New Priest card just got released in 3rd wing of League of Explorers. It was probably the one that Priest players anticipated most – [card]Entomb[/card]. I was one of those guys hyped for it, even though I haven’t played Priest in ages (it was one of my most played classes back in Naxx, but since then I didn’t really use it a lot).
Even though everyone was running around, testing [card]Sir Finley Mrrgglton[/card], the first deck I’ve created was a Control Priest with 2x Entomb. The idea behind the deck is to make it as versatile as possible. To have answers for every kind of board and every deck enemy plays. It has strong early and board clears against Aggro + big removals and ways to go into the fatigue battle against Control. It struggles a little bit against Midrange decks in they curve out perfectly, it still has bad Handlock matchup (Priest can’t really do anything about that), but after testing it for the last few days I can definitely say that it works out.
[cardinsert card=”entomb” float=”left”]
That’s the basic question here. What is the reason to play this card? And not even one, but TWO copies? The reason is that you can play it INSTEAD of big threats. In fast matchups big, slow Legendaries aren’t good anyway. They’re just win condition in slower matchups. So by removing something like [card]Ysera[/card] and putting Entomb in her place, you don’t lose any value against Aggro deck. Actually, I’d even say that you gain some – Entomb is still a solid way to clear let’s say [card]Piloted Shredder[/card].
And now, against Control decks. Removing your big threats might hurt you, but not for really long. You just want to play the reactive game and aim at fatigue. Control Warrior plays [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card]? You Entomb her. You’ve just dealt with one of the threats AND gained Sylvanas in your deck. Yes, you might not draw it for quite a bit, but you should have enough tools to stall the game. Paladin plays [card]Tirion Fordring[/card]? You Entomb it. Even if you don’t even draw into it, it was still good. You’ve killed 6/6 minion with Taunt and Divine Shield AND you’ve destroyed a 5/3 weapon with one card. Pretty much every Midrange or Control deck runs some bigger threats you want to remove and push into your deck. Even if we don’t consider the “pushing to your deck” aspect, Priest didn’t have any unconditional single target removals. [card]Shadow Word: Death[/card] is the most common one and while it costs 3 mana less, it can only target 5+ attack minions AND it doesn’t get rid of Deathrattles AND it doesn’t help you in the fatigue war. So while I still run one copy of Death, because sometimes you need a cheaper removal or just more removals, I consider Entomb a superior card.
The shell is a pretty standard Control Priest deck. I’ve only made a few adjustments that fit my play style and the meta I’ve faced.
The first thing that might strike some of you is the lack of [card]Deathlord[/card]s. I don’t really like that card if you’re not running [card]Velen’s Chosen[/card] or the [card]Divine Spirit[/card] + [card]Inner Fire[/card] combo. While it sometimes serves its purpose and kills 2-3 Aggro minions before it dies, I find that Aggro decks play too many sticky minions AND one [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] can often completely counter the Deathlord. Instead, to fight against Aggro, I prefer to focus on the stronger early game with 2x [card]Zombie Chow[/card] and 2x [card]Wild Pyromancer[/card]. It’s very rare that you don’t get a Zombie Chow opener OR Wild Pyromancer + Coin/[card]Power Word: Shield[/card] OR [card]Auchenai Soulpriest[/card] + [card]Circle of Healing[/card] and all of those are great and countering the Aggression.
[cardinsert card=”holy-champion” float=”right”]
I run 2x [card]Holy Champion[/card], because I really like to have something I can proactively put on the board. Priest doesn’t run a lot of proactive minions and Holy Champion gets huge value. In fast matchups, the 3/5 stats allow it to make good trades. E.g. it can kill the first part of [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] without dying. Later in the game it becomes serious threat enemy has to answer, if it sticks to the board it can threaten 10+ damage easily after a [card]Circle of Healing[/card] or [card]Holy Nova[/card] play. Just like with the smaller version – [card]Lightwarden[/card] – huge burst turns involving [card]Wild Pyromancer[/card], a random spell and Circle of Healing are very possible. I’ve pushed for 20 damage burst with just a single Holy Champion on the board.
