s so late into the game that it probably won’t matter.
- Buffs are great against Freeze Mage – he runs no Silence or other ways to deal with them. Especially Blessing of Kings – not only it allows you to push for more damage, but it protects your minions against AoE.
- Divine Shields are also good – pretty much all your minions have low enough health to die to all Mage’s AoEs, but Divine Shields might keep them alive.
- Weapons are also important – hit Mage every turn, don’t keep the charges. While your board is gonna be cleared or frozen most of the time, Mage can’t freeze your Hero every turn.
- Be greedy with your divine-favor. You’re often gonna draw at least 5 cards in this matchup.
- It’s gonna be really hard to rush enemy down if he gets a lot of freezes and ice-barrier. If enemy runs antique-healbot that’s another thing that goes not in your favor. On the other hand, if he doesn’t get the early answers – you might rush Mage down by turn 4 or 5.
- The later it gets, the lesser are your chances to win. On turn 9, Mage might alexstrasza to heal to 15 and if you don’t have strong enough board or enough burst in the hand, you probably won’t get through all that health and ice-block.
This one is also heavily draw dependant. You’re often gonna rush Mage down, most of their early removals aren’t effective against your minions. But if Mage gets a good flamewaker turn, it can snowball the game in his favor.
- Early drops are again important. Mage might play either mana-wyrm or clockwork-gnome on 1. Gnome isn’t any threat and it’s gonna be easily taken down, but Mana Wyrm might be tricky. The 3 health on turn 1 is actually rather hard.
- Shielded Minibot is good – Mage has to waste his turn pinging it or play a 2-drop right into it.
- You might Silence enemy Mad Scientist, but that’s not really necessary if you have a good way to proc mirror-entity. Giving your enemy a 1-drop isn’t a big deal and you might need a Silence later.
- Coghammer is a great deal against Tempo Mage. Not only it once again gives you a tempo with Divine Shield, but you also can kill most of their early drops with a weapon.
- Muster for Battle is also good. The only thing it loses to is Flamewaker. The 1/4 weapon might help a lot when trading.
- Buffs are once again great, especially on Divine Shields. Tempo Mage runs no Silence, some decks add a copy of polymorph, but that’s really rare.
- King Mukla is really risky. You give two cheap spells to a deck that synergizes with cheap spells. Not really a good idea.
- consecration is actually great in this matchup. It deals with small drops, with mirror-image and in case enemy drops Flamewaker – it helps to trade with it.
- Once you survive the early game and start developing the board, you probably should win in the mid game. Flooding the board is a good idea – once again, the only thing that can punish you is Flamewaker. Some builds run flamestrike, but turn 7 is usually too late.
- You want to ignore most of the mid game threats they play. Their 4-drops and 5-drops are good, but pretty slow – if you just rush them, they’re gonna be forced to trade with your minions one by one and use their Hero Power a lot.
Aggro Paladin (mirror)
Mirror matchup, exact list you run doesn’t really matter too much, but generally the one which is faster has a bigger chance to win.
- Very fast matchup, games won’t probably last longer than 6-7 turns. That’s why you need a good start.
- Starting with 1-drop is really important. Squire is good – it can trade with other 1-drops and take off the Divine Shield from Shielded Minibot.
- Ironbeak Owl is important in this matchup – it helps you deal with enemy Divine Shields and more importantly buffs.
- Knife Juggler might get a lot of value in this matchup if he survives. Following him with either Coghammer or Argent Protector almost ensures that he stays on the board for longer. With so many 1 health minions around – almost any knife is gonna be good.
- Turn 3 weapons are also great. You sacrifice health to gain tempo – but the one with board control usually wins the game.
- The only board clear both of you run is Consecration – play around it by having some Divine Shields or buffing your minions with Kings.
- Knife Juggler + Muster for Battle on turn 5 also might come handy. The 3 knives might either ping off the Shields or kill some small minions.
- King Mukla is pretty good. Even though Bananas might get value, enemy is losing some tempo for casting them.
- Divine Favor is dead card, since both of you want to dump the hand on the board. If you somehow get 2 or 3 cards from it because enemy had slower start, go for it.
- The games are gonna be really close most of time. That’s why even small mistakes matter, so try to not miss any damage.
Unless Midrange Paladin curves perfectly, you are strong favorite. Your deck is much faster and you can easily rush the other Paladin down, some of the cards are pretty hard to deal with, though.
