The Verdict and Analysis of TGT Impact on Paladin

Analysis of Druid, Hunter and Mage Analysis of Paladin (you’re here) Analysis of Priest In this series I want to talk about how TGT cards have impacted each of the classes. Analyze the new cards, see whether they are seeing play or not and judge whether the class was improved with the TGT or not, […]

Introduction

In this series I want to talk about how TGT cards have impacted each of the classes. Analyze the new cards, see whether they are seeing play or not and judge whether the class was improved with the TGT or not, as well as the latest sample deck lists of these classes. I’ll give one of the three final verdicts:

  • Positive – The class has significantly improved with TGT – either the new, very strong archetypes were created or the old ones has became better.
  • Neutral – The class received positive changes, but they are rather small – no new archetypes created or they aren’t very strong and the old ones were only slightly boosted or got cards that are similar in strength to the current ones and can be used as a tech/alternate choices.
  • Negative – The class got close to no good cards, no new viable archetypes were created and the old ones also didn’t get a lot of alternative card choices.

Last week I’ve analyzed the first three classes – Druid, Hunter and Mage. This time, once again going alphabetically, I’ll try to judge the Paladin. Priest and Rogue will follow soon!

Summary

Oh, the Paladin. Anyone who played the ladder in the last few weeks can clearly tell that Paladin has became one of the most popular, if not the MOST popular class in the game. And that’s all thanks to TGT. That’s a big jump, since he was considered one of the weakest classes pre-TGT. What has changed so drastically? There were some small changes to existing archetypes – both Midrange Paladin and Control Paladin got a little stronger. Midrange Paladin is actually pretty viable deck right now, Control Paladin still not that much. But the biggest and one of the most unexpected development came thanks to the new card – Mysterious Challenger. Players have built a whole new archetype around it – a Secret Paladin. Some hate it, others love it, but we can’t deny that it’s one of the strongest decks in the game right now. But let’s start analyzing cards, spells (+weapon) first!

TGT Paladin Spells/Weapons

  • Competitive Spirit – Paladin Secrets are mostly bad… If not for another card that was introduced, it probably wouldn’t be used. But it’s actually pretty good in the Secret Paladin deck. A few obvious points. This secret can either get A LOT of value or be almost useless. It’s the only one in the game that procs on your turn, not on opponent’s. Meaning your board state has a huge impact on how good it is. All your minions get +1/+1 – the more minions you have, the better it is. So it obviously promotes flooding the board with a lot of Divine Shield/Deathrattle minions that aren’t going to die easily. And that’s exactly what is being done. This Secret hitting one minion is really bad – +1/+1 for 1 mana that procs on the next turn, nah. +2/+2 is pretty average outcome – you won’t be very happy with it, neither will your enemy. Getting it on 3 or more minions starts getting value – if it’s gonna get +4/+4 or +5/+5 for 1 mana, that’s a dream. Which sometimes happens, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a really rare occurence. Comparing to other Paladin Secrets this one is pretty strong – definitely in top 4. And since the new archetype is built around Secrets, it makes it a nice include. Still, I’m not a big fan of the spell.
  • Seal of Champions – And another Paladin buff. The class is pretty buff-heavy already, but this one is actually good. Other Paladin buffs were either really small (1 mana), or big (4+ mana) and it fits the theme of strong transition between early and mid game. The spell fits aggressive decks much more, but the Midrange one can also utilize it. The card itself is pretty strong – it’s something like a mini-Blessing of Kings, but instead of +4 health it gives a Divine Shield. Depending on the situation, it might be even stronger than BoK. It makes the trades much easier and more clear. Paladin might use it to push for damage, while making his board harder to remove. He can also use it to initiate good trades. Enemy has 5/5 minion on the board? You can just Seal of Champions your 2/2 and kill it. It’s a huge tempo boost – not only it only costs 3 mana, so you can do someting else besides of that, but you’re left with a 5/2 on the board that enemy has to deal with. You can often force 2 for 1 – if you buff your Silver Hand Recruit to 4/1 and trade into something, if enemy doesn’t play a class that can ping for 1 damage, he often has to use another card to remove the 4/1.  Solid card, I actually really like it – it’s not something that you always have to include into your deck, it’s not staple, but it’s a viable choice.
  • Enter the Coliseum – Very cool card. Sadly, I have seen it in the game only once, and it was in the Arena. It’s something like Paladin’s version of the Brawl. It has some strong points – one of your minions survive, you know what enemy is going to end up with, you can control the outcome to a certain degree. But there are also flaws – enemy is always left with one minion, meaning it’s pretty bad against slow decks that don’t play many minions. When enemy has two minions on the board – one is going to survive. With Brawl, you can play a small minions yourself and possibly kill both of enemy big guys. The mana cost is also one point higher – 6 mana is a lot for currently popular Paladin decks. And probably the biggest thing – it doesn’t fit the Secret Paladin or Midrange Paladin (not even talking about Aggro one). Both of those decks are way too fast to use something like that. It could be played in a classic Control Paladin, but I haven’t seen this deck in a long time. Some people tried to revive it in TGT, but it didn’t really work. So, overall, it’s a cool card and MAYBE it works, but right now no one is using it.
  • Argent Lance – In theory, a 2/3 weapon for 2 mana is great. Stormforged Axe is that weapon, but it also has 1 Overload. If not for Overload, Stormforge might actually be Constructed-viable. There are few problems with Argent Lance. First one is that it’s not always 2/3. 2/2 weapon for 2 suddenly isn’t as strong. It’s just inferior version of Fiery War Axe then. Second, 2 attack is often not enough. It’s good against 3/2’s and 2/2’s, but if enemy plays a 2/3 minion (Mechwarper, Darnassus Aspirant), it’s bad. And third – Paladin doesn’t need more weapons. The class already uses 2x Muster for Battle in pretty much any archetype – Argent Lance on two would block the Muster on 3, because you don’t really want to switch out the weapons. Also, for 1 more mana Paladin has Coghammer, which is a guaranteed 2/3 weapon with ability to get a lot of tempo on board and great scaling into the late game. Maybe in something like Pirate Paladin, which needs to be weapon heavy, you’d like to have a 2-drop weapon, but I’m still not sure.