[cardinsert card=”voljin” float=”left”]
Next thing is [card]Vol’jin[/card]. I really like this card, because it’s a great way to make good trades and it’s really efficient. I usually don’t even aim at the highest value. Let’s say trading health with an 8/8 and then killing it with Hero Power (when having [card]Auchenai Soulpriest[/card] on the board) is awesome, but even the more usual scenarios are cool. Let’s say using it on [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] – you get a 5 mana [card]Fire Elemental[/card] this way (6/5 minion, dealing 3 damage to Belcher). Enemy plays [card]Dr. Boom[/card]? Vol’jin and trade one of your smaller minions. You get 6/7 and kill the first body of Dr. Boom. If you don’t want to sacrifice your minions, you can combo it with [card]Holy Nova[/card] on turn 10 or just Hero Power when you have Auchenai on the board (like in my example before).
1x [card]Lightbomb[/card]. I think running 2 Lightbombs in this list is just too greedy. The thing is that you often don’t even have enough good board states to Lightbomb. It’s more of a comeback card and in the mid/late game you want to remove enemy minions as soon as they hit the board. For Lightbomb to be really useful, enemy would need to have a board lead and you don’t really want that anyway. Lightbomb, however, is AWESOME against slower Warlock decks. So if you face a lot of Handlocks and stuff like that, 2 copies are good.
When it comes to biggest minions – 2x [card]Cabal Shadow Priest[/card] is the standard nowadays. There are just so many good targets to steal that it’s hard to pass. Not to mention the infamous [card]Shrinkmeister[/card] + Cabal Combo on turn 8. It just screams value, the dream is to steal [card]Ysera[/card], but even stealing a [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] or [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] is already a huge value. That’s why I think 2x Cabal is staple in current meta, because it’s solid against all types of decks.
[cardinsert card=”justicar-trueheart” float=”right”]
Then we have a [card]Justicar Trueheart[/card]. It’s not AS strong as in Warrior, maybe even not that strong as in Paladin (I think it’s comparable here), but it’s definitely awesome. 4 points of healing is a lot. This way your minions are really hard to take down. For example – enemy plays a Piloted Shredder. You might just kill it with a [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] or something and then heal it back to full, basically clearing the Shredder for free. You can play [card]Injured Blademaster[/card] and instantly heal it to full, having a 4/7 minion anytime you want. But what’s probably the strongest part is synergy with [card]Auchenai Soulpriest[/card]. You get an upgraded version of [card]Darkbomb[/card] every turn, without using a card as long as Soulpriest stays in the play. The 6/3 body is usually easy to remove, but if it gets to trade into enemy 5/5 or Belcher, it’s really good.
[cardinsert card=”confessor-paletress” float=”left”]
And last, I use [card]Confessor Paletress[/card]. And I have to say that [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card] might be better in this spot, but I just REALLY like that card. It’s one of those ultra-high-priority win conditions. If it sticks to the board, you win the game. Average quality of Legendary card is pretty high, so you’re most likely going to get something good. This way enemy often has to use two removals for your one card. And if he can’t remove it – well, it’s game over a lot of time. It rarely survives longer than a single turn, but it happens. It also happens that you get something small (like the new [card]Sir Finley Mrrgglton[/card] or I don’t know, [card]Nat Pagle[/card]) or even something that’s going to kill you (I’ve lost the game where Paletress gave me [card]Majordomo Executus[/card] – enemy Warrior has killed me on his turn with Shield Slam + Grom + activator). But on average, it’s good enough and it’s really fun to play.
Mulligan with the deck is rather easy. First thing you need to do is to identify opponent’s class and possibly the deck he plays. While it’s sometimes impossible to know exactly what DECK he plays, you want to base it on the current meta. E.g. if most of the Warlocks in meta are Handlocks/Renolocks, you mulligan for them. If most are Zoo, you mulligan for them etc.
