Hello everyone, I am Patrick ‘Patjuh’ van Ank, a Dutch e-sports athlete currently playing for Druidz E-Sports Sweden. After four years of competitive Starcraft 2 I started playing Hearthstone in February. You can follow me at my Facebook page.
I wrote this guide because I am fascinated by midrange Paladin and worked for more than a month on a unique deck-list that uses a solid play-style, focusing on taking board control in the mid-game and does generally well in an aggressive meta. hogger and sword-of-justice are the cards that jump out the most and I have a strong believe in those two being extremely viable in this deck. The general idea behind this deck doesn’t necessarily evolve specifically around Hogger, so it’s perfectly fine to play a slightly altered deck to the one that is presented to you by this guide if you don’t have certain cards. Alternatives will be discussed.
General play-style & game-plan
Initially, I played some of Reynad’s midrange Paladin he posted about a month ago but started to hit a plateau, struggling the most in the mid-game. It felt as if this was mainly due to the lack of efficient 4-mana creatures such as chillwind-yeti or senjin-shieldmasta and it felt too slow with a cairne-bloodhoof and lay-on-hands for the meta-game of that time.
The general idea behind the deck is to set up solid board presence and increase tempo in the mid-game (turn 4-8) which in most of the times will result in board control. Your key card here is Sword of Justice; if you are able to coin this card out on turn 2 (with a solid turn 3 follow-up like a harvest-golem) or just play it on turn 3 (with a solid turn 4 follow-up like a Sen’jin Shieldmasta), you will be able to take over board control in the majority of your games. Even being forced to stick to Hero Powering will give you a 2/2 that will most likely be able to make something happen. If you don’t draw into a Sword of Justice before turn 3, don’t worry; there’s nothing wrong with just playing what your hand has to offer (even an aldor-peacekeeper or blood-knight will most of the time be better than just Hero Powering that silver-hand-recruit). It’s important to keep up with the board presence of your opponent and make smart plays (no-one wants to see you Hero Power a 1/1 against a Priest’s nothshire-cleric and give him free extra cards). If you struggled to enter the board during the first 3-4 turns, a tactical consecration can be a viable solution to get back into the game. With this deck having 8-10 solid early drops the chances are low you will only be able to Hero Power at turn 2 and 3; if it happens it happens (convince yourself you had some bad luck and make the best of it). More on the mulligan later.
Ideally, you want to flood the board with minions such as the bloodsail-raider, Harvest Golem, Sen’jin Shieldmasta and azure-drake. If the board situation requires you to play a truesilver-champion, play it and remove your opponent’s key creatures. hammer-of-wrath will often allow you to remove a solid 3-drop from the board at turn 4, and it synergises great with the extra spell-power later in the game. Generally, you want to find a right balance between playing minions in the mid-game and removing his. It is essential to think through every current and next turn in terms of your options you can play, and what your opponent can make happen that would mess up your game-plan for the next couple of turns. This will help you with your decision-making; whether to play minions, a weapon, or remove minions with extra spells.
This deck doesn’t run a lot of fancy late-game minions other than tirion-fordring, and because of this it is significantly less vulnerable against plays like big-game-hunter, faceless-manipulator and mind-control (being the three most ran cards in the current meta that can deal with fancy big minions). Baiting out that black-knight before playing your Tirion Fordring deserves some attention, but isn’t always your top priority (especially since this card is not as popular any-more as it used to be). It depends on the position you are in. Your taunts are the primary solution in helping you defend against ‘Miracle’-style finishers.
Your win condition is a slow but steady beat-down. Getting board control throughout the mid-game and being able to support your minions with spells and weapons will allow you to smack that face every now and then, resulting in coming in range of lethal with playing an avenging-wrath or a weapon.
The deck’s base, synergies & card alternatives
So board presence should lead to board control. You establish this throughout the mid-game. Finally, you tear them down bit by bit with your beefy minions, spells and striking weapons. I will discuss all cards and explain why they are so important, where they synergise with (if there is any notable synergy) and what alternatives you could be looking for. Bear in mind that when you are considering deck alterations, you don’t always want to look for a card that does something similar. Sometimes it’s better to just think of what your 31st card would be if you could run it too.
