Hello everyone! Some of you may remember the poll I’ve made a few days ago. If you don’t, check it out (and the introduction to the series) here.
Today I want to deliver the first in-depth matchups analysis. The most voted one was, just as I suspected, the Patron Warrior vs Secret Paladin matchup. I’ve decided to split it in two halves – one from the Warrior’s point of view and the other one from the Paladin’s. I’m gonna start with Warrior, because “countering” Secret Paladin is – I guess – the more wanted topic.
Let’s start with the decklists. Since a lot of lists vary from player to player, it’s impossible to cover all of them. I’ve decided to base my article on the lists I’ve been using for the testing purposes. While Grim Patron lists are all similar with couple of small differences, when it comes to the Secret Paladin, the deck comes in so many shapes that it’s hard to cover them all.
The Patron Warrior list is a very standard one, the only thing that is not that common is [card]Shield Slam[/card]. I’ve seen a lot of players using one copy and I’ve also decided to include it after some testing. It combos really nicely with Shield Block and gives you another removal besides the [card]Execute[/card].
I’ve dropped the [card]Dread Corsair[/card]s and I don’t really see a lot of players using them right now. One [card]Fiery War Axe[/card] is also dropped, because honestly it’s not that great in the slower matchups, and faster decks are running a lot of annoying minions with Divine Shields or Deathrattles. Two [card]Shield Blocks[/card] for cycle and to survive – 10 additional health really helps with stabilizing against Aggro decks.
Besides that, it’s just Patron list you’re gonna see on the ladder every day.
Secret Paladin, however, is a lot more tricky. There are a lot of versions that included Secrets and the Mysterious Challenger. There is a faster version with a lot of small drops and [card]Divine Favor[/card], slower one with [card]Dr. Boom[/card] and [card]Tirion Fordring[/card] and a lot of things in-between.
For this article’s purpose, I’ve decided to use the deck I’m most familiar with – the one I’ve been playing. It’s a pretty slow version with a lot of mid game drops and five bigger drops (including two Challengers). I run no Divine Favor, because the deck is too slow to make a good use of it. Instead, I’ve decided to cut the number of Secrets a little to make the deck more consistent. Drawing into them in the early game is really bad. I’ve left only two copies of [card]Avenge[/card] and [card]Noble Sacrifice[/card], which are in my opinion the best Paladin Secrets. It reduces the impact of the second [card]Mysterious Challenger[/card], which draws between 0 and 2 Secrets, but it’s still a 6/6 for 6 in the worst case.
My 1-drop of choice is [card]Secretkeeper[/card]. It really helps to snowball the early game in case you draw a lot of your secrets. With Secretkeeper, drawing 2-3 Secrets in the opening hand is not nearly as bad as it would be. I prefer it over [card]Argent Squire[/card] and I don’t have enough room for two different 1-drops without [card]Divine Favor[/card]. When it comes to the early 2-drops, I use the standard package of [card]Haunted Creeper[/card], [card]Knife Juggler[/card] and [card]Shielded Minibot[/card]. Not much to say about that, they are pretty much staple in this deck.
I run total of 4 weapons – 2x [card]Light’s Justice[/card] ([card]Muster for Battle[/card]), 1x [card]Coghammer[/card] and 1x [card]Truesilver Champion[/card]. I’ve decided to cut one Truesilver in favor of Coghammer – the card can lead to powerful early tempo swings and later in the game when it hits one of your big minions, it becomes very hard to kill. And I think 5 weapons (6 if you count [card]Ashbringer[/card]) is an overkill, especially if 3 of them are in the same mana slot (and 2 are one mana point higher, so still not that far apart).
When it comes to mid game – 2x [card]Blessing of Kings[/card], because if you combine them with the early board lead, they can lead to the crazy results. They really help to maintain the curve. 2x [card]Consecration[/card] – I’ve seen some builds cutting one, but I’m really against it. With the amount of Secret Paladins running around, Consecration is your best friend – in the mirror it gets a lot of value and can deny enemy big [card]Avenge[/card] or [card]Competitive Spirit[/card] turn after Muster. 2x [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] as the mid game powerful drop. The fact that he sticks to the board really helps when you try to proc the Avenge and Competitive Spirit. It’s also a GREAT Redemption target – getting a 4/1 Shredder back means another 2-drop for free = value.
