MUA: Secret Paladin vs Aggro Druid

This is the matchup analysis of Secret Paladin versus Aggro Druid. There are two most popular Secret Paladin lists right now. One is more Aggro-oriented and the second one is Midrange. Here are the lists: Aggro Secret Paladin Midrange Secret Paladin Check out this post for constantly updated list that works best in the meta. Cards To […]

Introduction

This is the matchup analysis of Secret Paladin versus Aggro Druid.

Sample Decklist

There are two most popular Secret Paladin lists right now. One is more Aggro-oriented and the second one is Midrange. Here are the lists:

Check out this post for constantly updated list that works best in the meta.

Mulligan

Cards To Keep

Secretkeeper Haunted Creeper Knife Juggler Shielded Minibot

Muster for Battle OR Coghammer

Situational Keep

Noble Sacrifice – with Secretkeeper or Knife Juggler

Repentance – If the rest of your hand is good

Explanation

In this matchup you really need your early drops to contest what the Druid is going to play. Having a good curve is the most important thing. Hardest thing to kill in the early game is Darnassus Aspirant, and sadly it’s also a high priority target. Most of the other stuff Druid is going to play is going to have 1 or 2 health. Haunted Creeper and Shielded Minibot should get 2 for 1 pretty easily. Muster for Battle is weak only against the Swipe and the 3x 1/1 can really help you with clearing the board. Coghammer is awesome, because it gives you a Taunt. It doesn’t do a lot, but stops the Druid’s aggression a little.

When it comes to the situational keeps, Noble Sacrifice is a solid Secret in this matchup. It should kill most of the opponent’s early drops. It’s only bad against the Living Roots until you take out the 1/1’s. It combos nicely with both Secretkeeper (buffing it) and Knife Juggler (getting one free juggle).

In this matchup, Repentance is actually very valuable to counter Fel Reaver or Druid of the Claw on turn 5. You don’t want to play it earlier. More about it in the strategy section.

Matchup Overview

Matchup against Aggro Druid is hard. You’re going to take a lot of face damage in the early game and you can’t do much about it. They have incredibly high early game tempo and if you get behind, one Savage Roar on 3-4 minions should be enough to kill you. It means that board control is your number one priority. You need to kill everything the Druid might play. You should start getting an upperhand in the mid game and your late game is much stronger, but you need to survive until then. The big advantage of Druid is running Fel Reavers. As a Secret Paladin you have very hard time dealing with them. The only clear way is Equality if you run one. Another way is them playing into your Repentance set turn before. Without those, you need to deal 8 minion / weapon damage into the Fel Reaver. If it survives, you’re probably dead. Luckily for you, if Druid has no Fel Reaver or you manage to stabilize, Mysterious Challenger should completely wreck them, because on the other hand they have no way to deal with your Challenger turn. I’d say that the matchup is 40/60 in Aggro Druid’s favor. Which means it’s hard, but winnable.

