I’m a simple man. When Priest hits legend, I play it. Though
Anduin Tyrande has gotten nowhere near the exposure that people wanted to see following Karazhan or the nerfs, Ismiel shows that the healing class still has some gas left in the tank. This week’s deck is not necessarily new ground, but it is a re-shelling of one of my favorite decks from the past few months. Resurrect Priest was a flash in the pan list of sorts that was everywhere during the days of Karazhan, and then disappeared without so much as a trace. However, the core was very strong and the tools it had were very good against most of the popular meta decks. Though the deck did not quite have the oomph many were looking for, the fringes were so good that it is definitely worth a re-visit. And that’s what we’re looking at today.
This week’s list is another example of how good tuning and changes can make an old deck much better for the current ladder. Many of the Resurrect decks of old were split between two worlds. Some of their deck would look like classic Control Priest, while half would be a very greedy rez list that played huge minions and a bunch of slow spells. This week’s deck forgoes that route and comes up with a much more aggressive (albeit it a much more combo based) deck that runs a lot faster. This build may not have the safety nets of the past, but it changes those out for some very strong interactions. Priority is one of the most important aspects in the current game, and this deck has plenty of ways to get it.
As with any Priest deck, using Flash Heal is a very important part of winning. The one mana spell has a lot of versatility, and you always want to think about how you are going to use it in any given match. Though it may not be your first inclination (especially with all the Shaman running around) but you typically want to use this card as removal/damage in combination with Auchanai Soulpriest or Embrace the Shadow. Despite all of the interactions and strange plays this deck has, you are largely a midrange shell built with some control tools tacked on. As a result, being able to play a threat and also kill an opposing minion for one mana is one of the strongest things you have at your disposal. In that same vein, there are going to be games where you have priority and pushing hard for damage. Flash Heal is going to be essential here because it serves as lethal in many cases. Most players do not expect Priest to have burst and they will often fall down to low levels of life when playing you. Recognize this and save the burst for surprise kills if possible.
As expected, Flash Heal‘s healing is also very important. Though you are most often going to use it on yourself, using on your minions can be very valuable during the middle or late game. Almost all of your threats have high amounts of health, which means they trade quite well. Though your opponent can often wear down your board, having the ability to trade in and then put something up to full health can be a gigantic swing. Especially against decks like Druid or Hunter that largely depend on chip damage. If you don’t need the card for lethal, you usually want to use it to protect your board. That being said, also understand when it can double as healing. Five health for the price of one mana is very good in many situations. While the meta is not as bust heavy as it was a few months ago, there are still many sources of out-of-hand damage. Understand how each deck sets up lethal, and use this card to dodge them when you have to.
I bring up Resurrect, not to discuss what it does, but rather to explain the importance of setting it up. One of things I enjoy most about this version of Rez Priest is the minions. Unlike past iterations, which would bog down their deck with things like Shifting Shade, Loot Hoarder or Wild Pyromancer, this list only hits high value targets. It doesn’t even have Barnes for God’s sake. This means you are going to only bring back premium minions. Anything in this list, be it a Injured Bladmaster, Bog Creeper or Priest of the Feast, gives you a lot of value when returned from the dead. This means you should always play out your threats and let your opponent answer them. This is not a deck where you can play scared or worry about possible removal. You want to put your opponent into bad situations where you just take over the board, and for that to happen you need your threats to die.
Another big part of this card (along with Onyx Bishop) is making sure the minions you want to die actually die. For instance, running out a Priest of the Feast over an Auchenai Soulpriest to make sure you can bring it back when facing aggro. Or, on the flip side, making sure that Auchenai dies to set up a Resurrect/Circle of Healing play later one. These types of interactions may seem small, but getting one minion killed over another can go a long way. Because of this, always try and make your highest value target is the one that bites the dust first. Also, watch out for Hex, Entomb, Freezing Trap or any other spells that can stall or ruin your rez interactions. Your deck can be clunky when taken off its plan and you need to prevent that from happening in any way that you can.
Embrace the Shadow
Another interesting card, Embrace the Shadow is not standard Priest fare. However, it is very strong in the current meta. As Hunter and Shaman both continue to climb up the ladder and take over everything in sight, being able to clear the board is becoming more and more important for slower decks like this one. While this list can steamroll opponents once you make it into the middle parts of the game, it is going to take some time to get to that point. As such, you need a way to make sure you don’t just get overwhelmed by faster lists. Auchenai Soulpriest/Circle of Healing is going to get you far, but sometimes you aren’t going to have all the pieces lined up in the way that you want them. Having an extra activator for both your Circle and Flash Heals is very important and helps give this list some much-needed consistency. Just note that you typically want to use your Circle’s with Auchenai over the spell. This is because the 3/5 gives you a body on the board that is likely to die. The only time you want to use Shadow over the minion is because it costs less and you want to do something after you finish clearing out.