Higher drops are also pretty standard. [card]Loatheb[/card] to setup the turn 6 and protect your board when you start pushing. 2x [card]Mysterious Challenger[/card] is the base of the deck, obviously. And after that, [card]Dr. Boom[/card] and [card]Tirion Fordring[/card] to curve out nicely into the late game.
When making the analysis, I’m gonna cover the fact that a lot of players are running the faster version ([card]Divine Favor[/card] one). But you can’t really tell them apart during the first turns, so the Mulligan and Early Game sections are going to be the same.
A lot of people are saying that Patron Warrior has the huge advantage in this matchup, but I tend to disagree. When it comes to the statistics, both on the ladder and while testing with my friend, my final score in the matchup was 17-12 (58%) as the Paladin and 21-13 (62%) as the Warrior since I’ve started gathering the data for this article. So, while the Warrior has a slight edge, I don’t think it’s that high. If I had to rate the matchup, I’d say it’s 45% for Paladin and 55% for the Warrior. 40/60 at max. For example, TempoStorm lists this matchup as 70% in favor of Patron in their Meta Snapshot, which according to my research is completely untrue.
The matchup is very heavily draw dependant. Paladin wants the tools to snowball – good curve, sticky minions, flooding the board, getting good Secret value if he draws them early. Paladin plays very proactive game and aggressively fights for board presence. Warrior, on the other hand, is the reactive deck. He wants to draw into the early answers and minions, like [card]Whirlwind[/card], Weapons (mainly [card]Death’s Bite[/card], but [card]Fiery War Axe[/card] can also be useful), [card]Armorsmith[/card], [card]Unstable Ghoul[/card] etc.
The matchup is very back-and-forth and has a lot of turning points. Like, Warrior’s second [card]Death’s Bite[/card] hit is often a turning point that puts him in the lead. Turn 6 is often a turning point of Paladin thanks to the [card]Mysterious Challenger[/card] – Warrior has hard time dealing with Mysterious Challenger if you already have some board presence. But then again, turn 8 (or even 7 with [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card]) is once again turning point for Patron Warrior thanks to the [card]Warsong Commander[/card] + [card]Grim Patron[/card] combo. But then, once again, Paladin can get back the board with [card]Tirion Fordring[/card], because Patron Warrior has really hard time getting through it.
It’s one of the matchups that should be played to the end – the fact that Patron Warrior clears whole Paladin’s board on turn 4-5 doesn’t mean he won. Just like the fact that Paladin took down Warrior to 10 health and is close to lethal doesn’t mean he has won. It’s really explosive and can turn around very quickly.
As the Warrior, against Paladin you mostly want to get the early answers and build up some board presence in the early turns. You don’t want to let Paladin build big enough board. Usually, the bigger board he has, the harder it is to deal with the Secrets. Competitive Spirit on 4-5 minions may just seal the game. So you want to constantly clear what the Paladin plays.
When it comes to cards you keep:
[cardinsert card=”whirlwind” float=”right”]
[card]Whirlwind[/card] – It’s a keep against Paladin. It counters the [card]Muster for Battle[/card] and if you have some minion on the board already, it can possibly activate the [card]Battle Rage[/card]. You can also combo it with [card]Armorsmith[/card] or [card]Acolyte of Pain[/card] for more Armor / cards.
[card]Fiery War Axe[/card] – The card is hit or miss against Paladin, but you generally still want to keep it. It’s great if they open with [card]Secretkeeper[/card] or [card]Knife Juggler[/card] – you can’t let those live for too long. On the other hand, it’s often bad against the [card]Argent Squire[/card], [card]Shielded Minibot[/card] or [card]Haunted Creeper[/card] opening. Still, a keep in case Paladin plays the Juggler. If you face the more Midrange version, it can also work against [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] on turn 4. You usually need two hits and you take a lot of damage, but it’s still a way to clear him.
