Brewing on the Ladder: Blood Knight Paladin Deck
Hey everyone, DarkArbiter here again to bring you the second official brew list in my ongoing series of brewing on the ladder. This deck will be something I plan on piloting as the new season begins, and will probably switch between this deck and my Control Warrior from time to time.
Even so, I won't be switching away from the control deck archetype just yet, but will instead be expanding my enjoyment of control decks into the other hero classes.
With this deck, I have only done some initial tests to see how it runs, so I'm going to try something different with this article. Rather than just post this list and be done with it (aside from answering questions, comments, and concerns), I'm going to turn this into an interactive article, where I show my changes made to the deck throughout this season. I'll keep notes on its performance, which I will share with the rest of you on a weekly basis, as well as any changes I make to the deck, so make sure you stay tuned in at the end of each week.
With that, let's get into the basis for the deck, a Control Paladin deck list I've named Blood Knight Paladin.
Note: The deck listed is the revised version. For the original version, view the updates section, specifically Update #2.
As a mid-budget player, it has taken me quite some time to accumulate the cards necessary to build this deck. Fortunately, my last arena run provided me with enough arcane dust to craft Tirion Fordring, and with the new season upon us, now is the perfect time to try out new decks.
This deck works roughly the same as many other control decks in the game, and it's overall objective is also the same; make it to the late game where your legendaries will reign supreme. How it gets there, however, is a bit different from the other decks. Since our hero power is weaker than a good deal of other hero powers in the game, we won't rely on it overly much in the early game. Instead, we will count on some minions that are normally seen in aggressive or mid-range decks to carry us into the late game.
Combined with our board clears and weapons we have at our disposal, we will normally manage this, and the legendaries at our disposal are probably some of the strongest in the game.
Core Card Choices
Core Card Choices
While the deck is certainly going to see changes, there are cards in it that I feel are key to its performance. They are cards I will not lightly remove from the deck, and even then it will run the risk of weakening the deck.
Equality: Our first two drop I'm going to talk about should almost never be played on turn 2, and keeping it in your opening hand depends on the situation. In the early game, you don't need to worry about using this, as your opponent won't usually have anything worth using this on until turn four. Nevertheless, this is an incredible way to clear the board and, combo'd with Wild Pyromanceror Consecration, just does phenomenal work. Even without those other two cards, if you have a board state and want to even it out for favorable trades, this is the card for you. I don't know yet whether I will stick to two of them just yet, but considering their synergy with some of my other removal, I'll be hard pressed to find an excuse for not keeping both of them.
Argent Protector: There isn't much that needs explaining with this card. Not only does it pass the vanilla test as a minion, but the ability to give one of your other minions on the board Divine Shield is huge, as any damage that is prevented from a minion swings the tempo further to your side of the board. Other than that, it will either be able to make some satisfactory trades on its own, or your opponent will be forced to use a removal to get rid of it.
Wild Pyromancer: This card should have been called Wild Valuemancer. His ability may seem a bit too...chaotic...to play in a control deck, but considering the number of spells we have aren't all that many, you won't often be put into the position of removing more than one or two of your own minions for his synergy.
Aldor Peacekeeper: If you can't destroy a minion outright, just neutering them is just as good right? Well this puppy right here fills in that role perfectly. It also helps that this, combo'd with Stampeding Kodo, can get rid of minions that otherwise might have been impossible to take care of. Don't be afraid to lay this down on turn 3, but if you have other plays than this on that turn, consider keeping this in hand if there aren't immediate threats on the board.
Truesilver Champion: Being the only viable weapon at your disposal with this class, this card will be the workhorse of your mid-game, removing pesky minions and ensuring you can maintain a board state. There's not really much else to say about it, except it's one of the stronger basic weapons in the game.
Consecration: Once again, the jury's still out on whether I maintain two of these in my deck or not. However, considering it is our best anti-aggro/zoo/token spell in the deck, I don't know what could go in its place. As it stands, this provides us with the perfect number of 4 drops in the deck to make the transition into the late game, so I will be keeping two of them in here.
Defender of Argus: There's no denying the effectiveness of this card, especially considering all of the minions we have to work with. This guy stops aggression in its tracks, and all other times provides that extra boost you need for your minions to make favorable trades. In games with a lot of removal, he will unfortunately not be as powerful, but it is still worth running two of them.
Azure Drake: Currently, we have only 5 draw engines in this deck, and most of them can be silenced. This card, however, immediately provides a valuable card draw, while also putting out a very sturdy body onto the board. This dragon is probably your best five-drop you have in the deck, and you rarely don't wont to play him on that turn.
Stampeding Kodo: It's a solid five-drop. It gets rid of pesky minions and combos with Aldo Peacekeeper. There's not much else to really say about it.
