I am MatGagne, I made it into the top 25 legend last season with (by many consider to be) the worst class, Priest (moreover after consistently being picked last in the ViaGame HouseCup tournament) I must say I strongly disagree with the perception of where Priest stand in the meta. I build a deck (that like my statistics will show you) is strong in every matchup and is even heavily favored in certain matchups (mainly what the meta consist of)
This deck is built in a way to get you in a position where this class shine the most, when you have board control, which means; you can dictate the trades and use your hero power effectively to heal your minions afterwards. This deck has a low curve to allow you to gain that lead early on and has an unusual card which in my opinion really strengthen the deck by allowing you to take full advantage of that position, allowing you to compensate for the lack of cards this low curve might lead you and by allowing you to get in your hands the card that synergies together:Acolyte of Pain.
Why Acolyte of Pain would be good in Priest now?
Apart from Northshire Cleric which is one of the best card draw engine in the game, Priest always been searching for that little extra card draw to avoid situations where you could run out of card. The only option the Priest class really offering is Thoughtsteal, mainly popularize by Amaz, Thoughtsteal is a staple in most Priest decks.
Before assessing if Acolyte is good for Priest, we should first ask yourself; is Thoughsteal a strong card for Priest?
From my experience, those 3 mana spent in Thoughtsteal has rarely been a good investment, the cards gotten from this spell is often underwhelming. Most of the time the cards that I got from this spell are below average, cards that I don’t really want, like Whirlwind, Mad Scientist, Wolfrider, Doomguard, Shadowflame, Warsong Commander, Ice Block, Flametongue Totem, etc, etc. Moreover, I sometimes get cards that are simply useless like Shield Slam, Ancient Watcher, Deadly Poison or Blade Flurry. On top of that, when I finally get a card that I am happy with, it sometimes gets even worse, by unlocking the counter tech card of my opponent, like a Truesilver Champion counter by Harrison, 7+ attack minion (which my deck doesn’t have) counter by BGH, or secret or taunt.
These observations lead me to say that the cards you get from thoughtsteal are on average subpar, which basically makes it a worse version of Arcane Intellect. If you can agree that Arcane Intellect its pretty much the baseline of an ok card draw engine in term of value, we can say that thoughsteal is not so great, not to say pretty bad. Very few highly competitive decks have in it two pretty bad cards, which by the same token makes it hard for Priest to be a viable class. Some people have realized this and cut one or two, but this doesn’t resolve the card draw situation for Priest. The solution? Acolyte of Pain.
Multiple small changes lead me to say that Acolyte of Pain is now a strong card for Priest
- All the new synergies introduce with GvG: It’s almost endless, Light of Naaru with Cleric, Blademaster, Auchenai and Pyro, or Shrinkmeister with Cabal and Shadowmadness, or Circle with …, etc, etc. So, I don’t even need to draw many cards with Acolyte to make it more valuable than Thoughtsteal, I don’t want my opponent cards, I went to get deeper into my deck and unlock my combos.
- Zombie Chow and Shrinkmeister: They allow you to have boards advantage early on and when acolyte is played on turn3, he is often free to do the smaller trades.
- Light of the Naaru: With 2 of those in your deck, you now have 6 spells that cost one or less that you can easily be combo with Pyromancer and Acolyte.
- Shrinkmeister Battlecry: It isn’t the best play in the history of hearthstone, but you would be surprise how many times I used this combo with Acolyte to allow him to survive in a trade and draw additional cards.
- Velen’s Chosen: It might seem like an anti synergy, making it too vulnerable to silence, but most of the time it pays off, he becomes very hard to remove and can sometimes draw multiple cards.
- *The Hero Power: When you are ahead, Acolyte is best in a Priest deck.
Ok, don’t get too excited, on average I draw 1.5-2 cards with it (including all scenarios like being silenced), it might not seem that much, but that’s pretty much what warrior get with it (they may get more or less I am not sure), and considering it also put a small minion on the board, for 3 mana, it is more than wroth it. I also realized that it made my deck stronger vs agro, because even if it is not a great anti agro card, I vastly prefer to have a 1/3 minion on the board on turn3 that my opponent basically has no choice to remove than play Thoughtseal. And vs control, he is usually great; you can be more greedy and have the time to set him up to draw multiple cards.
That being said, the one advantage Thoughsteal has over Acolyte is when games come down to fatigue because it gives you an extra card. But, I don’t think this really matter, the meta is too fast right now, in the 92 games I compiled, I only lost one because of fatigue.
Why no Recombobulator?
Why no Sludge Belcher?
Why no Lightbomb?
Why no Mind Control?
