Paladin is a popular presence on ladder, with its play split between three different archetypes.
Murloc Paladin pressures the opponent early, then leverages that pressure into a snowball victory. Midrange Paladin flexes between beatdown and control depending on the matchup. Control Paladin plays to the late game, exercising all the resources at Paladin’s disposal to get there. Each of these three decks see success at higher ranks depending on the current meta. Choose the one that suits your meta and playstyle best and continue your climb.
Murloc Paladin is an aggressive strategy that uses numerous murloc synergies to provide an early advantage on board that snowballs into a win. The deck offers little when playing from behind, so it ensures its board presence through cheap minions, then buffs these minions to keep them alive and expedite the end of the game.
The first step to success for Murloc Paladin is generating early board presence. Grimscale Chum, Murloc Tidecaller, and Vilefin Inquisitor each impact the board on turn one, providing different benefits toward the deck’s overall gameplan. Grimscale Chum buffs another murloc in your hand. A buff to any murloc is appreciated, but this buff applied to Murloc Warleader or Finja, the Flying Star is ideal and should influence your sequence of plays.
Murloc Tidecaller’s attack value increases for each murloc that enters the battlefield—perfect for a strategy committed to flooding the board with murlocs. Vilefin Inquisitor ensures a consistent murloc presence to the board by changing the class’ Hero Power to summon murlocs. The second Vilefin Inquisitor refreshes the Hero Power upon battlefield entry, leading to a high murloc presence for little resources in preparation for a Warleader or Megasaur the following turn.
Murloc Paladin continues its board pressure with Rockpool Hunter and Hydrologist. Rockpool Hunter buffs a target murloc on the field, turning your Chums and Tidecallers into more formidable threats or an Inquisitor into a minion that proactively trades with the opponent’s board.
Hydrologist discovers a Paladin Secret. Choosing the ideal Secret depends on the given situation. Repentance is a strong choice against Taunt-heavy decks. Eye for an Eye suspends Burn Mage’s gameplan. Redemption taxes an opponent’s spot removal. Noble Sacrifice protects your board from potential trades. When in doubt, Getaway Kodo is always a solid choice.
After summoning a board of murlocs, buffing them is essential enroute to victory. Murloc Warleader, Coldlight Seer, and Gentle Megasaur provide these buffs. Warleader offers the most for its cost, buffing both attack and defense, but it’s also the most fragile—when Warleader dies, the buff dies with it. Gentle Megasaur adapts your murlocs in one of 10 ways depending on the board state. Coldlight Seer permanently increases the health of all murlocs on the field, creating proactive board trades in the aggressive mirror and nullifying potential AOE removal in the control matchup.
Murloc Paladin tops its curve with several cards that further enable the murloc strategy or provide an alternate path to victory after a contentious early game. Finja, the Flying Star adds two murlocs from your deck to the field after killing a minion. This effect followed by Gentle Megasaur snowballs a board state quickly in the middle turns of a game after your early game pressure has been otherwise disposed.
Spikeridged Steed protects your more important murlocs while developing a more resilient threat. Truesilver Champion offers additional protection as minion removal. Sunkeeper Tarim generates a high pressure board state out of your weaker minions while Tirion Fordring is a formidable threat all on its own. The Curator defends your board while drawing you into a murloc and Megasaur for the final push.
Midrange Paladin eschews elements of Murloc Paladin’s aggression and burst potential for a more resilient middle and late game. Against aggressive strategies, Midrange Paladin acts as the control deck. Against control decks, Midrange Paladin is the aggressor.
Midrange Paladin is less reliant on early board pressure to win a game, and therefore cannot race and proactively trade its way to victory against aggressive decks. Instead, the deck relies on using its limited early game to survive until it can start playing some of its bigger threats late. Equality plus Consecration give the deck much needed board clear that paves the way for a strong Curator or murlocs into Megasaur the following turn. Primordial Drake provides an additional draw off of Curator and stabilizes the board late. A Tirion or Ragnaros, Lightlord follow-up after the board is secured puts the game away.
Midrange Paladin cannot constantly keep up with the resource advantage generated by control decks, so in these matchups, it must be the aggressor. Bait out the opponent’s AOE removal with early pressure, but be careful not to overextend. Continue pressure through the middle turns with Sunkeeper Tarim and Megasaur turns. Restock your hand with threats using Stonehill Defender and Curator. Curator draws you into Stampeding Kodo, and when combined with Aldor Peacekeeper, provides a clean answer to one of your opponent’s more imposing threats. Keep answering and threatening until your opponent can no longer respond and relents.
Of these three archetypes, Control Paladin is predictably the slowest, removing the murloc strategy almost entirely in favor of a dominant late game. This list, popularized by Sebastian “Ostkaka” Engwall, adds in several more removal effects in order to reach its powerful late game threats.
Control Paladin’s early game consists primarily of removal effects. Doomsayer clears the board early and allows you to develop a minion or weapon the following turn. Young Pyromancer adds another card that interacts with Equality to provide board clear. Absent Equality, Pyromancer can clear small boards in conjunction with cards like Consecration later in the game. Rallying Blade provides an additional weapon to Truesilver Champion for spot removal.
Control Paladin turns to cards like Equality, Consecration, Sunkeeper Tarim, and Spikeridged Steed in the middle of the game. Additional board clears and imposing Taunts mitigate opposing damage, preserve your life total, and stall for the few remaining turns before you can start deploying some of your larger threats.
Once it reaches the late game, Control Paladin wants to do two things: move out of range of any lethal attack and provide a clock to end the game. Forbidden Healing and Ragnaros, Lightlord restore your life total, allowing you to use it as a resource without fear as you play your game-ending threats. Tirion Fordring and N’Zoth, the Corruptor are the deck’s primary late game win conditions. Tirion provides a substantial body, and then a substantial weapon when killed, that should be able to deal with the opponent’s remaining life total. N’Zoth resurrects all Deathrattle minions that have died on your side of the field, namely Tirion, starting the process all over again. The combined pressure of Tirion and N’Zoth should be enough to finish your opponent.