Argent Squire is great because it sticks, and is very likely to trade with any first minion your opponent plays. Besides that it has great potential for synergy in a later stage of a game with your Blood Knight, allowing you to get a 6/6 for 4 mana (not to forget the Squire will be on the board too). There are enough other 1-mana minions that you could use, but for this type of deck the Squires serve the 1-slot best.
Equality requires no introduction and is there for the obvious reasons. It enables you to sweep the entire enemy board with Consecration, and when you can’t deal with a big threat it allows you to trade one of your minions for it. It is also great with Avenging Wrath in a later stage of a game for clearing minions and doing some significant burst damage to the enemy face.
Acidic Swamp Ooze occupies a somewhat flexible 2-slot. I think that in the current meta, where people play a lot of weapons, it just needs to be in there. I prefer him over harrison-jones because the Ooze is more versatile and kind off serves a different purpose besides crushing a weapon. It is a solid 2-mana drop and that’s what we are looking for. Mr. Jones should be compared to an Azure Drake for that matter. In a meta-game with fewer weapons you could be looking at an Argent Protector, because he synergises well with Blood Knight and can be a strong aid in clearing big minions if you have some board presence in the mid and late game. A thought that will probably have crossed your mind by now is why wild-pyromancer didn’t make it; the reason is that in this deck you can only hurt yourself with playing it opting for synergy with Equality because you are supposed to have board presence with this deck instead of using this combo to get back on the board. You don’t want to have to lose any of your minions, and with that being said the Ooze gets you the most value in this deck and with the current meta.
Bloodmage Thalnos is a card that some people don’t have and wonder about what to replace it with. Thalnos really does two things and you will mostly play him in combination with Consecration or Avenging Wrath. He’s just that good, because he increases damage for spells and recycles itself, contributing to your overall card-draw. He is so valuable because he does both while being only one card. If I had to name one card to replace him with I would probably go with a Loot Hoarder, because it’s never wrong to get an additional 2-mana drop in this deck that contributes to your card-draw. A big misconception is thinking a kobold-geomancer will fit his slot, because he would do half the work and be an easy target to clear. Thalnos is so good because it serves two purposes, and the card-draw would be leading here if we are talking about what to replace it for. Thalnos thus is a card that’s hard to replace; if you do want to replace him for a comparable minion/effect, you want to go with the Hoarder. However, thinking about that 31st card you would like to run in this deck if you could is definitely an effective approach. You could think of an extra mid-game minion such as the Yeti or even an extra 3-mana drop such as the Farseer, but also upping your curve a little with adding a Cairne Bloodhoof or sylvanas-windrunner can give your deck a proper boost (especially for the more late-game oriented meta).
Bloodsail Raider is another card I have only recently added to my current version of this deck. It could be substituted with an Argent Protector being the first minion that comes to mind, but I really feel because our deck runs four weapons, this pirate is able to significantly impact the board in every stage of the game. He will often end up being a high value card for low cost because it gets additional attack, it synergises great with Sword of Justice, and with 3 health it really requires your opponent to focus it down instead of being able to clear it through area-of-effect spells. I also tested with running two, but I felt I really could not cut on the Ooze and I feel you need all the other midgame drops. I strongly believe this pirate deserves a place in this deck because it doesn’t become useless in a later stage of a game due to his synergy with weapons and is likely to stick even if you get to play him without weapons in the early game.
Sword of Justice is one of the core cards in this deck because it will buff all the minions you play and thus boost your ability to gain board control. Especially in the mid-game, minions become significantly harder to kill and that’s exactly why we run it. Our preparation for the late-game and our late-game win condition basically starts in the mid-game. Ideally, it starts with this weapon on turn 3 with a solid 2-mana drop on turn 2, and a solid follow-up for turn 4. The deck is basically built around this card, and if you don’t have two or don’t want to run this weapon in a midrange Paladin deck you are better off reading other guides because this guide creeps all over this sword. The deck consists because there’s two of these in the deck, running only one makes the deck significantly less viable in the way it’s supposed to be played (the whole ‘taking board control during the mid-game’-thing that we have going on). If you are stubborn and just really want to give it a try anyway, feel free to substitute the second Sword of Justice with a lights-justice (in which case you might want to consider putting in a second Bloodsail Raider).
