Hi all! I'm a fairly casual HS player, and last season I was really enjoying Wild and decided to make a push for legend for the first time. Secret Pally was always strong, so I revamped the classic version around N'Zoth for a more well-rounded game plan that bolsters the already busted early-mid game with late game inevitability.
I ended up going 53-20 from rank 5 to legend (#2) over the course of a week playing only with this list, leaving me with a 72.6% win rate. I unfortunately didn't track all of the match-ups so you'll have to take my legend screenshot and word for it. The deck seems quite consistent vs the current NA Wild meta.
Disclaimer: I am not re-inventing the wheel here... just came up with this particular list, found it to be highly effective and wanted to share with the community! Also, be warned... some people find this archetype cancerous. :X
- In most match-ups, you want to try to control the board until the midgame when you can hopefully drop MC and begin to SMORC. MC is incredible, but you can win without him.
- Mulligan aggressively for the cards you need (details below), as establishing board presence early is vital
- Be thoughtful about how you play your secrets from hand, they are very valuable (i.e. being able to protect knife/steward with noble sacrifice, or use redemption with only a deathrattle/minibot on board)
- When RNG goes your way, this deck has one of the best curves possible with plays like this available: t1 coin + mini/creeper > t2 mini/creeper > t3 muster > t4 piloted shredder > t5 sludge belcher > t6 MC > t7 boom > t8 tirion.
- If you get the nuts starter, you usually just win: 2 secretkeepers + 1-2 secrets... hard to come back from!
- N'Zoth helps to make the deck extremely consistent by adding inevitability to the late game, rounding out the explosive starts secret pally can pull off.
Short Mulligan Guide:
- Hard mulligan for secretkeeper, haunted creeper, shielded minibot, and muster (you can potentially keep knife juggler if you have 1-2 early minions to protect him)
- Keep any secret if you have secretkeeper
- Keep noble sacrifice if you have knife juggler in hand
- Keep redemption if you have haunted creeper or minibot
- Keep consecrate or coghammer if you have early drops and expect board flood from opponent
- IF you have coin and 1-2 of your early drops, it can be correct to keep mysterious challenger (need to feel this out for yourself, I found it helpful vs mirror and mage)
Meta Match-ups ***WIP***
Please note: The favorable/unfavorable rating I give each deck archtype is based on my limited experience with each match-up while climbing to legend (and general opinion, as that is only a 73 game sample). I also am attempting to factor in the limited data from the Vicious Syndicate Data Reaper beta (they have class vs class win ratio chart for Wild, and secret pally comprises most paladins at the moment on the ladder). It's definitely worth a look! This data set (over 2,000 games) shows that paladins as a whole currently have positive winrates against all but 2 classes, with the following numbers: Priest (62%), Warlock (60%), Warrior (56%), Druid (56%), Mage (55%), Shaman (53%), Rogue (50%), Hunter (49%). Paladin is currently the 2nd most played hero in the sample, comprising 16.8% of the meta.
- Midrange Hunter (favored): You need to contest the board early and watch your life total (be thoughtful about swinging with a weapon vs. trading a minion). Your use of consecrate at the right moment, and decisions in terms of when you use uldaman to shrink a dangerous minion vs gain tempo on board are vital. Be mindful of unleash the hounds, and try not to play into it! I expect people will disagree with this assessment... but this list had over 75% WR vs hunter for me last season (and it didn't feel that lucky).
- Patron Warrior (even): It's really important to take care of frothing berserker ASAP. Be wary of ravaging ghoul... try to bait it/play around it if at all possible (it will inevitably hurt you with all your tokens). MC on curve usually let's you go face quickly enough to end the game, especially if you can drop a sludge ahead of time.
- Freeze Mage (unfavored): I had my 2nd worst win/loss against this deck last season at 3-3. It's really tough... the key balance is keeping up pressure and constant damage while not overextending into getting frozen/doomsayer or blizzard. Our deathrattle minions help a lot here... you sometimes need to keep a resilient board and hold 1-2 minions in hand. If you can get an aggressive enough start before they draw into optimal board wipes, you can force them to use face damage spells as removal.
- N'Zoth Priest (even): I know people say this priest wipes the floor with secret pally... but it just wasn't my experience. I had a strong winning ratio and found that they basically win if the game goes super late... but if you curve out well they often just can't stop your aggression. MC on curve is very hard for them to deal with. If you get your sylvanas/tirion entombed and don't hit MC you are pretty much screwed. Keep in mind that they are packing Lightbomb... and usually 2 copies of some combo of excavated evil and holy nova. Try to keep these wipes in mind and play around them somewhat while keeping aggression up (piloted shredder and other deathrattle really help). The secret pally deck is simply easier to pilot and less punishing of mistakes... which I think helps the win percentage.
- Zoo (favored): This matchup is slated in our favor, but it's important to get fairly good value from your cards so you don't run out of steam (since they can infinitely replenish their hand). Keep a tally of how much burst damage they might be holding in hand too, so you don't get surprised (thinking of leeroy/soulfire/abusive/overwhelming). Also, if possible shrink their sea giants with uldaman for crazy value.