Decks overall statistics: 61-31, 66% winrate (statistics compile at high legend rank from the 25th to the 30th May)
This is a very good anti-agro deck, he is favored vs all agro decks, because his capability of gaining board control from the start, otherwise it has many comebacks mechanisms that can potentially screw up any lead the opponent could take (with Circle combo, Pyro combo, Shadow Madness, Holy Nova and Sylvanas).
This deck can also stand it’s own against control decks by:
- Taking board advantage early on, a lead the opponent might never be able to overcome by playing too long from behind.
- Getting cards advantage with the smart use of cleric and/or Acolyte of Pain and out value your opponent by being mana efficient, being able to chose the best possible play and by maximizing the value of your cards with their synergy.
- Messing up the opponent’s deck by stealing his stuff, mainly by denying his card draw capability.
Against Warlock: 11-8 (60% winrate)
Zoo: 8-4 (67% winrate), Handlock: 4-4 (50% winrate)
Vs Handlock: Very hard matchup, but it isn’t impossible to win. Try to make good use of the first 4 turns, ideally find a way to draw cards with cleric. A turn4 Vol’jin can be a good tempo play to can lead you to a win. Try to finish him as soon as possible, otherwise you will lack removal for his big minions. Otherwise, I think 2 of my wins have been by Harrison Jaraxxus weapon. From there, you usually have a lot of burst to finish him off with Auchenai and Chow/Naaru.
Mulligan: Unless you are 100% sure you are facing Handlock, mulligan for Zoo. Keep: Cleric, Chow, Circle, Auchenai and Pyro if you have the coin. If you have 1 drop keep Shrinkmeister, Pwshield, Velen’s Chosen and Shadow Madness.
Against Hunter: 15-4 (79% winrate)
Mulligan: Keep: Cleric, Chow and Pyro if you have the coin. If you already have 1 drop keep Shrinkmeister, Pwshield, Velen’s Chosen, Shadow Madness and Harrison.
Against Warrior: 9-6 (60% winrate)
Control: 3-4 (43% winrate), Patron: 6-2 (75% winrate)
Vs Control: The only way to win in this matchup is by denying their card draw by stealing their acolyte of pain with Shadow Madness or Cabal.
Vs Patron: This deck is one of the best decks to counter Patron Warrior, once again by denying their card draw. If possible, try to keep your auchenai circle combo for when he fills the board with patron.
In both matchups try to be greedy with Harrison, but even more so if you are facing Patron Warrior, try to keep it for Death’s Bite, it usually pays off.
It is important to avoid playing minions that can be directly be killed by their weapon. Wait for a Pwdshield or try to play multiple minions on the same turn.
Mulligan: One of the hardest mulligan, mainly because you really want Shadow Madness vs Patron, but it is an almost useless card vs control. Otherwise, keep: pwsheild and Harrison. You can keep blademaster and circle if you have both of them in your opening hand.
Against Druid: 9-4 (69% winrate)
Mulligan: Ideally try to go for the Blademaster circle Combo. Keep: Cleric, Chow and Blademaster. If you have a 1 drop keep: Pwshield, Velen’s Chosen and 2 drops.
Against Mage: 7-5 (58% winrate)
Aggro Mage: 5-4 (56% winrate), Freeze Mage: 2-1 (67% winrate)
Vs Freeze Mage: It is difficult to apply enough pressure vs Freeze Mage. One way to be more aggressive is to surprise them with an Auchenai with a Chow already in play. If you know you won’t be able to kill him quickly enough, keep your Naarus for healing after he plays Alexstrasza.
Mulligan: Always mulligan for agro Mage, keep: Cleric, Chow, Circle, Auchenai and Pyro if you have the coin. If you have 1 drop keep Shrinkmeister, Pwshield, Velen’s Chosen and Shadow Madness.
Against Paladin: 5-0 (100% winrate)
Mulligan: Keep: Cleric, Chow, Pyro, Blademaste, Harrison. If you have 1 drop keep pwshield, shrinkmeister. Keep Circle if you also have Blademaster or Auchenai.
Against Priest: 2-2 (50% winrate)
Mulligan: Try to go for the Blademaster combo, keep: Cleric, Chow, Blademaster and Circle.
Against Rogue: 2-2 (50% winrate)
Mulligan: Keep: Cleric, Chow and Harrison. If you have both Circle and Blademaster keep them. If you have a 1 drop keep: 2 drops, pwshield and Acolyte.
Against Shaman: 1-0 (100% winrate)
Mulligan: Keep: Cleric, Chow, Circle, Auchenai and Pyro if you have the coin. If you have 1 drop keep Shrinkmeister, Pwshield, Velen’s Chosen and Shadow Madness.
If you try this deck out, be patient with it, it is a hard deck to play, you usually have multiple options offer to you, it isn’t easy finding out the best play. However, once you mastered this deck, you will be very hard to beat.
* I do coaching, private message me if you are interested.