Wild Recruits Paladin Decklist and Guide

I. Introduction

Wild Recruits Paladin (or Dude Paladin) is a great example that shows a great characteristic in Wild where a forgotten deck from years ago can suddenly spring back life with the help from a few new cards.

Recruits Paladin can be described as a mid-range deck recruit token generation cards to flood the board in overwhelming numbers and then use AOE buff cards such as Quartermaster buff recruits and close the game with value. The core cards of this combo: Muster for Battle and Quartermaster was actually added to the game 3 years ago in Goblin vs Gnomes expansion, but mid-range paladin then was merely a tier 2 deck at best and it was quickly out-shadowed by infamous Secret Paladin which came soon after.

However paladin started to receive more recruit-synergy cards in the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion such as Steward of Darkshire, Stand Against Darkness, and Rallying Blade. They were slightly not enough to push the archetype yet. But when Lost in the Jungle, Lightfused Stegodon, and Sunkeeper Tarim were released in Journey to Ungoro expansion, it finally hit the critical point and the deck was revived.

I started theorycrafting the deck as soon as Ungoro came out and got to be one of the first players to hit legend with it during the first month of the expansion. It was a deck that consistently did very well versus Reno decks, however it was slightly unfavored versus pre-nerf Pirate Warriors without the Golakka Crawlers tech. Control Shaman was also a popular deck that countered Recruits paladin very heavily. Even so, first Wild data report from Vicious Syndicate showed that it was still the highest win-rate archetype in the format.

After the Frozen Thrones expansion release,

Recruits Paladin became favored versus Aggro decks with the addition of Righteous Protector and Pirate Warrior was also nerfed considerably. Even its worst match up, Control Shaman, has disappeared from the meta due to not receiving any new cards this expansion. All of this benefited Recruits Paladin tremendously. Recruits Paladin might not be as prevalent as Reno Priests in Wild,  but it is still a dominant tier 1 deck with one of the highest win-rates in the metagame.

For the past 4 months, I managed to always stay within Top 30 Wild Legend with 71% overall win-rate and I was able to hit legend with 81% win-rate with Recruits Paladin last season.

II. Recruits Paladin Decklist

Deck code: AAEBAZ8FCKcFrwf1DfoOu68CkbwCucECg8cCC9QFsQjqD+wP7Q/JFtmuAv+vArjHAtnHAuPLAgA=

Core Cards

The crafting cost of the deck is relatively very cheap for its power level as it only requires 1 legendary that is also used in Standard and 2 epic cards. Therefore it is ideal for F2P players and Standard players who might want to try playing in Wild for the first time.

III. Card Choices

  • Lost in the Jungle – It is always a played on turn 1 vs aggro decks however against control decks with lots of early game AOE, it can be utilized much better when combined with other cards. It combos with Knife Juggler, Steward of Darkshire, [Lighfused Stegodon], Quartermaster, and Sunkeeper Tarim. Sometimes I do not even play it on turn 1 if Steward of Darkshire is also in hand or play Righteous protector instead as decks like Reno Priest can have Potion of Madness, Northshire Cleric, Doomsayer, and Spirit Lash.
  • Patches the Pirate, Southsea Deckhand – This package was not used in the older versions of the deck but it was proven to be very useful when trying to out-tempo the opponent early game. Combos with Knife Juggler and Steward of Darkshire
  • Knife Juggler – Amazing synergy with a token decks like this one and it’s very useful when timed well vs aggro druid  as the deck lacks AOE.
  • Shielded Minibot – One of the best 2 drop in the game that is very resilient to board clears. Rallying Blade can also buff it the following turn.
  • Steward of Darkshire – It is rarely used just as 3 mana 3/3 since it is a critical combo piece against control decks to give divine shield to all the recruits you summon and nullify their AOE.
  • Blessing of Kings – You will always have something on board to buff on curve. You can deal more face damage or make your board awkward for the AOE spell to be used on.
  • Keeper of Uldaman – It can be used as a removal for their big minion but more often it is good just as a buff since giving +2/+2 to a 1/1 still gives you same stats as Houndmaster. If you equipped Rallying Blade on turn 3, you can kill any minion your opponent might play next turn with Keeper of Uldaman. It is also game winning against Inner fire Priest and Flamewreathed Faceless.
  • Lightfused Stegodon – Core recruit buff card that follows up on turn 3 Muster for Battle. You get pretty good value for buffing only 2 recruits and only bad options are taunt and stealth. Even Lost in Jungles and hero power on turn 3 is a good play if you have this in your hand.
  • Loatheb – Anti-control card that prevents them from using AOE spell for a turn. It is much better to save this card for a critical turn when you have some minions on the board rather than just playing it on curve on a empty board. Good to have in the deck but it is not absolutely necessary and you can replace it with second Stand Against Darkness
  • Quartermaster – The card that started this archetype. Just buffing two recruits is enough to win you most games.
  • Stand Against Darkness – Turn 5 Stand Against Darkness is a huge threat if not answered due to Sunkeeper Tarim on 6. It is also great board refill.
  • Sunkeeper Tarim – Third Quartermaster in the deck with a taunt that also nullifies the big minions on the enemy’s board. It needs no introduction.
  • Vinecleaver – Very good weapon in Recruits Paladin to top it off. Deals staggering 12 damage by itself over 3 turns and the 2 recruits it summons each turn is so awkward for opponent to use AOE on but still threatening enough to be left unchecked. It was used even when every deck ran weapon destruction and it will very rarely get oozed nowadays.

