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  • Writer's pictureDawn "dragonrider"

Excavate Paladin Theorycraft & Deck Guide

With the final miniset of the Hearthstone Year of the Wolf upon us, Delve Into Deepholm is bringing the Excavate mechanic into Paladin and Shaman. Paladin is one of my favorite classes, and I love Elementals and Dragons so the Excavate Legendary is right up my alley! I wanted to assemble a theory-crafted Excavate Paladin deck that can use the newly added Excavate cards, the Excavate Legendary Treasure, and the pre-existing Paladin synergies. 


Here’s the deck and some explanations, card inclusions or exclusions, and description!





Deck code:

AAECAZ8FBADQgwaL/gWN/gUNoJkFhY4GyaAEv+IEtZ4GvI8GyoMGwcQFAACOlQaqlgbavQQA


Overall, the deck is similar to previous versions of Paladin, focusing on pulling cheap minions from the deck with Boogie Down and trying to get as much value from cards as possible with the use of buffs, divine shields, removal, and discounts.



Excavate Cards


  • This list uses Kobold Miners, Shroomscavates, Fossilized Kaleidosaurs, and Burrow Buster to get not only the added excavate cards that can be used for damage, healing and draw, discovering additional cards and more, but aim to excavate the all-important two and four times for the payoffs of Sir Finley, the Intrepid’s battlecry effect and to generate and use the battlecry effect of The Azerite Dragon.



  • Using Sir Finley’s battlecry acts as a form of removal of your opponent's board, removing any taunt, deathrattle, or other effects in addition to setting all of the stats to 1/1 which eliminates a lot of potential damage that your opponent had on board.

  • The Azerite Dragon’s battlecry gives your minions additional stats for trades, lethal damage, or pairing with Keeper’s Strength for better board removals.

  • Beware of interactions and timing of when you are going to play The Azerite Dragon, such as playing it AFTER you’ve played Tyr to maximize the minions created on board before buffing them, or waiting until AFTER using Amitus’ Titan ability to draw two minions from your deck and set their cost, attack, and health to 2. By playing Azerite Dragon AFTER drawing the two minions, you maximize the stats and get to keep the buff on those two minions instead of playing Azerite Dragon first and then undoing the buff and stats by using Amitus’ ability. 

  • These interactions may sometimes be unavoidable, delay your winning of the game, or even allow your opponent to win the game if you wait too long in an attempt to play Azerite Dragon after the others, but being aware of how you can order the play or use of those minions is important to know!



Key Synergies


  • Boogie Down pulls two 1-cost minions from your deck and puts them on the battlefield, and if you played it with the Finale keyword, those two minions will get taunt. There are eight 1-cost minions in the list, which either give you other minions when they die, have taunt and divine shield, or in Miracle Salesman’s case, gives you a 0-cost spell with tradeable to be able to dig in your deck for other cards.

  • Hand of A’dal, Shroomscavate, Keeper’s Strength, and The Garden’s Grace are all buffs to make one of your minions larger for attacking your opponent, keeping your minions alive when making value trades, clearing boards with Keeper’s Strength, or getting a stat buff and divine shield with Garden’s Grace.

  • Hand of A’dal, Boogie Down, Keeper’s Strength, and The Garden’s Grace are all Holy spells that discount the mana cost of The Garden’s Grace to be able to play The Garden’s Grace extremely cheaply or for free on pivotal turns when you are making trades on the board, pairing Garden’s Grace with Keeper’s Strength for larger minion-board removal, or using Garden’s Grace for potentially game-ending lethal damage.

  • Living Horizon also benefits from discounts to be able to get on board cheaply to pair with buffs, Keeper’s Strength for removal, provide a decent-sized taunt, and is the ONLY 4-attack Paladin-specific minion that is in the deck to be resummoned from Tyr.

  • Amitus, the Peacekeeper’s Titan abilities provide additional +2/+2 of stats to your minions, sets the attack and health of all enemy minions to 2, or lets you draw minions from your deck and sets their cost, attack, and health to 2. These abilities paired with the “base” aura effect that your minions can’t take more than 2 damage at a time create a lot of potential synergies and flexibility. 

  • It will oftentimes be correct to use the first two abilities to impact the board BEFORE using the ability to draw minions from your deck if you have already played the Excavate Legendary, The Azerite Dragon because Amitus’ ability will undo the +3/+3 stats that were applied to those minions.



