N’zoth Paladin: By The Holy Light!

Paladin had been ruling the Meta since The Grand Tournament came out, and with taking the spotlight leading to Secret Paladin becoming the king of Hearthstone – Standard put the future of the class in jeopardy and with good reason. Paladins became one of the worst hit classes with Goblins vs Gnomes cards phasing out. , […]

Introduction

Paladin had been ruling the Meta since The Grand Tournament came out, and with Mysterious Challenger taking the spotlight leading to Secret Paladin becoming the king of Hearthstone – Standard put the future of the class in jeopardy and with good reason. Paladins became one of the worst hit classes with Goblins vs Gnomes cards phasing out. Knife Juggler, which was part of nearly every Paladin deck also saw a nerf. In addition to Midrange, Aggro and Secret Paladin getting hit, Murloc Paladin was also staring at a bleak future with Old Murk-Eye being removed from Standard but then came nzoth-the-Corruptor.

Deck Mechanics

Whispers of the Old Gods brought forth N’zoth, which has one of the most powerful battlecries in the game. Now one thing that we all can agree on is the fact that most cards that see play are the ones that have an impact on the game on the turn they are played in. N’zoth by himself summons a bunch of Deathrattle cards that have died in the current game and you get a massive board. In classes other than Paladin, opponents may just choose to ignore everything and go for an all-out barrage of face damage – but the very existence of Tirion Fordring, makes N’zoth be much more effective in Paladin than any other class. And there is plenty of support for N’zoth too, you have access to removals like Aldor Peacekeeper, Humility, Keeper of Uldaman, Equality, Consecration and so much more. All of this comes together to make N’zoth Paladin one of the most potent decks to come out of Whispers of The Old Gods.

Card Choices: The Deathrattles

These are the cards you want to serve as your late game and create the Deathrattle theme for your deck. Needless to say, N’zoth is the Old God you want to build your deck around. The goal of the deck is not create massive boards with N’zoth, but to bring back powerful Deathrattle minions that are great on their own. Paladin has the best Deathrattle minion there is in form of Tirion Fordring and what’s better than being able to summon this iconic character from the Warcraft universe twice in one game?

Nzoth-The-Corruptor: This is your final win condition if all else fails. You nullify all of your opponents’ threats and use your control tools to reach the lategame. There are very few removals in the game that can deal with your minions and when N’zoth brings your big legendaries back, it is pretty much game over!

Sylvanas Windrunner: With Silence being heavily nerfed right before the new expansion, the banshee queen is a direct counter to C’thun decks and it works wonders in control matchups.

Cairne Bloodhoof: Good old Cairne went out of favor due to the meta being too fast for him but he is back in action and seeing play in quite a few decks which makes fans of our the much loved Tauren feel great. Whispers of the Old Gods has brought back quite a few minions that saw hardly any play and Cairne is just one of them.

Tirion Fordring: Epic music, epic artwork, crazy good effect – what’s not to like? Outside the aesthetics of the card itself, Tirion is hailed as the most powerful class legendary in the game and with silence effects being nerfed, it’s stronger than ever. You not only have to deal with a Divine Shield, but then you have to get past the 6/6 body and if the Paladin who plays him is at high health you have potentially 3 swings of the Ashbringer coming at your face for 15 damage. The fact that Tirion is a powerful taunt makes a whole lot of difference to N’zoth Paladin. It creates an immediate impact on the board.

Other Deathrattle cards: While you might be tempted to get a larger impact N’zoth on board, it’s better to have limited Deathrattle minions that are very powerful on their own and not be too greedy. If you are eager to add some more minions to the mix nonetheless you can consider Corrupted Healbot which is a great control card in the mid-game. When it comes to replacements you have just 3 major ones to compliment N’zoth and there aren’t quite any replacements available. However, if you are missing either Sylvanas and Cairne and happen to have Ysera and Chillmaw then you can opt in for a Dragon based N’zoth deck.

Card Choices – Powering the deck

Forbidden Healing: This is currently the most flexible healing card in the game. Just like the other Forbidden cards, you can adjust the effect depending on how much mana you are willing to invest into healing yourself or a minion. You can heal up to 20 HP for 10 mana late into the game or get a quick 8-10 heal for 4-5 mana in the mid-game before dropping your Taunts.