[cardinsert card=”slam” float=”right”]
[card]Slam[/card] – Another way to deal with enemy small drops. Even though it’s 1 for 1 against something like Knife Juggler, at least you don’t take extra damage, which is also important. Against Shielded Minibot, it can be used to get rid of Divine Shield and cycle for one card. You can for example use it on turn 2 and on Coin out the [card]Death’s Bite[/card] on turn 3 to hit it. It also enables [card]Execute[/card] in case enemy uses [card]Blessing of Kings[/card] on something.
[card]Armorsmith[/card] – It’s a great 2-drop against the Paladin. It can pop Minibot’s Shield and survive, trade 1 for 1 with [card]Knife Juggler[/card] (if you’re lucky…), completely stop the [card]Haunted Creeper[/card] or [card]Muster for Battle[/card] etc. And on top of that, gain some Armor. With help of some Whirlwind effects or [card]Inner Rage[/card], Armorsmith easily contests their early board.
[cardinsert card=”unstable-ghoul” float=”right”]
[card]Unstable Ghoul[/card] – A minion and Whirlwind in one – pretty good. Since it’s 1/3 that deals 1 damage on Deathrattle, it can trade at least 1 for 1 with all their early drops. It might also stop them from playing Muster for Battle, because it just dies to the Ghoul. You may even throw him after the Muster for counter it. A well-timed Ghoul may clear their whole board in the early game.
[card]Death’s Bite[/card] – This is also a keep. All parts of the card are great against Secret Paladin. The 4 damage weapon gets rid of pretty much anything – small drops, drops affected by [card]Avenge[/card], Piloted Shredder etc. The Whirlwind part clears after and gets rid of all the Recruits and other small tokens. Awesome weapon. It can also set up the Grim Patron turn – On turn 5 you sometimes might both clear the board and spawn some Patrons. Very powerful in this matchup.
There are also cards you can situationally keep:
[card]Inner Rage[/card] – It might be a keep with [card]Armorsmith[/card] or [card]Acolyte of Pain[/card]. Using it on the first one changes it into a 3/3, so it has much easier time clearing certain minions. It’s great against let’s say Secretkeeper. You can also finish off the Knife Juggler after attacking into it. In case of Acolyte, it cycles instantly and draws you one card. The 3/2 also might be a big enough threat for enemy to actually trade into it.
[cardinsert card=”acolyte-of-pain” float=”right”]
[card]Acolyte of Pain[/card] – I Really like Acolyte against Paladin. Since they don’t run many 3 attack minions, Acolyte is usually gonna draw more than 1 card. You can combo him with Inner Rage or Whirlwind to draw even more. Great against Muster for Battle. And even if it forces enemy to equip a [card]Truesilver Champion[/card] and swing into it – it’s fine, he lost 4 damage and and you cycled. Don’t keep him, though, if you don’t have any removals. Removals take higher priority, because Acolyte is way too slow, so if you can’t keep up in the tempo with weapons or Whirlwind effects, drawing cards won’t do much. He can also backfire if you play against the [card]Divine Favor[/card] version. They may even force you to draw 3 cards and then get something like 5+ cards Divine Favor.
[card]Frothing Berserker[/card] – If you get something to play on turn 2, especially the Axe, you can keep the Frothing for tempo. 4 health on the minion might be hard to take out, besides Truesilver or Kings Paladin has no clear way to kill it. The first one is often an one-of and the second one sometimes isn’t even used, and when it is it still requires a minion on the board. So if play it on empty board, it can be a pretty big threat. It can get some good early trades and enemy can’t just ignore it – it’s gonna snowball really fast. Frothing is not your main win condition in this matchup anyway, so if he’s gonna help you get the board control, it’s fine.
Rest of the cards you generally want to throw away no matter what. [card]Execute[/card] or [card]Shield Slam[/card] require some preparation – they are much better in the late game. Execute you can combo with some Whirlwind effects or Slam to kill something bigger. Shield Slam combos nicely with Shield Block – on turn 4 you can deal 5 damage even without Armor. Keeping one of those in the starting hand is too optimistic. [card]Battle Rage[/card] does nothing in the early game, you want to gain the board control, not draw at the start. It’s much better later when you can set it up and you have much more mana. [card]Shield Block[/card] is another card you want later – if you just use it on turn 3 without developing anything, it’s gonna be a tempo loss. The 5 health gain is nothing if enemy has board presence. You want those later in the game once you have more mana or you have already stabilized on the board. [card]Gnomish Inventor[/card] is not bad, but it’s a 4-drop so you don’t want it in your opening hand. [card]Warsong Commander[/card], [card]Grim Patron[/card] and [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card] are your “combo” cards so you also don’t want them at the start. They are great later in the game, but useless on the first turns.
