Mastering the Divine Paladin: Matchups and Mulligans

Want more after reading the advanced Divine Wisdom guide? Check out part 3 which discusses deck-specific match-ups and how they affect mulligan and game-play decisions!

This match-ups guide is the third part of the 3-part Legend Divine Paladin extensive deck guide. The deck is an HSP-original deck creation.

Match-ups & Mulligans

This third part of the Divine Wisdom extensive deck guide will cover specific meta-game match-ups. Topics include who’s favored, mulligans, and general strategy/game-play.

Favorable Match-ups

Mid-range Druid

  • Win Probability: 65%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot
  • Impact Cards: Annoy-o-Tron, Quartermaster
  • Potential Liabilities: Divine Favor, Consecration
  • Key Opposing Threats: Innervate, Force of Nature + Savage Roar

Quick Overview: In general, any deck with “Mid-range” in its name will be a good match-up for this deck. Mid-range Druid is no different. The only problematic play Druid has against this deck is turn 1 Innervate into Shade of Naxxramas. This prevents you from building your board and therefore limits your eventual combo ability. During the later stages of the game, Force of Nature in conjunction with Savage Roar may have the ability to steal games away from you.

Primary Game-Plan: If your opponent has the perfect start, you have to commit as much as possible in order to get the shade off the board. Generally speaking, this philosophy is applicable to dealing with an opposing Zombie Chow from this and other decks as well. If you have to over-extend into a possible Swipe, so be it. However, this scenario doesn’t occur too much so you should be in good shape most of the time. In addition, the earlier you can bait out Swipe, the more you’ll be able to commit to the board to snowball the game out of control. Continuing on that point, try to wait until turn 8 to combo Muster for Battle with Quartermaster as that greatly reduces Swipe’s impact. Finally, remember to prioritize digging for Annoy-o-Tron late in the game to protect you from their Force of Nature/Savage Roar combo.

Mid-range Paladin

  • Win Probability: 80%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot, Muster for Battle
  • Impact Cards: Knife Juggler, Divine Favor, Muster for Battle, Consecration, Quartermaster
  • Potential Liabilities: None
  • Key Opposing Threats: Knife Juggler, Muster for Battle, Consecration, Quartermaster

Quick Overview: Because this closely resembles a mid-range mirror-match, many of your cards will be high impact in this match-up and vice versa (reflected in Impact Cards and Key Opposing Threats above). While Consecration can sometimes be a potential liability against mid-range and control decks, they’re generally live draws here due to the opposing Muster for Battles. Despite resembling a mirror-match, Divine Wisdom is pretty favored in the match-up due to the large number of ineffective cards in your opponent’s deck. These include Aldor Peacekeeper and Lay on Hands.

Primary Game-Plan: Once again, grabbing early board control against a mid-range deck should allow you to coast easily to victory. Unlike in other match-ups, you’ll want to keep Muster for Battle this time when resolving mulligans. The Light’s Justice granted from Muster for Battle allows you to effectively deal with an opposing Muster for Battle without relying on Consecration. Moreover, you’ll be able to crack opposing divine shields from Shielded Minibot and potentially Coghammer. Despite both sides having many cards in common, you’ll generally be faster due to the lower mana curve. As a result, try to force out his Consecration early as he’ll lose a lot of tempo. In the late-game, Equality allows you to bypass/laugh at Tirion Fordring.

Mech Shaman

  • Win Probability: 90%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot
  • Impact Cards: Annoy-o-Tron, Knife Juggler, Muster for Battle, Consecration
  • Potential Liabilities: Equality, Divine Favor
  • Key Opposing Threats: Rockbiter Weapon, Annoy-o-Tron, Mechwarper, Whirling Zap-o-matic

Quick Overview: Playing against Mech Shaman is essentially a bye in my opinion. You can deploy your threats just as fast as your opponent without sacrificing too much in the way of power level. However, we have access to sweepers such as Consecration and various Knife Juggler combos while most Mech Shaman lists don’t play Lightning Storm. As a result, the opponent has the unenviable task of trying to race/out-tempo you while dodging your large array of game-breaking sweepers.

Primary Game-Plan: As long as you can keep up with him in terms of playing out of your hand as quickly as possible, this match-up is very difficult to lose. Mechwarper and Whirling Zap-o-matic are the priority minions to remove as they’re capable of snowballing his early lead. Therefore, our Annoy-o-Tron forces him to play fair by absorbing a lot of damage early while weakening opposing Mechs. Digging into Consecration is essentially game-over for your opponent too as that should take care of everything on his side of the board.

