Firebat’s Freeze Priest

So-called “Freeze Priest” is a deck popularized by Firebat from Team Archon. He played it near the start of July Season 2015. While it can be considered more of a “fun” deck, it actually works and you can easily beat most of the popular meta decks with it. But maybe let’s start with the name. […]

Introduction

So-called “Freeze Priest” is a deck popularized by Firebat from Team Archon. He played it near the start of July Season 2015. While it can be considered more of a “fun” deck, it actually works and you can easily beat most of the popular meta decks with it.

But maybe let’s start with the name. Why is the deck called Freeze Priest? It’s an obvious reference to another popular deck – Freeze Mage. Even though there is no actual freeze card in the Freeze Priest, there are a lot of things those decks have in common. Both are combo decks that play… their own game. They often don’t really care about what enemy plays and just try to stall the game as long as they can and draw into their combo pieces. And then, both end the game with a huge burst combo. Funnily enough, they also struggle against similar decks.

The deck’s main strength is surprise factor. When you think about Priest, you don’t think about burst. Since you play a heavy cycle deck, in the mid game a lot of the enemies will feel that something fishy is going on. But they rarely play around 28 damage from the Priest’s hand, which happens more often than you’d think. Even though it may not look like it, Freeze Priest is actually pretty consistent. A lot of removals means that stalling the game is not that hard and when around 1/3 of your deck is draw you consistently draw into your combo pieces when you need to.

Let’s start the guide by going through the card choices.

Card Choices

Basically, you can divide cards in the deck into three categories, with each one being as important as the other two. I’ll talk briefly about cards in each category, explaining why they’re here and how to use them. Some of the cards are flexible and can be in two different categories at the same time.

The Freeze

Cards in this categories are meant to stall the game. Those are mostly removals and buffs – they let you keep the board control, make your minions stick or just help with the trades.

Holy Smite – The most basic removal – 2 damage for 1 mana. You use it to get rid of enemy early threats or to help with trading in the later game. Great against Aggro – it kills all the aggressive 1-drops and most of 2-drops. Also a Huffer slayer.

Power Word: Shield – +2 health means your minions stick into the board more easily. You can make the good trades and 2 for 1 value. It also gets some of your minions like Loot Hoarder or Bloodmage Thalnos out of ping range. Great thing to combo with Wild Pyromancer – a 1 mana 1 damage AoE that cycles itself.

Shadow Word: Pain – Another early removal. While Holy Smite is good against 1 and 2 health minions, SW:P can kill a lot more. It can, for example, clear 3 health early drops like Mechwarper so enemy won’t snowball out of control. It can kill minions with Divine Shield like Shielded Minibot. It can kill Acolyte of Pain without enemy getting any draws. It’s also great at getting rid of the first part of the Sludge Belcher – that’s value!

Wild Pyromancer – Awesome card when half of your deck are spells and most of them are pretty cheap. Great against Aggro decks – the slayer of 1 and 2 health minions. It damages your own minions, including itself, but that’s not necessarily bad thing. Damaging your own minions allows you to draw with Northshire Cleric. Also, can be just played as a 3/2 for 2 mana, which often is not that bad.

Shadow Word: Death – A bigger version of Pain – this one serves as a way to deal with big minions. You generally don’t want to throw it on something like 5/5 – since it’s your only easy way to kill big Legendaries – keep it for them. Dr. Boom is the most obvious one – the 7/7 can be problematic to kill otherwise. Things like Giants or Ragnaros the Firelord are also a nice target.

Velen’s Chosen – A great defensive buff. It allows your minions to get better trades. The +1 Spell Damage is also very big in the deck like that. It combos greatly with Holy Smite and Holy Nova. The buff itself is awesome if you manage to cast it on Acolyte of Pain. Turning him into a 3/7 minion means you’re gonna get a low of draws and value. But it actually works on pretty much every minion in your deck – you can use it on the Sludge Belcher (or the 1/2 Slime) to make a bigger Taunt, on Emperor Thaurissan to potentially keep him alive for more than 1 turn etc.