Thoughts on cards not appearing in this deck

  • Justicar Trueheart – This deck generally does not want to drag the games longer than necessary. Average number of turns for each game is only about 8.3 turns. So even if you play Justicar right on turn 6, you will usually benefit only two 1/1s on average. It is also horrendous against aggro and there are already enough token generation in this deck.
  • Equality – It is powerful card for sure, however this deck does not utilize consecration and there are not many large minions in the meta for this card to be consistently useful. It also sits in your hand for too long against decks like Renopriest where you are the aggressor and have the board control at all times. I like to use double Keeper of Uldaman instead since it can helps dealing with large minions but also serve as minion buff when you are ahead.
  • Wickerflame Burnbristle – This deck does not require you to be defensive at all. 3 mana 2/2 divine shield is not a good stat to win board control.
  • Tirion Fordring – With average game lasting only 8.3 turns, there is no time to wait for Tirion to die and use all of the weapon charges. It also gets clunky with many other weapons in the deck already.
  • Spikeridged Steed – Older versions of this deck during pre-nerf Pirate warrior meta ran couple of this card but there are not many contenders in the meta for Recruits Paladin to be defensive. It is better to use Blessing of Kings to push more face damage early on instead.

IV. General Mulligan Guide

Versus Aggro

Rallying Blade – (with coin, or have 1 or 2 drop)

Versus Control

Rallying Blade – (with coin and have 1 or 2 drop)
Lightfused Stegodon(have 1 or 2 drop and have Muster for Battle)

V. Match ups and Strategy

If you are playing versus aggro, your goal is to play as much power onto the board as soon as you can, and remove every enemy minion so that they cannot trade off your valuable recruits. You must protect your recruits at all costs. Because If you manage to leave just couple of them on the board, they will become huge with buffs very quickly and win the game for you.
The main focus against control is managing your board power and play around their AOE at all times. Unlike aggro match up, you should be using your hero power regularly to bait out their AOE spells with minimum losses. Be patient before going all-in so that they don’t have any AOE left when you do. Try to always maintain a board that is slightly awkward for them to use their AOE on, and keep pushing repetitive damage to their health. Use Steward of Darkshire or divine shield minions to make their AOE ineffective or slam Loatheb when you have threatening damage on board.

Pirate Warrior : Favored

Pirate Warriors are still strong even after the Fiery War Axe nerf, however Recruits Paladin became slightly favored against them after KoFT expansion and now it should have a favorable matchup. Unless Pirate Warrior get to play [N’zoth’s First Mate] on turn 1, they have hard time clearing all your tokens without pushing face damage. At some point they have to give up on clearing endless tokens and hit face eventually and often get punished for it. Keep Rallying blade in your mulligan for Ship's Cannon.

Reno Priest: Slightly Favored

I managed to maintain 67% winrate against priests in the past 4 months and it all just comes down to how well you can play around their AOE or use Loatheb on a critical turn. If Priests are forced to use Lightbomb just to get rid of divine shields on your minions, you are doing a good job. However, even if you try to predict their AOE with the best of your ability, sometimes they happen to draw all their board clears by midgame. But if you kept your losses to the minimum, pretty often you can continuously flood the board a turn after turn after turn, until they run out of all their AOE. If you have maintained your board, they can play Reno Jackson and you can still find lethal within couple turns once again. It should be noted that most of Priest’s board clears damage their own board as well so if all the minions are going to die anyway, there is no point in trading.

Aggro Shaman: Slightly Favored

There is only one card to look out for in Aggro Shaman: Maelstrom Portal. You should be trying to bait out their Maelstrom Portal early with maybe two 1/1s before flooding the board. If they drew both Maelstrom Portals and Devolve, then there’s not much you could have done but Recruits Paladin will generally have stronger board going into the the mid-game otherwise. Once you have gained the control of the board, it is important to save as much health as possible and even opt to make a bad trades if you can save just couple hit points on your hero. Aggro Shaman will be looking to kill you with burst spell damage from hand once they’ve lost control of the board, so it is best to stay as safe as possible. They can do some unsuspecting amount of damage with the plethora of burn spells like Crackle and Lava Burst.

Aggro Token Druid: Even to Slightly Unfavored

Both decks are AOE buff token decks without board clears so first one to win the board control wins the game. Aggro druid lost innervate for the explosive opening but they can still flood the board very fast. You need the weapons to make efficient trades and try to get the most out of Knife Juggler to ping off their 1/1s. Make sure you clear their board every turn so they can’t get much value from board buffs. If you have gained some board advantage, start getting ready for the Living Mana as soon as you can. One could tech in Consecration if there are lots of Aggro Druids in the local meta.

