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.
Cards To KeepSecretkeeper Haunted Creeper Knife Juggler Shielded Minibot
Muster for Battle OR Coghammer
Noble Sacrifice – With Secretkeeper or Knife Juggler
Redemption – With sticky minions like Haunted Creeper, Shielded Minibot and Piloted Shredder
Piloted Shredder – With Coin and 2-drop
Blessing of Kings – With Coin and Shielded Minibot
Mysterious Challenger – With Coin (you throw away all Secrets and look for the early game minions if you keep him)
Cards to keep is a most standard set. Consistent early game is what you really want no matter what deck you play against. Secretkeeper is generally not strong in this matchup, but it’s a good way to test for the Fiery War Axe. If you drop it on turn 1 and enemy plays the weapon, you can adjust your future plays. When it comes to 2-drops, Shielded Minibot is probably once against the best in this matchup. It’s a middle-ground between survivability and damage, which works great against early Warrior removals. Muster for Battle isn’t very strong in this matchup, because it loses against Warrior’s early game minions – especially Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain. Coghammer might be stronger in this matchup, but only if you had a sticky 2-drop that is going to survive until turn 3. Divine Shield is great against most of Warrior’s removals and Taunt can protect your bigger minions from Weapons.
When it comes to situational keeps – Noble Sacrifice is solid against Warrior. The most scary removals in the early game are weapons, because they have two charges. Noble Sacrifice stops one hit, which is fine if you put pressure on the board. You want to have it with Knife Juggler or Secretkeeper – the first one is the minion you want to protect and the second one gets buffed.
Redemption is a nice keep to gain the early tempo. But keep it only if you have a curve of good minions to use it on. If you play to drop any Silver Hand Recruits in the early game, don’t keep it.
Piloted Shredder is great against Warrior. Even though he can 1 for 1 with the weapons, he takes a lot of damage in the process. Since your turn 3 plays often aren’t exciting, Coining out a 4-drop is great.
Blessing of Kings on Shielded Minibot is another combo that works great against Warrior. It’s just below the Big Game Hunter range, Warrior runs no Silence to punish you and it’s very hard to remove. Warrior needs a perfect combination of cards like 2x Slam + Execute, otherwise your Minibot gets incredible value.
Control Warrior is the matchup I also keep the Mysterious Challenger in when I start second. It’s a key card in this matchup and getting it out turn earlier is great. While you sometimes might be forced to use Coin earlier in the match, keeping it and dropping Challenger on turn 5 is a massive play.
There are a lot of different Control Warrior lists around right now. Even though they all share a very similar core, the differences might be significant. The cards that might or might not be ran in different lists are, for example: Slam, Cruel Taskmaster, Acolyte of Pain, Whirlwind/Revenge, Deathlord. Piloted Shredder. Some run 2x Brawl, others do run only one copy (this is a big difference in this matchup). Another difference might be the late game threats they run, but this generally doesn’t matter that much. Warrior has much stronger late game than you have anyway, so if he stabilizes and starts dropping late game threats, you won’t have a way to deal with them. This is a very proactive matchup from your side – until turns 5-6 Warrior won’t likely drop any threat you have to deal with, so you want to push him as hard as you can and play around his removals in the best possible way. This matchup generally favors Secret Paladin, but the exact percentages really depends on both lists. For example, if Warrior runs Revenge, Whirlwind or even Deathlords, it might be much harder to win the game. On the other hand, you have easier time against “greedy” lists with a lot of late game.
- Early game is very easy from your side. Secret Paladin is a very proactive deck in this matchup. Control Warrior will probably just Hero Power and answer your threats. When it comes to his early game minions, all he can do is drop Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain. Honestly, those minions are pretty good against you, but they aren’t a problem here. Removals are bigger problems.
- When it comes to removals, Warrior has a really big arsenal. Execute and Shield Slam are big single target removals, but they aren’t great in the early game. Warrior’s weapons – Fiery War Axe and Death’s Bite are what he is looking for. And you hope he doesn’t have them. Besides that, Slam is pretty good against two of your 2-drops – it kills Knife Juggler straight away and pops the Shielded Minibot‘s Divine Shield (and draws a card for Warrior). Bash is another one, it works well against minions with no Divine Shields or Deathrattles and is good to pop the first part of the Piloted Shredder. The Armor gain might also come handy with activating the Shield Slam.
- As you can see, Warrior will probably have SOME answers for your early game stuff. You have to be patient. You won’t likely push for a lot of damage in the early game, because most of your stuff is going to be answered. Your early game role is to try to play in the way that is most awkward for the Warrior to answer. For example – Knife Juggler is the biggest threat, but it’s very easy to answer. Fiery War Axe and Slam answers it on turn 2, Bash and Shield Slam on turn 3. It’s very unlikely that Warrior doesn’t have any of those. It means that opening up with your other 2-drops might be better idea – they’re harder to kill and more likely going to stick to the board. Having some board all the time is what you generally want in this matchup.
