Our Baku Odd Paladin deck list guide for The Witchwood expansion features one of the top lists for this archetype. This Baku Odd Paladin guide includes Mulligan Strategy, Gameplay Tips, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!
Introduction to Baku Odd Paladin
Paladin as a class was dominating the meta for the most of the previous Standard year (Year of the Mammoth). It was most apparent last expansion, when Murloc Paladin and Dude Paladin took turns on the top of tier lists. A lot of players thought that the situation might stabilize in The Witchwood, as Paladins didn’t really get many impressive tools.
However, it turned out that both Genn Greymane and Baku the Mooneater – Even & Odd Legendaries – work surprisingly well in this class, to the extent that most of the Odd builds don’t even run any of The Witchwood cards. Funnily enough, Odd Paladin builds tend to use some cards that you would never think you’ll see in a competitive deck – e.g. Raid Leader or Stormwind Champion are some common choices in this deck.
And so, Paladin is once again dominating the early meta. We’ll have to wait and see how everything develops, but for now Odd Paladin is the deck to beat (next to Cube Lock).
Baku Odd Paladin Mulligan Guide and Strategy
Mulligan with the deck is very similar no matter what deck you face.
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- 1-drops – in the order of highest to lowest priority – Lost in the Jungle, Righteous Protector, Fire Fly, Argent Squire – You absolutely want to open each game with a 1-drop, that’s why you keep so many of them. You will most likely play Hero Power on Turn 2, then either a 3-drop or a Hero Power + another 1-drop on Turn 3 (the second option is more likely) – that’s why keeping more than one is fine.
- Unidentified Maul – Your deck is heavily based around the board flooding, so basically 3 out of 4 effects of Unidentified Maul are good, and given that you should have up to 3 bodies going into your Turn 3, +1 Attack or Divine Shield options are very juicy even so early in the game. Taunt is the only mediocre option, but it’s still useful vs some decks like Face Hunter.
- Corridor Creeper – Who would have thought that the card will still be good after the nerfs. It’s so easy to get it down to 0 mana with this deck, and a 0 mana 2/5 is still a great tempo play.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Acherus Veteran – Keep only if you have another 1-drop to play on T1 – Acherus is not great to drop on T1, because you’re mussing a Battlecry. If that’s your only play, you still do it, but you prefer to play e.g. Righteous Protector on 1 and then Acherus + Hero Power on T3.
- Level Up! – It might not seem like a great keep, but I like doing it in slower matchups. It’s so easy to stack 3-4 or more Recruits on the board, and then Level Up is a massive swing in your favor. Don’t keep it in faster matchups, because it tends to be too slow. It’s great if you can play it, but your opponent will most likely trade blows with you all the time, clearing your Recruits every turn.
Baku Odd Paladin General Playstyle and Strategy
When you face fast decks, the most important thing you need to do all the time is keeping the board control. Your deck relies heavily on being ahead on the board. If you aren’t – cards like Acherus Veteran, Unidentified Maul, Raid Leader, Fungalmancer etc. are all much better if you’re ahead.
That’s why the #1 rule against Aggro is trading. I can’t stress enough how important it is to NOT hit your opponent’s Hero while you can do some on-board trading. When you’re the one doing trades, you can dictate how they go. With so many 1/1’s on your side, you can easily make the best trades possible as long as you’re ahead.
Then, in order to stay ahead, you want to play for the tempo. Once you get ahead, you can start dropping some slower cards (like e.g. Stonehill Defender), but during the early turns, you want to go all-in on the tempo. A good example would be – it’s Turn 2 and you play in the mirror matchup. Do you press Hero Power of play Fire Fly + the token? It might seem that Hero Power is a better idea, after all, you’re only gaining +1 health on both minions and losing a card you can use later. But it would most likely be wrong – your opponent is very likely to play either Hero Power or drop some 1/1’s like Protector or Argent Squire. In that context, +1 health on your minions matters A LOT – you can get trades without your minions being killed, which means that you get ahead on the board. If you get ahead enough, you will get back your value – you will be able to buff your stuff efficiently while your opponent will struggle to get onto the board.
That’s why in Aggro matchups, don’t Hero Power that much – try to play faster and drop the actual minions instead. Hero Power only once you get ahead or when it’s the best play anyway.
Another thing is that against Aggro there is a much higher chance that you can go all-in on the board, as they rarely run board clears. If you face a deck that MIGHT run a board clear – e.g. Face Hunter with Unleash the Hounds – then you might consider playing around it to a certain extent (e.g. Stonehill Defender plays around it quite nicely, as it stops four 1/1’s).
Most of the Aggro matchups are decided by a single big swing turn. Let’s say that you both have some kind of board – 4x 1/1 to make it simple. Now, if one of you drops a Stormwind Champion or Level Up! and clears the other player’s 1/1’s while still having his own, the other player will have almost no way to come back into that game. That’s another reason why staying ahead is important – if you’re on play, because you’ve been playing proactively for the entire game, making the good tempo plays, then a swing like that should be game over.
Generally, weapons are one of the best ways to gain the tempo advantage over your opponent, but not necessarily in this case. Unidentified Maul is best when you’re already ahead (only summoning 2x 1/1 is still good when you’re behind), and Vinecleaver, while great, is often too slow. The best tempo swing in faster matchup is provided by the Corridor Creeper. Given that your opponent tends to have lots of small minions on the board, the fact that it only has 2 Attack doesn’t matter that much, and getting it out for 0 (or close to 0) mana is big. That’s why keep Corridor Creeper in your mulligan, even two if you can.
