Weekly Legends: Aggro Priest

No, the title is not a typo. This is a legend aggro Priest deck. Aggro. Priest. I don’t normally reiterate a point that much, but this deck really does what it sets out intends to do: kill the opponent quickly. I know I just covered Priest, but this is such a huge leap from the […]

Introduction

No, the title is not a typo. This is a legend aggro Priest deck. Aggro. Priest. I don’t normally reiterate a point that much, but this deck really does what it sets out intends to do: kill the opponent quickly. I know I just covered Priest, but this is such a huge leap from the norm, I felt it wouldn’t be fair to ignore it. This list comes from the Chinese Youjiaoyangdeniu who put together a great list that relies on no legends and no epics. It is a very well put together deck that uses early starts and a plethora of combos to allow you to win out of nowhere.

While I will reiterate this  more later, this is very much a combo-oriented deck. While sometimes you will play tempo, and sometimes you will be aggressive, you need to understand you will almost always win though some sort of huge finishing turn. That turn could be come from Circle of Healing, Lightwarden, Inner Fire or the like, but it will almost always be something to that effect. As such, while this deck is labeled “aggro”, planning, as always, is extremely important. You should be constantly doing math, trying to understand how your future plays will set up a win. As this deck relies on quick bursts, you are (usually) going to have a very small window of opportunity to win before your opponent recovers. That opportunity may look different every game, but if you can recognize when it happens (usually on a key turn) you will be able to get a good groove going. It may not be the easiest deck to pilot, but this is the first time I have ever seen an aggressive Priest archetype work, and that’s pretty cool.

Key Cards

Circle of Healing

Never have I played a deck that gives Circle of Healing more utility than this one. Unlike so many decks, which are predicated on getting one set combo out of this card, you have a ton of modes that are all very powerful. Of course, there is the old Auchenai/Circle gambit, as well as the strong turns with Injured Blademaster, but there are ways to go far beyond that. In fact, while sometimes you are going to use circle to clear the board or pump out a three mana 4/7, you typically want to go huge with this card, looking for lethal or drawing a ton of cards off of Northshire Cleric.

In this deck, Circle of Healing gives you lethal in two different ways. One point that I will reiterate below, is that you typically want to kill off your Zombie Chows with Auchenai Soulpriest on the board. As a result, circle is a great way to do this; allowing you to clear the board and have Zombie Chow hit for seven damage. That play alone can lead to wins and is a very important aspect to the build. The other way this card can lead to a quick lethal is with Lightwarden. The little one drop is a very scary card, and if it ever lives a turn you can really push out damage. Circle is what really allows it to get huge, and will make people second guess letting Lightwarden live.

Zombie Chow

Though this is an aggro deck, it doesn’t always operate quite in the way you expect. Zombie Chow is a perfect example of why. This card is a great tool (as most cards in this deck are) against both aggro and control. Of course, chow has always been a solid way to fight things such as Leper Gnome and Knife Juggler, but it is mainly in this deck for the damage. You have two Mind Blasts, which are the best way you can skip around taunt, but chow paired with Auchenai Soulpriest acts as Mind Blast three and four. Though these sometimes will just be used to stabilize an early board, both Velen’s Chosen and Power Word: Shield will usually let them live long enough to act as damage rather than healing.

After the first two or three turns, you only want to use Zombie Chow for damage purposes. This deck can do a lot of damage quickly, and you need to be able to get in hits where you can. Since there is no late game, you cannot afford to give your opponent five health back. As such, you usually want to hold chow in the later stages of the game until you can kill it immediately, usually with Circle of Healing and an Auchenai Soulpriest. In fact, the damage becomes so important that, once turn four and five start, I almost always will drop an Auchenai, even onto a weak board, to kill my chow and make sure it hits for five.

Light of the Naaru

A lot of this deck is predicated on the idea of versatility. That is to say, the cards you have are good in many different ways, which allows you many different modes. Light of the Naaru is a very interesting card, not just for what it does, but for what it creates. I will break this down in two parts, first looking at the “heal 3 damage” part of the card. This is a fantastic way to stay ahead of aggro matchups, and give you something on the board. Against Hunter, Zoo and Mage, healing for three can buy you an extra turn or two. Against slower decks, you can also use this to heal up your Injured Blademasters or any minion that has a surplus of health from either Power Word: Shield or Velen’s Chosen. On the other hand, this card can also do three damage when comboed with the Soulpriest. In many games you will find yourself holding a grip of cards as you try to calculate damage. That often happens with this card, dealing six damage for two mana. In a deck that wants to kill its opponent quickly, that’s a really good deal.

