The full Fractured in Alterac Valley set has been revealed and it's time to look at all the new cards and look at how Paladin will be doing this expansion. We'll be breaking each of the Paladin cards down, judging their potential power levels and giving our thoughts on their place in the upcoming meta.
- You can see all the new cards in our Fractured in Alterac Valley guide.
- Our deckbuilder will let you theorycraft your own decks using the new cards before the expansion arrives.
- You can simulate pack openings in our Fractured in Alterac Valley Pack Opening Simulator.
- Don't forget to take part in our Tavern Crawl to earn on-site cosmetics!
Keep in mind that this is an early look at the class before we've been able to play with the new cards, so while we try to be as accurate as possible in our predictions of what is to come, no one can perfectly predict the Hearthstone meta.
Paladin Deck Themes in Fractured in Alterac Valley
From a quick glance, we can easily see that Paladin's set is divided into three major categories:
We have to go back to Scholomance Academy to find the last set where Big Paladin received support: back in 2019's summer, Team 5 printed Ceremonial Maul, Commencement and Turalyon, the Tenured. Out of these three cards, only the second one saw some play, and mainly in Warrior due to the superior support for the archetype. During the following expansions, Big Paladin received some neat class tools like Barricade, Hammer of the Naaru and possibly the whole Forged in the Barrens Secret package, but it wasn't nearly enough to push the archetype out of the meme state.
Since the Spell Schools introduction at the beginning of the Year of the Gryphon, Paladin has received multiple Holy tools: both Forged in the Barrens and United in Stormwind gave the class several Holy spells, as well as a few synergistic minions such as Cariel Roame, Veteran Warmedic and Knight of Anointment. Fractured in Alterac Valley is no exception to this, and brings a few really neat additions to the table.
Buffing has always been Paladin's jam, while handbuff has been recently rediscovered thanks to United in Stormwind's magnificent class set. The cards you see above continue this tradition, increasing Uther's deckbuilding choices as well as possible synergies. We dare say that this is the section that will be the most impactful in the upcoming meta.
The Year of the Gryphon's best girl has finally reached her final form.
Oh boy, what a card we have here. Lightforged Cariel looks like exactly what Paladin needs if the class wants to step up its game:
- The built-in Consecration effect you get somewhat makes up for the loss in tempo by switching your hero out on turn 7. Prior setup will allow you to remove a unit or two.
- The Immovable Object grants an absurd anti-aggro tool that can be used for chipping purposes too;
- Blessing of Queens (absolutely love this pun) allows this Hero card to be played in Handbuff strategies, but 2 mana +4/+4 is generally good, even in a non-dedicated deck.
Beware though as we're not talking about a one-(wo)man-army card here, like Deathstalker Rexxar or Galakrond, the Unspeakable have been in the past: Paladin still needs gameplay to execute alongside Cariel if the class really wants to have the edge in the grindy matchups, and Librams appear to be a valid answer to this. However, problems may come when you consider that you don't want your The Immovable Object to be broken by Libram of Justice or Libram of Judgment, which fundamental for Libram Paladin. While you can somehow recover Libram of Judgment's survivability with The Immovable Object's damage-halving effect, the same cannot be said about Libram of Justice: you either run only Lord Barov to reset the board, or you're forced to carry out the game with one (or two) dead cards in hand until one player wins.
That's surely something that will need to be figured out after release, maybe Blademaster Samuro will help, but this doesn't change the fact that we're talking about a meta-defining card.
Saidan the Scarlet
Directly out of an 80s cartoon.
Yup, that's a rather good Legendary. Paladin is known to be into both board and hand buff and duplicating said effects looks really appealing alongside the Rush keyword, which also grants immediate impact and therefore allows you to instantly capitalize on the buffs that have been building.
Saidan the Scarlet goes straight into any (non Big) Paladin deck that cares about board presence and carries (hand)buffs, which is a verbose way to say that it will see play in most decks until the rotation next year.
Just wait till you see its brothers Zincwing and Copperwing.
Powercreep is one hell of a drug: ask Primordial Drake. Jokes aside, this is clearly Big Paladin fodder as you'll never really want to pay the entire 8 mana to play this minion, not in a world where Varian, King of Stormwind costs the same, has Rush, Divine Shield and Taunt and still struggles to see play. Tools like Cavalry Horn (see below) and Commencement can help you, but do we really expect them to carry the weight of an entire class on their shoulders?
Brasswing certainly looks good on paper: we're talking about a Consecration on a stick that gets cast at the end of each friendly turn and is likely to heal you up a bunch in the process. This is surely a must-kill threat for your opponent, but we struggle to be very optimistic on this archetype.
Our hunch is that, if Big Paladin will fail, this card will unironically see more play in Druid (thanks to Cenarion Ward shenanigans), at least for the time being.
P.S.: Madness at the Darkmoon Faire's Redscale Dragontamer is still in Standard. Do what you want with this information.
Very slim chances to vindicate someone with just 1 hp.
Stonehearth Vindicator can be seen as yet another way to thin out your deck for Paladin, and the underwhelming stats are compensated by the fact that Vindicator's effect allows you to instantly play the card you drew: Hand of A'dal, Libram of Wisdom and Vitality Surge are all great targets for this unit.
We expect to see Stonehearth Vindicator to be played in most Paladin decks as a less powerful, but still very good, Knight of Anointment.
Takes orders from no one. Except from Templar Major.
Templar Captain is clearly Big Paladin support with an awesome 13/13 in stats for only 8 mana - not bad at all!
