Prior to the release of Goblins vs. Gnomes the Paladin class was in a rough spot and considered the worst class on the ladder. The main issue was that there were not enough quality early game cards and even though Paladin had some of the best catch up mechanics in the game it was often too late to stabilize by the time they could be played. Luckily, for all of you Paladin enthusiasts out there, GvG introduced some great cards that added an early game arsenal to the class and have opened up a new viable archetype. Midrange Paladin is seeing a lot of play on the ladder and is actually proving to be successful.

This version of Paladin is also seeing some tournament play with both finalists on the recent Pinnacle tournament, Firebat and Xixo, bringing their takes on the deck. Check out the deciding game 5 to see a similar deck in action and the sheer amount of pressure it can apply to decks as controlling as Warrior. One of the biggest advantages that the deck has is the ability to have a fast start and still compete with late game control decks as well. For that reason it is a very consistent deck which makes it a fantastic one to play on the ladder.

Let's take a look at the deck and break down each card and how to play it.

The Deck

Equality - this is the big swing card in the deck and allows for entire board clears and huge swings in tempo when combined with Consecration. There is only one copy in the deck because this version of Paladin is more focused on building the board and when your hand gets clogged up with two of these that becomes much tougher to do. Getting that combo off one time is generally enough to win the game but since there is only one you can be a bit greedy and wait to get the most value you can.

Shielded Minibot x2 - this may be the card that really swung the early game back towards the Pally's favor. A 2/2 will kill a lot of early game minions and since it survives you can often get 2 for 1 and set your self up to maintain board control on the next few turns as you move into the strength of the deck which is the mid-game. In most match-ups this is a card you will look for in your starting hand.

Muster for Battle x2 - this card has so much great combo potential and is just strong even without the synergy with Knife Juggalo and Quartermaster. You get 3/3 in stats and a 1/4 weapon and you get to spread them out which allow for the damage to be dispersed as you see fit. This is another card that you want in your opening hand if possible.

Aldor Peacekeeper x2 - a lot of decks have to run Big Game Hunter to deal with big minions, which this deck runs as well, but the Paladin can make them "Follow ze rules" as well. This card can be used defensively to lower the incoming damage or it can be used to set up tempo swings by keeping your creatures alive during a trade. You can also just ignore a minion that has been set to 1 power and go for the beat down by switching from trading to attacking face which gives this card a huge amount of utility.

Truesilver Champion x2 - this weapon is amazing in so many ways. It allows Paladins to kill so many mid-game creatures and gives a huge tempo advantage when you can kill 2 creatures with it. When combined with Captain Greenskin you can get 3 for 1 and take out some tough targets like Sludge Belcher, Loatheb and Ancient of Lore. It can also help you find lethal or give a quick heal in a tight spot. All in all this may be the best weapon in the game.

Consecration x2 - this is just a good AoE spell that helps deal with aggro as well as make positive trades against midrange and control decks. Combined with equality this is a full board clear and just a powerful tool to help maintain the all important board control.

Quartermaster - most decks I've seen have been running two of these but I have cut down to one since it is a weak card on its own. If you can combo this card with Muster for Battle, however, you may just win from that board position as three 3/3s and a 2/5 is tough to remove. Even if you can hit just one dude this card is worth it's 5 mana cost since it's effectively a 4/7 at that point. This is a card that really ups the value of trying to press the dude button as often as possible over the course of a game.

Lay on Hands - you'll notice that there is not much card draw in the deck at all so this card is key for refilling your hand and continuing to apply pressure in the late game. Most of the time with the deck you will be playing one card a turn and pushing the dude button so you rarely run out of cards until the late game and this allows you to hang with control decks. It's also very important against certain combos to stay above a certain health threshold.

Tirion Fordring - this is the win condition against a lot of control decks since you can go into serious beatdown mode with a 5/3 weapon or continue to control the board depending on the state of the game and board. It's also thriving in a meta that features very little Black Knight and a lot of Big Game Hunters. If you can get Tirion to stick around for a turn then you are likely just going to win the game from that position.

Zombie Chow x2 - another key to the opening hand that allows Paladin to match up with all of the early game decks. Since the plan with this deck is to maintain board control and is not necessarily a beatdown deck the health gain is a negligible penalty. People often ask why this is a good card and the answer is simple. It's a 2/3 for 1 mana.

Haunted Creeper - since the Shielded Minibot has filled out the 2 drop spot pretty well we are only running one Creeper but it would be wrong to get rid of the card completely since it has so much synergy with Equality and Knife Juggalo as well as just being a solid early game drop to deal with Zoo and Hunters.

Ironbeak Owl - in the current meta it's very valuable to have at least one silence. Every deck is running a high profile silence target at this point. Against Zoo or Hunter you can silence the Undertaker. Against Control you can silence Sylvanas or Twilight Drakes or you can use it to get that final damage past a Sludge Belcher. Either way it is a necessary card to run at least one of.

Knife Juggler x2- this is my favorite card in the game and is amazing in a deck that runs Muster for Battle. It can take over games if you can get one down and protect it with a Sludge Belcher or a Loatheb. If you have a Creeper in hand then you want to coin that out if you can follow with the Juggalo as it allows you to trade and shoot two knives on turn two which sets up the ability to deal with anything that comes on turn 3.

