MUA: Midrange Druid vs Paladin

This is the matchup analysis of Midrange Druid versus Paladin. We’re using this decklist as a basis. Keep in mind there are decklists with slight variations, each one tweaked to the player’s own taste and the meta they’re facing. Cards To Keep Situational Keep – With Wild Growth or Daranssus Aspirant or – with Ramp/Innervate Since […]

Introduction

This is the matchup analysis of Midrange Druid versus Paladin.

Sample Decklist

We’re using this decklist as a basis. Keep in mind there are decklists with slight variations, each one tweaked to the player’s own taste and the meta they’re facing.

Mulligan

Cards To Keep

Innervate Living Roots Darnassus Aspirant Wild Growth Wrath Shade of Naxxramas Keeper of the Grove Swipe

Situational Keep

Piloted Shredder – With Wild Growth or Daranssus Aspirant

Druid of the Claw or Azure Drake – with Ramp/Innervate

Paladin Meta Decks

Since TGT, the most dominating Paladin deck has been the Secret Paladin. It emerged quickly after the expansion’s release and stays as one of the strongest decks even since. The other Paladin decks, while a little weaker, are still viable. The Aggro Paladin (also known as Eboladin) and Midrange Paladin also got some tools and are tier 2-3 decks currently. If you meet the Paladin, you should expect the Secret build, but from time to time you might meet the other ones.

Vs Secret Paladin

General Strategy

Most of the Secret Paladin builds are really similar. The only difference is that some of them are more Aggro-oriented, with more small drops and 2 copies of Divine Favor and other ones are more Midrange. But the general play style and core cards are the same. Matchup against Midrange Paladin revolves around two things – stabilizing in the mid game after their initial aggression and then surviving the turn 6-8 onslaught. The matchup is slightly in Secret Paladin’s favor, but the Druid, with the proper draws, can sometimes overwhelm him in the mid game and deny his great turns 6-8.

Early Game

  • Just like always, Ramp cards are very good. Innervate is better in this matchup than the Wild Growth. You absolutely can’t let Paladin outtempo you. Getting out something to make trades with in the first turns is important.
  • Darnassus Aspirant is also very solid – it serves both purposes and Paladin might have hard time killing it. Secretkeeper needs two Secrets to get buffed into the range, Shielded Minibot has only 2 attack and Haunted Creeper has only 1 attack. Aspirant surviving even one turn might snowball you the game, and if you manage to keep it for longer, it’s even better.
  • Talking about tempo plays – Living Roots is great. 2x 1/1 can trade into enemy 1-drop, Knife Juggler or pop the Minibot’s Divine Shield. They won’t likely get a huge value, but it’s better than nothing.
  • Try to kill everything enemy plays. Without the board, a lot of cards like Avenge, Competitive Spirit, Coghammer and Blessing of Kings lose the value. Try clearing everything they play, even the Silver Hand Recruits.
  • Their turn 3 is usually a weapon turn. Muster for Battle is annoying. The 1/4 weapon you can ignore, but the 3x 1/1 can help Paladin with the trades or push for a lot of damage, removing them one by one is hard. Swipe is a good answer, especially if enemy has something else on the board too. Coghammer is the second weapon, but it’s very weak if enemy has nothing on the board. If he has, it can get a lot of value. Even a 1/1 – giving it Taunt and Divine Shield not only makes it annoying for you to go through, but also makes the awesome Blessing of Kings possible next turn.
  • Don’t drop the Big Game Hunter for the tempo. Later in the match it’s going to be a game-changer.