Holy Nova – Besides the Wild Pyromancer, that’s the second AoE in your deck. It works wonders against decks that flood the board. Even though the 2 AoE damage for 5 mana isn’t the best, it stalls the game just fine – the healing can also come handy. You can combo it with Wild Pyromancer or cards giving Spell Damage for a bigger AoE. One of the best cards against fast decks that flood the board.

Harrison Jones – Removing enemy weapon = removing tempo = stalling the game. Great against Paladins and Warriors, also can be useful against Rogues, Hunters and Shamans. Drawing is an additional thing, but if over half of the opponents you face on the ladder are weapon classes, you’re gonna draw often. It can save you in Patron Warrior matchup – destroying the Death’s Bite is huge. And in the worst case scenario, he’s just a 5/4 for 5 – always a body on the board.

Sludge Belcher – One of the better ways to slow down the game. Put a Taunt that spawns a Taunt on death. Obviously great minion against faster decks, but also pretty useful against slower. If you manage to hide your Emperor Thaurissan behind it – it sometimes may even survive a turn! Power Word: Shield, Velen’s Chosen and your Hero Power all help with keeping it alive for as long as you can. Sadly, the Silence works pretty well against Sludge Belcher, turning him into just a 3/5 minion.

Holy Fire – Removal + healing in one card. Great way to get rid of enemy mid game minions. It kills most of the popular 4-drops, 5-drops and 6-drops. It also heals you – which is especially good against Aggro and Combo decks. You want to keep your health and you want to get rid of opponent’s board – this card is doing great job with both of those.

The Draw

Drawing cards is really important when you’re playing the combo deck. Cycling cards mean you get to your combo pieces sooner. You want to draw as much as you can – you’re often gonna get near fatigue when enemy is gonna be around half of his deck.

Power Word: Shield – Besides stalling, this card cycles itself. Since it’s really cheap and you can throw it onto pretty much any minion – it thins your deck significantly.

Northshire Cleric – One of the most important cards in the deck. While most of your other cards draw one and just cycle themselves – Northshire Cleric can get much higher value. If it sticks onto the board for a couple of turns, you might draw one (or more thanks to Holy Nova) card each turn. It’s a pretty big deal. It lines perfectly with the 2/1 1-drops Aggro decks play, allowing you to trade with them and draw a card. It combos with Wild Pyromancer, which lets you damage your own minions. Great with more sturdy cards like Sludge Belcher or cards buffed by Velen’s Chosen. Try to squeeze as much as you can from your Northshires, but if you have many different ways to draw in your hand just cycling him for 1 other card is also pretty good. He has quasi-Taunt because enemy isn’t likely gonna just ignore it and leave on the board.

Bloodmage Thalnos – It can be used to boost your early removals or Holy Nova. He can be used to help with the burst. But a lot of times, you drop him just to cycle. The 1/1 minion isn’t that useful but might sometimes kill enemy 1-drops, tokens or just damage something. Most of the time you don’t have to keep him – if you get a good opportunity to use the Spell Damage bonus, do it – he’s gonna cycle itself anyway. Only against certain decks where you really need 3 damage Holy Nova, you might save him.

Loot Hoarder – It combines the draw with the early drop. Against decks that can ping it – Loot Hoarder just stall the game for one turn, which usually goes in your favor. Against decks that can’t ping – it can actually trade for something. Great in Aggro matchups – it answers all the 1-drops and a lot of 2-drops. Drop him into the board whenever you have free mana – even if you know he’s just gonna die for free, cycling in this deck is never bad.

Acolyte of Pain – A great draw mechanic. While it often will end up drawing one card, sometimes the value you’re gonna get will be incredible. Great target for the buffs – both Power Word: Shield and Velen’s Chosen increase his health, letting him take more hits before dying. Healing this guy also gets you a lot of value. Combos greatly with Wild Pyromancer – damaging it for 1 every time you cast a spell means you cycle each spell you use. In best case scenario, one Acolyte can draw you as much as 4-5 cards. It also often eats an early removal and thus stalls the game a little.