In fast matchups, you want your early game. You prefer to start with a 1-drop – [card]Zombie Chow[/card] is the best one, but [card]Northshire Cleric[/card] is also good. The first one has better stats and can actually contest opponent’s 2-drops, but Cleric gains additional value – it’s high priority target. Enemy often will skip the 1-drop completely just because you’ve played Cleric and he doesn’t want you to draw. A lot of decks will spend their turn 2 removing it, which is fine for you. [card]Shrinkmeister[/card] is an awesome keep especially with a 1-drop. If enemy plays something into your 2-drop, you can often kill it for free, or at least damage it without your minion dying. [card]Wild Pyromancer[/card] is the MVP in matchups that tend to flood the board early – especially against the Paladins. With Coin and [card]Power Word: Shield[/card] you can do the 2 damage as soon as turn 2. Those are the minions you mulligan for in the fast matchups.
When it comes to the situational keeps, there are also a few of those. [card]Power Word: Shield[/card] is awesome if you have either a 1-drop in your hand OR the Wild Pyromancer. On a 1-drop, it can allow you to get a free trade or put your Cleric out of removal’s range. With Pyro it’s a free AoE damage, great against certain cards like [card]Haunted Creeper[/card], [card]Muster for Battle[/card] or [card]Imp-losion[/card]. You can also keep two [card]Circle of Healing[/card] combos – I’d keep it along the [card]Injured Blademaster[/card] (to put a big body for trades) and [card]Auchenai Soulpriest[/card] (to have emergency board clear, which you’ll probably need). Dark Cultist is a keep if you have something to do on turn 1 and 2. It doesn’t have to be 1-drop into 2-drop – 1-drop into Power Word: Shield or 1-drop into heal (let’s say Zombie Chow against Paladin, he’s most likely to play the Shielded Minibot and you can attack into it and heal the Chow back to full). If you go second, you can actually keep the [card]Holy Champion[/card] instead of Dark Cultist (in the same case – you need to have stuff to do on turn 1 and 2). Then you can coin out the Holy Champion on turn 3. Do that only if you don’t have a good way to use the coin (like Wild Pyromancer).
The idea behind those keeps is to survive the early game. Against this kind of decks the later it gets, the easier it is for you to control the board. You get more removal options, you can start doing your combos, you get the [card]Cabal Shadow Priest[/card]. So you either want a strong early game presence OR a way to reset the board state going into the mid game (that’s why you can keep Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing in your opening hand).
In slower matchups, you don’t need to focus on your early game that much. While you still keep your early drops, you don’t want to mulligan hard for them. Keeping 3-drops or 4-drops is also much easier, you can do that even without having a strong early game. [card]Dark Cultist[/card] and [card]Holy Champion[/card] (without/with coin) are solid keeps. I also like keeping [card]Injured Blademaster[/card] even without the Circle of Healing. I don’t play him into obvious removal, like Warrior having an equipped [card]Fiery War Axe[/card], but dropping a 4/3 on turn 3 is okay, even if they just get removed. You also can use them as a 5-drop with your Hero Power.
Another interesting thing is keeping the [card]Thoughtsteal[/card]. Since you’re going to have a lot of dead turns (like Hero Power + pass) in Control matchups, having something that you can play no matter what the board state is good. It’s one of the strongest cards in Control matchups – you get card advantage without drawing things from your deck. While sometimes you “draw” useless cards, e.g. [card]Shield Slam[/card] against Warrior or [card]Deadly Poison[/card] against Rogue, there aren’t tons of cards like that played and there is a huge chance you’re going to draw something meaningful – a minion, removal etc.
I’d also keep [card]Shadow Word: Death[/card] against Handlock. Most of the decks don’t drop big minions until turn 6-7, so by that time you should have an answer already. But Handlock can consistently drop [card]Mountain Giant[/card] on turn 4, making Shadow Word: Death your only answer. Against Handlock I’d also keep [card]Vol’jin[/card], as it counters their turn 4 plays and you get a ~6/8 minion on the board.
Against slower decks, mulligan part is less important. Slow decks rarely get a high tempo start, they won’t likely rush you down, so it’s not that necessary to have early game plays. It’s still better to have them, because they give you more options AND you prefer to get them in the early game when they’re meaningful than topdeck them later.
- You want to play for the tempo, not for the value. The easiest way to lose the game is them having a strong board lead in the early/mid game and killing you before you can react. Even though you have a lot of board clears, those are: two cards combo that you can not draw (Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing), ineffective against a lot of board states (Holy Nova) or come too late (Lightbomb). That’s why you want to get the smooth curve and drop stuff on the board.