Equality: On its own it might not do much unless you have plenty of Silver Hand Recruits on board to clear stuff off. But when you combo it with Wild Pyromancer, it is a 4 mana full board clear! The combo was very popular in the past but it fell out of favor with many sticky Deathrattles becoming popular, but with their departure in Standard and plenty of big minions being played, there is no reason to not run two copies of Equality.

Doomsayer: Mostly a fringe card commonly seen in Freeze Mage for the most part, this little guy has been piloting shredders for quite some time but now he’s seeing play as a standalone card in a ton of decks. Dropping him early in the game has the possibility of a board clear and you also gain initiative. In the late game he can prevent your opponent from playing their big threats and Doomsayer allows you to make your move first. It’s also a great follow up to Pyro-Equality or Equality-Consecration combos to ensure your opponent doesn’t spam the board immediately.

Wild Pyromancer: It is one of my personal favorite 2 drops and it has a truly unique effect. Most commonly seen in Priest decks across all of 2015, he is a staple again in Paladin decks and the combo with Equality is just too good. Sometimes you can do plenty of cool combos with Humility, Solemn Vigil and other spells.

Aldor Peacekeeper: He has been keeping the peace in Hearthstone for quite some time and with threats like Flamewreathed Faceless and Edwin VanCleef coming out early you can shut down the early game as well as the late game quite easily. Good old Stampeding Kodo can also be used to combo with Aldor in the late game to remove pretty much anything at all completely.

Truesilver Champion: Our favorite butter knife has been included in every single competitive Paladin deck in existence and for good reason. Healing is hard to come by without losing tempo, being able to take out two threats quite comfortably and also negating a bit of damage at the same time is just great. Keeper of Uldaman synergizes quite well with Truesilver as well allowing you to take out anything at all unless there is a taunt in the way.

Consecration: Cheap and efficient AoE. While it might not be the most powerful board clear there is, when you combo it with Equality or Wild Pyromancer, you can expect great results.

Ragnaros-Lightlord: Ragnaros, Lightlord is one of the most powerful class legendaries to come forth this expansion and the fact that you not only get a massive 8 heal but you also get to attack unlike Ragnaros the Firelord. He swats insects and heals them

Solemn Vigil: The card might not be that good on its own but when you combo it with AoE effects or a Pyromancer-Equality-Solemn Vigil combo you can potentially get a 4 mana board clear and also get to draw 2 cards which gives you the initiative quite easily. One copy of the card is generally good enough. It is also a great follow up to a Doomsayer clear, allowing you to draw 2 cards for less than its actual cost.

Card Choices – Tech Cards

These cards that are listed below are mostly tech cards and you should choose to include or exclude them solely based on matchups. One thing that makes N’zoth Paladin so good is that you have plenty of flex slots unlike something like Patron Warrior or Control Priest. You have more room to tinker with things and better your win rates vs bad matchups.

Acidic Swamp Ooze: With a turn 5 Doomhammer coming at your face all the time in the current meta, Rogues having regained their popularity and Tempo Warriors being the next big thing you can get decent value out of this basic card and you’re almost bound to get value out of the card if you draw it early enough vs any weapon class. Do be careful about how you spend it though, consider cards like Malkorok and Gorehowl that are seeing play and time your Ooze accordingly.

Harrison Jones: In a nutshell he is better than Acidic Swamp Ooze, but, you also have to consider the fact that if you destroy Doomhammers you are highly likely to burn a few cards and if you are in a control mirror matchup you have sufficient cards in hand most of the time anyway and it’s advisable to draw as little as possible to close out the fatigue game. Depending on your matchups you can choose to switch between Ooze and Harrison. If you happen to run less card draw and more minions then you should definitely include the Indiana Jones inspired card to your deck in a weapon heavy meta.

Spellbreaker: The card is currently the best option for silencing minions for control decks and it can help you get rid of pesky buffs or remove effects like Humility from your minions. You should think carefully about its inclusion because it can be a dead card quite often depending on your matchups. Regardless, having a copy of Silence is really good if you can make the space for it.

