Hello everyone! Allow me to drop a few words about myself before we delve into the world of a Paladin. My name is Adrian Riedl aka Falathar on Hearthstone. I’m a student and live in Austria, Europe. I’m a Magic Online Grinder and love playing Hearthstone. When I started playing Hearthstone half a year ago, I didn’t enjoy it much because it seemed stupid to me with a lot of RNG and I thought Magic was more complex and skill intensive than Hearthstone. After taking a break from Magic Online (I got disqualified from a tournament where I was 4-0 because the program crashed; the program does really suck and I would never play it for anything else besides money), I started playing Hearthstone more and I figured out that I was completely wrong about the game. There was not as much RNG in the game as I thought.
Hearthstone was actually more complex than Magic. Therefore my motivation to play the game increased enormously. So a few months later I’m a multiple Legend player, still enjoying the game very much. As I already mentioned constructed Hearthstone is very complex. For that reason I wanted to write about Hearthstone strategy. My first article is not about general strategy or theory; it is a primer about Paladin Control. So what can you expect from this article? It’s a guide for people who want to play Paladin Control on the ladder and want to reach at least Rank 5. I don’t like people giving a strict 30 card deck and tell them to play it, because I played it and I’m doing great with it. I want people to understand their class, I want them to know what the core cards are and I want them to know how to play against the different classes and what cards are good in different metagames.
Although I show you my decklist for starters, don’t consider it as ultimate wisdom and the perfect Paladin decklist (it’s out there, I don’t have it and maybe one day someone will build it). I will instead tell you, which cards you absolutely have to play and therefore belong to the core of every Paladin control deck. Then I will describe the various options you have available (not all of them, but some of them) to fill in the blanks. After that I will write a short summary about the most popular class builds you face on ladder and how to play against them.
[toc]What is Paladin Control?[/toc]
[cardinsert card=”quartermaster” float=”left”]Paladin is designed as a mainly control class. The hero power does support slower strategies. In a vacuum you create a bunch of Silverhand Recruits that add up and enable good trades over time. You don’t put a ton of pressure on your opponent with your hero power. Paladin also doesn’t have high damage output class cards like Hunter. So by design Paladin decks are midrange/control decks that don’t aim to kill the opponent as fast as possible (I’m aware of the Aggro Paladin with [card]Divine Favor[/card], although I don’t think it is bad, I think that other classes better support aggro decks with their hero power and class cards).
Before GvG Paladin was the worst class of the game. It had a lot of good midgame/ lategame cards, but almost no early game cards. Until turn 4 you weren’t doing anything meaningful. Decks like Hunter would have already established a great board and would have dealt a lot of damage when you actually started playing board impacting cards. In addition to that, besides [card]Equality[/card], there was almost no powerful synergy between class cards and the hero power. Then Goblins vs Gnomes came out and it did change a lot for Paladin. Paladin got some great early game cards like [card]Muster for Battle[/card] and [card]Shielded Minibot[/card] in addition to some other good midgame cards. Now Paladin is a good choice for the ladder, because with GvG Paladin is a control deck that has a good early game, a very good midgame and an excellent lategame.
[cardinsert card=”tirion-fordring” float=”right”]
[toc]Am I a Paladin player?[/toc]
Do you like long and complex games, where you have to think a lot about your decisions (for example not using the Hero Power if you have the Mana Crystals available is the best play sometimes)? Do you love tinkering around with your deck, changing cards week to week as the metagame changes and you – as a control player – need to adapt? Do you see reaching Legend as a journey, where the road is the goal and you want to be really good at this game in general, once you reach Legend? If you answer these questions with yes, well then Paladin is the class you should play.
On the other side if you like fast games, where you attack the opponents face the majority of time, this deck is not for you. When your aim in Hearthstone is to reach higher ranks as soon as possible, and you don’t want to think too much (I don’t want to imply that aggressive decks are stupid to play, because the majority are not), then Paladin is not the class you should play.
[toc]What are the “Core cards” of Paladin Control?[/toc]
2 [card]Zombie Chow[/card]
Zombie Chow is an amazing 1 drop for a control deck. His drawback is almost irrelevant and he has awesome stats for a 1 drop. For the simple investment of one mana crystal you can very early gain board control. He eats the majority of 1 drops without dying and trades with a lot of 2 drops. Against Hunter he can kill [card]Mad Scientist [/card] and then trigger [card]Explosive Trap [/card] or [card]Freezing Trap[/card]. He does a lot of things for the simple investment of 1 mana, while your aggro opponent needs to invest a lot more resources to get rid of it. Although he is not as good against Control as he is against aggressive decks, I would always play two of them.
