MUA: Secret Paladin vs Midrange Druid

This is the matchup analysis of Secret Paladin versus Midrange 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 […]

Introduction

This is the matchup analysis of Secret Paladin versus Midrange 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

Avenge and Noble Sacrifice – with Secretkeeper

Piloted Shredder – With Coin and 2-drop.

Mysterious Challenger – With Coin and strong early game.

Explanation

When it comes to cards you keep – you want all your early drops to pressure the Druid. It’s an easy matchup if you get ahead in the early game, so you mulligan heavily for your early drops. Secretkeeper, even though the base stats are weak, can come handy if you draw a lot of your Secrets early in the game. Having a lot of them in the early game is bad, but if you manage to buff you Secretkeeper at the same time, it might help you with snowballing. You might actually keep the strongest early game Secrets along with the Secretkeeper to buff it. Piloted Shredder is pretty strong against Druid. Besides Wrath, they have no clear way to deal with the first body. And Mysterious Challenger turn is very big – it’s often the point when you really start winning the game. Druid has really hard time dealing with all the Secrets. If you play him on turn 5, you might just swing the game around. That’s why if your starting hand is good and you have Coin, you might just keep it. If you do – you want to throw all your Secrets away, because you prefer to drop Challenger first to get them out.

Matchup Overview

When it comes  to the Midrange Druid, the matchup is slightly in Secret Paladin’s favor. It’s definitely not one-sided, though, and heavily depends on the Druid’s starting hand. It’s very hard to stop their ramp as Secret Paladin and if they do have more mana to work with or early Innervate tempo plays, you might have really hard time winning the match. Keeping board control is the most thing in this matchup. You don’t have to rush for the face damage, once you drop the Mysterious Challenger you should win the match in 2-3 turns. Early damage is not as important, meaning you should take the good trades, unless enemy really has terrible start and you snowballed hard. If you get good curve and Challenger on turn 6, you should win the game pretty easily. But if the Druid ramps up and takes the mid game, it’s going to be very tough.

Early Strategy

  • Midrange Druid’s early game has become much more consistent thanks to the Living Roots and Darnassus Aspirant. Those are things you need to have in mind on the first turns. While Living Roots aren’t a big threat, it can sometimes trade 1 for 1 with your early drops. If enemy opens with Living Roots, your best bet are Shielded Minibot or Haunted Creeper, because enemy can’t just take them out.
  • Darnassus Aspirant is the most important card Druid can get at the start. As Secret Paladin, you have no way to deal with it on the turn it’s dropped unless you’ve coined out the Knife Juggler. Then you definitely want to trade. Another way to deal with it is Secretkeeper + 2 Secrets. But since you generally mulligan the Secrets away, it’s very rare to get that start. Darnassus Aspirant can snowball whole game for the Druid and you definitely have to kill it. That’s your highest priority. The sad part is that you have no clear way to do that besides Knife Juggler.
  • If you have only a single 2-drop, you use it. But if you have more than 1, it’s often hard to choose. Shielded Minibot is probably the best one. It’s a well-rounded one, it can trade into Aspirant with the help of one of your 3 mana weapons and enemy won’t likely have a good way to kill it. Haunted Creeper is the safest one – you can be sure that enemy won’t get rid of it. It also has positive synergy with Knife Juggler. You can open up with the Creeper and then follow-up with Juggler. If you trade-off the Creeper, you’re going to get 2 random knife shots. Knife Juggler is the most aggressive option – it threatens most damage and it can actually trade into the Darnassus Aspirant. The problem with Knife Juggler play is that it’s the easiest thing to kill. Living Roots, Wrath or Innervate + Keeper of the Grove deals with it.
  • Talking about Innervate – that’s a second card that can snowball Druid’s early game. This time you can’t really do anything about it. Two worst things that can happen are probably Innervate + Keeper of the Grove on your Knife Juggler or just Innervate + Druid of the Claw. It’s hard to deal with those so early in the game – the first one just gets a free kill and can trade for the rest of the board and the second one is almost impossible to kill because of the 6 health. If he Innervates something, try to kill it in the most efficient way. It should get easier on turn 4, where you get the access to Blessing of Kings or Truesilver Champion. If you run Equality (which is great in this particular matchup) it might also get value here – killing that 4/6 Bear is very important.
  • Your best turn 3 are the weapons. Muster for Battle is more all-around. You can just play it on the empty board and start swinging face. 3x 1/1 are hard to deal with if Druid has no Swipe. And if he has Swipe, you don’t mind that. It’s a very passive play and you get the board initiative again – you prefer him to Swipe over something like Shredder. The second weapon (Coghammer) is probably even stronger, but it requires a minion on the board. It doesn’t have to be a big minion – getting the Divine Shield + Taunt on 1/1 is also good enough. It stops enemy attacks and it’s a great target for buffs.
  • When it comes to your Secrets, you generally don’t want to get them in your early hand. Even if you get the Secretkeeper, you just prefer a solid curve. But one thing the Secrets are good at is fixing your curve. Since they cost 1, instead of floating one mana you can just fit in the Secret. Even on turn 1 – that’s a nice tempo move. Of if you don’t have a 3-drop, you can just go for a 2-drop + Secret. When it comes to the Secrets you want to play – Avenge is always a solid one. Enemy rarely can play around it and he’s going to proc it at some point anyway. Redemption is good if you don’t play on playing any 1/1’s. It works great with Deathrattle or Divine Shield minions – Shielded Minibot, Haunted Creeper or Piloted Shredder. Noble Sacrifice is great on turn 3. While the enemy can proc it with his Hero Power, you actually want him to do that. He floats 1 mana and wastes his whole turn on proccing your 1 mana Secret. Playing it on turn 1 is kinda risky, because it doesn’t work too well against 1/1’s from Living Roots. Noble Sac has also positive synergy with Knife Juggler – when the 2/1 procs you get one knife. In a rare situation where he uses a 1/1 minion to proc it and the knife kills that minion, it actually gets to live and you have a 2/1 on the board. Competitive Spirit and Repentance are generally weak in the early game. The first one can only be combo’ed with Haunted Creeper and Muster for Battle, while the second one gets almost no value unless enemy decides to Innervate out something big.

