The final wing of the latest expansion, Blackrock Mountain, has been released almost a month ago. In this month, lots of new decks have been made, theorycrafting has been done, and the entire meta basically shifted. There are still a lot of aggresive decks like Zoo and Face Hunter out there, but many more decks see play nowadays. Handlock has been seen on ladder again, the occasional Rogue pops up, Druid and Freeze Mage got a buff to their combos from Emperor Thaurissan, and completely new decks like Grim Patron Warrior and Flamewaker Mage are seeing a lot of play.
The wild mix of all of the aforementioned decks represents the current meta. With so many different decks around, it’s hard to pick one deck or class to ladder with. I have personally been experimenting with custom-made decks in order to have the most good matchups possible by staying ahead of what’s happening on ladder. During these experiments I created multiple decks, last week an article was posted on Ancient Watcher Paladin, which I created originally. This week, however, we’re looking at a very different Paladin list. Both decks have a great matchups against aggro decks, but in a very different way. This deck is a pure control deck, sacrificing tempo and early game for a lot of removal and really strong late-game. Playing this deck requires a lot of timing. When do you clear the board and when do you play what minion or removal? But when you do get your timings right, and play your answers correctly, this deck has a very strong matchup against a lot of decks in the current meta. This is because so many of the current top decks win by gaining board control. And with this deck featuring two times Equality combined with two times Wild Pyromancer and Consecration, taking back the board, even multiple times in some games, is no issue.
Now this sounds like a dream deck, but of course is there a drawback. Games tend to last a long time, making this a rather unefficient deck to ladder with if you want to get to legend as quick as possible. Even against Face Hunter, the quickest and most aggresive deck right now, the way you win is by stalling the game by healing, taunting and removing threats until you have board control. The fact that any match with this deck takes so long makes it so that it’s nowhere near the most efficient decks to ladder, but it’s definitely one of the most fun ones!
The way you win with this deck, is by outlasting your opponent. There is nowhere near enough early game in this deck to be able to get some early pressure going. Outlasting an opponent is something that you do easily against Aggro decks, but Combo or Control decks are a bit harder to dry out. Let’s say you’re up against a zoo deck. If you only play one minion a turn they will easily overrun you. By turn 4 or 5 they will have a full board. If you can manage to Wild Pyromancer and Equality this board, they will have to repopulate it again. This empty board on their turn 6 means they are likely to have either little or no cards left in their hand, while you will have a big hand full of cards that are much more aimed to curve nicely on these later turns.
Now this exact situation is not always going to happen. You will not always draw an Equality clear, and the opponent won’t always overextend massively. While clearing the board and getting a massive tempo swing by doing so is key in winning with this deck, great minions for stalling are present as well. Earthen Ring Farseer and Sen'jin Shieldmasta, but also Aldor Peacekeeper and Humility.
The general idea is you stall the game long enough until you either can start dropping strong late-game cards, which this deck has plenty of, or until you can clear the board completely and start taking board control after this.
The most important cards and combos will be explained in this paragraph. If you’ve played hearthstone before Naxxramas was released, al lot of these combos will sound familiar to you. I’m not going to go over the very standard Paladin cards like Truesilver Champion, this card is almost always included because of its pure value.
The most used and key combo of this deck is Equality and Wild Pyromancer. This 4 mana combo uses 2 of your cards but clears the entire board. It’s especially strong if you can get a Solemn Vigil off for zero mana after the clear, maybe even two. If you play this combo later on in the game, you can clear the entire board for 4 mana. This means you can usually play a minion or two after the clear. This gives you the initiative on board. You can also combo Equality with Consecration, this combo costs more mana but allows you to save your minions, even though they are at 1 hp afterwards. You can use the one Ironbeak Owl on your own minions to restore them to full health after an Equality has been played
Aldor Peacekeeper and Humility have the same purpose, they both slow the game down by neutralising enemy minions. Having a minions attack changed to one is great for getting rid of aggression. Changing a minions attack to 1 and then playing Stampeding Kodo is a great combo for single target destruction. Keep in mind that when there are multiple minions with 2 or less attack, the kodo will pick one randomly.
Stampeding Kodo is good enough by itself that it deserves its own paragraph. A lot of the best cards nowadays are midrange cards with 2 attack. Some examples are as follows:
- Zoo has Imp Gang Boss, and runs a large variety of small minions.
- Druid has Shade of Naxxramas or Druid of the Flame.
