Is it happening? The latest Hearthstone set has pretty much gone all-in on providing healing and control support tools for Paladin, a class whose slower archetypes were barely viable in Classic and pretty much never have been since without an OTK finisher. Is there enough juice here to change this paradigm, and could the tools on offer find some use in other decks as well?
Vanndar Big Paladin
We’ve got to give this thing a shot. With so many big idiots with impactful effects showing up, the value is certainly here, and maybe now there’s enough of a defensive shell to survive to the late game even if you fail to get the cost reduction rolling.
The idea here is to tank damage in the early game (a dicey proposition at the best of times in Hearthstone, admittedly) before turning a corner with Barricade, Protect the Innocent and Hammer of the Naaru to stall into your big minions. Commencement, Vitality Surge and Vanndar Stormpike serve as the consistency tools to cheat out the big rewards from the new set. The overlapping weapons may be a bit clunky once Lightforged Cariel comes online, but they also allow you to rapidly break Cavalry Horn on turns 9 and 10 in cases of emergency.
As suggested alternative cards, Reckoning is the first to come to mind: a way to deal with a mid-sized threat as you try to make it to the late game, though it’s tough to fit in. There’s also Mo'arg Forgefiend – It’s more than serviceable as a defensive option, though it obviously can’t hold a candle to Paladin’s new class cards. Meanwhile, High Exarch Yrel is also a possibility, if a janky one: Sacrificing Vanndar and Varian would net you this as an option, which admittedly doesn’t mesh well with the summon-based strategies but it could nevertheless warrant consideration.
My way to win is for you to lose. We’ll run you out of cards. For the Light. It’s long been my favorite Hearthstone deck, and it’s really not the sort of archetype Team 5 likes to support. Even now, there’s no way for us to get away with forgoing big threats for additional removal, but if you value consistency in board control over the stats-cheesing ideas of the previous build, here’s a more conservative take, with a heavier emphasis on Lightforged Cariel:
A slightly healthier curve and additional threats, this take offers Alexstrasza the Life-Binder and Libram of Hope as additional late-game bombs. Mutanus the Devourer and Spammy Arcanist are here as disruption. Since we have a couple of small utility minions in here, Vitality Surge doesn’t really make sense – Sphere of Sapience is here instead.
Tempo, tempo, tempo, I hear you say? Well, handbuffing in Paladin has never been easier or more worthwhile, with new juicy targets and nice class-card tools arriving in new set side-by-side to potentially push this build to the top:
Korrak the Bloodrager is the real star of the show, he’s already quite difficult to kill, and after a few buffs he might become an unstoppable machine (remember that “destroy” effect can’t truly deal with it – they would only get rid of his buffs). Cariel Roame makes way for Saidan the Scarlet for this one, and I’ve also made some room for Irondeep Troggs in this build by lowering the curve, as it seems like a great way to punish Questlines and ill-fated comeback attempts from control decks. Corporal could also be worth a shot in a meta more focused on fighting for board control. Similar adjustments could be made for Secret Paladin decks, which haven’t received any proper supports and now clearly seem like an inferior version of this archetype.
Recruit (Dude) Paladin
Can something so utterly inefficient as Dude Paladin be made good by all these juicy class cards? The new set also allows us to revisit existing strategies by providing survival tools. These should help us stack up better against hyper-aggressive opponents and nonsensical amounts of damage from hand. Technically. In reality, it feels like going even faster and using some new buffs might be the way to go.
There just isn’t that much synergy to work with here. The real blowout potential comes from shenanigans like Dun Baldar Bridge into Stand Against Darkness, and realistically, your best chance of winning comes from these pseudo-Arbor Up strategies. Stonehearth Vindicator can tutor out a free Day at the Faire (which could then be Corrupted easily on the same turn with any 1+ mana card). It feels distinctly inferior to Druid’s take on the same ideas, but it’s flavorful and could be worth experimenting with.
You know it, you probably hate it at this point: the railroaded deckbuilding of Libram decks has never been particularly fun, and the archetype’s power level has ebbed and flowed over the years. Though no specific support has been added this time around, minor improvements can be made on the currently popular lists.
Lightforged Cariel is a must-add, clearly, and I also crowbarred Hold the Bridge instead of Noble Mount because of extra healing, but if the meta turns out to be slow, the former might still be better. Depending on how the meta shakes out, Spammy Arcanist could also be worth a shot.