The other important part of this card is the Lightwarden that it leaves behind. Lightwarden on its own is not a great card. In this deck, it is lethal. This build is constructed from a large number of small (or large) combos that end your opponent out of nowhere. Those come in many forms, but pumping a Lightwarden into something huge with Circle of Healing is a great way to end the game. As such, you typically want to be very careful when or how you play the warden, as it usually won’t live a turn. Typically, it is best to hide it behind Deathlord or drop it down when your opponent has an empty board. However, two health is very fragile and dies to most things. As a result, you also want to try and get it down when you can buff it, either with Dark Cultist, Velen’s Chosen or Power Word: Shield.

Mind Blast

Damage. That is simply what this card is. Five damage for two mana that can only go face is not the best deal in the world. However, this gives you an incredible amount of reach, and allows you to plan for future turns quite well. One thing that puts Face Hunter above the rest of the aggro decks is the ability to simply slam into the opponent’s face with confidence their spells will carry the day. This card allows you to do the same thing, acting as a Kill Command that always does five damage. When you have Mind Blast in your hand, your damage potential rises considerably. As such, it enables you to reach out and start hitting your opponent as hard as you can. This is not always the best mindset to have, but this deck can do a huge amount of damage very quickly. However, that damage comes in two modes.

In the first mode, you have the ground damage which is done through minions and gets stopped by taunts. When you are pushing for lethal, you need to get all the hits you can. Mind Blast is a card that allows you to push much more than you normally would, and as such you need to save it for the last minute. People are not used to playing around Mind Blast, which means they will typically fall a lot lower than they normally would against this deck. Take advantage of that. Of course, there will always be times when your opponent has a clutch Antique Healbot, but you can’t really play around that. As I always say, try not to play afraid. You will win many more games going for damage and making your opponent have an answer than you will sitting back and waiting.

Jeeves

At first glance, this card may seem like it is out of place. It is a strange one of that doesn’t really fit with the usual range of “Priest cards”. However, this is a combo aggro deck after all. And, as a combo deck, this is also a list that loves cards. Northshire Cleric will almost always be the way you go long in games, comboing with circle and large minions for an early stream of card draw. However, there are some games where her reach will not be enough and you will want to dig deeper for combo pieces. Jeeves is great for that, enabling you to find more combo pieces. As there are many games where you will be holding cards for a finishing move, or when an early cleric just gives you a lot of cards, he is not always needed and should never be kept early. However, as many decks know, Jeeves is a great fail safe option to have, and he really can bring you right back into games when you run low on cards.

Matchups

The five decks I see most on ladder.

Hunter

As you can imagine, this deck excels against others aggressive decks. While you are both going face, you have ways to actually fight back against an aggro onslaught. Against aggro, you typically want to play a tempo game than going for straight damage. You are a lot like Hunter in the sense that you back up your early push with a large flurry of spells. However, Hunter still has the ability to do giant swaths of damage exactly like you do. As such, you need to keep their board clear while also making sure you are putting pressure of their life. Most Hunters these days play a wide range of traps, but Freezing Trap is the norm. This is very important to note because a lot of the time you will go all in on a minion, and you absolutely do not want that to get trapped. Explosive Trap shouldn’t hurt you though, and often makes your circles and clerics even stronger.

When playing against Hunter, you need to figure out what exact type you’re playing against. Against Hybrid you need to be very aggressive, constantly hitting your opponent before they can try and stabilize with Savannah Highmane and Sludge Belcher. However, against Face Hunter you just start like a normal Priest, killing off the small minions, healing up and hiding behind taunts. The only difference is, once the time comes, you want to hit them and them hard. In both matchups you want to be looking for the best ways to end the game, but you need to play around both their traps and damage potential. As always, Hunter is a deck that does not do well when they have to answer your threats instead of you answering theirs.

Zoo

Just with Hunter, this is a game that falls vastly in our favor. Healing, early presence and damage all build a deck that Zoo does not want to deal with. Just like Hunter, you want to be more tempo than aggro, but unlike Hunter, they have much more resilient minions and can trade up. While Zombie Chow will almost always be able to kill a Leper Gnome or Worgen Infiltrator, it usually will get killed by anything Zoo plays due to their constant stream of buffs. This an important distinction, and one you have to know. While your main mode should not be face, due to Lifetap, the longer the game goes, the lower their life total gets. This makes it so you can almost always kill them with burst, which they typically do not have outside of Doomguard or Power Overwhelming.

While this matchup is aggro vs. aggro, there are two things you need to be aware of. First, Deathlord can really be a huge liability here. While most of Zoo’s minions are small, anything they add to the board can be a threat. Not only that, unlike many decks that need to sink a lot of resources into killing Deathlord, Zoo can use minimal buffs to kill the 2/8. The second thing to remember is Zoo only has two ways (Doomguard says hi) of doing damage without minions on the board. This is also key, because if you can clear their board, you will almost always win the race. Not only does their power help you in the fight, but they also will have little ways to end the game once you have stabilized. Knowing this is important when deciding when to race and when to trade, but you should commonly push for damage when you can and make sure they can’t keep up.

