Guide: Priest Control (DKMR)
Article sponsored by HearthStats
Hi there! [DKMR]BorN here, today we’ll be discussing the Priest Control deck! Priest is a hero we do not normally see much of on the ladder. Its reactive nature makes it difficult to get consistent results to rank up; however, Priest fares quite well in the tournament setting. Let’s get right into the deck and see what we’re dealing with.
The set of Priest-specific cards is based around mainly the manipulation of cards, whether it is stealing cards from your opponent’s hand or deck, or their minions on the board. As we mentioned earlier, this makes Priest more reactive than other heroes. To be successful with Priest, we need to be able to always have an answer to our opponent’s plays and sometimes this means being patient.
The list we are featuring today strives to achieve that, having a strong presence at all stages of the game. Now that we’ve seen the list, we’re going to discuss each card and how it works in the deck.
Circle of Healing
At first sight, this card seems pretty underwhelming: a card that heals both players’ minions? Used properly, this card is insanely powerful. When it’s used alongside cards like Injured Blademaster and Northshire Cleric, we can heal the Injured Blademaster the same turn it’s played; effectively a 4/7 for only three mana! Add in a Northshire Cleric and this card can draw you many cards, depending on the board-state.
Circle of Healing can also be used offensively. When Auchenai Soulpriest is on the board, Circle of Healing becomes a spell that deals four damage to all minions! That’s a zero mana Flamestrike. Combos like that can change games completely and in some cases can wipe the entire board, especially if two Circle of Healings are used.
Power Word: Shield
Power Word: Shield is great way for Priests to cycle through their deck. Since Priests have the ability to easily heal their minions, it can allow a minion to survive a trade and then be healed back up. This can be a huge nuisance for your opponent. Also, due to its cheap cost, it’s a great card to use in conjunction with Wild Pyromancerfor board clear combos!
Left unchecked, this card can get out of hand. Northshire Cleric has great synergy with Priest’s Hero Power, allowing several cards to be drawn if used wisely. Cleric is best played when healing minions to guarantee card draw; Priest relies on having the cards needed to respond to threats. Don't be afraid to save this card. Holy Nova and Circle of Healing can be used with the cleric for some powerful plays; coupled with a Wild Pyromancer, you’ll never need to draw again.
Shadow Word: Pain
Shadow Word: Pain allows you to easily deal with low attack minions with high health such as Water Elementaland Sen’jin Shieldmasta or just any weak minion. So why not have more than one? Although it is a very strong card and two can work, we choose to only use one. It only trades for one card at most and that one card may have already gotten its value; this means Shadow Word: Pain doesn’t get one for one in most situations. It is still a great card and can be very clutch at times.
This card is often dropped in Priest decks, the spell power only boosts a few spells and the card draw isn’t too significant. Some players will choose this card because the draw power is needed to ensure you always have cards in your hand to make plays and the spell damage can really help in a pinch.
Crazed Alchemist is normally only seen in Priest decks. Its unique ability synergizes well with cards like Shadow Word: Pain and Shadow Word: Death make it a very interesting card and it can also be used to create more favorable minion trades. Crazed Alchemist offers a different way of dealing with pesky four attack minions.
Wild Pyromancer is an extremely useful card. Its AoE effect allows you to control the board through the early and mid-game, as well as setting up Circle of Healing combos with Northshire Cleric. Priest’s ability to heal the Wild Pyromancer allows you to squeeze a lot of value out of this cheap yet effective minion. Remember this is also a 3/2 for 2 mana and can be annoying to deal for that reason too.
Shadow Word: Death
Great for picking off your opponent’s larger threats, Shadow Word: Death is an auto-include in almost every Priest deck.
Earthen Ring Farseer
In a deck based around healing, why add another heal card? Earthen Ring Farseer is not only a strong 3-drop, but can be used in combos. Its 3 health heal can be used to save damaged minions like Injured Blademaster or to draw cards with Northshire Cleric. If there’s an Auchenai Soulpriest on the board, the heal can be used to kill your opponent’s minions or damage to the face.
A 4/7 minion that deals four damage to himself when played, Injured Blademaster may not seem like a great card, but with so many ways to heal him in the Priest deck, he can be difficult to remove. When combined with Circle of Healing, Injured Blademaster is a turn three 4/7, which can be really costly to deal with if a deck does not have a way to deal with him.