Azure Drake – Really good mid game minion. The 4/4 for 5 is pretty underwhelming, but both of the card’s effects are really good. It cycles itself, which is really strong in this deck. The +1 Spell Damage also makes your Holy Nova and Holy Smite stronger. Great thing to drop in the mid game when you have nothing else to do.

Harrison Jones – Even though the main role of Harrison is to destroy enemy weapons – the drawing part is also important. You usually aren’t picky with what you destroy – 1 charge weapon is what you’re usually gonna get. Against Warrior you want to target Death’s Bite, against Hunter Eaglehorn Bow etc. In some slow matchups you can be greedy with it. For example, against slower Paladin you can wait for a Tirion Fordring to come down, destroy it and then get rid of a 5/3 Ashbringer, drawing 3 cards.

The Burn

Last category is the burn. It’s your win condition – the actual damage spells and the cards that either increase their damage or allow you to combo them together.

Holy Smite – Against faster decks it’s usually gonna be used to clear their small drops, but against slower ones you usually want to keep it for the burn. The card is really strong because of how cheap it is. It’s 1 mana which becomes 0 mana after only one Emperor Thaurissan discount. It means that it’s really easy to fit into your combo turn. With Prophet Velen it does 4 damage, while with Malygos it’s 7 damage, so it’s better to use it with the latter.

Mind Blast – Your main source of the burn. The 5 damage for 2 mana is good by itself, but you always want to combo it with one of your damage boosters for 10 damage. NEVER use them just to deal some damage to enemy outside your burst turns or desperate situations (when you let’s say need a cheap spell to activate Wild Pyromancer against Aggro). Not only you waste a lot of damage, but you also tell the enemy that you’re playing a burst deck and they’re gonna start playing much more safe.

Bloodmage Thalnos – While not necessarily a burst card, the +1 Spell Damage often helps with killing the enemy. The Spell Damage is doubled thanks to Prophet Velen, so if you combo those two, every spell deals 2 more damage. Thalnos might add up to 6 or 8 damage to your whole combo, which is a lot.

Holy Fire – The main reason you use this card is survival and board control. But often you’re gonna need some extra damage to kill the enemy and Holy Fire comes handy. While it’s really hard to combo it with either Prophet Velen or Malygos, the standard 5 damage is often enough. If you manage to get two or more Emperor discounts on proper cards, you might sometimes fit it into your combo turn.

Emperor Thaurissan – Your combo activator. In normal situation, the best you could do on the same turn is Prophet Velen + Mind Blast + Holy Smite for just 14 damage. Thanks to Emperor Thaurissan, you might fit a lot more into one turn. It’s what makes Malygos viable – you might actually drop him and follow up with the spells on the same turn. You aim to hit as many combo pieces with your Emperor Thaurissan as you can. Dropping him on turn 6 is often a really bad play. Wait until you have at least 3 or 4 combo parts and then use it – with so much cycle it’s not gonna be hard. Drop him earlier only if you’re in dire situation against Aggro decks.

Prophet Velen – Your first and most important spell booster. Everything does twice more damage and heals for twice more. The healing part you don’t really care about, but the damage one is what makes this deck viable. With just one Emperor Discount, you can actually easily fit AT LEAST 2x Mind Blast on the same turn as Prophet Velen for a 20 damage burst. That’s your most standard combo. But if you’re really desperate, you might also use him to clear the board with 4 damage Holy Nova or Holy Smites.

Malygos – Your supporting spell booster. This one is even better than Prophet Velen, but it also costs more, so it’s harder to fit into the combo turn. While the boosted Mind Blasts also deal 10 damage, the Holy Smites are much better (7 damage instead of 4) and if you manage to get enough discounts or he just sticks on the board, you can get the crazy 7 damage Holy Nova. The dream scenario is that you play Malygos and enemy has no way to deal with it. If he doesn’t remove or Silence it, the next turn you can play Prophet Velen and unleash 20 damage Mind Blasts and 14 damage Holy Smites.

