Hey guys, Frisbez here, I just hit legend for the first time last night running a very similar deck to the ones that Amaz and Zetalot are running but that I think has enough of its own flavor to be of interest here.
My own journey with priest started way back in January or February of this year when I disenchanted Al’Akir and Grommash (shortly before both became popular) to create a shadowform deck. I had grand visions for that deck, but unfortunately shadowform is all around pretty terrible and I pretty quickly switched over to handlock.
Fast forward to the present and after watching Amaz and I was re-inspired to try priest out. Over the past few weeks it has been the only class I played from rank 17-legend other than a short stint between rank 10-5 where I also mixed in some handlock and zoo. I played this priest deck exclusively from rank 5-legend over the past week.
← the decklist.
Priest is constantly overlooked in both competitive play and on the ladder and has consistently been at the bottom of Team Liquid and IhearthU tier and meta lists. Priest is also known for its many gimmicky and rng dependent cards (Lightwell, Mindgames, Mind Vision, Thoughtsteal, Divine Spirit, Inner Fire) as well as its mediocre to bad class minions (Temple Enforcer, Lightspawn).
While there are plenty of bad Priest cards, there are also several extremely strong (but in many cases very specific) priest cards. Shadow Madness and Cabal Shadow Priest can both 2 and even 3 for 1, but they both require very specific circumstances to be strong. Couple that with their high mana costs and they become awkward hand fillers. Mind Control steals your opponents best card, except it costs 10 mana and can only grab 1 minion.
So seriously…why play Priest? After awhile of thinking about it, the answer I have come to is simple. Best AOE in the game.
Holy Nova is a more expensive consecrate that happens to heal your minions; Wild Pyromancer does really well when combo’d with holy smite and power word:shield; and while Auechenai Soul Priest and Circle of Healing are a 4 mana Flamestrike they only leave a 3/1 on the board. Taken individually all 3 of these AOE’s have weaknesses, but when combined into one class and one deck they become incredibly difficult to deal with. Reynad recently stated that there is no reason to play Priest without playing 2 Cabal Shadow Priests, but I would say Priest’s strength actually resides in their ability to repeatedly and efficiently AOE the board (as well as how freakin’ fun thoughtsteal is).
Why this Priest Deck?
Let me make it clear that this deck is largely inspired by Amaz and Zetalot. In fact if you look at current decklists for both I think something like 26-27 of the cards will be the same. But I think there are enough differences between my deck and theirs and I hope my writing this guide will be enough content to make this post interesting and a contribution to this subreddit.
Differences from Amaz’s current UnLocks deck:
+ Acidic Swamp Ooze, Shadow Word: Pain, The Black Knight
– 1 Shadow Word: Death, Sylvanas Windrunner, Baron Geddon
The major differences here are the legendaries of choice as well as what to me seems like a puzzling decision by Amaz to run a SW:P over a SW:D. Amaz has said in the past and I completely agree with him that SW:P tends to not trade well because most early units that you want to use it on will get value the turn they are played. SW:D on the other hand is incredibly necessary vs handlock, control warrior and druid while also giving value against shaman, zoolock, and big Edwin Van Cleefs. I sometimes wish I were playing Ooze against Warrior and Rogue, but in general I think both Sylvanas and Geddon give much better value against other classes. I do not own The Black Knight but against classes that are not Handlock or Ramp/Watcher Druid he tends to be a 6 mana Chillwind Yeti. I will talk more in depth later about why I chose Sylvanas and Baron Geddon.
Zetalot’s Prophecy: http://www.hearthhead.com/deck=47101/legend-prophecy-priest
+ Acidic Swamp Ooze, Prophet Velen, Cabal Shadow Priest
- 2 Earthen Ring Farseer, Baron Geddon
While I am pretty sure that this is not the current decklist that Zetalot is running (he has since added Argent Commanders and Shadowform for Thoughtsteal?) the primary difference here is the inclusion of Prophet Velen over Baron Geddon and a Cabal Shadow Priest. Velen is IMO a gimmick card. If you’re not using it for a turn 9 10 damage Mind Blast then it’s being wasted. If it doesn’t get removed the turn it was played then you’re winning anyway and it could be a Boulderfist Ogre. Velen gives more reach vs Handlock, but the only other time I find it more useful than Baron Geddon is if you are in a weird situation where a 4 health heal for your face will save you for a turn and allow you to stabilize. Otherwise Geddon gets much much more value vs Zoo, Shaman, and even Miracle Rogue.
Matchups (in order of frequency):
Warlock: Warlock sucks because you want to mulligan completely differently for Zoo and Handlock. I always keep Auchenai and Circle of Healing, Wild Pyromancer, and Northshire Cleric. You want at least 1 early game minion (that’s preferably not Auchenai) regardless. Mulligan spells that aren’t SW:D and perhaps Holy Smite if you have a Pyro.
Handlock: Once you know you’re up against handlock you want to drop multiple minions before turn 4. If your opponent drops twilight drake on turn 4 just hit his face until he either taunts up or AOE’s to clear. All of Warlock’s spell removal have drawbacks (except siphon soul) and so forcing him to use them to protect the drake is honestly a good thing. Thoughtsteal is also very strong in this matchup because 95% of handlock cards are useful for Priest (the only exception Ancient Watcher, although you don’t get much value from sunfury/argus/mortal coil). Your goal in this matchup is honestly to pressure them down to 12-15 health. So that you can finish them with a holy fire/mindblast/smite burst. I’d say this matchup is 50/50, just make sure that you don’t give them molten giants too cheaply. Many Handlocks (at least that I’ve faced) did not expect the 10-12 damage burst and actually tapped themselves into lethal range. If you find yourself facing mostly Handlock Velen is certainly worth consideration just to increase your reach a bit.