Avenging Wrath: Probably one of the weakest late-game cards in our arsenal, Avenging Wrath will still usually provide valuable trades. As long as you've offered up your prayers to RNGesus though, it should usually provide a decent board clear, especially when combined with the all-star card Equality.
Guardian of Kings: Normally, a 5/6 for seven mana is horrible. However, you have to add in the cost for that healing ability, which is basically Holy Lighton a stick. Since that card costs two mana on its own, we can subtract that amount from the casting cost when evaluating this minions effectiveness. With this in mind, I would gladly pay the mana for this card. In this deck, it provides one of the few ways we have to heal throughout the game.
Ragnaros the Firelord: One of the two legendaries in the deck that I consider to be irreplaceable, this guy should be in everyone's top five list of legendaries to craft.
Tirion Fordring: One of the better class legendaries in the game, this guy just plain rocks. His only problem is against Polymorphand Hex. If you don't have this guy, but do have another really strong late-game legendary, they should work fine too, but won't provide the same kind of advantage that this guy will.
Other than the cards listed, the others are subject to change, depending on a) the current meta or b) your budget (I'll address these changes below). Bloodmage Thalnosworks amazingly well with cards like Consecration or Avenging Wrath, and should be kept in hand until you plan on utilizing one of these cards.
Blood Knight, the namesake of this deck, is a neutral three drop at worst, and at best will rob your zoo and token druid opponents of their divine shields. Either way, he can provide favorable trades. He also combos pretty well with Argent Protector, but his level of effectiveness may be meta-dependent. If fewer divine shields are being played, I might switch one out for, say, a Harvest Golem.
With the number of large creature decks appearing on the ladder, Big Game Hunterprovides great removal. If you plan on using him in any other way, you had better be sure that your opponent doesn't plan on using large creatures. If budget isn't a concern, a possible switch for this would be The Black Knight. If neither of these are an option, you might consider a Blessing of Kings, as this will help you trade easier with your opponents minions and force them to have an answer.
One of the first things I toyed with when making this deck was the amount of card draw and what form I wanted it in. After a few tests, it became clear that Acolyte of Painwas one of the better ones for this deck. The only other suitable option for replacing this would be Loot Hoarder.
Cairne Bloodhoofand Sylvanas Windrunnerare your mid-game cards. They will often eat up silences, Hexes or Polymorphs, alowing you to transition into your late-game minions without fear of them being removed as easily.
The last tech choice I decided to run with was Alexstrasza. More often than not, I play this card to heal back up to fifteen health against aggressive decks, but its alternative of bursting your opponent down to fifteen health is also a viable play. If neither of these situations arise, she needs to stay in your hand
On a Budget
On a Budget
The nice thing about this deck is that, unlike my last article on Warrior Control, you have the option of making some budgetary changes without it majorly affecting the deck's performance. If you don't have Bloodmage Thalnos, you can easily substitute it for a Kobold Geomancer, as that will serve basically the same purpose.
Cairne Bloodhoof and Sylvanas Windrunner can be traded out for Sunwalkers and still provide just about the same role as these two legendaries. Finally, the most suitable trade for Alexstrasza will be another Guardian of Kings.
This reduces the crafting cost quite significantly, and barely reduces the number of options for control that you have. In all, if you also were to cut the Blood Knights for Harvest Golems, it would reduce the total cost by nearly 7,000 dust.
Testing Out the Deck
Update: This section is now updated to display how the deck fares in each match up.
Druid has been one of the most prevalent class on the ladder this season, competing fiercely with the ever-popular Warlock Zoo. Currently, the two most popular decks on the ladder for this class have been Ramp and Token.
You will be normally have a favorable match up against both of these decks, and the key, as with facing most of the decks on the ladder, is to draw into your removal combos. Against Druid in particular, you will want to keep cards like Aldor Peacekeeper and Equality in your opening hand. These will help deal later on with threats like Ancient of Lore and Ancient of War, and you don't want to rely on topdecking an answer for these two threats, as they need to be removed from the board almost immediately before they can do too much damage.
Against Token Druid, if you have a Blood Knight in your opening hand, it will be able to swing the early tempo in your favor by stealing the Divine Shield off of your opponent's Argent Squire. Other than this bit of information, Wild Pyromancer will serve as your all-star, keeping their board in check and removing as many of their small minions as possible. Truesilver champion is an effective way of helping to remove their token generators.
With Ramp Druid, the odds of winning are less than Token, but still favorable. Having Equality and Wild Pyromancer will be your lifeblood here, as will Aldor Peacekeeper. Hold Alexstrasza in reserve to deal burst damage against your opponent, as your heals should be able to weather most of their attacks. Above all, try to stay up above the kill threshold of the Force of Nature+Savage Roar combo of fourteen damage.