Aldor Peacekeeper is one of the strongest Paladin cards for various reasons. Both cards belong in almost every Paladin deck. It does one hell of a job at defusing big enemy minions and allows you to use your weapons to clear those minions as a follow-up to its Battlecry without taking critical damage on your face. Being a solid 3/3 body makes him much more versatile in various match-ups, especially in the current meta-game; he makes it completely unnecessary for us to consider running a significantly more vulnerable Big Game Hunter. With Sword of Justice you are looking at a very solid mid-game creature that’s able to actually take on (late) mid-game creatures and boost your general ability of controlling the board with the use of weapons because you’ll not be taking as much damage because of the Peacekeeper.
Blood Knight is there because the current meta-game demands it. With just so many decks running Argent Squires, Scarlet Crusaders and argent-commander, the odds are high that you’ll be able to steal some enemy divine shields and buff him up. I stopped counting how many times this guy won me games directly and indirectly. Remember, he will force your opponent into hard removal (especially in the early game) that cannot be used any-more against your Hogger, guardian-of-king or Tirion Fordring, which will allow you to get some serious benefit from them once you get to play them. If you don’t have a Blood Knight or want to replace him anyway, I would be looking at a Earthern Ring Farseer just because I love a bit of extra healing (and a solid 3-mana drop is just so important) and you want to keep the odds of drawing a 3-mana drop before turn 3 as high as possible.
Harvest Golem requires no explanation. You want him in if you are looking for solid 3-mana drops, and he’s guaranteed to give you maximum value for its cost. In a less aggressive meta I prefer running one Earthern Ring Farseer instead of a Golem for that extra heal, but this purpose could be served by swapping in a second Guardian of King. Back to the Golem. You run him as there’s no reason not to. He obviously synergises very well with Sword of Justice, and for that reason is the best pick.
Truesilver Champion requires no explanation. It is a strong card that reduces the potential damage your face takes by using it (by restoring 2 health before attacking), helps a lot with securing that board presence before the late game, and synergises incredibly well with Captain Greenskin. There is no real alternative to this weapon. It is run in every Paladin deck.
Consecration is one of your solutions to deal with a rough board situation and get you back into the game. It synergises extremely well with Equality and is just there for the value. Even alone it’s a strong answer to aggressive decks flooding the board.
Hammer of Wrath is a card that almost anyone you’d ask would dissuade. However, more recently it gained popularity in midrange decks and it contributes to your card-draw while it allows you to clear minions. Doing only 3 damage makes it a card that not always manages to remove a minion on its own, and thus it will often synergise well combined with a Bloodmage Thalnos or Azure Drake. You’ll often find yourself combining this card with attacking the same minion to clear it, but as it recycles itself it’s a solid card nonetheless that serves two purposes really: card-draw and removal. If you hate the card or would like to play around with an alternative, you have to consider running Lay on Hands as one of the cards to replace it with because you need the card draw. The other card should be a minion that gives a little extra. Minions like a Earthern Ring Farseer or a Chillwind Yeti come to mind.
Tazdingo is there because you need a high value minion for your mid-game. Automatically, for the 4-slot this leaves you with either this Tazdingo or the Chillwind Yeti. While a Yeti is a beefier minion, the current meta forces me to prefer the Shieldmasta over Yeti to block ‘Miracle’-style finishers and other burst plays. It’s entirely up to you if at your rank you feel the Shieldmasta or Yeti is going to give you more, but that you’re running at least two for the 4-slot is mandatory (this could be two of either, or even a mix of one of each).
Azure Drake aids general card draw, threatens your opponent with spell damage and offers a solid body on the board. It will almost always force your opponent to focus it down, and it’s just good because it serves two purposes at a reasonable cost: card-draw and gaining board control in the mid-game (whether that’s by body or the extra spell damage). If you’re looking for a replacement I would consider Harrison Jones if the meta-game allows it. gadgetzan-auctioneer, stampeding-kodo and spiteful-smith are all fairly all-right alternatives with ‘okay’ synergies in this deck, but the Kodo will give you the most tempo and the Auctioneer will aid your card-draw the most.