- While getting draws from the [card]Northshire[/card] is good, don’t go all-in into that. Let’s say it’s turn 3 and you can choose between drawing a card and developing a [card]Dark Cultist[/card]. The second option should be better against most of the Aggro/Midrange decks, because Cleric alone can’t really contest anything that opponent is going to play next.
- If you have Wild Pyromancer + a cheap spell or even the Coin, you might keep it for the AoE. Wild Pyro + Coin + PW:S often allows you to clear 2-3 early game drops for free.
- In the early/mid game, unless your health total is under a serious pressure, prioritize healing minions over your Hero. This way you keep the board control and constantly remove opponent’s minions. Heal your Hero only if you’re getting low on life, getting into burn/combo range (like [card]Force of Nature[/card] + [card]Savage Roar[/card] from Druid) or your board presence is so dominating that you don’t need to strengthen it even further.
- Don’t be afraid to use [card]Entomb[/card] on something small. If you have a lot of free mana and that’s your only removal option, even using it on a 2-drop or 3-drop is okay. You can also use it as a “Silence” on things like [card]Mad Scientist[/card] or [card]Leper Gnome[/card]. Entombing Leper Gnome to save 2 life has won me some games against Face Hunter.
- Drop [card]Justicar Trueheart[/card] as soon as you can without losing a lot of tempo. If you can steal a [card]Shielded Minibot[/card] with [card]Cabal Shadow Priest[/card], sure, go for it. But if you don’t have really great play, drop Justicar. Getting 4 points of healing per turn instead of 2 is a huge difference.
- Against face rush decks, you can’t take the 100% defensive stance. If you can hit enemy for a lot, do that instead of clearing 2-3 damage. You just give more time for Hunter to draw that [card]Kill Command[/card] or Shaman to get [card]Doomhammer[/card] + [card]Rockbiter Weapon[/card]. [card]Holy Champion[/card] is a great minion to put enemy on the clock. Get him to 7 or 9 attack, hit enemy in the face, put him on 2 turns clock. This way you’re most likely going to kill him before he kills you OR force him to make the trades/use burn spell to kill it.
- Be careful with [card]Auchenai Soulpriest[/card]. She blocks your ability to heal and you might not be able to sacrifice her in time. Playing against new Aggro Shaman, he can burn you for 20+ damage over few turns without even putting minions on the board. So be careful and don’t play her if you know that you’ll need to heal soon (or draw cards with Northshire) and you might not have a way to sacrifice her.
- Play for value much more than for the tempo. Priest’s Hero Power is probably the best one when it comes to minion combat and value war. You need to use that fact for your advantage, keeping your minions alive as long as you can means that you can save the resources in your hand (more minions) for later.
- You rarely want to open with turn 1 Northshire Cleric, unless you can follow with something like Coin + Injured Blademaster + Circle of Healing. If enemy has no minions on the board and you have no way to damage your cleric, you’re not likely going to draw any cards. And a 1/3 minion sucks when enemy starts playing his threats.
- There are two ways to win certain control matchups, like Control Priest mirror or games against Control Warrior. The first one is to draw a lot of cards and overwhelm enemy. If you play a lot of minions and enemy runs out of answers, you might kill him before the game gets to the fatigue. I wouldn’t recommend this one if you’re not sure that you’ll be able to rush enemy down. One board wipe like [card]Brawl[/card] can completely ruin your plan. The second approach is having fatigue in mind. This time you don’t want to draw too much. Or, I should say, you don’t want to draw more than the enemy. If you face Control Warrior and he’s keeping all his card draws (like [card]Shield block[/card] or [card]Acolyte of Pain[/card]), so should you. But if he draws 2-3 cards, it’s okay for you to do the same. If you have the same amount of cards left in your deck as your enemy, NOT counting the ones you got from [card]Entomb[/card], it should be fine. Entomb will let you draw 2 more cards before getting to fatigue, basically making your enemy take ~15 more damage after couple of turns.