Corrupted Healbot: If you want to run less card draw and have more minions instead then this is one of the top-tier cards you can get in your deck. The card by itself if quite powerful and the Deathrattle is nothing to worry about because you want to go for the long game anyway.

Humility: When you want spot removal for your N’zoth Paladin deck Humility contests Keeper of Uldaman. From personal experience I have found Humility to be much better if you run Kodos in your deck because Keeper of Uldaman gets very awkward to play in many cases. You can choose to run one or two copies depending on what you are facing.

Stampeding Kodo: One of the cards that made a comeback this expansion, it can take care of popular cards like Bloodhoof Brave, Imp Gang Boss, Darkshire Councilman or even a pesky Flamewaker without requiring any trades at all. You can combo it with Humility and Aldor to get great value out of it in the late game.

Justicar Trueheart: Justicar is a card you want to run only if you are facing a ton of Control Warriors, N’zoth Paladins or Control Priests. They have so much spot removal that you are most likely going to lose your big minions quite easily and Justicar singlehandedly wins you games versus these two decks without breaking a sweat. The value of chip damage and synergy with Equality makes your upgraded hero power quite good in any control matchup.

Ragnaros the Firelord: Well if you are running the redeemed Ragnaros, why not run the fiery version as well for killing some insects? He’s quite good in control matchups and even vs aggro. Many state the fact that Ragnaros can be evaded by just spamming the board. Well, the best way to play the Firelord is by following up with a board clear in case your opponent spams the board allowing you to have total control over the game. You have to be careful about playing him though in control matchups due to the presence of Sylvanas in nearly every mid range or control deck these days.

Elise Starseeker: An awkward inclusion but a great card to include for winning fatigue games. Since not too many minions are played in control matchups your health pool and card advantage should not be a big concern allowing you to transform dead cards into potentially good legendaries.

Acolyte of Pain: You are unlikely to get too much value out of it in most games but you do have the tools to get greedy with Acolyte of Pain. You can drop him during Pyromancer + Humility/Consecration/Solemn Vigil combos to get those extra cards out and gain card advantage. You should understand how you want to pace your gameplay. You can either go for aggressive draw looking for removals or go for the long game. If you are heavy on draw I recommend adding Elise because if you set up a massive advantage by nullifying all major threats all you need to do is drop the Golden Monkey and win the game with ease.

Lay on Hands: Lay on Hands has been an auto-include card in many Paladin decks but it Forbidden Healing seems to be a more flexible choice because it is better than aggro and you do not want to draw much in control matchups. It still is a great card to play if you run less card draw and more minions and it can help you stage comebacks, if you feel the need for it you can always add it in.

Matchups and Mulligans:

Druid:

Ramp/C’thun: Should be a fair matchup unless they ramp up hard and you do not draw your answers fast enough. You can choose to not keep the Pyro Equality combo in hand during the mulligan and try to fish for your Aldor Peacekeeper, Truesilver Champion and Doomsayers. You want to dominate the board as quickly as possible because Druids are low on removals and it can help out quite a bit.

Aggro/Beast/Token: You most definitely want to keep their board clear as much as possible. Fall too behind and you are going to lose hard. Play Doomsayers for tempo and do not shy away from dropping them on curve to prevent them from getting the upper hand. Despite the pressure they can build the matchup should be in your favor.

Hunter:

Face: The matchup is fairly simple. Keep your board clears, weapons, Ooze and Doomsayer ready and you’re good to go. Not very hard to stabilize at all and you have enough heal to keep them at bay. Keep those beasts away from the board to avoid Kill Command on your face if you are too low.

Mid Range: This is really hard to win sometimes if they have the perfect curve and Call of the Wild is probably the best spell to come out in Whispers of the Old Gods. The current Mid Range Hunter runs Doomsayers and Tundra Rhino so be sure to be prepared for them and have removal ready. Do not be too hasty when it comes to proc-ing secrets and play around obvious plays like Houndmaster and Deadly Shot (another card that’s become popular in the deck). If you face too many Hunters it is recommended that you add a Spellbreaker.

