Hey there, I'm Old Uncle Skeeter, owner of the DMH Warrior Discord
(+1000 members and growing, small flex
) and today I'd like to share a homebrew I've been cooking for quite a while. Legend Proof
This season I piloted my Dude Paladin list to legend with a 65% win rate (33 - 18). Yes, a non-odd Dude Paladin deck. Let's dive straight in.
EDIT: I hit top 500!!!
(68% win rate)
2x (1) Lost in the Jungle
2x (1) Oh My Yogg!
2x (1) Righteous Cause
2x (1) Righteous Protector
2x (2) Air Raid
2x (2) Shielded Minibot
2x (3) Carnival Barker
2x (3) Day at the Faire
2x (3) Divine Favor
2x (3) Muster for Battle
2x (4) Balloon Merchant
2x (4) Lightforged Zealot
1x (5) Lothraxion the Redeemed
2x (5) Quartermaster
2x (6) Crystal Lion
1x (6) Sunkeeper Tarim Deck code:
The idea for a non-odd Dude Paladin deck started back a few seasons ago when I was experimenting with meta decks from the past. I came across this list
and wondered if it was possible to bring back the Pre-Witchwood tyrant that was Dude Paladin. My first list ended up looking like this
and I peaked at 670 Legend starting from the 1000s in September. It was fun but very inconsistent compared to its big brother Odd Paladin and it still had many ways to go before being considered playable. And well, Darkmoon Faire came around and gave the deck everything it needed and a little extra.
Introduction Why not Odd?
Is Dude Paladin Better than Odd Paladin?
- The advantage that this deck holds over Odd Paladin is that it has more pay-off cards. Comparing the two, Odd Paladin is much stronger at creating boards due to its infinite resource of dudes, while Dude Paladin is much stronger at buffing them. By having the options of Balloon Merchant, Sunkeeper Tarim, Lightfused Stegodon, Level Up, etc., the deck can have bigger pay-offs with the boards it creates. This of course could be furthered with future even-costed synergy prints, which gives the deck room to grow as well. You also have the option of going with a variety of packages available to Paladin (Librams, Pure, etc.), which is something Odd Paladin cannot do due to the inclusion of Baku in the deck and the restriction of odd-costed cards.
What about Even Paladin?
- No, but yes. In my opinion, Dude Paladin has the potential to carve a niche and be equal in power to Odd Paladin. Maybe not right now, but sooner than you think. There are things Dude Paladin can do that Odd Paladin simply can't. Imagine if they revert Equality, and what that would mean for the deck. The more we see of even-costed synergy prints, the more the deck will be able to compete with Odd Paladin. This deck also has a much higher learning curve and skill expression than most aggressive decks, which I enjoy in the decks I play. While Aggro Druid looks to close the game by turn 5 and Odd Paladin infinitely refills its board effortlessly, Dude Paladin finds a nice balance between being an autopilot curve deck, but a game of resource management and thinking ahead. So, sure Dude Paladin isn't breaking any tier lists right now. But it could one day, just wait and see.
- Unless Call to Arms is reverted, Even Paladin struggles with an identity crisis. Is it a dude deck? Not really, as you miss out on odd-costed dude cards like Muster for Battle or Lost in the Jungle, and buff cards like Quartermaster. Unless more even-costed synergy cards are printed, Even Paladin will remain a fun, yet terrible option compared to its better counterparts.