Moreover, the 5/5 Taunt unit summoned doesn't have any particular condition placed upon it (like "Kill the minion" or Honorable Kill, which would have made the card extremely less powerful), apart from the fact that Templar Captain's attack has to resolve. As an example, Freezing Trap will negate your bonus effect, but you'd be quite silly to not test for it before with a Silver Hand Recruit, right? Right? Right.
The intricacies linked to Templar Captain's viability are pretty much the same of Brasswing, especially since they have the same cost despite having very different roles in the deck.
Protect the Innocent
This is how heroes are born.
After Madness at the Darkmoon Faire's Barricade, here's another spell that summons a secondary body when you meet certain conditions.
If you want to get the full effect on curve, you need to either have a 0 mana heal effect in hand, a Lifesteal minion in play, or a weapon equipped. A weapon? Yes, because Truesilver Champion is part of the Year of the Gryphon's Core set and may come back from the oblivion just for the sake of experimentation. But that's not all: in fact, there's another Paladin healing weapon you might want to take a look at. We're talking about the very forgettable Lightbringer's Hammer: while it's very underwhelming in fast/tempo decks, in a build like Big Paladin it may actually shine since you don't really want to push damage in the early game, but rather control the board and set up the field for your big hitters to come down.
In a hypothetical scenario, your dream curve might look something like this:
- Turn 3 Lightbringer's Hammer
- Turn 4 Barricade
- Turn 5 Protect the Innocent
- Turn 6 Hammer of the Naaru
- Turn 7 Commencement.
Looking at things on paper is obviously too easy, but at least there's something to work with.
Dun Baldar Bridge
The buff effect is temporary, but the battles over there are eternal...
Spending your entire turn doing nothing isn't exactly what an aggressive deck would like to do, but what if you have means to recover that tempo loss? A potential Paladin deck featuring this card could make use of Drek'Thar alongside plenty of low-cost units. This ends up working out a bit like Druid's Arbor Up but with an extra point of health on each of our units. We can stick in Day at the Faire, which would be corrupted by Dun Baldar Bridge, which makes for some fun mid-game action on board and gets us great mileage out of the card.
4 mana might feel like a lot, but it lasts for 3 turns and gives everything summoned +2/+2: we think people are definitely sleeping on this card.
How are you supposed to sound it once it's broken? Smells like flavor fail to me.
I initially read Cavalry Horn as a 2 Attack and 3 Durability Weapon, and therefore I considered it very underwhelming, which inevitably undermined my general expectations for Big Paladin to succeed. However, this is not the case. Having the weapon at only 2 Durability means that it's quite easy and speedy to break, so you're able to get your hands on that sweet, sweet Deathrattle in a more reasonable window of time. Considering that you'll want to equip Cavalry Horn on curve and immediately swing it, you'll be able to summon a minion from your hand on turn 6, and you'll be able to follow it up with a turn 7 Commencement.
All in all, Big Paladin is bound to respect a very punishing restriction (not running cheap units) and heavily depends on many factors to be able to stand up in the upcoming meta, but at least Cavalry Horn looks like a competitive tool (which can be easily compared to Demon Hunter's Sigil of Reckoning) the class can count on.
On a final note, we appreciate Team 5 giving us a way to dump big dummies that got stuck in our hands due to unfortunate draws.
Hold the Bridge
The Hearthstone version of Game of Thrones' "Hold the door!" - probably a lot less heart-wrenching.
We've come a long way since Team 5 printed Seal of Champions in The Grand Tournament. Hold the Bridge is an improved version of that old buff spell and resembles a Zilliax that is not limited to just Mechs - quite remarkable!
Having Hold the Bridge at your disposal will help you in board-based matchups against aggressive strategies, as you'll be able to use the provided Divine Shield to trade off an enemy threat and gain a bunch of health at the same time. This is truly a two-for-one deal you really don't want to ignore! Sure, the Lifesteal won't last forever, but we agree with this design choice, since otherwise the card would've become incredibly insufferable.
When that serotonin boost be hitting hard.
Remember when Ashes of Outland released and Paladin really struggled because it had little to no card draw? Well, today the class has opened up a whole different story with a large variety cycle tools to put to good use. Vitality Surge appears to be one of them, and the health gain effect looks quite interesting.
Obviously, if you want to maximize your defense, you will want to run this in Big Paladin, but we see Vitality Surge as a spell to that will be taken in consideration by other decks as well. In the end, even if you draw a 3-Cost minion with it, it's not bad at all, so we expect this to be played in Libram Paladin and possibly paired up with Stonehearth Vindicator. Good card.
Theorycrafting Paladin in Fractured in Alterac Valley
Here's what Big Paladin could look like with the new cards. As usual, theorycrafting is tricky, since we haven't played the actual card. We lack the information on what the meta will look like and you may miss other key components that you would otherwise consider: therefore, feel free to drop your two cents in the comments if you think we should make some substitutions.
And here's what the Aggro Paladin deck that we've been talking about could look like.
Closing Thoughts on Paladin in Fractured in Alterac Valley
In the end, Paladin received quite the interesting set. With the return of Big Paladin, we might see some old cards in the meta again, and the new buff tools give us more options alongside already existing strategies. Lightforged Cariel is one of the best cards in the set, and we dare to say that no one will ever sanely skip over it. Uther is well positioned at the starting blocks and we're eager to see how well he'll perform once Alterac Valley drops.
What do you think about Paladin in Fractured in Alterac Valley? Let us know in the comments below!
More From Fractured in Alterac Valley
We've got more class reviews that you won't want to miss! Don't forget that you can see all the cards coming in the expansion in our Alterac Valley Expansion Guide and if you want to test your luck, you can head on over to our pack opener to crack some packs.