- Kill Armorsmith if you can. It’s going to cost you 4 damage, but you don’t care too much about the early damage, like I’ve already said. If it sticks to the board, it’s going to be annoying – killing your 1/1’s, popping Divine Shields and gaining a lot of Armor over time. When it comes to Acolyte of Pain, just try to 1-shot it. Starving the Warrior is a great tactic – the less card he draws, the less chance he’s going to get the key cards is. Giving him 2 cards is not terrible, but don’t let the Warrior draw 3.
- The only reason why you’d ever give Warrior cards from Acolyte is to set up for a big Divine Favor turn. But you don’t really want to Divine Favor on turn 3 – you prefer the highest tempo plays instead of drawing cards. Divine Favor should get some value later.
- Your turn 3 plays are pretty weak against Warrior, that’s why starting the match with Coin is generally stronger. Skipping your t3 weapons and going for 4-drop on 3 into 4-drop on 4 might be a stronger play a lot of time. But if it’s your only thing to do – that’s fine, just go for it.
- When it comes to the early game Secrets: Noble Sacrifice is fine to protect your minions from weapon hits, but it’s rather weak against Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain. Redemption is very solid if you have proper drops to follow it with. Piloted Shredder is probably the best one. If you can drop the Secret a turn before Shredder, if enemy falls for it and removes it, you end up with a random 2-drop + a 4/1 Shredder, which drops another thing. Avenge is always solid one, but it might be hard to proc without putting more than 1 minion on the board on the same turn (Haunted Creeper‘s Deathrattle, Muster for Battle). Warrior is trying to keep your early game in check all the time and it’s not rare that you won’t ever have more than 1 minion on the board at the time. Rest of the Secrets are pretty weak in the early game. You don’t want to Repentance Warrior’s early drops and Competitive Spirit might not get enough value (and it’s generally not worth wasting this card for +1/+1 or +2/+2).
Mid Game Strategy
- Mid Game is when you start really pressuring Warrior. Your plays are harder to deal with and you might go for higher tempo plays with let’s say 2x 2-drop. Buffs can also put a lot of pressure on the Warrior, unless he has an Execute.
- Mid game is also when Warrior starts dropping the first minions. They are however pretty defensive and won’t likely be a big threat to you. Sludge Belcher is a little hard to get through, because it soaks at least 7 damage, but with the help of weapons or buffs you shouldn’t have any problem getting through. Shieldmaiden has also pretty weak stats for her mana cost, but gains Warrior Armor. Also should be easy to kill. You want to make the trades generally, unless you’re really close to lethal. Not only you might pick the best trades, but it also reduces the number of minions on the board.
- The second point is really important when you try to play around Brawl. That’s one of the biggest cards in this matchup and a way for Warrior to catch up. Your mid game board states are usually very, very strong. But if you throw out too many minions, your board becomes very vulnerable to Brawl. 3 minions at the time are probably most optimal. You can actually flood the board in the mid game to force one Brawl. Brawl on turn 5 is the least effective one, because that’s all the Warrior is doing. Not only one minions survives, the Deathrattles proc, but you also get the board initiative. It’s also a nice opportunity to drop the Mysterious Challenger. You prefer to use it after the Brawl, but even if Warrior didn’t Brawl yet, it’s the best turn 6 play.
- So yeah, Mysterious Challenger turn is big. You want to have a proper board state before you drop it. You DON’T want to drop it while having too many minions. This way Warrior can get insane Brawl value and turn around the matchup. But you don’t want to drop it on an empty board. This way Warrior can guarantee to proc Avenge on your 6/6, getting it into the Big Game Hunter range. But if you drop it if you already have 2 other minions on the board, Brawl isn’t spectacular and chances that Avenge hits 6/6 are lesser.
- Loatheb is actually a great Brawl counter if you run it (I run it instead of second Redemption). While it’s a solid thing to just drop on turn 5, Warrior’s turns 5 and 6 are usually minions anyway, so you only get a 5/5 body most of time. What’s great about Loatheb in this matchup is that if you balance the board’s power just below the good Brawl value, Warrior holds one more turn, then you play something like a 2-drop and Loatheb and just seal the game this way. Remember that if you play it on turn 10, Warrior can Brawl anyway (for 10 mana).
- Warrior’s minions shouldn’t be a problem and you should get really ahead in the mid game. That’s where you want to really start pushing for damage. You want to close game relatively soon – even though you have a big tempo lead, Warrior gets a value lead in the long run. Average Warrior’s top deck is much better than yours.
- Divine Favor can really start getting value. You don’t want to spend whole turn using it. For example, dropping a minion, playing a Secret and then using Divine Favor not only means that you draw more cards, but you also get some tempo. Don’t be TOO greedy with the spell. 3-4 draws is enough. Sometimes Warrior also gets out of cards and sits at 2-3 cards in his hand in the late game, so you might actually lose the value if you wait too long.
