May 13, 2018
Table of Contents
Weekly Legends: Thief Priest
Today on Weekly Legends I present you with a challenge: don’t be fooled. I know what you’re thinking. You’re looking at this list and going “Dragon Priest again?” Oh, sweet summer child. This is not Dragon Priest. In fact, it is not even like Dragon Priest. Yes, it is a Priest deck. Yes, it has dragons. But, as you know, looks can be quite deceiving. This is a control deck that aims to play the dragon package to go long and set up its removal. Stealing has long been one of Priest’s main calling cards, and here we’re getting back to those roots.
Pint-Sized Potion/Twilight Acolyte
The entire focus of this deck, Pint-Size Potion and Twilight Acolyte, are two insanely versatile cards that turn on so many different combos. The more obvious one is with Cabal Shadow Priest, but they are also great with Potion of Madness, Shadow Word: Pain and Shadow Word: Horror. These two cards are the core of the deck and truly allow you to go the control route. Most of the time you are going to win games, not through lethal, but simply by taking everything your opponent has. Always think about your opponent’s highest priority targets and then save these for those cards. Of course, if you can take things along the way you should, but you typically want to go as big as your opponent will allow.
When these cards are in your hand you always need think about the different ways you can use them. Stealing is amazing, but don’t get too greedy. Using these to bring down a big threat or clear the board is fantastic as well. You want games to go slow, but you also have some powerful bodies to throw around. One of the best ways to use these are removal is to simply make your opponent’s minions weaker and trade into them. That is going to come up a lot more than you think, which means it helps to always be on the look out for it. The uses for these two cards always changes, so you never want to think yourself into a corner. Sometimes Twilight Acolyte is an Aldor Peacekeeper, sometimes it sets up a six mana Mind Control.
You are a control deck. I cannot stress that enough with this list. It is so easy to look at the dragon package and think you’re a midrange build, but that is a good way to lose games. Trying to be something your not has never worked in Hearthstone and while there are going to be games where you do just go dragon into dragon, most of the time you are going to have to depend on removal. This comes in various forms. You have hard removal, strong conditional removal, AOE, and stealing. All of those are powerful, but they all work in distinctly different ways. Against aggro you want to spend your removal early and often while forgetting about your combos. There is no sense in taking unnecessary damage to set up something that may never come. However, against slower decks you can get extremely greedy and wait a few extra turns to draw into the perfect answer. Lean on your minions in those games and see how your opponent reacts before spending crucial spells.
The way you use all of your options to their maximum efficiency is by properly anticipating what your opponent might have. As touched on in the above section, you always want to know what threats your opponent could have and then play to them. For example, Twilight Acolyte is fantastic against Warlock because it stops a turn four Mountain Giant, while Shadow Word: Pain is great at picking off minions hiding behind Righteous Protector. Understand the way your opponent is going to play and then shape your hand to answer it. Using a spell too early or too late is often how you lose control of the board (and the game).
The power of choice is strong, but that does not mean it is easy. Shadow Visions, similar to Tracking, is a high-skill card where making the wrong decision can lead to disaster. The most helpful advice I can give when using this card is to always think about the three options before choosing one. Though there will be a few occasions where you absolutely need a specific spell to set up a combo play, most of the time you are going to use this card at a relaxed time. That then means you aren’t going to have anything staring you in the face. That makes it harder to see how you’re going to need this card. However, if you spend time going over every situation (it is ok to rope here) you should be able to make an educated guess. Never just take a spell “because it’s good,” have a reason in mind.
As with the above removal discussion, this card centers around anticipation. Typically, Pint-Size Potion is the correct answer with Shadow Visions because of how well it works with your other cards, but there are also many times where the one mana spell simply isn’t right. Don’t always go with the obvious choice. Snatching up a Shadow Word: Pain is sometimes better than Potion of Madness against Paladin to get around taunt, while taking Power Word: Shield to draw and try to get a dragon in your hand for Drakonid Operative is strong against control. There are even strange situations like when you need to take Shadow Word: Horror to kill off your own Northshire Cleric against Priest to stop them from using Potion of Madness to combo off.