Early Strategy

  • Aggro Druid’s early game is very consistent and they rarely miss the curve. They might start with a 1-drops (Living Roots, Leper Gnome) or Innervate Shade of Naxxramas. Even if they skip turn 1, it’s very unlikely that they won’t have anything to do on 2 – Darnassus Aspirant, Druid of the Saber, Knife Juggler… You have to prepare very strong early game answers. It means that you prefer to start with a 1-drop (can be a good Secret too) into 2-drop into 3-drop to not lose the tempo.
  • When it comes to best things you can play on turn 2, Knife Juggler is definitely less valuable in this matchup. I mean, it gets great a little later in the game, where you can get some activations off. But 3/2 is not good enough against their stuff most of the time. Your prefer to have Shielded Minibot or Haunted Creeper. Those can get 2 for 1 most of the time. Shielded Minibot is the best one, because it can potentially take their 3/2’s for free.
  • Weapons on turn 3 are BIG. Even though you lose a lot of health when you attack with them, you get a way to clear the Druid’s board and preserve your minions. You have to be careful when using your health as a resource, though. It’s good to throw a Coghammer into a 3/2 to kill it instead of sacrificing 2x 1/1, but for example if enemy has a 4/1 on the board you prefer to kill it with 1/1 instead of losing 4 health. Health is very important against such an aggressive deck, because even if you stabilize, if you’re low enough they might just rush you with spells and chargers.
  • Shade of Naxxramas is fine for you. It lets you breathe a little. Druid is very likely to keep it in Stealth for couple of turns. It might get scary later, but getting some tempo back is great for you. Be sure to keep a way to deal with the Shade when it grows, though.
  • Even though Darnassus Aspirant is very high priority target, it’s not AS high as in Midrange Druid. Aggro Druid hands are often very aggressive with a lot of small drops, so leaving it up for one turn often just means they have 1 more 1-drop on the board. While it’s a nice tempo boost, if you have to choose between killing Knife Juggler and Darnassus Aspirant, you might actually kill the Juggler in a lot of cases (especially if you have some 1 health minions on the board).
  • Druid can get incredibly strong Innervate plays. Innervating a 5-drop on turn 3 (2 with Coin) is often impossible to deal with. Druid of the Claw is still manageable, because you might take 2 or 3 hits without dying, but Fel Reaver is almost impossible to kill without Equality. Even one hit hurts a lot, but if he gets 2 or 3 hits, you’re just dead.

Mid Game Strategy

  • Even though Aggro Druid runs some mid game drops, what’s going your way is that over half of his deck is 3 mana or less. It means that there is a good chance that he just won’t draw into his 4-drops or 5-drops. Druid might just run out of steam around turn 5-6, it’s not that rare. Surviving the early game at high health is most important. The later in the game it gets, the easier it’s going to be. Your average draw is better than Druid’s – your mid game and late game are stronger. So if you preserve enough health, you might turn the game around in the mid game.
  • When it comes to turn 4, it’s very strong for the Druid. Piloted Shredder is kinda hard to kill effectively and Keeper of the Grove is one of the best 4-drops against your deck. When it comes to killing Shredder, you’re most likely going to take some weapon damage. The game is often decided by what is dropped out of Shredder – obviously 1 or 0 attack minions are best for you, but even something like a 2/2 is not that bad. 4/4, 4/3 or 3/4 are the worst. If it happens to you, you’re going to have a very hard time coming back.
  • Some Aggro Druids are using one copy of Savage Combatant too, but that’s actually the best thing you can see a lot of time. The 4 health is quite easy to deal with and it has no instant board impact or Deathrattle. If you however can’t deal with it until the Druid’s turn, it pushes for so much damage. Most of the time, that one minion is 7 damage per turn. The 3 damage Hero Power also gets great trades against some of your early minions like Knife Juggler or Secretkeeper. Truesilver Champion is the most clear way to deal with it, but you should have enough minion power on the board to just make the trades.
  • A few Druids I’ve met on the ladder also teched in the Kezan Mystic. While it’s much stronger against Hunter and Mage, enemy stealing your let’s say Avenge is a big swing. You can’t really play around it – it’s just something you want to have in mind.
  • Turn 5 might be even stronger. Druid of the Claw is manageable – if you have some board presence and either Truesilver Champion or Blessing of Kings, you should be able to kill it quite easily. But the second play – Fel Reaver is much more difficult. If Druid plays it on the curve it’s not AS terrible as Innervated out later, but still incredibly strong. You absolutely need to kill it. Coghammer and ignoring it is another option, especially if you have Avenge up (this way Druid is forced to proc it), but it’s risky against the Silence. The problem with Fel Reaver is that Druid can just completely ignore whatever you play and go for your face. 8 health is already hard to deal with and if he just plays something else next turn, you’re in a very bad spot. 2x Fel Reaver is usually game over unless you can Equality them. Noble Sacrifice is usually great against big minions, but in this matchup Druid can just take it off with the Hero Power easily, rendering it almost useless in the mid/late game.
  • Having the Shielded Minibot + Blessing of Kings combo is great (if the Divine Shield) against Druid’s mid game drops. This combo can really swing the game.
  • If Druid plays Shade of Naxxramas and you have Consecration in your hand, you might just go for 1 for 1 trade, especially if you’re ahead on the board. Shade growing is like you’re taking 1 damage per turn until he reveals it. Even though it’s not a fast clock, combined with Savage Roar it might threaten a lot of damage. Getting rid of it in time might be a good idea.
  • Your mid game is much more consistent – Druid will often have pretty dead turns (like 1-drop + Hero Power + pass) and you should go into your power turns very soon. Like I’ve already say – just try to not take too much damage, because if you take the board control, the only way you’re going to lose the game is getting burned.