Captain Greenskin is one of the least played Legendary minions I suppose. In this deck, especially because it runs 4 weapons and has a realistic chance of a fifth weapon being equipped (being Tirion’s deathrattle which equips a 5/3 weapon), it just belongs in here. There’s no real alternative to this pirate if you don’t have him, I would probably go with a Stampeding Kodo for its tempo boost. Greenskin is so good because he is a big body that significantly buffs your weapon. Ideally, you want to use him on a fresh Truesilver Champion, but even for that extra durability buff on a Sword of Justice you can hardly go wrong with playing him if you have something equipped. Because the weapon buff is greatly beneficial to the Ashbringer or Truesilver Champion, you should aim for playing him with any of those three. If you can, and kind off need to, playing him with a Sword of Justice is not really a wrong play. It’s just that he’s better with the other weapons. If you don’t need to play him, and don’t have a weapon, don’t play him. These are situations like having an Azure Drake in your hand to play.
Avenging Wrath is mandatory in almost every Paladin deck. At least one. The second one is sometimes left out, and to be honest I am still not sure whether that second Wrath does as much for you as the first one. The current meta-game makes it simple though. We are required to run both and using the second 6-slot for say a Cairne Bloodhoof generally feels too slow of a play in the majority of my games. The meta-game isn’t hard-core aggression, but it’s definitely not very control oriented either and that’s when other commonly used 6-mana drops are at their best. When there is a slower meta. If you would like to swap the second out, you could debate on a Sylvanas Windrunner, Cairne Bloodhoof or something like another beefy body that is likely to stick (like a Chillwind Yeti).
Hogger is the reason why I experimented with this deck. And I just love him. He occupies a 6-slot that Cairne Bloodhoof or Sylvanas Windrunner could use any-day. You can’t really go wrong with using this slot for before-mentioned minions (meaning they are the best alternatives that first come to mind). The reason why I currently feel Hogger is the better card in this deck is because of the two Swords of Justice. Hogger on its own is rather vulnerable and Cairne would hands down be a better pick any day of the week. However, I approach this minion from the perspective of having Swords of Justice equipped. Hogger’s biggest problem is that he’s too easily removed because he’s a slow card, and the 4/4 and 2/2 bodies are simply weak. For the purpose he serves even a sunwalker is a better sticking card in general. However, if you would consider that you’d be able to play him with the Sword of Justice equipped, he all of a sudden isn’t that bad at all. A 5/5 and 3/3 body: the 3/3 taunt gnoll requires just that little extra of your opponent to get through the board and the 5/5 Hogger is very likely to stick while before he was likely to not last until your next turn. If your opponent is still able to deal with Hogger, he will most likely have had a way to deal with Cairne Bloodhoof and Sylvanas Windrunner too. The taunt makes Hogger extra valuable in this deck, because it throws up another wall against aggressive plays or miracle bursts. And even if your opponent hard-removes Hogger, it’s another option less for him to deal with Tirion Fordring later on. Hogger is really just there to be a big threat, bait out expensive removal and give your opponent an extra doorstep before he can play ‘Miracle’ bursts. The Sunwalker would fit Hogger’s role best, but with Cairne B. and S. Windrunner being efficient cards you can’t really go wrong with any of those three. Sunwalker obviously being the cheapest alternative.
Guardian of Kings is just there because it’s a strong body with some great healing. Running two of them has recently became topic of discussion and the opinions seemed to disagree with each other. For this deck, one is enough. There’s no real alternative for him, maybe a Cairne, but the combination of a big body with significant healing makes him a great play in the late game when you get into your opponent’s lethal range. Since he is a basic set class-card there’s no real point in debating what to substitute him for.
Tirion-fordring is just awesome. Divine shield, taunt, a sick deathrattle, this guy has it all folks. Only Shaman’s alakir-the-windlord has more text written all over him so you can take my word for Tirion being one hell of a play. This minion is great for a lot of obvious reasons, but for me the biggest is that he can’t really be hard-removed. Silencing seems the best way to deal with him to me, but that still leaves a solid 6/6 body on the board. Seeing a Black Knight snipe him off the board sure hurts, but that big ashbringer guarantees to soften your pain. Let alone if that Captain Greenskin gets to be played right after. There’s no real alternative for Tirion Fordring as he serves so many purposes. I guess a strong finisher can replace him, but becomes more vulnerable to Big Game Hunter, Mind Control or Faceless Manipulator. I guess you could debate on many alternatives, but something solid like ragnaros-the-firelord or Cairne Bloodhoof would probably do the most in general. You could go as far as an Ysera, but there’s a strong reason why so few decks run him in the current meta.
