The Comprehensive Showdown in the Badlands Preview


Data Reaper Report - Paladin

Holy Cowboy

Holy Cowboy’s mana discount is banked, persistent through multiple turns until you play a Holy spell. This type of discount is quite powerful, as it allows you to set up a swing turn more easily. A 2-mana refund means that you’re eventually only ‘paying’ 1 mana for a 4/3 body, which is pretty good.

There are two very strong applications for the Cowboy. The first is simple, which is discounting some 2-mana Holy spells to 0 mana. A card such as Spotlight becomes a lot easier to activate this way. Holy Cowboy can also be played alongside Hand of A’dal to produce a 6/4 on turn 3 that cycles.

The second application is Keeper’s Strength. Not only does Cowboy make Keeper’s Strength’s turns easier to execute, but it’s also a prime target for the spell itself. A turn 5 Cowboy/Strength is a 6/5 that deals 6 damage to the board. That’s a very strong play. Considering how important Keeper’s Strength is proving to be for the class, it seems unwise to underestimate Cowboy.

Score: 3

Lawful Longarm

Longarm is a lifestealing rusher that scales with the number of cards you have in hand. If your hand is full, Longarm will have 10 attack. That’s a lot of healing and high removal power in one card. The condition to scale up Longarm, however, isn’t the easiest thing for Paladin to fulfill. Paladin is notorious for having scarcity of draw, so Longarm isn’t as appealing as it would be in a class such as Warlock.

There seems to be a package of cards that support a “Hand Paladin”, but we’re less confident about this archetype seeing competitive play. The good news is that Longarm isn’t restricted to this archetype alone. It could be a fine defensive minion to play in Highlander Paladin too, with its condition being easier to meet thanks to Spirit of the Badlands.

Score: 2

Prismatic Beam

A 3-damage consecration that gets discounted by enemy minions is quite interesting. It’s important to understand that a 3-damage AOE is more than 50% better than a 2-damage AOE, because 3 damage kills almost every early game minion in the format. An AOE that doesn’t reliably clear a board tends to not see play. You can see what happened to Prison Breaker.

So, the main question is, when does Prismatic Beam become strong? We can say that if the opponent has three minions in play, discounting Prismatic Beam to 4, the card already becomes very powerful. Normally, you wouldn’t play an AOE effect unless you’re facing at least three minions in play, so Beam seems to be effective in every situation that calls for it.

Of course, this is nowhere near the card’s ceiling. Beam can be absolutely debilitating against any board flooding deck out there, in games where the spell can easily cost 1-3 mana. Add its devastating combo with Showdown, which discounts it by 1 mana while developing three 3/3 rushers for free, and you’ve got the ingredients of one of the most influential board clears Paladin may have ever been given.

Score: 4

Hi Ho Silverwing

A dragon Loot Hoarder that has divine shield and specifically tutors Holy spells? This 2-drop’s stats are very inflated for its cost. Not only does it replace itself, but it also fights for the board very well. The ability to draw cards without falling behind on board is extremely valuable for any Hearthstone deck, so Hi Ho Silverwing ticks all the boxes of a standalone, powerful card.

We suspect that Silverwing will be included in nearly every Paladin deck going forward, much like Knight of Anointment was. The only way you don’t run the card is if you’re playing Big/Earthen Paladins, which impose heavy minion restrictions to support their game plan.

Score: 4

Lay Down the Law

This spell is a new and improved Subdue. Much like Subdue, it’s a 2-mana spell that sets an enemy minion’s attack and health to 1. But it also has Tradeable and Quickdraw, the latter deals 1 damage to the minion if it’s active.

The Quickdraw ability is strong, helping us clear a minion without the requirement of other cards, but what’s most important is that this can be treated as a bonus. The absence of an active Quickdraw does not make this card bad. It’s still a reasonable soft removal option.

What really tips this card over the edge is Tradeable. Tradeable and Quickdraw have great synergy together, since Tradeable gives you a second chance to use a card’s Quickdraw ability later in the game. Tradeable is also very strong on reactive cards since they’re not always useful. Add the Holy spell tag, and you’ve got a great card for any defensive minded Paladin deck.