Like I’ve mentioned before, the Patron Warrior’s main goal is board control. You don’t care about dealing the damage early – it’s not likely that you’re gonna rush the Secret Paladin in any way. Even if you can sneak some weapon damage or big Frothing hit from time to time, most of the games are gonna go to the late game. Two points of the game are most important – early game and turn 6. But let’s start from the beginning.
Mulligan is really important in this matchup. Your early draws can determine the whole game. Paladin has a lot of threats you have to answer and how effectively you’re gonna do that may influence the whole game.
[cardinsert card=”secretkeeper” float=”right”]
If Paladin starts first, on turn 1 he can either [card]Secretkeeper[/card] or [card]Argent Squire[/card]. Some more offensive builds even run the [card]Leper Gnome[/card]s, but that’s pretty rare. Argent Squire can be mostly ignored – you have no great way to deal with it. It’s gonna die eventually to your minions and Whirlwind effects. The thing you might consider doing is taking out the Divine Shield, though, in case Paladin runs some buffs. [card]Secretkeeper[/card] has high removal priority. If he plays it naked, without any Secrets, the 1/2 shouldn’t be that hard to kill. You have either the [card]Fiery War Axe[/card] or [card]Slam[/card].
Enemy having early Secretkeeper + Secrets might be both problematic and good. First, if he goes all in into the Secretkeeper strategy and you draw into something like [card]Execute[/card], you can easily get rid of it. If the Paladin has no [card]Divine Favor[/card] then, he might have dumped his whole hand around turn 4 and rely on the topdecks after. That’s good. But if you don’t have a way to deal with Secretkeeper, something like 4/5 1-drop is pretty threatening if you can’t kill it. It’s still not worth to keep Execute in your starting hand just in case, obviously, but sometimes drawing it early might save you.
[cardinsert card=”knife-juggler” float=”right”]
When it comes to the 2-drops – the most threatening one is [card]Knife Juggler[/card]. You WANT to have a way to kill it. The problem with Knife Juggler is that not only it pushes for 3 damage per turn, but every time enemy plays another minions, it’s additional value. [card]Muster for Battle[/card] often follows the Juggler, meaning 3 free damage, which you really don’t want. It can snowball the early game, so having a way to kill it is important.
Another standard 2-drop is [card]Haunted Creeper[/card]. This one is more annoying than threatening. The 1/2 body doesn’t do much, but you can’t really kill it easily. If you kill it – you actually face more damage on the board. You have no reason to pop the spider until you have a [card]Whirlwind[/card] effect turn. This way you don’t have to deal with the spare 1/1’s. Haunted Creeper loses to most of your early drops, but not removals. You generally don’t want to waste weapon hits on it, unless you have Fiery War Axe equipped and want to play the Death’s Bite anyway, so you might as well pop it. In theory, enemy can combo it with Knife Juggler – when it dies, it throws two knives. The good thing about your deck is that all your early minions are 1 attack, so enemy can’t really sacrifice his own Creeper that easily.
[cardinsert card=”shielded-minibot” float=”right”]
The last 2-drop is somewhere in between. It’s not as threatening as Knife Juggler, but it’s pretty annoying. [card]Shielded Minibot[/card] is one of the best 2-drops in the game, because of how hard it’s to take down early in the game. For example, he requires you to swing your Fiery War Axe two times. Or first proc the Divine Shield with minion or [card]Slam[/card] before actually killing it. Pretty annoying. Luckily for you – the 2 damage isn’t as bad and it doesn’t deal more damage like Knife Juggler. If you can, take down his Shield, especially if Paladin has Coin. Minibot with Shield is a great [card]Blessing of Kings[/card] target. If enemy Paladin goes second and he didn’t coin out Minibot, it usually means that he has some 4-drop he wants to play after – probably the Kings. In that case take the Shield no matter what, because it’s gonna be harder after the buff.
