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Big Paladin deck list guide - Rise of Shadows - Hearthstone (June 2019)

Our primer to getting started with Big Paladin in the Rise of Shadows meta.

Big Paladin is a Hearthstone deck packed full with some of the game’s largest and most expensive minions. While that may suggest that the deck is very slow to play, it actually takes advantage of spells and effects that allow you to cheat out these creatures much earlier than intended to gain a huge advantage over your opponent.

This playstyle has been enabled mostly thanks to the new Paladin spell Duel from the Rise of Shadows expansion. As the creatures it summons are generally a lot larger than your opponents, they can survive that initial attack and remain on the board as a significant and sticky threat. It’s not necessarily the most glamorous game plan, but it works!

In the latest version of our Big Paladin guide, we have the best deck list you can play on the ranked ladder right now. Further down we’ve also got some detailed strategy tips, some advice for the Mulligan phase and a breakdown of the deck’s key combos so you can use it to its full power.

UPDATE - JUNE 2019 #1

Big Paladin continues to evolve in the Rise of Shadows meta, although it's a long way from a Tier 1 deck right now. Still, we know players are continuing to experiment with this archetype, so we've added in an updated deck list and further strategy advice.

This article contains additional reporting by James Pickard.

Big Paladin deck list and strategy

Here is the most popular and most successful version of Big Paladin seeing play in Hearthstone at the moment. The list appears to be set in stone right now, but we’ll keep watch to see if any changes are made.

2 x Desperate Measures1 x Archmage Vargoth
2 x Redemption1 x Zilliax
2 x Mysterious Blade2 x Damaged Stegotron
1 x Flash of Light2 x Bull Dozer
2 x Call to Adventure1 x Ysera
2 x Consecration1 x Alexstrasza
2 x Prismatic Lens2 x Mountain Giant
2 x Truesilver Champion
2 x Duel!
1 x Kangor's Endless Army
1 x Tirion Fordring
1 x Shirvallah, the Tiger

Select and copy the long ID string below, then create a deck in Hearthstone to export this deck into your game.

Deck Import ID: AAECAZ8FCMUE+gaiCfH+AqCAA72GA+yGA9aZAwuMAdwDzwbhB/z8Avv+AouAA/mTA5CaA7SbA4acAwA=

More great Paladin guides:

General strategy

The goal of Big Paladin is to get your largest creatures onto the board way before their Mana costs should allow by using the Duel! spell, which was added in the Rise of Shadows set. This card summons a minion from each player’s deck and forces them to fight, so with all the bulky minions in your deck your creature should usually emerge on top (or not be killed) so it remains on the board ready to pressure next turn.

Of course, many of the minions in this deck also have powerful effects that can occur at the end of their turn, so having this trigger ahead of schedule can push you even further into a lead. This usually generates enough momentum in your favour that your opponent is stuck on the backfoot and you can assert control of the game with your heavy-hitters.

Early game: Throw down your Secrets to disrupt your opponent’s early turns and then you’ll also have something that can activate the bonus effect on Mysterious Blade. This weapon will help you clear early drops off the board so your foe doesn’t scream too far ahead.

Meanwhile, you can draw minions from your deck using Call to Adventure so you’re better set for the mid-to-late game. If you’re feeling especially bold, play Prismatic Lens for a chance of reducing the cost of your biggest creatures drastically!

Mid game: Go for Duel! as soon as possible. You’re almost guaranteed to pull a minion from your deck that’s able to kill your opponent’s and survive to stick around on the board. This is the way you create a huge swing in your favour - especially if you pair it with an Archmage Vargoth already on the board to repeat the spell at the end of your turn.

Sometimes, if the card you draw then summons extra minions on top of it too, you can create such a strong board that your opponent is completely frozen out of the game. If you need to remove some of your opponent’s threats first you have Consecration and Truesilver Champion to do that.

Late game: Continue looking to cast Duel! as soon as you draw copies of the spell. At this point, you can start playing down the massive minions if your deck as normal, although the tempo advantage you can attain from playing them early has now passed. Because of that, you may be too far behind in the game if you’ve lost too much tempo, but their sheer power alone always gives you a chance.

Aggro opponents

These few tips will help you get through any aggro decks you face on the ranked ladder:

  • 1. If you find yourself getting raced down, use the Lifesteal from Zilliax to keep you in the game.
  • 2. When your opponent has gone wide on the board you have a Consecrate to clear all their little creatures.
  • 3. Both Mysterious Blade and Truesilver Champion are excellent weapons to keep early game aggression in check.
  • 4. You should easily win the majority of contests when casting Duel! so don’t be afraid to rip it as soon as you hit Turn 5 and get your huge creatures onto the board.

