This is Part 1 of the Mastering the Midrange Paladin extensive deck guide series. It is split into 3 main guides:
- Part 1: Beginner Guide
- Part 2: Advanced Strategies, Alternate Cards and Tech Choices
- Part 3: Matchups and Mulligans
This guide will cover the basics and card choices of Midrange Paladin.
Midrange Paladin has pretty favorable matchups most decks on the ladder right now because it is completely infested with aggressive decks. Even without aggressive decks, Paladin does quite well because it has all sorts of answers to the possible openers of any deck. An early Zombie Chow can completely starve off the aggression of Demon Zoo and Midrange Hunter while Aldor Peacekeeper will shut down bigger and tougher threats. Using the Midrange Paladin deck right is great because it has no legitimate weaknesses to exploit. The curve is strong and it is hard to have completely no plays each turn.
In previous seasons, we can thank Xzirez for posting his deck list for this archetype. He has had numerous successful placements in the Top 10 in every season playing Paladin. The main characteristic of this deck is to go for stabilization rather than a specific win condition. Besides using quartermaster to boost the statistics of your 1/1s, the Paladin class has almost non-existent burst damage potential. The Shockadin archetype has much higher potential to overwhelm your opponent than Midrange Paladin does. (The Midrange Paladin aims to fight for every little advantage and have these advantages pile on until you win the game.)
What makes this deck so different from traditional other Paladin decks is that it has a focus on early and mid game without sacrificing too much of the late game. What has been added to the deck compared to previous iterations is cards like Muster for Battle and Shielded Minibot which substantially boosts the early game. However, with late game bombs such as Tirion Fordring and Dr. Boom, this deck does not lack any firepower in the later turns either.
In Hearthstone, there are decks of different speeds. Aggressive decks are the fast decks in the meta and usually attempt to swarm to end the game early; possibly by turns 5 or 6. After this initial burst of aggression, these decks will usually run out of steam and probably lose their window to win the game.
The second type of deck is the Midrange deck, such as Midrange Paladin. Midrange decks do have ways to answer early aggression, but they also thrive in the mid-game, hence the name. They have a good amount of answers for most decks and is pretty good all-around.
The last type of deck is Control decks which are more focused on the late game aspect. Such decks do have some answers, but they can easily fall behind if they do lose board control.
The cycle is Aggressive > Control > Midrange > Aggressive. This is basically kind of the rock papers scissors type of cycle for Hearthstone. What is so special about Midrange Paladin is that it does do exceptionally well against Aggressive decks. However, it does not have the traditional weaknesses that other Midrange decks have against Control Decks. With the equality + consecration combination and aldor-peacekeeper, it is oftentimes hard for Control decks to get the full value out of their cards. Midrange Paladin in my humble opinion is simple one of the best all around decks in the game. There is no matchup where they are completely favored but there is also not a single matchup where the deck will just instantly lose.
The key to being successful with this deck lies in the ability for the player to realize when to transition from board control to going for face damage. Most games that you play with using this deck tend to have strikingly similar patterns.
- The beginning of the game will consist of you obtaining early board control through playing minions such as shielded-minibot and zombie-chow. These two cards will allow the player to slowly snowball the board from as early as turns 1 and 2.
- The middle of the game will occur after playing muster-for-battle and continuously being able to ping minions on board with the added 1/4 weapon that you obtain. The free damage that you can get on the opposing board makes Muster for Battle quite broken. This card allows the player to get additional value from the weapon while also obtaining board control with the three tokens. A Quartermaster on top of the Muster will almost certainly put a substantial amount of pressure on the opponent. Heck just the threat of Quartermaster may sometimes force the opponent to trade unfavorably.
- The late game completely focuses around being able to get value from tirion-fordring. Playing Tirion at precisely right time will oftentimes lock the board up in the Paladin player’s favor. The opposing player cannot use big-game-hunter or any one card removal to take out Tirion. They will most likely have to commit a substantial amount of resources in order to accomplish anything meaningful.