Mage:

Tempo: One of your worst matchups if you fail to stabilize early. Thanks to Cult Sorcerer, even a Doomsayer on turn 2 is not safe enough because they can just use an Arcane Blast and kill it off. You need to stabilize early else the matchup is lost right there. Keep your Truesilver, Doomsayer and Pyromancer+Equality combo if you get it in hand. Some Tempo Mage lists are running Polymorph so try to bait it out for something less impactful like Cairne or Sylvanas instead of losing the game outright by getting your Tirion transformed.

Freeze: Freeze Mage should be highly favorable provided you deal with Archmage Antonidas, Emperor Thaurissan and Alexstrasza and regain the board. However, the Forgotten Torch version can kill you from 20+ health so you need to be highly proactive in keeping in mind how much your opponent can burst you for depending on his hand size and his Emperor tick. Forbidden Healing and Ragnaros, Lightlord are cards you want once your opponent cuts down your health to ensure you can outlast them. Keep your card draw and spot removal in hand, make sure Emperor Thaurissan does not get more than 1 proc. Both the Ragnaros are your best bests to assure wins in this matchup and you need to drop them quickly enough so they spend their burn removing them, allowing you to avoid potential OTKs with Bloodmage Thalnos and burn spells.

Paladin:

Aggro: The Divine Shield Aggro Paladin can be quite annoying to deal with thanks to their resistance to board clears. Always keep Wild Pyromancer in hand when you face the deck to help popping those shields. Do not draw too hard if you have sufficient removals because Divine Favor can really turn games around. Do not shy away from using Forbidden healing even when it won’t do anything to combo with Wild Pyromancer and clear minions or Divine Shields. Try to reduce the value of Rallying Blade as much as possible.

N’zoth: Ooze and Spellbreaker are of real help in this matchup and Justicar and straight out win games for you. If you happen to have Justicar and your opponent doesn’t, you get a massive advantage. The games are going to go to fatigue most of the time so be careful about how you approach your game. Save 1 copy of Pyro Equality until N’zoth comes down and expect your opponent to do the same so be conservative about your cards while negating pressure. Keep Doomsayer and Aldors in hand and Truesilver Champion if you have the coin. Do not play into Sylvanas too hard and maintain card advantage at all costs.

Priest:

Control/Nzoth: Regardless of which control variant of Priest it is (N’zoth or classic control variants with Elise) the matchup should be in your favor if you are running Elise or Justicar. Other than Priests that have burst to kill you with Prophet Velen and other shenanigans, you should be able to grind it out. You want to add pressure with minions and try to make them spend both instances of Auchenai Soulpriest and Circle of Healing. N’zoth Priest can be a problem however sometimes if Shifting Shade gives them something handy and you end up having to deal with your own Tirion Twice. They can get the upper hand quite easily so be careful on how you approach the game. Mulligan for early game pressure and keep Justicar and Doomsayer in hand if you get them. Entomb is something that is very hard to play around and you will have to end up sacrificing something like Cairne or Sylvanas to Priests.

Rogue:

Miracle: It is the worst matchup for the deck and Valeera’s hero power is superior to yours. Even if you manage to keep their minions at bay they can manage to burst you down from 20+ health. Have your board clear ready for a Gadgetzan Auctioneer and Conceal combo. Ideally you want to keep your health pool above what Valeera’s board and double Cold Blood and double Eviscerate can do to you. If you can get aggressive enough you can rush her down. Do not shy away from dropping a Stampeding Kodo on curve or playing Doomsayer on board to keep things in your favor. Keep Aldor and Truesilver in hand to deal with Azure Drake and Tomb Pillager.

Malygos: This is not as popular as Miracle Rogue but the matchup can be just as bad if they draw enough burst. Your approach remains the same for any Rogue archetype and you need to have a ‘kill on sight’ approach and remove everything you can. Saving a Pyromancer with Equality can help just in case they stealth their Malygos.

Shaman:

Mid Range/Aggro: The approach to beating Shamans remains the same for both aggro and mid range archetypes. Be aggressive with your Doomsayer and keep board clears ready because their early game is the strongest. Keep Acidic Swamp Ooze in your starting hand at all times along with Aldor to take care of Flamewreathed Faceless or Thing from Below. Consecration is not that great since most of their minions are 3 health and you should be looking for Pyro Equality or early Doomsayers instead. The mid range matchup can be slightly hard if you do not draw well and they get enough cards out of their Mana Tide Totem. Do not allow too many totems to spawn because Thunderbluff Valiant and Bloodlust can end games for you, Hex also negates the value you can get out of N’zoth so try to pressure them into using Hex sub-optimally.