The Core, Flexibility, and Card Discussion Core: This is what I'd argue to be the core of the deck and shouldn't be adjusted. If I were to reduce it, I would say Crystal Lion could be the next card. Oh My Yogg! vs. Never Surrender!:
Oh My Yogg is probably the best secret printed for Paladin ever. I go into its usage later on, but it can do everything from neutering late-game board clears to stopping an Ancestor's Call highroll. This is why it's better on average compared to Never Surrender. Where Never Surrender could only stop 2 damage maximum, Oh My Yogg can protect your board from virtually anything. It is both proactive and reactive, and it is tilting as hell for your opponent. A core card indeed. Carnival Barker vs. Steward of Darkshire:
With all of the new divine shield tools we now have in the deck, Steward's role compared to Barker is only better on curve, as in the later turns Barker shines more. Lothraxion on turn 5 followed by a Barker and corrupted Day at the Faire is insanity, therefore Barker offers more value while Steward offers a better curve play. Take Steward if you're seeing a lot of aggro. Day at the Faire:
Finally, a much-needed dude generator for the deck. It has the flexibility of being a worse Muster for Battle on curve, or an easy to combo Stand Against Darkness turn 4 onwards. A great card and very flexible. Balloon Merchant vs. Lightfused Stegodon:
Before Balloon Merchant the deck played Stegodon, which had an RNG effect and 1 less health point; it's clear to see why Stegodon has been phased out. What is important to note however is that while Balloon Merchant is better on curve, Stegodon offers game-ending highrolls in the form of windfury or +3 attack. This is up to chance however, and the lower consistency of Stegodon leaves it in the dust compared to the crazy power of Balloon Merchant. Lothraxion the Redeemed:
This card is insane. It gives Dude Paladin a chance against long drawn out games against slow matchups, and can even win aggro matchups. I've won many Discard warlock games by coining this out and following the next turn with a double Air Raid. It gives the deck what is desperately needed, a way to stick dudes on the board so you can buff them the next turn. I don't need to say anything else about the card, it's great, it's worth it. Crystal Lion:
You will rarely get this card out for 0 mana, but that's not the point of it. The power of this card is being able to curve out a 3 mana 5/5 divine shield in the slow matchups, and being able to combo it with dude generators in the later turns as a pile of stats. It doesn't get to see much use in the aggro matchups unless it's turn 5 combined with Day at the Faire, but the card is amazing at providing a beefy threat that is also a great trading tool for a cheap cost. A solid card, but it could be replaced in the future if something else takes its role. Sunkeeper Tarim:
It's Sunkeeper Tarim. It's great. Why would I have to convince you otherwise? These are the 5 cards I ended up running for the flexible spots: Shielded Minibot:
In a deck that needs a solid turn 2, Shielded Minibot is amazing on curve and is a great trading tool early on. It also provides a good sticky body for the slow matchups, but its main role in the deck is as a strong curve minion for the aggro matchup. Could easily be replaced by another 2 drop in the near future. Double Divine Favor:
The deck needs all the draw it can get, and by running double Divine Favor you are guaranteeing to have it in the control matchup where it is most valuable. The first one is core, but the second one is optional due to being an absolute dead draw in the aggro matchup. If I had faced more aggro I would've most likely swapped it out for something like a Consecration. Lightforged Zealot:
A lot of people talk bad about my boy Zealot just because of his statline. Yes, his statline could be better if it was a 3/3, but by going pure and using Lightforged Zealot, you have an invaluable tool at dealing with tall threats while using your dudes to trade off smaller minions. The tempo he gives alone is amazing in all matchups and gives the 4 drop slot much-needed love which paladin is historically bad in. It also corrupts your Day at the Faire for a great follow up on turn 5. Versus Control: Tech Examples: Loatheb, Double Divine Favor, Keeper of Uldaman, Equality, Lightfused Stegodon, Drygulch Jailor, Level Up!, Never Surrender!, Vinecleaver, Justicar Trueheart, etc.
I originally ran him in my list, but as the only neutral card in my deck, I cut him for the pure package and I haven't turned back. I found that the tempo of a turn 4 Lightforged Zealot was very powerful in the control matchup as added pressure and I still won games without Loatheb due to the sheer power of Oh My Yogg. Of course, Loatheb is very powerful in matchups like Big Priest, so it will always be relevant as an option for the deck.