Paladin spells turned out to be solid – two of them are played in Constructed, while the last one might see some play in the future in case Control Paladin becomes a thing. The weapon Paladin got is definitely not bad, but rather redundant.

TGT Paladin Minions

  • Warhorse Trainer – A mini-Quartermaster. Paladin is probably going to get more and more cards that interact with Silver Hand Recruits and this is one of them. 2/4 statline for 3 mana is not that great, so the card needs to have very good effect to be viable. This effect is, hm, fine. I’ve been testing him out in the Token Paladin deck and I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, in best case scenario, it gives you like 4-5 more attack on the board – great! But in reality, enemies are usually trying to kill off all your Recruits. You rarely buff more than 2 of them, it’s often just a 2/4 for 3 without any effect. The dream is to coin out Muster for Battle on turn 2 and follow it with Warhorse Trainer. It’s good, even if 2 Recruits survive you can get much better trades. Overall, it’s a solid minion if you’re going hard into the Token strategy, but otherwise it’s not good enough for Constructed.
  • Murloc Knight – Oh, the Murloc Knight. One of the most sleeper-op cards of TGT. At first, no one has realized the potential of this little guy. It made Midrange Paladin archetype viable again. The card doesn’t seem that strong at the first glance – a random Murloc? The truth is, most of the Murlocs are pretty small and insignificant. But the point is that it’s a minion for free. You also get a 1/1 from your Hero Power. And you can do it every turn as long as he sticks into the board. Even something like 2/2 is not terrible, but there are cases when you get Murlocs like Old Murk-eye, Siltfin Spiritwalker or even another Murloc Knight! I mean, 4-drop that summons another 4-drop on the Inspire is great. Murloc Knight is one of the strongest cards added in TGT. The only problem is that it doesn’t fit Secret Paladin that much. Some Midrange/Secret Paladin mixes run it, but it’s not the best there. It fits standard Midrange Paladin much more, and pretty much everyone playing this deck is using it. But since Secret Paladin is just better, we don’t see too many of those. Still, it’s good.
  • Tuskarr Jouster – Same story all over again. The card itself is good – a 5/5 for 5 is a solid statline, and the Joust that might heal you for 7? Why not. But since it’s a Joust, you naturally want to run it in a slower deck. Even Midrange Paladin is probably too fast, maybe you can add one of those, but don’t expect to win that often. It fits Control Paladin much more, but Control Paladin is nowhere to be seen. The direct comparison is probably Antique Healbot – both are 5 mana minions that heal you. Healbot is pretty straightforward – it’s a 3/3 for 5 that heals for 8, no matter what. Great against Aggro/Combo decks, it can put you out of their reach. But the 3/3 stats are really weak, especially in the matchups you don’t need heal that much. Tuskarr Jouster, on the other hand, has good stats – 5/5 are so much better. But the heal here isn’t guaranteed. Even if you run slow deck and play against fast decks, you can still sometimes tie at 2-drop or 3-drops. Even if you win 80% of time, it’s not 100%. Against Control decks, where you don’t need healing that badly, you don’t win that much. So well, it’s kinda risky to run it instead of Healbot – sometimes the heal is really clutch and you can’t afford to lose it. On the other hand, you can drop this guy on turn 5 without losing a lot of tempo. An interesting minion, pretty good, but we’ll have to wait for Control Paladin to be a thing again before seeing many Tuskarrs.
