In total, Paladin players should have had a really good time during the Year of the Raven. During the last two years, Blizzard not only focussed on Murloc and Silver Hand Recruit synergy but also gave Paladin tons of free design space with the introduction of Genn Greymane and Baku the Mooneater.
Throughout the year, Paladin archetypes ruled the tier-lists countless times, may it be with aggressive lists like Murloc, Dude and Odd Paladin, mid-range value machines like Even Paladin or OTK powerhouses like Four Horsemen or Holy Wrath Paladin.
2017’s expansions surely played an important in establishing the reign of Paladin, but will the Standard rotation be enough to redefine the incredibly strong card core of the class, enabling new archetypes and underrated card packages?
Paladin’s Lost Cards
Journey to Un’Goro
Un’Goro was the dawn of a new Paladin era. While intending to showcase the new Adapt keyword, the class instead chose to go different ways. Both class and neutral Murloc cards like Hydrologist paved the way for Murloc Paladin, one of the most effective early game lists in all of Hearthstone up to this day.
like Lost in the Jungle, Lightfused Stegodon and Vinecleaver showcased the first wave of “dude” support synergy cards, and later throughout 2018, Dude Paladin became an aggro force to be reckoned with.
If that wasn’t already good enough, Paladin received Spikeridged Steed and Sunkeeper Tarim. Those two control tools brought multiple Control Paladin archetypes back to the menu, enabling the class to initiate insane value trades. The fact that Stonehill Defender enabled Odd Paladin to draw Tarim made things even worse, and most players will sigh in relief to see these three cards gone with the rotation.
The Last Kaleidosaur was Paladin’s Quest card; as many had expected even before the release of Un’Goro, it wasn’t able to keep up with the sheer power level of other quests and Paladin cards in comparison. In the end, the only good thing that came out of this card have been Brian Kibler’s legendary Galvadon showcases.
The usual honrable mention goes to Fire Fly, or as we call it the “perfect 1-drop”. Paladin’s curve issues in particular have become so much better thanks to this minion, and together with Tar Creeper it bolstered the problematic early game of non-aggro Paladin lists.
Knights of the Frozen Throne
Team 5 knew that Un’Goro posed a power level design threat, and thus KotFT had not a lot of cards in store for Paladin, at least in terms of sheer numbers.
And what keyword could you try to support that will have no influence whatsoever? That’s right, Divine Shield!
However, one particular minion called Righteous Protector stole everyone’s thunder anyway. A one-mana 1/1 with Taunt and Divine Shield gave Paladin archetypes across the board what they wanted: A two-for one trade, a great buff target, and a life insurance all-in-one! To lose this card alone will make Paladin players sob.
And then there is Uther of the Ebon Blade. In terms of design, this card was nothing less than a risky move. To introduce a card that posed an one-turn kill condition no matter what took a lot of belief in the outcome of the Frozen Throne set, and it payed off. The card hasn’t seen much play in the beginning, but together with Auctionmaster Beardo it sparked the flame that became OTK Paladin.
in 2018 and during the Year of the Raven, the list flourished again through additions like Shirvallah, the Tiger or High Priest Thekal. Long story short, Paladin is going to miss its evil alter ego. It produced numerous creative lists and enabled other synergy cards that otherwise wouldn’t have seen play.
In terms of neutral cards we are going to miss Corpsetaker. Even Paladins in particular will have fond memories of this card, and design-wise this young lady has been everything a Paladin player would want from a card: You didn’t have to build a complete deck around it, but you needed some cards to make it work, it fit greatly into existing Paladin archetypes, and it didn’t turn out to be too powerful in the greater scheme of things.
Kobolds and Catacombs
Paladin’s KnC cards may have introduced the most underrated cards of all time. A great example for that would be Call to Arms, one of the most problematic Paladin cards ever. Basically every archetype used it either as a way to flood the board or to thin out their deck; the fact that Paladin plays a ton of non-Battlecry minions up to this day made Call to Arms a win-win card no matter what.
The second wave of “dude” support came in with Kobolds and Catacombs as well, and Crystal Lion together with Drygulch Jailor and Level Up! formed the rest of the package that was needed to make Dude Paladin the abomination it was.
The fact that two Paladin cards in that set received huge nerfs showed that KnC put Paladin above everything else in terms of power level. And yet several other cards should have made the spotlight.
Two of these cards are Lynessa Sunsorrow and Potion of Heroism. Those cards breath the Paladin fantasy of buffing and protection things, and it’s great to see that they saw play while staying somewhat balanced.
One not-so-honorable mention should go to Unidentified Maul. While a cool idea, the design of an unidentified card that provides insane board buffs just doesn’t feel that great to play against. In addition to that, getting the Taunt outcome just felt incredibly bad as a Paladin player; either way, a RNG card that almost exclusively creates bad feelings can go to the very dark place called Wild and stay there.
We should not forget to mention the incredible neutral card support that Paladin used to terrorize the ladder: Corridor Creeper, Boisterous Bard, Dire Mole and last but not least Fungalmancer brought Aggro Paladin lists of all sorts to the top, while Control Paladin archetypes will definitely miss everybody’s favorite Zola the Gorgon.
Paladin’s Upcoming Archetypes
OTK Holy Wrath Paladin
If you thought that all Paladin OTK decks will leave the scene with Uther of the Ebon Blade being gone, you were wrong! Thanks to Rastakhan’s Rumble and Shirvallah, the Tiger, OTK Paladin will have a place in the upcoming meta. The majority of the lists contains cards from 2018, and minions like Righteous Protector and Zola the Gorgon should be easily replacable.
Through the recent Team 5 AMA we have found out that new Murlocs are about to be printed, and that brings Murloc Paladin back on the table. The Murloc package will be thinned out a whole lot after the rotation, but Murloc Tastyfin alone could, together with the Basic/Classic set murlocs and new prints, form the base of a new Murloc Paladin deck list.
Not a lot of archetypes have received that many support synergy cards like Mech Paladin has with the Boomsday expansion. As we all know, Egg Paladin has been a real deck in 2018, and that could carry through to the upcoming Year of the Dragon. We could see Mech Paladin turn into a high-value control list looking at Kangor's Endless Army and other Boomsday synergies together with the survival tools that Rastakhan gave to the Paladin class.
Similar to Murloc Paladin, the Secret Paladin core will be thinned out after the rotation hits. However, we do see that Team 5 still has Secrets on the Paladin development list; Witchwood cards like Bellringer Sentry and Hidden Wisdom are the perfect example. Thanks to the strong Basic and Classic Secret core and a minion called Secretkeeper, we could clearly see Secret Paladin make a not-so-secret comeback with the Year of the Dragon.