The mulligan with this deck is actually pretty easy. No matter if you play against Aggro, Control or another Midrange, what’s important to remember is that you absolutely need some early board presence. A lot of your mid game cards are completely useless if you have no board. You don’t want to play Murloc Knight for him to just die. You can’t play Defender of Argus or Cult Master on an empty board. Quartermaster is also useless when you have no Recruits. This means that first 3-4 turns are very, very important. You want to curve out with at least 2-drop into 3-drop (2-drop into 2-drop into 3-drop with Coin) – you can get over missing a Zombie Chow, but having to Hero Power on t2 is very weak. Especially in the faster matchups, once enemy takes early board control, it’s really hard for the Paladin to come back without a well-timed Consecration (and even that doesn’t work if enemy has a lot of Divine Shields and Deathrattles.
This means that you absolutely want to keep your 1-drops, 2-drops and 3-drops: Zombie Chow, Knife Juggler, Shielded Minibot, Aldor Peacekeeper and Muster for Battle no matter what opponent you face. You aim to get a smooth curve, so if you for example get two 3-drops and you’re missing a 2-drop, mulligan one of those away. Shielded Minibot has higher priority than Knife Juggler and Muster for Battle has higher priority than Aldor Peacekeeper in most of matchups. Minibot is harder to remove and Muster gives you more options – you can instantly hit something with the weapon and 3x 1/1 gives more flexibility when it comes to trading. Both Knife Juggler and Aldor Peacekeeper also can get much more value in the later game.
Against classes that run early Silence targets, keeping the Ironbeak Owl is a good idea. For example, you want to keep it against Hunter to Silence Mad Scientist, against Warlock for Nerubian Egg (Zoo) or Twilight Drake (Handlock). It’s also nice against Paladin – it can get rid of Divine Shields, early buffs or Deathrattles (like Haunted Creeper in the new Secret deck). Even if enemy deck runs some high value Silence targets, but those cost 5+ mana, don’t keep it. You don’t want to keep a dead card in your starting hand.
Big Game Hunter is a keep only against Warlock, unless the meta is dominated by Zoo. If you’re sure enemy is a Zoo – don’t keep it. If you think it might be a Handlock – do it. BGH gives you a huge swing against Handlock and is not that useless against Zoo – it can be used to deal with the early big Void Terror, Sea Giant or even Mal’ganis from Voidcaller.
Your 4-drops are the hardest part of the mulligan. Defender of Argus and Cult Master are never keeps – throw them away. Consecration might be a keep if you face a deck that floods the board early (like the aggressive Paladin decks, Hunters or even Zoo Warlocks), but you also need to have some early board presence. For example, if you draw into Minibot and Muster along the Consecration, it should be a keep. Truesilver Champion and Murloc Knight can be keeps if you get a perfect curve. They can be used to cement your early board lead – Murloc Knight dropped when you are ahead might get a lot of value, and Truesilver might protect your board going into mid game (allowing you a good Defender of Argus, Cult Master of Quartermaster turn).
Rest of the cards should never be kept, no matter who you are facing. They’re too slow. The only high cost card you might consider is Sea Giant if you face enemy that floods the board. Getting a cheap Sea Giant in the early game might win you some games. But that’s a really risky move and I don’t recommend doing it.
Alternate & Tech Cards
When it comes to adding more tech cards, it’s pretty hard. The deck is already heavy on the cards you want to put into it and it’s hard to find a place for something else. But there are couple of (kinda) flexible spots, you can remove or add some cards here and there. Cards you can get rid of (usually one) without messing with the deck too much are:
- Zombie Chow – it’s great in Aggro matchups, but if you face a lot of slower decks, you don’t need them that much.
- Truesilver Champion – Your deck is pretty heavy on weapons, and that’s why if you want to fit one more (Coghammer) you should probably remove Truesilver.
- Consecration – While the card is phenomenal against fast decks, against Control the main purpose is to combo it with Equality. So again, if you face a lot of Aggro – keep it. If you mainly face Control – you can remove one.
- Cult Master – While it’s a really interesting card, it’s not necessary for the deck to be viable. It adds a way to draw more cards, so you won’t run out of steam in slower matchups. That’s why when you remove it, you might consider adding something else that lets you draw the cards.
- Defender of Argus – Another flex spot. Great card, but it can be replaced with something different if you don’t feel that you need Taunts.
- Sludge Belcher – Just like above. If you don’t need Taunts (they aren’t that good in slow matchups), you can remove it.
- Sea Giant – Allows you to gain a lot of tempo, but is not crucial. You can put some other big minion instead of it. Cards like Emperor Thaurissan or Sylvanas Windrunner are way slower, but can potentially get more value and don’t die to BGH.
