Well met! It’s a new month, and that means it’s time for a new How To article on a competitive Hearthstone deck list. This month, I thought it would be interesting to utilize the interesting data that reddit user graviiga compiled from the recent Deck Wars and Prismata Cup finalists – 14 separate professional takes on Control Paladin – and build the ‘common denominator’ deck to take to the ladder. As with all control decks, but especially with Paladin decks, this deck list has a bit of an early game weak spot, exaggerated by anything less than optimal mulligans, so you may find yourself losing to really fast aggro decks if those start to make a separate comeback.
You can also use the data from the above post to check out some of the potential replacements or alternatives. As an example, an Ironbeak Owl or Faceless Manipulator were used in lieu of the Harrison Jones that was included in this particular list.
For a look at the previous decks in this series, check out:
Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at this month’s feature – how to PUT YOUR FAITH IN THE LIGHT!
1x Humility – Something of a poor man’s silence or emergency pseudo-removal, you will be surprised how often you get tremendous value from this card. Whether it’s setting up for your Stampeding Kodo, reducing how much damage you take when you clear a minion with your Truesilver Champion, or just an interim solution to neuter a Handlock’s Mountain Giant, the lone Humility is almost never a dead drop.
2x Equality – Equality is the Paladin’s deadliest weapon. Despite not actually killing anything, it may well be the best removal spell in the game. The obvious combos are with Wild Pyromancer and Consecration, but it’s the ideal tool to equalize a game when you’re behind, or to punish an opponent for overextending. You only get two, so use them wisely.
2x Wild Pyromancer – More relevant in this deck than probably any other. These two give you a perfect removal combo when paired with Equality, and nearly a quarter of this deck is made up of spells that can be used in tandem with these fiery wizards.
1x Acolyte of Pain – Control Paladin is notoriously thin on card draw. A single one of these masochistic fellows helps you compensate for that, although the slow to open nature of this deck rarely leaves you in a position where you’re strictly topdecking at a critical juncture.
2x Aldor Peacekeeper – FOLLOW ZEE RULES! A 3/3 for 3 is already an acceptable play, but tacking the Humility effect on in addition to that is phenomenal value. There isn’t a Control Paladin decklist out there that doesn’t include these sanction-setters.
2x Truesilver Champion – Apparently, something like one in five Paladin decks doesn’t use this card. Those decks are wrong.
2x Sen’jin Shieldmasta – The original value taunt, two of these feature as part of a total of four efficient mid-game taunt minions to help protect your hero, either as part of a ramp up to your finishers or in tandem with other minions as part of a late-game survival strategy.
1x Spellbreaker – Most Control Paladin decks run at least one, if not more, silence minions. Adding an Ironbeak Owl into this deck (e.g. in lieu of Harrison Jones) is certainly a viable play, but the Spellbreaker also fits the curve and adds a minion with better trade potential.
1x Harrison Jones – The anti-meta slot in this deck, Harrison Jones could easily become another silence, more card draw, spell damage, or an additional taunt. Whatever this deck needs, this is the spot for it. Technically a draw option and an effective counter card against a majority of classes in the game, keeping the curator is certainly viable.
1x Loatheb – I’m not sure any serious deck since the complete release of Naxxramas hasn’t used this guy, but I am sure that no dedicated control deck exists any more that doesn’t. The Battlecry effect is far, far too valuable in every match up to pass over this choice anagram minion.
2x Sludge Belcher – Categorically the best taunt minion in the game these days, it’s almost unthinkable to run a control deck, but especially a control Paladin deck, without a pair of these grotesque lumps.
1x Stampeding Kodo – A natural combination with the Paladin’s ability to reduce enemy minions’ attack value, and also a valuable part of the anti-aggro toolkit. Also hugely useful as an emergency counter to Doomsayer in Frost Mage.
1x Cairne Bloodhoof – Probably the most-run legendary minion out there. Extraordinary value if it doesn’t get silenced, and still valuable when it does (especially if it baits out a silence to protect a different minion later!).
