MUA: Secret Paladin vs Secret Paladin (Mirror Matchup)

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

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 – Going first with no 1-drop

Redemption – With early drops you want to resurrect – Haunted Creeper, Shielded Minibot

Noble Sacrifice – Going first, with Knife Juggler

Consecration – When rest of your hand is good

Explanation

Mirror matchup is where you really need the early drops. If you miss the curve, you’re in a lot of trouble. The person that curves better and draws into key cards sooner usually wins in the mirror. Yet, there are some small things you have to consider, which might swing the matchup in your favor.

All the early drops are good enough. Secretkeeper is awesome in the mirror, because it gets buffed from opponent’s Secrets too. Shielded Minibot is an overall solid drop. It trades well with pretty much anything. Haunted Creeper is cool against the Muster for Battle and 1 health minions in general. Knife Juggler is probably weakest standalone drop, but sometimes you get to combo it with some other minion or even the Muster. Each knife is very valuable in this matchup (unless it hits the face) – pinging off the 1/1’s or Divine Shields is very good. Muster for Battle and Coghammer allow you to swing the tempo. The weapons are great in this matchup – both of them will get a lot of value over the next turns and the additional effects are also awesome. In this particular matchup, Muster for Battle is usually slightly better, but it really depends on the rest of your hand and the board state on turn 3.

When it comes to the situational keeps – Avenge is a very good tempo card in this matchup. If you can play it on turn 1 instead of skipping it, you’ll eventually get the value. This is the matchup where enemy is going to consistently clear your board in the early game. Avenge might make things very awkward for him. Redemption is another good Secret in this matchup. Getting one of your sticky minions back is another bit of tempo you really, really want. I wouldn’t keep it with Muster for Battle in my hand, though, because those don’t work too well together.

Last, but not least, Consecration is sometimes a keep. Since most of Secret Paladin decks run only one copy and the card is incredibly good in this matchup, keeping it in the opening hand might be solid strategy.

Matchup Overview

Mirror matchup! Even though the mirror is obviously very draw dependant, like any other mirror matchup, it’s not as mindless as you might think. First of all, the matchup REALLY depends on what list enemy runs. I generally think that the more aggressive one, with more 1-drops and 2x Divine Favor might be slightly better. The Midrange might struggle with the early tempo a little and sit with couple of dead cards in the hand. On the other hand, Midrange gets the upper hand if the game goes into the late game. Small things like running Ironbeak Owl vs Equality might also matter – the first one is good in this matchup, while the second not really. Running Zombie Chows (recently some lists have started using them) is also a big, big advantage. You don’t care about the early game damage. You want to establish strong board control and just overwhelm enemy. Mysterious Challenger is so much better drop when you are the one with board control. If you drop it vs opponent’s empty board, besides Equality + Consecration combo, they have no way to deal with it. This matchup rarely goes into the late game – usually the player that doesn’t lose the board control and gets Mysterious Challenger first wins. There are some really close matches that take 10+ turns, but that’s generally rare.

