Avenge x 1
Noble Sacrifice x 1
Redemption x 1
Repentance x 1
Zombie Chow x 2
Haunted Creeper x 2
Knife Juggler x 2
Shielded Minibot x 2
Coghammer x 2
Muster for Battle x 2
Aldor Peacekeeper x 2
Blessing of Kings x 2
Consecration x 1
Piloted Shredder x 2
Loatheb x 1
Quartermaster x 1
Sludge Belcher x 1
Mysterious Challenger x 2
Dr. Boom x 1
Tirion Fordring x 1
State of the Paladin Class
For starters, I think the lines between secret paladin and traditional aggro and midrange paladins are nearly indiscernible now. Mysterious challenger is so powerful that he is finding his way into most paladin lists. It is causing the class to look a lot more like hunter with a spectrum of decks including face hunter, hybrid hunter, midrange hunter, and slower midrange hunter that have varying curves but all aggressively contest the board, look to curve out, and win with savannah highmane. Paladin, too, now has a spectrum of deck choices that all contest the board, look to curve out, and win with MC. In my opinion, MC has become the savannah highmane of paladin and simply demands to be included. Because of this, I think it awkward to talk about “secret paladin” as an archetype because the secret package (MC x2 and at least 4 secrets) is included in most paladin decks now. After the patron nerf, I could see a slower, value-based midrange paladin emerge with cards like justicar and murloc knight and no secrets, but I expect this will be the exception and not the rule.
Deck Guide: Game Plan
This deck has a simple game plan that should be familiar to anyone who has played paladin before: fight like hell for the board by curving out with powerful value minions. While this has always been the game plan of midrange paladin, the addition of MC has provided it the tool it needed to take the early board lead and actually convert it into victory. Paladin has always done a great job of contesting the board, but in the past it has lacked the burst of other board-centric decks and was relegated to out-valuing these decks over the long game (this was painfully visible by the fact that midrange and control paladins had almost identical lists). The addition of MC allows this deck to focus on early board control by packing in sticky minions and in so doing leverage that sticky board through blessing of kings to either further contest the board or push for lethal. Unlike older paladin lists that relied on reactive cards to produce value, this deck is laser-focused on making an on curve play every single turn. This deck runs no card draw (aside from MC’s pseudo-draw), no healing, and no equality so there is no comeback mechanic available; it lives and dies by the board.
Card Discussion: Inclusions
Zombie Chow x2 – I always loved running 2x zombie chow pre-TGT in midrange paladin and with the new secret package it is even better. Last month, I ran without any chows in favor of a more aggressive list but this card is just too important for seizing board control. The card is great against aggro and helps you to always have a minion to contest the board on every single turn.
Secrets x4 – I ran 7 secrets last month and have found 4 to be more desireable. Competitive spirit is just so low impact that it isn’t worth running for me and I cut the duplicates of avenge and noble sacrifice for the zombie chows to improve the consistency of the curve. Never keep these in your mulligan, you want MC to draw them for you.
Shielded Minibot x2 – Probably the best 2 drop in hearthstone.
Knife Juggler x2 – Juggler has great synergy with muster, creeper, and hero power and is an excellent target for the coghammer buff. T2 juggler into T3 muster or T3 coghammer will win you games.
Haunted Creeper x2 – It adds stickiness to your board, synergises with juggler, and helps ensure there is always a target on the board for coghammer and blessing of kings.
Muster for Battle x2 – Single-handedly brought paladin out of the abyss after the GvG launch. It is even better right now because the ultimate counter (fan of knives) is absent from the meta as rogue languishes at the bottom of the pile.
Coghammer x2 – This card wins games. With 8 minions that can be dropped before turn 3, this deck has ample targets for this card to create value trades.
Aldor Peacekeeper x2 – Druids and paladins are all over the ladder right now and this card does serious work against all of their variations. One mistake I see people make all the time with peacekeeper is that they get it in their starting hand and mindlessly hold onto it waiting for 7+ attack minion to drop. If you don’t have another on curve play, it is perfectly fine to play peacekeeper on turn 3. If you can use it to create a favorable trade, even better. If you’re playing against aggro druid and you’re fearful of a cheated fel reaver, of course it is fine to hold it. Just remember that the win condition of this deck is board control and the best way to get it is by playing on curve.
Piloted Shredder x2 – Probably the best 4 drop in hearthstone. It trades well and is difficult to remove which is exactly what you want on the board as you approach MC on turn 6.
Consecration x1 – Some might say that this is an automatic 2of in any paladin deck, but I disagree. This deck is built to be proactive and consecration is a reactive card which is why I only run 1. It is definitely useful for clearing tokens and allowing your tokens to trade up, but I wouldn’t want more than 1 clogging my hand.
