TLDR: Made a meme deck, ended up getting to legend. Here is the final decklist:
Well Met! Strap in for a story, this is probably going to be a long read. I’ve seen others make posts like this before in the past, and since I’m super pumped up on adrenaline I wanted to give it a shot myself. I’ve been playing since beta, and I’ve been legend once before but never really felt the drive to try it again. I like HearthStone, but I mostly like to derp around each expansion, and my enthusiasm peters out after a month or two.
When they revealed Duel! I thought the card was sweet and wrote down a deck idea next to a list of other paladin deck ideas I wanted to try as soon as the expansion dropped. I basically only play paladin. I find it easier to enjoy the game if I focus on getting all the cards for a single class and just play all the decks possible for that class. I also find a lot of the typical degenerate paladin decks uninteresting, so I usually try to spice it up a little.
Duel. The card looked bad, so to make the deck more ridiculous I put in a lot of the other bad cards from the set into the first iteration of the deck like Batterhead, and Big Bad Archmage etc. I went full retard. I put my theory-crafted deck together day 1 and queued up in rank 17. I only wanted to play Duel!, and mulled everything for it. The game was ridiculously fun. The card was sweet. I loved seeing the little standard that appears when you duel! I thought the win was a fluke, so I queued up again. I wanted to try a couple of decks that first day, but I’d move on once my current deck lost a couple of times. Well the weird thing was, I soon got on a winning streak all the way up to rank 12. When I finally lost my first game, I thought “Holy crap, this deck actually has potential”. I deleted everything else, crafted 2 golden Duels, and focused on making the best possible Duel! paladin deck. Let’s see how far this puppy can go!
Finalizing the List
This list went through a looot of iterations. I would play roughly 20 games, then re-evaluated the deck, then play 20 more, and re-evaluate again, etc. Each time I tried to think which cards were important to the win, and which ones were dead cards in my hand. I tried to look up versions of this deck on HearthPwn and found a couple, but none of them were super serious. Usually meme decks without meta game considerations. But each typically had a new idea I’d borrow and test out.
A couple people commented on my HearthPwn page, and some gave nice feedback. A friend of mine saw Kripp and Toast each run their own version of the deck concept a couple days after launch. I was hesitant at first to look at them, because I didn’t want to copy their lists. I did eventually check them out, and both were cool but had a couple of cards that I felt were flawed picks. It was awesome to see we were all using the same core cards though (that meant I wasn’t a completely garbage deck builder). Their lists definitely inspired me to try out more variations like theirs.
Each card in the deck now feels very good. The deck plays like a midrange deck, defensive against aggro, and aggressive against control. This deck is tuned for the meta game in ranks 5-1. It’s probably still good below rank 5, but results may vary.
Desperate Measures – I added and removed this card a couple of times. One and two copies. Now, It’s mostly a filler card, and can definitely be replaced. Obviously it’s nice for proc-ing Mysterious Blade, but most match-ups I didn’t end up needing Mysterious Blade in the first place. I found twinspell really useful as something to play if necessary, while keeping my hand size large for Mountain Giant if I drew him early.
Humility – A later addition. I cut some secrets because none of them were actually useful late game except redemption. This was added because Rogues would destroy me if they got an 8/8 or 10/10 VanCleef early. It ended up being really nice to “remove” a large threat so I could continue to race the opponent down. I also had my fair share of “my opponent plays a large mech and sticks Zilliax on it” because they’re low health. Humility helps to neutralize that as well.
Redemption – Amazing secret, obviously best to pre-setup before slamming down a Tirion or a Duel!
Flash of Light – Good cycle, also found it very useful to heal my Batterheads when they were low on health.
Lightforged Blessing – Necessary verses aggro or when you’re afraid of Bomb rng. I tried running two copies, but one usually sat around in my hand late game.
Mysterious Blade – With my first couple of iterations this card was amazing. Then people started running a ton of Acidic Swap Oozes, so then I started to play it on turn 3 with a secret instead of turn 2. When I added Call to Adventure it again became less useful, but has definitely had it’s clutch moments. Very important to have early game removal in general, as you’re twiddling your thumbs waiting for turn 5.
