Conventional wisdom very rightly holds that the best way to master every match-up in Hearthstone is to carefully study all of the Hero-specific cards, as well as the Neutral selection of minions and spells. Then there's the special tricks of the trade that belong to your own Hero of choice.
It's excellent advice, but also a lot easier to take on board when you have a certain amount of experience with the game – by which point you've already gained much of the knowledge you need to develop your skills. In the early days, it's much more enjoyable to learn by getting stuck into the game itself.
This is where our cheat sheets come in. Starting with the Paladin, we're going to take a look at some of the most common card combinations you're likely to face at each stage of the game. We'll explain how much Mana each card costs, and what the impact of its arrival will have on the board, so that you can keep one eye on your opponent's next turn as well as your own. Note that the list is not exhaustive, and reflects the current metagame.
Remember too that if your opponent has The Coin, they can ramp their Mana pool up by a single point should they choose to play it on their current turn. Each entry in this guide also represents the first opportunity the Paladin has to make these plays, assuming they have the cards in hand. Beware of mind-games!
The Paladin can start playing their Secrets on Turn 1.
Equality – Most commonly used in combination with Consecration (see below).
Shielded Minibot – A stubborn minion that must be dealt with before the Paladin can buff it later.
Argent Protector – Typically played later in the game to make a buffed – or naturally beefy – minion even more problematic.
Muster for Battle – Remove these minions as a priority. If you see this card played on Turn 4, expect Quartermaster on Turn 5.
Aldor Peacekeeper – This will severely hobble any of your minions by reducing its attack power to one. Commonly played later in the match, but not always.
The fourth turn is a huge one for the Paladin. Watch out for the following:
Truesilver Champion – Can do four points of damage to a minion or your Hero.
Wild Pyromancer / Equality - A very cheap, very annoying board clear if the Paladin's struggled to gain an early-game foothold.
Blessing of Kings – Boosts a minion's attack and health by four.
Consecration – Does two damage to all enemy characters.
Hammer of Wrath – Does three damage to the target and draws the Paladin a card.
Bolvar Fordragon – You likely won't see Bolvar until he's been fed some minions, but keep an eye on whether your opponent hovers and hesitates over a single card during the match.
Avenging Wrath – A heavily RNG-fuelled card, but one that can upset your game plan nevertheless. Consider fielding a meatier minion to act as a damage sponge, or Deathrattle creatures.
Equality / Consecration – The Paladin's biggest board clear and a potentially game-ending combo.
Guardian of Kings – Be very wary of over-extending your minions on the board, in the mistaken belief that you can kill the Paladin with them on the next turn. Many Paladin decks include this card.
Muster for Battle / Quartermaster – Bad news if you don't have the means to clear the board down quickly on your next turn.
Tirion Fordring – This card is the reason you do not spend any silencing or hard removal abilities like Polymorph or Hex before Turn 8.
Lay on Hands – Another awkward card that doesn't just bring the Paladin back from the brink of disaster, but also re-arms him. Always hold something back for a second final push.