In all the 9 match-ups, you will generally mulligan for the same cards. You want to have a solid 2-mana drop, and absolutely want to have a normal 3-mana drop for your third turn. Late-game minions or spells are better off sent back. The general principles of how to mulligan apply to this deck as well, but there’s some cards you may want to keep (or even both if you get the chance to) in certain match-ups, which you would send back in others.
argent-squire is great because it sticks and is very likely to trade with any first minion your opponent plays. Depending on the match-up and whether you have a Blood Knight in your starting hand as well, you keep at least one. Against aggressive match-ups such as a Warlock’s ‘Zoo’-deck you can use all the solid early drops you can get. Extraordinary situations aside, you always want to keep one and sometimes two. Situations where you’ll want to keep the second one as well are when you expect to be playing against an aggressive deck or have a Blood Knight in your opening hand as well.
equality is one of the cards you would like to mulligan back into the pile. The only situation where it comes in handy in the early game is against Warlock ‘Handlock’-decks, but you need to mulligan as if the Warlock has an aggressive deck for the widely discussed and accepted reasons (that you basically can’t afford to gamble on ‘Handlock’ because it will insta-gib back at you when it turns out to be a ‘Zoo’ variant). On top of that, there’s usually a better card in your deck for the purpose you would consider keeping Equality for. So this is a card you would like to draw into as the game proceeds.
acidic-swamp-ooze is one of the two solid 2-mana drops your deck runs (the other one being Bloodsail Raider), so you want to keep this one. You always want to keep this card. Period. Whether to play this card or not on turn 2 depends on the class you play against. Rogue, Paladin and Warrior being the obvious match-ups where you will have to make a serious consideration. A lot of people debate that it’s always better to play a minion on turn 2 or 3 if you can, rather than not play anything and wait for his extra benefit to pay off later in the game. Paladin is one of those classes that can afford to just Hero Power in rare situations and lose a bit of tempo with this, because it still puts a 1/1 on the board. This especially applies if you did manage to play an Argent Squire on turn 1. Since this week I noticed a significant increase in assasins-blade being included in Rogue decks. Personally, I currently go as far as to postpone playing the Ooze just because you ideally want to snipe a buffed wicked-knife or an Assasin’s Blade. Your (2) 1/1 Silver Hand Recruit is usually able to trade with a loot-hoarder or absorb a hit by Valeera. Whether to play or keep that Ooze when there is no weapon equipped depends on how much tempo you consider to win or lose by playing him yes or no, and if the potential risk-award factor is big enough later in the game. You are basically giving up some tempo by keeping him, and you can only justify that choice if you have a high chance in making that critical play later in the game that will completely take away your opponent’s tempo.
bloodmage-thalnos is a card that you want to use in combination with Consecration, Hammer of Wrath or Avenging Wrath. This Paladin deck has enough card-draw that you don’t need to play Thalnos as a worse Loot Hoarder. Unless you suspect playing against a Warlock ‘Zoo’-deck and have absolutely nothing useful in your hand, I would always mulligan Thalnos because he is more of a card you would ideally like to draw into during the mid-game.
bloodsail-raider is a card you also want to keep. It’s a solid 2-mana drop that is very likely to stick on the board. There’s really no reason not to keep him and he’s absolute fantastic if you get to play him as a sticking turn 2 play or a nicely buffed mid-game or even late-game play. You will often just have to play him on turn 2 to stay in the race for board control from the beginning, but there can definitely be situations where it’s perfectly fine to keep him in hand, Hero Power at turn 2 and play him later with a early Sword of Justice (on turn 3 after having coined out Sword of Justice, or on turn 4 after a turn 3 Sword of Justice play).
sword-of-justice opens the path to securing mid-game board control, keeping one of them is always a must. If you stumble on two, send the second one back. You are not going to play the second one earlier than turn 8 or 9 so there is no point in keeping it. Ideally you want to draw into the second one during the mid-game so you get to play it with a Hogger play shortly after.
aldor-peacekeeper is a card you are sometimes forced to keep if your starting hand is bad. Having a 3-mana minion to play for turn 3 is very important so you are sometimes forced to keep him. Aggressive decks are hard to deal with because you don’t have a lot of low-mana minions, and one Peacekeeper is perfect for some damage control and a solid body for the early game. Generally speaking, you want to send him back if you have better cards to play, with the Warlock match-up being the best example where you want to keep him either way. It’s a solid 3/3 that tones down a minion’s damage to 1 and thus is one of the few options to deal with a turn 4 mountain-giant in case of a Warlock ‘Handlock’-deck. Even against a Warlock ‘Zoo’-deck he is a solid 3-mana drop that does some damage control.