If you think about teching something or just switching the base cards for those that fit the meta or your play style more, I’ll give you a few choices of the cards you might consider including. There are obviously more of them! If you want to ask what do I think about certain alternate/tech card, just ask in the comments and I’ll try to give you my insights. But let’s start with the list:
Coghammer is a really interesting weapon, because the Battlecry part is often more important than the weapon itself. The 2/3 weapon for 3 is a little overpriced, but still fine. The Battlecry, however, is really, really good. Giving a Taunt AND Divine Shield to random minion is very valuable. In Aggro matchups, it lets you get a free trade and have some early game Taunt. Against slower decks, it makes really awkward to remove your minions, especially with the weapons.
What’s good against this card is that it has awesome late game scaling. Getting Divine Shield on one of your bigger minions (Justicar Trueheart, Dr. Boom, Sea Giant) means you can trade into enemy big minion for free, while getting the big Taunt at the same time. The card has a lot of potential. The only problem is that you already have a lot of weapons – it’s in the same slot as Muster for Battle and you can’t really get rid of those. Truesilver Champions are also pretty important, but not as much as Muster, so that’s probably where you should make a cut. If you don’t remove any weapons, you’ll often have more weapon charges than you can use, and that makes your hand less flexible.
Silver Hand Regent
Honestly, I haven’t tested this one yet, but I’ve seen couple of players try it. It worked fine. The card is nothing spectacular – it’s not gonna win you the games, but can actually gain nice value for a 3-drop. The fact that the spawned 1/1 is a Silver Hand Recruit is big. It means that it can be buffed with Quartermaster. It’s also yet another token for your token synergies. When you combine it with the upgraded Hero Power, you spawn 3 (!) tokens with every Hero Power. It can lead to some crazy board flooding.
The bad thing about it is that for 1 more mana you get the Murloc Knight, which on average spawns much better token if you don’t take the Quartermaster synergy into account. And you can’t really run too many overpriced minions, where you need to proc Inspire in order to get value. But in theory, it might work and sometimes it’s really good.
Another card pushing the Silver Hand Recruit synergy. I’ve tested it a little and it worked fine, but I didn’t have the room to put it in the final list. Could definitely make as an one-of, though!
It’s like a mini-Quartermaster. Its main purpose is early trading. The best scenario is Coin + Muster for Battle into Warhorse Trainer. It increases the total damage available from 4 to 7, which either lets you clear enemy board completely (it’s really rare that someone has more than 7 toughness on the board on t3) or save some recruits. The 2/4 stats aren’t terrible for a 3-drop, especially against more aggressive decks – the 4 health allows it to trade into an early drop and still survive.
The problem with the card is that it’s much weaker against slow decks. You can play him to push for some more damage, but you aren’t the Aggro deck – pushing hard early often yields no results at all. And later in the game the Quartermaster is a lot better. Sometimes you can buff the buffed recruits to 4/3, which allows you some better trades (e.g. 4/3 + Light’s Justice to kill the Sludge Belcher), but its strength diminishes in the later game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still better than a typical 3-drop, but I wasn’t impressed with the card’s performance.
Blessing of Kings
The classic Paladin buff. While it’s hard to squeeze it into the deck, it can work really nicely. Unlike the Aggro Paladin, you don’t want to use it to push for damage (most of time), you want to use it for trading. Obviously the best target for Kings is Shielded Minibot because of the Divine Shield. But even without the Minibot, you pretty much always have the target for your Kings because of how many tokens you run. Kings is pretty good, because it’s flexible. Buffing your Recruit to 5/5 and running him into enemy Belcher is a good feeling – enemy still has to deal with the 5/2, so you often get 2 for 1. You might even buff your own Belcher to a 7/9 Taunt. It’s a risky play, but there are times when you have to make those. Sometimes one Kings can win you the mid game because of the trading value.
The bad thing about the Kings is how weak it’s against Silence. If you buff something and don’t gain instant value (e.g. you spawn a 1/1 with Hero Power and buff it), enemy might just Silence the buff away and you’re sad. The next thing is that this decks doesn’t run too many Divine Shields – only pair of Minibots and Tirion (which honestly doesn’t need the buff). But it still might be a great include in a lot of cases.
Gormok the Impaler
Flooding the board and the ability to easily spawn 3-4 small guys on the one turn – those traits just scream for the Gormok the Impaler synergy. This card is really bipolar. If you manage to get the 4 damage off, it’s crazy good – it’s like a 4 mana version of Fire Elemental. But on the other hand, dropping it as a plain 4/4 feels really bad and you’re often forced to do that.
The good thing about this card is that it’s great even in the late game. As a Paladin, you have no way to deal directed damage from your hand besides the weapons (which don’t work through the Taunts). Getting a way to do so can be big, especially since enemy doesn’t expect it. When he hides a 3-4 health minion behind a Taunt, he feels that it’s safe. You’d have to Owl + Truesilver it or Equality + Consecration it, both options aren’t always possible and/or good. With Gormok, you can actually hit it. The 4 damage can be also used as a finisher. Between Truesilver Champion, Quartermaster and Gormok you are able to pull out some unexpected burst from your hand. You don’t really play around Paladin having too much burst in his hand, so it can work.