- Justicar Trueheart makes a big difference on the Warrior’s side. Even though initially it’s a tempo loss, over time Warrior gets A LOT of Armor thanks to her. +4 per turn means that you have to put at least 8-10 attack to pressure the Warrior. It makes Warrior’s Brawl better and Shield Slam easier to get value. If Warrior drops Justicar on turn 6, you have to take advantage of that tempo loss and try to push for a lot of damage. Justicar is another reason you can’t take this matchup too slow or the Warrior outgrinds you.
Late Game Strategy
- You want to finish the game quickly after getting into the late game. The longer it takes, the higher chance that Warrior comes back is. Turning point is when you run out of cards and Warrior starts dropping big minions. It usually means that you have only 2-3 turns left in this game. You definitely want your big drops ASAP. Even the second Mysterious Challenger, which often doesn’t pull out any Secrets is nice. It gives you a big body on the board and some way to pressure the Warrior. You constantly want to apply pressure, that’s the most important thing. This way you force Warrior to make defensive moves and Hero Power every turn. Once you start putting pressure – Warrior drops his big bombs. The only good way you can deal with their big minions is Equality if you run it (it’s great in this particular matchup). Even though your Hero Power has a big edge over Warrior’s, it can only get you so far. 3-4 1/1’s mean nothing if enemy drops an Alexstrasza or Ysera.
- Your two powerful plays are Dr. Boom and Tirion Fordring. Boom isn’t the strongest thing ever in this matchup. Control Warriors always run Big Game Hunter, not to mention that it can be taken by an Execute or something like Shield Block + Armor Up + Shield Slam. Still, if you get it on curve you definitely want to drop it, especially if Warrior has used the BGH already.
- Tirion Fordring is AWESOME, probably the strongest card in this matchup (with Mysterious Challenger being second). Body is big enough to threaten a lot of damage, Divine Shield is tricky for Warrior to get through and even if it dies, you get the weapon. A lot of Control Warriors tech in the Harrison Jones, but there is a big chance that they played it earlier already or just didn’t draw it. Turn 8 Tirion is great – it puts Warrior in a difficult spot and most of the time it survives at least a turn.
- The best counter to Tirion might actually be Sylvanas Windrunner. Even though it’s delayed, it has a chance to steal the Tirion from you. You have two ways to approach the Sylvanas turn. You can kill her on your own terms. You generally want to flood the board with small stuff, Muster for Battle is great for example, you also always Hero Power. Then you run in Tirion (and probably trade off the Divine Shield) into Sylvanas. Then the Warrior gets anywhere between 50% (2 minions) to 14% (7 minions) chance to steal Tirion. You lose a lot of damage, but the risk of stealing Tirion is much lower. If you push and let Warrior make the trades, he can possibly clear rest of your board (or at least big part of it) to increase his chances to steal Tirion. Not to mention that it’s a great Brawl set-up – Brawl with Sylvanas on the board is scary, because Warrior always wins. If Sylvanas survives, it’s great and if one of your minions survive, he steals it.
- You can’t really play around Warrior’s big drops, besides one – Baron Geddon. After turn 7, try to keep your minions over 2 health, don’t trade off Shielded Minibot’s Divine Shield or proc Haunted Creeper’s Deathrattle. A lot of Secret Paladin boards are wrecked by Baron Geddon, and if it clears your board you have almost no way to kill it from your hand. Sometimes you just can’t afford to play around it, but not trading off the Deathrattles also plays around Brawl, so it gives you an additional incentive to do that.
- Coghammer has insane scaling into the late game. If it hits something small – you get an Annoy-o-Tron. Since Warrior has no Silence, it’s often going to tank 2 big hits. I’ve seen 1/1 with Taunt and Divine Shield tanking 10+ damage. And if it hits something big – you get a free trade into something like Shieldmaiden. Not to mention that you can combo it with Blessing of Kings. Play Coghammer first, then Kings the target it hit. Even if it’s a 1/1, you can get a 5/5 with Taunt and Divine Shield.
- Do not proc your Deathrattles unless you have to. You might even take less efficient trades and leave your Deathrattle minions. This plays around the Brawl – if Warrior Brawls and you have no Deathrattle minions, you end up with only 1 on the board. But if he Brawls and you didn’t kill off your own Deathrattles, you might end up with something like a surviving minion, random 2-drop and 2x 1/1. That’s a pretty strong board to start rebuilding your previous power with.
- You might mind games Warrior with a Secrets. For example, if you play Avenge or Redemption on turn 1, on empty board, some Warriors might actually equip Fiery War Axe and test for Noble Sacrifice by attacking. This way they waste an attack, which might be crucial.
- Once you start running out of cards, try to get off a Hero Power every turn. Even though 1/1’s aren’t any strong, they might pile up. One 1/1 might push for a lot of damage over course of a few turns if it doesn’t get removed. They also give you a way to negate health gain from Warrior’s Hero Power