Cabal Shadow Priest
Cabal Shadow Priest is the strongest card in this build. This is a threat, haymaker, swing card, and pseudo-finisher all wrapped into one 4/5 package. A bit extreme, but you get the idea. Swing cards are always powerful, and nothing swings the card like a six mana Mind Control. There are a ton of five attack or less minions running around, which makes this wonderful with , and being able to go even higher with Twilight Acolyte is unreal. Combo Dragon Priest is the most popular Anduin deck right now, which means your opponents will never see Shadow Priest coming. That is important to note because there are many games where you can easily bait your opponent into playing a gigantic blowout card. Steal that, and it’s over.
Despite what we discussed, this is a card that you don’t really have to be greedy with. Yes, when playing Warlock you absolutely must hold onto it for demons, but there are a lot of two attack or less minions running around in other matches. It is so easy to get locked into going big with your steals that you can miss efficient or easy routes. For instance, while it can make sense to save this and Pint-Size Potion for a Crystal Lion when facing Paladin, most of the time you just want to snatch up your opponent’s 2/2 to take over the board and control the game. This card is also fantastic at taking potential low attack/high health combo cards when fighting Priest. Nothing in this deck is binary, and treating cards like Shadow Priest that way will lead to a loss.
For a control deck to play control, it needs a finisher. In this case, you have Mind Control. This card is not going to be something you rely on every single match, but it is a very powerful tool to have access to. Stealing any minion you want and putting it on your side of the board is unbelievably strong (just ask Sylvanas Windrunner). Though you have many options for that, you will likely use most of your resources during the middle parts of the game. This card is a great way to cap off your curve and slam down a haymaker. I bring this up because, unlike with Cabal Shadow Priest, you want to think long and hard before pulling the trigger here. In fact, you always want to use this last out of your stealing options because it has absolutely no restrictions. When playing to this card you want to do everything you can to get out your opponent’s biggest minions. There are several ways to make that happen, but the easiest is to play aggressively. That will cause your opponent to play scared, which is when they often decide to rely on a finisher. Also note that this is a great way to deal with high-attack minions or big taunts you have no way to answer. For that reason, you should always hold this until the very last second.
AAECAZ/HAgQ IxQShrAKStAINkALlBI0I1wryDIK1ArW7Arq7A ui/AtHBAtnBAsvmAvzqAgA=
The four decks I see the most while playing the ladder.
We begin at the top, and my does it look good. Control Warlock is a great deck, but they aren’t so hot when you start stealing all of their demons. As long as you draw decently you should take this game because Warlock cannot function unless their minions die. The entire goal of this one is to steal, steal, and steal some more. You have to save your Pint-Size Potion combos for both Doomguard and Voidlord. Once you take them, it’s easy breezy from there on out. Just don’t let your opponent kill their own minions. Always trade into Possessed Villager on your turn and steal their demon away before they get a chance to set up Dark Pact shenanigans.
Note that you don’t need Cabal Shadow Priest to steal your opponent’s minions. It can be easy to think that the 4/5 is the only way to shut down your opponent, but Pint-Size Potion/Potion of Madness[/card]/ is fantastic as well (especially when used on a Voidlord). The goal is to simply take this one slow. It can be so easy to worry about your opponent’s combo potential, but you will almost always win the long game. Even Bloodreaver Gul'dan can’t do anything when he brings back no minions. Be patient, wait for your opportunities, and then strike.
This one is all about Duskbreaker. I know it seems obvious, but it is incredibly easy to get overwhelmed by your opponent. Paladin not only starts fast, but they have a thousand different ways to take over the board in the middle and late parts of the game as well. To offset that, you need to get ahead. To get ahead, you have to play Duskbreaker. Then another…Then usually one more. If you draw the dragon (or Netherspite Historian for the dragon) you typically win. If you don’t draw it, you’re in a world of trouble. Be aggressive with your removal in this one. Potion of Madness, Shadow Word: Pain, and Shadow Word: Horror are all great here. Rather than waiting for your opponent to get out threats, pick them off as they come. This will prevent your opponent’s combos and make it so they cannot build in the way they want.