1x Sylvanas Windrunner – The Banshee Queen has seen a major comeback in the Deathrattle-heavy era we are currently in. Despite her nerf of days gone by, she can still be a very valuable asset, played correctly.
1x The Black Knight – Valuable counter to taunts. To my recollection, there are maaaybe 2-3 competitive decklists that don’t have taunt minions in them. Running this guy just makes sense.
1x Guardian of Kings – A fairly efficient minion, paired with another excellent heal. A second one often ends up a dead drop, but you’ll generally get full value from one.
1x Lay on Hands – Late game healing and a hand refresh. Hard to argue with this in a slow control deck!
1x Kel’Thuzad – Opinions on KT remain mixed, since his effect processes on both players’ turns, but with your robust selection of taunts and Deathrattle minions, as long as you have done the deck’s namesake justice (pun intended), and retained control of the board, you can usually throw KT down to cement a lead or a victory at the right time.
1x Tirion Fordring – Put your faith in the light? Put your faith in the light.
1x Ysera – Extra cards, all of which combine well with this deck, and a beefy body as well. Not as quick a finisher as Ragnaros or some other options, but good for retaining that all-important board control.
Other options – The most popular alternatives I’ve seen bandied around for this style of deck are a lone Ironbeak Owl, a Faceless Manipulator, occasionally a second Stampeding Kodo, a single Sunwalker, or rarely the Feugen and Stalagg combination. Most of those would substitute in for other tech cards – drop, for example, Harrison Jones, Kel’Thuzad, potentially Big Game Hunter, or something like the second Sen’jin Shieldmasta.
How To Play It
Control Paladin is a unique style of play to learn. Unlike some of the other control decks discussed in this column previously, the Control Paladin doesn’t have an aggressive ramp-up opportunity or the same variety of early-game minion plays. You will quite often not play a card until as late as turn four, which means you need to mulligan aggressively for the tools to respond to whatever threat you’re expecting based on your opponent’s class.
Generally, I would advise keeping an Equality if you get one, so you have the option to use it when you need it. Big Game Hunter is a good card to hold if you think you’re facing Handlock; in general, the four drops are your goal to fish for otherwise. You can almost always get the necessary mileage to survive out of a Truesilver Champion or a Sen’jin Shieldmasta. Don’t be afraid to keep Holy Light or use it early if you’re up against a really aggressive deck – it makes as much sense, if not more, to play it early than to end up with it in your hand late.
A hard lesson to get across without showing you numerous game examples is when to use your Equality combos. You basically get two opportunities to totally wipe the board, and you need to know if you’re regaining control, or if your opponent will simply flood the board as soon as you’ve made your play. Against aggro decks, you often need to use the combos earlier than you might think is right – and I’ll be the first to admit, I hold mine for probably a turn too long on average in some of those situations – but surviving that early game aggression until you can establish a board presence is crucial to your success. Almost nothing in the game has the staying power of Control Paladin in the late-late game, so you need to take efficient trades and draw the game out as much as possible.
The one nice thing about the learning curve on this deck is that, outside of the sweepers, the deck isn’t especially combo heavy or dependent. You have the odd really awesome play, like hitting that beefy 8/8 with Humility and then playing your Stampeding Kodo, but generally you just want to make whatever the most efficient play you can per turn is without much worry for setting up clever combos. About the only cards you’ll hold rather than play, as a general rule, are your Wild Pyromancers – you need to play them either with Equality in the absence of a Consecration (or if you need to clear the board pre-turn six with the latter combo), or in general in tandem with one of your spell cards.
A couple of quick notes about the deck, in theory:
– You have 30 points of taunt minion health for your opponent to get through.
– You have 28 points of healing available to you, assuming you get to use all four weapon charges.
– You have hard counters to a taunt, a 7+ attack minion, spellcasting, weapon usage, and the ability to shut down the attack value of up to three minions.
Take it for a spin, and let me know what you think! As always, I welcome you to come watch me play over at OdinnTV on Twitch (although, in fairness, I’m doing a healthy chunk of StarCraft on stream now as well, so be warned!), or hit me up in the comments or @lackofrealism on Twitter to discuss your variants and their success. Good luck!