Handlock

  • Win Probability: 85%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot
  • Impact Cards: Blessing of Wisdom, Equality, Divine Favor, Quartermaster
  • Potential Liabilities: Consecration
  • Key Opposing Threats: Hellfire, Shadowflame, Twilight Drake, Mountain Giant

Quick Overview: The prevalence of Handlock in the meta-game is one of the primary reasons to play Divine Wisdom. This is because Divine Wisdom punishes Handlock for their style of play. Another way of thinking about this is they’re Life Tapping themselves to within lethal damage while fueling out completely absurd Divine Favor plays (I’ve drawn as many as 9 cards before). Moreover as long as you’re not carelessly letting them play Molten Giants for very low costs, Equality allows you to push through any possible Taunt wall they may be able to set up later.

Primary Game-Plan: Due to the slower nature of their deck (Life Tap first few turns of the game), it is very easy to set-up your Blessing of Wisdom engine early. Outside of Ironbeak Owl, they won’t have any way of dealing with your early divine shield-protected Blessing of Wisdom. This should eventually draw you into Divine Favor, shutting the door on any chance of the opponent winning. One important thing to remember is not to get greedy with Divine Favor. If you can draw four cards on turn 3/4 while keeping his board clear, do so. Remember careful play like this will eventually draw you into the second Divine Favor. The easiest way to lose this game is allowing them to drop below 15 health early on. Even with an Equality, wait an additional turn before dropping him below 10 as that will apply much more pressure and force him into additional undesirable plays.

Mid-range Hunter

  • Win Probability: 60%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot
  • Impact Cards: Annoy-o-Tron, Knife Juggler, Truesilver Champion, Consecration, Quartermaster
  • Potential Liabilities: Reinforce Hero Power, Equality, Divine Favor, Muster for Battle
  • Key Opposing Threats: Steady Shot Hero Power, Mad Scientist, Unleash the Hounds

Quick Overview: Of all of the Hunter variants, Mid-range Hunter is the version you want to see most. Due to the slower nature of the deck and increased emphasis on maintaining board control, you’ll have more time to set-up your board state. Furthermore, you can safely ignore Savannah Highmane if you have a couple of Taunt minions already out and are ahead on board and potentially even life total.

Primary Game-Plan: Once again, play for tempo in the early stages of the game as usual. The difference here is trying to bait out Unleash the Hounds early so you don’t have to play around it later on. One effective way of doing this is with a Knife Juggler or Blessing of Wisdom protected by Annoy-o-Tron or Argent Protector. In addition, try to trigger his traps as early as possible to prevent the opponent from getting additional value out of Eaglehorn Bow. Innocuous at it may look, Clockwork Gnome’s Spare Part may win games for you in this match-up. Emergency Coolant and Rusty Horn are both good for dealing with Piloted Shredder and Savannah Highmane. Meanwhile, Finicky Cloakfield allows you to aggressively play Knife Juggler while Time Rewinder gives you a fresh Annoy-o-Tron.

Control Warrior

  • Win Probability: 75%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot
  • Impact Cards: Blessing of Wisdom, Annoy-o-Tron, Divine Favor, Truesilver Champion, Quartermaster
  • Potential Liabilities: Equality, Consecration
  • Key Opposing Threats: Whirlwind, Death’s Bite, Brawl, Baron Geddon, Grommash Hellscream

Quick Overview: Despite all of their live draws against you, this match-up is still pretty much in your favor. While Whirlwind effects can be annoying, you have your own annoying effects that should get under his skin. When resolving mulligans, Warrior is the one class where you should keep Blessing of Wisdom if you also have a Argent Squire. This is because their removal suite is very poor against divine shield minions. Moreover, this draw engine is further exacerbated by the presence of Annoy-o-Tron.

Primary Game-Plan: In addition to getting your Blessing of Wisdom engine going early, be on the lookout to confirm that he’s playing Control Warrior as opposed to Patron Warrior. If possible, use Truesilver Champion to deal with his Acolyte of Pain as that’ll limit him to only 1 additional card instead of 2-3. Play enough minions to check/bait for Brawl as that’s the one true trump card in his deck. Once Brawl is baited out, feel free to flood the board with everything you have while playing around Baron Geddon. This allows you to get great value of Divine Favor. Finally, similar to facing against a Druid player in the late-game, you need to beware of a potential burst finish from Grommash Hellscream. If he has already put you to 15 health with Alexstrasza, you need to dig and find Annoy-o-Tron immediately in order to truly feel safe.