Big Game Hunter - this card is required in the current meta due to the popularity of Dr. Boom. There are plenty of other good targets for it as well with Ragnaros and Alexstraza or the Handlock giants. At this point the only question is whether to run one or two.

Defender of Argus - another card that we only one run of because it needs a board to get full value. The general rule I like to follow is whether or not i would be okay with having two in my hand. If not then I probably shouldn't run two of the card. This guy is mostly here for the buff but the taunt can also be very useful against aggro decks.

Piloted Shredder - as a fan of Hearthstone I absolutely love these shredder cards. They are fun and also just good cards. It really does help create interesting board states but most importantly it's a card that virtually guarantees some sort of board presence going into the next turn which is incredibly important in a midrange decks.

Captain Greenskin - I consider this a flex pick. I am using Captain Greenskin because there are so many weapons in the deck between Muster, Truesilver and Tirion. If you can play a Muster on turn 3 and coin out a Greenskin on turn 4 then you will have the ability to control the board easily and is a play that has won me multiple games. A 2 attack weapon with 4-5 charges is insane. Other options for this spot or a 2nd Quartermaster or Big Game hunter depending on the meta.

Harrison Jones - this is another flex spot based on the current meta. There is so much control Warrior running around currently that Harrison is just way too valuable and also gives this deck some more card draw which it is lacking. One thing I've noticed is a lot of people will play weapons without attacking and you can really punish that play by putting it into a museum.

Loatheb - (literally copy/paste from all of my articles because how many times can I talk about how good the card is) if you read my deck guides then you are probably seeing a trend. Loatheb is in every deck. What Loatheb does is protect your damage dealing minions allowing you to keep swinging as well as being a 5/5 body. I'm running out of ways to say that Loatheb is really good so I'll just stop there.

Sludge Belcher x2 - currently Sludge Belchers are in every deck and for good reason. This deck makes very good use of them as well since you can protect Knife Juggalos, and your dudes to buff with Quartermaster. All in all every midrange and control deck should be running two of these.

Sylvanas Windrunner - this is another card that is making a big comeback. It creates some very awkward board states for your opponent and forces them to make suboptimal turns. Anytime you can alter the plan of the opponent it is going to put you into a better spot in the game and not many cards can do that as effectively as Sylvanas.

Dr. Boom - Dr. Boom is just too good of a card and is an auto-include in any midrange deck. Stats alone you're getting 9/9 for 7 but once you factor in the trade potential with the bombs you get a ton of value. This guy and Tirion are the big finishers for this deck and will allow you to start pouring on the damage in the late game.

Playing the Deck

You're looking for Zombie Chow, Shielded Minibot, Knife Juggalo, Haunted Creeper and Muster for Battle in your opening hand. These will allow you to keep up with almost any opener by the opponent and will actually allow you to over run slower decks. It's also okay to keep Truesilver and Consecrate if you know the opponent is playing a minion heavy deck as these will allow you to grab the board on turn 4 but be careful keeping them if you have no early game already as you can't effectively flip the board until turn 6 if you really lose it. You want to make trades and keep the board as clear as you can since you will really start to take over the tempo lead in the mid-game and it's very important not to fall behind so you can push into turns 5, 6, and 7 and take a solid lead. The power of the deck is all in the mid-game so you are basically just biding time until then to apply serious pressure. Sometimes it will look like you have a huge lead and it's tempting to go face but this deck doesn't win early very often so it's generally not correct.

Once you enter the mid-game you will be able to drop plenty of threats and you should be able to trade effectively using tools such as Aldor Peacekeeper, weapons and Consecration to build a big tempo lead and whittle away at the opponents health total. One important piece of advice I can give is to try and use your hero power every turn if possible. Don't do so at the expense of board control but if you can do it you effectively apply pressure without expending as many resources which will scale well into the late game. A 1/1 may seem trivial but when you can play one each turn they become overwhelming and since the addition of Quartermaster they can no longer be ignored so your opponent will be forced to expend resources to deal with them. Since this version only runs one Quartermaster I often try to hit at least two dudes to get as much value as I can out of it. One big Quartermaster turn can instantly win you the game so look for it.

Finishing the game is done with either Dr. Boom or Tirion and since you can usually have a big tempo advantage they opponent will likely be fairly low health by turn 8 and beyond anyway so it won't take much. Be careful as you enter late game not to overcommit since losing your board can be devastating in a deck like this. This deck wins by simply starting strong and maintaining momentum with consistent threats and weaving in some weapon damage towards the end. It's a very proactive deck that is always forcing the opponent to react when played correctly and has one of the smoothest curves of any midrange archetype. In some ways it feels like a very good arena draft since you have so many early and mid-game options and the game is won through effective trading and tempo. Anyone who plays arena a lot knows that Paladin has always been very strong in the more control oriented arena style but the early game options have made this deck viable now in constructed which is exciting.

This is not a cheap deck so I'd love to hear from you guys in the comments below what cards you are using in your Paladin decks instead of some of these legendaries. In the Zoo/Handlock, Hunter and Warrior heavy meta this deck seems to thrive but I know it may be out of reach for some players. Next week we will look to offer up a cheaper GvG deck to help players on a budget. Good luck on the ladder and may your opponents never drop turn 1 Undertakers.

Until next time, job's done!