- Their sturdy small drops like zombie-chow and shielded-minibot might be hard to deal with. Prepare to see those – Paladin curving out with a 1-drop into 2-drop into 3-drop is probably the hardest time you’re gonna have against the deck.
- In your case, the sticky small drops are also good. Abusive Sergeant is also fine – it helps you with early trading. You can’t let Midrange Paladin build the board.
- Muster for Battle is great on both of the sides. Enemy is gonna get a lot of value against your 1-drops and you can push for quite some damage with three 1/1’s.
- Argent Protector is great, because it lets you trade while still keeping your board alive.
- Don’t play into the Consecration. If enemy gets 2 or 3 minions, it’s not that bad for you – you get the initiative back and can flood the board right back.
- Silence is good – Midrange Paladin runs a lot of Silence targets, the biggest being tirion-fordring. Generally you shouldn’t play around Tirion, because most of your games are gonna be decided before turn 8. sludge-belcher is a great thing to Silence.
- Blessing of Kings isn’t that good, because Paladin has both Silence and aldor-peacekeeper. When you use BoK, try to use him on the smallest target, like a 1/1. This way the Peacekeeper will get less value. If he uses Peacekeeper on something like Mukla or Arcane Golem, you can Silence it to restore the attack.
- Try to keep number of opponent’s Silver Hand Recruits in check so quartermaster won’t get too much value. Using your lights-justice to kill them every turn is pretty good idea.
- Midrange Paladin runs a lot of defensive cards like Antique Healbot and lay-on-hands. But those don’t really develop his board, so they’re only good once he got board control. If you keep the board control, the heals aren’t scary at all.
Your deck is bad against pretty much any Priest build. They have a lot of ways to clear your board and once they stabilize, they heal for 2 per turn, pushing you further from lethal every turn.
- You need to play risky. Flood the board and don’t worry about enemy removals. The only way for you to win the game is when they don’t have the early board clears – if you play around them, you’re not gonna put enough pressure on the Priest.
- Priest has a lot of ways to clear your board – wild-pyromancer + cheap spells, auchenai-soulpriest + circle-of-healing, holy-nova, lightbomb.
- Aggressive early drops like Leper Gnome, Knife Juggler and King Mukla are good. Try to push enemy down as fast as you can so you can and finish the game with your burst.
- If he plays deathlord, it’s even worse for you. 8 health is really hard to get through in the early game without Equality and if you kill it, you rarely get anything formidable (Arcane Golem, King Mukla or leeroy-jenkins are the best – rest are pretty trash). Silencing it might be a good idea – the average minion from your deck isn’t worth wasting 8 damage on it.
- Divine Shields might help against their board clears – besides Pyromancer, it might be hard for enemy to ping them down.
- Blessing of Kings puts your minions into shadow-word-death range, but that’s probably the removal you’re least concerned about.
- What’s going for you is that divine-favor is great in this matchup – Priest is often keeping a lot of cards in his hand, especially if he did something like thoughtsteal or drew with northshire-cleric.
- Your game plan is to generally ignore enemy minions unless the trades are really good and try to push. If you don’t seal the game around turn 5 or 6, it’s gonna be really hard. Not only Priest can AoE your board down, but he can steal things like your Minibot with cabal-shadow-priest.
Since your deck relies on tempo from early drops and Rogue is one of the decks that can out-tempo you, it’s gonna be hard to beat it. It runs a lot of ways to deal with your early threats and you can’t push for a lot of damage without board presence.
- Against Oil Rogue, you also have to play risky and play into their removals. If they don’t have them – that’s good. But you can’t slow down and try to play a longer game, because it won’t work.
- blade-flurry (even with a 1 damage weapon) and fan-of-knives are great against you. Cheap, small AoEs – they’re enough to clear most of your board and destroy Divine Shields.
- backstab and si7-agent can get a lot of early tempo for enemy and stop your threats.
- Minions that are guaranteed to deal some damage like Leper Gnome and Southsea Deckhand are pretty good. blessing-of-might on early Divine Shield minion is also a nice way to push for some damage.
- Weapons are another damage Rogue can’t stop, but you can’t push Rogue down from 30 with just the weapons.
