Hello everyone, Falathar here with a brand new deck: Dragon Paladin. This season I have been quite successful so far. I made Legend with my favorite deck (Control Warrior) and had a 90% win rate (Yes, 90%, I lost every tenth game with Warrior. Crazy isn’t it?). As almost always, I’m currently floating in the Top 100 and play a lot of different decks. [cardinsert card=”azure-drake” float=”right”]
My article today won’t be about Warrior; it will be about another class that I enjoy playing: Paladin. With the brand new expansion Paladin got some shiny new tools, and I’m very excited to use some of them at the high Legend ranks.
So what can you expect from this article?
In this article I will give you a guide on how I would build and play Dragon Paladin with access to Wing 3, then Wing 4, and finally with the entire expansion available. Please note that I don’t consider my words as ultimate wisdom, so neither should you. My posted lists are meant to be a start for the upcoming Dragon Paladin archetype.
Before we start, I think it is important to summarize the differences between the two distinct Paladin archetypes. I will mention them often in this article, so understanding the differences in them is critical.
Paladin’s Control archetype aims to win in the late game by burying the opponent in card advantage. To do that, it plays fewer early and mid-game minions than Paladin’s Midrange archetype, and more powerful late game cards. Another important feature of Control Paladin is that it absolutely needs to play double [card]Equality[/card]. Midrange Paladin can afford to play only one, because it has a stronger curve in the early-mid game.
Midrange Paladin plays fewer expensive cards, but has more early and mid-game minions. It can also be more aggressive and has quicker starts than its control counterpart. It is very reliant on having a good board presence and snowballing the superior board to victory. Midrange Paladin’s strategy revolves around establishing board control and riding tempo to victory.
[toc]Why should I play Dragon Paladin?[/toc]
I will be honest with you, Dragon Paladin without Wings 4 and 5 (especially Wing 5) is not at its full potential. It is not the best deck you can currently play. But it is a good deck that has some strong match-ups and very few weaknesses. In addition to that, it is also a lot of fun to play with shiny new cards. While it may not be extremely strong currently, I can promise you that it will become a real powerhouse in the meta game once the whole expansion is released. If you start playing it now, you will have an advantage over people who start playing it in Wing 5.
[cardinsert card=”dragon-consort” float=”right”]
[toc]Dragon Paladin Wing #3[/toc]
Important cards in Wing #3:
- [card]Dragon Consort[/card]
This card will be the core card of every Dragon Paladin deck to come. It is a 5/5 body for 5 mana, which is decent by itself, with a very powerful Battlecry. Dragon Consort basically gives you a free [card]Innervate[/card] for the next dragon minion you play. The dragon can be played on the same turn, or many turns later, and you will still get the discount. A 7 mana [card]Ysera[/card] against Control decks is extremely valuable, while a 7 mana [card]Alexstrasza[/card] can outright win you the game against decks like Face Hunter.
I’ve chosen Control Paladin to be the core of this deck. Without the new Midrange Dragons ([card]Hungry Dragon[/card] and [card]Volcanic Drake[/card]) a Control Paladin is better suited to play the dragons currently in the game.
I will not analyze every card, because the majority of them are self-explanatory. If you want an in-depth analysis on Paladin, you might want to check out my previous articles about Paladin! In this article, I would rather cover the more unusual choices:
- 2 [card]Azure Drake[/card]
The standard Control Paladin list I play on the ladder utilizes double [card]Lay on Hands[/card] to have enough card draw and life gain. With the addition of Dragon Consort to the card pool, I think Azure Drake becomes a good choice in Control Paladin. Because Azure Drake provides card draw, I believe the second Lay on Hands is unneeded. Azure Drake is primarily included in this deck as another card draw engine. The spell damage bonus is irrelevant the majority of time. Being able to play Azure Drake for 3 mana due to Dragon Consort makes this card a fine choice in this deck.
- 1 [card]Blackwing Technician[/card]
This card is mainly included in the deck to strengthen its early-mid game. With six dragons, you can trigger Blackwing Technician’s effect the majority of the time. I don’t play two of them because in this type of Paladin deck I never want to draw multiple copies of it.