I used to play the card in my first few lists, but now I find barely a reason to play the card. Even in the control matchup, the deck feels like it has enough gas that it doesn't need it. And of course, it is horrendous in the aggro matchup. However, it's still a dude generator, and it can round off turns with its 1 mana dudes, so it's always considerable.
Please revert this card and Hall of Fame it. If that were to happen, this could be an absolute beast in the Big matchups.
Versus Aggro: Tech Examples: Lightforged Zealot, Consecration, Shielded Minibot, Spikeridged Steed, High Exarch Yrel, Steward of Darkshire, etc.
As a single card, it could be effective as a counter to wide decks such as Odd Paladin and Aggro Druid. However, a better way to counter those decks is to go wide yourself, but the option is considerable.
High Exarch Yrel:
Since we could already go pure, this card could be interesting as a closer for aggro matchups. The only issue is, you've either won or lost by turn 8 on average, but it could find a spot one day who knows.
Piloting Tips General Mulligan:
Always keep and look for your dude generators, curve plays, and key matchup cards. You rarely keep buff cards as you need to establish board presence early, and you're likely to draw them later. Only keep them if you're guaranteed to have a good curve.
Examples: Muster for Battle, Air Raid, Lost in the Jungle, Righteous Cause, Lightforged Zealot, Oh My Yogg, Lothraxion, etc.
Yogg is our savior:
- Unlike Odd Paladin, the deck's dude generation resources are limited, therefore you have to learn how to hold back while maintaining board presence to create pressure. By vomiting dudes every turn, you are putting yourself in jeopardy of running out of gas before you can even get to your buff cards. On the other hand, being greedy will not create enough pressure to pull out board clears and put you in a position to close the game. Keeping an average-sized board will give you plenty of success in a lot of your games, too many minions are you're overcommitting, too little and there's no pressure.
Know your outs:
- In many matchups, a key board clear can separate you from winning. Oh My Yogg is our way of interrupting those turns to buy us extra time to buff our dudes. Keeping in mind key turns such as turn 7 for Psychic Scream or turn 5 for Brawl will keep your boards full and your enemies salty. You can also use Oh My Yogg in matchups like Secret Mage, Aggro Druid, or even Discard Warlock to disable key secrets or buffs. If you are using Never Surrender instead, the same logic applies but you won't be able to interrupt clears like Psychic Scream, so keep that in mind.
Don't be afraid to hero power in slow matchups:
- This will be explored in the matchups section, but your game plan and mulligan will change depending on your matchup. Is it Odd Warrior? You better keep that Lothraxion in your opening mulligan. Aggro? Hard mulligan for those early dude generators to establish board presence fast. Thinking ahead is step one to winning games.
Maximizing Righteous Cause value:
- Yes, I know it's not as efficient as Odd Paladin's hero power, but this ties into being patient and cautious with going wide. In the control matchup, while it may be tempting to do a turn 1 Lost in the Jungle followed by a turn 2 Air Raid, what I have found is that hero powering on turn 2 in cases like those is frequently the better play. In that case, you are only giving up the potential of having a fourth dude on the board, but you are keeping card advantage in the case that they clear this first board, which is typically what happens. Sometimes it's worth using the hero power so you can keep the wide board generators for after their clears.
- Righteous Cause is a card that has a ton of skill expression and setup potential due to being able to activate past its 5 minion requirement, and learning how to abuse its power can create massive threatening boards. Playing it on turn 1 can set you up for a good curve, but you can try to set it up so that you have 4/5 minions, and playing Sunkeeper Tarim to finish it and getting a board of 4/4's. The card is the best we have for a Mark of the Lotus in the deck, but its condition can work to your benefit easily if you know how to work around it.
