Hi, my name is Omoru, and I’d like to present a new Priest deck. This deck took me as high as Top 16 legend in Season 5 (finished rank 53), maintaining at least a 60% win rate even at the highest ranks.
It does particularly well against the Hunter and Zoo decks currently popular on ladder. I’ll first give a general description of the deck’s strategy, then go over each of my card choices, and cover how to mulligan with the deck.
Finally, I’ll give some more details about specific matchups.
This deck uses the power of silence effects to gain value and tempo. An opening will often consist of a zombie-chow and ancient-watcher, followed by a wailing-soul on turn 3 or 4 to remove the negative effects of your minions and leave you with a tremendous amount of stats on the board. defender-of-argus and silence, while not quite as valuable in combo potential as Wailing Soul, give you additional options for activating your watchers and can serve other purposes as well.
The combination of Silence, shadow-madness, and cabal-shadow-priest work wonders against the myriad of deathrattle minions being run in the current meta. Against aggressive decks, Shadow Madness and holy-nova can stop the opponent in their tracks, followed by some strong taunts and heals to help stabilize.
Facing slower decks, you can often win by running them over with early pressure (hence the deck name). A combo such as Zombie Chow, two Ancient Watchers, and then a Wailing Soul to silence them all is almost unstoppable by any control deck without the perfect answers. Failing that, your minion steals, azure-drake, and mind-control will usually let you out-value the opponent.
Much of the strength of the deck comes from the power of silence effects in the current metagame. With the ability to cast Silence on either your watchers or the opponent’s minions, the deck has a lot of versatility.
This card serves a couple of purposes in the deck. First, it can be used to silence your ancient-watchers if you have no other activators and need to attack. Second, it can simply be used to silence important enemy minions. It can give you a huge tempo advantage by silencing your opponent’s mad-scientist and the swinging in to kill it practically for free, and can help you quickly eliminate dangerous threats such as savannah-highmane and sylvanas-windrunner. This is more of a tempo card than a value card; at the cost of 0 mana and 1 card, you can often easily eliminate a minion that otherwise would have a huge impact on the battlefield.
There is some trade-off in running this card versus silence minions like ironbeak-owl. The body left by Ironbeak can often be useless, simply dying to incidental damage, or even harmful in the face of unleash-the-hounds. It does have the advantage of threatening a silenced 2-drop, however. The lower mana-cost of silence allows you to combo it with holy-fire to take out the dangerous deathrattles that come in at 6 mana. Since there is no clear better choice, I’ve opted to include one of each.power-word-shield
Anyone who has played much Hearthstone will know that Power Word: Shield is one of the strongest cards in the Priest’s arsenal. Play it on an early minion to get a favorable trade followed by a heal, or just to fill out your mana curve and gain a bit more health on the board. In late game it retains its value since it replaces itself, and still allows you to make favorable trades on demand. Occasionally you may find yourself forced to silence a shielded minion, but those situations are uncommon and can usually be mitigated by trading with the minion first to reduce its health below the boosted max.northshire-cleric
This is your main source of card draw in the deck. In certain matchups it can be played on turn 1 to combat early aggression or draw removal, but it is often best saved for later. If you can hide it behind taunts, it can end up drawing you multiple cards and snowball your advantage.zombie-chow
While this deck lacks the popular synergy with auchenai-soulpriest to turn the 5 healing into damage, it is still a fine card. The deathrattle often has little or no impact on the outcome of the game, and you can sometimes catch it in a combo with your wailing-soul to remove the downside altogether. Zombie Chow is your ideal turn 1 play, and primarily serves to make trades with the opponent’s early minions. If you draw it in late game, it is often a good idea to hold it in your hand until you can silence it with Wailing Soul, or just never even play it, as the healing effect is more likely to matter when you are going for the kill.acidic-swamp-ooze
An anti-meta card, Acidic Swamp Ooze is great with current prevalence of Hunters, Warriors, and Rogues. Against weapon-based classes, you will usually save it destroy a weapon, but the 3/2 body is a passable 2-drop the rest of the time. harrison-jones could fill this slot as well, but I consider Ooze to be the better card in this deck due to Priest’s need to establish early board control.ancient-watcher
Ancient Watcher is the heart and soul of the deck. If played on turn 2 and then silenced, it works much like a Druid’s Innervated yeti. Even better is the combo with Wailing Soul, giving you a huge tempo advantage without wasting a card just to make the watcher useful. Defender of Argus can also be used to put up a huge wall protecting your other minions or your precious face.ironbeak-owl
This card serves more or less the same purpose as silence, but it has some advantages and disadvantages. Of course, owl costs more, so it can limit the plays you can make in the same turn. It does however have the advantage of being more card efficient, and can work as a decent turn 2 play on its own if your opponent plays a silence target.shadow-word-death
This is your primary way to deal huge minions, and the card every control player fears when facing a priest. Some might be concerned about running 2 copies in the deck, as it can be a dead card in certain matchups, but almost every common deck currently has at least one decent target. Against decks such as Control Warrior and Handlock, having two copies gives you a much better edge. Even against decks like Hunter and Rogue, there are at least a couple of minions that can be killed by Shadow Word: Death.dark-cultist