Ramp Druid

  • Win Probability: 75%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot
  • Impact Cards: Blessing of Wisdom, Equality, Annoy-o-Tron, Quartermaster
  • Potential Liabilities: Divine Favor, Consecration
  • Key Opposing Threats: Innervate, Wild Growth, Ancient of Lore, Ancient of War

Quick Overview: Similar to the Mid-range Druid match-up, they will have a tough time beating you without a turn 1 Innervate into Shade of Naxxramas. Even better, Ramp Druid has fewer early-game options compared to its mid-range counterpart. As a result, you should be able to deploy your Blessing of Wisdom draw engine much earlier in the game. Combined with Annoy-o-Tron, you put your opponent on having Keeper of the Grove or lose. All that aside, Wild Growth is scarier in Ramp Druid than Mid-range Druid due to the prevalence of more late-game bombs.

Primary Game-Plan: The main difference between Ramp Druid and its mid-range counterpart as far as game-play is concerned is your increased reliance on Equality. You’ll generally want to save it for the eventual Ancient of War and other obscene minions. Without Equality, Ancient of War is likely going to exhaust a lot of your resources due to its massive 10 health. However, being able to immediately counter a turn 7 Ancient of War for 2 mana is often game-over for you opponent. Like before, you’ll want to wait until turn 8 if possible to combo Muster for Battle with Quartermaster to play around Swipe. Finally as usual, beware of Savage Roar combos late in the game.

Aggro Paladin (Shockadin)

  • Win Probability: 70%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot, Muster for Battle
  • Impact Cards: Annoy-o-Tron, Truesilver Champion, Consecration
  • Potential Liabilities: Equality, Divine Favor
  • Key Opposing Threats: Muster for Battle, Consecration

Quick Overview: Alhough Shockadin and Divine Wisdom can both technically be classified as “Aggro Paladin”, the two decks couldn’t be more different. Shockadin is generally a “face” deck similar in vein to Face Hunter. As stated previously, Divine Wisdom more closely resembles Mid-range Paladin, highly valuing board control. Moreover, the actual deck-lists themselves vary by roughly 15 cards (50%). My HSP colleague, DarkFrost, once joked that Divine Wisdom should be nicknamed Tempodin. Whereas Face Hunter can be a difficult match-up, Shockadin is not because it lacks the reach of Steady Shot and Kill Command while not having access to the devastating Unleash the Hounds.

Primary Game-Plan: As usual, it is important to get off to a strong start (i.e. Knife Juggler + Argent Protector) in order to be able to dictate trades. As a result, don’t be afraid to play Consecration on turn 4 just to remove an opposing Knife Juggler and Shielded Minibot. This also prevents you from losing too much life early on, giving you some slack in event the opponent is fortunate enough to top-deck back-to-back chargers late in the game. Moreover, Annoy-o-Tron is also very good at protecting you from late-game chargers such as Leeroy Jenkins.

Near-Even Match-ups

Tempo Mage

  • Win Probability: 50%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot
  • Impact Cards: Truesilver Champion, Consecration, Quartermaster
  • Potential Liabilities: Divine Favor, Muster for Battle
  • Key Opposing Threats: Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Flamewaker, Flamestrike, Archmage Antonidas

Quick Overview: Since Flamewaker (and Sorcerer’s Apprentice to an extent) are the flagship minions of Tempo Mage, it is only fitting that this match-up is often decided by how early Flamewaker is deployed and whether you’re able to deal with it immediately. If you’re able to withstand the initial Arcane Missile damage, the chances of winning improve greatly.

Primary Game-Plan: A strong Cogmaster start should help you gain board control early. This can even force your opponent to waste a Frost Bolt as he’s more comfortable having the board empty following a Flamewaker play. Therefore, you cannot afford to play Muster for Battle on an empty board on turn 3 as an opposing counter-play of Flamewaker on your opponent’s next turn is backbreaking. Quartermaster also helps keep your Silver Hand Recruits out of Flamewaker range while pressuring your opponent’s life total. Truesilver Champion is especially good in this match-up since Flamewaker has a base health of 4. Finally, beware of a potential Flamestrike past turn 7 as that is a common 1-of in Tempo Mage’s arsenal.