  • Mysterious Challenger – Oh, if I had to name the best card introduced in TGT, it’d probably be Mysterious Challenger. Paladin Secrets were pretty useless before – even the best ones like Avenge were really rarely seen. Not to mention something like Repentance. Thanks to Mysterious Challenger, a whole new archetype was created. Paladin now WANTS to play Secrets. Drawing them and playing from the hand is still pretty bad, but that’s compensated by Challenger. Dropping him means you DRAW 5 cards and play them instantly. That’s really insane. Even if those cards cost 1 mana. Not only you have a lot of tempo, your board becomes much harder to remove, gets more attack etc. but you also remove all those 1 mana Secrets from your deck, meaning that after the first Challenger most of your draws are gonna be better, and after the second one you can’t even draw any more Secrets. Awesome card, a lot of people are calling it “Dr. Six”, because they compare it in strength to Dr. Boom (he was being called Dr. Seven a lot). And that tells you the whole story – if this is compared to one of the strongest cards currently existing in the game, well, you can be sure that the deck made around it is going to be strong. Secret Paladin is tier one right now, thanks to Mysterious Challenger.
  • Eadric the Pure – Paladin new Legendary. And once again, I have mixed feelings about it. First, you want to play it in a proper archetype. It doesn’t fit faster decks, because it’s really slow. You want it in a deck that plays a value game, not a tempo game. 3/7 for 7 is bad, so if you don’t find a good turn to play it, it’s not great. And what is a good turn? Hitting one minion isn’t really good – then it’s just a super-expensive Aldor Peacekeeper. You’re basically paying 4 mana for 4 more health on your minion, not a good deal at all. 2-3 minions may be good scenario, depending on how strong they are. The problem is that people rarely play more than 2 big minions against Paladin – they are afraid of the Equality + Consecration combo. And against fast decks, it doesn’t matter that much. If you reduce minion’s attack from 2 or 3 to 1, it’s not THAT big of a deal. On top of that, a lot of minions are good not because they have high attack, but because of their effects. Like Sylvanas Windrunner – she’s not played for the stats, but for the effect. And the effect is still there. Not to mention that if enemy runs 0 attack minions like Nerubian Egg or Totems (Shaman), setting their attack to 1 is not really “reducing”, but “increasing”. Those are the flaws. The strong thing about this guy is that in right scenarios, he’s crazy strong. If enemy has 2-3 big minions that are strong because of their attack, not because of their effect – well, it’s almost as good as removing them. Or if you already have some sort of board, enemy tries to flood the board desperately, and you follow it with Eadric and trades. But generally I don’t think it’s that good – it’d definitely be an include into Control Paladin, but that’s pretty much it.

TGT Paladin minions are generally strong. Paladin didn’t get any BAD minion – some are situational or don’t have a great deck to be used in, but they are all solid and two of them are incredibly strong (Murloc Knight and Mysterious Challenger). Now let’s look at the new Neutrals you can use in the deck.