Warlock:

Reno: You should be able to grind out your opponent unless he is running the Leeroy One-Turn-Kill combo which can be devastating for you and it’s really hard to win vs the deck. You do not want to overcommit into Twisting Nether or Hellfire and you should be able to comfortably handle their mid game threats with so much removal. Justicar is quite good in this matchup as well and you will be able to grind through and take them to fatigue. Harrison is a bad card to have when they play Lord Jaraxxus because you will most likely draw yourself into fatigue earlier than your opponent.

Zoo: Other than Darkshire Councilman (which is very hard to deal with due to 5 health) there is no major threat that you cannot nullify vs Zoo. Make sure you do not get low enough to be burst down by Leeroy and keep clearing minions proactively. Once you stabilize it should be an easy victory from there. Pyromancer + Equality, Doomsayer and Consecration are of great help. Stampeding Kodo is quite strong vs Imp Gang Boss and can nullify Doomguard and Sea Giant on turn 6 with Humility. They have no answers for large boards so feel free to over-commit to the board.

Warrior:

Control Warrior: Paladin is quite good vs heavy control decks and even though you do not have armor gain, you do have annoying board spam in form of Silver Hand Recruits that win games vs Control Warrior. Other than overcommitment to Brawl there is not much else that can go wrong. Keep your health pool high enough to avoid a Grommash Hellscream lethal. Overall, it is a fairly good matchup and you should be able to deal with the deck comfortably. For C’thun based Warriors a timely Sylvanas and Aldor + Stampeding Kodo can help out a lot. Some lists run Doomcaller so you might need to deal with C’thun twice. If Gorehowl is commonly used in control lists then you should save your Ooze if possible. Try drawing out both Brawls before dropping N’zoth.

Patron: One of the best matchups, all you need to do is have answers for their Patrons in time and it is easy sailing for them. The only way they can beat you is by being highly aggressive and Equality is what you want no matter what. Timely clears simply end games and you should not be having a hard time unless you draw badly. Keep Truesilver, Equality, Wild Pyromancer and Doomsayers in hand if you get them. Armor gain should not be a concern for you so you can hold onto your Truesilver and leave that Armorsmith alone.

Tempo: This is a very polarizing matchup. It’s a race between you having removals for their threats and them having board presence and good Battle Rage turns. You want to fish for Truesilver, Aldor, Doomsayer to get those threats out of the way. The late game can be hard to deal with in form of Cairne, Varian Wrynn, Sylvanas Windrunner and Grommash. The advantage you have in this matchup is that they do not run Brawl, which means you can spam the board without having to worry about losing everything in one turn.

Building your N’zoth Paladin

Knowing your matchups is the first step to building a great N’zoth Paladin deck. The fact that you have access to so many flexible tech slots allows you to change your deck quite easily depending on what you are facing. Some players have found success running Eadric The Pure, as it fills in the 7 drop slot. The deck is viable not only on ladder but also in tournaments.

Ladder Experience

I’ve never used the deck to climb ranks but I’ve used it directly on the Legend ladder itself after hitting legend in May 2016. I peaked at rank 600 or so using the deck exclusively from rank 2400+ on the Legend ladder. The deck is quite consistent vs Shamans in general and the only thing that can hold you back is bad draws. If you happen to be facing a lot of Shamans you need to tech in more card draw in form of Acolytes and an extra Solemn Vigil to ensure you are never too behind due to a bad starting hand. Difficult matchups include Miracle/Malygos Rogue, Tempo Mage and N’zoth Priest. Mirror matches require lots of patience and you need to think out every move. Other than these matchups everything else seems winnable and I had no difficulties at all.

Conclusion

N’zoth Paladin is one of the most powerful control decks to ever come out and it actually beats Control Warrior in terms of the dust required to craft the deck as well. Paladin is my second most played class with the good old Control Paladin being one of my favorite decks. While GvG and TGT took the class to a different direction, the control variant is back and it’s a force to reckon with on ladder!