While, through my quest to be a deck builder, I primarily play my own decks, last season I jumped on the Shockadin bandwagon and used it to carry me to legend. For those of you that don’t know, Shockadin is a Aggro Paladin deck which uses aggressive cards, a plethora of one drops, charge creatures and direct damage to move your opponent from thirty to zero in the most efficient manner possible. Since Holyrock first used the deck to make the climb to legend, there have been multiple iterations and variations of the deck.
Today I will discuss the version I used during my own climb, and talk about how to play this deck. At first glance Shockadin may seem like any other ladder aggro deck, but there are many subtle plays and interesting moves that can make the difference between rank 5 and legend. This is a great deck that I would highly recommend to anybody who either loves Paladin, or wants a fun, fast, consistent aggro deck to use on their climb.
How To Play
At it’s base Shockadin is a deck that’s all about planning ahead. Every single turn, even the first and second, you should be thinking about what you’re going to do down the line. This is extremely important because, while your first turn may just be “play [/card]Leper Gnome”, your second, third and fourth turns all will have multiple plays, and each one could be the difference between winning and losing. Something else that is very important is you always want to play to your “outs”.
What that means is that you always want to make your decisions based on what you could draw, which will help you plan ahead and set up lethal. As such, one of the most important aspects of Shockadin is knowing what cards you’ve played, which ones are in your hand and what’s left in your deck. Always calculating the damage on the field and the damage in your hand and thinking “what could I draw next?” will decide what cards you play, and tell you if you should go to the face or trade creatures.
The general rule of mulliganing is to always look for one drops. Like any aggressive deck you always want a first turn play, but you also want to try to add two more one drops on turn two. Try to hit your curve and know that going on autopilot will doom you. Even your first turn choice between playing a Leper Gnome or a [card]Worgen Infiltrator can be a huge difference between four or six points of damage. The deck is all about choices, setting up Divine Favor, and making sure you have your opponent on the ropes.
Face Time (The Cards)Blessing of Might
We start our overview with a very straightforward card. Blessing of Might is three damage. That’s really it. Sometimes you can use it to trade up to take down big creatures or large taunts, but truthfully this card is in the deck to kill your opponent. My main advice with this card would be to always mulligan it (as you never want to use it in the first turns) and when you do draw it you want to save this card when you can.
One of the biggest rule of aggro paladin decks is that you never want your opponent to know you can kill them. This is important because, if you have lethal next turn (with Leeroy or Blessing of Might) it is much better to put your opponent to ten life than to three. Why? Because if your opponent feels like they could die they are more likely to make safer plays (such as healing or playing a taunt) which could lead to missing lethal. However, if your opponent feels like they can live for a couple more turns they are more likely to take a less safe line of play. As such, I usually hold onto Blessing of Might until I can use it for lethal damage.Leper Gnome
Every player knows what Leper Gnome can do by now. He is four damage for one mana, nothing more and nothing less. However, you can’t really ask for more in an aggro paladin deck. This is your best one play against every hero but Druid (where you want to play something that doesn’t outright die to the hero power). If you have it in your opening, never mulligan it away.Worgen Infiltrator
In terms of one drops, it’s hard to ask for more than Worgen Infiltrator. Not only is this almost a guaranteed two damage, but the stealth is huge. Against decks like Zoo, this card does a nice job of staying under removal and being able to trade for other creatures. In addition, this card pairs really well with buffs from Abusive Sergeant and Blessing of Might. As such, some games you should keep it in stealth if you have a buff that you want to utilize on later turns.Abusive Sergeant
Another card that needs very little explanation, Abusive Sergeant is a very powerful one drop that is in this deck for two reasons. The first is that it has the ability to buff creatures and pour on damage. The second is that this card can be used to punch through troublesome taunts (such as Voidwalker and Druid of the Claw). My rule is to never keep Abusive Sergeant in my opening hand unless my line of play is going to be turn one, one drop and then use it with another one drop on turn two (which allows you to fill the board and apply pressure early).Elven Archer
Elven Archer, while seemingly like a very unambiguous card, is a perfect fit for this deck. I would not cut this card for any reason in the world. Not only is it great with Equality, it also does a lot of work against other aggressive decks such as Zoo. Getting to take out an early minion while also being able to get your own on the board is huge. Not only that, but the one damage can also be really important when getting lethal. I always keep her against Hunter, Paladin and Warlock, while mulliganing it away against everything else.Argent Squire
One drops don’t really get stronger than Argent Squire. A good friend of mine once said that he “just wanted a creature that could stick around for more than a turn” and that minion is Argent Squire. When playing this deck you always want to mulligan aggressively for one drops, but this is the card you are looking for. It is resistant to hero powers, trades with small creatures and is also very hard to get rid of. Add on the synergy with Blood Knight and you have the complete package.Noble Sacrifice
The original decklist had two Noble Sacrifices, but has since moved down to one. While that is undoubtedly the right choice for numerous reasons, the main point is that you still want one in this deck. Noble Sacrifice can be a straight game changer in protecting early minions from Druids, Rogues and Warriors while also being used as removal against Zoo and the like. While the primary function of this card is to keep your creatures alive, always remember that it can be used to keep you alive as well. I will never mulligan this card, especially when I have other one drops to pair it with.Ironbeak Owl
Some versions of Shockadin run Ironbeak Owl, and others do not. I would not, under any circumstances, get rid of this card. Not only does it serve as a hail mary answer against Druid, but it also is a great tool to kill your opponents when they’re hiding behind a huge taunt.
However, while you always want this card in order to clear a path for your minions, this card also has an insane amount of targets in the current meta. During my climb I silenced Armorsmiths, Edwin Vancleef, Mana Wyrms, Baron Geddon, Knife Jugglers, Sylvanas Windrunner, Ysera, Acolytes of Pain, Frothing Berserkers, Gadgetzan Auctioneers and Water Elementals in addition to numerous taunters. This card has a ton of versatility and, while usually not worthy to keep in an opening hand, is a great silver bullet for this deck to have.Bluegill Warrior
Another card you always to see in your opener, Bluegill Warrior does in this deck what it has done in so many others, kill your opponent. Two damage for two mana is not stellar, but it serves your purpose very well and creates a creature your opponent has to answer. In addition, because of charge, Bluegill also has the ability to be used as a removal spell on smaller problem creatures such as Knife Juggler.Equality
An auto include in any Paladin deck, Equality is power incarnate. This card is so good I would not argue with anybody who complained about losing to it, nor would I argue with people claiming it is overpowered. This card serves one purpose and one purpose alone, to kill your opponents creatures.
Whether it is to help you in a race, take out a big creature or to bypass a taunt, Equality is a card you always want to see coming off the top of your deck. I never keep this card (as creatures are always better in the early game) but it comes in handy time and time again. This card is amazing with Consecration and even better with Avenging Wrath, both of which allow you to clear your opponents board while also doing a large amount of damage.Wolfrider
A card that is very similar to Bluegill Warrior, Wolfrider acts as a charge creature that’s sole purpose is to output damage. This card never lives more than a turn, but a quick three damage is very efficient. This card also helps out your curve, giving you a strong turn three play in a deck that really lacks them. However, I never keep this card in my opening hand, as you always want to mulligan for one drops and Divine Favors instead.Blood Knight
One of my later additions to the deck, Blood Knight, while not a must have, is a very powerful tool that serves as both a beater as well as an answer to the metagame. As of right now Token Druid, Zoo, Shaman and Paladin all play Argent Squires in their decks which makes this card a very strong turn three play against a lot of decks.
Even if you aren’t playing those decks, you still have your own Argent Squisre as a way to feed your Blood Knight and turn it into an early six/six, which usually wins you the game. I always keep this card against Zoo and Shaman, but usually get rid of it in other matchups unless I have an Argent Squire.Divine Favor
Like most Paladin decks, Divine Favor is easily, without a doubt the most powerful card in this deck. This card is one of the best topdecks in the game, and in a meta where almost every single deck is obsessed with card draw, it really doesn’t get any better than Divine Favor. In line with my “planning ahead” theme, Divine Favor is a card you always want to get the most out of. I would say that most of the time I draw an average of four to five cards with this card, and have even draw as high as seven and eight.
The way to do this is when you have a Divine Favor in hand you always want to be aware of your cards and your opponents. Always think about what they could have or what cards they are holding.
If you are playing a Token Druid and they have a Coin and five other cards on turn three, and you only have three cards in hand, it is almost always the correct play to Divine Favor on turn three. Why? Well not only are you drawing four cards, but because you’re playing token and they still have the coin, odds are they’re going to try to do some Violet Teacher shenanigans on turn four, which will empty their hand and make your favor useless. This is the mindset you want to have when planning to draw cards.
Always try to empty your hand as fast as possible, even if that means some suboptimal plays, because extra cards are almost always worth it. The rule is, if you get a large Divine Favor you will almost certainly win the game, as you draw into so much damage it’s really hard for your opponent to come back. Never mulligan this card away in any matchup except Zoo.Leeroy Jenkins
The big daddy finisher himself, Leeroy Jenkins is an extremely important card in this list. I know there are going to be people asking about a replacement for Leeroy, and while you can use cards like Argent Commander, the truth is, in this deck, there really isn’t a replacement. Leeroy’s six damage is so crucial to this deck, and his ability to be paired with a buff before swinging in for lethal makes him priceless. A great finisher card that almost every single person in the community hates, Leeroy is the exact type of card this deck needs.Truesilver Champion
Truesilver Champion, through it’s surprising amount of versatility, has won me more games than I can count. Not only is it a great source of damage output, but it is an exceptional board clear and healing source. Out of every card in this deck, Truesilver Champion is perhaps the toughest to use. The reason is, while it is a very good way to clear the board, it also serves as a whopping eight damage for four mana. In many games, going to the face is the correct play, while others (such as Miracle Rogue) it is much better to get rid of creatures.
When you have the sword you always want to be aware how close you and your opponent are to dying, and that should tell you whether to go for the face or to clear minions off the board. One last note, Truesilver is also one of the best ways to deal with taunts you have access to, and I usually save the last hit until I absolutely need to use it.Consecration
Equalities stronger, more dangerous partner in crime, Consecration is the AOE this deck both wants and needs. While you only want to keep it in your opening hand against Zoo, this card is very strong at supplying damage while also clearing out your opponent’s creatures. There’s not too much to say about Consecration except that you almost always want to hold it for Equality, and should only use it without Equality when you can clear a taunt or get rid of numerous small or damaged minions.Hammer of Wrath
The hammer is perhaps the most interesting card in the deck. In the past Hammer of Wrath has been overlooked by almost every single Aggro Paladin deck, and for a pretty good reason. It adds nothing to the board, and works as a removal spell more than direct damage. However, on the flipside of the argument, Hammer of Wrath is also three damage that draws you further into your deck. This card is very powerful because of its ability to take out a problem minion while also being able to target the face. Add on the fact that it cantrips, and you have a very solid card that does what your deck is supposed to do, dig into more threats while applying pressure. Always mulligan this card, but be really happy when you draw it during the later turns.Avenging Wrath
Rounding out the deck and the curve, Avenging Wrath is a very interesting and powerful card. Eight damage for six mana is incredibly efficient, and the synergy with Equality is even better than Consecration. However, that being said, this card also does cost six mana and is one of the worst cards to get stuck in your opening hand. As such, I would recommend only playing one in your deck. A lot of Shockadin lists prefer to play two, but getting stuck with one in the early turns feels bad enough, getting two would make me flip a table. There is no better finisher in your deck, but I believe that playing two is a risk that is not worth the reward.
At first glance this may seem like one of the most difficult matchups. However, that could not be further from the truth. Control Warrior, while having a lot of strong cards against aggro, such as Whirlwind and Shield Block, simply cannot keep up with the amount of damage output this deck has. While it is hard to beat their God hand (double Armorsmith, Whirlwind) they usually just crumble under the pressure, as they have to spend their later turns playing do nothing cards like Azure Drake and Ragnaros, both of which don’t provide a taunt or a heal in anyway.
You always want to start this matchup out with a Argent Squire or Worgen Infiltrator (as both cannot be hit by Cruel Taskmaster) and then play out your threats to apply pressure while setting up Divine Favor. Your number one threat is Armorsmith, which is why I always keep Ironbeak Owl if I see it in my opener.
This matchup is so easy it’s hardly even worth talking about. Almost every single game they put themselves into low health only to get blown apart by an Equality or Ironbeak Owl. The rule here is to curve out, and watch as they damage themselves into a quick grave.
A fifty/fifty matchup if there ever was one, Zoo is a very tricky battle. The name of the game here is board control and, as you can constantly spam one/one soldiers, you will almost always win if you make it to the later stages of the game. However, making it to the later stages is a very difficult thing to do. I would never mulligan away Abusive Sergeant in this matchup, as it is your best way to get through Voidwalkers, and always remember that Consecration can be a lifesaver.
Applying pressure is not your concern in this matchup, as board control means everything. Blood Knight is great here, always mulligan for one drops and remember that Equality is your only real answer to Doom Guard.
Playing against Miracle Rogue, while frustrating at times, is usually an easy matchup. Curving out usually wins you the game due to the fact that their entire gameplan works out in your favor. Their card draw makes your Divine Favors better, their hero power just adds on damage, and their tendency to wait for a combo makes them very susceptible to early pressure. The only thing I would recommend in this matchup is to always, always clear their creatures, as a couple of Cold Bloods can put you into Leeroy range really fast.
A pretty simple match. Just curve out here and you should be fine. Priest has a way of staying alive for a long time, but unless they have Auchenai Soulpriest/Circle of Healing they have no way to efficiently deal with your threats. Ignore their creatures, play around Holy Nova and you should be fine.
Another toss up, Shaman is a deck that you can either run over or will run over you. Divine Favor is very strong here, but this game usually comes down to their cards much more than yours.
If they open with Argent Squire, Lightning Storms, Stormforged Axe or Earth Shock, it’s going to be an uphill climb. However, if they open with minimal removal and just make totems, it should be an easy battle. Always play around Lightning Storm while also applying as much pressure as you can.
For some reason that I, as a mere mortal, cannot explain, Hunter is a deck that you will still find on the ladder from time to time. The rules of Hunters now are the same as they have always been. Play around Unleash the Hounds, be aware of their traps and above all else, don’t die.
This is a race, but you want to keep their creatures off the board as best you can to minimize their potential damage. Always think about what they could have and try to stay above lethal in anyway possible. Truesilver Champion is an all-star here and if you have early creatures it is worth keeping in your opener, especially if you have the Coin.
Mirror Match (It Happens)
As Shockadin becomes more and more popular, you will run into the mirror from time to time. This mirror match is very similar to Zoo in that whoever has board control generally wins. Both Consecration and Avenging Wrath are great here, and each can rapidly swing the game in your favor. Equality is an extremely dead card, and you want to pray you never see it. Divine Favor is also really bad, and you want to dump your hand as fast as possible in order to not let your opponent take advantage of their own card draw.
One of the toughest matchups out there, Token Druid is a very powerful deck that can both out aggro you, while also controlling the game. That makes for a very deadly combination. However, that being said, Token Druid typically only runs two taunts in Druid of the Claw.
As such, you want to race them down as much as possible and let them make the trades. Divine Favor (as discussed in my example) can be very tricky because, while there are turns they will have a plethora of cards, there will be a turn where they play out their whole hand. Always keep Ironbeak here, as silencing a Druid of the Claw or a Violet Teacher can be very important, hope for AOE and race fast and race hard.
The most difficult matchup for any aggressive deck, Ramp Druid is at best an even match and at worst a downright nightmare. Ironbeak Owl, Equality and Divine Favor are all autokeeps here, as you will be playing the long game ninety nine percent of the time. The trick to this matchup is to look for openings when you can and push through for any type of damage possible. For the most part you want to ignore their creatures.
When it comes to taunts, you almost never want to use an owl or Equality on a Druid of the Claw, as there are much bigger threats (Sunwalker, Ancient of War) that you need to save that for. The best way to win this match is to put out resilient creatures such as Argent Squire and Worgen Infiltrator in the early turns and then hit them with an Equality/Consecration during the later stages in order to set up lethal.
Another very difficult matchup, Aggro Mage is a deck that will stop you dead in your tracks. I almost exclusively save my buffs for dealing with Water Elementals (which are a nightmare to deal with) and try to trade rather than go for the face. Cards like Mana Wyrm, Azure Drake and Knife Juggler can all cause lots of problems and need to be dealt with immediately.
The general rule in this matchup is to control the board, start out blazingly fast, and find ways to punch through before they can get you to zero. Always be aware of what they have, and always play around hypothetical lethal such as double Fireball or Frostbolt double Icelance.
If you are a aggro paladin or Paladin fan looking to try something new in this season’s ranked I would highly recommend Shockadin. This deck is incredible in it’s consistency, and because of cards like Divine Favor and Equality has numerous ways to still win in the late game. Mulliganing is a big part of this deck, and while I explained it here, only actually piloting the deck yourself will give you a true feel for how to play. I would recommend this deck to anyone, as it is extremely powerful and can stand up to almost all of the meta. Try it out, have fun and, as always, thanks for reading.
Until next time, may you always start the game with a one drop.