Mid Game

  • Swipe is great in this matchup, but sometimes you have to get a little greedy with it. For example, using swipe on two minions is usually not enough, unless you really have no other play. Paladin can really flood the board and you should get a great Swipe value eventually.
  • Piloted Shredder is not that good. It’s still the best minion you can drop on the turn 4 a lot of time, but the 3 health makes it really easy to remove. The games are often decided by the minion that drops out of the Shredder. You really want it to have high health – 2/3 is a good example. 1 health stuff can be taken out by the Silver Hand Recruits and the Light’s Justice too easily.
  • Keeper of the Grove is phenomenal. It should help with clearing the stuff a lot. But if you don’t really need it – keep it. Most of the Secret Paladin builds run 2x Blessing of Kings and sniping one with Keeper is awesome. Not to mention that if you don’t have a reason to use it right now, it’s going to get value later, so don’t worry.
  • Your mid game is generally superior to Paladin’s. Meaning that with proper ramp or Innervate plays you should get the board lead around turn 5-6. If possible, try to go into turn 6 with Paladin having an empty board. This way it’s much easier to deal with the Mysterious Challenger.
  • The turn 6 is usually where the whole thing is decided. Mysterious Challenger is a very powerful drop and you don’t have a clear way to deal with it. You generally want it to get dropped on an empty board, because then you know exactly how the turn will look. If it draws out 5 Secrets: You want to hit into anything (or Hero Power) to proc the Noble Sacrifice. This resurrects (Redemption) the 2/1 minion and procs Avenge on the Mysterious Challenger, making it a 9/8 minion. The first minion you play is going to get hit by Repentance, so you want it to be something small/low health. On their turn, Competitive Spirit will proc, buffing anything they have by +1/+1. This is where Big Game Hunter comes really handy. Sniping the big Mysterious Challenger not only means that you get the complete board Control, but also that you proc the Repentance on a minion that is 2 health anyway (so Repentance just deals 1 damage). Other ways to kill the Challenger might be combination of minion hits, Wrath, Savage Roar, possibly even Force of Nature. The bad scenario is when you can’t kill the MC. It means that enemy ends up with a 10/9 minion, which puts you on a very short clock. Enemy isn’t likely going to trade with it, only when you put a Taunt. But not even the Ancient of War can stop it.
  • The worst case scenario is when Paladin has the board control and he plays the Challenger. This means you lost the game most likely. You can’t clear everything, and the more minions survive, the more Competitive Spirit value Paladin gets.

Late Game

  • Paladin has three big drops left in his arsenal. The second Mysterious Challenger won’t likely get that much value – it usually pulls out about 1-2 Secrets, depending on the Paladin’s draws. The 6/6 body is still scary, but not as much as the first one. The two drops making real difference are the Dr. Boom and Tirion Fordring.
  • The first one is another target for Big Game Hunter. Without it, Swipe + Wrath is another way to clear it, but it’s much less clear. Minion trades are also fine. If somehow you’re the one putting pressure on the Paladin, you might even ignore it sometimes and force enemy to make the trades instead. The lower on health you are, the more scary Boom gets. Not only it’s 9 damage per turn, but the Boom Bots can get a lot of damage even if removed.
  • The second minion – Tirion Fordring – is much more scary. Not only the 6/6 Divine Shield + Taunt is very hard to get through, the 5/3 weapon means that you probably lose the game in a few turns. Keeper of the Grove is really crucial here. If you Silence the Tirion, suddenly a vanilla 6/6 for 8 mana is very, very weak and you can just ignore it most of the time or even kill it off with some of your minions. It doesn’t mean that you should not play the Keeper before. For example, Silencing Blessing of Kings often means that you can snowball the board and just overwhelm Paladin – without doing that maybe you wouldn’t even live to the Tirion turn. But if you have no GREAT Silence before that, don’t use it on something like a Haunted Creeper or Shielded Minibot (unbuffed).
  • If Paladin gets perfect curve of Mysterious Challenger into Dr. Boom into Tirion (the Secret Paladin’s dream), you probably lost the game. Your deck can’t really deal with all of that, maybe 1 in 10 or 20 games you’re going to get a slight chance. But the thing is, they rarely get the perfect curve, so if they do, just ignore it and play another game.
  • If you manage to get some board presence in the late game, you should be able to fight off everything they play. They have A LOT of small drops, so most of their draws are going to be bad, while your draws are going to be good. Couple of turns into the late game and you should get a solid lead.
  • Combo is probably the easiest way to finish the game. The sooner you kill Paladin, the lesser chance that he draws into Tirion and other big stuff is. Meaning that once you get the board lead, combo is your best friend. Even the Savage Roar is often enough, because Secret Paladin doesn’t run a lot of defensive mechanics. Tirion is one of them, Coghammer being the other. He also has a single Truesilver Champion for healing. It’s rarely enough against your combo, you might sometimes even sneak a cheesy win when enemy has full board control and you still combo him if you got enough mid game damage before.