Continuing our conversation from earlier, this deck loves to control the mid-game. Many cards help with that, but perhaps none more so than Darkshire Alchemist is a big part of that plan. Though the 4/5 is just a one-of, similar to Flash Heal, it has a lot of different functions. One of the weakest points about Flash Heal is that it does nothing to affect the board. While the ability may be very strong in a lot of different scenarios, using a spell to heal is not that great in the minion-based meta of today. Even using it to clear is lacking without a body to go along with it. Darkshire fixes this problem brilliantly by giving you a yeti to play with on top of that heal. This then gives you a way to play both sides, where you can advance your board and also affect other aspects of the game.
All of the different rules that apply to Flash Heal apply to the 4/5. However, this has the added bonus of being able to be used as a huge tempo swing. Most of your cards are going to be strong, but slow. Even Onyx Bishop inherently does nothing besides dump a pile of stats onto the table. In contrast, the alchemist gives you a way to remove a threat in combination with Auchenai Soulpriest or Embrace the Shadow or put down a solid body alongside healing up the minion you just traded with. These type of plays give you overwhelming board presence and can blow out many decks. Just getting down a 3/5 against a 4/5 many decks will usually be game over, but so will putting down a 4/5 and then healing your 4/2 Injured Blademaster back up to full health. Always look for these opportunities and try to set them up by clearing the board in preparation.
As always, know your Entomb targets. Though I have no doubt mentioned this in the past, it is something that I cannot stress enough. Every single deck in the game has big threats, and you need to understand which games you need to save this for a specific threat and when you can be more liberal with it. The reason that this card takes precedence over things like Shadow Word: Death is because there are certain targets you absolutely need to hit with this. For instance, using it to take away Murloc Warleader against Paladin, Sylvanas Windrunner against Warrior, or Savannah Highmane when facing Hunter. You never want to use Entomb as a normal kill spell when playing Priest. Always think about priority targets at the start of the game and save it specifically for those minions. Taking a low-priority minion is almost always going to lead to a loss.
In that vein, you only ever want to burn this as a last resort. That is to say, when you have no other removal at your disposal and you absolutely need to get rid of something, or when you are simply out of options. Entomb is your fail-safe and you want to treat it as such. Though you may want to take your opponent’s Ragnaros the Firelord for later on in the game, if you haven’t seen a Sylvanas Windrunner then you need to useShadow Word: Death instead. Death should be your first inclination because it is only has so many targets it can hit and Entomb is a catch-all. However, you do have the luxury of two Entombs. This means you can use one on a softer minion if you have the second in hand or you simply don’t have other removal.
The five decks that I see the most when playing on the ladder.
Hex. Hex. Hex. While there are many important aspects to this matchup, the biggest is making sure your threats die and do not turn into frogs. Bringing back a 0/1 taunt is often going to lose you the game and you want to resist that as much as possible. The way you typically do this is by playing cards that Shaman can kill with other means. That is to say, running out a 4/3 Injured Blademaster or clearing the board and making your Auchenai Soulpriest a 4/1. These are subtle moves, but they will often coax out other forms of removal, clearing the path for your Resurrect cards. Beyond that, just work really hard to control the early turns and mitigate any push they put together. You will almost always be able to run away with a game once you get to the later turns, but you need to work hard to stop damage before they roll around.
You are largely going to win this game with Circle of Healing. As you well know, today’s Shaman is built around board presence, and they all need some type of army to push through. You just want to limit that as much as you can and blow up the board any time they amass some minions. However, you typically do not need to pull the trigger right away. Don’t be afraid to get greedy and hold off an extra turn if you aren’t under pressure. It may not seem like a big deal, but killing an extra minion (especially something like Azure Drake) can be huge. Your biggest advantage in this matchup is how strong your Flash Heal effects are. While Shaman can build up a board, they really depend on getting damage through with Fire Elemental and Thing From Below. Both of those cards have five health, which means you can kill them with some Auchenai/Healing action. That then allows you to ave
Still number two, Secret Hunter is a deck that has risen up to take hold of the pillars of the meta. This deck has a lot of consistency, extremely powerful swing turns and some of the best minions around. That beats a lot of decks, but their gameplan does not do as well against you. The reason for this is that Secret Hunter depends on secrets to win games, and almost all of their secrets fall flat. Snipe usually does not kill your high-health minions, neither does Explosive Trap, while your AOE can easily take out both Snake Trap and Cat Trick. The only thing you really need to be worried about here is Freezing Trap. The two mana spell can downright lose you the game if you attack into it with the wrong target. As a result, never just blindly run your minions into a secret. Always take your time and carefully test as best as you can. In that same vein, never just attack to attack. You never want to give your opponent bow charges unless you have to. This is a long game you can win, so there’s no reason to rush.