Even after Blackrock Mountain, Ysera is the strongest minion you can choose to play in a Control deck. The potential amount of value you get from her is insane. You don’t draw cards from your deck, which is very crucial when it comes to fatigue. Ysera’s stats make her very resilient, and she also dodges the omnipresent [card]Big Game Hunter[/card].
Alexstrasza is more useful against aggressive decks than control decks because of her ability to heal you. In Paladin, she is not as useful as in Warrior because you can’t pressure the opponent’s life total as efficiently. Nevertheless, prior to [card]Chromaggus[/card] being released she is one of the better dragons available. Having access to a huge [card]Antique Healbot[/card] will win you games against decks like Face Hunter.
[toc]Tips on how to play Dragon Paladin Wing #3 [/toc]
- You are the best control deck out there. Almost no other deck can rival your late game, so be as patient as possible. You are in no hurry to end the game quickly. Against other control decks like Priest or Warrior, your biggest source of card advantage is your hero power. Sooner or later they are forced to spend real cards for your tokens. Try to squeeze in as many hero power activations as possible. [cardinsert card=”shielded-minibot” float=”right”]
- When you mulligan, generally look for your early game: [card]Zombie Chow[/card], [card]Shielded Minibot[/card], and [card]Muster for Battle[/card] are your most crucial cards to surviving any potential early pressure from your opponent. Only keep [card]Truesilver Champion[/card] and [card]Consecration[/card] against aggressive decks if you have the Coin and other early game cards. For more info, you should check out my other two Paladin articles.
- Against other control decks, don’t keep your early game. There is no point in keeping cards like Zombie Chow against Priest or Warrior. You mainly want to mulligan for [card]Azure Drake[/card], and removal like [card]Equality[/card], [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card] and [card]Truesilver Champion[/card]. Also, don’t use [card]Alexstrasza[/card] too early against Warrior or Priest simply because you can. You’re much better off saving the life gain for yourself, because you will inevitably win in the late game.
[toc]Dragon Paladin Wing #4 [/toc]
Important cards with Wing #4:
- [card]Hungry Dragon[/card]
This card is rather tricky to evaluate. In my eyes, people both overvalue and undervalue this card. This card is unlike [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] in that it is not a card you can jam in almost any deck. His drawback of spawning a small minion for the enemy is relevant. The spawned minion is more than a nuisance, because it weakens the Hungry Dragon if you don’t get rid of it the same turn Hungry Dragon hits the battlefield. Weapons are the most efficient tool in getting rid of Hungry Dragon’s meal. Therefore, Hungry Dragon is at its strongest in decks that have weapons, mainly Rogue, Paladin and Warrior.
A Turn 3 [card]Muster for Battle[/card] with a follow-up [card]Hungry Dragon[/card] will be a very strong tempo play. Classes like Druid, Warrior and Rogue have a very hard time dealing with a 5/6 on Turn 4, especially when you have some Silverhand Recruits already in play.
Chrommagus, from a lore perspective, is Ysera’s little brother. He is immune to [card]Big Game Hunter[/card] Battlecry and has a high amount of health. Like Ysera, he will create a crazy amount of card advantage if he sticks on the battlefield for several turns. Because of [card]Dragon Consort[/card], Paladin is capable of playing Chromaggus on Turn 6, which can put a huge amount of pressure on the opponent.
When Hungry Dragon is available for play, I think playing Midrange Paladin is a better choice than Control Paladin. With Hungry Dragon, Paladin now has access to ridiculous tempo plays like Turn 2 Muster for Battle, with the coin, then following up with [card]Blackwing Technician[/card] on Turn 3 and [card]Hungry Dragon[/card] on Turn 4.
Now let us take a look at some unusual choices in Midrange Dragon Paladin:
- 2 [card]Azure Drake[/card]
This card is still in the deck, due to the lack of better alternatives. Azure Drake is by no means a bad card, he gives this deck good card draw. This deck needs 8 dragons to reliable trigger [card]Blackwing Technician[/card]. Because we already have Azure Drake as card draw, I have chosen to cut [card]Lay on Hands[/card].
- 2 [card]Antique Healbot[/card]
The fun police, better known as Face Hunter, will still be around. Thus playing double Antique Healbot is a necessity in this type of deck.
