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The New Standard: Discount Paladin

I told you guys this one was coming! As an avid Aggro Paladin player, I love seeing that the deck is one of the most popular in the game. However, I have a confession to make: I’m not a fan of the current builds. While they do some things right, I think they are too […]

Tez Gaming Jan 24, 2018 12:21 pm

Introduction

I told you guys this one was coming! As an avid Aggro Paladin player, I love seeing that the deck is one of the most popular in the game. However, I have a confession to make: I’m not a fan of the current builds. While they do some things right, I think they are too weak and don’t pack enough of a punch to justify their aggro route. To fix that, I’m sharing the list today that I have played to an amazing amount of success over the past two seasons. It is an Aggro Paladin deck that changes some issues I’ve had with other lists. The idea behind this one is simple. Corridor Creeper is a great card. So, what if we just ran a bunch of them? Yes, Sea Giant and Crystal Lion are not quite as strong as the seven drop worm, but they are all based on the same principle. Your goal here is to use your small minions and early pressure to build into large threats. That’s a plan that works quite well.

Key Cards

Lost in the Jungle

A theme that is going to come up multiple times throughout this article is that this deck needs minions on the board. However, that does not mean you always need a full board. This is a very important lesson that you need to understand if you want to pilot this at maximum efficiency. Most games you play you are going to be trying to get your opponent to react to you without committing too many resources. Lost in the Jungle is great for that because it, along with your hero power, gives you three rather unassuming bodies that you can do a lot with. This card is always going to be a strong turn one play, but it is one of the best ways to set up cards like Level Up!, Sunkeeper Tarim and Crystal Lion as well. Always think about your next play when figuring out when to drop this card in the middle turns of the game.

The reason this build works as well as it does is because you can do a lot with a little. A lot of cards helps that plan, but Lost in the Jungle is a key piece. Two recruits for one mana gives you a great opening plays, helps fill in your curve, and instantly gives you the board in a lot of situations. The one mana spell alongside Knife Juggler on turn three is a great way to get ahead in the aggro mirror, and playing the 1/1’s with Steward of Darkshire is one of the best things you can do with four mana. Because of your big threats and cards like Level Up!, you are always going to be get instant-value from the recruits. Making one for two mana is fine in a lot of scenarios, but getting two for one mana is extremely powerful. Don’t underestimate it.

Knife Juggler

There are a lot of one health minions running around the ladder these days. As such, Knife Juggler is an incredibly key part of how this deck operates. As stated above, you have a ton of ways to pump out bodies. That is the engine of the entire deck, and it serves the two drop incredibly well. Unless you need to put pressure on your opponent or you want to force them to react, your want to get value out of this card. Putting juggler alongside a token or minion generator is one of the best swings you have available. In aggro games you want to lean on this card as much as possible. The free hits aren’t always going to land on minions, but when they do it is an absolute blow out. The two drops ability is insanely powerful, and you don’t want to let it go to waste. It is often right to hold off just making a 1/1 on turn two if you can get value from the 2/2 on turn three or four.

Always try to get Knife Juggler down ahead of your opponent. Tempo is a key theme of all aggressive decks, and you always want your Silver Hand Recruits to live. Juggler is great for both of those ends because it helps build your board and presents your opponent with a lightning rod they need to deal with right away. One of the best things about this build is that it is based on silver hand recruits, but is also packed with strong must-kill threats. As such, while you may spend most of the game putting out recruits, they are largely going to be ignored for your stronger minions. Juggler is one such minion. If you can play it while you have control of the board, your opponent is going to have to spend their turn killing it and ignoring your recruits, which then moves you up your curve.

Steward of Darkshire

There is no better card in this deck than Steward of Darkshire. Some cards might be powerful, some cards might be incredibly strong in certain matchups, but this deck would not work without Steward. Divine shield has always been an incredibly powerful ability. Now, it is even stronger because it fights both aggro and control (which sums up nearly all of the meta). Your goal with this card is to hit at least two minions. Like so many threats here, this is a lightning rod. However, there is not a ton of removal in the current game (especially in decks like Paladin, Hunter, and Big Spell Priest). For that reason, try your best to put steward into the same situations you want Knife Juggler in. Hiding her behind a taunt can also be a fantastic way to press your advantage. If your opponent can’t kill the 3/3 right away, the game is typically going to be over.