One more thing is that when playing vs Aggro, you shouldn’t worry about killing them as quickly as possible. Once you get the board control, you will win the game anyway. It’s often better to stay safe and kill everything they play, while slowly chipping them away. If you’re REALLY ahead, Aggro decks have no way to comeback anyway – ignoring their board might give them a way out (like Odd Paladin might get a random Sunkeeper Tarim out of the Stonehill Defender) and you don’t want to do that.
Even though Odd Paladin might seem like an Aggro deck, it’s actually not THAT fast – you tend to Hero Power often, and even though 2x 1/1 for 2 mana is good for a Hero Power, it’s still a low tempo play (compared to Lost in the Jungle it costs +1 mana every time you do it). That’s why you can often afford to go for a longer game. Unlike the games vs Aggro decks, you don’t need to drop everything and play for the tempo. In this case, a slower deck can really punish you if you overcommit onto the board.
When playing vs slow decks, your Hero Power is very important. Try to take advantage of the fact that you can flood the board time and time again without using any cards. Most of the slow decks have a limited number of AoE board clears, so forcing them to waste it on just a few 1/1’s is a great way to win the game. On the other hand, if they don’t do it, you can easily punish them with e.g. Level Up!, Raid Leader and such for lots of burst damage.
Another difference between fast and slow matchups is that in the slow matchups, you’re the beatdown deck – you want to kill your opponent before it’s too late. Which means that in this case, face damage is much more important. Against Aggro, you want to clear everything – against Control, you want to clear only the highest priority targets (OR make trades in order to protect an important minion on your side). Let’s say that you have an average board with Corridor Creeper and some small guys – nothing worth protecting. Your opponent drops some 5/5 minion. Yes, you could trade your entire board into it… or you could just ignore it and go face. In the first example, you’d probably need to sacrifice most of your minions. In the second example – your opponent needs to trade off your minions one by one, meaning that you get lots of free damage in the meantime. The only exception is that when you think that he might be setting up a board clear (that’s not mirrored) – e.g. if you play against a Mage who might Flamestrike your board, because you’re approaching Turn 7, then it might be worth to do some trades in order to not fall behind completely.
Talking about the board clears, meta knowledge is very important when playing a deck like that. Your whole game plan revolves around your board, so you absolutely need to know what kinds of board clears your opponent might or might not have, what do you need to play around. For example, against Cube Warlock you absolutely need to play around Defile and Hellfire, but you also need to keep in mind that they might have Lord Godfrey and Twisting Nether. Cube or Control Warlock are kind of the worst case scenario, but let’s say that you face a Spiteful Priest. The only board clear they might have is Duskbreaker – it’s powerful, yes, but you know that it deals 3 damage so you can plan everything around it. While it will obviously clear all of your small guys, you can, for example, try to keep your higher health minions like Corridor Creeper and Stormwind Champion out of the range, as well as utilize Fungalmancer buff to get other stuff out of range – e.g. you could buff that Fire Fly to 4 health so he would survive the Duskbreaker’s AoE, instead of buffing your Recruit to 3 health, which would be in the range.
This build runs only a single copy of Divine Favor. The reason is that it doesn’t run out of steam as quickly as some of the Kobolds & Catacombs Paladin builds (it’s actually leaning towards Midrange more than Aggro), and that the card is not great in faster matchups. Vs Control, however, you can really and I mean really take advantage of it. You don’t have to play it as soon as you get an opportunity – developing board is often more important than drawing cards. The best timing to play Divine Favor is when you’re running out of cards and you don’t have many plays, when you’re looking for something specific (e.g. if you draw Ironbeak Owl, you get through the Taunt and win the game) or when you don’t want to develop the board. The last part is quite common. E.g. if you already have a pretty big board and you’re almost sure that your opponent is holding an AoE to clear it, instead of playing even more into it, you can just Divine Favor (of course, first you might drop your small minions that you’d prefer to cycle anyway). Another good turn to use Divine Favor is Doomsayer turn from your opponent – if you can’t deal with it, you can potentially drop some small minions you don’t need or just draw cards right away – you’re losing tempo anyway so you can as well use your dead turn to draw a few cards.
And finally, Stonehill Defender is an important card in slow matchups. The best thing about it is that you CAN discover Even cards – which means that Stonehill is a way for you to get Sunkeeper Tarim or at least Tirion Fordring. The chance to get one is actually quite high, since the number of Taunts went down after the rotation.
Baku Odd Paladin Card Replacements
Baku Odd Paladin is a relatively inexpensive deck. However, I’ll still go through a whole list of Epics & Legendaries, trying to list potential replacements.
- Level Up! – While the card is not necessary, it’s one of the best ways to capitalize on your upgraded Hero Power. Your 5 mana slot will be empty once you get rid of it, so you want to run another 5 mana card instead. I’d probably run Cobalt Scalebane, or maybe even a Frostwolf Warlord if you want to make the deck look completely like a Classic F2P list.
- Corridor Creeper – Another very important card. I know that lots of you have disenchanted it when it was nerfed, but I’d say that it’s a key card in this deck. If you absolutely don’t want to craft it again, I’d say that you can try some other high tempo cards – maybe more 1-drops (e.g. Dire Mole or Glacial Shard, maybe Marsh Drake, maybe a weapon like Light's Justice – it’s going to help you against Aggro decks.
- Baku the Mooneater – Yep, there are generic Aggro Paladins that don’t play with only Odd or Even cards, but this is not one of them. This whole list is built around Baku, so you need it or build a completely different deck.