Oil Rogue

  • Win Probability: 45%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot
  • Impact Cards: Truesilver Champion, Quartermaster
  • Potential Liabilities: Clockwork Gnome, Muster for Battle
  • Key Opposing Threats: Backstab, Fan of Knives, SI:7 Agent, Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil + Blade Flurry

Quick Overview: The Oil Rogue match-up can very well be listed under the Unfavorable Match-ups section. This is due to their access of 4 total sweeper effects. In particular, Fan of Knives completely erases Muster for Battle plays while picking off Clockwork Gnome and cracking divine shields as well. Furthermore, it even allows the Rogue player to draw an additional card! Moreover, their late-game burst damage combo of Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil + Blade Flurry doubles as a catch-all sweeper.

Primary Game-Plan: Playing fast is very important against Oil Rogue since their removal suite (i.e. Backstab) is so efficient against the deck. As a result, it may be more difficult than usual to grab board control during the initial turns of the game. In addition, you’ll have to just accept that you’ll be playing right into low-cost sweepers. If they happen not to have Fan of Knives or Blade Flurry, you essentially just win. However, this scenario is rare. In most cases, you’ll be happy to see him spending both Deadly Poison and Blade Flurry just to remove 3 minions and stall the early assault. Truesilver Champion is at its best in this match-up since it deals with almost every relevant minion from Rogue and provides you with some life-gain buffer. Finally, make sure to save Divine Favor so you can neutralize his Sprint plays.

Zoo Warlock

  • Win Probability: 55%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot
  • Impact Cards: Truesilver Champion, Consecration, Quartermaster
  • Potential Liabilities: Equality, Divine Favor
  • Key Opposing Threats: Imp Gang Boss, Imp-losion, Voidcaller, Mal’ganis

Quick Overview: Zoo Warlock has been around for a very long time and plays out very similarly to Divine Wisdom. Both are aggro/tempo decks that want to grab/prioritize early board control. Both decks even have built-in Knife Juggler combos. The main difference is Divine Wisdom has access to a sweeper in the form of Consecration while Zoo has an additional late-game bomb in the form of Mal’ganis.

Primary Game-Plan: Like against Tempo Mage, Cogmaster is very instrumental against Zoo/Demon Warlock because it allows you to quickly wrestle board control away from their unavoidable Flame Imp and/or Voidwalker starts. Imp Gang Boss can be very effective against the various minions in this deck. As a result, try to remove it in no more than 2 attacks (ideally 1 with Truesilver Champion). Though often a liability in the early turns of the game, Equality is a great way to deal with Doomguard and Mal’ganis during the later stages of the game. Moreover, Annoy-o-tron is a great way to stop Doomguard top-decks. Finally, if you have the opportunity to draw 1 off Divine Favor during the later stages of the game, do so because it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to draw more than that going forward.

Hybrid Hunter

  • Win Probability: 40%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot
  • Impact Cards: Annoy-o-Tron, Truesilver Champion, Consecration, Quartermaster
  • Potential Liabilities: Reinforce Hero Power, Equality, Divine Favor, Muster for Battle
  • Key Opposing Threats: Steady Shot Hero Power, Mad Scientist, Unleash the Hounds

Quick Overview: Playing against Hybrid Hunter as opposed to Face Hunter can be frustrating due to the presence of Mad Scientist and other similar early-game cards. Therefore, you may often be left in a position on turn 3 where you’ll have to guess how to trigger his trap. Note: Freezing Trap is generally only used in Hybrid and Mid-range Hunter while Explosive Trap is always found in Face Hunter.

Primary Game-Plan: The game-plan against Hybrid Hunter is going to be pretty similar to your game-plan against Mid-range Hunter. The main difference is you’ll want to prioritize Annoy-o-Tron earlier in order to prevent yourself from taking too much initial damage. Keeping your life total out of Kill Command range is instrumental in allowing you to be more aggressive (i.e. applying faster clock) in the later stages of the game. As a result, you’ll want to attack his face with Truesilver Champion more often in this match-up just to gain life. Finally, remember to play around late-game Unleash the Hounds as usual as you don’t want to give them a free win off charging dogs.

