So, after a couple of weeks, the metagame is starting to settle, and the cream is rising to the top. We are starting to see which classes are winners and which are losers. I think most would agree that the biggest loser in the current metagame is Warlock, which went from having a tier 1 strategy (Renolock) to basically disappearing from the metagame. In terms of winners, however, I think most would agree that no class has been a bigger winner post-Un’Goro than Paladin.
Paladin has gone from a joke class, to having multiple strategies in tier 1. Both tier 1 strategies revolve around everyone’s favourite semi-intelligent amphibious class: the Murlocs. But, today I’m not going to be talking to you about a Murloc deck. I’m going to be talking to you about a deck that annihilates the Murloc decks: Silver Paladin!
While I was making my march to Legend this month with Secret Tempo Mage, I was watching Savjz’ stream and fell in love with a concoction that he was piloting around the top 100 legend mark. The deck was a Midrange Paladin strategy that eschewed Murloc synergy for good old fashioned Silver Hand Recruits, utilizing Un’Goro cards like Lost in the Jungle and Lightfused Stegadon.
Lost in the Jungle is a really interesting card that has fallen under the radar since it’s release. While two 1/1’s for 1 may not seems like much of a big deal, it actually can have much more of an impact than expected. Paladin has lots of ways to make good use of extra Silver Hand Recruits nowadays. Lightfused Stegadon is one of those, and usually you are looking to pull poisonous or +3 attack, so that your Recruits can trade-up. I had one game against Purify Priest where I actually took down two giant minions (about 4/20 taunt dudes) with a couple of Poisonous Silver Hand Recruits. Lost in the Jungle is rarely a turn 1 play, but is a great way to set things up in the midgame, such as playing it alongside Nesting Roc, or setting up a big turn with my choice for Un’Goro’s most powerful card: Sunkeeper Tarim!
If you have not been blown out by this guy yet, you aren’t playing enough ladder. The Murloc decks make very good use of Tarim, but I would argue that Silver Paladin does an even better job. I can not describe how many games I have blown my opponent out with this card. When my board full of Silver Hand Recruits all of a sudden turns into an army of 3/3’s, and my opponent’s big dudes all of a sudden shrink, opponent’s tend to explode. It often requires planning a turn or two in advance, but when you can set up a perfect board, Tarim will often just come down and win you the game.
I should also give big props to one of the underappreciated members of the team: Stonehill Defender.
You would be mistaken for reading this card as: “Discover a Taunt Minion”. Please allow me to translate. What the card actually says is: “Discover a Sunkeeper Tarim or Tirion Fordring”. The randomization on this guy’s discover options seems to favour class cards, and Paladin has 4 taunt minions: Tarim, Tirion, Wickerflame Brunbristle and Grimestreet Protector. Suffice it to say, you usually have a pretty awesome option to select as additional value off your humble 1/4 for 3.
This deck has a lot of raw power, and is very well positioned in the current environment. The deck has the ability to clear wide board states with Equality/Pyromancer/Consecration. The deck has the ability to handle opposing minions of pretty much any size with Aldor Peacekeeper, Sunkeeper Tarim, Equality or Poisonous Silver Hand Recruits. The deck plays defence extremely well with a pile of taunt minions and life gain, and it can swing a board from defence to offence very quickly.
My overall record with the deck was a ridiculous 38-12 for a 76% winrate. All my testing was done from rank 4 and up. My games climbing to Legend were a split between this deck and Secret Tempo Mage. I finished off my testing with a 19-5 record (79% winrate) at Legend.
General Mulligan Strategy
The mulligan strategy with this deck is pretty similar from matchup to matchup. The cards you want in your opener are: Hydrologist, Wild Pyromancer, Aldor Peacekeeper, Stonehill Defender and Equality. Consecration, Wickerflame Burnbristle, Truesilver Champion and Lost in the Jungle are contextual keeps. Burnbristle is always a keep against Pirates or Aggro Druid. Lost in the Jungle is a keep if you are planning to play it on turn 1 (Hunter, and sometimes Pirates, depending on your hand). Truesilver is usually a keep, if you have another early play. Consecration is a keep if you are against a deck that is going to go wide (Aggro Druid, Murloc Paladin or Hunter). You can also keep Consecration against Quest Rogue (to clean up their board before they play Crystal Core), if you have at least one other early play.
Yup, if you want a good reason to run this list over the Murloc variants, I present this testing record as Exhibit “A”. This deck crushes the aggressive Murloc variants. The slower control Murloc variants are a bit more difficult, but you still have a pretty solid edge.
