Paladins are the warriors that serve the Holy Light. Instead of focusing solely on their physical abilities, they embrace Holy magic to improve their defensive and offensive capabilities. The first order of Paladins (Knights of the Silver Hand) was created after the First War, by Uther Lightbringer himself, to help the common folk. Later Paladins started to specialize in protecting people from all that’s evil – mainly the Scourge (undead) and the Burning Legion (demons).
Paladins have three main specializations. They can wear a shield and boost themselves with protective spells while attracting the enemies’ attacks, heal wounded allies and revive fallen ones, or equip a two-handed weapon and rush straight into the combat, relying mostly on their physical skills.
In Hearthstone, Paladin class is represented by the Uther Lightbringer. Players can also unlock an alternative, cosmetic Paladin Hero – Lady Liadrin.
Themes and Mechanics
Paladin’s Hero Power is Reinforce. After using it, Paladins summon a 1/1 Silver Hand Recruit minion. The Hero Power is especially powerful against classes that can’t deal one damage easily, so you can create multiple small minions over time and grow your board. It gives Paladin an unending source of minions. They are weak by themselves, but give Paladin a body to buff and synergize with cards like Quartermaster or Lightfused Stegodon.
Secrets are a mechanic that’s unique to Paladin. While two other classes also have their own Secrets, they’re all significantly different. Paladin’s Secrets are the cheapest ones, they only cost one mana each. It makes them weakest in terms of value, but strongest in terms of tempo. The only exception is Getaway Kodo, which is a purely value card.
A Paladin build based around Secrets dominated the meta for some time, though it’s still rather popular in the Wild. Secret Paladin was really strong thanks to the insane tempo Mysterious Challenger provided. In Standard, Secrets aren’t actually put into decks, but they still see quite a lot of play thanks to Hydrologist – with the Discover mechanic, Paladin is able to pick the right Secret for the situation. It makes even the worst Secret – Eye for an Eye – situationally useful (e.g. against a Mage with Ice Block).
There are also some ongoing themes when it comes to the Paladin cards. When new cards are released, there is a significant chance that some of them will fall into one of those categories:
Buffs – Paladin is known for the ability to buff the minions. Pretty much every expansion, the class is getting some new buffs. Even The Last Kaleidosaur Quest is based around buffing. While most of the buffs aren’t commonly played, because they’re risky (if opponent kills a buffed minion with one spell, then you’re down a card), some of them have become Paladin staples. For example, Blessing of Kings is one of the most iconic spells, played in multiple Paladin decks throughout the history, while Spikeridged Steed has become one of the strongest cards from the Journey to Un’Goro expansion.
Healing – Paladins are known for healing cards. While they aren’t the only class that can heal, they have a highest number of healing cards in the game. Some of the most common Paladin healing cards are: Forbidden Healing, Lay on Hands, Ivory Knight, Wickerflame Burnbristle and Ragnaros, Lightlord.
Murlocs – Murlocs are the Paladin’s main tribe. While it doesn’t make a lot of sense lore-wise, Paladins constantly get new Murloc minions and other Murloc synergies. When we’re talking about minion-based decks, the card that holds the whole Murloc Paladin synergy together is Vilefin Inquisitor, which turns the Silver Hand Recruits (Hero Power 1/1’s) into Murlocs. There was also a combo deck based around Anyfin Can Happen summoning multiple Bluegill Warriors and Murloc Warleaders, but it’s out of Standard already.
Stat Manipulation – Instead of a classic removal like “deal X damage” or “destroy a minion”, Paladins get to play around with stat manipulation. Paladins can handle big minions by reducing their attack down to one (Aldor Peacekeeper), health down to one (Equality) or just turning them into 3/3’s (Sunkeeper Tarim). The last one can also be used to buff Paladin’s own small minions. Stat Manipulation is mostly used as a removal, but it seems that Blizzard is also turning the mechanic into buff with the recent Dinosize.
Divine Shield – While the Divine Shield mechanic is neutral, only Paladin has multiple class cards that revolve around it. Paladins have minions with Divine Shield (Tirion Fordring), ways to give Divine Shield to a minion (Argent Protector) and even a card that synergizes with them (Rallying Blade). Knights of the Frozen Throne introduced a new Divine Shield synergy. Some cards get extra effects when a Shield is popped - so far we've got a minion getting a minion (Bolvar, Fireblood) and weapon (Light's Sorrow) gaining extra Attack.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Healing – Paladins have access to some of the best life gain cards in the whole game. The best thing is that most of their healing cards do something else besides healing, making those cards great in nearly every matchup. For example, Lay on Hands can be used as a card draw even if there’s no need to heal anything, while Ragnaros, Lightlord comes with a big 8/8 body that has to be answered anyway. The only common card that does nothing other than healing is Forbidden Healing, but since it can make up a massive amount of health, it can be forgiven.