Giant Hunter: Very Favored

Even without the equality in the deck, this is a very easy match up with just Keeper of Uldamans and Sunkeeper Tarim. You can find lethal just by going face before they are able to assemble a board of Giants.

Innerfire Priest: Very Favored

The ultimate goal for Inner fire priests is to buff one minion extremely large so that it cannot get killed by other minions. Keeper of Uldaman and Sunkeeper Tarim easily puts an end to that game plan. Keep Keeper of Uldaman in your mulligan if you know the opponent is playing Inner fire Priest. Rather than using the removal on a Deathlord that they played on turn 3, wait for them to think you do not have the answer and use couple buffs on a minion before using the Keeper of Uldaman to seal the game.

Jade Druid: Favored

Although Jade Druid lacks the AOE clears to deal with the flooding board of Recruits Paladin, you still have to watch out for turn 6 Spreading Plague. It is good idea to make your board smaller the turn before or use Loatheb to deny it completely. However, using Spreading Plague also means your recruits will live for a turn so you can actually go wide with recruits if you have Quartermaster in hand, since 3/3s will trade favorably with 1/5s anyways. Push as much damage as you can to their health total to finish the game before the jades become too large.

Exodia/Freeze Mage: Favored

Keep Loatheb and Rallying Blade against Exodia/Freeze Mage. One of the ways you can lose in this match up is if they draw and play Frost Nova and Doomsayer on turn 5 so you must be prepared to answer it with Rallying Blade and Keeper of Uldaman. If they cannot get their doomsayer to go off, you have enough tempo to finish the game very quickly. Smart use of Loatheb also becomes a crucial win-condition. Rather than playing Loatheb on a weak board, best time to play it is when you can break their Ice Block next turn so that they can’t do anything to protect their Ice Block. However, it is recommended to play it before turn 8 since they can play Frost Nova after.

Reno Warlock: Unfavored

Renolock is the most challenging opponent to face for Recruits Paladin currently. They have the most AOE clears in the game so they can continuously clear your board turn after turn. Even the trusted divine shields are useless against Defile so there are not many ways to play around them. This match up ends up becoming a war of attrition where first one to run out of board clears or token generation loses the game. However if there is one MVP card in this match up, it is Divine Favor.  Renolocks always hold several cards in their hand so even if you end up running out of cards after getting cleared continuously, single use of Divine Favor completely reloads you back up to full hand. That would be a nightmare for warlocks who were hoping for Recruits Paladin to run out of gas soon. This match up is hard to win without Divine Favor so I like to keep it in my mulligan against them.

VI. Looking into the Future

It will be very interesting to see how Recruits Paladin will keep its strong presence after Kobolds & Catacombs expansions get released and many new exciting cards shake up the meta game once again. Blizzard might not have noticed Recruits Paladin is already one of the best deck in the Wild format but they are definitely looking to push recruits synergy for Paladins this expansion and that will make Wild Recruits Paladin even more powerful. The new cards such as Drygulch Jailor, Unidentified Maul, and Level Up! are slightly weaker versions of existing Wild cards such as Muster for Battle and Quartermaster but synergistic cards are more powerful when added to existing Wild decks.
 Call to Arms
The card that I am really looking forward to is Call to Arms, which recruits three 2-cost minions such as Knife Juggler, Shielded Minibot, Haunted Creeper, or Righteous Protector from your deck at  only 4 mana. It is an extremely powerful effect that is congruent with the deck’s game plan to flood the board. It also thins out low cost cards from your deck so that your future draws are better, similar to Mysterious Challenger. Crystal Lion is another card to look out for since it becomes 3 mana 5/5 divine shield when used just with Muster for Battle, and probably even cheaper than that in many games.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that Priests will also be getting another powerful AOE spell: Psychic Scream. It is fairly challenging for Recruits Paladins since it removes even the Divine Shield minions from the board. It also puts multiple tokens into your deck to make your future draws weaker, however usually games should finish around turn 8 so it shouldn’t really affect the outcome of the match. I think Paladin have received many great cards for flooding the board as well so I predict Recruits Paladin will stay ahead of the curve in the upcoming expansion.

VII. Conclusion


With that, my guide on Recruits Paladin comes to close. I hope this helped whoever wanted to try Recruits Paladin in Wild. The deck is very powerful and fun to play with so many synergies between cards. It is a fairly inexpensive deck with a great curve so new users can get into it easily. However, there are many ways one can improve  their gameplay as managing resources and predicting opponent’s plays become very crucial at a high level. With even more recruits synergy supporting cards coming out next expansion, I am curious to see how well it will perform in the next meta, but this list will definitely win you a lot of games until then. Thank you so much for reading and good luck on ladder!

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2 Responses

  1. Jared T says:

    Great write up. I too have played a lot of Dude Paladin this expansion. I really enjoy the deck. I have been playing with equality in the deck and I think it is pretty useful especially against spreading plague, the giants and the bigger taunts like dreadlord. i was playing two and that might have been a little much as it is dead against some decks

    • Amplive says:

      Yeah, a one of equality is a pretty great tech choice that can really swing a matchup like Giants or Big Priest easily in your favor.

      It’s a pretty reactive card so I wouldn’t want to play too many.

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