Score: 3

Deputization Aura

This aura can offer strong sustain to a Paladin deck, if it can keep minions on the board. Deputization Aura seems to mostly benefit single, large minions. The buff affecting the left sided minion means that the Paladin’s hero power and other summons don’t interfere with the buff being connected to the desired minion.

There is certainly a way to utilize this buff on a wide board and gain a lot of healing, but it’s more difficult. You must sack the minions starting from the left side to keep transferring the buff. A cute combo exists with Showdown, in which you can restore 18 health via Outlaw trades, but it requires you to have no minions in play, since new summons spawn on the right side.

We like this Aura for Buff Pure Paladin, since it often has a single, big minion in play. It is also a decent setup card for Keeper’s Strength due to its banked attack value, though you should remember that Keeper’s Strength doesn’t benefit from lifesteal.

Score: 3


Showdown is a unique card that’s probably very hard to evaluate before seeing it played live. The reason is that it’s an entirely synergistic card that’s reliant on working with other cards. At its baseline, it does next to nothing, summoning equal power for you and the opponent. Your Outlaws gain rush, so they can trade into the opponent’s Outlaws and leave the board state as it was.

The card that makes Showdown look scary is Prismatic Beam. By summoning three enemy minions for 2 mana, you’re discounting Beam by 3 mana, which clears the opponent’s Outlaws and any other small minions the opponent had in play. Suddenly, those Outlaws you’ve summoned on your side of the board become uncontested threats. This is a massive swing turn that can cost as little as 2 mana if your opponent has 4 minions in play.

Other cards that could work well with Showdown are auras. If you have Crusader Aura up, you can trade your Outlaws into the opponent’s Outlaws and have them survive as 5/1’s. Deputization Aura can enable your Outlaws to heal for 18 in the right circumstances.

The list goes on. From a buffed Blood Matriarch Liadrin. To Sea Giants. To Keeper’s Strengths. There are so many interesting ways to leverage Showdown, but the consistency in which these combos can be achieved is less clear. We do think the Beam combo is so strong that it’s hard to ignore, possibly providing Dude Paladin with big board swing capabilities, something it isn’t well known for.

Score: 3

Living Horizon

We’ve seen players question the “Hand package” in Paladin. We agree that as an archetype, it doesn’t seem to have much ground to stand on. However, this isn’t really a package that’s reliant on each other, just a bunch of cards that leverage hand size. It doesn’t mean they can’t see play in other decks.

Living Horizon is probably the most versatile card out of the three. If we try to think of a strong mana cost for the card, a 4 mana 4/6 taunt with divine shield is probably acceptable. For Living Horizon to cost 4 mana, we need to have 7 cards in hand (including Horizon). This is certainly achievable for a defensive Paladin deck. A full hand, or close to a full hand, makes Living Horizon very powerful. What’s more is that Order in the Court draws the card first, so if your hand is big, you can Order and drop Living Horizon on the same turn quite easily. This means that you are in no rush to fill up your hand in the early game to drop Living Horizon as soon as possible. Rather than imitating a Warlock life tapping to drop a Mountain Giant on turn 4, this resembles how Pure Paladin has utilized Lightray.

The question is whether Paladin can realistically fill up its hand to the point an Order in the Court leads to a heavily discounted Horizon. Highlander Paladin’s class specific payoff is exactly the kind of card that helps the deck gain more resources in hand, so we think Living Horizon should be great for the deck.

Score: 3

Spirit of the Badlands

This is the cheapest class specific Highlander payoff, but it might also be the least powerful. Spirit is a 3 mana 3/4 that adds a permanent Mirage in your hand. Mirage transforms at the start of your turn to a random minion from your deck, which you can play without expending any resources from your deck. The Mirage stays in your hand a bit like Sister Svalna’s Vision of Darkness, ready to transform into another minion the next turn.

Gaining a free resource every turn isn’t bad, but it does come with a caveat. You could play Spirit on turn 3, then have Mirage transform into an expensive minion that you can’t play on turn 4, making it useless. The uptime of Mirage gets better in the late game, but you still have no control over it, since it’s not a discover effect.

You can look at Spirit of the Badlands as a low risk, low reward card. It’s very cheap and doesn’t cause you to fall behind on board. It can gain you valuable resources over the course of a long game, but it doesn’t do anything that dramatically leads to the Paladin exerting the pressure of inevitability on the opponent or swinging a game. There are no mana discounts on the transformed minions, so the Paladin plays them at their “fair” cost.