Tips

  • The way you deal with enemy Secrets early in the game is very important. Noble Sacrifice is the most simple one – you just use your Hero Power. Avenge is more tricky. First of all – you don’t want enemy to have any Divine Shields up when proccing it. If it hits the Shielded Minibot, 5/4 with Divine Shield is very scary. What you want to proc it on depends on your answers. For example – if you have Wrath, you want to proc it on 1 health minion. With Swipe, you can proc it on 2 health stuff etc. You want to kill Avenge minion the turn it’s procced most of time. Repentance is very strong against Midrange Druid – Druid runs almost no good minions to proc it on. On turn 3, Shade of Naxx is solid. It sucks if enemy has Knife Juggler on the board, because it’s very easy to snipe in Stealth, but it only loses 1 health and might grow anyway. Piloted Shredder and Keeper of the Grove might probably be the best in the mid game, because the first one still gets Deathrattle and the second one got some instant value so it doesn’t put you behind on the tempo. Big Game Hunter is a great way to proc it, but you want to keep it for the late game. Competitive Spirit is usually played on the turn when Paladin floods the board. The counteract it, try to clear as many small stuff as you can. If it procs on 4-5 minions, Paladin gets a lot of value. On 1-2, not so much. Redemption is usually followed by Deathrattle or high value minions – Paladin rarely plays the 1/1’s when he has Redemption up, meaning you can often tell what Secret it is without even trying it. The best possible target is obviously the 1/1, but even something like Secretkeeper or Knife Juggler, minions that don’t have Deathrattle, are fine.
  • You don’t want to keep too many cards in this matchup. Try to go for the high tempo plays – play Hero Power only if you really have to or you have spare mana. Tempo plays not only put you ahead on the board, but also reduce the number of cards in your hand, so the Divine Favor doesn’t get as much value.
  • Some Secret Paladin builds run the Equality, so if they’re holding a card in their hand for a long time, be careful. If you develop a strong board, Equality + Consecration might easily clear it and turn the game around.

Vs Aggro Paladin

Strategy

Aggro Paladin is the deck that was really popular before Secret Paladin became viable with TGT. It’s known for flooding the board with a lot of small minions and having a lot of annoying/hard to deal with stuff like Divine Shields and Deathrattle minions. The matchup is often decided by whether you draw into the Swipe or not. That one card often is enough to clear the whole Paladin’s board and get out ~10 damage from the field. The early game tempo cards like Living Roots and Darnassus Aspirant are also important. This is the matchup where you also want the Innervate. Getting out bigger threats on the board early is important – not only it gives you minion to start trading, but also reduces the number of cards in your hands. You never want to stay at above 4-5 cards – every Aggro Paladin build runs 2x Divine Favor. Even though your Hero Power might seem good in this matchup, don’t use it unless you really have to. Paladin really wants you to waste your turns on Hero Powering. Not only you often still take damage, but you lose the tempo and start hoarding the cards in your hand. Paladin WON’T outvalue you, so don’t worry about playing minions that won’t get very efficient trades. Paladin is generally, after the initial board control game (if you play something in the first turns), tries to go for the face and rush you down. Taunts aren’t very helpful, because of the Ironbeak Owl and possibly even Equality. You might want to play the Druid of the Claw in charge mode to instantly deal with something important instead of getting it Silenced. Aggro Paladin rarely runs bigger threats – they usually end the curve around 4-5 mana. Some of the builds are a little slower and incorporate Dr. Boom + Tirion Fordring, but that’s generally not something you want to play around anyway. The game should be decided in the mid game. If you clear their board and develop some minions, you should win. Paladin has some burst potential from the hand, but not too much. It can deal around 10 burst damage straight from the hand with the right cards, but most of the burn is based around minions with Charge. It means that once you stabilize, Taunts get much better. Paladin can rarely both Silence your Taunt and do the burst on the same turn (not enough mana). Meaning a Taunt can give you an additional turn. Use Ancient of Lore to heal unless you really ran out of cards and have nothing else to do. Even if you’re at pretty high health (~15), healing is still good, because not only it denies the Divine Favor (which could give Paladin an out), but plays around the 2-3 turns of chargers and weapons damage. Once you get out 3-4 minions on the board, you’re usually going to finish the game with Savage Roar or just straight minion pressure. The games rarely go for so long that you can full combo the enemy.