Mid Game Strategy

  • Mid Game should be in Druid’s favor. He should have easier time dealing with your mid game drops and his are generally stronger. It doesn’t mean that you can’t win this. Blessing of Kings is incredibly strong if you have some board presence. It allows you to kill his 5-drops for free. And even if he gets a Silence after, your minion already got value. You don’t even need it on the Divine Shield. Generally, you want the tempo plays that allow you to control the board.
  • Truesilver Champion is also good, but once again – if you have the board Control. Not only you can’t kill some of his drops with Truesilver alone, but if you just let’s say use 2 Truesilver charges on the Piloted Shredder, it’s way too slow.
  • Consecration is generally bad in this matchup. They rarely have low health targets in the mid game. You might go for the Consecration to kill their Shade of Naxxramas on the turn it’s played, before it grows and kills your stuff for free, but that’s a slow move and you should do that only if you have some board.
  • Piloted Shredder is your best mid game drop in case you run no 5-drop. Some Secret Paladin decks include Sludge Belcher to have more smooth curve. I play Loatheb in my deck (instead of second Redemption) and it works very well against Druid. You want to have the board control going into turn 6. It’s much easier to answer the Mysterious Challenger if it’s dropped on an empty board than if you have some other minions.
  • Even though you can use your health as a resource, remember to not get too low – especially if you have no Challenger that can put pressure on the Druid. Druid’s main win condition is the combo and if you get to low he will just kill you on turn 9. Try to stay above 15 health all the time.
  • If you have the late game or Divine Favor in your hand – you want to go for the tempo plays. If your hand sucks and you didn’t draw any of your big stuff, you want to go for the value. In the first case – just drop most power on the board every turn. In the second case – try to play it slower, play around enemy removals (mostly around Swipe) and Hero Power every turn. You want to stall the game until you draw into your big stuff.
  • Innervate in the mid game is also very strong. If Druid gets out Ancient of Lore or Dr. Boom on turn 5, you might have really hard time. Ancient of Lore isn’t that scary – even though it draws Druid the cards, you won’t likely outvalue the Druid. If he goes for the slow, value plays you can try to punish him and start playing faster, go face and push for damage. Big card advantage won’t help him if he’ll just die to your pressure.

