Though it was once much stronger, Patron Warrior is still one of the better decks in Hearthstone. It has a very good shell that is capable of both burst and combos. In addition, it also stands alone as a very solid midrange list. When planning to take the drinking dwarves to ladder, you have to know how to stack up against the other popular decks on the ladder, and no deck is more popular than Secret Paladin. This guide will breakdown the matchup between the two and analyze how Patron, with its burst and combo potential, matches up really well to Uther’s secrets.
While you do have to run all of the classic Patron cards (Grim Patron, Inner Rage, Battle Rage) there are a lot of few spots you can tweak. This is mainly because of Patron’s midrange nature. There are many mid-game cards that you can freely change out to better fit your style or the decks you are seeing. For instance, Piloted Shredder is better for board control, but Kor’kron Elite is a great way to put on pressure. To help you figure out what brand of Patron you want to play, some lists and a guide have been linked below.
When mulliganing against Paladin you want to look for all of your Whirlwind effects, such as Death’s Bite, Whirlwind and Unstable Ghoul. These cards are how you deal with Muster for Battle and get you to the midgame in one piece. All of your early minions, because Paladin has no clear answer to them, are also extremely good. Acolyte of Pain and Armorsmith need to be kept on sight.
Cards to KeepWhirlwind Fiery War Axe Armorsmith Unstable Ghoul Slam Cruel Taskmaster Acolyte of Pain Death’s Bite
Inner Rage is can be good to combo with activators like Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain.
Frothing Berserker is a good keep if you strong cards to go along with it.
Piloted Shredder is strong keep with the coin and a strong early curve.
Grim Patron is a strong keep if you have a solid opening to set it up.
How to Win‘
The best way to beat Secret Paladin is to play the midrange game better than they do. That is no easy task, but Patron is one of the few decks that can actually achieve that due to their combo. You have a lot of powerful threats and the potential to go-off on some gigantic turns. Always look for ways to get big in this matchup, and always look for ways to take control of an empty board. If you can do either, Paladin will have a very hard time catching back up.
The other rule of this game is to be the aggressor. While clearing is vitally important to winning, you have a lot of burst (especially if you run the version of Patron with Kor’kron Elites). Your opponent knows that, and if you start pressuring their life total with weapons or minion swarms they will usually start to play very conservatively. That works very well for you because it gives you more time to draw answers as well as your combo pieces and larger finishers.
Early Game Strategy
The opening is very important for controlling Secret Paladin for the rest of game. Even if you do have access to your removal or combo pieces, they will usually fall short if you cannot keep up with Paladin’s never-ending sea of strong minions. You need to be proactive to win this match, and that starts on turn one. Use all of your removal, from Slam to Fiery War Axe to your minions, in order to keep them in check.
Two of the most important early game cards are Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain. Each of these cards is going to get multiple hits off due to how small Paladin’s minions are. That means a lot of early health, or a lot of extra cards. Both of these cards also demand immediate attention, and will usually slow Paladin down for a turn or two.
Be very careful about playing around Paladin’s secrets. Avenge is the biggest problem, because you need to save your hard removal for later in the game. That means you need to clear buffed minions with weapons, which means more damage, or with minions, which is a loss of board control. However, it is also important to make note of a possible Redemption (which nullifies removal) or a Noble Sacrifice (which can take away a weapon hit or kill a minion). Always have a plan for each secret so you know what to do when a specific one triggers.
You need to clear Muster of Battle as soon as you can. While three 1/1’s may not seem like the end of the world, they build directly into both Keeper of Uldaman and Blessing of Kings. You have many ways to get rid of them, and burning a card to take away Paladin’s turn four play is a good idea. The only exception to this is hitting your opponent in the face with a Death’s Bite to set up a turn five clear/Patron.
Note: Starting with the opening turns and moving into the middle game, you always want to look for opportunities to play Battle Rage. Paladin’s small minions do a lot of chip damage, which gives you some opportunities to get some huge draws as everything you have is going to be damaged.
Paladin’s midgame is what makes them so strong, but it is where you make your money as well. These turns are largely going to be a battle of two combos; you attempting to get as many 3/3’s as possible, and your opponent trying to put all of their secrets into play. This is an advantage to you because your combo comes down one turn earlier, and also nullifies Paladin’s later plays. While you have many options during these turns, your combo should always be priority number one.
Execute is your strongest removal spell and one of the best cards in this matchup. This is your only clean answer to Paladin’s bigger threats and you need to save it for either Dr. Boom, Mysterious Challenger or Tirion Fordring.
Always try to think about ways to clear the board. Though you run no traditional AOE, your different Whirlwind effects stack up very quickly. Like Zoo, Secret Paladin is a deck that needs minions to execute their gameplan. If they have no board, their plays get much weaker. In addition, they also lose a lot of their burst potential, which takes the pressure off and enables you to play your own threats.
Do not be afraid to go all-in on Grim Patron. And that means all in. Unless they have a very strong board, Paladin has almost no ways to deal with the dwarves. Secret decks no longer run Equality, and Consecration just gives your more patrons. The drinking dwarves are your primary win condition, and will completely take over the game if you get three or more down onto the field. Even playing two onto an empty board is a fine option.
Late Game Strategy
Though the middle turns of the game are going to be centered around minions and different combos, the end of the game is going to be about finishers. Paladin loves to get extremely big. While you do not get quite as big, your finishing potential makes any four attack or higher minion an instant threat.
Your best tool is Grommash Hellscream. Theirs is Tirion Fordring. When it comes to winning, if you don’t have overwhelming board presence or a lot of Grim Patrons, you want to make use of the charging orc. Ten or twelve damage will usually be enough to seal the deal, especially because Secret runs so few taunts. Just also remember that Secret lacks any real removal, so using Gromm as a clear spell is a fine play that threatens ten the following turn.
On the other hand, Tirion is a huge problem because you have no silence, and thus no real answer to him. You are going to have to deal with his deathrattle at some point. The best way to do that is to have a board that is capable of removing the 6/6 as soon as he drops. This clears the taunt for your finishers, and enables you to use your armor to mitigate Ashbringer should your opponent try to go face.
Finally, never forget that, if you are at a high life total, Dr. Boom is a great response to a lone Mysterious Challenger. The 7/7 is very large in the way of threats, and the Boom Bots give you a lot of extra power when it comes to clearing secrets. Not to mention, most Paladins no longer run Repentance, meaning boom will be able to challenge the challenger head on as well.
Do not forget about your hero power. Secret Paladin has one of the best midrange packages in Hearthstone, but it is largely an aggro deck capable of doing gigantic amounts of damage out of nowhere. Gaining armor can be key to staying alive just long enough to put together finishing burst or a push for lethal.