[cardinsert card=”muster-for-battle” float=”right”]
Turn 3 is pretty boring. Paladin has really two options – [card]Muster for Battle[/card] or [card]Coghammer[/card]. The first one is countered by Whirlwind effects. The second one is countered by keeping the board control. Paladin won’t want to use the Coghammer without any minions on the board. And even with them, it’s better if he hits a 1/1 than to give Knife Juggler a Divine Shield. Neither of the weapons are strong against your deck. You don’t really have 2 health minions, so they aren’t gonna kill something for free. That’s good news. If Paladin doesn’t have a 3-drop, he can play something like 2-drop + Secret or Hero Power + Secret. The best case scenario, he just Hero Powers and passes. If he does that, take the advantage and wrestle back the tempo.
[cardinsert card=”avenge” float=”right”]
When it comes to early Paladin secrets, you can sometimes tell which one he has in the play. [card]Avenge[/card] and [card]Noble Sacrifice[/card] are the “safe” Secrets to play, meaning the Paladin is gonna often just play them if he has nothing else to do. You can expect those pretty much anytime. [card]Redemption[/card] is usually followed by either a sticky minion or high value minion. If enemy plays Muster for Battle or just Hero Powers, you can be pretty sure the Secret is not Redemption – they gain almost no value if they resurrect the 1/1. [card]Competitive Spirit[/card] is rarely played in the early game, because they don’t want to proc it on one minion. They are often used before/on the Muster for Battle turn. Or if they have a lot of sticky minions on the board – like Creepers and Minibot. Paladin usually wants at least 3 targets to get buffed, he’s rarely gonna play it only with 1 minion. And finally, [card]Repentance[/card] is rarely played in the early game and you can’t really play around it. If you expect that Paladin has played it it in the early game, you probably want to proc it with the [card]Unstable Ghoul[/card] – you want this guy to die anyway. [card]Acolyte of Pain[/card] might also do if you didn’t expect to draw more than 1 anyway.
[cardinsert card=”noble-sacrifice” float=”right”]
Playing around Paladin secrets is rather easy, because they need a proper board position to be good. If Paladin knows what he’s doing, you’re gonna predict most of his Secrets. Sometimes you can’t play around them – like turn 1 [card]Competitive Spirit[/card] into turn 2 Coin + [card]Muster for Battle[/card]. If you have no Whirlwind in hand, it’s gonna go through and you can’t do anything. [card]Noble Sacrifice[/card] is pretty easy to play around – your minions have more than 2 health, so they don’t die and can take the Secret down for free. [card]Avenge[/card] is more annoying on certain boards. Remember few things. First, if you take all enemy minions down at the same time, it doesn’t proc. For example, he has 4x 1/1 and you Whirlwind – nothing gets buffed, since they all died at the same time. Second – try to take Divine Shields before proccing Secrets. If Avenge hits Divine Shielded minion, it’s much harder to get rid of. 5/4 Minibot with Divine Shield can deal w lot of damage. If you suspect enemy has [card]Redemption[/card] out, try to kill the target you’d have easiest time dealing with again – probably a 1/1. Sometimes Paladin gives you a clear tell that he has Redemption and just passes without using Hero Power. But sometimes he can’t afford to lose the tempo and plays let’s say [card]Muster for Battle[/card]. Once you get to know Paladin Secrets more and you play against them a lot, it’s gonna be much easier to identify every scenario and the Secret they have up.
[cardinsert card=”divine-favor” float=”right”]
Mid game is the time where you should be taking the board Control back at any cost. The most important thing is that you should try to identify whether enemy plays a [card]Divine Favor[/card] version or not. The task can be pretty hard, but here are few things that can help you with that. It’s hard to identify the faster deck until it uses Divine Favor. The problem is that you don’t know whether he doesn’t play the bigger cards or just didn’t draw them. If he plays a lot of smaller drops – for example two types of 1-drops, it’s probably the Aggro one. If you see the [card]Leper Gnome[/card], you can be 100% sure it’s Aggro and he has Divine Favor. Slower can’t afford to play so many small drops without card draw. It’s much easier to identify which deck is slower – he plays much more mid game threats. If you see some [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] or [card]Blessing of Kings[/card], you may start to suspect the slower deck, but some faster versions run one of those. If you see [card]Loatheb[/card] or [card]Sludge Belcher[/card], then it’s pretty much guaranteed to be the slower one.
