I'm a Paladin main who has 3.6k wins under his belt who typically ends the season at Ranks 3 through 1 without ever hitting legend, simply because I typically like to play fringe homebrew decks. I'm not an extremely skilled pllayer, but I do love to make decks, specifically Paladin decks.
I've been playing since Beta and been through all the highs of TGT Midrange Paladin and the lows of MSG Handbuff Paladin, but through it all I've exclusively played Paladin. Hunter is the only other golden portrait I've gotten and I only gotten that last week. While it isn't much of a resume, this section is just to say that I've played Paladin a lot and I care a lot about its identity.
Paladin Class Identity
The latest fresh meme that's been around for the past couple of years is Blizzard's tendency to push a single archetype of Paladin for a single expansion only to abandon it the next creating a hodgepodge of different archetypes that don't feel that cohesive. Despite this, Paladin has always remained fairly competitive due to Mech Paladin's consistent strength within the lack couple of expansions.
Blizzard themselves listed what they believe to be the class identity of Paladin back in a 2019 blog post that I frankly agree with. However, the core set does not support that identity enough.
They say that Paladin should be good at minion swarms, but there are no token support cards in the class outside of Paladin's hero power. They believe that Paladin should be good at minion buffing and debuffing yet Blessing of Kings, Equality, and Aldor Peacekeeper are the only three cards that see remote play that do this. Paladins have healing and divine shield, but there are no healing or divine shield synergies in the class. Finally secrets are just a joke in the basic set, needing something extremely broken in expansions to maybe even consider putting them in a list.
The weaknesses also don't make sense as OTK Holy Wrath Paladin has been the only good semi-control archetype for years now and Equality makes Paladin a board clear class despite saying that it shouldn't be.
All this to say that Paladin has a lot of strengths that they aren't really strong at and weaknesses they aren't really weak at causing them to not have any defined identity.
Hall of Fame
Holy Wrath: Holy Wrath is just not a good card to always have in the meta as it severely limits design space of extremely high costing cards. Holy Wrath had its time in the sun with Shirvallah and now that its rotating, this too should rotate along with it. The style of play goes against exactly what Paladin should be doing.
Equality: I understood why Equality got hit with the nerf-bat as Paladin control decks always looked the same with double pyro and double equality for two extremely efficient board clears. However, that nerf really hurt the archetype in wild and caused control Paladin to die off completely. I say that Equality should go back to 2-Mana and Hall of Famed.
Eye for an Eye: This is just a joke of a card that actually has no applications for putting it in the deck unlike the other secrets. The only time Eye for an Eye was ever considered a good card to see is when it was generated by Hydrologist specifically against the Freeze Mage who had Ice Block up. With Ice Block rotating this card will never see the light of day and never will be a good option to see off of discover effects.
Gracious Faithful: The objective of this card is to give incentive to use the healing cards in Paladin in an interesting way. If you use Holy Light to restore the full 6 Health to your hero, a 6-Cost card will be drawn from your deck. If you have no 6-Cost cards in your deck, a 5-Cost or 7-Cost card will be drawn.
Hand of Hindrance: Hand of Hindrance allows Paladin to shut down large threats while not necessarily removing them. As Consecration is to deal with wide boards, Hand of Hindrance deals with tall boards. However, they cannot be used in conjunction to clear the board.
Extra Reinforcements: The biggest problem with Secrets is their anti-synergy with Silver Hand Recruits. For the most part to deal with Secrets the enemy can first just ping off an enemy Silver Hand Recruit to check for redemption, however they are now threatened by Extra Reinforcements which gives you some swarming potential.
Hand of Protection &
Argent Protector: I believe that the severe lack of Divine Shield synergy within Paladin really holds that identity back. By giving Hand of Protection and Argent Protector application on already Divine Shielded minions it pushes an identity that Paladin never really had, a Divine Shield deck.
Light's Justice: This now serves a purpose of Secret tutoring which can be useful in situations where you want to combo a Secret with a specific minion. It probably does not raise its playrate a lot, but it does give it a purpose.
Guardian of Kings: Having Guardian of Kings actually guard things would be nice. Now it a viable option to pick if you want a defensive midrange minion. I don't believe it is extremely strong when you compare it to Amber Watcher, but I think able to do the job and give Paladin a more consistent healing identity.
Blessed Champion: Blessed Champion has never seen a viable deck in its lifetime and when it ever did see the light of day in a fringe deck, it was always an OTK deck trying to kill the opponent in a single turn by playing two in a row to quadruple a minion's Attack. I believe that making it double the Health it will be utilized as a big risk high reward spell that rewards the player for sticking a huge minion down.
What will this solve?
I believe that this will make Paladin have a more consistent direction to build off of rather than creating pieces of loose archetypes that end up falling through. By having the base of utilization of Divine Shield, Healing, and Secrets Paladin can actually build off these archetypes rather than creating completely new ones from scratch every expansion.
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