Zoo: 75/25 in favor of Priest, and it could be even higher if you could mulligan specifically for it. You need to get value out of your AOE so do not waste Holy Nova to kill 1 or 2 creatures and do not play Auchenai without CoH unless you are desperate or have already won back the board. Wild Pyro is also a good card to save until you can get value out of its AOE, although there will be times when playing it to trade is necessary (although hopefully you can do while planning another AOE in the future.
Shaman: Tempo Shaman is tough for Priest because there are just so many damn 3 health creatures. Flametongue Totem, Spirit Wolves, ManaTide Totem, Argus’d Totems all resist the easy Priest AOE, and Spirit Wolves especially are impossible to remove efficiently using spells. Shaman is a case where you will want to be very careful about playing Auchenai without Circle of Healing and vice versa. I would even say I would not play Injured Blademaster+CoH unless I had another Circle in my hand or was at the very least getting card draw from Northshire Cleric. I would say this matchup is 60/40 in favor of Priest as long as you get value out of your AOE. Your wins will come easier once you realize that Shaman has no healing and can be easily bursted. Try to save your Holy Fire’s for their face if at all possible, otherwise use them on Fire Elementals if you don’t have a SW:D handy. Basically anything else they play is a loss if you’re forced to Holy Fire it as opposed to AOE.
Rogue: Miracle Rogue is a good matchup for priest, although I have not seen much of it since Rank 3 because of the prevalence of Handlock. I would say 60/40 or maybe even 70/30 for Priest. The key is to mulligan aggressively for 1 2 and 3 drops but also hold onto Auchenai and Circle if you get them until they drop Gadgetzan Auctioneer. As long as you can kill Gadgetzan the turn after he is played (so that they don’t get a full turn’s worth of mana to draw cards) and apply early pressure to drop them into burst range you should be able to come out with the win. Sometimes though they just draw perfectly and there is nothing you can do to stop them from killing you by playing solitaire. In this matchup it is definitely worth it to drop a blademaster without circle. Forcing the Rogue to clear with Eviscerate or their face is a definite win for you. You should hopefully never lose to the Malygos version of Miracle Rogue as you should be able to pressure them enough to setup a kill on or before turn 9.
Warrior: Control Warrior can actually be a bad matchup for this deck as it is very difficult to get them into burst range. If however you can get control early and keep them from accruing armor you should be able to outpressure them enough to win. Mulligan for Blademaster/CoH, as this is one of the few matchups were Auchenai is not very good because of how few minions control warriors tend to play. Geddon sucks vs a Warrior unfortunately, but IMO he is too good vs other classes to cut. Honestly I have not seen very many Control Warriors since Rank 5 perhaps 1-2. Face/Weapon Warrior on the other hand should run out of steam before you do, and as long as you can draw into Holy Fire/Holy Nova you should be able to handle it pretty easily. 45/55 Warrior.
Paladin: The only Paladin I’ve seen recently is aggro Paladin (even Zilea gave up on Control Paladin trying to get to legend). It gets crushed similarly to zoo except worse unless they manage to get strong Divine Favors. Wild Pyromancer is very important in this matchup as they tend to run many 1 health tokens with divine shields. Paladin has no answer to turn 1 cleric other than knife juggler. In general this matchup is very one sided for Priest. Mulligan for Wild Pyromancer and injured blademaster CoH combo especially if you’re going second. Auchenai is decent but most Paladin minions have much less than 4 health so it tends to be overkill (although still good to save the AOE for). 80/20 Priest
Mage: Mage decks also tend to be aggro, running leper gnomes, cheap spells, water elemental, and fireballs/leeroy to finish. The general theme for Priest is that aggro decks in general tend to lose to it, and this one is no exception. Get value out of your AOE, and an early CoH + blademaster can become a huge problem for them because most Mage decks are not running (or mulliganing for) polymorph.
Hunter: Nobody plays this class. But if they did you would crush it. Even before the UTH nerf Priest was favored vs Hunter, and now that holds true even more so. Proc all secrets when he does not have eaglehorn bow up and if he tries to stalemate with bow+secrets just wait him out and heal. Without ooze you cannot afford to take extra hits from the bow, but the great thing about priest is that you can afford to just pass a turn and heal. The nice thing is that most of your burst does not have to come from minions.
Priest: This mirror match is cancer. Mulligan everything except circle of healing for blademaster. If they’re playing a more late game control oriented Priest you probably lose unless you get a strong draw. I played Hafu in the mirror (7 minutes into this stream: http://www.twitch.tv/itshafu/b/529789153) and crushed her because I drew blademaster and she didn’t. Even without a CoH blademaster is so hard for a priest to remove on turn 2/3.
Want to Learn More?
If you have any questions or simply want to see the deck in action I will be streaming in about an hour (gotta watch GoT first) and I also have VOD’s from part of my run from rank 5-legend at http://www.twitch.tv/frisbez or you can simply ask questions here as I will be sure to check back on the thread.
TL;DR Hit Legend playing exclusively Priest, deck is here
and my stream is http://www.twitch.tv/frisbez