Starting Stone #9:
Above Average Cards
Below Average Cards
WELL MET! Uther Lightbringer greets you and bids you to join his noble cause of ridding Azeroth of all evils. To prepare you for the crusade, Uther has decided to shed some light on his cards.
We are going to examine and rank every Paladin card as well as provide you with some decks that will help you on your way to victory. It should be noted that all these cards are ranked with constructed play in mind and the strength of each card will vary as the meta changes.
Paladins play in an extremely reactive style. With many cards in the deck built around answering your opponents threats, it has suffered lately due to the diversity of popular decks. Paladins still do possess, however, one of the strongest mid to late game board control with cards like Truesilver Champion and Equality. Tirion Fordring is also one of the best Legendary cards in the game, adding to the late game power of Paladins. On the flip side, Paladins can also provide minions with strong buffs, allowing the Paladin to be extremely aggressive due to Divine Favor.
The Paladin Hero Power -- Reinforce -- is sadly one of the weakest Hero Power in the game. A 1/1 provides minimal board presence that is directly countered by the Hero Power of three other classes; furthermore, it can be a liability against certain decks such as Hunter and any deck that plays Acolyte of Pain.
1. EqualityThe most powerful -- and useless -- Paladin card. On its own, Equality does not actually accomplish anything. When it is used in combination with other cards, it becomes a very powerful AoE removal spell. There a few common combinations for Equality: Wild Pyromancer, Consecration, and Avenging Wrath. It can also be used when you have a 1/1 Hero Power token in play.
Paladins have no hard removal spells available to them; as such, identifying when to use Equality is vital. Being able to clear three or more mid range minions is a good trade; however, if you suspect your opponent has legendary cards, such as Ysera, then it is prudent to hold onto Equality for as long as possible.
Aldor Peacekeeper is a three mana 3/3 minion with a specialized ability. His ability is so powerful because it doubles as soft removal. While you do keep the target minion alive, it is offensively neutralized.
Ideally, you do not want to play Aldor Peacekeeper without using his ability on a minion with four or more Attack. Against aggressive decks however, Aldor Peacekeeper should be played as soon as possible.
Truesilver Champion is a powerful weapon against slower decks allowing you to swing the tempo in your direction with two big attacks. While it is not quite as good as Fiery Waraxe, it is not far behind in terms of value and the four life that it provides can be game changing.
Truesilver Champion is best played on turn four to clear a minion and give you control of the board to deter your opponent from playing minions such as Azure Drake on turn five.
4. ConsecrationPaladin's one and only stable board clear spell holds its own when compared with all other such spells in the game. Four mana and two damage is more efficient than Arcane Explosion -- since Consecration also damages your opponent -- and comparable to Flamestrike for damage to mana. Consecration can be combined with Equality as full board clear.
Consecration’s biggest weakness is the fact it only deals two damage and against the board control (or commonly known as Zoo) Warlocks, it may struggle to remove three Health minions.
Tirion was once Tinkmaster fodder and extremely hard to play safely. With the nerf to Tinkmaster, however, Tirion is once again top of the heap. He packs offensive power, defensive Taunt, and a scary Deathrattle all into one card. Against decks that do not have good ways to remove Tirion directly, he will often outright win the game.
Along with these strengths comes a few disadvantages. Shamans and Mages both have access to removal that negate Tirion, while Silence effects reduce his efficiency. It is also incredibly hard for a Paladin to deal with Tirion, and more often than not, Tirion will be the target for your opponent’s Faceless Manipulator.
Above Average Cards
Argent Protector provides a targeted Divine Shield and a 2/2 body. Divine Shield on its own is a useful ability allowing you to trade minions in your favor or discourage your opponent from attacking the minion that has a Divine Shield. When you consider that a Divine Shield costs one mana -- with Hand of Protection -- Argent Protector can be considered a one mana 2/2!
Despite the strengths of Argent Protector, he suffers greatly when you do not have board control and as a result, is typically only playable in aggressive Paladin decks. Despite its two mana cost, he is rarely played on turn two as there are usually no targets for his battlecry on turn two.