Handlock

Handlock is back ladies and gentleman, and my God is it a hard matchup. Some games this plays just like you want it to, smacking your opponent down over and over again and then killing them behind taunts. These games are generally very quick and almost feel like free wins. Here, you want to combo Zombie Chow with Auchenai Soulpriest, and use key damage sources like Mind Blast[card] and [card]Inner Fire to push through huge hits on turn four just before they can drop Sludge Belcher or heal up. However, the games don’t usually go that way. They usually go longer, and this is not a matchup you want to go long.

I briefly discussed earlier the way that each game seems like it only comes down to a key couple of turns, and that goes double here. Not only does Handlock have tons of taunt, they also have a plethora of ways to heal. The best way to think about this matchup is to sneak damage in when you can and try to finish them off once they think they are safe behind taunts. You need to start out fast, and the one Silence is only going to be good for the first few turns when they put out one taunt at a time. Surprise is perhaps your only true friend here. Handlock is not a deck that usually expects Priest to be able to kill them quickly from behind their taunt wall, so they are usually a little more careless with their life total than they should be.

Patron Warrior

Another week, another Warrior. Patron is back this time around, building up minions and comboing you down from 30. While that may be an exaggeration, it is important to understand Patron Warrior and know exactly how it works. You have a lot of small minions, which will matter towards the later stages of the game. Turn seven and turn eight can be nightmares for you if you don’t have an answer, and if you feel the game is going long, it may be a good idea to hold onto Auchenai/Circle. The other thing to understand is how Patron survives. They run four weapons (as all Warriors do) but they also only have two Executes as their form of removal. As such, once you bait out their first one (which will most likely happen during turn three or four) you can a lot more lenient about using a Velen’s Chosen or Inner Fire to go big.

Patron is a deck that lives off of going for the sudden kill. They have a ton of powerful threats and interactions, but if you can heal up enough, they usually won’t be able to finish the game off. This especially goes for games where you start out fast, giving them no chance to keep up. Though they are a Warrior, Patron is not a deck that has the luxury to take time and use their hero power. They do have two Armorsmiths, and they will usually use them in conjunction with Whirlwind or the like, but only if they feel threatened. Pressure them early, try to kill them quickly, understand their removal, and try to stabilize the board. Besides Warsong Commander turns, you only really have to be aware of Grommash Hellscream, which is where they usually push through their final damage. After they have used their commanders, just stay above 12 life and you should be fine.

Paladin

Paladin is a very interesting match that is heavily slanted in our favor. In fact, I would say this matchup is different because, instead of trying to avoid taunts and heals, you are actually trying to avoid dying. That may sound odd, but Paladin is a deck that typically only runs three taunts (two Sludge Belchers and Tirion Fordring) and one heal in Lay on Hands. Besides that, they are not really slanted to deal with aggro decks. In fact, most games you will find they will simply just go bigger than you, or combo with Muster for Battle and Quartermaster. If that happens, it is very hard to comeback. So, you need to keep pressure on them to avoid that from happening.

Typically, Paladin relies on a curve to keep it going. If you can stay ahead or disrupt that curve, you will usually have an easy time winning the game. While they have some very strong openings in Muster for Battle, Shielded Minibot and Zombie Chow, you can play Northshire Cleric, Wild Pyromancer and chows of your own. Your buffs will almost always carry these games. Paladin usually only runs one Equality these days, and they pack an Ironbeak Owl just in case. Just like with Execute in Patron Warrior, once you force out either of those answers, feel free to go big.

Mulligan Guide

This entire deck is predicated on combos, and mulliganing is exactly the same. You want to constantly try and mulligan for any combo you can while staying within the overarching theme of the Priest early game. This mulligan is run on a series of checks. The first check is just for normal Priest. The must keeps here are like any other deck; Northshire Cleric, Power Word: Shield, Zombie Chow and Shadowboxer. Wild Pyromancer should be kept against all decks that aren’t Druid, and if you have the coin Deathlord and Dark Cultist are also added to the list. In this way, you just want to have something early while spells like Inner Fire and Mind Blast should be sent back for later in the game.

The second check you want to look for while mulliganing is combos. This entire deck is built off a ton of small interactions, be it Injured Blademaster and Circle of Healing, Zombie Chow, Coin, Velen’s Chosen or Wild Pyromancer, Northshire Cleric, Circle, Coin. Whatever it is, if you have a strong opening combo, you typically want to keep that. There are countless combos, and I don’t want to list them all here, but always be looking for them. While you do want to mulligan a little differently based on the deck (always keep Wild Pyromancer against Paladin or Deathlord against Hunter) combos will almost always override that. Stick to your classic Priest openings, try and figure out the best way to get good interactions and you’ll be just fine.

Conclusion

Another hundred degree week, another decklist. Summer is here, and I hope you are all having a great time wherever you are. This week’s decklist shows that innovation is still alive in well on the ladder, and there are plenty of more decks to explore. Until next time, when it might be high time I finally get a golden Rogue, may you always strike down your opponent’s with vengeance.