Unfavorable Match-ups

Freeze Mage

  • Win Probability: 5%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot
  • Impact Cards: Equality, Divine Favor, Quartermaster
  • Potential Liabilities: Consecration
  • Key Opposing Threats: Explosive Sheep, Mad Scientist, Ice Block, Blizzard, Flamestrike, Alexstrasza, Frost Nova + Doomsayer

Quick Overview: Unfortunately, this match-up is unwinnable in my opinion. Beating Freeze Mage is an uphill climb because the deck lacks the burst damage to trigger Ice Block before an opposing Alexstrasza drops our life total down to 15.

Primary Game-Plan: I believe the deck’s best shot at winning is to apply as much early pressure as possible while holding Equality + Knife Juggler/Muster for Battle/Truesilver Champion in hand. Having access to Equality is your only chance of bypassing a Frost Nova + Doomsayer combo. Quartermaster helps put your Silver Hand Recruits out of Explosive Sheep and Blizzard range but there’s not much you can do about Flamestrike aside from Argent Protector’s divine shield. If you manage to figure out how to beat Freeze Mage without modifying the deck, please let me know!

Patron Warrior

  • Win Probability: 20%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot
  • Impact Cards: Annoy-o-Tron, Equality, Consecration, Quartermaster
  • Potential Liabilities: Muster for Battle
  • Key Opposing Threats: Unstable Ghoul, Whirlwind, Frothing Berserker, Death’s Bite, Warsong Commander + Grim Patron

Quick Overview: Similar to how Handlock plays directly into Divine Wisdom’s game-plan, this deck unfortunately plays right into Patron Warrior’s game-plan. Many of their cards, particularly all of the Whirlwind effects, are very strong against our minions and board states. In addition, the low attack of all the minions in the deck allows them to flood the board full of damaged Grim Patrons on turn 8 (turn 7 with the help of Emperor Thaurissan).

Primary Game-Plan: If you’re able to quickly identify that they’re playing Patron Warrior instead of Control Warrior, feel free to flood the board during the early turns of the game as long as you’re able to play around Whirlwind effects. Without losing tempo, play Muster for Battle on turn 4 instead of turn 3 if possible since this prevents the opposing player from using Death’s Bite‘s Deathrattle to clear all of your Silver Hand Recruits. Moreover, it’ll prompt him to prematurely use Whirlwind (if he has it) for less value due to the fear of Quartermaster. Following the turn 4 Muster for Battle up with a turn 5 Quartermaster greatly improves the probability of winning the match to roughly 50%. Make sure not to play any minions from your hand on turn 7 to play around his combo. Finally, it’s important to dig for the Equality/Consecration combo as that still gives you a shot at winning even if he completes his combo.

Face Hunter

  • Win Probability: 30%
  • Mulligan Keeps: Argent Squire, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Shielded Minibot
  • Impact Cards: Annoy-o-Tron, Truesilver Champion, Consecration, Quartermaster
  • Potential Liabilities: Reinforce Hero Power, Equality, Divine Favor, Muster for Battle
  • Key Opposing Threats: Steady Shot Hero Power, Explosive Trap, Mad Scientist, Unleash the Hounds, Leeroy Jenkins

Quick Overview: Of all of the decks listed in the unfavorable match-ups section, Face Hunter is probably the most beatable. Unlike against Freeze Mage and Patron Warrior, Annoy-o-Tron and your other removal spells are actually live draws against Face Hunter. Moreover, an unanswered Annoy-o-Tron is essentially a win condition in itself.

Primary Game-Plan: The game-plan against Face Hunter is going to be pretty similar to your game-plan against Hybrid Hunter. The primary difference is that you’ll have to hedge much more carefully against Explosive Trap. Losing more than 2 minions to Explosive Trap is going to make it near impossible for you to put enough pressure on his life total. Quartermaster is especially important in the Face Hunter match-up as he’ll grow your Silver Hand Recruits out of Explosive Trap range and put lots of additional pressure on your opponent. Most victories against Face Hunter will be of this variety.

Closing

I hope this entire extensive deck guide has been an enjoyable [and hopefully not too long!] read for everyone. As always, I look forward to hearing feedback and answering any possible question(s) you may have regarding the deck/game-play. Until next time, good look on your quest to hitting legend with this deck! 🙂

Be sure to check out the first two sections of the Divine Wisdom guide if you haven’t already. Both offer a lot of insight into how to play the deck.