The most obvious things that combo with this card are Muster for Battle and Justicar Trueheart. The first one allows you to instantly populate the board. 3 minions is not 4, but it’s close – you need only one more on the board. On turn 9 you can actually play Muster, Hero Power and Gormok from your hand. The second one is Justicar. Having 2 Recruits from the Hero Power means that you usually have some leftovers on the board – which makes activating the Gormok’s ability much easier.
Just remember to play him BEFORE trading your minions into something, certain Swedish Hearthstone pro player (alias “Dad”) made that mistake twice in the ATLC playoffs.
While the Piloted Shredder is one of the best 4-drops in the game, I had to make some cuts and the 4-drop spot seemed really crowded. It’s obviously a great card and it fits the deck’s theme pretty well, actually. I just couldn’t find place for it – but if you can, including Shredders is definitely not bad.
The card is very strong because, unless Silenced, it often gets 2 for 1. Dropping it on t4 means that enemy usually has to trade two smaller drops to get rid of it, or at least waste some removals and/or Silence (which is really important when you play Tirion). Very good card, powerful turn 4 play, but it also shines in the later game. It’s pretty sticky, so it supports your general strategy of having a board presence all the time. Even if you trade it into something – you still get the 2-drop back. While the quality of the random 2-drop isn’t very high, you might sometimes get some cards that instantly win you the game (for example dropping a Millhouse Manastorm might just seal the game as early as turn 4). On the other hand, some of the drops are really bad – Doomsayer might clear your whole board, for example. Very RNG card, but a strong card nonetheless.
Antique Healbot/Tuskarr Jouster
Healing! When it comes to the cards, Paladin is probably the healing with easiest access to cards that gain health. So there are a lot of options, but those two are probably the best (besides the Lay on Hands that you already run). You can compare them directly, because both are 5-drops that heal you. But the first thing – do you actually need healing in this deck? It depends on the enemies you face. Healing is very strong against Aggro (to answer the early health loss because of their aggression) and some Combo decks (to get out of range of Combo). 7/8 points of healing is a lot – it can easily turn the game around in certain matchups. On the other hand, however, healing might be useless against other types of decks. If you’re the one who is playing proactive and enemy is answering, healing might be useless. In games against let’s say Control Warrior or Dragon Priest, you rarely are going to need to heal up. You lose games by losing the board control in the mid/late game, and at that point couple more health won’t matter if you can’t clear the board.
So, if you face a lot of Aggro or Combo decks, adding one of those, besides the Lay on Hands could be a good idea.
The Antique Healbot is the safe pick. You’re healed for 8 for 5 mana, while getting the 3/3 body. The healing is pretty good, but the body is really weak. 3/3 for 5 mana is bad and loses you a lot of tempo. If it means surviving, it’s fine, but in slower matchups it can put you behind if you have to play something on t5 and you don’t have anything else.
Tuskarr Jouster on the other hand has much better body – 5/5 for 5 is good, it trades pretty well with popular 4-drops and 5-drops and the healing is a good bonus. The problem is that healing is conditional – it’s behind the joust mechanic. If you don’t win the joust, it’s a 5/5 for 5. Which isn’t bad against Control – often even better than Healbot, but it really, really sucks against Aggro. If you bank on the card to heal you and it doesn’t, it’s usually game over.
I’m not a fan of jousting in general, but especially in Midrange Paladin. Even though your deck is slower than the average Aggro deck, you still run two 1-drops, five 2-drops and three 3-drops. And since you need to actually WIN the joust to get healed, it’s too risky. You’re gonna get a lot of draws even against the hyper-Aggro decks. I think that Tuskarr Jouster fits a Control Paladin deck much more.
So I’d prefer to put in the Healbot. But if you feel that you can take the risk or you already have other anti-Aggro tools and you put this one as a plan B, Jouster is also fine.
Weapon destruction is a pretty strong mechanic. Even stronger if you also draw the cards. Weapon classes are still very popular on the ladder. Even though we’ve seen less Patrons, the deck is tier 1 all the time and it’s not gonna fall out of favor anytime soon. There are also a lot of Paladins – Secret and Midrange ones. Midrange Hunters with Flare should follow soon as a counter to Secret Paladins. And every now and then you might face Rogue or Shaman. So overall, weapon destruction is a really strong tech now. It makes some of the matchups a little easier, especially Patron Warrior one. It might serve as a life gain against decks that intend to go into your face with weapons and protect your board against the slower ones.