2 [card]Shielded Minibot[/card]
Shielded Minibot is another great addition from GvG to the Paladin Class. He gives you early board control by taking out a lot of 1 and 2 drops like [card]Flame Imp[/card], [card]Knife Juggler[/card], [card]Mad Scientist[/card] etc. and he only trades his divine shield for it. Of course your opponent could somehow ping him and break the divine shield so that you won’t have him in play after he attacked. But your opponent will lose a lot of tempo/time by doing that and that’s a good thing, because as the game progresses you can then play more powerful minions.
2 [card]Muster for Battle[/card]
[cardinsert card=”muster-for-battle” float=”right”]
Muster for Battles doesn’t sound like a very exciting card at first, but it gives you an early board presence and a decent Weapon to attack low health minions. It’s a very good tool against aggressive decks to fight for board control, especially when combined with other cheap minions. In general, against control decks you don’t want to play this card as soon as possible, because control decks don’t need to have early board control against other control decks. They can later get it back and punish you for not using your resources optimally. So, against control decks try to combine it with a follow up [card]Quartermaster[/card] or simply play them together on Turn 8. Be aware of [card]Harrison Jones[/card], so don’t be too fancy with the weapon and try to get rid of it as soon as possible. A Harrison Jones that draws one more card because you didn’t use the weapon for one turn can be very backbreaking.
Consecration is the Paladin’s sweeper of choice if you lose the board against aggressive decks or simply want to push ahead by killing/ damaging some minions. Despite all the deathrattle cards that were added to the game with Naxxramas, Consecration is still very powerful. You will, of course, not always destroy everything, but you will do serious damage to the opponent’s board if it’s flooded with creatures. If you combine it with Equality you will get rid of all the opponent’s minions, no matter how big they are. So, this card is also useful in control matchups.
Equality is the most powerful spell in Paladin’s arsenal. No matter how mighty and powerful the creatures are, everyone can die to Equality. On its own, without a board or other cards to combine, it is not very impressive. But if you combine it with a bunch of Silverhand Recruits, [card]Consecration[/card] or [card]Wild Pyromancer[/card] you will kill all your opponent’s creatures and maybe punish him heavily for playing too many creatures. Because the effect is so powerful and unique in the game, try to gain as much value as possible from it, because you can only play two of them.
2 [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card]
This minion is an excellent one. A 3/3 for 3 is solid, but the battlecry is very powerful. He acts as a pseudo removal against bigger creatures by turning them into cute little 1/X’s. In addition to that he enables very good trades, if you already have a board. Be flexible with this card. If you need board presence against aggressive decks, it is correct to play him without making great use of the battlecry.
1 [card]Big Game Hunter[/card]
Why is this card a core card? In games against other control decks you encounter situations where you need to answer big creatues as soon as possible. Paladin already has cards to deal with big creatures. But when you face a lot of legendaries [card]Equality[/card] and [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card] have to work overtime. In addition to that, Aldor Peacekeeper is not an answer to the powerful Ragnaros, the Firelord. [card]Ysera[/card] also can be huge pain if you don’t have an answer for it. Of course, Big Game Hunter doesn’t kill Ysera, but he will help you saving Equality for her by killing other big bombs.
2 [card]Truesilver Champion[/card]
[cardinsert card=”truesilver-champion” float=”right”]
A powerful weapon, that is useful in almost every matchup. The healing effect can be relevant sometimes, so don’t be afraid to simply attack face if you need the life gain. If you play a control mirror and you think the game will be decided by card advantage and you see yourself casting Muster to Battles in the foreseeable future, try to bait out Harrison Jones with one charge if you can.
2 [card]Sludge Belcher[/card]
The best taunt in the game, due to its stickiness. He slows down aggro, can protect your little 1/1s from attacks (so that you can then buff them with Quartermaster) and is a decent 5 drop against control decks.
Quartermaster is a powerful midgame addition of GvG. While the other cards of GvG are more vital to the Paladin deck to function properly, it is still a very powerful 5 drop. Finally Paladin got a powerful minion that has synergy with the hero power. On it’s own it is a very weak card, but when combined with the Hero Power or Muster for Battles you will get amazing value from this card. Some decks have a very hard time dealing with some 3/3s and a 2/5 on Turn 5.