- Mage plays Flamewaker, while the Freeze Mage variant plays Acolyte of Pain.
- Paladin has Shielded Minibot.
- Warrior plays Frothing Berserker, Acolyte of Pain, Armorsmith and Warsong Commander
- Almost every control deck plays Zombie Chow due to the aggresive meta that’s happening right now.
If you’re wondering why there is no Sludge Belcher in this list, it’s for this card. The taunt is replaced in the form of Sen'jin Shieldmasta, and the kodo’s battlecry is in my opinion a better effect then leaving behind a 1/2 Slime. If you look purely valuewise to this card, then the kodo’s battlecry is comparable to slightly worse Shadow Word: Pain, destroying an enemy minion, while the belcher’s deathrattle only leaves behind a 1/2 that never kills anything, just stalls even more.
Earthen Ring Farseer is in this deck for the same reason as the Sen'jin Shieldmasta, to stall the game. Being a generic 3/3 for 3 mana isn’t great of a card, but healing 3 health to your hero can make a pretty significant difference in the long run. 3 additional health can mean the difference between the opponent having lethal and being one off. The heal can also be used to heal your minions up for more or more efficient trades. Against aggro decks though it’s almost always a good idea to heal your hero.
Antique Healbot and Lay on Hands are seen in almost every paladin list. This is because with paladin being a slow weapon class, healing is needed in order to stay alive. These two cards combined with the double Earthen Ring Farseer you can survive an incredible amount of damage.
I ran into a lot of weapon classes during my climb to legend this season. Warrior, Rogue and Paladin are all prevalent in this metagame, and against the always present hunter it’s a nice tempo swing while also stopping some damage from hitting your face. Therefore I teched in a Acidic Swamp Ooze while already running a Harrison Jones. If you’re up against a weapon based class it’s really nice to have 2 cards that destroy weapons. Sometimes you don’t draw into the first, and against rogue or warriors you will get to destroy a weapon with both cards anyway.
The lategame in this deck is fairly standard, Sylvanas Windrunner, Dr. Boom, and Tirion Fordring are must haves in any Paladin deck. The one card that doesn’t immediately belong here is Nefarian. I felt like I needed an additional late-game card to really be able to pressure other control decks, and to be able to consistently play a big card when you need to. I toyed around with the idea of Ragnaros the Firelord at first, but Nefarian just felt better. After playing around 40 games with him in this deck, I fell in love with this card. Not only can he replenish your hand in the long-drawn topdeck wars, he also gives you 2 cards that don’t come from your deck. This gives you an edge in games that go until fatique, and also gets you a nice surprise factor. These surprise cards can be really extreme even! Imagine getting a Sacrificial Pact against a handlock before he play . Or what about pulling Force of Nature and Savage Roar from a druid. These situations will not arise that often, but you usually get at least one spell that’s actually good.
With the addition of Nefarian, Dr. Boom is no longer the only Big Game Hunter target in the deck. This means that it’s more likely that one of them doesn’t get destroyed by that little dwarf with a rifle.
The meta is currently way to fast to be playing more control style then this deck already is. I will still suggest certain changes in this deck for control matchups as well as other decks, if the meta changes too much.
Acidic Swamp Ooze Is the card I teched in myself as a counter to classes that use weapons. If you feel like you don’t see those classes that much, take out this card and put in a Shielded Minibot. If you run into too much zoo, it’s probably a good idea to take out one Solemn Vigil for a second minibot.
Doomsayer is an even better card to drop on turn 2 against zoo or hunters, because it clears the board at the beginning of your turn, meaning you will have the initiative again. This is a good alternative for the Acidic Swamp Ooze, or you can play both and take out either one late-game card, a Solemn Vigil, or both for 2 doomsayers. Be careful when playing this card, because a zoo deck can play a Nerubian Egg and get the 4/4 Nerubian from its deathrattle for free.
Some of the late-game cards can be replaced with mid or early game for even better matchups against fast decks. I suggest taking out Dr. Boom and/or Nefarian for Shielded Minibot. This way there are no Big Game Hunter targets whatsoever in the deck.
If you see less weapon based decks but more combo decks, replacing Harrison Jones with Loatheb is an excellent idea, maybe even replace it with Kezan Mystic if you see a lot of mages.
