Since the launch of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan I have been interested in the Grimy Goons as a mechanic, but as is well known they have not been successful as a group. This deck is one of my several attempts to make them functional.
This version of the deck was inspired by the Warrior implementation: making massive taunts that cannot be ignored. The Warrior version has several problems, including its unreliability, vulnerability to removal, and general lack of offensive power. Paladins, by buffing their entire hand, are able to avoid these issues and implement more well-rounded taunt-based decks.
- In all matchups you want either a Smuggler's Run or Grimestreet Outfitter in your opening hand. If you don't have either, you will want to drop all but the most valuable cards to find one Think of them like your Wild Growth.
This is a slow midrange-style deck, meaning that your goal is typically to take control of the game sometime between turns 4 and 7 through oversized minions. The first few turns are either survival (against aggro) or biding your resources to maximize hand buffs (against control). While you can go long, you would rather avoid it as the deck has little card draw and over time your hand size tends to shrink and lose buff value.
The essence of playing this deck well is to balance value with tempo. To maximize value you want to wait as long as possible to use your hand buffs, and exactly when to play them is one of the biggest factors in success. Turn one Smuggler's Run is not always the play. But getting greedy will cost you the game, as you have no way to get back in if you lose the board too heavily.
Assuming Jade Druid your general plan is to beat him to the punch with big minions. You can slow him down immensely with Aldor Peacekeeper and Keeper of Uldaman on the first few big threats, and have a one-time "get out of jail free" card with Eadric the Pure against a mega-board. Grimestreet Protector can also really shine in this matchup because Druids often put large taunts in the way and the free trades can be game-changing.
- You want something early on the board, even if it isn't very strong. Misc minions such as Sir Finley Mrrgglton, Grimestreet Informant and even Brann Bronzebeard are good to work with (you typically need the tempo more than the value in this matchup).
- Drop Argent Horserider. Druid minions don't natively die to 2 damage and most are 2-for-1 cards which reduces its effect and divine shield value. Same applies to Wickerflame Burnbristle.
Hunter? What's a Hunter?
In all seriousness, if Hunter becomes more popular it is likely to be a counter to this deck. Lucky for this deck it is currently extinct.
Assuming Reno Mage you are likely in for a long fight. Your default strategy is to play deliberately, abusing hand buffing to the maximum amount and not playing into board clears or Mind Control Tech. Holding onto Brann synergy cards is often key.
- You can typically opt for a bit more value against Reno Mage. Midrange minions such as Sen'jin Shieldmasta and Second-Rate Bruiser serve you well with buffs.
- If your hand looks good enough, Dirty Rat can be a game-winner against Reno decks. Even if it doesn't pull something valuable, it is an over-sized body for its cost.
- Drop Aldor Peacekeeper and Keeper of Uldaman. Debuffing is not typically valuable against Mages until the late game.
Like Hunter, Paladins are actually a strong counter to your deck and luckily nearly as rare. You can never get your minions big enough to be immune to their debuff cards. I don't have a lot of experience against them, but the best you can do is jealously guard your divine shields to limit the effects of Equality combos.
Dragon Priest is the more common deck, but Reno makes a decent showing. Because Dragon Priest can overwhelm you if unanswered, it is safer to mulligan against them.
Against Dragon Priest you need to match tempo and force out their removal on your cheaper minions (a Shadow Word: Death on a Second-Rate Bruiser is much better than on a Tirion Fordring). They will typically out-value you in a long game, so you want to bring it to a close before then.
- To stay relevant on the board Truesilver Champion and Argent Horserider are key. Second-Rate Bruiser can also be discounted a surprising amount of the time against Dragon Priest.
- Drop Grimestreet Informant, Wickerflame Burnbristle, and Brann Bronzebeard. Priests can farm the former with Northshire Cleric and the latter two are spectacularly vulnerable to Shadow Word: Pain.
This matchup is all about answering their early pirates then avoiding giving them good Sap targets (so Sunwalker and Tirion Fordring are basically dead weight). Typically Rogues will try to burn you out early, so you need as many cheap defensive answers as possible.
- Truesilver Champion is the best card to have, as it can effectively deal with most Rogue minions. Aldor Peacekeeper and Keeper of Uldaman are also good answers.
- Sir Finley Mrrgglton and Brann Bronzebeard will also serve you well for early board options that the Rogue has to remove.
- Dirty Rat is often MVP in this matchup. Being so cheap it isn't a good Sap target, and Rogues are particularly vulnerable to having their minions pulled from the hand.
- Drop anything that gives them Sap value. Destroying you on tempo is their win condition.
Shamans commonly come in aggro and midrange varieties. Your opening strategies are the same against both: keep their board from getting too out of hand and have an answer ready for their first big minion. Victory against aggro is usually a result of drawing into several of your larger taunts and exhausting their burn, while against midrange you need to beat their Jade counter in a similar fashion to Druid.
- Second-Rate Bruiser is the #1 card to look for after hand buffs. He will always be discounted against Shaman. Aldor Peacekeeper is also a wonder.
- You want a way to kill Flametongue Totem so options Truesilver Champion and even Argent Horserider are good, but not over the above cards.
- Drop Dirty Rat and Keeper of Uldaman. The first is far too risky and the second has only one use early on: to nullify Flamewreathed Faceless.
It is safe to assume that most Warlocks you face are Reno. Tempo is more important against Warlocks than Mages, but unfortunately Warlocks have even more board clears than Mages so it is often difficult to balance applying pressure with getting sizable hand buffs.
- Aldor Peacekeeper and Keeper of Uldaman do overtime in this matchup. You absolutely want one or even both in your early hand so that you can readily deal with Mountain Giant, Twilight Drake, and Emperor Thaurissan.
- As with Renomage, Dirty Rat can be a game-winner. However, it is a bit less reliable against Warlock due to their variety of lower-value minions (I always get Refreshment Vendor...).
Enter the game with the assumption it is an aggro Pirate warrior. These are easier to deal with than the Shaman aggro decks, as Warriors lack many ways to bypass your taunts. As such, your goal is just to stabilize by throwing big taunt after taunt in their way until they run out of damage.
- Dirty Rat, Wickerflame Burnbristle, Second-Rate Bruiser are all excellent taunts. The more taunts the merrier against Warrior.
- Aldor Peacekeeper is passable as there are some good targets to debuff, it isn't essential.
- Drop Truesilver Champion and Argent Horserider. They are too slow to contact the flood of face damage.
If by some chance you run into a lone Control Warrior, you want to be as greedy as possible with your buffs. More than the Reno control decks they must maximize the value of each removal spell. Once they hit the Golden Monkey phase, you can usually out-tempo them. Just save a Aldor Peacekeeper for the possible Deathwing.
Missing this guy will hurt your aggro matchups as he is one of your few sources of healing. With that in mind, I would favor replacing him with another healing card. Difficult to say whether a similarly-costed Earthen Ring Farseer would be good or if upgrading toward an Ivory Knight would be the best option.
There's no replacement for Tirion. He's arguably the single best card in the game, and any desire to reliably play Paladin essentially requires him. A faint second option may be Sylvanas Windrunner or a second Grimestreet Protector.
Out of all my attempts thus far, "Bolster" Paladin has fulfilled my aspirations the best for the Grimy Goons. It is a fun and interesting midrange-style deck that I have greatly enjoyed. Thank you for reading and I hope you find the same success with the deck as I have.