[toc]Tips on how to play Dragon Paladin Wing #4 [/toc]
- Midrange Paladin is a proactive deck. This is important to understand, because unlike control decks, you want to dictate the pace of the game against every other deck. It doesn’t matter if you play against slower decks like Warrior, or faster decks like Hunter. You always want to have a good curve in your starting hand so that you can be proactive at the beginning of the game. Therefore, unlike Control Paladin, do not keep removal in your hand. You want to be proactive! Playing Hungry Dragon while already having a board presence will put a huge amount of pressure on your opponent. So watch out for a proactive hand! [cardinsert card=”hungry-dragon” float=”right”]
- When you mulligan, generally always look for your early game: [card]Zombie Chow[/card], [card]Shielded Minibot[/card], [card]Muster for Battle[/card] and [card]Knife Juggler[/card]. Against slower decks like Rogue or other Paladin decks, it is also okay to also keep cards like [card]Hungry Dragon[/card] and [card]Blackwing Technician[/card].
- Keep [card]Truesilver Champion[/card] against the following decks (does not matter if you have the Coin or not): Rogue, Warrior, Priest and Druid.
- Don’t let [card]Blackwing Technician[/card] mess up your curve. Let’s say you have Blackwing Technician and [card]Dragon Consort[/card] as your only dragon on turn 5. Do not play Blackwing Technician over Dragon Consort because you are afraid that you won’t trigger the Battlecry in the future. The Dragon Consort is a much more powerful play, especially when you could then draw into your bigger dragons. Blackwing Technician’s Battlecry is not worth it to make tempo inefficient plays.
[toc]Dragon Paladin Wing #5 [/toc]
Important cards with Wing #5:
- [card]Blackwing Corruptor[/card]
Finally the card that makes Dragon tribal decks a force to be reckoned with. Blackwing Corruptor is 5 mana [card]Fire Elemental[/card]. Having a decent body attached to a removal spell is extremely powerful. This card will fix some of Paladin’s weaknesses against Rogue, while also being great against every other class.
- [card]Volcanic Drake[/card]
This card will replace the not so optimal [card]Azure Drake[/card]. Volcanic Drake has synergy with Paladin’s hero power and cards, which will make it a three to four mana minion the majority of time.
[cardinsert card=”nefarian” float=”right”]
- [card]Solemn Vigil[/card]
Due to my Magic and Chess related background, I have a good amount of experience when it comes to strategic thinking and theoretical evaluations. But Solemn Vigil is such a complex card, that it is hard to evaluate it without ever playing it. Therefore I don’t know if it is an average, good or great card. But I’m sure that it is not a garbage card!
Now let us take a look at some unusual choices:
- 1 [card]Consecration[/card]
Card slots are extremely tight in this type of deck. Because we now have access to Blackwing Corruptor as a sort of removal spell, I think it is fine to cut one Consecration.
[toc]Tips on how to play Dragon Paladin Wing #5 [/toc]
- Mulliganing with this deck is the same as with the Wing #4 Paladin. Always look for your early game: [card]Zombie Chow[/card], [card]Shielded Minibot[/card] and [card]Muster for Battle[/card]. Against slower decks like Rogue or other Paladin decks, it is okay to also keep cards like [card]Hungry Dragon[/card] and [card]Blackwing Technician[/card].
- Now that [card]Blackwing Corruptor[/card] is available, this deck will become more complex to play. Now you should think ahead and sequence your plays optimally. Let us pretend, for example, that you have [card]Hungry Dragon[/card] as your only dragon in your hand together with [card]Blackwing Corruptor[/card]. Do you play Hungry Dragon on Turn 4 and hope to draw into another dragon, or do you keep it to guarantee the trigger from Blackwing Corruptor on the following turn? Decisions, decisions.
- Prior to Wing #5 [card]Dragon Consort[/card] will be a rather trivial card to play. But now you not only have to think about which dragon card you want to spend your free [card]Innervate[/card] on, you also have to coordinate it with [card]Blackwing Corruptor[/card].
- As already mentioned, don’t let [card]Blackwing Technician[/card] mess up your curve, the Battlecry does not play in the same league as Blackwing Corruptor’s Battlecry. Ultimately, it does not justify messing up your curve.
I’ve put a huge amount of work into the decklists for each wing. I don’t claim that they are perfect, but I think they are an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to start playing Dragon Paladin. I hope you all enjoyed my article. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.