- King Mukla is pretty risky drop. If enemy has no answer, it’s gonna push for a lot. But if he has something like Backstab + eviscerate, he can take it down without losing any tempo. And if he draws into violet-teacher, the Bananas are really good.
- Divine Favor might either be useless or get a lot of value depending on whether enemy draws into preparation + sprint. If he does that on turn 4, Divine Favor is gonna draw you a lot.
- blessing-of-kings is kinda weak against Sap. When he Saps your minion, he loses all the buffs. Never put more than one buff on a minion.
- Rogue might run some defensive cards like Antique Healbot or Sludge Belcher, so take them into the account.
- Your whole game plan is risky pushing for damage and trying to rush your enemy. It will often fail, but it gives you best chances to win.
Matchup against Handlock heavily depends on whether enemy draws into molten-giants or not. The only real way Handlock can win is double Molten into the Taunt.
- Push aggressively. Opponent might have the mortal-coil or darkbomb for your early drops, but you don’t mind. Some builds run zombie-chow and that’s what you worry about most – it’s sometimes gonna get 2 for 1, which you don’t want.
- Divine Shields are once again awkward for enemy to deal with. Abuse that fact.
- The best thing enemy can do early is ancient-watcher + either sunfury-protector for a Taunt or ironbeak-owl to trade with your drops.
- AoEs come on turn 4. shadowflame requires a minion, so expect that if enemy has put Ancient Watcher earlier without an activator. hellfire might get a good clear, but not always. It won’t kill Divine Shields or king-mukla so if you have a sticky board, AoEs wont get much value.
- Ironbeak Owl is really important in this matchup – but you want to keep it for enemy Taunts. By turn 4 or 5 you should have enough pressure to threaten lethal. Handlock has to either Sludge Belcher or if he’s low enough put Molten Giant + taunt. Silence is good against both of those.
- Try to not put enemy at 10 health or below – putting him at 13 or 14 is much better. This way he can’t 2x Molten + Taunt. 1x Molten + Taunt is not that scary if you have Silence, and even sacrificing 8 damage can sometimes work.
- divine-favor is absolutely the best card in this matchup. Handlock operates on high amount of cards. Even against Aggro, he often sits at 5-6 cards. You can easily get 5+ draws from each Divine Favor, and getting that much value is enough to rush enemy down.
- Don’t let the game go for too long or the enemy is gonna stabilize. If you have no way to burst him down without putting him into Molten range, take a risk. Late game Warlock might hide behind a huge wall of Taunts and heal up a lot, so you can’t afford to play the long game.
Matches against Zoo can go either way. Both of you have similar early game plan, but your deck is much more aggressive.
- The deck which keeps early board control usually wins. Both of you have hard time coming back into the game when you lose the board.
- Enemy can drop flame-imp or voidwalker on turn 1. Flame Imp is usually not a problem – it dies to most of your 1-drops and Shielded Minibot. Voidwalker might be harder to take down, you might want to keep Abusive Sergeant among other 1-drop to get rid of it easily.
- Ironbeak Owl is great against their nerubian-egg. You might also want to clear the 0/2 that’s left. It still can be used with Abusive Sergeant, power-overwhelming or defender-of-argus.
- haunted-creeper is pretty annoying, all the 1/1’s can be hard to clear. Muster for Battle is good against it – your weapon gets rid of the 1/1’s easily.
- imp-gang-boss is your biggest nightmare if you don’t have truesilver-champion as an answer. It can easily trade with 2 or 3 of your minions and gets great Defender of Argus value.
- consecration is awesome in this matchup. Many Zoo boards are very weak against AoE.
- Divine Favor isn’t best, but can sometimes get value if Zoo has slower hand.
- voidcaller is another way for Zoo to win the game if you don’t have Silence as an answer. It gives so much tempo – getting a doomguard or malganis out means a lot of free mana and a big threat you have no way to deal with.
- Divine Shields are once again great, unless enemy has some 1/1 Imps on the board. They’re the only easy way for Zoo to ping off the shield.
- King Mukla is awesome on empty board, but generally you don’t want to drop him into enemy minions. Abusive Sergeant or Power Overwhelming might give Zoo an easy way to kill your Mukla and the Bananas might serve later as a way to boost their trades or activate Nerubian Eggs.
