First things first, I like to start all my articles with a video of the deck in action so people can see what exactly they are getting into. Here is a video of me (KRUPS) vs. Reynad early this season.
Here is a second video of me, this time vs. StrifeCro. This one has no audio unfortunately because Twitch flagged the music for copyright, but it will still give you some insight on how the deck plays against control.
Staying competitive on a budget is something that can be quite challenging considering we live in a world where it is not uncommon to run into a Warrior deck that costs over 13.000 dust to craft. One of the biggest misconceptions about budget decks is that "budget" = "bad". It's easy to associate the two, however Hearthstone is not as "pay to win" as a lot of players like to make it out to be. I constantly get asked the same question from new players while I am streaming; "Is this <insert deck name> good enough to reach to the Legend Rank?" my answer to this question is almost always the same, and that answer is that just about any well-built deck can reach legend and the key to doing that is knowing your deck well, knowing how to mulligan properly, and understanding your match ups. Hearthstone is an extremely balanced game and the question these players should be asking themselves is "What do I need to do to reach Legend?"...not "What do I need my deck to do for me to reach Legend?" Don't get me wrong, your decks ability to perform well is important, but your ability to perform well is more important.
I have challenged myself this season by giving myself some restrictions when playing on ladder, these restrictions being; Don't play any legendary cards, and don't play any cards from Naxx or Blackrock Mountain. After tooling around with my collection I found myself succeeding with an aggro paladin deck that is commonly referred to as "Shock-a-din", or by it's detractors "Ebola-din". I found myself reaching Rank 3 with the deck by the 8th day of the season which is fairly early, and another player that built the deck found himself hitting legend with it by the 12th. Also during the first ten days of the season I found myself beating esteemed players such as StrifeCro, and Reynad. I posted a solid 60% winrate up to Rank 3 in the first 10 days of the season.
Let's take a look at the deck shall we?
Blessing of Might: This card works great in this deck because of the high number of minions with divine shield that it contains. You almost always want to use this card to buff a minion with divine shield. You always want to mulligan this card.
Abusive Sergeant: This card is used to buff your minions to make better trades and to apply more pressure on your opponent. You should always keep this card in your opening hand.
Argent Squire: This card should always be kept in your opening hand, and is great when coupled with an Abusive Sergeant. You usually want to play this minion first because buffing it on turn two will usually allow for you to "trade up" with your opponent. You always want to keep this card.
Leper Gnome:: This card is a staple in most aggro decks. Solid stats for a 1-drop minion and a deathrattle that really helps push damage on your opponent. You should always keep this card.
Southsea Deckhand: This card is great in this deck. You always want to keep this card in your opening hand and if you have no other one drop on turn one you can play it on turn one but more often than not you will want to sandbag this card until you can play it with charge, and potentially buff it on the same turn. It's very easy to steal games with this card with plays like the one I just mentioned.
Annoy-o-Tron:: We have one lone Annoy-o-Tron in our deck, and its role is to protect our minions from weapons and larger minions. It is also an additional minion with divine shield so it fits nicely with the buff spells in this deck. You can keep this card in your opening hand if you see fit.
Ironbeak Owl: This card is one of the most important cards in the deck, you will almost always want to save it to deal with a taunt minion. Occasionally you will want to silence something else, but taunt minions can give this deck headaches so be very deliberative when choosing what to silence. You want to keep this card against Mages (To shutoff Mad Scientist), Hunters, and Druids.
Knife Juggler: Your deck is pretty much built around abusing this card's ability. You should always keep this card. Knowing when to play this card is a bit of an art, that being said a lot of times you will want to hold this guy back and play him later so you can leverage his ability on the same turn that he was played.
Shielded Minibot: Next two Knife Juggler this guy is your best two-cost minion. I don't think this guy needs much explanation...drop him early and buff him if you can, then smash your opponents dome.