Always prioritize your bodies in this game. This is a deck where you have to do everything in your power to make sure your opponent can’t get rolling. Paladin can do a lot with a little. For example, two Silver Hand Recruits can quickly become a turn four Crystal Lion, and Level Up! or Sunkeeper Tarim can equal lethal out of nowhere. Always be on your guard and always challenge your opponent’s threats. It can be easy to hold things on “for value” but that isn’t going to work here unless you have AOE. Rather, just get things onto the board that can efficiently trade. The other thing to note here is that Twilight Acolyte is very important in this game. Paladin has a few big bodies that you cannot easily deal with. Always save the 2/4 for things like Crystal Lion or Blessing of Kings and trade with them on the spot.
Priest was gone for a second, but it is everywhere around rank 5 right now. The most common build is the Dragon Combo deck that we covered a few weeks ago, which is not great news for us. This is going to be a very tough matchup because your opponent has the same plan as you, except if you ever cannot kill something you die. Be nervous here and always be on the lookout for Divine Spirit/[/card]Inner Fire[/card]. Typically, your opponent is going to have double spirit and one fire. Though they can go higher, that is the amount of damage you need to watch out for. It also helps to save a Twilight Acolyte in your hand if possible. That will make it so that you will have an answer if your opponent combos early and puts out a big threat that you cannot answer.
A big part of this matchup is making it so that you never give your opponent a strong Potion of Madness target. This is so important that it’s sometimes right (often right) to use Shadow Word: Pain on your Northshire Clerics and Netherspite Historians. Beyond that, your goal is to get ahead of your opponent. That will allow you to freely trade into all of their threats and never give them a chance to combo off. Once you’re in that state, you will almost always win. Combo Dragon is a very strong deck when they are controlling the pace of the game. If you take that away from them, they will surely crumble.
Rexxar, as usual, has begun to dip. Even so, he still has enough of a presence that we need to talk about the stealthy orc. This game is going to be unlike the above three because the control route doesn’t work as well. Rather than try to slow things down and rely on your combos, you want to work the midrange angle a lot. Hunter is a very fast deck, and if you let up even once you will die. While you don’t quite have the tools to go full midrange, you need to get out ahead of your opponent in any way that you can. That will help you trade and turn the tables. If you control priority, you will then be able to pressure your opponent. Getting Hunter on the back foot is incredibly tough, but it is all you care about. As with Paladin, this is a game where you have to throw out any bodies you can find. Trading should be your first and second priority here. Of course, if you can use of your various removal options you should, but that is typically not as reliable as sticking a big body and using it to kill beast after beast. Also note that secrets are extremely common these days. While most don’t matter, Freezing Trap is common. Never attack into the green question mark with a big minion.
When mulliganing with this guide you have to start early. Your combo cards are important, but they are not as important as actually being able to do things at the start of the game. Northshire Cleric, Shadow Word: Pain, Netherspite Historian are the three cards you want every game. If you have a good opening, you should also keep Power Word: Shield and Shadow Visions.
Curious Glimmerroot is great with the coin or a curve, while both Potion of Madness and Duskbreaker should be kept against aggro. Twilight Acolyte is great against decks that go big early. Priest of the Feast and Twilight Drake are always great on curve.
Combo this is not. Dragon this is not. And honestly, that’s pretty good for me. We’ve seen more of Priest as of late on my series, which is pretty cool considering how little we’ve covered Anduin and friends over the years. This deck is really fun for you and not a lot of fun for your opponent, but aren’t most decks in Hearthstone? I say, just embrace its power. It is rare to get a control deck to the top of the ladder, so enjoy this while you can. Until next time, may you always take what you can and give nothing back.