One of the strongest 3-drops in the game, Dark Cultist is mostly valuable for its stats. Since it will often be played the turn before you drop wailing-soul, it will frequently have its effect silenced by your own card, but that’s fine. Even without its effect, the card makes great trades against early game minions, and the occasional deathrattle can give great value.deathlord
One of the most volatile cards in the game, Deathlord can bring either sweeping victory or crushing defeat depending on how you use it (and a bit of luck). The strong taunt can stop aggro decks in their tracks, and is a great way to lock in the win when you’re at low health. Many decks have no way to deal with its whopping 8 health on turn 3, allowing you to continue trading and healing it up for a few turns. The potential silence combos add even more utility, as a 2/8 for 3 mana is pretty great even without the taunt effect. Just be careful playing Deathlord against classes like Hunter and Warrior, as they can often kill it easily and claim their free minion; it’s often better saving it for a late-game silence combo in those cases.shadow-madness
Shadow Madness is another card whose value is somewhat dependent on the meta. With the prevalence of deathrattle minions currently, it gets great value in most matchups, as it allows you to kill off two of your opponent’s minions and gain the effect of the deathrattle for yourself. In some matchups, such as Handlock and Ramp Druid, the card can be almost completely useless, so it may not always be a good choice to include. Only one copy of the card is included since it is somewhat situational (your opponent has to have a minion to steal, and a minion to suicide it into).defender-of-argus
This is another card that has multiple uses in the deck. As usual, it can used to buff up your minions for more favorable trades, or to put up a taunt wall against an aggressive deck. In addition, it serves as an extra way to get value from your ancient-watchers. While you generally would rather silence your watchers to allow more opportunities for good trades and heals, Defender of Argus will do just fine to keep you alive in a pinch.wailing-soul
Wailing Soul is the big combo card of the deck. It’s best used on turn 4 to silence your ancient-watchers, allowing them to attack. Catching a zombie-chow or deathlord in the mix is a great combo as well. Even if you can’t do anything useful with the effect, a 3/5 for 4 mana is still a fine play to fill in your mana curve.
Some people may be concerned about the possibility of silencing some of your useful effects with this card, which is definitely something to keep in mind when playing the deck. In practice, I’ve found that your are rarely forced into such a position; the most common card to silence is dark-cultist, which will usually get good value even without its effect.holy-nova
This is an important card, as it is your only board clear option in the deck. Versus aggro decks, Holy Nova can often wipe the board on turn 5 and give you enough time to stabilize. Against control decks, it can commonly be used to deal damage and heal your minions at the same time, possibly drawing multiple cards from your northshire-clerics in the process. It is worth mentioning that holy-nova and holy-fire are the only cards in the deck capable of dealing damage on demand, so there may be times when it is necessary to use it simply to deal 2 damage to an important target.azure-drake
Azure Drake is one of the main cards that gives this deck longevity in the late-game. While the spell damage effect rarely comes into play, the card draw and 4/4 body is plenty of reason to play this card. It could arguably be replaced by another value card like thoughtsteal, or a late-game play like sylvanas-windrunner, but I like Azure Drake for its ability to maintain tempo while also helping you draw into your key cards or combo pieces.loatheb
One of the best neutral cards in the game, Loatheb can practically win games on his own in the right situations. A 5/5 body on turn 5 is a fine play, but his real power comes from playing him on a winning board to restrict your opponent’s ability to respond. You can play him to protect a board full of minions from unleash-the-hounds, or against a Miracle Rogue to prevent their card draw combos. Just keep in mind that his ability doesn’t completely lock your opponent’s spells; an 8-mana unleash or 6-mana shield-slam can still cause problems for you in the late-game.sludge-belcher
This card was added to help stabilize against aggressive decks. The big body and taunt deathrattle will likely take 3 or more hits for you and buy you time to gain control of the board and your health total. Since there is some anti-synergy with wailing-soul I opted to include just one Sludge Belcher, but you could reasonably sub one in for an Azure Drake depending on the types of decks you are facing.holy-fire
Holy Fire is one of the Priest’s key tools to deal with big threats and/or maintain your health total. Several of the most common threats around the same mana cost have exactly 5 health, so this card is well suited to dealing with them. It can even be comboed with silence to take out the the big deathrattle minions. It is an important inclusion, since this deck has very few ways to deal damage from the hand.cabal-shadow-priest
Currently one of the strongest Priest cards, Cabal Shadow Priest’s situational ability represents a huge swing in both card advantage and tempo. It can serve to solidify your position against aggro decks, and can even gain you value against control decks, as almost every deck in the current meta runs a few juicy targets. In a pinch, you can play it just as a 6-mana yeti, but it’s usually worth saving it in hopes of getting a better deal.