Strengths and Weaknesses
One of its biggest strengths is that it is strong against all sorts of decks in the metagame. It has many answers to both aggressive and control decks alike. Most of these answers only take about 2 or 3 mana to use, so the rest of the turn can be used to develop other minions such as Piloted Shredder.
The deck as a whole has a great curve from 1 drops all the way to the eventual 8 drop of Tirion. The Paladin player should have something to do every turn from start to finish because the deck is so intricately made. If not, then the Paladin player can at least affect the board by summoning a token with his hero power.
The glaring weakness of the deck that I am sure many other players can comment on is the lack of a finisher. The only real burst that the deck has is through cards like Truesilver Champion and Blessing of Kings. These cards are very situational and cannot really get through taunt. Combined, the most burst that a Paladin can do requires some sort of board presence before pushing through damage.There are some games where the Midrange Paladin player will oftentimes have complete control of the game and yet have trouble finishing off the opponent. Playing as Paladin is often sort of a battle of attrition rather than anything else.
- Face Hunter
- Demon Zoo
- Tempo Mage
- Oil Rogue
- Control Warrior
- Lightbomb Priest
Key Card Analyis
zombie-chow– This is the only 1-drop that can answer every single other 1-drop in the game. There is not a single one drop that does not trade favorably to Zombie Chow by itself. Simply, this card will stop the aggression of any Aggro deck. Turn one leper-gnome simply gets destroyed because not only does the Zombie Chow get to trade, but it also stays on the board to threaten the 2-drop of the opposing player. The five health points that are usually given back to the opposing player usually does not impact the game because the Paladin is not one to usually race the other player. The one downside if any to the card is that it is oftentimes dead the later you draw it in the game. The point to be made here is to simply hard mulligan for the card regardless of any matchup. It makes the mulligan phrase much easier for the Midrange Paladin player because it limits the possible errors during the mulligan.
equality– This is the bread and butter answer to dealing with hard to deal with minions. This is basically a better version of the Hunter class’s hunters-mark. With the minions that you obtain from muster-for-battle, Equality will oftentimes act as an easy board clear for the Paladin player. The one set back is that it may also kill off your stronger minions, but you will be most likely playing it from an unfavorable position so that does not really matter too much anyways. This card obviously will most of the time used in combination with consecration. Can sometimes be clunky inside your hand so there is a reason to why only one copy is currently being played in the deck.
knife-juggler– The traditional turn 2 play if your opponent does not have anything on the board. Even without Muster For Battle, it pushes damage to the opponent’s face and sets up an aggressive and quick start for the Midrange Paladin player. However, when used in conjunction with Muster For Battle, the Paladin player can efficiently just push and win the board at turn three. Having three juggles off of Knife Juggler will oftentimes swing the game a large amount in the early turns. It may not be as effective late game but the tradeoff that it brings certainly makes the card worth playing in this Midrange Paladin deck.
shielded-minibot– This is hands down the best card in the deck. Shielded Minibot will put the Midrange Paladin player ahead against both aggressive and other midrange deck. It can contest every single minion played before turn 2 and survive. If you have coin and play this during your turn 1, you will have absolute board control for the early stages of the game. This sets up the Midrange Paladin player to completely snowball the game without any sort of possible interaction by the opposing player. The only statistics for a minion that would possibly survive Shielded Minibot is one with a 2/3 body, which very few minions have at the moment in time.
muster-for-battle– This and imp-losion are the only cards in mind that have this type of effect. Of course I would say that Imp-losion has a much stronger effect, Muster for Battle still has an immediate impact on the board. The weapon that is generated can be used to ping off minions which are at one health, AKA fighting against aggressive decks. Besides the synergy that this card has with Knife Juggler, there is another combo which is quite deadly. Playing Muster for Battle on turn 3 and then coining out quartermaster is simply a ridiculous value play. The opposing player will usually not have an answer for your board at that early stage of the game. If the Midrange Paladin player is able to get this combo out, the game is basically won. If not, this card is still good in just fighting for board control entering the mid-game.