- Tempo Mage (favored): As this deck doesn't run a ton of minions, our secrets can really make it hard for them to swing face/destroy our board. As always, don't let them get value off of flamewaker if you can help it. Be wary of a potential singleton flamestrike (don't overextend). Be prepared to have your tokens wiped by flamewaker/arcane missiles, and try to get sticky minions on board so you still have some in play when you drop MC.
- Secret Paladin (even): Though I said "even", the deck has a slight edge against non-N'zoth secret pally in my experience. RNG is obviously everything here. Sticking a secretkeeper before your opponent does is helpful (and be sure not to play secrets while they have one on board! made that mistake once...). Coghammer and consecration are vital tools here. If you have coin, it's a good call to keep MC in your starter.
- Renolock (favored): I didn't play this match that many times (2-0), but it felt very favored. They don't have enough board clears in deck to consistently deny our board (due to sticky minions and n'zoth if it goes late). Try hard to save your uldaman for their giants. If you already have board, don't overextend... they are going to reno most likely anyway, so keep whittling their life down and keep control so you can replenish after they aoe. Keep demonfire/twisting nether in mind as you hit key turns.
- Control Warrior (slightly favored): Try your best to play around brawl by keeping pressure on the board, preferably with deathrattle minions early. Hold back a couple of minions if you know you are facing control and they haven't brawled yet. Your muster/creeper/hero 1/1s will get wiped by ravaging ghoul or other whirlwind effects, so do what you can to optimize value (steward/knife can help). Uldaman can be a big help in removing bigger threats in the late game. If you get MC on curve and they don't have brawl in hand, they are often in big trouble.
- N'Zoth Control Pally (slightly favored): We are the faster deck, and in my opinion, have the more busted plays due to MC. If you don't get MC christmas tree, they win... as their cards are higher value on average and they can wait you out. If you get your optimal plays on curve, you pick up a ton of tempo... and still have that N'Zoth endgame with mostly the same cards as they do.
- Aggro Shaman (unfavored): This deck was my nemesis last season... worst winrate in the meta for me (1-4). They just pack so much face damage and our 1 and 2 drops trade terribly with trogg. The first few turns here usually decide the game. If you can weather the initial onslaught (kill trogg and control board), the game is winnable. Consecration helps out a lot here. If possible always save uldaman for their 7/7, or if you're desperate, 5/5 taunt.
Card Choices and Strategy
- Avenge: One of the best secrets available. Plays very nicely with the reliable board presence provided by our hero/haunted creeps/muster/deathrattle minions/shielded minions. You only want to keep this in your starting hand with secretkeeper.
- Competitive Spirit: Not the strongest secret, but if your opponent can't remove your minions it can be great to buff a board filled with tokens or shielded minions. If possible always have 1 or more minions when you play MC to best take advantage. Only keep this in your starter with secretkeeper.
- Noble Sacrifice: Great secret that can protect key minions or really stunt your opponents tempo if they only have one big minion. This has great synergy with steward of darkshire and knife juggler. It's viable to keep in your starter only if you have secretkeeper, and potentially with knife juggler.
- Redemption: This card can be incredible if you can force your opponent to trigger it on a deathrattle minion (especially sludge/piloted/tirion/sylvannas). Any smart opponent will try to kill your noble sacrifice 2/1 or a hero 1/1 first if they think you might have redemption. This is worth keeping in your starter alongside secretkeeper, minibot, or haunted creeper.
- Secretkeeper: Although this card can be a little bit of a dud if you topdeck it late game, it can be outrageously strong in the early game. If you have a secretkeeper (or even better, 2), keep any other secrets you can in your starting hand. One of the most broken starts possible is secretkeeper 2x + 2 secrets + coin... nearly impossible to come back from this. Hard mulligan for secretkeeper.
- Haunted Creeper: Incredibly sticky minion, providing you with 3 bodies at 2 mana. This has great synergy with the deck in general, as you always want to drop MC on a board with at least 1 other minion. It also has extremely good synergy with: knife juggler, steward of darkshire, and redemption (in early game). Sometimes you will drop a knife juggler and trade your creeper into a bigger minion to get 2 easy 1 dmg triggers for removal. Not quite as good as secretkeeper or minibot in your starting hand, but very worthwhile to keep in most cases.
- Knife Juggler: Although his 2/2 body is modest, knife juggler has insane synergy with: haunted creeper, muster for battle, noble sacrifice, and our hero ability. I prefer to only run 1 copy, as it can clutter the deck as an "engine" card. You almost never want to play this card simply as a 2/2, so it requires some setup to use properly. Sometimes you hold juggler in hand fairly late until you can get some good value off of the triggers.
- Shielded Minibot: This guy is Dr. 2. It trades so well against so many minions, often allowing you to 2 for 1 your opponent. One of the best cards you can have in your opening hand. Also, he's pretty sticky which helps when you need a target for avenge. T1 redemption into T2 minibot can be a great start too.
