Deck of the Week 3 - Paladin Shockadin Deck
Welcome again to the Messiah's series of weekly articles that looks at some of the popular, powerful, or just plain interesting deck builds that are out there for the Hearthstone Constructed Deck format.
This week I look at a deck that I really like playing and that is very popular in the constructed format, the Paladin Shockadin deck. Paladin aggro decks have been very strong decks in general since early in the beta for Hearthstone, and this is one of the many different aggro lists that are out there. This deck list generally called a Shockadin list has gone through various different iterations since Hearthstone was in beta and is considered on of the strongest decks out there right now for climbing the ladder. It is a deck that I play quite often and have had a lot of success with.
Paladin - Shockadin Deck
As mentioned above Paladins have various aggro style deck lists that can be successful, this is just one of them. Another very solid Paladin aggro list that is possible is one build around the Sword of Justice and many small minions. This deck however is an aggro deck that is not really based on any single card, instead it is based on a lot of different fast aggressive cards.
There are many variations of this deck, and many aim to be even a bit more aggressive that my version is. My version of the deck is almost as aggressive, but I like having a backup plan, and that backup plan comes in the form of Tirion Fordring just in case the game goes long.
The Shockadin deck works by dealing a lot of damage early in the game and finishing off your opponent before they get a chance to get their big minions out. As such many of the important cards in the deck may not seem glamorous at first glance, but work together to provide little bits of damage that add up quickly over time.
Divine Favor - This is probably the most important card in the deck, although it isn't a minion or a damage dealer. It is a great card in this deck though since most of the rest of the deck is made up of cheap cards and in many cases by turn 3 your hand will be empty. This card allows you to rush through your opening hand and then replace your hand with additional cards to match your opponent. This will many times allow you to play upwards of a dozen cards by turn 5. There are few classes that can out draw this kind of pace, and few that can hold up against the onslaught it allows you to put out.
Leper Gnome - This is such an amazing card for 1 mana. I don't really know of any other card that can provide so much damage with no down side from 1 mana. This card on turn 1 almost always guarantees at least 4 damage to your opponent, since you can attack on turn 2 before they can attack with a minion, and then they will kill it off on their turn 2 taking 2 points from its deathrattle ability. The odd time a player will get a silence off on it or kill it before it attacks, but even then 2 damage for 1 mana is a pretty solid start.
Elven Archer - Another great minion for only 1 mana. This one though is a 1/1 that also does 1 damage to any target you want on the turn it is summoned. This allows you to bring a minion into play and clear an enemy starting minion as well, all for 1 mana.
Equality and Consecration - This combination allows you to get rid of all enemy minions for only a grand total of 6 mana. Even if you don't get them together at the same time, they are deadly cards individually. Equality allows you to weaken all minions to your level and then kill them off easily. Consecration lets you clear the enemy board if they only have weak minions.
Abusive Sergeant and Blessing of Might - While one of these is a minion and the other a spell, they are here for the same reason, to buff other minions. They allow your generally small and weak minions to hit way above their weight class and dish out some serious abuse.
Bluegill Warrior and Wolfrider - Both of these are relatively cheap minions that also have charge. This allows you to bring them in to either remove enemy minions or slam into your opponent for more damage.
Hammer of Wrath - This is a powerhouse card in this deck as it can clear weaker enemies, deal damage to the opponent, and provide replacement cards with a card draw ability. 3 damage will not get rid of big enemy minions, but can help remove them, or better yet just hit your opponent in the face.
Truesilver Champion - This is one of the best weapon cards in the game since it heals 2 health and deals 4 damage on each attack. In this deck is give you a way to deal with enemy minions without having to trade yours against them.
Leeroy Jenkins - Leeroy is a solid finishing card in this deck, especially when combined with an Abusive Sergeant or Blessing of Might or both. Dealing 6 damage to your opponent on turn 4, or up to 12 on turn 6 with 2 Blessing of Mights can easily finish off an opponent. Don't rush and bring him out too early though, use him for a knock out punch, or if really needed as a way to remove a big enemy minion.
Ideal Opening Hand Cards
This deck is all about the attack, therefore anything that allows you to get a good start is a good draw. With this deck there are so many of these good aggressive cards it is easier to list those that you don't want in your opening hand.
The only cards you really don't want to have in your at the start of a game are those that cost 4 mana or more, even those that are 3 need to be considered based on your opponent. There are some lower level cards that you may also want to discard at the start based on what other cards you have in your hard. The cards you may choose to discard are those that buff other minions, especially if you don't have any good minions to buff in your hand along with them.
This deck is really only about one thing: all out aggression. With such a single minded deck it is still important to keep strategy and tactics in mind though or you will lose your matches.
One of the most important things to keep in mind while playing this deck is that you almost never want to trade minions. You want to use your minions to slam into your opponent and do it turn after turn as you really have to big huge hitters. This is critical to keep in mind as almost all of the minions in the deck are fairly weak and killed off easily, therefore to deal with strong enemy minions can require you to trade several of you minions against theirs making you lose momentum. Since the object of this deck is to kill the opponent quickly, you need to focus just on that one goal. Don't trade minions if you don't have to, don't even deal spell damage to them if you don't have to, just kill the opponent.