Mulligan

When it comes to Mulligan, you don’t really care about the EXACT deck you face. You care more about how fast it is. If you play against a fast, aggressive deck – you’re gonna need early answers and board presence. On the other hand, against slower deck you’re trying to mulligan for card draw – you want to cycle through your deck as fast as you can, so reactive spells are pretty useless.

Fast decks

Against fast decks, you value your early removals and small minions most. The cards you want to mulligan for are: Holy Smite, Northshire Cleric, Shadow Word: Pain, Loot Hoarder, Wild Pyromancer and Acolyte of Pain.

You want to keep Power Word: Shield along with other minions – especially Wild Pyromancer. It can be used as an easy way to activate his effect, while keeping him alive at the same time. But if you didn’t get any minions, you can throw PW:S away too, without minions on your side it’s completely useless.

If your hand is minion heavy, keeping Velen’s Chosen is also not a bad idea. It’s best on your 1/3 minions – Northshire Cleric and Acolyte of Pain. Both become 3/7, which is really good against Aggro and both benefit from being damaged.

Even though Holy Nova and Sludge Belcher are good against Aggro, you shouldn’t keep them. If you won’t keep the early board control, you won’t live long enough for them to matter. You want to draw into those by turn 5, which is pretty likely since you play a lot of cycle.

If you play against a deck that uses 2/3 minions you really have to kill, most notably Mechwarper, you might keep Holy Smite alongside Bloodmage Thalnos to gain 1 extra Spell Damage. Thalnos can even trade for a small drop like Clockwork Gnome or at least cycle itself.

Slow decks

Against slow decks, you don’t care too much about the early answers. Since they’re quite likely gonna have a slow start, you want to play proactive, not just pass few first turns. You generally want minions, not spells. The only exception is PW:S because it can cycle itself and can put your minions out of range of enemy early removals. The cards you want to mulligan for are: Power Word: Shield, Loot Hoarder, Wild Pyromancer, Acolyte of Pain.

Northshire Cleric is often useless at the start of the game and you won’t get too much value from it. You want to keep him when you also have Wild Pyromancer. Pyro’s effect allows you to damage your own minions, making Northshire Cleric able to draw cards.

You want to keep the Velen’s Chosen if you have the Acolyte of Pain. The combo is really strong – if enemy has no answer, it lets you draw at least 3-4 cards from your Acolyte.

If you get a good start, let’s say 2-drop into 3-drop, you can keep your Azure Drake too. He’s really strong against slow decks, because besides drawing it puts a pretty nice body on the board. Also helps you with clearing due to +1 Spell Damage.

Against Warrior you want to keep Harrison Jones. Especially if it’s the Patron Warrior – destroying Death’s Bite is really important. You’re also pretty much guaranteed that the Warrior will have some weapons in the mid game, so you’re always gonna get value.

Even against slow decks you don’t want to keep your combo pieces. Throw them away – you’re gonna have a lot of time to draw into them anyway.