- Coghammer: Very strong vs hunter, mirror, and zoo matchups. Try to get value by controlling what minion you buff with the battlecry. If you already have a 1 and a 2 drop to curve out, it can be viable to keep in your starter.
- Muster for Battle: Such an OP card. Muster has amazing synergy with knife juggler and steward. Use the weapon aggressively to clear board, except when playing against a face deck. Try to play around whirlwind effects as best as you can. Keep in starting hand as long as you already have a 1 or 2 drop.
- Steward of Darkshire: You generally don't want to play steward as a 3 drop if your opponent has any board. Amazing engine card if you can get value from synergy with: hero, noble sacrifice, haunted creeper, and muster.
- Consecration: Key removal against aggro, and very effective in mirror match. If you have coin, it can be viable to keep in starting hand against opponents you expect to flood the board.
- Barnes: Extremely strong synergy with our deathrattles, insane value if you manage to hit tirion or sylvannas. This card has performed surprisingly well for me.
- Keeper of Uldaman: This guy is amazing. The key decision here is if you use him to remove a big minion efficiently on your opponents side (i.e. boom) or use ulda for a tempo swing in building your board. You can get amazing value if you can buff a shielded 1/1 (or sometimes minibot) to 3/3 and remove something. Try to hold this card back in hand so you have options down the road if you don't need him immediately.
- Piloted Shredder: Dr. 4. One of the most OP 4 drops in game, and works well with our N'Zoth gameplan. Not a bad redemption target. If you have this guy alongside ulda in hand, almost always play piloted first.
- Sludge Belcher: Another OP deathrattle that probably shouldn't have been printed. This card can save you big time vs aggro, and is crazy good with n'zoth. Force your opponent to trigger redemption on him if possible.
- Mysterious Challenger: This guy makes the deck tick. Under perfect circumstances, he draws you 4 secrets and puts them all in play. Amazing with coin on t5... if you have other creatures on board most opponents simply can't come back. Even having a 1/1 or another 1-2 drop on board makes a really big difference when you play MC (due to avenge/comp spirit).
- Sylvannas: Really strong against the mirror matchup, and solid tech vs control. Sometimes you need to play this card as an overcosted 5/5 if you don't have another play... but keep in mind you might see it again with n'zoth. Try not to get sylv entombed by priest! This card is probably the first cut in the deck, in my opinion, as it's really tech.
- Dr. Boom: This guy is just so OP. Insta board. Boom bots are okay with n'zoth if you need to play him before you've gone through too much of your deck, but can clog slots really late. You almost always wanna play him t7 if he is in hand. See if you can bait entomb with other cards vs. priest.
- Tirion: Probably the best class legendary in the game, and has insane synergy with n'zoth and redemption. Going face with 5 dmg weap to close out game feels good!
- N'Zoth: This card gives us an amazing gameplan if things go late. Make sure you trade your minions on board before you play him to save room for deathrattles being revived. There are tons of targets in this deck, so try to keep track of what is likely to be brought back as you play.
Tech Options *WIP- Not certain on best cuts... appreciate suggestions!*
- Loatheb: Incredible for stopping AoE on vital turns (think lightbomb/flamestrike), or even an entomb. Probably cut sylvannas to make room.
- Divine Favor: Great for refilling our hand vs control... totally dead card vs aggro or mirror often times. I am testing in place of sylvannas with mixed results (really hurts mirror).
- Truesilver: I would not swap this personally with anything in list, but it's a viable option. Can be run as a generic "good card" if you are missing something (i.e. coghammer).
- Repentence: Ehh makes the Xmas tree 5 secrets tall... but is a pretty low value card. If you can play it at the perfect moment, it can really destroy your opponents tempo, but in my limited testing, is too inconsistent. You would probably cut sylvannas or a creeper for this.
- Consecrate (2nd copy): If you are overwhelmed by aggro, it can be viable to run a 2nd consecrate. I'd run this in place of sylvannas or a haunted creeper.
- Eater of Secrets: Viable one of if you are mostly facing: secret pally, freeze mage, secret heavy hunter, and tempo mage. Maybe swap for sylvannas or a haunted creeper?
- Keeper of Uldaman: This card is a swiss army knife. It can be worth adding a 2nd to the deck if you are missing any key cards in the deck, or if you sub out barnes/sylvannas.
Courtesy of Darkseeker: https://youtu.be/2WCprVdGPxo
If there's enough interest, I'll update the guide with:
- Strategy against current meta match-ups at 30 upvotes.*DONE! Will try to update when I get more data/matches in...*
- Information on specific card choices (and tips as to how to best use them) at 50 upvotes. *REACHED 50! Content complete*
- Tech options at 75 upvotes. *REACHED 75! Will continue to update*
- Youtube clips of my gameplay on ladder at 130 upvotes.
Please let me know if you have any thoughts to further optimize the list! Will do my best to answer your questions as they come. Thanks. :)