Our Secret Paladin deck list guide for Rastakhan’s Rumble expansion features one of the top lists for this archetype. This Paladin guide includes Mulligan Strategy, Gameplay Tips, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!
Introduction to Secret Paladin
“Secret Paladin” still sends shivers down the spines of some more veteran Hearthstone players. Back around The Grand Tournament and League of Explorers (late 2015 and early 2016), it used to be THE deck to beat. Mysterious Challenger, underrated at first, turned out to be one of the best cards ever printed in Hearthstone. Between a reasonable mana cost, solid base stats and an amazing effect, the ladder quickly became flooded with decks running it. Pulling 3-5 Secrets (depending on how much you played in the first place and how much you had left) from your deck and playing them immediately was a massive tempo push. The Secrets also had some nice synergy with each other, making the Challenger turn very tricky to approach from the opponent’s side.
But after the 2016 rotation removed some of the most powerful Paladin cards (such as Avenge, Shielded Minibot or Muster for Battle), the deck mostly disappeared from the meta. Some still attempted to revive it, but without much success. Then, The Witchwood came and Paladin got another Secret synergy card – Bellringer Sentry. And that’s where the history of the current Secret Paladin starts. Sentry is a bit like a Mysterious Challenger lite. While it’s 2 mana cheaper and still has decent stats for its effect, it can only pull two Secrets, and not at once – one from the Battlecry and the other from Deathrattle. But in the grand scheme of things, having a 4 mana 3/4 that pulls out and plays two 1 mana cards from your deck is still well worth it.
The deck has been doing quite well so far in the post 2nd nerf Rastakhan’s Rumble meta. Between that, the fact that the games and fast and it’s rather inexpensive, it’s a solid ladder choice right now.
Secret Paladin Deck List
Find more versions of this deck type on our Secret Paladin archetype page!
Mulligan Guide and Strategy
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Secretkeeper – The best 1-drop in a deck running Secrets. Even a single Secret turns it into a 1 mana 2/3, which is absolutely amazing in a deck that wants early game tempo.
- Righteous Protector – Not as good as Secretkeeper, but you really want to have something to play on T1 and Protector is your second best choice.
- Hydrologist – Good 2-drop and also synergizes with Secretkeeper by adding an extra Secret to your hand.
- Amani Berserker – Alternative 2-drop. It has better body than Hydrologist, which can come handy in some Aggro matchups. It’s a better keep if you play vs fast decks and don’t have Secretkeeper.
- Bellringer Sentry – You want to keep it, because that’s the main reason you play this deck in the first place. Having him on curve helps a lot tempo-wise.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Secrets – Keep Secrets in your opening hand ONLY if you have T1 Secretkeeper. Redemption is the best one, then Noble Sacrifice and Autodefense Matrix are similar.
- Lost in the Jungle – Keep only if you DON’T get other 1-drops. You want to curve out and Lost in the Jungle is generally the worst 1-drop in the deck, but you still want it if you don’t get either Secretkeeper or Protector.
- Divine Favor – Keep with a very fast hand in a slow matchups. With a fast hand you will run out of steam quite quickly and you
- Unidentified Maul – Keep with a 1 -> 2 curve. 3/4 of Maul’s effects require you to have some board to take advantage of them, so it’s bad if you have a slow start.
- Call to Arms – Keep in slower matchups, but only with a good early game curve (e.g. if you have a 1-drop and a 2-drop already).
General Playstyle and Strategy
Secret Paladin is an Aggro deck itself, so for the most part, you want to do the same thing as you would in other Aggro mirrors. First of all, early game tempo is incredibly important. Aggro decks generally don’t have a good way to comeback – once you fall behind, you can just hope that your opponent hits a streak of bad draws and you get some of your best cards. Sunkeeper Tarim is sort of a comeback, but it only works when you have some board too – if you play it without any minions on the board, you’re most likely just buffing whatever your opponent might have.