Call to Adventure – This coupled with Archmage Vargoth ended up being the icing on the cake for this deck. Call to Adventure into Archmage Vargoth into Duel is a REALLY strong sequence, and this combo helped make the deck have a much more consistent early game instead of just hoping you get Prismatic Lens or Duel! from your mulligan.
Consecration – It was painful adding this card because I wanted all the spells to be super cheap, but it’s a MUST have against aggro decks.
Prismatic Lens – This card is part of the inspiration for the deck. It front loads your tempo which is really nice, especially when you pull a 0-cost minion.
Truesilver Champion – Turn 4, whack. Found it very useful to keep when it looked like I was going to have an empty turn 4, and very nice verses Rogues. Often killed Blink Fox, Hench-Clan Thug, or Hench-Clan Burglar.
Duel! – Love it. The dream is right after Archmage Vargoth, or an Oondasta that kills two minions and summons two large beasts (usually only pulls one because you’ll only have one beast in hand). Use with caution against big mages, big shamans, and mech hunters.
Tirion Fordring – Stick him behind redemption, and let him carry you to victory. Bait out saps first.
Shirvallah, the Tiger – Also decent minion to put behind redemption. The health swing is very important verses warlocks and rogues.
Amani War Beast – Largest viable beast, with rush AND taunt. Everything you’d ever want in this deck. Sometimes dies after a Duel! because we had to run him into another dude, but also usually worth it.
Batterhead – Super underestimated his value. Since he can attack again after the Duel!, pretend his attack is 6 and not 3. Really great for cleaning up boards verses druids and warlocks, especially the minions that summon other minions when they die. Turn 10 with Lightforged Blessing often resulted in the opponent conceding.
Oondasta – If I just wanted a large rush minion I’d run Burly Shovelfist. The upside is why she’s important. It was only useful in like 25% of my games, but when it procc's, you are in a really good position. Don’t forget Shirvallah, the Tiger is a beast.
Mountain Giant – 0-cost after Prismatic Lens, great in a Duel! Can be really cheap if he ends up in your hand early, very solid all around. Downside of making a random spell cost 12 was never really a problem. No spells are make or break in this deck, and the upside of a free giant cannot be overstated. The difference between summoning 0-cost minion on turn 4 verses summoning a 1-cost minion on turn 5 is night and day.
Bloodclaw – Too many weapons, too much self inflicted damage verses aggro. Dead late game.
Noble Sacrifice – Decent, but bad synergy with Redemption. Ran it for a while, then cut it.
Autodefense Matrix – Decent, better synergy with Redemption. Ended up cutting it also to make room for Archmage Vargoth.
Blessing of Wisdom – Actually really good card, and good synergy with Batterhead and Prismatic Lens. Didn’t end up needing that much draw.
Big Bad Archmage – Very strong early play, won a couple of games by himself. But really bad late game if you have to play him normally. As my opponents got better, I found myself reaching turn 10+ more often, where playing minions normally mattered. Too much reliance on RNG for my taste.
Ysera – Really good card, and you can totally slot her in if you’d like. I just didn’t like that she was kind of a dead card when staring down potential lethal. Diluting your pool of Duel minions isn’t a great idea. Keep it small, and strong. Plus if the minion she dueled survives, that’s super awkward.
Deathwing – Sweet to Duel, shit to pull.
Kangor’s Endless Army – This plus a mech package of Damaged Stegotron x2 and Zilliax is probably viable somehow, I didn’t like it when I tried it because rush is *really* good. Getting this with Prismatic Lens is really awkward when your life depends on the minion being playable asap. Plus, dueling with zilliax felt… weak sometimes. Now I know what you’re thinking. Mecha’thun is super sexy. But even if you’re not using it as a win condition (which you shouldn’t try to do in this deck… it doesn’t work… trust me) it’s a sad card to have in your hand when all you really want is some kind of taunt or rush minion.
Holy Wrath – Cute. I really want this to work. For the consistent version I’d run a Baleful Banker and cut Archmage Vargoth if I wanted to test it out more. It’s just way too slow.
Alexstraza/Onyxia – Used to run these bad girls, ended up running the giants instead. Having a playable card, earlier, beats having a cool Battlecry.
Playing this deck basically requires you to use a deck tracker, so that you know what minions you have left. Also, always play to your outs. I was saved multiple times thinking “Well, if I pull this one minion with duel/lens, I’ll still have a chance” and it actually happened.
