We're very close to officially being able to say Mysterious Challenger is the Grim Patron of The Grand Tournament. Not only were folks unsure what to make of it, but Mysterious Challenger has arguably emerged as the most important card from the set.

Secret Paladin would certainly not exist without it and it's easy to see why. Most variants of the deck are running five of the six Paladin secrets: Competitive Spirit, Avenge, Noble Sacrifice, Redemption, and Repentance. So on average you're paying six mana for a 6/6 body that also summons up to five mana's worth of secrets. But why has this proven to be so popular? Aside from the fact that we're talking some pretty great value, Mysterious Challenger also provides a tremendous tempo swing, and in the right situations is oftentimes unanswerable.

Played alone on an empty board, Mysterious Challenger might just win the game outright. Assuming you play a minion to answer it, its health is automatically reduced to one by Repentance. If the Secret Paladin can't answer that, when you finally do get a chance to attack into the Challenger, you'll just be greeted by that pesky Defender from Noble Sacrifice. At that point everything will trigger causing the Mysterious Challenger to become a 9/8 in stats and resummoning the defender. And that's not even taking into account the Competitive Spirit that already triggered. So now you're one minion has already attacked and the enemy has 12 points of damage on the board. Without a Big Game Hunter to clear it off, you've already practically lost.

mysteriousbottom.pngAnd that's exactly why this deck is so powerful. Assuming the opponent doesn't have an immediate answer or a significant board lead, there's frequently nothing you can do to stop the Secret Paladin from going off. This alone is enough to nudge a lot of 50/50 situations into your favor.

Deck Variants

RDU's version of Secret Paladin is one of the originals and highly aggressive. Blessing of Kings allows you to keep pushing for damage regardless of what the opponent does and helps you get through those pesky taunt minions. Consistent early game pressure is key with the hopes of sealing the game up with a Turn 6 Mysterious Challenger.

Others prefer a version based off of the more control oriented Mid-Range Paladin. Rather than pushing to do as much damage in the early game, this one simply seeks to have a good enough board presence such that when Mysterious Challenger is played, the opponent has no hope of dealing with all the threats. Even if they do, they'll have lost significant value and tempo that they may not be able to come back from. This specific version from TempoStorm ( TempoStorm's Mid-Range Secret Paladin) cuts Aldor Peacekeeper in favor of those Blessing of Kings.

For those without two Mysterious Challengers, such as myself, it's certainly possible to tech in another card in its place. Though it's tough to say which variant of the deck would suffer more from this, you can take a glance at my version of the deck to see some tech options. I personally don't have two Challengers, two Muster for Battles, or two Secretkeepers. Skiffington's Secret Paladin is probably not nearly as strong, but still good enough to get wins in the teen ranks. More than anything it proves that there's no reason to feel like you can't do well without all of the best cards. Keep in mind however, that the Mid-Range version requires Legendaries while this one does not.

What are your thoughts on the newest archetype? Since the beginning stages of Blackrock Mountain, Secret Paladin is the only deck that has unseated Grim Patron Warrior in many of the more popular meta rankings. Have you given it a shot? Let us know in the comments below.