Secret Paladin is one of the most popular decks in Hearthstone today. It is a powerful machine that has the ability to play both aggro and midrange due to its resilient minions and high amount of damage potential. For this reason, every deck, from aggro to heavy control, needs to be ready for it. This guide will help you with that, breaking down how Deathrattle Rogue, with its mix of early control and sticky minions, fights back against Uther and his never-ending board of secrets.
One of the biggest advantages of Deathrattle Rogue is all of the options at your disposal. One of the most important parts to playing and understanding a deck is making something that fits you. If you are typically a midrange player, then try and build your deck with a stronger middle. Conversely, if you like aggro, try and lower your curve and put in more burn. There are many deathrattle minions in this game, and almost all of them are powerful in their own way. That enables you to tweak this list in any way you want. Of course, there will always be some set cards you have to run, but feel free to experiment with the edges as much as you can. To help you with this, a guide to building Deathrattle Rogue, as well as one of the most popular builds, have been linked below.
Though the title of your deck is deathrattle, you are a tempo list through and through. That means you need to look as hard as you can for your opening cards, especially when facing a snowball deck like Secret Paladin. A lot of people will call Secret Paladin aggro, but it is actually a lot more like Zoo in that is really depends on having minions to enact its plan well. Getting the first minion down, or playing proactive minions to interrupt their plays, can be the difference between winning and losing. For that reason, you want to throw back anything that doesn’t fit a good opening. That does not always mean you need to go one, two, three. But it does mean you don’t want to keep a three or four drop when you could be trying to find an opening Backstab or the like. Missing a turn in this matchup is not an option.
Cards to KeepBackstab Leper Gnome Abusive Sergeant Haunted Creeper Eviscerate Loot Hoarder
Unearthed Raptor is good with the coin or with a strong opening.
SI:7 Agent should always be kept with the coin or Backstab
Piloted Shredder is a good keep if you have the coin and a strong opening curve.
Defender of Argus can be kept only if you have sticky deathrattle minions (Nerubian Egg, Haunted Creeper) to play before it.
How to Win
The way to take down Secret Paladin is to beat them at their own game. That is, you need to control the board better than they do. You do that by effectively reacting to all of their plays. Seceret Paladin is a deck with a very set game plan. They play secrets early on, control the board with small minions, and then use that control to put down bigger and bigger threats. Every have a minion they like to play on each turn (Shielded Minibot on two, Piloted Shredder on four, Mysterious Challenger etc.). If you know what those minions are going to be, you can then start to sculpt the game to your favor.
One of the most important things to remember about Secret Paladin is they only run three big threats. While they do have a lot of ways to make minions big, their only inherently large minions are Dr. Boom, Mysterious Challenger and Tirion Fordring. You have to beat those cards to win, but you don’t run a lot of removal. There are two ways to get around that. One, you can be extremely aggressive, which will allow you to ignore the threats when they come down. The other is to have steady control of the board the entire game, which will then allow you to make favorable trades. No matter what you choose, always recognize that Secret Paladin starts to get big on turn six.
The final overarching rule to this game is, clear the board. Secret Paladin is a deck that operates similarly to Zoo. They depend on their small minions to get big through buffs like Blessing of Kings and Avenge. Despite all of their fluff, Secret Paladin is largely an aggro deck. If you allow them to get their buffs early you will die to their midgame damage. Stop this from happening at all costs.
Early Game Strategy
These turns are where you are going to make your money. One of the best things about Deathrattle Rogue is its incredibly strong opening. While you don’t usually run one drops, your two drops into Unearthed Raptor can lock up the board in a hurry. Use your sticky minions like raptor, Nerubian Egg and Haunted Creeper to get an early presence. Remember, you will win through deathrattle. Minions are much more important than spells during the first three turns.
Secrets are always going to be a concern in this match, but they are especially problematic during the early turns. You never want to guess wrong or trigger something without having an answer. As such, if you are going to attack into a secret, always think about what it possibly could be. That means, play around Noble Sacrifice by attacking with sticky minions, be ready to kill something twice in case of Redemption and always, always be able to kill minions buffed with [card]Avenge. If you don’t have answers, try to trigger the secrets in a way that will do the least amount of damage.
A card you always want to be thinking about is Muster for Battle. Fan of Knives cleans it up nicely, but if you aren’t the version that runs fan (or if you don’t have it) you need to be ready to pick off the 1/1’s. Every single minion in Secret Paladin is a threat, and giving them a full board will make their buffs and secrets that much stronger.
Due to the way that Deathrattle Rogue is assembled, you will almost never lose once you have the board. You are a deck built off resilient minions, which enables you to trade with anything that comes down. That is especially important during the turns when Secret attempts to get big, because if you can answer their first wave, you should be able to wear them down.
The most important turn in the game is game six. Mysterious Challenger will absolutely ruin you if you are behind board during this time in the game. It is also a nightmare if they have a lot of minions. Unless you are the hyper-aggressive version of deathrattle, you want to clear as much as possible to make sure the challenger arrives alone. This will limit the way their secrets play and allow you to maneuver into the late game much more easily.
Try and get as much value out of Defender of Argus as possible. The four drop is one of your only ways (Sludge Belcher being the other) to stop aggressive pushes. Not only that, but it gives you two taunts and can often force them to trade into your deathrattle minions. Defender is so important for board control that you should always get it down if you have two things to buff.
Late Game Strategy
The final stages against Secret Paladin are usually spent trying to stay alive. You will try and spend most of the game reacting to their threats and running them low on cards. Once that is over, even if you clear them out, you are going to be low on health. Because of that, always be careful with your health once the game starts to shift towards the later turns.
Secret Paladin often kicks off their end game with Dr. Boom. Normally the doctor ruins Rogue but, just like with everything else, if you properly sculpt your board you should be fine. Just like planning for turn six, you want to try and set up a wide range of deathrattle minions still in their first form if you can. This will effectively offset the boom bots and take away their value.
The biggest end-game threat is Tirion Fordring. Not only is it something you have to fight through, but also because of how much damage Ashbringer can do. However, there is no way to go around him, you just need to clear as effectively as you can. If you run Sap you should always have one for him. If you don’t, try and prepare in the same way you prepare for Dr. Boom. A large board presence or intense pressure both invalidate Tirion’s ability.
Never be afraid to get aggressive. Your first mode should always be defensive, and then use your minions to slowly chip away at their board and their life. However, you are still a Rogue. Your hero power and burn can both stack up in a hurry. Secret Paladin has a lot of strong plays, but if they have a weak turn (or if they start to dip low) don’t shy away from going face.