There still aren't that many Hunter decks on the ladder at the moment, but the ones you do face shouldn't provide too much of a hassle, as this deck has a very favorable win rate (98%) against hunters.
Against Hunter Aggro, Consecration will devastate most of his plays, and Wild Pyro, while not necessary, will ensure victory. Avenging Wrath will also play a role here, as you will often end up removing several low-health minions with it.
I haven't seen many Control Hunters around, but the few times I did it was relatively easy to beat them. Savannah Highmane is your only real concern here, and removing it isn't hard with this deck as long as you don't spend your removal too early.
Since RDU's victory over Amaz during the Dreamhack tournament, I've seen an influx of Freeze Mage. The only real difference that normally occurs in the deck lists are the choice of running Archmage Antonidas over Pyroblast. Other than that, the only other real deck being run by mage at this point is still Aggro Mage. Unless you suspect your opponent is running Freeze Mage, mulliganing for Aggro Mage is your best option. In other words, you'll want the typical Wild Pyromancer+Equality/Consecration in your opening hand. Keeping Truesilver Champion in your hand isn't as preferred here, as it won't be able to make as many favorable trades as it would against other decks.
The aggro matchup here is actually a toss up, which is a step up from my first predictions of the deck, where I guessed that most aggro builds would have the advantage. If you don't draw into your removal, it can certainly be that way, but Consecration is such a powerful early-game removal, it will often equalize the odds of you surviving long enough until you can get to your late-game healing abilities.
Once you've figured out that your opponent is playing Freeze Mage, your objective is to draw your Guardian of Kings and Big Game Hunter, as these are the linchpins of you surviving the late-game. You must also conserve your other heals for the late game, but these two specific cards need to be in your hand in the late game. The reason for this is that these two are required to both removing Alexstrasza and healing yourself up beyond your opponent's burn damage on the same turn. The rest of the game is mere semantics up until this point, as Turn 9 is the crucial point for your opponent. If you go first, you will have the ten mana to pull off this combo. If you go second, make sure to save the coin specifically for this combo. This match will usually be unfavorable for you, as you must draw your healing cards and are dead if you don't.
In my last two articles, I bemoaned the lack of Paladin decks on the ladder. Well, I've finally seen an influx of them this season in the form of the infamous Shockadin deck. Despite this being a very heavy aggro deck, this is a favorable match up. Most of your opponent's minions have very little health, meaning Consecration is an all-star here, and your minions are capable of stonewalling them dead in their tracks. Turn 6 will usually be the only Hiccup, as Avenging Wrath has a very good chance of turning the tempo back into your opponent's favor. Other than that, make sure to not spend your removal too quickly and look forward to playing your Blood Knights, as you will usually absorb at least one or two Divine Shields during these matches.
As always, with the mirror match your biggest concern is making favorable trades with each of your minions.
Mage wasn't the only class to get a huge popularity swing with the last Dreamhack tournament. I don't remember the last time I've seen so many versions of Amaz's priest deck in a row, and to be sure it is a very hard deck to beat with this one. Your early game is nearly useless against this class, so getting your Wild Pyromancer+Equality combo ready is critical for after the big Injured Blademaster+Circle of Healing combo. Other than that, Azure Drakes will form the bulk of your mid-game, as will the lone Sunwalker I changed in for Sylvanas Windrunner. More often than not, these games will not go in your favor, and really the only thing you can do is dig in and settle for a bitter back-and-forth battle.
Against the infamous Miracle Rogue, it will often be a toss up that slightly favors you. The key in this match is to bring in taunts after turn five, regardless of how big or small they are. Defender of Argus will be your linchpin here, as he will force your opponent to use up most removal on your taunts before they can pull of their big finishing combo. On top of that, you have enough healing in the late game to get through the early-game pain. More often than not, Big Game Hunter will come in here as a perfect counter for when your opponent gets really aggressive with their Cold Bloods.
As with the Rogue match, Shaman can go either way, and your draws will determine which way the game goes. Saving your big Wild Pyromancer combo until after they have a large board is crucial, as the Unbound Elementals will often be protected by a wall of taunts. Aldor Peacekeeper and Stampeding Kodo will also aid you hear, removing the threat of the Shaman's Fire Elementals. You need to get your opponent to play their Hexes before you can play your key cards like Tyrion Fordring and Ragnaros the Firelord.
Despite Warlocks diminishing due to the overwhelming popularity of Druids, the Warlock decks are still a force to be reckoned with. Against the two main decks of this class, Handlock and Zoo, you will find two very different sets of challenges.
Zoo will usually be a favorable match up. This was one of the main reasons I included Blood Knights in the deck, and they will prove to have a big impact in the early game, as will the Wild Pyromancer combo. However, if you have an early Aldor Peacekeeper, use that instead of the combo in the early game, as it will help to deter damage away from you while you wait for the opponent to unleash their Doomguard onto the field.