- You can try baiting enemy to play more minions before you use your big board clear, especially if you’re at high health and/or you have upgraded Hero Power. This way enemy needs to put at least ~10 power on the board to really threaten your life total (since you’re healing for 4 every turn, if enemy has e.g. only 6 damage on the board, he just deals 2 damage per turn). If he puts more minions on the board, you AoE them down with [card]Lightbomb[/card] or [card]Auchenai Soulpriest[/card] + [card]Circle of Healing[/card].
- Wild Pyromancer + Spell + [card]Circle of Healing[/card] is an incredibly strong combo in certain scenarios. First, you damage all the minions and then you heal them back. If you have [card]Holy Champion[/card] on the board, it allows for cool high damage finishers (every minion you heal gives you +2 attack). If you have Northshire on the board, you can draw as many cards as there are minions on the board. If you’re behind on cards it’s a great way to catch up. In a game against Control Priest, making enemy overdraw is a solid win condition too. If enemy plays gets out two Northshire Clerics on the board at once, you can force him to draw a lot of cards, sometimes even instantly getting him to fatigue damage (e.g. Wild Pyro + a spell + 2x Circle of Healing with 6 minions on the board means 24 draws, which most likely means that enemy starts getting fatigue damage, maybe even dies).
- You can have more burst than you and your enemy expects. Opponents rarely play around a huge burst turn from Priest and that’s why you can surprise them. Besides the Holy Champion huge burst turn, there is another way to deal up to 14 damage from empty board. [card]Zombie Chow[/card] deals 5 damage instead of healing for 5 when you have [card]Auchenai Soulpriest[/card] on the board. Your upgraded Hero Power deals 4 damage. Dropping Auchenai, 2x Zombie Chow, playing Circle of Healing and using your Hero Power can lead up to 14 damage burst. While it’s a pretty niche scenario, one Zombie Chow often lingers in your hand in the mid/late game. Against Handlock you might actually keep the Zombie Chows for this exact combo. It’s very hard to win against Handlock without bursting him, especially if you face the [card]Reno Jackson[/card] version. Actually, it’s helpful against any Reno Jackson deck. They rarely feel threatened at 10+ health against the Priest, so you can use it to your advantage.
- Try to not use your [card]Shrinkmeister[/card] in the early game, unless you really have to. Keeping it for the turn 8 combo with Cabal Shadow Priest is insane. This way you can steal 3 or 4 attack minions too. So instead of getting let’s say a 2/3 minion (which is already good), you can get [card]Piloted Shredder[/card], [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] or even [card]Ysera[/card]. This is one of the strongest swings you can do. You remove opponent’s strong minion, you get 3/2, 4/5 AND that minion on your side of the board and that’s only an 8 mana, 2 cards combo.
Light of the Naaru/Flash Heal
[cardinsert card=”flash-heal” float=”left”]
I put those two together, because they fill the same spot and it’s pretty much up to personal preference which one you’d like to play. I’ve seen Zetalot playing Flash Heal, and since he’s one of the best Priest players out there, he surely knows what he’s doing.
Both cards serve two purposes – a way to heal up in Aggro matchups and burst in Reno/Handlock matchups (with Auchenai Soulpriest). [card]Flash Heal[/card] is better at both of those – 2x Flash Heal can give you +10 health or deal 10 damage for just 2 mana. That’s huge. On the other hand, [card]Light of the Naaru[/card] gains additional value in spawning a [card]Lightwarden[/card]. Lightwarden (a regular pint sized atom bomb) is a minion responsible for all the crazy Priest 30+ damage turns pre-[card]Holy Champion[/card]. And it’s still possible. Light of the Naaru can get insane value for 1 mana. On the other hand, 6 damage burst vs 10 damage burst is a pretty big difference. I actually think that Flash Heal is stronger against decks you need to burst (Handlock/Reno decks) AND against face rush decks, while Light of the Naaru is better against Midrange and usual Control stuff (a 1-drop often baits a removal like [card]Shield Slam[/card] if it gets too big, that’s really awesome for Priest).
[cardinsert card=”deathlord” float=”right”]
Another card you can put into this deck. I’ve never been a big fan of this card because of how often it can backfire, but Control Priest is probably your best bet if you want to play this card (outside the Mill/Fatigue decks). It’s a very strong card against Aggro decks – playing it on turn 3 usually stops them in their tracks. 8 health is too much to pass through AND you can heal it back up or buff the health with [card]Power Word: Shield[/card]. If enemy Silences it – that’s alright for you, you still have a 2/8 minion.