You do not need to only use this card with Stand Against Darkness. In fact, most of the time you won’t. Yes, holding off until turn eight to get a nearly indestructible board is powerful, but, as mentioned above, you don’t need a full board to operate. Most of the time you just want sticky threats that help you move up your curve or support your stronger cards. For example, playing this with Lost in the Jungle on turn four gives you two sticky minions and a must-kill threat. Even if the 3/3 dies, it still gives you two recruits to use with things like Crystal Lion. This card also has amazing synergy with Level Up!. I have won more than a few games by putting down three or four 3/3 divine shield taunts against aggro or tempo decks. That combo is not the goal, but if you can set it up when you’re under pressure, you should.

Stand Against Darkness

Once again we are going back to the idea of swarming minions. Stand Against Darkness is your best token generating card, and it also works wonderfully as a finisher or instant threat. There are a ton of cards that work with the five recruits here. You have Knife Juggler synergy, a sticky board with Steward of Darkshire, or instant-kill potential with Level Up!. This card is also great with Crystal Lion and Sunkeeper Tarim as well. All of those plays are fantastic, and you want to use them as they come. Unless you are up against Rogue or Paladin (which have no clears) you want to use this as a last second haymaker rather than as an opening punch. Turn fiving this may be tempting, but it is rarely the right play. You can always get more value later on. On that note, the best use for this card is as a response to AOE. While token generators can also be used to bait out mass clears, this is typically going to be the way you respond after a clear rather than before it. That is because the five recruits are just too powerful to waste. Don’t get a happy trigger finger with this one. Your patience will be rewarded.

Crystal Lion/Corridor Creeper/Sea Giant

These three cards are the meat of this deck, and they all give you extra power that other builds don’t have. Being able to spam small threats is great to open games, and when those small threats build to big ones, you really have something special. Your goal should always be to play to these cards. Even playing Crystal Lion or Corridor Creeper on turn four is going to push them far ahead of the curve and give you the pressure you need to set up your middle game. All it takes is one solid threat for you to jump ahead. As mentioned, many decks don’t have reliable removal options. Rather, they depend on strong curves and powerful boards to get them through the game. If you can beat them to the punch while also pumping out small minions that you can then buff, your opponent is never going to be able to come back.

Everyone is going to expect Corridor Creeper, but nobody is going to see Crystal Lion or Sea Giant coming. That is incredibly important to note because it allows you to play to those cards without seeming suspicious. Always push your recruits and do just about everything you can (as seen in the above examples) to take pressure off of them. You won’t need to commit a lot to make that happen. Your opponent is going to naturally ignore the 1/1’s, which gives you plenty of time to set up Crystal Lion, Sea Giant, and the creeper. All three of those cards are good, but you want to prioritize the lion when you can. The divine shield on a 5/5 is incredibly powerful, and it has the ability that is the easiest to interrupt. Play it as soon as you get the opportunity.

Deck Code

AAECAaToAgTTAZG8ArnBAoPHAg2nBdQF sQi7rwL/rwK4xwLjywL40gL70wL W5QKJ5gK15gK35wIA

Matchups

The four decks I see the most while playing the ladder.

Priest

There are so many Priest decks on the ladder right now, and they are all so popular, that I’m lumping them together as one section. While Razakus Priest can be tricky, this build has a fantastic matchup against big spell. Not only do their finishers do very little against you, but once you get out ahead on the board they are almost never going to be able to recover. The name of this game is divine shield. Priest’s only two proactive plays are Bonemare and, much more importantly, Duskbreaker. The undead horse is annoying, but you can almost always plan for it by clearing the board on turn seven. For that reason, you want to be hyper-aware of breaker. Keeping a board (or even just a few) divine shield minions out will instantly nullify the dragon and make it so Priest has simply no way to touch your threats. Never give the 3/3 a chance to full clear unless you are specifically trying to bait it out.

You should be fine against any Priest deck as long as you constantly have minions to play. This deck is chock full of small bodies, as well as ways to use those small minions to create big threats. Always prioritize Drygulch Jailor early on, and steadily run out one big minion play after another. That natural tempo will help you stretch out Priest’s options and never give them a chance to set up a full-clear Duskbreaker or Dragonfire Potion. Divine shield up as soon as you can and do not be afraid to trade. You may be inclined to aggro down your opponent, but you have enough power (especially against Big Spell) to drag this one out. Look for value first, and then grab the board. Once you have control you can start to push.

Control Warlock

How fast can you be? Control Warlock is mostly a combo deck that wants to play their own game while occasionally clearing the board or running out a removal spell. You need to punish that style by flooding the board as fast as you possibly can. This is the one matchup where, as long as you have some ways to dodge AOE, you should be fine. Crystal Lion is always going to be amazing in this build and you want to get it out as quickly as possible. Warlock runs a lot of ways to clear, but those spells are often damage-based or expensive. For that reason, the 5/5 divine shield is going to beat them down before they can ever get going. Beyond that, you need to press your advantage early and play to Divine Favor. Even if you don’t have the three mana spell in hand, you typically want to play as if you’re going to draw it. It’s often your main out.