Early Strategy

  • Early game is the most important part. Enemy might do exactly the same things you do most of the time. A lot of turns will be just mirrored. If that’s the case, efficient trading and playing around Secrets is really important.
  • Tempo is the most important thing. Starting with a 1-drop is important. Secretkeeper is great. If you don’t draw into any Secrets, it might just die for free to opponent’s 2-drop, but that doesn’t matter too much. Obviously it’s not something you really want, but you can live with that. On the other hand, if you follow it with 2 Secrets on turn 2, it’s a big swing in your favor.
  • If you don’t have the Secretkeeper, playing a Secret on turn 1 when starting first is great. Avenge is the most solid one. It’s going to get value eventually and enemy can’t really counter it. Redemption is also good if you have a Shielded Minibot/Haunted Creeper/Piloted Shredder follow-up. Knife Juggler is also okay to get back, but a 3/1 might be vulnerable to 1/1’s and opponent’s Light’s Justice. Other Secrets aren’t really great turn 1 plays. Noble Sacrifice doesn’t line up too well with anything but the unbuffed Secretkeeper and Knife Juggler. I’d play it only with the Knife Juggler follow-up. This way you can protect your Juggler and possibly even get a turn 3 Muster for Battle dream. The one Juggle you get from the 2/1 spawning might come handy. If enemy tries to trade your Shielded Minibot for your Juggler and the knife hits the Minibot, it actually dies. Repentance is incredibly weak in this matchup until the late game and Competitive Spirit won’t likely get more than +1/+1 if you play it on turn 1.
  • If I had to choose between different 2-drops – I’d start with Knife Juggler against opponent’s empty board, Hero Power or Haunted Creeper. There’s a chance that your Knife Juggler is going to survive, because enemy has no way to kill it on the board. It’s a risk that’s really worth taking, because once it survives and you start throwing knives you get ahead. Against any other board state I’d probably throw the Shielded Minibot first. Haunted Creeper is the safest option, but it’s pretty low tempo one. 1 attack is not enough to trade into their drops. It however works really great if you have a turn 3 weapon follow-up. Weapon might give you the 1/2 attack you need to kill opponent’s minion and Haunted Creeper spawns two 1/1’s, giving you a nice board presence.
  • Both turn 3 plays – weapons – are great in the mirror. Not only the instant effects are nice, but the weapons allow you to swing over multiple turns. You don’t really care about your life total here, because enemy isn’t likely going to rush you down (just like you aren’t going to rush down the enemy). Try to protect your minions as much as you can and attack with the weapons. Muster for Battle gains a little more immediate value on turn 3. Three 1/1’s are awesome. Not only they might trade into opponent’s 1-drops or 2-drops, having something on the board allows you to cast the Blessing of Kings, Avenge is almost guaranteed to proc and Competitive Spirit might actually get value. Talking about buffs – if you play the Coghammer and you have Kings in your hand, you might want to keep the Divine Shield up if you can. This way you can follow-up with a Kings to gain incredible value.
  • Divine Favor on turn 3 rarely works. Unless you play the faster version of the deck, the card rarely works at all. If you both play on the curve, you should stay around the same amount of cards. Maybe later in the game it might get some value, but definitely not in the early game.

Mid Game Strategy

  • Most of the mid game plays are good in the mirror matchup. It really depends on your hand and the board state, but here are the few things you can do:
  • Piloted Shredder is probably the most solid all-around turn 4 play. It doesn’t matter what your board is or what your opponent’s board is, it’s a solid minion to just drop and not care. Actually, mirror matches are often decided by what drops out of the Shredder. Getting 1 health minion in terrible, 2 health is okay, but 3 or 4 health is probably the best (unless they have 0 attack too). High health minions can tank a lot of 1/1’s and take off Divine Shields from Shielded Minibot without dying.
  • Truesilver Champion can be great or useless, it really depends on the board. 4 attack weapon really sucks against tons of small minions, but it’s okay against Piloted Shredder and possibly some buffed minion. It’s a great way to deal with the target on which Avenge procs. But the thing is, you’re very likely to have a leftover weapon after turn 3, meaning you rarely want to destroy it to get a bigger one. Even the 1 attack weapon gets a lot of value in this matchup.
  • Blessing of Kings is okay if you have a minion on the board. Even a 1/1 can be turned into a 5/5 that can instantly attack. It gets much, much better if you have some Divine Shield minion on the board. Then you can’t really pass that up, as it trades perfectly into any opponent’s mid game drop.
  • Consecration can get crazy value on turn 4. 5x 1/1 or 2/2 and 3x 1/1 is a pretty common board going into turn 4. Dropping a minion might just give enemy good trades, so resetting the board position is fine. The problem with this play is that you give the initiative back to the opponent. It’s still better than him deciding the trades with so many minions, but you prefer to use Consecration while having some board presence yourself. This way it’s easier to take back the board control after opponent plays out his turn.
  • If you have Mysterious Challenger in your hand, you want to push for as much tempo as you can before turn 6. 2-drop + 3-drop is often the best thing you can do. On turn 5 you can star comboing Knife Juggler with the Muster for Battle on one turn. The combo works very well, you get 6 power on the board, 1/4 weapon and 3 instant random damage. 2-drop + Coghammer is also nice, it makes your board more resistant to Consecration and weapons.
  • You generally want to go for the highest tempo plays. You don’t want to use your Hero Power, but there are situations where it’s better. First one is that if you realized that you’re going for the value game, because you’re both running out of cards. If you can’t outtempo the enemy anymore, you can try to Hero Power every turn and slowly outvalue him. The second one is when you play around board clears. If you already have a board lead, instead of playing let’s say a Knife Juggler, Hero Powering might be a better idea if the other move plays right into the Consecration.
  • If you have Loatheb in your deck, playing it on turn 5 when enemy is holding a Coin is awesome. You deny the ability to play Mysterious Challenger one turn earlier and you’re the one with a good drop on the board going into the big turn.