Murlocs get their best results by flooding the board. This makes their mass buff effects like Gentle Megasaur and Murloc Warleader more effective. Against Silver Paladin, flooding the board just gives me the chance to blow them out with an Equality-fueled board clear. It is important to remember, however, the strange way that Hearthstone deals with damaging buff’ed minions. If your opponent has Warleader on the board, Equality + Pyromancer will just leave all their other Murlocs at 1 health, because the buff stays even after Warleader dies, if the minions have been damaged. As such, you may have to do a bit more work to set up one of those clears, such as removing Warleader ahead of time, or using the more expensive Equality + Consecration option.
Overall, your plan is just to run your opponent out of gas. You will win the long game. Keep putting roadblocks in their way and set up for the turn where you can blow them out with a board clear. The Murloc deck is very strong and can be very explosive, but they can not grind out the long game against this deck.
If you are playing against the more control variant, you have to play it like a mirror match. The threats that can beat you are also your best threats, too: Tirion Fordring, Ragnaros Lightlord, and Sunkeeper Tarim. The nice thing is that the smaller Murloc package means that your opponent is less explosive. Just make sure not to blow your Equalities until you have to, because if you use them to take care of an early Murloc rush, you could end up missing it when you are facing down Ragnaros.
My record against Warrior is a bit misleading. This deck’s toughest common matchup is Taunt Warrior, which constitutes most of my losses here (2-3 against Taunt Warrior). Unlike most matchups, your opponent actually has the inevitability, because of their Quest, so it is incumbent on you to be the aggressor. You have to have multiple threats to be able to push through damage, or you are just going to keep bashing into their taunts all day until they finish their quest and start sending fire your way. The cards that buff your Silver Hand Recruits (Sunkeeper and Stegadon) can provide a really great swing turn, but it is hard to build up a big board of recruits when your opponent has Ravaging Ghoul and Whirlwind. The matchups go long, so it is important to look for your openings. Hydrologist for Getaway Kodo or Redemption can be a good way to provide some protection against brawl. Getting Eye for an Eye off Hydrologist can give you a potential alternate win condition once your opponent’s Quest is finished (No, I send 8 at your face!).
By contrast, the Pirate Warrior matchup is a whole different beast. This deck crushes Pirates. I had a 4-1 record against it in testing. You just have so many great defensive cards. The best decks against Pirates are ones that stabilize with big taunt minions, and this deck does exactly that. If you slow them down in the early game, maybe get a board wipe, they usually can’t finish you off through your taunters. Wickerflame Burnbristle is also incredible against them. If you see one in your choices off Stonehill Defender, that’s probably your choice. If you can back up a Burnbristle with a Redemption off Hydrologist, then your opponent will probably throw his computer across the room. That having been said, Noble Sacrifice is also a pretty strong Hydrologist pull. The biggest threat they have against you is Frothing Berserker, so if you have the option of holding back an answer for it, do so. Losing against Pirates usually means Frothing got out of control.
This deck doesn’t look like it should be all that good against Quest Rogue, but it holds its own better than you would think. I was 3-3 against it in my testing. You still prefer to be against Miracle Rogue, which is a relatively easy matchup (2-0), but this deck can fight surprisingly well against the Quest version.
Against Quest, you have a few different avenues. One is to take an aggressive approach, establish an early board while they are bouncing their dudes, and then press your advantage when their Quest goes off. Equality + Consecration is great to hold your advantage. Clearing their board before Quest goes off also gives you an opening. Weapon damage will usually keep getting through, unless they have Glacial Shard or Bilefin Tidehunter. Of course, the best way to win after they play their Quest is with Sunkeeper Tarim. He turns all their 5/5’s into 3/3’s and can often give you the board advantage long enough to finish the game.
The second way that you can beat Quest Rogue is with Dirty Rat, which is one of the reasons I will always keep Dirty Rat against Rogue. Sometimes you can just pull the guy they were trying to complete their Quest with. Sometimes you can pull Gadgetzan Ferryman or Youthful Brewmaster and delay them for a couple of turns. Try to drop the Rat once they have already bounced their guy once or twice, and try to make sure you can kill the minion if you hit paydirt.
Against Miracle Rogue, the strategy is much simpler: grind them out. You can answer anything they have to throw at you. Sherazin is a bit annoying, because he can come back over and over. Aside from Sherazin, all their other threats are relatively easy to neutralize. If they try to tempo you out, you can board clear and shut them down. If they get you low on life, you can gain it back. If they drop a huge Edwin, you can Aldor Peacekeeper it. Even having a big Auctioneer turn usually won’t make much of a difference, since they only have so many threats in their deck, and can’t afford to overextend into a board clear.
My matchups were all against Freeze Mage. All you need to know is: hold a big life gain card for when Alexstrasza comes down! If you do, your opponent simply does not have enough burn in their deck to kill you. Ragnaros Lightlord is the best for this (although Lay on Hands or Ivory Knight can work, too). The one thing to remember is that you don’t want any other minions to be damaged when Lightlord’s ability activates. Sometimes this means running any damaged ones into Alex, and sometimes it means taking more extreme measures. Equality is sometimes key here. If you have a board full of damaged minions and your opponent plays Alex, drop Equality, kill Alex with a small dude, send the rest to the face and drop Rags. You just need to get yourself out of double Fireball + Frostbolt range. If you do, your opponent is done. Any damage you can get the Freeze Mage player to use up early in the game is great, but ultimately just hanging onto Ragnaros + Equality, while having at least one dude on the board, is enough to guarantee victory.