Against Handlock, I can say this is probably the only match ups you will almost certainly lose. In fact, through this entire season, I've only won a grand total of once against the Handlocks I faced, and that win was against someone that didn't know how to play the deck. Still, you shouldn't give up, and the Lay on Hands that I changed into the deck will help increase the odds of you winning. You will pretty much utilize every single ounce of removal in your deck, from your Aldor+Kodo combo to your Big Game Hunter. Your Wild Pyromancer combo should be saved to deal with your opponents Giants, but if you have to use it to remove a Twilight Drake from the field, don't regret doing so, as it is as hard to remove for this deck as Injured Blademaster is.
Against Warrior, our odds of winning are favorable. We will normally have cards that the Warrior can not answer, and more often than not will have to trade multiple cards to deal with. While this is usually what a Warrior does, in this case that mentality will be the Warrior's downfall, as he can't afford to spend more than one card on removing your minions. Nevertheless, getting cards like your Truesilver Champion are still required in order to proceed smoothly into the mid and late-game.
With the new season upon us, now is a great time to try out new and creative decks, and so I plan on getting as far this season as I can with this deck. Make sure to stay tuned in each week, as I will have time-stamped updates at the end of each week to show my progress and other information on the deck.
If you have questions or comments about the article or the deck, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, if you have a deck brew and would like to share it, feel free to email me with the list and basic idea of the deck. If I like it, I’ll try it out, and you could see your deck in a future article. Thanks for reading!
Update #1 (Week of June 1-7): New season began. Made up the deck and did initial testing and changes. Deck is now ready to be piloted!
Update #2 (Week of June 8-14): This week, I did two things; changed some cards out of the deck, and compile data on Hearthstone Tracker. For now, I will leave the original decklist up so that people will see what I originally started out with, but I will tell you the changes I make here. Currently, my changes from the original decklist are:
-2 Acolyte of Pain (Not viable enough. I found that I'm rarely in need of card draw with this deck)
-1 Blood Knight (I wanted to keep both in since this is what the deck was named after, but I couldn't)
-1 Sylvanas Windrunner (People have figured out how to circumvent her power by now, and she's too clunky to keep in with all of the aggro I've been facing)
+ 1 Doomsayer (ChanmanV was playing Paladin Control on stream with 2 of these. I took a leaf out of his book and added in one)
+ 1 Faceless Manipulator
+ 1 Sunwalker
+ 1 Lay on Hands (For the heal and the draw. This way I can use Alexstrasza more offensively if I need to. If you don't have this or a Faceless, you can switch out either one or both for Earthen Ring Farseers)
As far as statistics, I was able to play 42 games in total with this deck just this week. That's including after I made the changes. I'm still collecting data as to its effectiveness against each class, but for now I am maintaining an overall 64% win rate with it. I marked my winrate before the changes at around 58% out of almost 30 games in a week and 3 days. I am currently at rank 9 on the ladder after playing nothing but this deck after 2 weeks.
Update #3 (Week of June 15-21): I continued my testing of the deck on the ladder, and am nearly ready to update the match ups section of the article, as at this point I have a pretty clear idea of how the deck performs against each deck in the meta. I wasn't able to play as many games as last week due to personal reasons, topping out at only 27 games. My win rate has dropped somewhat, down to 59% counting from the beginning of the month. (Note: My apologies for taking so long for the update. The personal reasons that kept me from playing many games this week also left me unable to spend enough time to compose this update. Fortunately I should be able to stay caught up from here on out.)
Update #4 (Week of June 22-28): With the end of the season rapidly approaching, there isn't much left to do with this deck but work on the matchup section of the article. The only change I made this week was to put my second Blood Knight back in for the Doomsayer. Doomsayer turned out to be incredibly vulnerable to silences, and most aggro decks I've faced have found ways of dealing with it. If you don't have the second Blood Knight but don't want to keep Doomsayer in, Harvest Golem is still a very solid 3 drop for this deck. I'll wrap up my thoughts on the deck with the next update, which will be a day or so after the end of the season.
Update #5 (Week of June 29-30): With the end of the season, I found myself sitting at rank 5 after playing roughly 150 games, give or take, with this deck. My final win percentage with this deck clocked in at 59%, which I am quite satisfied with. Also with the end of the season come my parting thoughts on the deck.
While I am quite pleased to say that this deck performed better than I had hoped, I will say that it isn't as reliable as I had thought it would be. Many times, I was left wanting very specific answers to very large threats, and this very often became my downfall. I would still recommend this deck if you are itching to truly play a Control Paladin deck, but I'm not sure that it's Legendary material at this time, with the meta so aggressive and reliant on quick bursts of damage. Thanks for all of those that have stuck through and read this to the end, and I hope to hear from you if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.