aldor-peacekeeper– Aldor is always a solid card that will punish big threats that the opposing player might play. This card is specifically good against such cards as mountain-giant and twilight-drake. It is oftentimes hard for anyone to counteract these early bombs by Handlock if they do not have big-game-hunter but Aldor Peacekeeper successfully deals with them without sacrificing any late game removal. If the situation presents itself, sometimes it may be okay to play Aldor Peacekeeper as a vanilla 3/3 because the body for 3 mana is not too bad even without its battlecry.
truesilver-champion– As good asdeaths-bite is for the Warrior class, Truesilver Champion is as good for the Paladin player. The 4 damage weapon at 4 mana with a special effect is always worth playing. Truesilver Champion is exactly the card that Paladins need in order to deal with those pesky mid-game minions that are encountered in many decks. By having two swings, the Paladin player can oftentimes get rid of two minions for the price of only just 4 mana. The extra healing effect will oftentimes help the Paladin player stabilize during situations where they have very little health left.
consecration– Even without Equality, this is one of the best class spells in the game. It simply destroys aggressive decks, while also keeping your board completely damage free. Against something like Demon Zoo or Midrange Hunter, Consecration will oftentimes win the game for the Midrange Paladin. However, when used with Equality, even no control deck is safe from its wide reach. This was one of the original staples that to this day should be found in every single Paladin deck. There is no excuse to not play the card.
piloted-shredder-This is in my opinion the best 4 drop in the game right now. For 4 mana, you are essentially getting about 5-6 mana worth of statistics which is great for any class. There is a reason that this card is played in virtually every deck, and this is the reason. There are sometimes when the 2 drop that comes out of the Piloted Shredder is not all too great. However, for every time that a doomsayer comes out, there is also another time where something like shielded-minibot comes out.
quartermaster– I play two copies of this card because it has too much synergy with Muster for Battle. Even when you do not have too many tokens out on the board, this card can still get a great amount of value. When you play it by itself, it is still a 2/5 for 4 mana which is not bad. However, with just one token, the total amount of stats is upped to 4/7. Therefore, at anything above one token, you will be getting a good amount of stats that are effective immediately.
sludge-belcher– This is another card which is seen in many decks, regardless of what class you happen to be playing. It is great against aggressive decks but provides a lot of utility during the middle of the game. Sludge Belcher is the one card in the game that can oftentimes completely stop the Druid’s force-of-nature and savage-roar combo.
lay-on-hands– This is a hotly contested choice for the Paladin deck. The reason is that the draw mechanic that it provides is simply not as good as the ones that some other class cards provide. Other cards such as sprint for the Rogue class simply outclasses Lay On Hands. The one problem is that the Paladin class simply does not have any forms of efficient card draw at their disposal.
tirion-fordring– The boss card of the Paladin class. This is the one really big threat that the class has for the late game. The only way to really deal with Tirion Fordring is through the use of a silence. Oftentimes, the opponent will use their silence on something earlier, leading to Tirion getting a free play. It will take at least two minions to take down Tirion. Since it is out of Big Game Hunter range, he will be difficult to deal with.
Midrange Paladin is a consistent deck that have few weaknesses. It is one of the meta decks that can hold its own against others. Because of this, Midrange Paladin has seen increased tournament play recently. Many pros have used the deck because it does hold its own against most of the flavor of the month decks such as Patron Warrior and Handlock.
Be sure to check out the other 2 sections of the Midrange Paladin guide:
- Part 1: Beginner Guide
- Part 2: Advanced Strategies, Alternate Cards and Tech Choices
- Part 3: Matchups and Mulligans
Co-authored by Anthony – June 21st.