The most powerful card your opponent has against you is Defile because, unlike their other removal spells, it goes around divine shield. You have to be very careful against Warlock. Playing too far into mass clears is a disaster, but being too tentative also allows them to combo into early Voidlords. Find ways to do damage constantly, even it is something as simple as hitting your opponent with Unidentified Maul. The more pressure Warlock is under, the tighter and more scared they will play. Your best finishers in this one are Level Up! and Sunkeeper Tarim. Warlock is typically not going to play around those cards (especially Level Up!), which allows you to insta-kill your opponent when they least expect it. Gul’dan’s removal is strong, but it is also limited. They often will try to hold back against a board of 1/1’s to see if you have something greater. When they do that, you then kill them.

Aggro Paladin

Ah, the old mirror match. This is the main reason I decided to revisit this list, and one of the best reasons to play it on the current ladder. Your discounts are going to be huge in this matchup and they should break it wide open. Honestly, it is pretty hard to lose this game if you know how to pace it right. Everything in the first three turns should be spent killing minions. Call to Arms is a terrifying card that, despite your inherent advantage, is going to be difficult to come back from. In fact, the four mana spell is so important that you should always save the coin for it if you can. You may want to get two minions out on turn one, but 99 percent of the time you’d rather play arms on three because it is such a swing play. You almost always get Knife Juggler from it, and even when you don’t, three bodies in this matchup is invaluable.

The goal of this game is to get out ahead of your opponent. There are several ways to do that, but the best is with divine shield. Do not worry about this match going long. It is easy to get paranoid or think your opponent is going to suddenly surge ahead of you, but most of the time you should be able to lock them out with a big Level Up! turn. The five mana card is almost always game over, and you want to drop it as soon as you get ahead on board. Beyond that, Knife Juggler is the best card in this matchup. Always run yours out into situations where your opponent can’t kill it, or you where you can get that sweet immediate value. Juggler/Lost in the Jungle turn three against a board of small minions or recruits is one of the best ways to permanently take this one. They have to take out the juggler, and then you can comfortable play Crystal Lion or Call to Arms. Look for those swing plays that force your opponent to react.

Tempo Rogue

Another good reason to play this deck, Tempo Rogue is a build that does not fare well against what we’re trying to do. They are a deck that wants to go minion-for-minion as they steadily build into bigger and bigger threats. What they do not want to do is try to control and ever-growing board of small threats. This is the matchup where you want to purely lean on the swarm game. Rogue just has absolutely no answer to cards like Stand Against Darkness, Call to Arms or Lost in the Jungle/two small minions. Big plays like that either forces your opponent to trade down (breaking their tempo) or simply ignore your board. If they do that, it then gives you priority to do what you want. Think about that if you ever want to set up a blow out card like Sunkeeper Tarim or Level Up!. In most games you are going to need to carefully craft your plays in a way that best suits those finishers. Here, you are going to have ample opportunities to get them down. Once you do, take care of your opponent’s minions and then push hard and fast. The overall goal is to get Tempo Rogue’s health under fire. Once that happens, they need to completely abandon their gameplan and they will never be able to recover.

Note: This is a game where you should always level Stand Against Darkness if you can. Turn five or not.

Mulligan Guide

You are going to mulligan with this in the same way you would most aggro decks. However, you can climb higher with your curve because of the swarm way this deck operates. Lost in the Jungle, Southsea Deckhand, Righteous Protector, Drygulch Jailor, and Knife Juggler are all must-keeps. Divine Favor is strong against slower decks (mainly Druid and Warlock) but should never be kept without a strong opening curve. Steward of Darkshire is great with cheap minions, while Unidentified Maul and Call to Arms should always be kept on curve. You want Corridor Creeper against aggro or tempo decks, and, though it can be sketchy, it typically pays to keep Crystal Lion when you have a great curve against tempo.

Conclusion

I know I covered the early version of this list a little over a month ago, but this build is not only better, it also is a take on one of the premier decks in the game. Most popular versions run a ton of small threats, but I don’t think they use them well enough. This deck is a nice mix of aggressive cards, small minions, and big beaters. What I enjoy is that it is not just an aggro push-face build. Rather, it is a deck that takes a lot of planning so that you always have minions on the board and in your hand. It may not be easy to get on the first try, but the more you play it, the better at it you’ll get. Until next time, may you always build more recruits.


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