Since it is one of the more expensive Priest cards, I often see people asking what can replace this card in this or other Priest decks. My personal recommendation would be to absolutely get yourself at least one copy if you plan on playing Priest much. There isn’t any card quite like it, and the effect is more useful than ever against all of the small deathrattle minions currently being played.mind-control
A somewhat unorthodox choice, as this card is generally considered too slow to be played. I added this card to help in control matchups, where the deck would often run out of steam in the very late game. Most control decks run at least a few huge minions, and mind controlling one of them can often swing both tempo and card advantage massively in your favor and lock in the win. Even against classes like Hunter, you will often find yourself fighting into the late-game and end up stealing a savannah-highmane to win the game. A skeptical player could choose to play a more traditional card like sylvanas-windrunner or ragnaros-the-firelord in this spot, but having seen this card in action I absolutely stand by my choice to include Mind Control over other popular control choices.
When choosing which cards to keep with this deck, you are mainly looking for early-game minions and combo cards. zombie-chow, ancient-watcher, dark-cultist, and wailing-soul are prime picks in almost every matchup. Depending on the deck you are facing, silence and shadow-madness are great to keep as well, since they help deal with early deathrattle minions. Wailing Soul is usually kept due to its amazing combo potential, but there are some exceptions.
Against aggro decks (particularly going first) it may be better to replace a Wailing Soul to boost your chances of getting the early minions you need to survive. This card is a better keep when playing second, since you can coin it out to silence your turn 2 Watcher, and you have an extra card, increasing your chances of drawing a Watcher in time. holy-nova can be worth keeping in aggro matchups; this deck has few ways to recover a lost board, so it is sometimes good to have the answer ready.
That said, getting a good early-game curve can prevent the game from getting out of control in the first place. northshire-cleric and power-word-shield are situational keeps.Northshire is a good counter to the early game of certain classes. Power Word: Shield will usually only be kept if you already have a 1-drop in your hand (preferably Zombie Chow); otherwise replace it since it won’t be usable for a while anyway.
northshire-cleric is generally a good turn 1 play in this matchup, as it can threaten common Hunter plays such as webspinner, haunted-creeper, and leper-gnome.
This is a matchup where an early silence or ironbeak-owl really shines, as Hunters tend to have some dangerous early game minions like undertaker and mad-scientist that are great targets. Ooze is usually saved to take out a weapon, but it’s a fine early play as well, especially if you need a target for your Power Word: Shield.
Having a silence ready for savannah-highmane can help greatly, but don’t be afraid to use them earlier to help keep board control. shadow-madness and cabal-shadow-priest are incredible in this matchup; one of the best tricks is to Shadow Madness an enemy minion into freezing-trap or explosive-trap in order to remove both a trap and a minion.
loatheb is quite useful to protect a large board from unleash-the-hounds for a turn, giving you time to go for lethal or trade-off some of your smaller minions. If you can go into midgame with the board in your favor, you will be heavily favored to win in the end. This matchup is quite favored.
Never keep northshire-cleric in this matchup, as Zoo is one of the few decks that runs a lot of 3/2 minions which will kill it for free. zombie-chow, ironbeak-owl, ancient-watcher, and deathlord are your prime cards to deal with the early game here. A well-timed holy-nova can help you catch up if you fall behind, but the powerful minions and silence effects of this deck will often keep pace with Zoo on their own.
Ironbeak is particularly strong in this matchup, as on turn 2 it can silence a nerubian-egg or undertaker and then trade with another minion. In midgame, you can take care of doomguards or overbuffed minions with shadow-word-death, and steal valuable minions with cabal-shadow-priest to shut down all aggression. This matchup is heavily favored for Priest, but can be lost with bad draws, or a dream draw from Zoo.
If you know you’re up against a Handlock, you should mulligan for shadow-word-death, silencers, and your strong opening combo of ancient-watcher and wailing-soul.
If you are lucky enough to have the answers to their first couple big minions, you can likely push through and finish them off in the mid-game with a well-timed silence on one of their taunts. This is quite a dangerous matchup, as a single shadowflame can stop your aggression in its tracks.