We do think Spirit is a good card and a decent highlander payoff, but what makes Highlander Paladin truly appealing is the fact Order in the Court draws Reno.

Score: 3

The Badlands Bandits

A legendary spell, Badlands Bandits fills your hand with eight 3/2 bandits carrying bonus keywords. Note that the Bandits are not random, they are always the same eight bandits carrying different keywords, but their order is random.

If your hand can’t contain them, they spill over and get summoned to the board. Obviously, the Paladin’s goal is playing this while already having a full hand, so that the Bandits fill the board with the maximum number of stats for the mana cost.

If your hand is completely full, you can summon seven Bandits to the board. That’s obviously a lot of stats and pressure on the opponent for 6 mana, but there are some awkward elements to the card that we dislike.

If you can’t dump a card from hand after playing the spell, you’re going to mill a card on your next draw. If your hand isn’t close to full, you’re adding a lot of fodder 2-drops to your hand while not impacting the board as much. If your board is already occupied by minions, the bandits that don’t have space on the board just whiff.

Considering the narrow application of the card only being strong when your hand is full or nearly full, while your board isn’t, it’s unlikely to be good in aggressive decks. This is a stats bomb for a slower deck, to act as a threat that either overwhelms a faster deck or pressures a defensive one.

Score: 2

Final Thoughts

Showdown in the Badlands Set Rank: 3rd

Overall Power Ranking:  5th

Paladin’s set is a lovely mix of strong foundational cards and thought-provoking build-arounds that should be able to refresh the class and boost its power enough to compete well at Badlands.

Cards like Hi Ho Silverwing and Prismatic Beam are good examples of an injection of power that will benefit multiple archetypes. Paladin tends to be more limited on draw compared to other classes, so the 2-mana dragon is a big deal. Prismatic Beam offers board swing potential, which is another general weakness of the Paladin class.

We’re particularly curious about Beam’s combo with Showdown, which is one of the most interesting cards of this set. We really like the prospect of a Pure Dude Paladin deck that carries an AOE fueled swing, but we’re also open to the possibility of a Sea Giant game plan. It’s very possible that Paladin will incorporate a neutral package to complement its aggressive game plan.

The buff variant of Pure Paladin isn’t getting ignored either. Holy Cowboy and Deputization Aura are great fits, adding flexibility to the deck and making it more unpredictable and harder to attack. Deputization Aura might become a very nice recovery tool for certain Paladin decks, such as Earthen Paladin.

There’s been some criticism of the “Hand Paladin” cards, but we think it’s a bit unwarranted. These cards should be judged on their own, rather than be evaluated in the context of a Paladin deck that likely doesn’t exist.

We’re a bit mixed on Highlander Paladin. On one hand, it’s probably going to be the most consistent Highlander in finding Reno, thanks to Order in the Court. The problem is that its late game doesn’t look threatening. Spirit of the Badlands is a value generator that doesn’t help the Paladin execute unfair turns or build up to a finisher. This may cause problems in Paladin’s matchups against other late game strategies. Some creativity could be needed here.

1 Comment

  1. The problem with the DK rune system is less that it’s “too restrictive” and more that there is not enough incentive to run decks that aren’t mono-rune. This is less of a problem with Frost-Unholy since there is some support for deathrattle decks there, but there is no reason at all to run a Blood-Frost deck, and the only Unholy-Blood archetype that currently exists (Handbuff) isn’t interested in running Maw and Paw or A Fistful of Corpses. It’s true these two cards don’t really make sense in their current iteration but a better solution would be to design them to also work in a potential Blood-Unholy archetype rather than just knocking off an Unholy rune and calling it a day.

    The way the rune system should ideally work is that the more general, building-block type cards should have one or no rune. The more runes a card has, the more powerful and specialized it should be. However, two-rune cards should still be designed to work in multiple archetypes. With that in mind, Reska, the Pit Boss is a good example of a well-designed two rune card since it synergizes both with the corpse-heavy Rainbow DK and the UUF Deathrattle DK. If neither of those archetypes pan out and they “buff” Reska by removing a Frost rune I’ll be pretty disappointed, since that’ll create even less incentive for players to try out interesting rune combinations.

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