There is going to come a point in this game where you will take over the board and your opponent will switch to direct damage. Be prepared for this. You can cancel out Steady Shot with your hero power, but things like Kill Command, Quick Shot and Eaglehorn Bow add up very quickly. Hunter has some of the best burst in the game, and you want to work hard to resist it as much as you can. Save every healing spell for the later stages of the game, and always play to your Bog Creepers. The giant taunts act as a trump card and will often wrap things up, especially because Hunter’s no longer run any solid spot removal like Deadly Shot or Hunter’s Mark. Just be sure to hold onto Entomb for Savannah Highmane at all costs and work hard to grab hold of the board to stay in control of priority. If you can keep the pressure up on Hunter they will never be able to get properly set.
Is it cold in here, or is it just me? Freeze Mage, Midrange Shaman’s natural predator, has been absolutely everywhere over the past week and it shows no signs of slowing down. This is going to be an extremely difficult matchup for you because it is very hard to ever truly put together a push for damage. Not only do none of your minions have deathrattle, making your board very succeptible to clear, but you also have very limited burst. This means the way you are going to win this game is by simply running your opponent out of damage. Most Freeze lists depend on forgotten torch, and you can out-heal them given the time. The two cards you need to save here are Flash Heal and Priest of the Feast. They are the way you win after an Alexstrasza, and the way you outlive an endless stream of damage.
Another important card to winning this game is Shadow Word: Pain. Though it is low-impact in many matches, pain is necessary against Freeze because it is one of the few ways you can easily deal with Doomsayer. The two drop may not seem like the end of the world, but you never want to give your Freeze opponent an easy clear. Almost all of your cards have a lot of health, which readily dodges AOE like Flamestrike and Blizzard. As a result, solid pressure will force your opponent to use burn on your board, taking damage off of your face. This then gives you more ways to live and enables you to come out on top if the game goes long. However, if they get a clear with the sayer, they will not have this problem. Though you may be tempted to burn pain on other targets (such as an Acolyte of Pain) you need to always hold it for the 0/7.
The premier control deck around, Warrior is still holding strong as a bastion against both Freeze Mage and Shaman. While this deck does very well against the meta, it is much worse against you. Not only do you have all the control tools that work so well against Warrior (such as Entomb), but you also have the ability to bring back solid threats over and over again. Warrior is predicated on the fact that their removal is going to be able to kill all of their opponent’s threats. You break that mold by playing double the amount of threats that most decks do. As a result, the golden rule here is to always stretch out your opponent’s removal and never give them an easy way to kill your minions. For instance, never overextend into Brawl. Just having an Onyx Bishop plus an Injured Blademaster is more than enough pressure.
The most important thing to understand about playing Warrior is that the game is going to go very, very long. While in most of your matches you are going to try and build more and more fast pressure, this is a game where you want to be as careful as you can. Really wait on your opponent’s removal and don’t be afraid to simply sit and do nothing for a few turns. This game is going to play out a lot like control vs. control, and because you have the ability to play more threats than your opponent you should be able to win. You just want to play attrition as much as possible and slowly wear down your opponent’s hand. Warrior’s removal is efficient, but also targeted. If you can bait out an Execute here and a Shield Slam there you will eventually be able to win the card advantage battle (which is most of the game). Just note to save your Entomb for Sylvanas. She’s one of the only ways Warrior takes back tempo once they’ve lost it.
Like an annoying gnat buzzing in a South African water buffalo’s ear, Zoo continues to stick around well past its welcome. Though I feel that many of the current decks in the game are tuned to take the aggressive Warlock down, it just refuses to die. However, most Priest decks are extremely strong against this build, and yours is no exception. The reason is that you have a combination of cards that Warlock has a lot of trouble with. Not only do you have high-health minions (which often force them to use their damage on your board), but you have cheap ways to bring them back. Then, on top of that, you also have a ton of both spot removal and AOE. This is a game where you are going to play pure control. While Zoo has many ways to contest the board, you will simply grind them down with your threats and make this match last long. To do that, you just want to kill everything your opponent plays and make sure they can never truly amass a board. Just keep getting hits in where you can and then end the game with your Bog Creepers.
This is going to be a very strange mulligan. The reason for that is that almost all of the deck is either bad early, or incredibly situational. The only two must keeps in this deck are Injured Blademaster and Shadow Word: Pain. Beyond that, Circle of Healing can be kept with either of its activators, but is usually too weak on its own, and you can keep Shadow Word: Death against Shaman and Druid if you have a curve with it. Priest of the Feast is good with the coin or a curve, and the same goes for Auchenai Soulpriest.
While you do not want to keep anything that costs five or more, you can keep Excavated Evil can be kept with the coin against a swarm deck like Zoo or Shaman. Power Word: Shield and Resurrect should only be kept alongside early minions, and you never want your situational cards like Flash Heal without a combo piece.
What is dead may never die. Resurrect Priest, for all of the flack it gets, is a very cool deck. Not only do you get to play with some very interesting minions, but you also get a chance to tear into some awesome interactions that normally don’t come to light. I am always glad when I can feature the healing class, especially when I also get to play necromancer at the same time. Until next week, may you always bring back the dead.