For the most part, play fearlessly and hope the Handlock doesn’t have double molten-giant + taunt; if the game goes long you will usually lose due to Handlock’s stronger cards and board clears. mind-control can help in late game, but you will often be too far behind for it to matter. This matchup is unfavored, but it’s hard to say how much since it is a very uncommon matchup on ladder currently.
Vs Control Warrior
Mulligan for your ancient-watcher combo, acidic-swamp-ooze, cabal-shadow-priest, and azure-drake.
Early game doesn’t matter so much here, as anything you play will likely just be feeding a fiery-war-axe on a turn that would otherwise be spent hero powering. That said, a good Ancient Watcher combo can put pressure on early and give you an advantage going into the mid-game.
Cabal Shadow Priest is a key card in this matchup, as stealing an acolyte-of-pain and starving the Warrior of cards is one of the easiest ways to win. A well-placed northshire-cleric that can’t be easily killed will often snowball the game in your favor.
In the late-game, mind-control will take out one of their big threats and help solidify your position. This matchup is favored, though a Warrior with good answers in early/mid-game, or one with an exceptional number of late-game threats can defeat this deck.
As it has always been in Priest vs Priest matches, this one still comes down to luck of the draw quite often. If you can get an ancient-watcher opening, or your opponent gets an injured-blademaster + circle-of-healing or buffed undertaker opening, the game can often spiral out of control.
Against Deathrattle Priests, early silences can slow them down significantly, so you should always keep one in your opening hand. Your main fear when playing against another Priest is their Auchenai + Circle combo.Before turn 6 you can play around this combo by keeping at least one minion above 4 health, but after turn 6 it becomes even more dangerous since they can hero power for an additional 2 damage.
If you survive the board clear with minimal damage, you will likely win in the late-game with mind-control on one of their powerful minions (preferably cairne-bloodhoof if facing a Deathrattle Priest). This matchup is about even.
Vs Miracle Rogue
Here is another matchup that largely comes down to luck. A strong opening (such as double ancient-watcher into wailing-soul) can often run the Rogue over before they have time to recover. If the game goes long, you at least have loatheb to deny too much card draw from gadgetzan-auctioneer.
In the end, they will likely out-value the Priest with their insane card draw capabilities. Just try to hang onto board control and hope to finish them before they pull their combo and crush your board for free. This matchup is slightly unfavored.
Shamans are usually pretty easy to beat, since they have an abundance of minions that are vulnerable to either cabal-shadow-priest or silence.
A strong flametongue-totem opening is your biggest fear, though if you have a silence ready it can be quickly shut down. This is one matchup where an early northshire-cleric is great.It may draw removal, which is fine (a turn 1 or 2 lightning-bolt can really hurt a shaman’s mana curve), and if left unchecked you can use spare mana to draw cards off their totems (pro tip: attack and heal a 0/2 totem to draw a card if you don’t need to clear it immediately).
This matchup is very favored.
Vs Ramp Druid
This is quite a hard matchup. The deck doesn’t have much to help with the druid’s mana advantage in the mid-game, so your are mostly relying on getting a good opener and taking control early. With good draws you can run them over with your Watcher combo, but with an early wild-growth or innervate they may still be able to shut down your aggression.
If you go into the late-game without being too far behind, mind-control can easily lock in the win with a huge tempo swing. There are hardly any targets for your cabal-shadow-priests, so take advantage of an opportunity if you see it. This matchup is somewhat unfavored.
Vs Token Druid
A much better matchup for this deck than their Ramp brethren, this deck has an abundance of stealable minions and silence targets, which is just what we want to see.
Turn 1 northshire-cleric is great here, since the opponent has many small minions that can be picked off. holy-nova is a particularly strong catchup mechanism in this matchup, as most of their minions have 2 health or less, with limited ways to buff them out of range.
Keep the board clear and make good use of your cabal-shadow-priests, and you will usually run them out of cards and take the win. This matchup is favored.
Vs Control Paladin
You hardly see this matchup on ladder, and thank goodness! Possibly the worst matchup of all, the Paladin just has too many ways to deal with Priest’s threats.
Your best bet is to try to bait out an early equality and then flood the board before they draw their second one. Even then, aldor-peacekeeper, consecration, and other removal will keep your board in check. A mind-control on their tirion-fordring can help secure the win, but most Paladins are careful to avoid that situation. This matchup is heavily unfavored.
I hope this guide has been helpful to you. If you like the deck and want to know more, please leave your questions or comments below and I’ll be happy to get back to you. You can also check out my stream at twitch.tv/omoru1.
Thanks for reading, and good luck in all your Priestly endeavors!