Anyway, if you can’t be sure which one is that, you want to play around Divine Favor. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t draw cards. But if you’re behind, go for the tempo plays, not the value plays. For example, you might pre-equip Fiery War Axe instead of Armoring Up when you’re left with 2 mana. You lose 2 Armor, but you potentially make them draw 1 less card. If you’re ahead and you have your combos ready in your hand, you can go for the draw – even if a faster build draws 7 cards, he shouldn’t get into the game, because you can easily clear most of their drops with Patron combos.
[cardinsert card=”deaths-bite” float=”right”]
[card]Death’s Bite[/card] is key to victory in the mid game. It gains you a lot of tempo and that’s where you should be coming back into the game. You should be able to clear 2 minions with the hits + all the small stuff with Whirlwind effect. Even though you’re gonna lose some life, that’s not really important. Turn 5 should usually be your comeback turn. It’s really important to take back the board control before turn 6. That’s the easiest way to lose – Paladin having board control and using [card]Mysterious Challenger[/card]. Remember that when you REALLY need the Whirlwind effect, but you still are on the first hit of Death’s Bite, you might equip another weapon after you swing once to force the weapon’s destruction and 1 AoE damage.
[card]Grim Patron[/card] combos are incredibly useful against Secret Paladin. Their only AoE is [card]Consecration[/card] and they rarely run [card]Equality[/card]. It means that if you manage to get a few Patrons on the board, they’re usually gonna stay this way. Once you start rolling, it’s easy to win the game. Turn 5 is your first opportunity. The standard combo of [card]Grim Patron[/card] + [card]Inner Rage[/card] + [card]Death’s Bite[/card] (Whirlwind) to create 4 Patrons. If you clear every 3+ attack minion on the enemy’s side while spawning the Patrons, it’s really unlikely that’s he’s gonna have a way to deal with them. The only way Paladin can kill full HP Patron from the hand is [card]Truesilver Champion[/card].
So if you get Patrons on the board on turn 5, that’s really good for you and you should have the easy game from now on. Remember that if you have some Patrons on the board, you might play the [card]Warsong Commander[/card] on the next turns. This way each new Patron you spawn is going to get Charge. It helps with clearing the board a lot! If you don’t have Patrons, however, you have to prepare for a hard turn 6.
[cardinsert card=”mysterious-challenger” float=”right”]
On [card]Mysterious Challenger[/card] turn, you want to have as much tempo as you can. Minions on the board, weapon equipped etc. is a good thing. If Paladin drops Challenger on full board and you have nothing, you’ve pretty much lost the game and your only way out is stalling until [card]Warsong Commander[/card] + [card]Grim Patron[/card] combos (which might not even save you).
But, how to play the Challenger’s turn out? First, if you draw the [card]Execute[/card] in the mid game, you should probably keep it for the Challenger. If you have some Armor/[card]Armorsmith[/card] on the board and [card]Shield Block[/card] in your hand, you can also keep the [card]Shield Slam[/card]. First things first. There are quite few ways to approach this turn. The first secret you’re gonna encounter is most likely the [card]Noble Sacrifice[/card]. Attacking into something procs it and then instantly activates [card]Redemption[/card], getting the Paladin 2/1. It’s actually good – you prefer to revive the 1/1 or 2/1 – you don’t want enemy to get another [card]Shielded Minibot[/card] for example (because of Divine Shield) or a 6/1 Challenger (unless you can kill it afterwards). So, you want to attack with a minion that has 3+ health and possibly is gonna benefit from being attacked. [card]Armorsmith[/card], [card]Acolyte of Pain[/card] and [card]Grim Patron[/card] are good targets to proc it. Now, one minion is gonna get the [card]Avenge[/card] buff. If enemy dropped [card]Mysterious Challenger[/card] without any other minions, it’s easy – Mysterious Challenger is a 9/8. You want to either [card]Execute[/card] or [card]Shield Slam[/card] it. If there are more minions on the board, thing’s getting more tricky. If something other gets the buff, you have more minions to deal with, which is generally bad. If it’s something small, it should usually die to the weapon.