Coghammer: Imagine this; Play Minibot on turn 2, on turn three attack into your opponents 2-cost minion, killing it, then playing a coghammer and giving your Minibot Divine Shield again, and attacking another one of their minions, killing it as well. Situations like this is exactly why we play this card. You should almost always keep this
Divine Favor: The is hands down the best card drawing spelling in the entire game. That's right, THE ENTIRE GAME. Your goal with this card is to dump your hand early and then refill. There is a lot of variance with this card, but I recorded about 40 instances of playing this card and on average you are going to draw about 3.7 cards off of it each time you cast it. Sometimes you will draw 8 and sometimes you will draw nothing, but most of the time it's gonna be around the 3-5 range. Think about that for a second...Arcane Intellect draws 2 cards for the same amount of mana, and almost every mage deck plays that card. The estimated value is HIGH on this card my friends. However, you never want to keep this card, unless for some reason you know your opponent is playing control warrior.
Muster for Battle: This card+Knife Juggler. Need I say more? You should almost always keep this card.
Arcane Golem: This card's role is to push through burst damage in the late to mid-game. You never want to keep this card in your opening hand and a lot of times you will want to save this card to play it when you can buff it on the same turn. You never want to play this card on turn 3 unless you have to, Mana Crystals have diminishing marginal utility so giving them an extra crystal on turn 6 is a lot better than giving them one on turn 3 or 4.
Truesilver Champion: This card is also used for burst damage in the late to mid-game. You never want to keep this card in your opening hand and most of the time you will want to go to your opponents face with it, but sometimes you will need to remove a pesky minion from the board with it.
Blessing of Kings: This card is also used for burst damage in the mid to late game. You will almost always want to cast this on a divine shield minion or on a minion with charge. You never want to keep this card in your opening hand.
Consecration: This card is one of the reasons why I like to play this deck over some of the other aggro decks in the current meta. Having a way to clear the board can really give you an edge against opposing aggro decks like Zoo and Hunter.
Defender of Argus: This card is there to make combat difficult for your opponent. You never want to keep this card, but being able to taunt up silver hand recruits to be able protect your buffed minions is really strong.
Some Advice on using buffs;
It should be fairly clear to players of all skill levels that your divine shield minions and minions and you minions with charge are your best targets for your buffs. However there are two questions you should be asking yourself before you cast your buff;
A) Can I get more value out of casting this buff on a later turn?
Because we need to consider these two things, a lot of the time we will want to use our buffs on minions that are "weaker". Buffing smallish/weaker minions also really helps diversify your threats.
Knowing when to go face and when to trade;
Most of the time with this deck you are going to want to go to your opponents face, but when playing against certain decks like Hunter or Zoo you will want to you "trade up" in the early turns by carefully attacking your opponents minions. This deck has a very "YOLO" style of play, and sometimes you will be forced to just jam all your minions into your opponents face in hopes that you top deck something that can burst damage for the win sometime during the next couple turns.
You might notice that there are a number of cards not included in the deck. These mainly being, Hammer of Wrath, Equality, Loatheb, and Leeroy Jenkins. My reasoning for not including these cards is because I think that Hammer of Wrath is absolute garbage, Equality has no place in an aggro deck, Loatheb is too slow for this deck, and Leeroy Jenkins is basically an overpriced fireball that can't get around taunts, gives your opponents minions and also has terrible synergy with Divine Favor which happens to be the most powerful card in your deck.
If you want to you can swap out Arcane Golem for Wolfrider, however I think that Arcane Golem is better right now because of the amount of ways there are to deal one damage. If you want you can swap out the Defender of Argus for any of the cards that I mentioned in the above paragraph, however I personally like to play Argus.
Why Play This Deck Over Face Hunter:
This deck has a similar style of play to Face Hunter, and I have been asked by a few players on my stream what benefits this deck has over Face Hunter. The primary benefits of this deck over Face Hunter is that Face Hunter only has a "soft" AOE removal spell in Explosive Trap, and Paladin has a "hard" AOE removal spell in Consecration. The other huge difference is that this deck has card draw and that Face Hunter doesn't. I feel like this deck a lot more late game promise against control because it has Divine Favor which Face Hunter has nothing of the sort. A lot of times you will find yourself running out of gas with Face Hunter, where this deck will just play Divine Favor and draw 4 cards which will give you the push that you need to win the game.
For more information on the deck you can check out my Twitch stream. I will be streaming this deck for pretty much the remainder of the season, around 30 hours a week. If you follow me on Twitch and Twitter you will be notified when I go live.