1 [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card]
Every control deck needs to play Sylvanas, because of the powerful effect. I see a lot of people at lower ranks or sometimes higher ranks playing her on an empty board. The majority of time this is a mistake, because you don’t play her for being a 5/5 for 6 mana. You play her for the value and the potential game changing deathrattle effect. So try to play her when your opponent has some powerful minions you can steal or simply use her as a counter against [card]Ragnaros the Firelord[/card].
1 [card]Lay on Hands[/card]
The card seems very strong and by surprise it is very strong. It is card draw, combined with lifegain, so the perfect lategame card against both aggro and control decks.
1 [card]Tirion Fordring[/card]
The best legendary card Paladin has access to. The deathrattle effect is even more powerful than the 6/6 with Divine Shield, so try to bait out silence with other cards.
[toc]Techcards and other cards[/toc]
[cardinsert card=”bolvar-fordragon” float=”left”]
The core of Paladin Control is 22 cards. In my eyes they are all vital to the deck and there are no better alternatives. The missing 8 cards can be filled with a lot of different cards, depending on the metagame or the decks you expect to face more often. From [card]Antique Healbot[/card] to [card]Guardian of Kings[/card], from [card]Ragnaros the Firelord[/card] to [card]Ysera [/card] you have a lot of options. For example you could add more early and mid game cards like [card]Knife Juggler[/card], [card]Coghammer[/card], [card]annoy-o-tron[/card] etc. if you face a lot of aggressive decks.
Here’s a list of cards you can add with explanations on some of them (not a full list of course, but to have some ideas):
Loatheb is a very good 5 drop. At first, he may seem only useful against decks with a lot of spells like Miracle Rogue, Freeze Mage etc. But he is also especially great if you are behind on board. Other minions your opponent can simply remove with his spells, while keeping his whole board intact. Loatheb on the other hand will make sure that your opponent can use only creatures to get effectively rid of him. In addition to that, he is a great card to further develop your board to make and to make sure that your opponent can’t come back with spells the next turn.
He may look like a tech card, but unlike cards like [card]Hemet Nesingwary[/card] he has broader applications. When you consider that 5 of the 9 classes have access to weapons (even 6 if you count Warlock), you realize that he has very broad applications. Also against non weapon classes a 5/4 for 5 is not too shabby.
Paladin is one of the few classes who got a good legendary card with GvG. Despite what some people might tell you about him, I can assure you that he is a very good 5 mana legendary minion. Even if you topdeck him in the later stages of the game, he will grow in power quite quickly. Bolvar may be vulnerable to silence, but that doesn’t make him a bad card. Nowadays people usually don’t play more than one silence effect, so you should be quite happy when your opponent silences this card, because that means one less silence for [card]Tirion Fordring[/card]. If you feel like your opponent might play [card]Big Game Hunter[/card], try to play him as a 6/7.
You can’t just jam this card in your deck without adding more support to it. If you play this card, you should add more cheap minions like [card]annoy-o-tron[/card] and [card]Coghammer[/card] to improve the synergy of your deck.
If you want to have more consistent Equalities that completely sweep the board, you may add 1-2 Wild Pyromancers. It is not a must, but it’s a good choice if you don’t plan to play a lot of other early game minions and instead want more lategame minions. So, you have more ways to clean the board with Equality.
Other possible cards you may add:
[card]Sword of Justice[/card], [card]Coghammer[/card], [card]Annoy o Tron[/card], [card]Azure Drake[/card], [card]Hammer of Wrath[/card], [card]Humility[/card], [card]Seal of Light[/card], [card]The Black Knight[/card], [card]Ragnaros the Firelord[/card], [card]Ysera[/card], [card]Dr. Boom[/card], [card]Cairne Bloodhoof[/card], [card]Sen’ jin Shieldmasta[/card], [card]Piloted Sky Golem[/card], [card]Iron Beak Owl[/card], [card]Stampeding Kodo[/card] etc.
[cardinsert card=”coghammer” float=”right”]
Every card on the list can be a good addition to the deck with a proper setup, but they are not vital to it. Of course, you can’t just put only expensive cards and expect to have a good deck (so try to keep the curve balanced).