You have several spells and abilities that do allow you to deal with enemy minions when you have to. These include the awesome Elven Archer in the early game, Consecration, Hammer of Wrath, Truesilver Champion, Avenging Wrath and Equality. Timing on some of these cards is critical though as you don/t have that many removal cards for tough enemies so you need to make the best use of each of them. This may mean saving cards for a turn or two and taking some damage, then using them on the following turn to clear more enemy minions since your opponent is likely to have summoned some more.
If the game goes to turn 7 or later, this is where the deck starts having some issues since it is so heavily focused on the early game and a rush game. This is where you may get a last chance with cards like equality, consecration, Avenging Wrath, and Tirion Fordring. Tirion is one of the best cards out there with a huge damage potential when not silenced, so he takes up a key slot way above the mana curve for this deck as a last ditch effort.
Overall the most important thing to remember with this deck is hit the opponent in the face! The only times this is not true is when you have to deal with a minion that has taunt, would kill you, or when dealing with other rush decks. With other rush decks board control becomes priority.
Optional Cards / Alternate Deck
There are other cards out there that can be put into this deck as substitutions for the cards listed above that may tailor it more to your style, or adapt it more to the cards you have in your collection. They key thing to remember is that for this deck to work, you need to keep it fast and aggressive, do not bloat it or slow it down with high cost cards. Ideally, you still want to keep it to no more than 10 cards that cost 4 or more mana, and even more importantly no more than 3-4 that are 6 or more mana. Any more than that and you will slow the deck down to much to be effective.
Arcane Golem - If you don't yet have Leeroy Jenkins, or if you would like a little more straight charge damage options then this minion is a solid option. Be careful with it though as the downside is pretty big, giving your opponent a mana crystal. I like the card, but only use it when you are sure you can deal with the repercussions.
Blood Knight - Since there are 2 Argent Squires in the deck, and since so many other decks use them as well, adding a Blood Knight can add some solid hitting power. Summoning it on turn 3 can often generate a 9/9 minion that can beat down your opponent very quickly unless they have a silence or removal spell like hex of polymorph.
Scarlet Crusader - If you add a Blood Knight, you may want to consider adding a pair of these minions as well, as it gives you additional Divine Shields to pull off and buff the Blood Knight with.
Bloodmage Thalnos - This is a cheap minion that can give you some added damage from your Consecrate and Hammer of Wrath as well as another card from its deathrattle. It is however only a 1/1 so is not as aggressive as many other 2 mana cost cards.
King Mukla - This is an option that you can look at for additional early game damage. However since this card does not have charge and gives your opponent two +1/+1 cards to help deal with you though. The one big potential benefit is that since you are giving your opponent two additional cards on turn 3, if you have a Divine Favor in hand, you are potentially granting yourself two additional cards when you cast it on your turn 4.
Knife Juggler - A solid choice in almost any aggro rush deck as they are 3/2 for 2 with a solid ability as well. They are prime targets and have no real defence against incoming damage like your Argent Squires and Worgen Infiltrator. It can really help against other rush decks though as once he is summoned, every other minion summoned has the chance to remove an enemy minion with the 1 damage to a random target.
How To Play Against It
Playing against this deck is much like playing against the Warlock Murloc Deck I discussed two weeks ago, with a very important difference. Before looking at that difference though, let's review how to play against a general rush deck.
When playing against rush decks make sure you trade minions whenever you can to limit the incoming damage as that is the decks primary source of damage, in fact almost it's entire source of damage. If you have access to minions that deal damage or silence enemies when summoned make sure you time them for best use. This will generally mean killing any minion off with the damage as soon as possible before they gain any buffs, and saving silences for minions that provide buffs.
AOE damage spells and effects are devastating against this deck and should therefore be timed for maximum effect. If your opponent has 2 minions on the board and 3 cards it their hand, you may want to hold off casting your board clearing AOE this turn, but instead wait for the next turn to catch more minions. The risk of course has to be calculated as some of the cards in their hand could be buffs or charge minions that could deal enough damage to kill you off.
Taunt minions have real power against a rush deck since most rush decks do not have much direct damage ability and trade poorly against most minions with taunt (since taunt minions tend to have more health). Getting a few minions with taunt on the table early can wreck this decks day.
The big difference when playing against this deck compared to most rush decks is that you should try to empty your hand as quickly as possible. Against most rush decks it doesn't matter if you have 1 or 8 cards in your hand, as long as you are maintaining board control. Against this deck with the two Divine Favors in it though, you want to minimize the number of cards that your opponent will gain if they draw and cast Divine Favor. Maintaining control but having 8 cards in hand on turn 7 and having the Shockadin be able to draw 7 cards can provide them with enough power to end the game the next turn.
Against rush decks it's all about stalling. Minimize the incoming damage, don't worry about killing your opponent, worry about keeping the board clean. If you can stay alive and with 10 or more health until turn 10, you have a very solid chance to win against this deck. In fact when a game goes to turn 10 this deck probably only has a 20% win rate. The issue it that it likely has a 70% win rate if the game goes 7 turns or less.
Give the deck a try, play around with some options, and let me know what you think. How does it work for you, how would you change it to match your play style. Let me know in the comment section below.