blood-knight is a card you want to keep if you play against a class that has a realistic chance of running Argent Squires or scarlet-crusader. Warlock ‘Zoo’-decks and Paladin being the best examples in general. In some situations it is worth keeping him in your opening hand regardless the match-up you are playing. Situations such as having two Argent Squires in your hand besides the Blood Knight.
harvest-golem is the most important minion for your early game as he is the most solid 3-mana minion. Since your turn 3 is the most important and the Harvest Golem is the best 3-mana minion you have, you want to keep him, always. Occasionally, you want to keep the second one as well. Situations like where you are starting with the coin and have no solid 2-mana drop as the best example.
truesilver-champion is with its 4 mana cost too espensive. Ideally, you want to play it in the mid to late game and play a captain-greenskin for synergy and extra tempo. You don’t keep this card.
consecration is one of your solutions to deal with a rough board situation and get you back into the game. Consecration is only kept if you suspect playing against an aggressive deck (such as Warlock ‘Zoo’ or Paladin ‘Shockadin’) and can afford to keep him. Think of a starting hand with enough early drop minions besides this card.
Rest of the deck
The rest of the deck contains cards that are in 95% of the time too expensive in order to justify keeping them. Of course having an ideal 1-2-3-4 mana cards hand justifies keeping that Sen’jin Shielmasta, but you need to apply the idea behind our mulligan strategy on hands that are not perfectly lined up for your first 4 turns. The bottom-line is that you want to mulligan for Sword of Justice and some solid early drop minions such as an Argent Squire and a Harvest Golem.
Druid is one of the toughest match-ups because it has a wide variety of viable decks that are currently being played in the meta and it always runs two Keepers of the Grove. Watcher-style decks seem to have lost popularity, but with various Ramp decks and Midrange decks still out there, it all comes down to drawing and playing the right cards in the right order and just being very careful. It’s very important to plan your turns ahead and make sure you try and play around the savage-roar + force-of-nature combo once your opponent reaches 9 Mana crystals. Your chances of winning are best if you play this match-up as the aggressor and try to bait out removal to make Hogger and Tirion shine in the late mid-game and block his finishing plays. Making sure you clear enough minions and play your taunts safely (so they are not easily removed by enemy minions) is important.
Hunter is generally an okay match-up where you really get to control how the game evolves. Whether you play a Face-deck or midrange variant of this class, you just really need to watch out that you don’t create a timing window for your opponent during the mid-game and have them Unleash off of your dominant board position and draw a winning combination of cards.
Mage is a match-up that requires you to be the aggressor as you risk being killed once they have a lethal combination of spells in their hand and have done enough damage to your face. You want to drop your taunts as soon as possible, deal damage and play around one flamestrike once they reached turn 7.
Paladin is a match-up that requires efficient trades. With various midrange and even aggressive decks out there you must pay attention to not overextend and trade inefficiently. Combinations with Equality are a real threat for your board presence so make sure to play this out with caution.
Priest is a pain in the ass. Their spells will deal with both your early mid-game minions and late-game minions. You really can’t do a lot other than just try not to give them too much initiative. Carefully think ahead how you want to remove their mid-game minions (such as a healed injured-blademaster and when you want to enter the board. Staying on the board from the early game is hard, and most of the time will result in throwing away minions that can’t make a lot happen. Try to think of a good momentum when you clear their board and enter it yourself. That moment you want to swing around the board situation. Equality, Consecration, and even Avenging Wrath can be very important here. Once you established board control you want to take their board sweepers in consideration (auchenai-soulpriest combined with circle-of-healing and holy-nova) and play safely to the late-game where you really do not want them to Mind Control your Tirion Fordring or Hogger. Your Truesilver Champion will be a viable asset in this match-up to deal with enemy minions. You can’t afford this to happen as you probably don’t have an answer for it by then.
