The Quest for the Perfect Paladin
Since the beginning of time, Paladin was always a difficult deck to build due to its lack of early game consistency. Having to rely on neutral cards to interact with its mechanisms in order to obtain good results early in the game, paladin is still a class to be explored.
Since the day Leeroy Jenkinsgot nerfed and I was able to disenchant mine in order to craft a Tirion FordringI was about to start my quest on creating the perfect Paladin deck for ladder, and although many people try to ladder with the decks shown in tournaments such as Dreamhack, Prismata Cup and so on, these decks are not ideal and will get crushed by anything not related to these tournaments, such as very aggressive decks.
The process of Card Choices
We cant simply choose cards that are only good against Aggro, we also can not dedicate ourselves to the early game exclusively and have mediocre late game, we need to find a balance that allows us to go big on both game plans, and that is usually the problem with neutral cards: we can't do that.
After an exhausting play testing of more than 100 games, swapping all kinds of card, I came to the conclusion Paladin is not a class for the ladder. Currently, the consistency of some aggro decks are such that Paladin's inconsistency can't make up for it, which means you can end up loosing more games than winning just because of your opponent's deck choices. Sometimes, even with a good hand, the aggro opponent may have a well curved hand and defeat you. In the other hand, Paladins do have an awesome matchup against any kind of control due to the strength of their cards alone, and the many ways Paladin have to solo minions of big impact. With that said, I suggest you playing Paladin on tournaments environment, and try to avoid using it on the ladder, and in case you still want to play Paladin on the ladder, you should keep on reading this guide and understand a little bit more about my findings on the play testing field.
Paladins have that problem of inconsistent early game, which means sometimes you may not get the specific combination of cards to generate value from, mostly Wild Pyromancer+Equality. I have been trying to work on versions that doesn't always rely on Pyro+Equality in order to win matchups against Aggro decks, and after a ton of testing and experimenting, I came to the simplest conclusion: Ironbeak Owl. The Owl is excellent at killing Undertakers, they are consistent "2 mana: kill target Undertaker". Undertaker is the most threatening card in the aggro matchup, due to the list its health also goes up with its attack whenever you drop a Deathrattle card, meaning if you don't stop it, it snowballs out of control and takes over the game, we also have to remember the amount of damage undertaker does until we are able to deal with it. Took me some time to realize how important having a pair of Owls was to the deck, it not only stops Undertaker from winning the game, it's also good versus Deathrattle cards in general, including those late game threats such as Cairne Bloodhoofand Sylvanas Windrunner, it also cripples stronger minions, such as Tirion Fordring, Ysera, Al'Akir the Windlordand so on.
Bringing Elven Archerback in was one of the last choices, and it kinda worked well. It makes it so you have more ways of getting value out of Equalityin the late game, while in the early game it helps against the aggro matchup, which means its good both ways.
Alexstraszawas also one of my latest additions, before it I was using Yseraand before that Kel'Thuzad. The reason I dropped K'Thuzad was that the number of situations where he was bad was just too much, so I subbed in Ysera: less situations where it was bad, and a Card Draw mechanism! The thing was, it was dead in some matchups, and bad in others, and by others I mean a lot. You are screwed if you get it Mind Controled, it doesn't generate immediate value, it just doesn't combine with the Paladin mechanisms or with how the ladder is working, I just don't know, I counted a total of 25 games where she was dead weight in my hand even when I could cast her, and 1 where I won the game with her. So I subbed Ysera in for her sister, Alexstrasza, and the results are so far better. In fact, the reason I added Elven Archer to the fact was Alexstrasza, I was getting that extra heal against aggro, meaning I could take out my second Holy Lightthat before Alexs was saving my life in some games against Hunter.
Harrison Jones came back somewhere in the middle of my play tests, the best decks to ladder with, currently, are Hunter and Warrior, and both of them use Weapons, so its natural to have a predator for that. I considered using Oozes, but the impact on the board is less expressive and you could use an extra card or two in the game. In the other hand, Jones is somewhat bad in this deck against the Shaman since you'll almost always have a big number of cards in your hand. I took out the second Stampeding Kodofor it because I dont like having to depend on a second card for a desired effect too much, as I said before in many articles I write: I rather have consistency than potential.
The rest of the deck is pretty standard: The Trio 6-drop Legendary to give the late game consistency, Tirion Fordring, arguably the best Legendary in the game and the Paladin Control deck base with late game threat removal and life-gaining tools.
Nuba, at what ranks did you play these lists?
I started testing and upgrading Paladin since September 22th, in the Legendary Ladder, the ranks went up and down from 1000 to 200. Since the season reset, I played Zoo within the first days to get to rank 10, and played Paladin from 10 to 5 in a winstreak, where I started testing different versions and seeing how they work. This latest version seems to do good against Hunters but still struggle against Zoo if they either get a perfect hand or you don't have Pyro+Equality combo, but there isn't much to do about that anyway.
How you Should Play Paladin
Paladin control is extremely hard to play, probably the hardest deck I have played so far, and probably the most fun as well. The way you should play with this deck is extremely conservative: only because you can do something doesn't mean you should. When playing against Control and Midrange decks, try to save your removals for good situations, try to use fewer cards as possible and always keep responses in your hand. Against Aggro, however, you should do your best to stay alive: you will win the end game fight in case you get there, so just do your best efforts to survive until then, and in case you do, do not overextend or play risky, never ever risk your board position or the game just to go face. As a Paladin (unless we are talking about Lord Jaraxxusin play) every late game matchup is good for you.
In the mulligan phase you want to find the following cards:
- Elven Archer- Always.
- Ironbeak Owl- except against druids, you dont want this versus druid.
- Equality- Only one. You never want two of those.
- Wild Pyromancer- Always.
- Aldor Peacekeeper- Always.
- Truesilver Champion- Always.
- Consecration- Always.
- Acolyte of Pain- Always.
- Sen'jin Shieldmasta- You can consider mulliganing these out if the rest of your hand is bad.
There, you don't want any of the other cards (not even you, Humility!).
- Humilityor Aldor Peacekeeper+Stampeding Kodocan take out any solo threat on the board.
- Equality+Wild Pyromancerwill wipe the whole board away.
- Elven Archer+Equalitywill generate good value.
- Elven Archeryour own Acolyte of Painwill generate good value.
- Equality+Consecrationwipes the opposing board.
- Wild Pyromancer+Consecrationto deal 3 damage to the opponent board and kill their Haunted Creeper's Spectral Spiders.
- Humilityyour own Sylvanas Windrunnerand attacking the opponents big minion to steal it with good health.
- Attacking enemy minions that have been hit by either Humilityor Aldor Peacekeeperwith your Acolyte of Painto generate value.
Paladin is a fun class, unfortunately not the best for ladder, if you still wish to play Paladin, follow my masochist lead, I am on a good winning streak as Paladin Control, and although the road is tuff, it for sure is fun to play.
I might write more about Paladins in the future, so stay tuned for more stuff that might come out! Always remember to check in Hearthstone Players for updates, and have a nice time on the ladder, or better: on tournaments, as Paladin!
Poor dog, hahahahhaha!
Anyway, see you guys!
Wanna find me outside of Hearthstoneplayers? Well....