That’s why, most importantly, you want to mulligan for a fast hand. You can’t afford to keep let’s say Call to Arms. Even keeping Bellringer Sentry might be risky if the rest of your hand is bad, but that’s a risk you might take (because it’s 4 mana and not 5 mana). Ideally, you want a 1-drop into a 2-drop into some Turn 3 play. The deck doesn’t run real 3-drops, usually your best play is Unidentified Maul, but it’s hard to predict whether it will be useful or not, because it has a random effect. Other than that, your turn 2 play can be a 2-drop + Secret, or a 2-drop + 1-drop. An early Secretkeeper can actually snowball the game if you get some Secrets to combo with it. For example, if you drop her on T1, your opponent plays Dire Mole, then you go for 2 Secrets + kill it, it’s massive. You got a free trade, you will probably get another good trade on their 2-drop too, and you have two Secrets up to protect it. Of course, given a rather low amount of Secrets in the deck, it doesn’t happen often, but even just a single upgrade is often good enough to get ahead early.
From my experience so far, players often don’t play around Autodefense Matrix. It’s a new Secret and it only recently started seeing play, so you might take advantage of that. They will usually test for the Noble Sacrifice and can get burned by Matrix in some cases. Just be aware that both Autodefense Matrix and Redemption are pretty bad if you have 1/1’s up. It’s not the end of the world, but against Aggro every bit of tempo is important. That’s also a reason why you don’t want to Hero Power much – you prefer to get rid of your hand first to get ahead, then you can slow down a bit.
If you didn’t fall behind in the early game, you should be a favorite against most of the faster decks in the mid game. Your Turns 4-6 can be insane with the right cards. Starting with Bellringer Sentry, which is just amazing tempo-wise. The 3/4 stats are good enough to get some nice trades against small minions, and pulling out two Secrets not only gives you extra board advantage (because all of your Secrets protect your board in some way), but also increase the quality of your future draws. Then we hit Turn 5 and Call to Arms. While no longer as powerful as it was on 4 mana, it’s still very good. The best case scenario is pulling out a Knife Juggler (or two) and then a Righteous Protector to defend it. If Knife Juggler gets pulled out first, it can even shoot some knives immediately, potentially pinging or even clearing minions. Alternatively, you can drop Fungalmancer – it’s great if you have two minions you can buff, especially if one of them is Righteous Protector with Divine Shield up. And then, there’s Turn 6 and Sunkeeper Tarim. The card is often a way to just close out the game right away. If you’re ahead on the board, it usually puts your opponent into a situation they can’t come back from. Let’s say that they have 2 minions and you have 3 minions. Even assuming that you have no good trades, you just play Tarim, clear their board and get a 3/7 + a 3/3 on the board. It’s very hard for an Aggro deck to deal with. Now, if one of your minions has Divine Shield, or if you can make a trade in which your minion doesn’t die, you might end up with two 3/3’s and a 3/7 in that scenario – that’s just game over.
Divine Favor is, for the most part, useless against faster decks. Even if you find an opportunity to use it early, you still prefer to push for the tempo instead. Of course, if your choice is drawing 2-3 cards with Favor OR playing Hero Power, then you play Favor. But if you can let’s say play an Unidentified Maul to get ahead on the board or play Favor, most of the time you want to play Maul. By the time you get ahead enough so you can afford losing some tempo, your opponent will most likely be out of cards too. In faster matchups, Favor is usually a win more card. If you get a fast start and your opponent has bad, slow draws, then you can get ahead and then quickly refill your hand while theirs is clogged with expensive cards. But if that’s the case, then most of the time you would win even without Favor.
When you play vs Control, you also want to have some early game tempo, but for a different reason. You see, in Aggro matchups, you want the tempo to control the board and not fall behind. In slower matchups, you want the tempo to put pressure on them and try to kill them (or at least severely damage them) before they get to their AoE comeback turns. To be honest, Control matchups are for the most part more straightforward than Aggro. They usually have only a few early game minions, or even none at all, so you can freely develop without them disrupting you much.
You want a good curve, yes, but you don’t need to play as fast as you do vs Aggro. If you fall behind against a deck that develops board hard, then you just lose. If you get a slow start vs Control, you can still win. The key against slow decks is to develop enough to put pressure and threaten a quite quick kill, but not overcommit into AoEs. Right now, AoE removals seem much more common than single target removals, so that’s something you want to keep in mind. Going too wide on the board might not be the best idea – sometimes it will be better to just drop a Blessing of Kings on one of your minions instead of playing more minions into AoE.