At the beginning of the article you can see my decklist. At the time of writing I’m at rank 5 with this deck because I’m testing with a friend for a tournament and also tested a lot of other decks. But reaching Legend within the next week won’t be a problem. I won’t get too detailed about this list. I think 3 healing effects are the optimal number in Paladin Control. Against aggressive decks you need to have reliable access to heals, so that they can’t burst you down once you have stabilized. I play [card]Piloted Sky Golem[/card] over [card]Cairne Bloodhoof[/card], because he trades more favourably against 5 and 6 drops, hits harder and is better against Priest, because they can’t steal it with [card]Shrinkmeister[/card] and [card]Cabal Shadow Priest[/card]. I also don’t play silence effects . I don’t think it’s worth it in the new meta, but if you really want to have a Silence you can add it to your deck. All the cards I added besides the core are very flexible, so feel free tinkering around.
[toc]The matchups and how to play Paladin Control[/toc]
[cardinsert card=”lay-on-hands” float=”left”]For the scope of the article I won’t delve too deep. I will maybe cover all the different matchups and how they play out in all their complexity in a future article. So this deck is obviously a control deck. But to effectively play this deck, one must first understand what a control deck is. A control deck wants to reach the later stages of the game, where they have more powerful cards than faster/ more aggressive decks. The early game cards of a control deck only exist to reach the late game alive and with a healthy life total. There is no point in having powerful cards in your deck or hand when you’re dead. So don’t be too careful with your early game cards, when playing against Hunter, Zoolock or other aggressive strategies. You only want to buy some time. So don’t be afraid of not so good trades against aggressive strategies, if they buy you time. Your late game will make up for the loss of early card disadvantage.
All in all playing against aggressive strategies is not that complex. Don’t die, gain control in the midgame/ late game with your powerful minions/ spells. By the nature of controlling and aggressive strategies you should almost always win in the late game. Against other control decks, things will get more complicated. You have to realize if you can win via card advantage, pure damage or fatigue and which path is the best, depending on your board, the opponent’s board, your cards and the cards the opponent might have depending on his plays the last few turns.
Warlock [cardinsert card=”lord-jaraxxus” float=”right”]
Both Zoolock and Handlock are good matchups. Always try to mulligan for Zoo, because having no early game against Zoo is a death sentence. Handlock on the other hand can’t really punish you for having a slower hand. Against Handlock you need to be kind of an aggressor, because you can’t consistenly beat [card]Lord Jaraxxus[/card]. That doesn’t mean you need to make bad trades, and try to be as fast as possible, because you can very well keep up with their Giants and Drakes etc. Just be aware of Jaraxxus as their ultimate trump card.
Mulligan for: the early game cards like [card]Muster for Battle[/card], [card]Shielded Minibot[/card], [card]Zombie Chow[/card]. Keep [card]Equality [/card] if you have [card]Wild Pyromancer[/card] as an enabler, otherwise ship it. Only keep [card]Truesilver Champion[/card] and [card]Consecration [/card] if you have the Coin and other early game cards.
Warrior Control is a good matchup. The majority of time, they’ll have to kill you via damage because you have more powerful cards than they have. Therefore they can’t win via card advantage or fatigue. This will happen via weapon attacks in your face or when [card]Alexstrasza[/card] and [card]Grommash Hellscream[/card] are combined. So be careful with your healing effects and don’t waste them. Try to stay above 12 life points (Grommash Hellscream combined with [card]Cruel Taskmaster[/card]) or 16 life points if they have a [card]Death’s Bite[/card] equipped. [card]Quartermaster [/card] combined with a lot of tokens can be very hard to deal for them (They have very limited answers to them, namely [card]Brawl [/card] and [card]Baron Geddon[/card] combined with [card]Whirlwind[/card] effects). Be aware of [card]Acolyte of Pain[/card], because – if you don’t play correctly against this card – you will very likely lose. Giving your opponent three free cards is unacceptable, so don’t flood the board with tokens if you can’t answer the Acolyte in one swing. So be patient in this Matchup, don’t be in a hurry to create tokens because you’re not the aggressor. Try to play around [card]Brawl[/card], so don’t commit too many resources on the board if you’re already ahead.
Mulligan for: [card]Truesilver Champion[/card], [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card], [card]Equality[/card], [card]Quartermaster[/card],[card] Harrison Jones[/card] and [card]Big Game Hunter[/card].
The [card]Force of Nature[/card]/[card]Savage Roar [/card] Druid deck is a good matchup. You have lots of ways to suppress their early game board development and have very powerful board clearing effects.