Board Wipes – Equality is one of the best removal cards in the entire game. While it needs to be combined with something else to really work, these combos are still incredible. The two most common ones that are used in Paladin ever since the Classic are Equality + Consecration and Wild Pyromancer + Equality. The first one is a 6 mana board clear that clears only the opponent’s side. It leaves the Paladin’s minions at one health too, but it means that the opponent has to spend another removal to get rid of them. The second one might be even better – it’s a full board clear for just 4 mana. Even though it affects both players and it’s a two card combo, unlike most of the other AoEs, it can save your skin as soon as Turn 4 even against the big boards.
Great Late Game – Paladins are masters of the late game. No matter if we’re talking about Aggro, Midrange or Control Paladin decks, they have superior late game when compared to the most of the other decks in the same category. Aggro Paladin doesn’t run out of steam that quickly thanks to Divine Favor, while the synergies in Murloc Paladin make up for the lack of expensive cards. Midrange Paladin runs a lot of mid/late game threats and high value cards. Control Paladin has even more board clears, value cards and often runs N'Zoth, the Corruptor as a big finisher to bring all of the dead Deathrattle minions back. Pretty much no other class can match Paladin in terms of the late game value and power.
Requires Minions on the Board – While it’s not true for every Paladin list, as Control Paladin can also fight from behind, most of the Paladin decks are pretty proactive. Any Paladin deck that runs buff cards simply needs minions to cast those buffs on. While yes, it’s possible to play a minion and buff it on the same turn, it’s often risky, as the minion might get removed right away and not get any immediate value. Paladin can also Hero Power and buff it on the same turn, but that’s really slow. E.g. Hero Power + Blessing of Kings is a 6 mana 5/5, which is really not good. At the same time, any Paladin deck that runs multiple Murlocs also wants to play proactively. Murloc synergies are good only with multiple other Murlocs on the board, so one of the best counters would be constantly removing the Murlocs from the board so Paladin can't stack multiple of them at the same time.
Weak Early Game – Paladin’s early game is very weak. The class has almost no strong minions, most of them have low stats and an effect that’s not necessarily that good during the first turns when you want to play on the curve (e.g. Hydrologist or Aldor Peacekeeper). That’s one of the reasons why Murloc decks have gained a lot of popularity and even slower decks have started to use them – gaps in the Paladin’s early game can be more or less filled with the Neutral Murloc options.
No Burn/Reach – Paladins have always been known for their lack of ways to close out games. Even though they can pack a lot of late game value into their deck, without any sort of burn, even in games where they outvalue the opponent heavily can drag for many more turns. Paladins can rarely deal any burst damage from their hand - usually it’s no more than six (Truesilver Champion + Consecration). Sometimes it doesn’t matter, as it will only take a while longer to finish the game, but it’s very problematic when playing against combo decks, where you need to win really fast. It also means that a good player will know to prioritize tempo plays over life gain against Paladin, as there's not much threat of dying even when at low health.
Meta Decks and Strategies
Here are the Paladin decks you can use on the ladder in the current meta. While not every deck listed here is high tier, they all should be viable options, especially to climb through the lower ranks.
Control Paladin is a slow deck that focuses mostly on powerful board clears and late game value. It has a very reactive game plan throughout the early and mid game – instead of developing its own threats, it tries to answer everything the opponent is doing in order to stay even on the board. Control Paladins play a lot of defensive/removal minions like Doomsayer, Aldor Peacekeeper or Stampeding Kodo. It also runs a lot of healing which is very useful against Aggro decks after stabilizing and against combo/burn decks after they start to damage you.
Every build runs at least three or four big minions, including Tirion Fordring, Ragnaros, Lightlord and Primordial Drake. But that’s not all of the value the deck has. Stonehill Defender is one of the highest value cards in Paladin, even though it might not look that way. Class cards are four times more likely to appear in Discover than Neutral cards, meaning that it’s very common to see one of the Paladin Taunts. And Paladin Taunts are generally really powerful – besides the obvious Tirion, there is also a Sunkeeper Tarim or even Grimestreet Protector, not to mention the potential neutral late game choices like Soggoth the Slitherer. Similarly, Hydrologist is another early game minion that has a very high chance to get tons of value. There is a 60% chance to get a Getaway Kodo, which can bounce any big minion or Stonehill Defender back to replay it once again and get even more value.
Knights of the Frozen Throne added an alternative win condition to Control Paladin. Class' DK Hero - Uther of the Ebon Blade - has a very interesting Hero Power. You summon a 2/2 minion each time you play it, but not any 2/2 minion - a Horseman of Apocalypse. If you get all four on the board, you win the game - just like that. While it's not a very reliable win condition, considering that your opponent will do anything to stop it, it has created a new sub-archetype of Control Paladin, the combo version. With just a few coins from Burgly Bully and Auctionmaster Beardo, you can play your Hero Power all four times in a single turn, winning the game on the spot. The build is really fun to play, but not entirely reliable.
Being more of a meme than anything for the longest time in the history of Hearthstone, Murlocs are now an integral part of the meta-game. The vanilla tribe received heavy reinforcement with the releases of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan and Journey to Un’Goro; especially Paladin’s Hydrologist makes the addition of the standard Murloc package almost mandatory in most decks.