After you wait a turn, [card]Competitive Spirit[/card] procs. If you clear whole board – it doesn’t proc, so depending on the board state you might even want to leave enemy with 1 small minion for Competitive Spirit to proc. This way you guarantee he’s not gonna get more value from it later. That’s not always a correct play, but a thing to consider depending on the situation. Last thing is [card]Repentance[/card] – you can just play the [card]Unstable Ghoul[/card] or [card]Acolyte of Pain[/card] into it. If you play the [card]Warsong Commander[/card] into the repentance and follow with [card]Grim Patron[/card]s, remember that after the first Whirlwind the Warsong Commander dies. But the Patrons that were spawned still get charge. It means that you might still do some combos.
The thing is getting much harder if you don’t have any board presence. If Mysterious Challenger is dropped on 100% empty board, the easiest way to clear is attacking with weapon to proc the Noble Sacrifice, Redemption and Avenge. This way Paladin is left with 9/8 and 2/1. Then the best thing you can do is Whirlwind + Execute, but the 2/1 isn’t that big of a threat. It means that dealing only with the Challenger is enough. Slam + Execute or Shield Block + Shield Slam (if you have some more Armor) is also fine.
If you have no minions on the board, Paladin has strong board presence and drops the Challenger, well, that’s the game most of time. I mean, you shouldn’t give up and surrender, everything can happen, but that’s really hard to counter. The best thing is probably to not attack and proc any Secrets (unless you can clear couple of minions after proccing Secrets) – if you attack, not only he’s gonna have 3 more attack thanks to the 3/2 from Noble Sacrifice (in case of Competitive Spirit), but also 3 more attack because of the Avenge. [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card] is the best thing you can drop probably, because it gives you more options on the next turn and possibly allows you to play the Warsong Commander + Grim Patron combos turn earlier. But you need really great combos, because you’re on 2-3 turns timer with so much damage on the board. Some Inner Rages, some Whirlwinds and possibly even Execute or two will be needed to really clear the board.
Honestly, there are hundreds of possible scenarios and it really depends on a lot of things. Board state, cards in your hand, enemy hand, your health… It’s impossible to give one best line of play, because every time it looks different.
But let’s assume that you’ve dealt with Dr. 6 and you’re going into the late game.
P.S. If opponent doesn’t have [card]Mysterious Challenger[/card] on turn 6, the game is gonna be much easier, because you’re gonna have at least 1 more turn to cycle/develop the weapon/play Emperor etc.
If it’s the Aggro version, you’ve won the match, congrats! Unless you’re really low and he finishes you with his last breath weapon/Consecration/something, he won’t outvalue you in the long game. He might draw as much as he wants to, if you get the Grim Patrons rolling, you can clear most of what he plays for free.
If it’s the Midrange version, it’s not yet over. The worst case scenario for you is turn 6 [card]Mysterious Challenger[/card] into Turn 7 [card]Dr. Boom[/card] into turn 8 [card]Tirion Fordring[/card]. All of them are pretty hard to deal with when you’re Patron Warrior, so in case of perfect curve you can’t really help – you’re probably gonna lose. But if he won’t get perfect curve, you should have the advantage after clearing the Mysterious Challenger.
First thing – Paladin is often gonna draw blank. Drawing into a Secret in the late game means you have one free turn of tempo. Drawing into Secretkeeper, Haunted Crepeer, Shielded Minibot, Muster for Battle… when you have Grim Patrons is also blank – he can’t even play them. The only Paladin’s hope are his big drops. Remember, though, to clear the board, especially if you have low health. Even 1/1 Recruit can turn into 9/9 with double [card]Blessing of Kings[/card].