7. Lay on HandsRunning out of cards in the late game? Looking to stabilize after you finally cleared your opponents board? Lay on Hands does both for eight mana. Breaking Lay on Hands cost down we can see that it is comparable to playing both Healing Touch and Nourish in one card and therefore is a great value card.
The real strength of Lay on Hands is that it provides these abilities together where you typically require both in the late game. Since Lay on Hands costs eight mana, however, care must be taken to ensure that the board will not further snowball in favor of your opponent. Lay on Hands is typically played when there is close to parity on the board state.
Avenging Wrath is a random but reliable board clear or single target damage spell. While eight damage for six mana is not very efficient, its ability to have the damage split is extremely powerful allowing you to clear the board against small minions.
Avenging Wrath can be combined with Equality to clear multiple minions, and unlike other equality combinations, this combination will typically clear minions with Divine Shield as well. It will not, however, hit minions that are summoned as a result of a Deathrattle triggering.
Since Avenging Wrath is random, every so often it will decide to troll you and not kill the one health minion it was meant to.
Guardian of Kings is a very powerful minion thanks to its 5/6 body. Its tough body and included Holy Light makes Guardian one of the strongest seven mana plays providing both stability and a resilient body. Since Guardian of King’s 5/6 body is worth five mana -- after we subtract two mana for its heal component -- we can see that it is an incredible bargain!
Despite the strengths, Guardian of Kings' mana cost can make it awkward to play when you are well behind on the board. The good news, however, is that Guardian provides both a strong board presence and takes you typically out of lethal range unlike many other high mana cards.
10. Sword of JusticeSword of Justice is unique among weapons: its primary use is not to attack. It provides a ten stat point boost in exchange for a minor tempo loss. Ideally, you would want to play Sword of Justice as early as possible and then fill the board with as many low cost minions to take advantage of the multiple charges.
Just don't forget that you can still attack with Sword of Justice!
11. Hammer of WrathAnother good four mana removal spell that unfortunately is outclassed by Truesilver Champion and Consecration. Hammer of Wrath deals three damage and draws a card equating to roughly three to four mana worth of effects. While it is only average in terms of value, there are very few spells in the game that deal a significant amount of damage and replaces itself.
Despite Hammer of Wrath being powerful in its own right, the sheer number of quality four mana spells available to Paladin means that Hammer of Wrath will often be overlooked.
12. Divine FavorDivine Favor features an interesting and powerful card draw mechanic. By drawing cards equal to the number your opponent has, it allows the Paladin player to either use Divine Favor as a comeback tool or aggressively play his hand and refill it. The value threshold comes at two cards drawn -- the same as Arcane Intellect -- and it is typically a simple matter to fulfill this condition. Due to the nature of Paladin deck types, Divine Favor is used more often in aggressive Paladin decks to restock card in the mid game.
Divine Favor can also be combined with King Mukla for additional cards drawn. Despite the obvious strengths of Divine Favor, it can be inconsistent when you are unable to play your hand to reduce the number of cards. It is also extremely bad to be holding two Divine Favors at any one time due to the diminished returns.
13. Holy LightTwo mana for six life is just what the doctor ordered. Paladins have considerable late game strength and a low mana heal is the perfect card to allow you to stabilize in the mid to late game.
Holy Light can also be utilized to heal damaged minions providing additional value to your beefy end game minions. It should be noted that against opponents that run Alexstrasza, it is not prudent to cast Holy Light on yourself until either they have used Alexstrasza or you fall within range of their burst damage.
Below Average Cards
Blessing of Might provides a strong damage buff provided you have some board presence. In a vacuum, the potential for Blessing of Might to deal an extra three damage over multiple turns is extremely powerful. In reality, however, it is more common to utilize the buff for one turn before the minion is removed thus turning Blessing of Might into an inferior Rockbiter Weapon.
15. Noble SacrificeNoble Sacrifice is the best secret available to Paladins so far, and sadly, it is only mediocre at best. The best way to think of Noble Sacrifice is that it is a 2/1 minion with super Taunt: it will absorb the first attack before anything else. Beyond providing a minor tempo gain by stopping one attack, it will rarely trade favorably. Furthermore, against Druids and Rogues, expect Noble Sacrifice to be triggered immediately due to their respective Hero Powers.
The silver lining for Noble Sacrifice is it can buy time early against aggressive decks. In the late game, if you suspect a combo is about to burst you down, it provides excellent defense if your opponent does not have a way of triggering it.
Blessing of Kings will typically become four mana for four damage as your opponent should have a removal or silence ready. Compare that with Truesilver Champion and Blessing of Kings is hard to justify in an aggressive Paladin deck.
For control decks, you will typically not gain board control until the late game where your power cards kick in: Blessing of Kings becomes a dead draw for most of the early and mid game.
17. RedemptionBefore the nerf to secrets, Redemption was arguably better than Noble Sacrifice because you could suicide your own minion and have it revived thanks to Redemption. This is incredibly powerful with Deathrattle abilities or Divine Shields. Since the nerf, however, it has become extremely difficult to utilize Redemption on a worthwhile target.
The best situations for Redemption occurs when you have only one Taunt minion on the board -- Sunwalker and Tirion being the ideal targets -- and your opponent has no choice but to kill it immediately.
Blessing of Might, Blessing of Wisdom has the potential to be extremely strong when drawing multiple cards for one mana. On average, Blessing of Wisdom will often only cantrip. The best target for Blessing of Wisdom is a minion with Divine Shield that can attack and will make your opponent to go out of their way to remove it.
Blessing of Wisdom can also be played on enemy minions to deter them from attacking, however, you are placing the choice in your opponent’s hand as to attack and give you a card or not.
19. Holy WrathHoly Wrath has the potential to do the most damage of any spell in the game. For five mana, you could draw a Molten Giant and deal twenty damage! While this may seem like a powerful potential, it will often deal four or less damage, making it an inferior version of Hammer of Wrath. To further compound the problem, because of the random nature of Holy Wrath, it is becomes very hard to plan your turn as you will sometimes deal two damage while other times do twenty.
Nevertheless, Holy Wrath is a fun card that can produce unexpected wins, just do not expect to rely upon it.
20. Light’s JusticeFour damage for one mana sounds like a great deal, however, being able to only deal one damage per turn greatly diminishes its value. Light’s Justice is most useful in the early game. Due to the one attack, however, it is very unlikely for Light’s Justice to remove minions without additional help.
Argent Protector being superior to Hand of Protection, it is highly unlikely that a third targeted Divine Shield would be required.
22. Blessed ChampionThe potential exists for Blessed Champion to deal tons of damage. Due to the five mana cost, however, the prerequisites for Blessed Champion to make a large impact is also extremely high. The best standalone target for Blessed Champion is the Ravenholdt Assassin due to its Stealth.
While Blessed Champion can be combined with Charge minions or high attack minions to provide a large burst, Paladins lack the early game removal and card draw to set up a late game burst.
23. HumilityAs with Hand of Protection, Humility provide an ability that is already present on a very powerful card. Despite it being a powerful ability as a Battlecry, reducing a minions attack to one is subpar by on its own. The only saving grace is that Humility costs one mana; but even then, the tempo gains are usually negligible.
24. RepentanceRepentance is an example of a card that sounded great on paper but was poorly executed. As a quasi removal secret, it attempts to provide another removal card for Paladins. The first problem lies with Repentance being a secret. This means that your opponent will have control over the minion he would like weakened. Since it only reduces the Health of a minion to one, it is similar to Equality in the fact that it needs another card to kill its target. Finally, due to all the Paladin secrets being under-powered, there are no merits to confusing your opponent with multiple secrets.
25. Eye for an EyeEye for an Eye is a truly eye opening spell: your opponent will be so surprised that you played it! Once upon a time, you could play it and deal damage to your opponent by hitting their Taunt minion with your weapon bypassing the Taunt. With the nerf to secrets, even this minor use was removed from Eye for an Eye making it one of the most useless card in currently in the game.
Disclaimer: All decks listed here are subject to change due to changes in the metagame and do not represent the absolute best deck to play at any one point in time.
Now that we have identified the strengths of Paladin, it's time to get to deck building. The first thing to note is that Paladins have extremely powerful late game cards. Guardian of Kings, Tirion and Lay on Hands can all swing games by themselves. Early game control spells are therefore a very important compliment to these game ending cards. Most control orientated Paladin decks will squeeze in as many forms of removal early and minions as possible.
Aggressive Paladins are also viable thanks to Divine Favor. Combined with cheap but efficient damage-to-mana spells such as Blessing of Might, aggressive Paladins can overwhelm your opponents from the start of the game and refill their hand in the mid game to strike the finishing blow.
Paladins have a good Basic-Only deck due to its access to some of the great mid game removal cards such as Truesilver Champion and Consecration. Guardian of Kings also locks up the late game in a manner not available to other Basic decks.
With this deck, you should aim to take control of the board on turn four and hopefully keep it until you win the game. Look for Truesilver Champion and Consecration along with early game minions when deciding mulligans.
If you wish to play control Paladin in the future, look to craft Aldor Peacekeeper, Equality and Wild Pyromancer as soon as possible. For aggressive Paladins, Divine Favor and Equality are the key cards along with the common value minions such as Harvest Golem.
The Budget deck displayed here is a control orientated deck. While the Ultimate version of the control deck is quite costly, at a budget level, the Control Paladin is easier to build and play than the Aggressive Paladin. As a bonus, many of the neutral cards required here fit into multiple other decks allowing you to maximize their value if you choose to play other decks.
The game play with this deck is similar to the Basic deck: control the board early and use the mid game strength of Paladins to snowball a victory. With the inclusion of the Equality combos, you have an additional way to recover the board if you do not draw into early game pressure.
Card Note: Sunwalker is a debatable choice for the six mana minion. They are preferable to Boulderfist Ogres, however, can be replaced with Argent Commander. If you like to sit back and choke your opponent to death, then Sunwalker is the right card for you. Whereas if you like being proactive, then Argent Commander may be a better option.
Ultimate Deck v1
This Ultimate deck is a variant of the Control Paladin deck that has fallen out of favor recently. It is a deck that has the potential to have the correct response
against any deck, however, it also requires very specific draws to win. In terms of game play, the deck plays in a similar fashion to the previous two decks. The key difference is the inclusion of many situational cards that help a Paladin control the board until the mid to late game. The deck also includes thirty nine points of healing across the various minions and spells to help recover from your opponent's aggression.
Against Control decks, Equality plays are vital and their use -- along with Aldor Peacekeeper -- will typically determine the outcome of the game. It is ideal to cast Equality against two or more of your opponents high value minions. Divine Favor and Lay on Hands are also essential to help you keep pace with your opponent if you end up short on cards.
When playing against aggressive decks, it is vital to search for Consecration and early game minions. Without those cards, you may take too much damage before you stabilize in the late game.
Card Note: Youthful Brewmaster. Typically Youthful Brewmaster is a card that has little value, however, in this deck it has tremendous potential. With eleven other cards that have useful Battlecries, the panda essentially provides an extra copy of those situational effects.
Ultimate Deck v2
The second deck showcased here is an Aggressive Paladin. This deck looks to take control of the board early and deal significant damage to your opponent through hard-to-kill minions. In the early game, you should look to keep your opponent's board clean while you ramp up your side of the field. At a certain point, however, you need to abandon all pretense of board control and start dishing out the damage directly to your opponent.
As with Control Paladin, Equality combinations are vital to keeping your opponents powerful minions under control; furthermore, it is your only method to easily kill high health Taunt minions. The linchpin of the deck is Divine Favor. With your aggressively low mana curve, it is often easy to play out your hand and Divine Favor is the tool you use to reload. Aim to draw three or more cards with Divine Favor.
Card Note: King Mukla. This monkey is absolutely Bananas in this deck. Not only is King Mukla an extremely annoying minion, he provides your opponent with additional cards that Divine Favor can take advantage of. Unless you are well behind on the board, King Mukla is a very strong play at most stages of the game.
Control Paladins are currently in a low point thanks to the lack of early game answers and an overabundance of strong four mana plays. This does not mean, however, that Paladins are completely dead. Aggressive Paladins have strong matchups against decks such as Handlock and does well against Miracle Rogues. Finally, I have yet to encounter another deck that can mimic control Paladin's ability to choke your opponent to death by having the perfect counter to every move your opponent makes. So if you enjoy watching your opponent suffer when you have the right cards, try out Paladins!