Not much to say here. Elemental Shaman got popular for a day or two and I got to take advantage. Elemental Shaman is pretty predictable. They have to set up their plays by chaining elementals, so it makes it easy to see what’s coming. Just keep dropping taunts in their way until you are ready to board clear them. You eventually just grind them out of gas.
I was surprised to see the Priest matchup being this good. I was 1-0 against Purify Priest (Horray for Poisonous Silver Hand Recruits!) and 2-1 against the mid-rangy or control Priest decks. The midrange lists are a good matchup, but the control versions are a grind. They are the one deck in the meta that can grind you out of gas. The match I lost was a grind to the end of our decks before he played Elise and Shadow Visions to get an extra Un’Goro pack. Generally Shadow Visions is their best card. Along with the ridiculous play of getting bonus Un’Goro pack, often their choice will be to simply get extra copies of Free from Amber, which can present some challenges. Always make sure that you hang onto an answer to Lyra Sunshard, too. One turn of that guy can be trouble, but more than that can mean a loss.
Also, remember to watch the fatigue race. My record, honestly, should be 2-2 in this matchup, but one of my Control Priest opponents messed up by dropping an Acolyte of Pain while deep in his deck. I saw his deck was low, overdrew him with a Silver Hand Recruit and a couple of Pyromancer activations, and won a couple of turns later when he hit fatigue and I still had 5 cards left in my deck.
While Silver Paladin is generally great against aggro matchups, Hunter is a different beast (so to speak). Hunter is tough to control. They are very good at sustaining aggression. Board clears need to be set up more carefully because of deathrattle minions. They also have reach with their hero power and Kill Command. The matchup is far from unwinnable, as you can grind them out, if you can stabilize, but Hunter manages to get there a lot more often than other aggro decks.
My one Druid matchup was, surprisingly, against Jade Druid, not Aggro Druid (which is the much more common deck). No surprise: this deck does not want to see Jade Druid. It is tough to grind out a deck that can drop an unending stream of 10/10’s, so you have to be the aggressor and finish them before their golems get out of control. That having been said, Jade Druid is rare on ladder nowadays, and I would imagine that this deck would crush Aggro Druid.
I played against one Zoolock. It didn’t put up much of a fight. Small sample size, but I’m pretty sure that this matchup is a strong one for us. Regardless, you are unlikely to see very many around, so it doesn’t matter much.
While last week’s deck is a great budget option, this one is not! You have 5 Legendaries, and each of them is pretty central to the deck’s strategy.
Ragnaros Lightlord is a huge threat, and a card that completely destroys Freeze Mage single-handedly. I wouldn’t want to leave him out, but if you did, I would make sure to replace him with a big life gain effect. I don’t think I would want a second Lay on Hands, so the second Ivory Knight would be the best option.
Wickerflame Burnbristle is your best card against Pirates. By losing him, you hurt that matchup, and most of the other aggro matchups. The best substitute I could think of would be Tar Creeper, who would serve a similar function, at the same slot on the curve, albeit without the life gain aspect.
The Curator is probably the easiest option to drop, but is also the easiest to obtain, since he is an Adventure Legend from Karazhan. Still, if you don’t have Karazhan, you could use another big Taunt minion like Grimestreet Protector. A second Spikeridged Steed or Lightfused Stegadon would also probably be fine in that slot.
As for Tirion, I suppose you could play Midrange Paladin without Tirion, but then are you really playing Midrange Paladin? Similar to The Curator, if you don’t have Tirion, then I would probably go with a Protector, Spikeridge Steed or second Stegadon.
The last Legendary is Sunkeeper Tarim, and honestly, if you don’t have him, I would be very hesitant to play the deck. He wins you so many games against so many different archetypes. Of all the Legendaries in this deck, losing this guy would hurt your winrate the most. There just isn’t anything that fills this guy’s shoes. If you absolutely wanted to play the deck without him, your option is probably to go with 2nd Steed or 2nd Stegadon (and hope to pull Sunkeeper off Stonehill Defender), but at that point, I would really be looking at playing another deck.
So, I have a busy next week at work, and I honestly don’t have another great deck lined up to write about, yet. As such, I would be surprised if I get another article out next week, but maybe the week after. Either way, if you want to know when future articles are posted, the best way is to follow us on Twitter or Facebook, and I will post there when new articles go up. Alternatively, you can subscribe to my articles below. And, of course, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to join the discussion on reddit here.