Rogue is an okay match-up because of all your taunts in this deck. Miracle Rogue is always hard, but I feel this deck has a fair shot at putting up the necessary walls during the mid-game. Putting up some well-planned mid-game aggression allows you to kill them before they are able to play something miraculous. Equality, Consecration and Avenging Wrath are very important for dealing with their edwin-vancleef (as a potential big threat) and Gadgetzan Auctioneers (for their boost in card-draw). Pay attention to cards like Sap when you are planning for aggressively power-playing your Blood Knight (such as playing your Argent Squire and Blood Knight in the same turn to put a big threat on the board); this is a huge risk-reward play where it really comes down to whether the Rogue feels they need the Sap or not. Since Paladin doesn’t have a lot of big early plays (such as Druid has with (double) innervating out big bodies) it’s a coin-flip that can really seal the deal for you or give you a harder time to enter the board over the next couple of turns. Your Truesilver Champion will be a viable asset in this match-up.
Shaman is the toughest match-up where you need to play very carefully and take their plays into account. They have the most hard removal spells that counter your play. Power-playing a Blood Knight is a great way of putting up some early pressure and forcing hard removal, as is rushing out an un-buffed Hogger. Try to be very modest with using your removal spells, because you will definitely need them in the late-game. Using Consecration too early in the game, even if it feels right, will often result in a late-game situation where you just can’t get control of the board any-more. Your Truesilver Champion will be a viable asset in this match-up.
Warlock is a fair match-up with both their decks (Handlock/Zoo) struggling a lot if you manage to draw a decent starting hand. Consecration is an obvious key card against Zoo, and combining Sword of Justice with Captain Greenskin can really work well in the mid-game. Aldor Peacekeeper is a card you will definitely want to have early on, so don’t worry about keeping him in your opening hand.
Warrior is a match-up that demands you to race it. I often find myself either winning before turn 8 or losing after a very long lasting game. It’s definitely doable to win in the late game, but Warrior just seems to have a lot of answers for you if they manage to armour up throughout the mid-game and make some critical plays to establish board presence. Hammer of Wrath can be a real asset here, as is your Truesilver Champion.
Prior to writing this guide I have tracked all my games during June 23 – 29. Most notable are the numbers on Warlock (20%), Druid (15%) and Rogue (15%); all the remaining match-ups showed up with roughly 10% each. The ever present Rogues make me choose Sen’jin Shieldmasta over Chillwind Yeti, and the Warlocks make me prefer Harvest Golem and the Bloodsail Raider over an argent-protector and earthen-ring-farseer. Especially the synergy with Sword of Justice makes all those minions just so beefy, that they will often bait out early removal. The Druid match-up is the best example; with both keeper-of-the-grove being included in every Druid deck, it probably has the best way to deal with your only real late-game threat. Forcing them to silence a buffed Blood Knight or 4/6 Sen’jin Shieldmasta clears the way for your Hogger and Tirion Fordring later in the game (even when Tirion dies to a Black Knight you still get the ashbringer).
Generally speaking, a more aggressive meta-game will lead to more taunts and use of basic ‘bang-for-bucks’ minions. A more passive, control oriented meta-game will allow you to use slower cards.
Curse of Naxxramas
So far a lot of information on the upcoming expansion has already been leaked or announced. For a quick overview you can visit this page. With Blizzard’s announcement that they will try to release the expansion in July, it is only logical that I discuss some of the viable cards that might find themselves a place in this deck. From all the neutral cards, there isn’t one that would shine in our midrange ‘Justice’ deck. However, with our general game-plan of securing board presence and taking over board control in the mid-game, Paladin’s new class-card Avenge is very likely to deserve a place in our deck. Whether we will run one or two, and what cards to replace them with, will depend on how the meta will evolve once the expansion is out. I am certain that the first couple of seasons people will try a lot of new decks and styles, and once the chaotic meta-game stabilises I feel it would be a great replacement for some low-mana drop cards that people miss from the original ‘Justice’ deck. Cards like an Argent Squire or Acidic Swamp Ooze come to mind if you are solely considering to replace a card in this deck. Due to so many cards being very important for the success of this deck’s game-plan I expect only one Avenge to be included, if any.
I hope you guys enjoyed the guide and the way everything was presented. I strongly believe in the base composition of this deck, and hope it will bring you guys as much fun as it still does to me. And dem damn ladder stars of course! If you have any questions about the guide content (play-style, game-plan, cards etc.) or a critical note on the write-up itself, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I will try to reply to them in the best possible way!