Another advice I’d give is to keep the [card]Shield Block[/card]s until the last moment. Obviously – if you don’t have anything else to do and you have spare 3 mana, use it. But it’s better when enemy doesn’t know that you can instantly gain 5-10 health. Once he gets you pretty low (below 10, he might go ultra-desperate mode and try to rush you down no matter what. If then you counter his last chance plan with Shield Blocks, you’re guaranteed to win the game.
[cardinsert card=”dr-boom” float=”right”]
Cards are also important. It’s very easy to set the big [card]Battle Rage[/card] in the late game and once you have couple of answers in your hand, you just can’t lose the game. The only real threats Paladin can have are, like I’ve said before, [card]Dr. Boom[/card] and [card]Tirion Fordring[/card]. Also be careful against [card]Loatheb[/card] – if it catches you by surprise when you have a lot of spells, it can be bad. Dr. Boom usually needs the Execute, but if you’re lucky enough, you can try the [card]Grim Patron[/card] combos. Hitting the bomb with Patron can either gain a lot of value if the Bomb hits the newly spawned one for 1-2 or just outright kill it, which on the other hand sucks. So it’s like a lottery – you can gain a lot, but you can also lose a lot. If you can, take the safer play and just remove the 7/7.
[cardinsert card=”tirion-fordring” float=”right”]
[card]Tirion Fordring[/card] is probably the hardest one to kill. First, you need to take care of the Divine Shield. Either run a small minion in, [card]Slam[/card] (it cycles!), Whirlwind or attack with your weapon. Then, you have to get rid of a 6/6 body, which may actually be pretty hard. [card]Execute[/card] or [card]Shield Slam[/card] obviously come handy. And even after, Paladin is left with an [card]Ashbringer[/card] – if you didn’t tech the [card]Harrison Jones[/card], it’s either gonna be hard to develop something or it’s gonna push for a lot of damage in case you’re pretty low. There is no real way to play around Tirion, you just have to pray that you have an answer by the time it’s played. After it’s dead, [card]Unstable Ghoul[/card] can be good way to stop the damage, especially if you have some cards that benefit from it on the board – Armorsmith, Acolyte of Pain, Grim Patron, Frothing Berserker.
The game will rarely last more than 10 turns. Either you’ve stabilized and combo’ed them or they got too much value with Challenger + heavier drops and killed you.
Just like against most of the other Paladin decks, your main win condition is [card]Grim Patron[/card]. Paladin has very hard time dealing with your Patrons, so spawning a lot of them is an easy way to win. But you want to get as much value of your Patrons as you can. Getting two on the board is not enough, because they still can be cleared. You aim at at least 3-4 Patrons with at least one being at full health. This way the board is protected against both Truesilver and Consecration – Paladin would need both (or even more!) to clear them.
[cardinsert card=”grim-patron” float=”right”]
Obviously, the best way is to combo them with [card]Warsong Commander[/card], but it’s hard in this matchup. Even with Emperor Thaurissan, the combo doesn’t come before turn 6 (with Coin) or turn 7. It means that it’s gonna be AFTER Paladin has played Mysterious Challenger. Which might not be that terrible, but it could make things harder. Turn 5 is usually your best bet if you have the access to Death’s Bite and Inner Rage.
Your second main win condition – [card]Frothing Berserker[/card] should be usually played as a tempo play. Dropping it into the board as a minion is rarely wrong. The only situation where you shouldn’t do that is when it’s the late game already and Frothing gives you a good finisher with Warsong and some Whirlwind effects.
That’s it for the first part of this matchup. This is Warrior’s PoV and the Paladin’s one is gonna come out soon.
The match is much harder from the Patron Warrior’s side, even though he’s the slight favorite to win (like I’ve said before, in my opinion it’s like 55/45). You’re the deck that’s playing reactive, so you have much more decisions to make. It’s a pretty hard matchup for the Patron skill-wise. You need to know which removals to use when and how to deal with enemy Secrets. With some experience, the matchup is gonna get easier and easier.
At the end of part 2 (Paladin’s PoV), I’m gonna include the link to the second voting. There you’d be able to decide which matchup you want to read about next. I hope that you’ve enjoyed the read. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, leave them in the section below!