Late Game Strategy

  • When it comes to what Druid can do in the late game, Force of Nature might be played on turn 6. It’s actually very strong removal against Secret Paladin. It usually takes at least 2 minions out of your board. And if you’re already low enough, 6 more damage from the hand might be enough to put you into the lethal range. Besides that, Druid has no turn 6 play.
  • Aggro Druid usually ends his curve with Dr. Boom. That’s another thing that’s very hard for you to remove. The Boom Bots will likely get a lot of value – either additional face damage or just kill your minions. The 7/7 is hard to take out, but actually should be manageable on turn 7. It’s not Fel Reaver on turn 2 – at this point in the game you have the access to bigger minions and buffs.
  • And that’s it – Aggro Druid has almost no late game. But honestly, most of the games won’t even get there. Aggro Druid wants to kill you by turn 5-6 and late game is only an emergency option. Turn 9 is a combo turn and that’s a way Aggro Druid wants to finish the games where they didn’t rush their opponent. If you managed to stabilize, at this point you should be ahead. You still want to clear everything Druid plays in case they have Savage Roar and other burn, but you need to start pushing for the face damage. Around half of Druid’s deck can be used as a burn, so the longer you take to finish the Druid off, the higher chance he has to come back with combo or just burn after burn.
  • When it comes to your late game, every minion is strong. Aggro Druid has completely no way to deal with Mysterious Challenger turn. After he procs the Noble Sacrifice, no matter what gets buffed you should end up with very strong board. Since Aggro Druid has no Big Game Hunter or strong single target removal, you’re probably going to threaten 10+ damage on the board EVEN if you drop Challenger on an empty board. Dr. Boom is the same – enemy can clear the Boom Bots, but that’s it. Not much to say about it – it’s just a great way to take the board control.
  • Probably the best one is Tirion Fordring. Aggro Druid can’t afford to not use the Keeper of the Grove, so unless he topdecks one, he won’t likely have way to Silence it. The 6/6 Taunt with Divine Shield is going to do a lot of work. Unless you’re not very close to dying (like in Swipe range), Tirion should just seal the game.

Tips

  • Druid hasn’t got almost any situational cards. Most of his deck is very proactive. If he keeps some cards in his hand and doesn’t use them, those might be Force of Nature and/or Savage Roar. If it’s early in the game, he might also keep a big drop (5-drop or Dr. Boom).
  • Divine Favor gets almost no value in this matchup. If you have a good opportunity to play it, just do it. Drawing 2-3 cards is the best you’re going to get, so don’t be too greedy.
  • A well-timed Loatheb might be the key to victory. Just using it as a 5-drop is fine, but it’s can serve as a way to seal the game after you took the board control and set up the lethal (deny Druid the possibility of Swipe / Force of Nature clear). It’s also nice to stall the game for one more turn after Druid threatens lethal. One more turn means you might draw into a Taunt or just kill the Druid.
  • Blessing of Kings is a great mid-game swing card, but is easily countered by Keeper of the Grove. You need to put it on the right target. While minion with Divine Shield is the best one if you intend to trade the Shield instantly, if you’re just pushing for damage, you might want to put Kings on a minion without Divine Shield or Deathrattle. This way you minimize the losses against Silence. For example, on a board of Shielded Minibot, Haunted Creeper and Silver Hand Recruit, putting Kings on Recruit might actually be best. If he Silences it, you’re still left with Deathrattle from the Creeper and Divine Shield from the Minibot. Spread the Silence targets so enemy won’t get super-good one.

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