Paladin’s Secrets and How We Deal with Them
Paladin’s secrets are all 1 mana spells. The basic plan with dealing with secrets is pinpointing what secret is played by reading your opponent’s actions, or knowing what type of deck your opponent plays and then executing the right counter.
Revealing the Secrets:
One of the more commonly played secrets in both Constructed and Arena, Avenge is seen in aggressive Paladin deck. If you pick off one of their units, one of their other unit, chosen randomly, become even stronger. The Paladin will most likely play he has multiple minions on the field. But still it is not surprising if he just plays it when he has mana remaining, since it is so cheap and his hero power allows him to easily get at least 2 minions.
It is best to activate it when no matter what target Avenge buffs, you can still get rid of the buffed minion. Usually this would mean attacking the strongest minion so it doesn’t get buffed. Often times, I aim to get Avenge to activate on Silver Hand Recruit, this will make a 4/3 minion. But a 4/3 is still pretty manageable. You wouldn’t want the buff to affect a minion with Divine Shield or a minion like Oasis Snapjaw, who has a high health pool but low attack. Or you just use a board clear to wipe everything out. The important thing to remember is that even if you use a spell/effect to destroy all the opponent’s monsters at once, if one of them had a Deathrattle that summoned other creature, for example, Haunted Creeper or Harvest Golem, Avenge would still active on the leftover minion. Lastly, you can always just not trigger it.
A popular secret now, thanks to Muster for Battle being such a powerful card. Since it doesn’t trigger when the Paladin’s board is empty, players will often play the card whenever they have the mana to. So the best approach would be to wary of it when the opponent has a cluttered board.
Clear all the minions, or more realistically as many as you can afford to, leaving the weakest minion behind.
Eye for an Eye
The rarest of all Paladin’s secret and rightfully so because it isn’t that good. Most people wouldn’t want to use cards that doesn’t affect the board. A possible tell is when you have a large minion on the field and your opponent just plays a secret with no other card, as an invitation to attack the him directly.
Simply attack the hero with the weakest monster first to take the least amount of damage. If you are a hero that can deal damage (Mage, Rogue, Hunter, Druid), you can use that hero power instead. The only real danger in this card is if you would die from it.
The most common secret to see play in arena or in aggressive Paladin decks. This is normally the first secret that you consider due to its ease of trigger. The most optimal time for the Paladin to play this is when he has a large field and you only have one minion the board. But usually this secret gets drop down whenever it can.
Attack with something with more than 2 health. Rogue and Druid can just use their Hero power to remove this card. If you have a weapon, it is also up to you to judge whether worth a durability of your weapon.
A secret that is played especially in Deathrattle or Divine Shield heavily decks. The clearest tell is when the Paladin doesn’t uses his hero power even when he has the mana to do so. This is to prevent the secret from getting wasted on reviving a recruit. This is a very valuable tell since it is something your opponent would do even if the secret is played randomly from Mad Scientist.
Kill the weakest minion to make him get the weakest minion possible. The minion does come back with only 1 health, so you make sure you have another way to do 1 damage after the secret is triggered. For some heroes, this is simple, but for others this can be more annoying. Or you don’t have to kill the minion until your opponent presents you another choice. Of course, the effectiveness of this approach is decreased when the opposing minion has Taunt, for example Sludge Belcher or Sunwalker. When using AOE, Redemption would revive the minion that is killed “first”. Yes there is an order in which minions are killed. However that order is different for each AOE destruction, so it might not be worth trying to memorize each type.
Play the lowest health minion from your hand. It is important to remember that Repentance doesn’t trigger from Hero Power’s or summoned units, only from minions played from the hand.
A one of secret. By itself, it would be a tech card against a Zoo heavy meta. Note that “plays” means playing a card from the hand. So it wouldn’t trigger on minion summoning like Imp-losion. However this card will trigger if you have one minion in play and then play Dr.Boom, and kill the Dr.Boom. This is because when Dr.Boom resolves, there are three minions in play (the one existing minions and the two Boom Bots)
Simply change the order you play cards. Perhaps you will trade first before play the 4th creature on the board. Or perhaps just play the weakest minion. The most common annoyance would be the Dr.Boom scenario as mentioned above. But in such a case, at least you still have two Boom Bots left.
Let’s say tells aren’t very helpful or are so vague that it is too unclear to make a good decision, we will step through the thought process of dealing with an unknown secret.
First, let’s review what the triggers for the secrets are.
Avenge: A Paladin’s minion dies and he has another minion on the board
Competitive Spirit: Paladin has any minion at the start of the turn
Eye for an Eye: Paladin takes damage
Noble Sacrifice: Attacking
Redemption: A Paladin’s minion dies
Repentance: Summoning a minion
Sacred Trial: Summoning a minion (the 4th one on the board)
As you can see many Paladin’s secrets revolve about minions. When checking secrets, you want to first just the check that would use the least amount of mana. This way you have enough mana to deal with the results of what happen. Attacking cost no mana which is why it should be the first check you should consider. For the sake of this example, you have 2 minions ready to attack, no weapons and the Paladin has 2 minions and one unknown secret in play.
There is a clear need to attack if we suspect that our opponent has a Competitive Spirit in play. This issue is more pressed if they have many minions in play. However allowing Competitive Spirit to simply trigger on minion is acceptable as that is not much value. But what should we attack and with what we should we attack with? Since Noble Sacrifice is a common secret played and is the easiest to trigger, we should attack with a minion that you don’t mind Noble Sacrifice to trigger on. Barring there is no taunt on your opponent’s field, we should attack the weakest minion if we can deal with the aftermath of Avenge or Redemption, or the opponent directly if we can’t.
Avenge and Redemption obviously cause a contradiction here. Avenge wants us to get rid of the strongest minion. Redemption wants us to get rid of the weakest minion. In general, Avenge is the one we must be wary of first since it can be much easier to deal with a minion that has one health, than it is deal with a buffed target. However this can greatly change depending on your class and the cards in your hand. You would have to try to predict which secret is most likely due to the deck you are playing against and what is the worst case scenario.
Gauging whether or not to attack is also very important. At times when you can’t deal with the after effects of Avenge and Redemption, you can always attack the face directly. Of course, Eye for an Eye is a possibility, so if possible, use the weakest minion. (Still got to think about Noble Sacrifice).
After the attack, the only thing left to do is summon a minion, keeping in mind that Repentance and Sacred Trial could be in played.
Currently, a meta game powerhouse in the amazing amount of power and value it brings to the field on turn six. You don’t have to predict which secret is in play; you just have to assume they are all there. A common chain of occurrence when there are five secrets in play is that, you attack, Noble Sacrifice triggers, the Noble Sacrifice’s defender dies, Avenge triggers buffing a minion, Redemption triggers reborning the defender. You play a minion, it gets hit by Repentance. You then end your turn, and the Competitive Spirit will activate and your opponent closes out the game soon after.
So how do we deal with such a monster? One way is to use board clears. A full board clear is unlikely because Mysterious Challenger packs a beefy six health body. But still you can limit the activation of Avenge and Competitive Spirit to one minion, a now big minion (Big Game Hunter target) but still only one minion. The second way is to gain board advantage before turn 6. Fight desperately to control the board by that time, and you will have more flexibility to deal with the secrets that Mysterious Challenger brings with it. Remember the most of Paladin’s secrets depends heavily on minions. Having good board control is what works against Paladin.