MUA: Freeze Mage vs. Control Priest

Freeze Mage is one of the most powerful decks in the game. It has many good matchups all across the ladder and is favored against most of the popular decks in the game. When choosing to play Freeze you want to have a plan for each of those decks, and know the best way to […]

Introduction

Freeze Mage is one of the most powerful decks in the game. It has many good matchups all across the ladder and is favored against most of the popular decks in the game. When choosing to play Freeze you want to have a plan for each of those decks, and know the best way to react to each. In this guide we will look Control Priest and how, despite its healing and high-health minions, Freeze Mage can take it down.

Sample Decklists

Freeze Mage is a deck that can go in a few different directions. While the core spells are always going to be the same, some lists run more healing, while others run more burn or freeze. In addition, some people choose to end the game with Malygos, while others stick to the classic Alexstrasza build. Whatever path you take, always choose the deck you best understand. To help with this decision, some sample lists have been placed below.

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Mulligan Guide

While there are a few different Priest builds here and there, hard control is the most popular version. As a result, that is what you are going to mulligan for when going up against Anduin and his hordes of healing spells. This is a game where you are going to stick to your own plan, which means you just need to find your early game. Priest is a deck with very little burst and very few ways to put on pressure. That means you can afford to keep some slower freeze spells if needed.

Cards to Keep

Mad Scientist Loot Hoarder Doomsayer Frostbolt Arcane Intellect Acolyte of Pain

Situational Keeps

Frost Nova can be kept with card draw or alongside Doomsayer.

Cone of Cold, if you run it, follows the same rules asFrost Nova.

Fireball can be kept if you have early minions but no other removal.

You can even keep Blizzard if you have early card draw.

How to Win

Control Priest is a very interesting matchup because, while they have very little burst, they have access to some of the most healing in Hearthstone. Once upon a time Priest only relied on its hero power, high-health minions and solid removal to get through games. However, a more aggressive meta has made it stack up on cards like Flash Heal, Light of the Naaru and Justicar Trueheart. This makes your job a lot harder. Once Priest knows you’re Freeze they’re gonna save up on their healing, and playing around that is the key to this game.

Another part of this game is making the best use of your Freeze. While Priest is a notoriously slow deck, they do have a lot of midrange minions that quickly stack up as the game progresses. You do not need to panic here, nor do you want to use Frost Nova or Blizzard on a single minion if you can help it. The rule of this match is, Priest needs to play minions to kill you. Yes, they have forms of burn, but mostly they are going to push through with what’s on the board. If you are not under pressure then take your time. There is no need to rush until your health begins to fall into the lower teens.

Early Game Strategy

The opening of this game is going to be very straightforward. You are either going to play minions or draw cards, and they are going to add things onto the board. Out of all of their early plays, the two you really want to watch out for are Northshire Cleric and Dark Cultist. If you can, you should Frostbolt each of those cards on site.

While Cleric does not do a lot of damage, it is always important to take away Priest’s card draw. The more cards Priest has access to, the higher their chances they have healing. While most of the games they are going to have it anyway, you need to lower those odds as much as you can.

On the other hand, Dark Cultist can create a lot of problems for you. Not only does it put on pressure and dodge most of your removal, it gives buffs to Priest’s minions. Buffs are something you constantly have to be aware of in this match, because if their minions get too much health you can get overwhelmed. Always try to kill cultist when it is alone.

The most important part of the early turns is watching how Priest’s board develops. They are going to start slow most of the time, but there are some games where they will play perfectly on curve, putting down a minion turn after turn. If they start with the former, then you don’t need to worry. Just take it slow and dig for your finishers. However, if they begin quick, then start planning what turns are going to be best to use your freeze and find ways to stall them until your combo comes.

Midgame Strategy

This is the part of the game where you want to keep track of your life total and look to get the most out both you AOE and freeze. Priest is going to really crank up their pressure and attempt to build a board before you can play Emperor Thaurissan or Alexstrasza. Know this, and always try to catch the most minions as you can when playing your mass removal spells.

Another important factor is to take note of Justicar Trueheart. Though you will kill the 6/3 just about everytime she comes down, her ability greatly changes the game because it alters what Priest can do. Not only can they easily put their minions up out of AOE range, but they also can quickly recover from burn or Alexstrasza, as well as hit your for four with Auchenia Soulpriest. You don’t have to panic if they play Trueheart, but you do want to view the game through a different lens.

One of your biggest strengths in this matchup is Frost Nova/Doomsayer. Shadow Word: Pain is a largely a thing of the past, which means Priest has almost zero ways to take care of the 0/7. This is almost always going to be a clear. However, note that it is your best one, never use it unless you don’t have any other options.

Finally, it is important to watch out for Cabal Shadow Priest. Even against a Control deck like Priest you want to draw your secrets. This means you need to proc your Mad Scientists throughout the game. While it is easy during the opening turns (which are mostly spent trading), your opponent will not hesitate to take the two drop if they can. The same goes with Acolyte of Pain. Always be careful when playing those cards past turn six, and only drop them down if the Shadow Priest has already been used, or if you don’t care if they get stolen.

Late Game Strategy

The hardest part of this matchup is going to be actually killing Priest. As mentioned, they have access to a ton of healing, and you need to correctly play around it in order to strike them down. This part of the game plays very similarly to Renolock, where you are trying to bait them into using their healing too early before you unleash a large burst of burn. Sometimes it is right to throw a Frostbolt or Fireball at their face just to test and see what’s in their hand.

Alexstrasza is largely going to get nullified by Priest, but you have to play her out when you can. This is because she serves two important purposes. One, she tests to see if your opponent actually has any way to gain life, and she also uses up their healing spells. Anytime you can take away a heal from Priest you are that much closer to winning.

The card you need to be aware of most in the end game is Auchenai Soulpriest. The four drop normally serves as removal, but it can pop your Ice Block out of nowhere when paired with things like Flash Heal or a Justicar’d hero power. That can put you on the defensive very quickly, which is where you don’t want to be. While you don’t need to worry about the Soulpriest, just know that it exists.

The most important card in this matchup is Archmage Antonidas. If you don’t run non-traditional finishers like Malygos or Pyroblast, then he is going to be your best way to win. The general rule is to play him either when Priest is running low on resources or when you are setting up a two or three turn lethal. Just try to get at least two or three Fireballs out of him.

Final Tip

Emperor Thaurissan is extremely key in this match. While the 5/5 is never going to live a turn (which you don’t expect) you don’t want to play it until you have a very burn heavy hand. This is because the legendary dwarf is one of the only ways you can go up to thirty damage in one go. You can either use his ability when you have a burn-heavy hand, or when you have a lot of cheap spells in combination with Archmage Antonidas.