Harrison Jones is a really good card. It allows you to swing the game around – you take away the tempo from your enemy and gain card advantage yourself. Very good value. The 5/4 statline for 5 mana is on the weak side, but it’s not terrible. 5 attack means it’s gonna threaten to trade into enemy 5-drops or even 6-drops. Dropping a 5/4 against no weapon classes feels a little bad, but it’s a small price to pay.
If you have problems with weapon classes – Harrison Jones is a good pick.
One of the most common tech cards in the whole game, Loatheb. The reason is pretty simple – it’s solid. The 5/5 for 5 is a good statline and the effect is never bad. Yes, there are situations where you play it and enemy has no reason to play the spells or even doesn’t have the spells in his hands. But there are a lot of times where you completely disrupt enemy turn.
Since this deck is very board-centered, there are the turns where you really don’t want it to be removed. It might be setting up for lethal, for a big Quartermaster turn or just preparing for enemy big drop. Loatheb works really well in those scenarios. Your opponent’s ways to interact with your board become severely limited. And if he is forced to play let’s say a 7 mana Darkbomb – that’s also fine! You gain a lot of tempo this way.
The spell heavy decks aren’t really popular in the meta right now, but it’s still fine against some of the top tier decks. Almost every deck plays SOME spells and blocking them can be crucial. Let’s say Secret Paladin – if his hand is Secrets, Buffs and/or Divine Favor, you can stop him from doing anything for a whole turn. Against Patron Warrior it might stop the combo for one turn, because it usually needs the Whirlwind, Inner Rage etc. You might also deny the Battle Rage. Against Midrange/Token Druid it might stop the combo for one turn (playing it on 8 might often save you from a certain death). Normally Loatheb is best against decks like Freeze Mage or Oil Rogue – both of those are very spell-heavy, meaning Loatheb might sometimes make them skip the whole turn. Those decks aren’t popular right now, but if they ever will be top meta picks, Loatheb is a great way to answer them.
Usually Emperor Thaurissan is utilized in Combo decks, to allow some crazy plays. But he’s also very strong in this deck. Let’s start with the obvious thing – Emperor Thaurissan gains you a lot of tempo in future turns. And in this deck, tempo is pretty important. He’s also a high priority target – enemy can’t just leave it and let you get discounts every turn. At some point you could just play your cards for free, which obviously is very strong.
What’s very good about him in this deck is that he allows to make some powerful plays much cheaper, thus it’s way easier to squeeze them into your turn. For example – Knife Juggler + Muster For Battle combo might cost 3 mana. A cheap Knife Juggler and discounted minions means that you can get a lot of juggles on the turn you play it. Another example is 6 mana Muster for Battle + Quartermaster. For a normal price (8 mana) you can even play Hero Power for one more recruit buffed – value! Lay on Hands is a really slow tempo play, but the ability to play it alongside a 4-drop (7 + 3 mana) might be really big. And those are just couple of examples. Defender of Argus, Murloc Knight or Justicar Trueheart are also cards that really benefit from being cheaper.
In slower matchups, Sylvanas Windrunner is extremely strong and can outright win you some games. Playing her into some big minions means that enemy HAS to have an answer (Hex, Polymorph, Silence etc.) or he’s gonna make some sacrifices. Enemy is often making really inefficient trades, sacrificing his whole board into your Sylvanas. Other times you’re gonna actually steal something meaningful. Sometimes enemy will be forced to just Hero Power + pass because he can’t play a big minion into your Sylvanas without answering her first. A lot of interesting interactions – the ultimate mind games card.
It’s an overall strong card. It doesn’t really have a synergy with the Midrange Paladin in particular. The only thing is that Paladin lacks a way to deal with certain minions. The only answer to threats like Ysera or Kel’thuzad is normally an Equality. Sylvanas gives you a substitute answer. While it doesn’t always work and takes time to set up, it’s still better than nothing.
Her main weakness is how bad she’s against Silence. Since her main power is Deathrattle and you can’t instantly gain the value, Silence turns her into a 5/5 for 6, not really great. But what’s going your way is that when enemy used Silence on your Sylvanas, he is much less likely to have another one for your Tirion Fordring, which is even higher priority Silence target.
Against faster decks, Sylvanas isn’t that good. She’s a rather slow minion – and you can suffer if enemy takes advantage of that. Playing her into Freezing Trap, Sap or even some kind of Freeze (Frostbolt for example) loses you a lot of tempo and denies the value for quite a long time. Even enemy flooding the board and starting to rush you down might cost you the game – Sylvanas can’t really steal anything if she faces board full of small minions.
But besides those flaws, Sylvanas is still a very, very strong drop and should be at least considered.
For other Midrange Paladin guides, check out the Midrange Paladin section.
Thanks for reading the guide. I hope you’ve liked it! If you have any suggestions, thoughts or questions – leave them in the comment section below.