Matchups and Mulligan Guide
This matchup is slightly favoured for you. Plenty of healing and you can remove his weapons to get rid of face damage. Keep any card that cost 4 or less, except for Equality. Always toss the Equality back in the deck. If you don’t have a card that costs 2 or 3 mana, get rid of your entire hand. This way, face hunter shouldn’t be too hard to beat as long as you get a taunt and a heal.
Midrange hunter on the other hand, is easier. you don’t need to draw into a taunt that much, and heals can come a bit later. You play the same way against face and midrage hunter, but since midrange has a slightly slower curve, it’s easier to keep up with them and remove their cards from the board. You have enough removal and heal, the way to lose this matchup is by them getting too much tempo for you to keep up with. Heals and taunts are very important in order to stabilize the game and tip it in your favour.
There are multiple Warlock decks around. The most common one is, unfortunately, still zoo. Fortunately for us, the matchup against zoo is great. I managed to get a 70% winrate against zoo on my climb to legend. The full board clears are amazing against them. The same thing goes for Handlock, Equality clears can easily destroy a Mountain Giant and a Twilight Drake, or 2 Molten Giants. Therefore it’s always a wise idea to keep Equality, Consecration, and Wild Pyromancer against warlocks. I can’t stress this enough, these board clear combos are key in this matchup, and can change everything in your favour. Stampeding Kodo is great vs zoo to destroy their small minions, and amazing against Handlock in combo with Humility. Yet I would not recommend keeping a kodo in your opening hand, since a 5 drop is way too late against both decks. Always keep Humility and Aldor Peacekeeper though.
The only Shamans you’ll see on ladder are Mech Shamans, the matchup against them plays out almost exactly the same as against zoo. Go for board control while removing their cards. It’s okay to let the board get out of control a little bit in the early game if you have Wild Pyromancer and Equality in hand.
Against Grim Patron Warrior, one of the most seen decks this meta, you only win if you can get enough clears off. You need to either destroy the Frothing Berserker as soon as it comes down, or neutralize it immediately by silencing it or changing its attack from any high amount to 1. When the infamous Grim Patron itself comes down, there is never one of it. Always a whole bunch. Consecration by itself does nothing, since they just get more dwarfs. Therefore, Equality is an absolute must have. Always keep an Equality in your starting hand against Warriors.
Control Warrior, on the other end, is a really favourable matchup. You don’t see Control Warrior that much, but you run enough removal to get rid of all its cards while still playing your own legendaries. This matchup is mostly determined by who gets the better answers to the other. Don’t overextend the board too much because Brawl will destroy you.
Against combo decks like Druid, Freeze Mage and Rogue, you are going to have a hard time. Druid is the most doable matchup of these 3, since you can contest the board really aggresively, and keep healing out of combo range. Against freeze mage you need to keep most of your heals for after Alexstrasza. Rogue is the hardest matchup, but if you keep your Sen'jin Shieldmasta for late in the game, you can usually protect yourself enough to outlast them with heals.
Other Paladin decks are great to go up against. Wild Pyromancer is great versus their Muster for Battle and their divine shield cards, so be sure to keep it in hand. They don’t run enough treats to keep up with the massive amount of removal, and they don’t have enough removal to answer all your treats. Overall great matchup, and with Paladins not having burst healing isn’t that much of a necessity.
What I’ve seen on ladder this season is the revival of Zoo Warlock decks, and with the rise of Zoo, the amount of pure Face Hunters goes down. That’s right, aggro decks became less combo or rush oriented and got more focussed on board control. A lot of decks played nowadays are either great at contesting the board, or having efficient removals. The deck showcased in this article features so much removal that keeping the board clear until the lategame, where you truly shine in power, is the way to go.
During my climb from rank 6 and higher, I faced Zoo decks 60% of the time I played a game. Grinding these decks is a quick way to get some ranks, so if you feel you’re stuck on a certain rank because you face to many aggro decks, it might be a nice idea to play this deck for a little while, gain a rank or 2, and see how it goes from there on out. I personally pick what deck to play depending on what I have faced in the previous couple of games. Especially from rank 5 and upwards, you see people playing different decks each day, this is in order to try to play the deck with highest winrate against the decks they will most likely face that day. This deck is a nice counter to play against aggro and board control decks, so if you see a lot of those, it’s probably a good moment to switch up decks and give this a try.
I hope you enjoyed this guide, and I hope you’ll enjoy Control Paladin just as much as I do. If you have any questions about anything, feel free to post them in the comments below.