With the reign of control decks in the current meta-game, reliable and fun aggro alternatives are in dire need, and Murloc Aggro Paladin is surely one of them.
The idea behind the deck is to fill the Paladin's weak early game with powerful and snowbally Murlocs. By flooding the board with those little guys, and then playing a Murloc Warleader or Gentle Megasaur to buff everything, some games can be won as soon as Turn 4-5. However, that's not the deck's only plan - if it fails, it has a very smooth transition into the mid game and even some late game in a form of Tirion Fordring.
The deck heavily relies on buff cards to buy the necessary tempo. Buffs, as long as you add stats to something that can already attack, are very fast - the extra stats sort of gain "charge", as you can utilize them immediately (and attack for extra damage, or get a better trade). On top of the Basic Blessing of Kings and Un'Goro's Spikeridged Steed, Frozen Throne has added another powerful buff card - Bonemare. A 5/5 body with a Blessing of Kings (+Taunt!) attached is not something to take lightly.
Budget and Basic Decks
If you’re a new player without a big collection, you might be looking for a way to play Paladin without spending a lot of your Dust on the Legendaries.
A Basic deck is a deck with only the starter cards. Every player can make it after unlocking the class and leveling it up to 10 (which unlocks every Basic card). It’s a best solution if you have just started playing the game – you can test each class without investing into it.
A Budget deck is a cheap deck with no Epics, Legendaries or Adventure cards. Budget decks only run the basic cards + Commons and Rares, which makes them relatively cheap and accessible even for players who have recently started. Average budget deck will cost up to 1,500 Dust to craft, but the number goes down heavily when you own some of the cards already. Even with a relatively small collection, you should be able to build one with just a few hundreds of Dust.
Basic decks are mostly meant for the Casual mode and up to Rank 20 in Ranked. Budget decks can easily be played up to Rank 10 in Ranked, while some of the better ones can even get you up to Rank 5.
Basic Paladin Deck
This deck is a Midrange Paladin with a slight focus on the token synergies. Tokens are the cards you spawn through extra effects, like Battlecries or - in case of Paladin - your Hero Power. They're usually small, but also cheap and disposable. While there aren't many Basic token generators (Razorfen Hunter is pretty much the only decent one), the Hero Power will still make some of the Basic cards more powerful than in the other decks. Two best examples are Frostwolf Warlord and Stormwind Champion. Normally, it might be pretty hard to get more value out of them, however with a Hero Power that spawns 1/1's, those cards might just win some of the games. Besides that, Paladin is one of the only Basic decks that uses weapons. They're great in a way that they usually give Paladin a card advantage, but at the same time, they drain the life total much faster than usually.
The Midrange Paladin Basic deck is a bit harder to pilot correctly than a more straightforward deck like Druid. Given that the deck runs many buffs or cards which power depends on the board state, smart trading, controlling the board and utilizing weapons correctly is often the key to win the games, which might be pretty difficult for the new players piloting it. On the other hand, playing this deck might help you learn the basics of the trading, when it's worth to do it, when it's better to pass up, how to use life as the resource when playing weapons etc. The deck is more challenging, but can also be more rewarding if played right.
Budget Paladin Deck
Handbuff Paladin is a relatively new archetype. Whole "handbuff" mechanic was first introduced in the last year's Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion as a part of the Grimy Goons gang. It was generally considered to be worst of the gangs, with the mechanic not being really utilized until a whole expansion later – Journey to Un’Goro. That’s where the first semi-viable Handbuff Paladin list was really created.
Handbuff Paladin is based on two types of cards. First – handbuffs. Cards like Smuggler's Run, which buff every minion in the Paladin’s hand. And second – buff targets. Basically cards that work better with handbuffs – those might be cards that replace themselves in your hand (Fire Fly, Stonehill Defender) or that spawn multiple bodies, each profiting from the buff (Saronite Chain Gang, Doppelgangster).
In the current meta, even the non-budget version of the deck is below average. However, the only really viable Paladin deck right now is Murloc Paladin, and you can’t build it on the budget (Epics like Vilefin Inquisitor, Gentle Megasaur and Murloc Warleader are absolutely necessary). The deck is also a bit over the estimated 1.5k Dust cost for the budget decks, because it uses a lot of Rare cards and almost no Basic cards. Which makes Paladin a very weak budget option right now, unless you really want to play the class.
Every two levels, up to level 10, you will get two copies of a Basic class card. A lot of those cards are staples, so it’s heavily advised to highly prioritize getting every class to level 10.
|Level 2||Level 4||Level 6|
|Level 8||Level 10|
Every few levels past level 10, you will be rewarded with a Golden version of one of the Basic cards. Leveling up past 10 doesn’t give you any competitive edge – all the rewards are cosmetic.
A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. He's achieved infinite Arena and multiple top 100 Legend climbs. You can follow him on Twitter @StonekeepHS.