Overcommiting is a good way for a Control deck to beat you. If you just play everything in your hand and they drop AoE, then you’ve most likely lost, because now your tempo sucks. However, there is one way to play around that, a card that is bad vs faster decks but is simply insane vs slow – Divine Favor. If you don’t have DF, you want to try to keep enough resources in your hand to have at least one good board refill. However, if you do have DF, you can just go all in and then play Favor. It gives you so much resources. If you already have a solid board, instead of playing more into AoE, consider using Favor. Against slow decks, you aim to draw at least 3 cards. That’s good enough. You don’t have to be greedy and wait for a crazy DF, because lots of the time slower decks will also try to get rid of their hand to a) increase their tempo and b) play around it.
Besides Blessing of Kings, you have some more ways to play around AoE. Probably the best one is Unidentified Maul with Divine Shield, but you will see it only 1/4 of time. While it doesn’t play around stuff like Brawl or Psychic Scream, it does make cards like Defile (as long as they don’t have a 1 health minion to start it with), Hellfire, Reckless Flurry, Swipe, Duskbreaker or Mass Hysteria pretty bad. It forces them to have two AoEs back to back, which is an equivalent of having a free board refill on your side (normally they would take it down and you would need to play stuff again). But since this Maul is RNG-dependent, you need more consistent ways to do so. Having Righteous Protector or Redemption in play somewhat plays around AoE. While ending up with a 1/1 is not great, it’s still better than nothing, especially if you have some buffs in your hand. As for the Redemption, there’s a rule you need to remember. If your opponent plays AoE and you have Redemption in play, the OLDEST minion that dies will get revived. So if you suspect AoE, you don’t have to be afraid of e.g. using your Hero Power, because if everything dies you won’t get the 1/1 back anyway (unless it was the oldest minion that died, but that’s another story).
And finally, some great ways to both play around AoE and put pressure on opponent are your Turn 5 and 6 plays – Fungalmancer and Sunkeeper Tarim. Fungal should be used to buff minions that will get out of AoE range. Righteous Protector is still the best one to buff since it dodges the AoEs thanks to Divine Shield, but other than that, it really depends on the matchup. For example, against Warlocks you want to do your best to play around both Defile and Hellfire. Against Odd Warrior, you want to get the minions to 5 health (so e.g. buff an Amani Berserker), since they can Hero Power + Reckless Flurry (that’s assuming that you shave their Armor every turn, if they have more then they probably just remove your whole board that way). Druids have Swipe, Paladins have Consecration and so on and so on. Basically, depending on the matchup, you want to get the right minions out of range. And then we have Tarim, which is both a way to play around certain AoEs (it’s a great way to play against Defile, Consecration or Swipe), but also as a way to push damage. Let’s say that you have 3-4 small minions on the board. Maybe some 1/1’s or 2/2’s. Playing Tarim is insane, because it buffs them all and lets you attack for a lot immediately. You force your opponent to have a bigger AoE or lose, and even then your Tarim often still survives. Tarim is also a great way to get through a big Taunt. If your opponent drops something like Voidlord, Primordial Drake or The Lich King, Tarim is your best friend – normally you would probably have to run your whole board in and then still might not kill it, with Tarim you just trade 1 for 1 with one of your small minions and get ahead by a lot.
Secret Paladin is a pretty cheap deck and honestly, it’s hard to make it even cheaper. The only expensive cards it runs are:
- Sunkeeper Tarim – The only Legendary in the deck, but it’s just amazing. Any non-Odd Paladin deck wants to run Tarim, it’s one of the strongest ways to swing the game. It’s good as a way to push more damage, clear a big minion etc. But if you don’t have it, you probably don’t want to craft it just before it rotates out, so you can just replace it with a second Fungalmancer.
- Call to Arms – Insane T5 play, great tempo, can snowball the game if you pull Jugglers. It also makes your draws better by removing 1-2 mana minions from your deck (so you have a higher chance to draw your Sentry, Fungalmancer, Tarim or Vinecleaver). Playing without it would be very difficult, but I guess that you COULD do that. If you have Corpsetaker, you can add two copies and a single Thrallmar Farseer. It will be a 3/3 with Divine Shield, Taunt and Windfury, which is quite nice. And if you’re looking for a cheaper option, once again, a second copy of Fungalmancer should be fine. You can also try adding some 3-drops like Vicious Fledgling or Void Ripper (for a more aggressive option), Stonehill Defender or Tar Creeper (for a slower option), or even something like Aldor Peacekeeper (for something in between).