Control opponents

Here are some tips so you can best control opponents:

  • 1. You should still cast it as normal, but be cautious with some Duel! uses as you may run into some of the bigger creatures used in control decks.
  • 2. Try to get Redemption down immediately before or alongside some of your expensive minions. If your opponent uses removal on them, they’ll be brought straight back onto the board!
  • 3. Be especially cautious of Silence effects ran by some control decks. These can stymie the power of some of your minions, including Tirion Fordring.
  • 4. Desperate Measures is a great card against control. No matter what random Secret you get, it should do enough to make your opponent rethink their turn and potentially misplay.

Big Paladin Mulligan guide

Here are some of the cards you’ll want to try and secure in your opening hand for the best start with Big Paladin:

  • 1. Call to Adventure: Excellent card draw and minion buff - especially good if it hits Archmage Vargoth as it gives you a play next turn.
  • 2. Duel!: A massively important part of gaining an advantage with this deck so you’ll want to hold onto it if you find it.
  • 3. Mysterious Blade: This weapon can offer some good value for clearing your opponent’s minions in the early game.
  • 4. Prismatic Lens: If you manage to swap the Mana cost of one of your more expensive creatures with a cheap spell you can open up a massive lead.
  • 5. Desperate Measures: It’s always good to get a Secret on the board as it can disrupt your opponent’s game plan.

Big Paladin tips, combos and synergies

There are a number of key combos that make Big Paladin so successful. We’ve highlighted the most important ones for you below so you can have the most success with the deck:

- When you have a Secret in play Mysterious Blade gains an extra one Attack, which can be extremely helpful in dealing with your opponent’s early game drops.

- Aim to play Redemption once one of your biggest minions is on the board. If your opponent removes it, it’ll come back to life at one Health.

- Archmage Vargoth will repeat one of the Spells you’ve played during your turn at the end of your turn. If you can combine this with Duel! you can have an extremely strong tempo play on Turn 5.

- When you cast Duel! a creature from each player’s deck will enter the battlefield and fight each other. If either survives they stay on the board. This is especially good for minions with Rush as they can then make a normal attack against minions too!

- As you run a lot of cheap spells in this deck you can make a huge play using Prismatic Lens to swap their cost with one of your bigger creatures to get them on the board even earlier.

- The cost of Shirvallah, the Tiger will steady reduce throughout the game as you play more spells. Eventually, he can drop all the way down to zero mana!

- As Call to Adventure will draw and buff the cheapest minion from your deck it should hit Archmage Vargoth the majority of the time. That’ll give the important legendary some extra survivability and draw it into your hand so you can start the Duel! play next turn.

- Consider the Secrets you can get from playing Desperate Measures. Even if you don’t get the one you’re after, the mystery could be enough to disrupt your opponent’s game plan.

- At the end of your turn, Ysera will add a random Dream card to your hand. These can either be incredible powerful minions or spells that will go a long way to extend your lead, offer board clears, or buff your minions.

Card choices and substitutes

A specific menagerie of big minions are the most important part of Big Paladin. You can find them listed below, as well as the other key cards within this new deck archetype.

  • Redemption: Your opponent may have to commit a lot of resources to kill off your biggest creatures. With this Secret, whatever they remove comes straight back onto the board!
  • Call to Adventure: Can be a great way to tutor Archmage Vargoth if you’re missing it, or you’ll get a nice buff to some of your already huge creatures.
  • Archmage Vargoth: Casting another copy of one of your spells can give you a huge advantage, especially if it’s something like Duel! that brings another of your late game minions onto the board.
  • Prismatic Lens: Considering all the cheap spells you run in this deck, you can end up reducing the cost of your late game minions to just one mana. That can create a huge tempo advantage in your favour!
  • Duel!: The spell that gives this deck the majority of its power. So many of your minions should be able to kill off whichever of your opponent’s minions is summoned and then it will stay on the board as if you’ve played it many turns before you have the Mana to do so.
  • Zilliax: An all-around decent minion that comes with so many beneficial keywords.
  • Amani War Bear: Bulky creature that can usually remove a creature and then survive to stay on the board. If summoned by Duel! you can make use of the Rush effect on the same turn too!
  • Batterhead: Has the potential to stomp through an entire board if you're facing down lots of low Health minions.
  • Tirion Fordring: Classic Paladin legendary that finds a place in this deck as it’s simply still one of the best minions in the game - and the weapon represents some serious power too.
  • Oondasta: If you trigger the Overkill effect you can orchestrate some crazy tempo plays that draw even more of your creatures onto the board for free.
  • Ysera: Another long-time favourite legendary. The stat distribution makes it very hard to kill, while the Dream cards it grants you can be very powerful.
  • Big Bad Archmage: Doesn’t have the best stats for the Mana cost but if you get it out via Duel! it can summon extra minions to get you wide on the board incredibly early. Some decks replace this with Mountain Giant if you’d prefer.
  • Shirvallah, the Tiger: Cheating this minion out can be hugely beneficial as it can heal you, set up a wall that your opponent needs to hit through and clear off creatures - all at the same time!

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John Bedford


John is Metabomb's Editor in Chief and looks after the day to day running of the site when he's not writing about Hearthstone.