My last climb to legend with the most recent iteration of the deck: https://imgur.com/a/rrfFrmw
This obviously isn't representative of the true winrates against these classes, and I can give you like 100+ games worth of data of the previous versions of the deck if you’re interested. Just message me.
Warrior (4-3) – If you’re against a bomb warrior it’s basically an auto-win. You have too many threats too fast for them to handle, and their bombs *never* kill you. You also have a lot of healing just in case. If you’re against a control warrior, it’s basically an auto-lose. Control warrior is probably our hard counter. You may get lucky, but they have enough removal and survival to outlast you. I wish I seperated my wins/loses between which were against bomb warrior and which were against control warrior. The high win rate verses bomb warrior was why my initial climb was so fast. Apparently I was crushing the “hot” deck at the time.
Shaman (0-0) – Basically none above rank 5. The only ones I saw were murloc shaman and big control shaman. Mulligan for a consecrate like you would against druids just in case. Then rush them down if they’re control. If they are control, you probably shouldn’t risk playing Duel.
Rogue (5-2) – Tough at first, but I slowly learned to beat them. I saw 2 variants of the same flavor of rogue. Their only way to beat you is if they zerg you down really quickly. Play your cards slowly, and if you survive to turn 8/9 it’s probably gg. At first I was afraid of fighting them because they have a lot of ways to sneak out a win, and VanCleef ruined my life. Humility fixed that some, and keeping Truesilver Champion helped a lot. Keep in mind: They always have a sap and they always have Leeroy + Shadow Step.
Paladins (0-0) – Hahaha, I think I fought 2 total in like 150 games. One was a secret/mech deck that destroyed me because I had no clue what was going on, and I had some reeeaally bad duels. The other I think was playing some kind of dragon deck that I defeated turn 7 so *shrug* whatever. Looks like our class is really unpopular. Made my climb that much better. I knew when I versed people, they had no clue what they were fighting since I was probably the only paladin they’d seen all day. I got a couple of great messages from people asking for the decklist after I beat them. Those moments made the whole climb worth it.
Hunter (3-1) – Beast/Zul’jin hunter is usually a win for us. Mech hunter is really tough. Always remove their mechs. You win by outlasting them. Careful dueling, if you fight the spider bomb you’ll probably lose… Goddamn spider bomb.
Druid (5-1) – Always assume it’s token druid. Because it always is. If it’s the weird control heal druid, it’s probably an auto-win. Mull hard for Consecration. Keep killing all of their minions, you don’t need to try to race them until you can give a large minion lifesteal. As a side note, this deck feels like it’s the best overall deck in the meta, with Rogues being a close second. It is incredibly strong. Like with any strong meta deck, it takes time practicing against them to learn how to beat them.
Warlock (1-2) – Control warriors may be best counter to this deck, but warlock is a very close second. Without early game presence, it’s very hard for you to stop them from spiraling out of control. It’s winnable, but probably takes 2 Consecrations and some lucky draws.
Mage (2-0) – I saw some tempo bursty mages at first, but they slowly disappeared. If I did see a mage above rank 5, it usually ended up being a big minions mage. Gotta kill them as soon as possible. Careful dueling, they have giants of their own.
Priest (0-0) – Paladin, Shaman, and Priest were all the classes I saw the least of (close to 0). When I did find one, it was probably a midrange tempo silence thing. They’d try to play big creatures to silence, then buff and inner fire. They don’t ramp up as quickly as we do. Just attack their face and force them to trade. Remember, they have silence, so humility them after they’re scary.
The biggest asset to this deck was: No one knew that the FUCK I was playing. This is probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing HearthStone, but it’s tough to recommend crafting this deck if you don’t already have a lot of the pieces. The deck has a lot of specific and unique cards that won’t be used much outside of this deck. If you like playing a lot of different decks, then maybe craft something more viable overall. It’s this deck sounds like a ton of fun, then you’re in for a real treat :).
I plan to make a Wild Duel! Paladin deck next. I have no idea how good it’ll be, but I can’t wait to try it out. Thanks for reading all the way down here! I’m going to go pass out now, because I stayed up really late typing this up. If anyone actually comments on this, I promise to respond to you tomorrow morning!
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