- Once you get the board control, try to push Warlock. Their late game is much better, but if you get a lot of damage in the mid game, they won’t be able to Life Tap and you’re gonna limit their options. Getting Warlock below 10 means he’s gonna have to start playing to survive, not to win, which is what you want.
- Zoo has limited ways of coming back into the board, so once you push enemy hard enough, you’re in a strong position.
Another matchup that is heavily dependant on Warrior’s draws. If he finds a ways to clear your board and doesn’t take too much damage early, he can easily stabilize in the mid and late game by gaining a lot of Armor.
- You need to push enemy hard. Control Warrior has some early minions that are good against you – armorsmith, cruel-taskmaster and acolyte-of-pain might all be painful. Cruel Taskmaster might kill your 1-drop for free and Armorsmith plus Acolyte can get a lot of value. When it comes to Armorsmith, kill it. Abusive Sergeant is a good way to do so. If you just leave it, it’s gonna get much more value and Armor. When it comes to Acolyte of Pain, if you can, try to kill it in one hit so Warrior won’t get too many draws or Silence it. If you can kill the Acolyte in one hit, you might want to keep Silence for Belchers.
- You’d rather play Shielded Minibot before Knife Juggler in case enemy drew into fiery-war-axe. Minibot is much harder to take down, as it requires two Axe hits.
- All of your 3-drops are good. The only way Warrior can deal with king-mukla is execute (but he also needs an activator), muster-for-battle is pretty annoying if Warrior has no whirlwind or revenge (some Control Warrior builds run one copy, but not every) and coghammer puts another Divine Shield on the board and pushes for some damage.
- blessing-of-kings on minion with Divine Shield is huge. Warrior can’t really remove it – most of the lists run no Silence, he can’t activate Execute because of the Divine Shield and the shield-slam also does nothing.
- Divine Favor is gonna get a lot of value – Control Warrior plays a really slow game during first few turns and often passes without playing anything.
- Second charge of deaths-bite will often get good value. When he develops it – don’t play more 1 health minions into it. You might actually save some of your minions by giving them Divine Shields or buffing them with Blessing of Kings.
- If you get a big board, the only way for the Warrior to clear is brawl. Play around it a little – don’t flood the whole board, but on the other hand don’t keep only 2 or 3 minions there. 4-5, including the 1/1’s, is usually fine.
- Silence is pretty big against their Belcher. You don’t want to waste any point of damage.
- Try to push in the mid game – Warrior is gonna get a lot of Armor with shieldmaidens and shield-blocks, but you might still get through it. The most important thing is to finish him off before turn 9. If he stabilizes and uses alexstrasza on himself to heal to 15, you have pretty much no way to win the game anymore.
- Finishing the game with big burst around 7-8 is usually what’s gonna happen. Leeroy or Arcane Golem + some buffs can get enough surprise burst.
Very hard matchup. Patron Warrior runs a lot of Whirlwind effects which effectively clear your Divine Shields and small minions. You also have no way to stop their combos.
- Once again, you need to play risky in order to win. Try to push for a lot of damage in early game, because that’s your only opportunity. Try to play either sticky minions or the ones with immediate value to not be too weak against early removals.
- Clear their Armorsmith – if it stays on the board, it’s gonna get much more value then the 4 damage you need to sacrifice in order to kill it.
- Silencing acolyte-of-pain is a good idea. You aren’t gonna get many good Silence targets against Patron and denying card draw is important.
- Minions like unstable-ghoul or dread-corsair might stop your early rush. Ghoul is another nice target for Silence, taking off one Whirlwind effect is pretty big.
- Divine Favor is sometimes gonna be your saving grace. With battle-rage and a lot of other card draws, Patron Warrior might easily get his hand up to around 8 cards.
- You have no real way to stop their combos. grim-patron is great against you. While you can deal with the 2 and 1 health ones with something like consecration, the 3 health ones will spawn new anyway. If Warrior spawns a full board of Patrons, you have no way to clear it. If he combines Patron with warsong-commander, he might clear most of your board and pawn a lot of them too.
- frothing-berserker combos are also great against you. Aggro Paladin tends to flood the board, and with couple of minions on your side, Patron can easily OTK you with double Frothing.
- Try to push as much damage as you can in the early/mid game and keep some burst combos to finish Warrior off. If he gets good draws – you have almost no way to win this matchup. You rely on him not getting ways to clear your board early so you can push for a lot during the first turns.
This is part 3 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
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