TGT Neutral Minions

  • Justicar Trueheart – The “improved” Hero Power in Paladin is one of the strongest ones, if not THE strongest. Summoning two 1/1’s instead of one turns your Hero Power into a win condition in a long game. If the game is going to last 10 more turns after Justicar (it might easily happen in slow, grindy games), you could summon up to 20 1/1’s – imagine that. Just think how hard it is to deal with all the Paladin 1/1’s sometimes – if he had double the amount, it would be almost impossible to keep the numbers in check. Thanks to the Justicar, Paladin’s Hero Power has much greater synergy with a lot of stuff. Like Knife Juggler has two guaranteed juggles with just the Hero Power. Two targets for the Quartermaster even if you don’t have Muster for Battle. Not to mention other possible synergies like Sea Giant or Warhorse Trainer. Justicar fits the slower decks, like the Midrange Paladin or Control Paladin (not Secret Paladin), but it’s really, really strong in those.
  • Eydis Darkbane / Fjola Lightbane – The Valkyrie Sisters, once again, this time in Paladin. It’s one of the classes they fit most, because of how many cheap buffs it has. Cards like Blessing of Might, Seal of Champions or Blessing of Kings are good even without them – but they can make buffs get even more value. Not to mention that cards like Blessing of Wisdom or even Hand of Protection might actually not be bad with them in the deck. Valkyries have a lot of potential in this class, some Aggro decks are running them. But once again, since they don’t fit the Secret Paladin, they aren’t seen in Paladin that much.
  • Gormok the Impaler – In the Midrange Paladin, with cards like Justicar Trueheart or the good old Muster for Battle, it’s pretty easy to have 4 minions on the board as Paladin. Throw in some Divine Shields or Haunted Creepers and you have a good deck to put Gormok in. He’s definitely not a staple in any Paladin deck, but can work. Good thing about Gormok is that if you manage to get him out with the Battlecry on turn 4, it’s going to wreck the enemy. It kills any 2/3 drop for free and puts a 4/4 on the board. The bad thing about him is that in some matchups you won’t ever have an opportunity to play him with Battlecry – if enemy is removing all your small drops or you just have to trade them off when you play against Aggro deck. So it’s a really hit or miss card.
  • Argent Horserider – This one fits a lot of faster decks, including Aggro Paladin. Since Aggro Paladin is heavy on Divine Shields or other sticky/annoying minions, this one fits it. The direct comparison is Wolfrider 1 attack more vs Divine Shield. In Aggro Paladin, I’d definitely take the Divine Shield. The deck is a lot more about making the good trades and tempo instead of just going face and trying to rush enemy down. Yeah, that’s also a strategy, but later in the game. On turn 3 it usually still plays the board control game. Argent Horserider is awesome when it comes to it – you can clear some enemy small drop and you’re still left with a 2/1. Just running him into enemy face is also viable – it’s hard to remove and even though 2 damage doesn’t seem like much, if you manage to attack 2 or 3 turns in a row, the damage really stacks up. Not to mention he combos perfectly with buffs – like for 4 mana you can make him a 5/1 Charge thanks to the Blessing of Might. Or even get a 6/5 Charge with Divine Shield on turn 7 when combined with Blessing of Kings.
  • Mukla’s Champion – It might sound funny, but Mukla’s Champion is actually not terrible in a Token Paladin deck. Since you want to flood the board, and with cards like Justicar you always have some small stuff on the board, Mukla’s Champion might work very well in the late game. Thanks to Justicar and Mukla’s Champion – you might summon two 2/2’s with your Hero Power. Mukla’s Champion has a lot of cons, 4/3 body for 5 mana being the most obvious one, but in some scenarios it might actually work – especially if you don’t have enough cards and you’re building a budget version of Token Paladin.
  • Twilight Guardian / Chillmaw. People have tried to build Dragon Paladin deck after the BRM, but it didn’t really work. It was too slow and lacked the defensive options. Well, those two Dragons look like a good defensive options. They would definitely fit the Dragon Paladin archetype, but the archetype is pretty much dead. I just though it’s worth to mention them in case the deck gets revived.

Verdict & Closing

Final verdict: Positive

I actually think that Paladin benefited most from the expansion. TGT introduced a new, viable Paladin archetype – an archetype that’s currently ranked Tier 1 along Patron Warrior. That’s a great feat for a class that was considered one of the worst before. Secret Paladin is taking all the spotlight right now, but he’s not the only reason Paladin got positive verdict. The Midrange build got so much stronger and it’s actually a viable choice to ladder with. Even the Control Paladin has been made better – it might surprise everyone in some future expansion, because the time is passing and the deck is slowly getting stronger and stronger without anyone noticing.

Example TGT decklists: Secret Paladin, Midrange/Token Paladin, Aggro Paladin

That’s it for the Paladin’s analysis. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the section below!