Card Choice EXCLUSIONS/SUBSTITUTIONS


With a limit of 30 cards and needing to include a package of Excavate cards in the list, some cards that had been included in previous versions of Aggro/Buff Paladin had to be excluded. Here are some thoughts about why I didn’t include some of these and this list can also serve as cards for you to substitute if you don’t have certain epics or legendaries, or feel that you may need more removal, attack, or other options based on the decks you are facing against.





Showdown and Prismatic Beam - These two can often be paired together to discount Prismatic Beam even further, and create rush minions that you can use to trade into divine shield, taunt, or other minions to either make sure the opponent’s minions will die, or get minions removed to allow your other minions to make trades or push damage to your opponent’s face, especially in the case of using the rushing Outlaws to clear a taunt and other minions on your board can attack for lethal. These are cards that I choose not to include because I needed space in the deck for the Excavate cards, and with neither of these spells being Holy spells to discount The Garden’s Grace they seemed an easy first cut from the list. Also, with the addition of Sir Finley to turn your opponent’s board into 1/1 murlocs, as well as the potential to find Excavate treasures like Rock, Escaping Trogg, Falling Stalactite, Collapse or even the Deepholm Geode for removal, along with the already included copies of Keeper’s Strength, it felt like there would be too much removal and not enough bodies and creating of threats with leaving these cards in.









The Countess - The biggest reason here is that with the addition of some of these Excavate cards, I included neutrals. I worry that without the neutral Excavate cards it will be very difficult or way too slow to Excavate enough times to get to The Azerite Dragon, so the best way to make sure that enough are included to give us the most consistent Excavates as possible is to exclude The Countess and add the neutrals. There may be a version that oppositely does this, and goes for using the value from The Countess rather than the neutral Excavate cards. I do think that it could be a viable deck, but it becomes more of an All-Paladin (Pure) deck that has some Excavate cards included rather than the Excavate focus that I went for here. If you have The Countess in your collection and want to give a Countess version a try, go for it and let me know how it feels!





Deputization Aura - Again, with a focus on including the Excavate cards and the idea being to play The Azerite Dragon for buffing everything with 3 attack AND 3 health, Deputization Aura feels a bit unnecessary, although in some cases the Lifesteal with our other buffs and Azerite Dragon buff is very appealing and could help to keep you in the game longer in many matchups. Of all the cards I excluded, this one was the most difficult to part with, and honestly may find its way back into the list at some point. The addition of Sir Finley, the Intrepid and Shroomscavates specifically in the 3-mana spot made me opt to cut this one to avoid making the 3-5 mana cost cards in the deck feel too clunky or over-filled. And of course, a few of the Excavate Treasures help give the deck additional buffs as well with cards like the new Heartblossom, Glowing Glyph, and Ogrefist Boulder location.









Horn of the Windlord - Very similarly to the thinking of Showdown and Prismatic Beam, I decided that the addition of the Excavate Treasures would be enough to fill the role of removals and additional damage that can be used against the opponent. In many cases, Horn of the Windlord is used to clear away large bodies or taunts from the opponent’s board, but between the Excavate Treasures for damage/removal I previously mentioned, as well as the buffs I mentioned with Deputization Aura, finding Canary and Motherlode Drake, especially when paired with other buffs, should fill the role of removing key minions or taunts from the opponent’s board instead of including this pretty heavy-costed card. I recommend running a decent sample-sized amount of games and evaluating whether the Excavate Treasures and already included cards feel like they do the job of removing minions before opting to put this card in your version of the deck, but if they don’t feel consistent enough or don’t seem to be providing enough damage to clear larger bodies, then feel free to try out Horn of the Windlord to help in those situations.







Lightray - With the addition of Excavate cards that are neutral, as well as the potential amount of other neutral and non-Paladin cards that you’ll play from the Excavate Treasures, it seems more difficult to play Lightray for extremely cheap in the same way you’ll be able to play Living Horizon. However, Lightray may be more beneficial if you find yourself with a pretty small hand size more often than not. This is one that with my near-full collection and neutral card version of the deck I did not include. If you are trying an All-Paladin version OR don’t have Living Horizons or the dust to craft those epics, this is definitely a card I would include instead of the Living Horizons. It doesn’t have the benefit of also having a divine shield, but getting a cheap body that you can still buff or pair with Keeper’s Strength is still a good idea!






Thank you so much for reading and checking out this article! If you enjoyed this more detailed and in-depth guide, please let me know so I will know to do more of this kind of content in the future! If you’re curious on my thoughts about the Paladin and Excavate Deepholm Miniset reveals, check out my YouTube Video on those next. 


Good luck with the deck, and enjoy the Delve Into Deepholm Miniset!



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