Vs Midrange Paladin

Strategy

With the Patron Warrior nerf, Midrange Paladin might become much more popular deck. Once again, Druid is a slightly unfavored in this matchup, because of the lack of AoE board clears. While Swipe is great against the Aggro build, against the Midrange it’s often not enough. Midrange Paladin usually curves out really well in the early game. If you get bad start they can sometimes even out-Aggro you. Those situations are not that rare, if they get smooth curve from turn 1 and you won’t get anything to play, it’s very possible. This is a more value-oriented matchup than the other two. You don’t want to play for tempo as much as for the value. This means that Wild Growth is generally better than the Innervate. Don’t overextend with your Innervates – getting out Druid of the Claw on turn 2 (with Coin + Innervate) might work out, but if enemy has the Aldor Peacekeeper it might completely ruin your plan. Double Innervating something out is a really bad idea. Being ahead of the Paladin in terms of mana is a good way to win this matchup. When Midrange Paladin needs to answer your threats, it’s much better to pump them out every turn without having to worry about their stuff. Your mid game is stronger and that’s what you want to abuse. Sneak some damage in the mid game and seal the game with the combo – it’s your main game plan. It’s not as easy, though, because Midrange Paladin runs a lot of defensive stuff. Sludge Belcher and Antique Healbot are really popular 5-drops, they have Lay of Hands as a way to gain health and get card advantage, Tirion Fordring and Coghammer mean Taunt + Divine Shield, which is very annoying to get through with the combo. You absolutely have to clear Paladin’s Silver Hand Recruits. The Quartermaster is one of the strongest cards against Druid. You have NO WAY to deal with so many 3/3 minions, even the Spell Damage Swipe is out of range. If they manage to get Quartermaster value on more than 3 Recruits, you’re in a really bad spot. Justicar Trueheart is also great from the Paladin’s side. You only have two Swipes, so eventually you’ll have no way to deal with all the 1/1’s. The longer match goes, the worse it is for you. You want to finish Paladin as fast as you can. While your late game is solid, Paladin’s cards have generally more value. Creating 2x 1/1 per turn, getting additional tokens with Murloc Knight‘s Inspire effect, Muster for Battle etc. With 10 mana, Paladin can fill his whole board with minions without actually committing a lot of resources. Try to keep one Silence for Tirion Fordring. It’s the card that’s going to win Paladin a lot of games. Most of the builds also run the Equality, so don’t overextend into the Equality + Consecration combo. Sometimes you have to risk it, but try to not have more than 2-3 minions on the board, and if you do, they should be Piloted Shredders (because of the Deathrattle). You definitely want to draw cards with Ancient of Lore.  And keep the Big Game Hunter – you should find a target eventually. Either it’s the Dr. Boom or some 3+ attack minion buffed with Blessing of Kings.

Resources