Welcome to Budget Deck Breakdown, the series that spotlights interesting decks made without a single Epic or Legendary. As far as we're concerned, there's nothing that exists above Rare. This week, we're featuring a Paladin list that takes advantage of one of the class's oldest synergies to deliver an explosive deck with a few tricks up its sleeves in the late game. Let's get to know Dragon Paladin.
Imagine Dragons That Aren't Nozdormu
Much like a Russian hacker, Paladin has spent the last few years collecting many identities: Murloc Paladin, Secret Paladin, Pure Paladin, Ramp Paladin, etc. In all this confusion, one of Paladin's earliest class build arounds fell by the wayside: Dragons. The archetype got some new life thanks to Redscale Dragontamer, letting it more consistently find those Dragons and the powerful resurrection spell Rally! ("Now Paladin can annoy people, too!")
What I like most about this list is that it isn't just a budget list of a more powerful deck. It is its own thing and the Scaleriders are part of it. It feels rewarding to find ways to include in these decks cards that have been overlooked in the past and may have even been forgotten by most players (unlike Recurring Villain, who will always appear when we least expect it). I'm excited to share this deck with you, and I hope you enjoy it.
The key cards in this list are Dragons and cards that care about Dragons. Redscale Dragontamer we've already mentioned is a key tutor for one of our Dragons to enable cards like: Sand Breath, a powerful buff, Tasty Flyfish, a decent minion with a useful Deathrattle, and Scalerider, a good tempo play. But enough about cards that want Dragons in hand, let's talk about those Dragons. Bronze Herald and Bronze Explorer are decent 3-Drops that replace themselves with more Dragons, while Amber Watcher is a solid mid-game Dragon who is great at healing our face or a friendly minion. Circus Amalgam can be whatever it wants to be, but for our purposes, it only matters that it also counts as a Dragon.
One of our later power spikes comes from Rally! bringing back a handful of our early minions at a time when we might otherwise run out of gas. Our 2 Cost minions all either have useful Deathrattles or Reborn, so we're happy to see any of them brought back. Two of our 3-Drops (Bronze Herald and Goody Two-Shields) are fantastic while the rest are mostly just a decent body (not that there's anything wrong with that). Brazen Zealot is a good hit on Rally!, but we're not that unhappy to see instead something generated by First Day of School.
The rest of the deck is your basic Buff Paladin with early drops, sticky bodies, and spells that make our minions bigger.
Mulligan and Gameplay Tips
This deck wants to find a good early curve with cheap minions, cheap buffs, or a combination of the two. Redscale Dragontamer is one card that we definitely want to see in our opening hand. Other cards we'll usually keep are Hand of A'dal, Brazen Zealot, and First Day of School. If we have Bronze Herald or Bronze Explorer, we can prioritize keeping Sand Breath and Tasty Flyfish.
Against aggro, we want to make sure we have a way to fight for the board early. Shotbot and Goody Two-Shields can help us by being resilient early minions that can take multiple trades. Hand of A'dal works well if we have a 1-Drop, as is Sand Breath even if we don't have a Dragon. If we do have a Dragon, it can work to keep Scalerider for some good old-fashioned tempo.
Against control, we want either sticky minions or ones that replace themselves. If we have our early game settled, we can keep our singleton copy of Imprisoned Celestial. Its main purpose in this list is to combo with Rally! and summon a board of minions with Divine Shield. If we time it right, we can hope that our opponent will have difficulty dealing with such a board.
This is an aggressive midrange deck that wants to get on the board early and use buffs to stay there. With the right curve, it has a chance in most matchups since it has the damage to punish control with the bodies and healing to push back against aggro. Many of our cards give us more minions or generate value, with Rally! being the most powerful of those.
Card Replacements for the Rich and Famous
Dragonrider Talritha, if you have it, is a pretty interesting addition to this deck, since she plays well with Dragons and is one of the more powerful options to be resurrected by Rally!. Murgur Murgurgle also plays well with Rally! and gives the deck some extra power in the late game. If you're feeling fancy, Dragon Speaker can work well with our Dragons, although he prefers a much slower deck that probably runs a few more Dragons. Nozdormu the Timeless is also technically a Dragon if you want it, but this deck isn't equipped to take advantage of his Battlecry.
If you'd prefer a more aggressive deck, adding in Leper Gnome and Kobold Sandtrooper for extra damage from Rally! is likely the way to go. With those in the deck, it makes sense to cut the Imprisoned Celestial and replace it with a Salhet's Pride for card draw. If you want to go slower, but are still on a budget, Runaway Blackwing and Evasive Wyrm are fairly strong in the late game and can probably replace your least favorite 3-Drops.
Dragon Paladin is a good deck for any player who wants to play a decent curve while still finding ways to generate extra threats with Deathrattles and resurrection effects. It's much more of a challenge piloting to wins than other Paladin decks, but sometimes we need a good challenge. If you're on a budget or just looking for something different to do, I would suggest giving this list a try.
Are there any budget decks you've been playing lately? What are your favorite Dragons in Hearthstone? Let us know in the comments!