Brief Matchup Advice Big or Normal Sized Priests:
- Priest is an absolute drag, and even though 30% of my matches played were against them, I still managed a 50% win rate versus their shenanigans. Oh My Yogg is a key card for this matchup, as to disable Psychic Screams and Mass Hysterias, which typically kills any momentum you might have. In the Big Priest matchup, being able to delay a Shadow Essence turn or even a Diamond Spellstone turn is huge for the matchup, so stay aware of what turn it is and plan accordingly, you only have 2 of these. Tarim and Keeper of Uldaman are also powerful for the Big Priest Matchup as a counter to resurrection turns.
Warlocks, Voidlords, Defile, and you:
- Lothraxion carries the deck in what used to be an unfavored matchup. Once you drop him, your boards become insanely sticky and less vulnerable to cheap whirlwind effects Warrior plays, and with Oh My Yogg you can protect your boards from Brawls. What was once a totally unfavored matchup, is now leaning towards a skill-based matchup.
- Defile is your main enemy here, so don't play into it. Simple. Voidlords can win games on the spot, but with Tarim, Keeper of Uldaman, or even Equality, you might be able to edge out a win before turn 10 if you're lucky. Typically unfavored due to the wall Voidlord imposes early on and the turn 10 finisher.
Big Bad Shaman:
- Sadly, unless the Odd Paladin makes terrible misplays or they brick their hand, you rarely win. Due to their constant board flooding at zero cost, and their massive turn 1 with a Tour Guide, Dude Paladin can't keep up in the matchup. Try to go wide as much as possible and get a Balloon Merchant on turn 4 to win trades, but you will most likely not win. Consecration on turn 4 could be a game-changer, but I didn't face enough Odd Paladins to try it.
- If you get highrolled, you get highrolled, simple as that. In cases where you can actually play the game, Oh My Yogg is your counter to previously crippling cards like Devolve or Maelstrom Portal. Always make sure to clear the big minions so they don't stick around for long, and make sure you keep your pressure up to close the game fast.
What Works, What Doesn't, and the Future of Dude Paladin What Works
Crystology: In my first few lists I experimented with a Crystology focused package of Tour Guide, Righteous Protector, and a single Dryjulch Jailor, and it actually worked! Since we're not running Tour Guide or Jailor anymore, Crystology doesn't fit right now, but in the future with more 1 attack minions that fit in the deck, I see the card fitting right in.
Pure: This surprised me! I didn't expect it to be so good but it is. I've gone on about how good Lightforged Zealot is as a much-needed turn 4 for the deck, but I originally thought it wouldn't contribute to the gameplan of the deck. Who knew playing good minions is what a deck wants to do?
Call to Arms: Originally a staple in Pre-Witchwood Dude Paladin lists, I cut it because of the little synergy it has with the current build. It tries to squeeze into an already crowded 5 drop slot and you have to run seven 1 to 2 drops to make it be consistent. The card is undeniably amazing, but its lack of synergy in an already tight deck leaves it in an unfavorable state.
Nerfed Cards: Light a candle for the fallen. Level Up!, Equality, Call to Arms, you will all be sorely missed. But maybe there's hope?
Buffs, Reverts, and Hope, Oh My!: Dude Paladin has a bright future ahead of it. We could see the return of Call to Arms builds or Crystology introduced as a draw tool, maybe packages like Librams or expanding on Pure could even be optimal. In an alternate timeline or the near future, maybe we could see the unnerfing of old staples, and the printing of new powerful inclusions that fills the deck's weaknesses, putting it in an even more powerful state.
Here are my suggestions:
2 Mana 1/2 Deathrattle: Summon 2 1/1 Silver Hand Recruits.
Buff Level Up to 4 mana or rework it a 2 mana spell: Give your Silver Hand Recruits +1/+1 and Taunt.
Revert Equality nerf and Hall of Fame it.
Revert Call to Arms nerf.
Closing Thoughts You could say I got lucky on this climb, but I think there's a case to be made about the potential of Dude Paladin. With its variety of brand new toys, it could one day be a competitive list in the meta. Only time will tell.
Let me know if I've forgotten anything or if you have any questions. Thanks for reading!