Blessing of Kings x2 – Like coghammer, this is another card that uses your board to create value trades. It can double as burst later in the game as well making it a flexible card.
Loatheb x1 – This is a fantastic on curve play that protects your board from spell clears and sets up for turn 6 MC. Regardless of when it is played, loatheb will often force an inefficient turn for your opponent which is what you need to snowball your board lead to victory or to contest a board at parity.
Sludge Belcher x1 – While belcher seems to be losing favor overall compared to its former glory (which was automatic 2of in any midrange or control deck), I have found him to be excellent in this deck. It trades like a champion against most of the turn 1-4 minions being run in all the most popular decks right now (aggro druid, secret paladin, tempo mage, etc.). It also sets up great for turn 6 MC by making your board as sticky as possible.
Quartermaster x1 – QM has great synergy with muster and hero power. This card might lose some of its effectiveness if it catches on because I have played against quite a few opponents that figured out I was running secrets, ignored my tokens, and payed the price. QM is always better in a meta where most paladins on the ladder are not running it because people become lax about making sure all dudes are cleared. 2 of these in hand at once would be awful though, so this is only a 1of.
Mysterious Challenger x2 – The savannah highmane of paladin. This card is powerful enough to warrant the inclusion of previously unusable paladin secrets. Never keep it in your mulligan, since you will be going hard for a 1-2-3 curve. Don’t feel bad playing them back to back. The second one won’t pull any secrets, but a 6/6 for 6 is just fine for this deck and the first one may have won you the game already.
Dr. Boom x1 – This card was already nuts before but MC turn 6 into boom turn 7 is simply devastating.
Tirion x 1 – If MC and boom by themselves can win games, and MC into boom can illicit auto-concedes, then MC into boom into Tirion is borderline unfair.
Card Discussion: Exclusions
Competitive Spirit – I do not like this card at all. It is by far the worst secret to draw outside of MC and it doesn’t have that great of an effect when drawn by MC unless you’re already way ahead on board and already guaranteed to win. Let the aggro lists have it.
Secret Keeper – This deck is focused on curving out from turn 1 to 6 and not playing secrets from hand so secret keeper is not a good choice. Even last season when I ran a faster list, I still didn’t run secret keeper because I just don’t think it is that great in a midrange list. Let the aggro lists keep this card along with competitive spirit.
Murloc Knight – This is a great card that just doesn’t fit the game plan of this deck which is to curve out with powerful value minions. Murloc knight has the potential for huge value, but it needs hero power to get it and our plan is to follow our 4 drop with loatheb or sludge belcher into MC on turn 6. This is a great card in slower lists that are more focused on out-valuing the opponent instead of quickly snowballing a board lead to victory.
Truesilver Champion – This is often considered an auto-include in any paladin deck, so I understand if this exclusion causes skepticism. Truesilver is a fantastic card that is at odds with coghammer for weapon value and at odds with blessing of kings for the 4 drop. Coghammer is just outrageous in its ability to enable early value trades and I can’t give this up. The way this deck is designed, blessing of kings enables the trades that truesilver usually does while not adding to the number of weapons in the deck and while (usually) leaving a minion on the board that must be answered. This is a great card that just didn’t make the cut.
Azure Drake – Drake is often included in midrange paladin lists as a flexible card that provides a midrange body, card draw, and some spell synergy with consecration. This deck does not need that flexibility. It needs powerful value minions that help build a sticky board and snowball it to victory. Drake is a great card that just doesn’t fit with the game plan.
Justicar Trueheart – I haven’t seen anyone try running this with secrets, but I just thought I’d mention it because it is a powerful card in paladin. Justicar wants to play the long term value game while this deck wants to cash in on the value early. I expect this card to see lots of play in slower midrange/control paladin lists once patron is gone.
The mulligan for this deck is about as easy as it can get since the game plan is mostly the same for every matchup. The goal is to be able to curve 1-2-3 (or 2-2-3 on the coin). For every class, you should be looking for zombie chow at the 1 drop and minibot/juggler/creeper at the 2 drop. Do NOT keep secrets because you want these to be pulled by MC. Muster and coghammer are what I usually want to see at the 3 drop in most matchups. Muster is punished by rogue’s fan of knives so consider that if you happen to see one on the ladder. Against druid, I usually want peacekeeper because it is great against fel reaver and other ramped minions that druid likes to play (turn 3 innervate + innervate + dr. boom into peacekeeper is incredibly satisfying). I advise against keeping MC in the mulligan because you have a good chance of drawing him by turn 6 and board control is the real win condition so you should do everything you can in the mulligan phase to make sure you can curve out.
I realize this guide is not earth shattering by any means and that midrange paladin with secrets is pretty easy to play right now. I am hoping that this guide will help new players understand how the deck works so that they can play it better and play against better. I am available to answer any questions you have.