Ah, Anduin (or Tyrande), ever since the beginning of the standard format you’ve been nothing more but the laughing-stock of the community. They took your bombs and your cultists. You were no longer Velen’s Chosen and ultimately you were thrown to the bottom tier to keep Thrall company. Thrall, however, managed to climb out and ever since then he has been the undisputed king of the ladder. For an entire year you sat at the bottom tier and waited patiently while being ridiculed by players. The Old Gods took away all of your toys which once had made you great and the developers have even given one of your core abilities to steal cards from other classes to Valeera. They have left you with nothing and, to rub some salt into the wound, the even gave you Purify.
”That was a mistake.” – Uther Lightbringer, identifying mistakes since 2013
Enter Mean Streets of Gadgezan, the next Hearthstone expansion and hell hath no fury like a priest scorned. Priest is coming back and he (or recently, she) is coming back swinging. We’ve seen a couple of pretty insane priest cards already and today I am going to talk about in which direction are the developers pushing priest as a class.
The three directions
During the Q&A panel at Blizzcon the devs were asked have they landed a decision on where they are taking priest e.g. archetypes and the developers have responded that they are taking priest into three different directions with this expansion, those being dragon priest, Reno priest and spell priest.
Dragon priest should be very familiar to all those who have been playing Hearthstone since The Grand Tournament because that is when, with the introduction of twilight-guardian and Wyrmrest Agent, the deck had become the staple priest deck of that era. It revolves around, you’ve guessed it, playing dragons and combining their amazing synergy with various priest buffs and removals in order to maintain strong board presence with your powerful dragons. This deck fell out of popularity after priest had lost lightbomb, dark cultist and velen’s chosen to the set rotation and over time it was all but forgotten in the standard format (although it still pulls its weight in the wild format). Luckily for all dragon priest fans like myself, the developers have decided to capitalize on the great dragon synergy that priest has and use this last set before all the good dragon cards rotate out to heavily capitalize on the those cards. Say hello to our new dragon overlords!
So far two cards which are heavily aimed for a dragon priest deck have been released and those are drakonid-operative and dragonfire-potion. While Drakonid operative is, in my opinion, one of the best designed cards in the game he alone is certainly not enough to bring back the dragon priest back to his full former glory. Sure, he has an amazing body for the cost, draws you a card and most importantly provides you with information about three cards that your opponent currently has in his/her deck which is absolutely insane, but I will be bold enough to say that with all of that this card will be enough to bring priest back into standard but that is lacks that something. It lack that additional…umph! Enter Dragonfire potion.
Now this card, even without the previous one, is enough to bring the dragon priest to his former glory. Priest has several good board clears but nothing so powerful that can destroy almost any minion in the entire game by turn 6 and leave your board mostly unaffected. As a matter of fact, at this point, there are 7 non dragon cost 6 or less minions in the game that see competitive play that don’t get destroyed by this thing on turn 6. Although this card will, without a doubt, see play in control priest decks it is primarily made to be a huge boost to the dragon priest deck. These are the only two dragon priest class cards that we have seen so far and I have a strong feeling that these will be the only the dragon priest class cards that we will be getting this expansion (I hope that I am wrong) but we will probably get some neutral dragon cards and those are always welcomed. So are these class cards enough to restore dragon priest back to its former glory? Well, it is certainly a very strong push in the right direction and I will say that they are enough to make dragon priest great again. Will it be as good as it was before or even better? I prefer to wait patiently for more cards to be revealed before deciding on that part but I can say for certain that the new dragon priest is already looking way better than any priest deck that we’ve had so far.
Now this one had caught me off guard. I am a wild player first and a standard player second and as such I have been experimenting with the idea of Reno priest ever since League of Explorers and it has had decent performance but that was mainly thanks to many powerful cards that are now wild exclusive. I have tried playing Reno priest in standard but, needles to say, it was far less successful than its wild counterpart so it really came as a surprise to me when the developers have stated that, with the new expansion, they are going to push Reno priest deck a bit and Kazakus will obviously fit perfectly in that deck.
Kazakus is one of the new tri class cards and his classes are priest, warlock and mage. However, unlike priest, warlock and mage actually have Reno decks that are performing quite well and they will most certainly benefit greatly from this new card but when it comes to priest I can’t say with utmost confidence that Kazakus will make Reno priest function. Yes, Kazakus isn’t the only new card that will see play in this particular deck archetype but this is more of a card to make good Reno decks better than to make bad Reno decks good. If Kazakus were a full neutral card you wouldn’t put him into shaman, for example, and Reno shaman will magically become a good deck. What makes Reno priest deck tick, at least in the wild format, is the inclusion of powerful sticky minions like deathlord, piloted shredder and sludge belcher, something that priest currently lacks. Is Kazakus a step into the right direction to make Reno priest viable? Yes, I do believe so but even with other priest cards that were revealed so far it is not enough to make it go from bad deck to good deck.
Tricky Spell Priest
Spell priest is the final deck archetype that they have mentioned and when you think about a spell deck for any class you probably thing of a deck filled with powerful spells synergy cards or damage dealing cards that you can combine with your Maylgos for a OTK combo. This type of priest is reflected in the potion-of-madness and pint-size potion cards. They have called this deck archetype the ”fun, tricky spell type priest” where you play a lot of tricky spells that interact with your opponents minions in lots of different ways like making their attack smaller.
The inherit flaw with this direction is that it was made to be fun, not necessarily competitive. Not everybody plays Hearthstone competitively and it is completely reasonable to expect that not all card and decks are going to be made for competitive players. Fun is still the main component of Hearthstone and I have nothing against them making fun cards for fun decks. Now, with that out of the way, while this is the more fun direction for priest, the cards that they have made for it are amazing and while this tricky spell priest probably won’t see much competitive play some of the cards that are designed for it will probably see some competitive play at one point or another. There are some cute combos that come to mind like pint-size potion on turn 5 combined with shadow word: horror to clear your opponents board but I would probably not rely on that board clear over other more reliable ones like holy nova and excavated evil.
I like this direction, I like the idea of it and how it is supposed to mess around with your opponents minions in a lot of creative ways and I will most certainly try it out, but I probably won’t be climbing the ladder with it.
Now we have seen the three directions in which they are pushing priest this expansion and it should be quite obvious than one is far better than the other two. I am, of course, talking about dragon priest. During the Q&A panel when the developers were asked the question about which direction are they pushing the priest into and they have mentioned dragon priest they have also mentioned their desire of fulfilling the player’s fantasy of playing a dragon priest deck that works and actually winning with it. Out of the remaining two it is in fact Reno priest who got the least love. They did say that they do like the idea of playing a deck without duplicates and that Kazakus is here to help Reno priest work but that is about it while the tricky spell priest did get some good cards that might see competitive play at some point. In conclusion, I am happy with their decision to bring dragon priest back. I like that deck a lot and I can’t wait to see how it will perform in standard. What are your opinions about these three directions in which the priest is heading? Which one is your favorite and which one are you looking forward to trying out? Do let me know in the comments and if you’ve liked this article do consider following me on twitter https://twitter.com/Eternal_HS. There you can ask me all sorts of Hearthstone questions (unrelated to this article) and I’ll gladly answer them as best as I can. Until next time!