Late Game Strategy

  • Turns 6-8 are heavily in your favor if you drew the right cards. Your broken trio – Mysterious Challenger, Dr. Boom and Tirion Fordring. If you managed to win the mid game AND you have your big drops, you should be in a great shape.
  • Turn 6 is usually a turning point. If you drew the Challenger and drop it while having some board presence, Druid has very hard time dealing with it. Dropping it on the empty board is also fine, but Druid might have much easier time countering it. The problem is that if it’s your only minion on the board, once Druids procs the Noble Sacrifice, Avenge is guaranteed to hit the 6/6. Meaning it puts it into Big Game Hunter range. If enemy does that – he almost completely counters your whole turn 6. Noble Sac was wasted on the Hero Power, Avenge wasted on a minion that got killed for free, Redemption got you a 2/1 that also should be easily killed if enemy has anything on the board, Repentance procs on a 4/2 minion and Competitive Spirit might not proc at all or just hits your 2/1. That’s the worst case scenario. If you have some board presence, Avenge can hit something else and even if it doesn’t, you still have other stuff to contest the board. He might also not have the Big Game Hunter, which is even better.
  • Opponent’s turn after you dropped Mysterious Challenger should be relatively weak (unless it’s the BGH counter turn). If he drops one big guy – Repentance will put it into the range. If he procs Repentance with something small, he won’t likely have enough mana to play something big alongside it. That’s where you start pushing. You got very strong turn, enemy got weak turn, if you put some more minions on the board, Druid has no chance. It’s the class that has very hard time coming into the board. You can’t really overextend, because it has no AoE board clear that’s actually good against big minions. So just play the most power on the board every turn.
  • On turn 7 most power is usually the Dr. Boom. And that’s an awesome card. Even if you didn’t put Mysterious Challenger on the board last turn, Boom is still going to do a lot of work. On the other hand, if enemy is the one to play Boom first, you have very hard time killing it with this deck. No Big Game Hunter means that the 7/7 needs to tank a lot of damage. And you can’t really just leave it on the board unless you’re at very high health and you’re threatening lethal. Boom has great synergy with Savage Roar. Even without Force of Nature, Dr. Boom deals 17 damage just like that. Try to clear his board no matter what. Against Druid, you never know. He might have something weird like double combo that just OTKs you with one minion on the board.
  • Tirion Fordring is incredibly strong turn 8. Or it’s a very weak turn 8. It all depends on whether enemy has the Keeper of the Grove. He won’t likely keep those for your Tirion – he NEEDS the Silence or 2 damage in the mid game most of the time. He might keep the Keeper only if he got two of them or if he just drew it before you play Tirion. If it doesn’t get Silenced, Druid has no real way to get through it easily. And when he does – the 5/3 Ashbringer just wrecks him. He can’t really tank 15 damage, that usually means he loses. Still, even if he Silences it – if you’re ahead on the board, 6/6 might be just good enough. And when he does Keeper of the Grove, he usually blocks his biggest drops.
  • It’s very unlikely that you won’t draw into your big drops by the time you get into the late game, but it might happen. Then Divine Favor is usually your saving grace. You should get out of steam really fast and drawing even 2 or 3 cards is big. Not to mention that if you go for the Divine Favor just after Druid has gone for the Ancient of Lore card draw, you should get much more. In case you don’t get your big drops, you rely on your mid game stuff. While you can do some tempo swings, Druid is going to outvalue you eventually.
  • When it comes to Druid’s big drops – two that are worst for you are Dr. Boom and Ancient of War. When it comes to the Boom, while you might have a relatively easy way to kill the 7/7 with buffs and weapons, since you run a lot of small drops, the bomb might often kill 3 or even 4 small minions. Ancient of War is very hard if you run no Silence or Equality. In case you have Ironbeak Owl or Equality in your deck, those are the cards you want to keep it for. 10 health on the War means that you need to put a lot of resources into killing it and 5 attack means that your minions aren’t likely going to stay alive after the trades.
  • Repentance gets incredible value in the late game. If you have it in your hand, you might keep it and play it before their turn 7. Hitting Ancient of War or Dr. Boom is awesome – you’re dealing 9 or 6 damage for 1 mana. But even getting an almost free kill on Ancient of Lore is good enough. If enemy will be forced to play around it and play something smaller – that’s also fine, you denied his powerful turn 7.
  • Coghammer also has nice scaling. If you have one big minion on the board, for example Mysterious Challenger, playing Coghammer gives you a powerhouse. Enemy can’t ignore it because of the Taunt and can’t really kill it because of the Divine Shield. If enemy has something bigger on the board, you can also take a great trade to deny Druid taking your Shield for “free” with Wrath or something like that.
  • Setting up Redemption before playing Tirion Fordring might also be game-winning move. Getting the 6/1 with Divine Shield and Taunt back is big. Not to mention that you’re getting refreshed weapon when it dies.

Tips

  • If you don’t lose in the Mid Game and draw to at least one of your big threats, you should be set. The things you should worry about most (the ways Druid can win) in this matchup are: Druids snowballing the early game with ramp and tempo from Innervate, Druid taking over the board in the mid game thanks to the high value, hard to kill drops, Druid sneaks some damage in the mid game and finishes you with the combo, Druid overwhelming you with their big drops, because you didn’t draw your own in time. Most of those things can’t be played around, that’s why the matchup depends on draws really heavily (like most of the Secret Paladin matchups, honestly).
  • Sometimes Druids tech in the Harrison Jones, but that’s pretty rare these days. With the new TGT additions, Druids have much less space for the tech cards. Meaning you don’t really want to play around it.
  • If you play the Loatheb or Coghammer and Druids gets you pretty low, they’re great before turn 9 (combo turn). Taunt + Divine Shield requires at least 6 damage from the combo to get through (even if it lands on a 1/1, if it’s something bigger it might be more) and Loatheb completely stops the combo for one turn.
  • If you play the Equality, you might want to keep it for a big swing turn with Consecration. It gets a lot of value in the mid/late game against the Druid. Another great thing you can combo it with in the late game is Knife Juggler + Muster for Battle. On turn 8 you can get all enemy minions down to 1 health and then get 3 random juggles. Unless you’re terribly unlucky, you should clear big part of opponent’s board.
  • Place the Piloted Shredder in the middle of your minions. While it’s a very rare scenario, getting out Dire Wolf Alpha or Flametongue Totem might get incredible value in this deck and it’s best when placed in the middle (so it affects both sides).
  • Try to use Blessing of Kings on 2 attack minions. This way you get them up to 6 attack – enough to contest anything Druid might play in the mid game, but not in the range of Big Game Hunter.

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