Ramp Druid can be a good or tough matchup, depending on the list. Unlike Warrior there are not standardized Ramp Druid lists out there, so I can only tell you that it depends on the opponents build.
Mulligan for: [card]Truesilver Champion[/card], [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card], [card]Equality[/card] and early game minions.
In general you should do fine against Priest decks, but if they have too many lategame cards (like [card]Ysera [/card] and [card]Mind Control[/card]) don’t expect to have a good matchup. The matchup can be swingy sometimes, depending on the cards they steal with [card]Thoughtsteal[/card], so if you get wrecked, don’t be sad and give your deck the fault, blame variance. The same concept about [card]Acolyte of Pain[/card] applies to [card]Northshire Cleric[/card]. Don’t give your opponent more draws than needed, because the majority of time you will get punished for that.
Mulligan for: [card]Truesilver Champion[/card], [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card], [card]Equality[/card], [card]Lay on Hands[/card]
[cardinsert card=”mad-scientist” float=”right”]
In general a positive matchup, but the faster the Hunter deck is built (for example zero copies of [card]Savannah Highmane[/card] and [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] and instead [card]Wolfrider[/card]/other fast cards), the more negative it will become. So adapt – if necessary – by adding more early game if you face a lot of hyper aggressive Hunter decks.
Mulligan for: the early game cards like [card]Muster for Battle[/card], [card]Shielded Minibot[/card], [card]Zombie Chow[/card]. Keep [card]Equality[/card] if you have [card]Wild Pyromancer[/card] as an enabler, otherwise ship it. Only keep [card]Truesilver Champion[/card] and [card]Consecration[/card] if you have the Coin and other early game cards.
Mechmage is a 50/50 Matchup. Despite having a higher curve and some lategame minions it’s still an aggressive deck.
Mulligan for: [card]Muster for Battle[/card], [card]Shielded Minibot[/card], [card]Zombie Chow[/card], [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card] and [card]Truesilver Champion[/card]. Don’t ship Equality if you have Pyromancer too.
The mirror or games against Paladin Midrange evolve around card advantage, optimal use of resources and board presence. Be aware of board sweepers. So don’t commit too much on the board if you’re already ahead. Always try to kill opposing tokens to deny great value from Quartermaster or Equality. If you play Harrison Jones you should mulligan for him, because he is great against Muster for Battles and Tirion Fordring. Avoid destroying a Truesilver Champion with one charge left if possible. You can get far greater value and have a lot of other targets available. Try to bait out Harrison Jones with Truesilver Champion. Some Paladin builds play [card]Acolyte of Pain[/card]. Don’t play around this card by not producing tokens, because it is not worth it. Early board presence is too important against other Paladin decks.
Mulligan for: [card]Zombie Chow[/card], [card]Shielded Minibot[/card], [card]Muster for Battle[/card], [card]Truesilver Champion[/card], [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card] and [card]Harrison Jones[/card].
There are lots of different Rogue builds you can face. They are all kind of aggressive ones. Rogues are a good matchup in general if you don’t face Miracle Rogue (which should be extinct).
Mulligan for: [card]Muster for Battle[/card], [card]Shielded Minibot[/card], [card]Zombie Chow[/card], [card]Aldor Peacekeeper [/card] and [card]Truesilver Champion[/card]. Keep [card]Equality[/card] if you have [card]Wild Pyromancer[/card] too, otherwise don’t keep it. Keep [card]Harrison Jones[/card] if you already have a good curve, because drawing cards may be nice, but if you are behind on board it’s not really great.
Most Shaman builds need to flood the board with totems and creatures to function properly. So try to keep their board clean with your early game minions and sweepers, and then you shouldn’t have big problems. Be aware of their potential burst damage, so try to have a healthy life total.
Mulligan for: [card]Muster for Battle[/card], [card]Shielded Minibot[/card], [card]Zombie Chow[/card], [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card], [card]Truesilver Champion[/card] and [card]Consecration[/card]. Keep [card]Equality [/card] if you have [card]Wild Pyromancer[/card] too, otherwise don’t keep it.
Paladin is now a strong contender in the Hearthstone metagame and the new cards add a lot to the deck and make it more fun to play. I hope you all enjoyed my guide. If you have any questions regarding this deck, feel free to ask me in the comments!
Be creative, don’t just copypaste decks without thinking and the most important thing: crush Anduin whenever you can!