Late Game Strategy

  • Being the one who drops Mysterious Challenger in case that Repentance is still in your deck. Being second means that Challenger is affected by Repentance, making it 6/1, effectively dealing 5 damage for free. It makes the Challenger so much easier to remove. That’s why if you go second and you draw Challenger, you might stick to your Coin and drop it on turn 5. If one player gets the Challenger and other doesn’t, it’s usually game over. It’s too much value for the Paladin to deal with and the only real counter is Equality.
  • If enemy is going into his turn 6 and you have Repentance in your hand, you might actually set it up. If he drops Challenger – that’s great. If he doesn’t – well, it’s probably even better, because you don’t have to deal with all the Secrets.
  • Dr. Boom gets insane value in the mirror. I have seen Secret Paladin teching in the Big Game Hunter only once or twice, so there is a huge chance that the main body is going to stick around.
  • Tirion Fordring is probably even better. If enemy doesn’t have an Ironbeak Owl, every part of the card is so great. 6/6 body is big enough to contest most of the opponent’s mid game (and possibly even late game), Divine Shield makes trades great, Taunt is good if enemy decides to go for the face and you can’t stop them and the 5/3 weapon is awesome both when going for value and when going for the aggressive game (it’s half of opponent’s health over 3 turns). Setting up Redemption before dropping Tirion gets extra value. Often it’s pushing your advantage over the top, but sometimes it’s actually necessary.
  • Divine Favor really sucks in this matchup. If you draw it into the late game, don’t be greedy with it. Even cycling it for 1 card is good enough. If enemy is completely out of cards and just topdecking, which might happen in the late game, Divine Favor might actually just sit dead in your hand.
  • Generally, Secret Paladin mirrors rarely last to the late game. Actually, the most common reason that games last that long is either that both players draw badly (and don’t draw into their late game stuff) or both players draw perfectly (and just trade the blows). Both of those scenarios are pretty uncommon. Usually the player that got the mid game tempo lead wins the game by just pushing the enemy or the player that draws more late game threats than the other wins after few turns of 1 for 1’s.

Tips

  • Playing the right Secrets at the right time and playing around opponent’s Secrets is a big part of whoever wins the mid game. For example, Noble Sacrifice is bad if opponent has a Light’s Justice equipped. Redemption is bad if you have 1/1’s on the board. Competitive Spirit is bad if you know that opponent can clear the most of your board easily. Repentance is bad before the key turns. Avenge is probably the only Secret that is pretty much never bad to play.
  • When it comes to playing around opponent’s Secrets: If you have a Light’s Justice equipped, start by attacking with it to test for Noble Sacrifice. Before killing opponent’s minion, take out the Divine Shields. In case it’s the avenge, Divine Shields might get extra value. Start off by killing opponent’s smallest and least annoying minion in case the Secret is Redemption. If you intend to play more than one minion on a given turn, open up with the lowest health one first – this way Repentance gets least value. Shielded Minibot and Haunted Creeper are best to proc the Repentance, but Secretkeeper is also fine if you don’t have anything else. If you tested for the other Secrets and they didn’t proc, or you just couldn’t test for every Secret, but you suspect enemy might have Competitive Spirit out, try to clear as many minions as you can. If you clear the whole board – Secret just doesn’t proc. In some niche situations you might deliberately leave one 1/1 minion for the Secret to proc and gain almost no value instead of possibly getting more value later if enemy somehow clears your board and floods the board. It’s usually wrong, but you might at least consider it.
  • Remember that Secretkeeper gets +1/+1 when the Secret is played, not when YOU play the Secret. It means that opponent’s Secrets buff your Secretkeeper and vice versa. If enemy has one on the board, consider killing it first before playing Secrets. It’s a pretty common mistake in the mirror matchup. Sometimes playing a Secret even if it’s going to buff opponent’s Secretkeeper is fine, just be aware that you can pump opponent’s minion out of range of your other minions and removals quite easily.

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