Tips & Tricks

  • Don’t use your burst prematurely. One of the biggest advantages of your deck is surprise factor. If you throw the Mind Blast just like that enemy is gonna play safe, heal up to 30, stop Life Tapping etc. Don’t show your cards until your final push.
  • Sometimes you won’t get enough discounts to kill enemy in one turn. Your spell booster won’t likely stick into the board and it’s gonna die. That’s why you run two of them. You can let’s say play Prophet Velen + 2x Mind Blast and follow it with Malygos + 2x Holy Smite on the next turn.
  • Malygos is really hard to kill. Certain decks have really hard time getting rid of 12 health minion. If you feel that enemy won’t have a way to get rid of it or that you won’t have enough damage to kill him – you can just take the risk and play it. If Malygos survives and doesn’t get Silenced, you can follow it with Prophet Velen + spell burst next turn. This way you can deal over 50 damage burst easily.
  • Wild Pyromancer‘s effect might be used to get rid of enemy board, but also to damage your own minions. The most obvious synergy is between him and Acolyte of Pain. Each time you damage Acolyte, you draw a card. With help of Pyromancer, you might easily draw those 3 cards or maybe even more. Damaging your own minions means you can play the Northshire Cleric and heal them afterwards to also draw the cards. You might also force the Deathrattle of your Loot Hoarder or Bloodmage Thalnos if you’re fishing for something. Remember that his effect triggers AFTER you cast a spell. So for example, if he’s 3/1 and you use the Power Word: Shield, he’ll first gain 2 life and then deal AoE damage (so he won’t die).
  • Wild Pyromancer also allows really strong AoE clears. If you combo him with a couple of cheap spells, you deal a lot of damage. The great late game combo is Wild Pyromancer + Velen’s Chosen + Holy Nova for 5 AoE damage in total.
  • DO NOT OVERDRAW! In most of the decks you don’t care about overdrawing one or two cards. But here if you burn parts of your combo you can often burn your only win condition. There are at least 5 cards you can’t burn no matter what. It means that throwing Acolyte of Pain against the board of three 1/1’s when you already have 9 cards is not a good idea. You’ll often end up having a full hand – in this scenario instead of cycling, you need to actually do something – buff your minions with Velen’s, play Sludge Belcher or even throw in Northshire Cleric on the board without getting value. If you will overdraw next turn, you can even Holy Smite enemy face for 2. It’s better than burning something like Prophet Velen.
  • Against slow decks, be greedy with your Emperor Thaurissan. The more combo pieces you’re gonna discount, the better it is for you. Don’t play him if you don’t have at least 3 or 4 of them in your hand. Against faster decks, you don’t have to be that greedy – you often gonna play Thaurissan just for the body with a quasi-Taunt. Even Aggro decks, unless you’re close to dying, will have to deal with your Emperor, so you save some life and still get the discount value.
  • Even though you have a huge, 20+ damage burst, you’re still gonna need some minion damage against certain decks. For example, Control Warrior is a really hard matchup because of how much Armor it can gain. To win against Control Warrior, you’ll need some minions on the board to chop off the Armor every turn. Even the Loot Hoarder hitting enemy face is good enough. In some matchups something like Holy Fire into enemy Hero is good enough to deal some pre-combo damage.
  • In slow matchups, keep Shadow Word: Death for biggest minions you can’t deal with. Don’t use it on let’s say 5/5 if you can just Holy Fire or trade minions into it. If enemy plays Ragnaros the Firelord and you have no answer – then you aren’t in a good spot to win the game.
  • Use your +Spell Damage wisely. Good example is Patron Warrior matchup. If enemy spawns couple of Grim Patrons – you need Spell Damage + Holy Nova. That’s why you should keep at least one source of Spell Damage for that scenario. On the other hand, in matchups where you don’t really need more Spell Damage you can just throw them on the board. Also, when it comes to Bloodmage Thalnos cycling. If you don’t have better play, using him on turn 2 just to cycle the card is not wrong. Enemy will probably get rid of it because they’re afraid of early Spell Damage. So not only he cycles, but also absorbs some early damage.
  • People usually keep Harrison Jones to destroy the strongest weapon they can. But it’s not really the case with your deck. The only weapon you REALLY need to get rid of is Death’s Bite in Patron Warrior. In other matchups you can aim at the draw value. Against faster Paladin deck, clearing the Light’s Justice is really good because you draw a lot. Even getting rid of Rogue’s 1/2 Wicked Knife is fine – you draw 2 cards and deny their tempo play. The more cards you’re gonna draw, the easier it’s gonna be to combo the enemy down before they kill you.

Gallery

Closing

The Freeze Priest is a very interesting and fun deck, while being competitive at the same time. Even though it’s definitely not top tier one, you can easily climb the ladder with it and in the correct meta it’s actually really strong. Firebat proved that you can successfully play the deck in higher Legend ranks once you master it. I also had a pretty good run, finishing my testing with 39-20 score. If you have any thoughts, questions or ideas – leave your comments in the section below! I hope you’ve enjoyed the guide.