While it’s best against Aggro, it actually has its purpose in slower matchups anyway. The reason fatigue decks use it is that they can get minions out of enemy deck, forcing them to “draw” a card. It puts them ahead in fatigue. And that can be useful while playing this deck too, when you’re going for the “fatigue route” against Control. It’s rarely a turn 3 play, because you risk too much (one [card]Execute[/card]/[card]Equality[/card] etc. can lose you the game if something big pops out and you have no answer), but later in the game, where you have a lot of answers, you can just play the Deathlord and you don’t really care what they’re going to get. You can set up for the Lightbomb turn, if they already have a semi-strong board, you drop the Deathlord and hope that something big comes out. Then you clear everything with Lightbomb. It’s risky against [card]Loatheb[/card], but can gain you tons of value.
What’s worth mentioning is that enemy getting some minions out on the board from Deathlord might actually be bad for them. Let’s say Warrior – he doesn’t want to get the [card]Justicar Trueheart[/card] out, because he loses the Battlecry value. He also doesn’t want to get [card]Acolyte of Pain[/card] out, because then you can force him to draw even more. Getting out the [card]Alexstrasza[/card] against Freeze Mage might just win you the game (if you can answer her), because Mage might not have enough burn to kill you in the end.
[cardinsert card=”velens-chosen” float=”left”]
A very strong buff, awesome in a lot of Priest decks. While it fits Dragon Priest much more, it’s also good enough in Control version. It didn’t make the cut, because honestly I didn’t know what can I throw out. There is not much to say about it, like in every other deck it allows Priest to make great trades and keep the minions alive. Priest really likes high health minions and Velen’s Chosen can turn pretty much everything into a minion like that. The infamous [card]Northshire Cleric[/card] into Coin + Velen’s on turn 2 start often completely ruins opponent’s plans. No matter what minion you buff, it becomes really strong. You might, for example, make a huge 5/9 Taunt if you cast it on [card]Sludge Belcher[/card].
It’s also another semi-cheap spell to combo with [card]Wild Pyromancer[/card] and the Spell Damage works really nicely with [card]Holy Nova[/card].
[cardinsert card=”sylvanas-windrunner” float=”right”]
Another way to steal enemy minions? Count me in! Like I’ve said before, I think it might actually be superior to Confessor Paletress. With Sylvanas, enemy REALLY can’t play any big minions or else they’re just instantly killed or stolen. The good thing about Sylvanas, as compared to an Entomb, is that she can be played proactively. While it’s usually wise to save her until enemy plays a big minion you can steal, just dropping her on empty board is also solid in a lot of cases. You just force enemy to have an answer – Silence or a removal. If he doesn’t, he’s locked out of playing big stuff. You can make opponent’s turns awkward. Like playing Sylvanas on turn 6 usually prevents turn 7 [card]Dr. Boom[/card], because it’s too risky. Enemy plays [card]Tirion Fordring[/card] on an empty board? Play Sylvanas to make his turn really hard if he doesn’t have Silence.
Sylvanas Windrunner + [card]Shadow Word: Death[/card] is a makeshift [card]Mind Control[/card] if you ever need one. Like when enemy plays Ysera and you can’t deal with it, you can just instantly steal it. It’s like you’ve removed opponent’s Ysera AND played your own for 9 mana and 2 cards. Not as good as Cabalmeister combo, but still decent if you ask me.
That’s it folks! Thanks for reading through the guide. I’m really enjoying playing the Control Priest this season. Besides doing a few daily quests with other classes, I’ve gone all the way through to Legend with different versions of this list, finishing with 68% winrate (on my PC, I had a lot of games on phone that I didn’t track, but it still should be roughly the same). The list I’m writing about here is the one I had most success with, but it might just be variance. For further reference, you can check out the list Zetalot was playing. It’s slightly different than mine – I’ve tested it, but I had better games with mine. I have talked about the different card he’s using in last section anyway, so if you want to make some changes, go ahead! 🙂
If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below!