Auchenai Soulpriest is an offensive minion which turns your heals into damage. We mentioned before how Circle of Healing paired with the soulpriest is an AoE board clear. It also makes your Hero Power a temporary Shadowform, which can be used to pick off your opponent’s minions. Be careful when using this card, as you won’t be able to heal yourself as long as it is on the board and any cards that do heal will now do damage.
Defender of Argus
This card is used for its anti-aggro ability, taunting and buffing your minions. The +1/+1 is great for beefing up your minions in order to get better trades.
The only real taunt minion in the deck outside of Defender of Argus is Sen’jin Shieldmasta. This minion is phenomenal at stopping Aggro decks in their tracks, allowing you to stabilize. If you’re finding you’re not facing as many Aggro decks, Chillwind Yetiis a suitable replacement for its better stats.
Your main AoE damage, Holy Nova deals damage to your opponent’s characters, while simultaneously healing your characters. This allows you to first weaken your opponent’s minions with your own, and then finish them off with the spell as well as healing back up! Get more value out of this card by using it in conjunction with Northshire Cleric or Bloodmage Thalnos.
Pesky four attack minion you can’t deal with? Blast it away with Holy Fire! Holy Fire is your best way to deal with cards like Chillwind Yeti and Azure Drake. The heal is also useful for sustaining yourself.
Cabal Shadow Priest
Debatably one of the most annoying cards to play against, and with good reason. Cabal Shadow Priest allows you to steal your opponent’s weak minions. Although stealing little minions like Loot Hoard is nice, being able to take away minion such as Unbound Elementaland Frothing Berserkercan really mess with your opponent! Cabal can be used further with Crazed Alchemist to take near-death minions.
Ragnaros the Firelordand Ysera
These legendary minions are your late game. With Priest’s ability to stall and heal, these big creatures will greatly impact the game, as your opponent will have used most of their removal on your other minions.
See a minion you like? Take it. If your opponent plays their “win condition” minion, take it from them and make them try to remove it, while you use it to win the game. Although it is preferable to save Mind Control for hardest to deal with minions like Ysera, Mind Control should be used when it will hurt your opponent the most.
Play-style and Strategy
The goal of the Priest Control deck is the same as most Control decks; to continually clear your opponent’s board turn by turn and slowly chip away at your opponent’s life when able to. Whether it is with Wild Pyromancer in the early game, Auchenai Soulpriest in the midgame or straight up with Shadow Words, Priest has a variety of ways to react.
What Priest needs most is draw power to sustain the hand and ensure there are always cards ready to deal with threats. With that being said, it’s better to not play Northshire Cleric turn one against some decks in order to guarantee its ability to draw some cards. When playing against Aggro decks, it’s okay to play clerics turn one as they can help take out weak Aggro minions, but against Control you’ll want to play slowly and save them.
Against Aggro decks, you’ll want to mulligan for early game removal like Wild Pyromancer and Shadow Word: Pain. If you have a Wild Pyromancer, keep low cost spells like Power Word: Shield to combo. As for going against slower decks, try to mulligan for cards like Injured Blademaster and Wild Pyromancer to start controlling the board from the start.
Shadow Word: Pain is always worth keeping so you don’t draw into it later and it always has its uses in the early game. Try not to play an Injured Blademaster without a way to immediately heal him up, as it makes him easy to remove. If you feel like you can play it and it won’t be removed without a heal, go for it.
Moving into the midgame, continue dropping threats like Auchenai Soulpriest and steal minions with Cabal Shadow Priest. When trading minions, be sure to heal your minions as it makes them more difficult to remove. When you’re in a good situation drop down your win condition minions, Ragnaros and Ysera, and force your opponent into a tough position.
All in all, the Priest play-style is pretty straight forward. Playing defensively and stabilizing are the key to winning as Priests; do a great job of keeping control of the board once they get it. In the current meta-game, Priests have a lot of potential, but fail to maintain a high consistent win rate. Maybe something in Naxxramas will change this?
Try playing this deck on the ladder and in tournaments and keep track of your stats at www.Hearthstats.net. You can also see how others are doing and try running theres. Until then…the Light shall burn you!
Decks to Watch Out For
This week in Hearthstone, we saw the nerf to Hunter’s Unleash the Hounds. Although this does not hurt Hunters a lot, we’ve already seen them decline. In response, decks normally weak to Hunter are rising. We’re seeing way more Handlock and Shaman decks, as well as Ramp Druid. Without further ado, here a few lists you should be preparing for: