First of all, here it is my proof:
Understanding your role in the meta (January 2019)
It is usual when the name of the deck includes the word control to think that your role in every match is to outlast your opponent resources while surviving. However, this is not true for this deck because it has insane burst damage at its disposal. But I imagine you might be wondering: why should I play this deck instead of other meta-decks? Well, in a meta where Hunter is the most prominent class, this deck is good at countering every Hunter archetype: Hybrid, Midrange, Cube and Spell. Moreover, it is very difficult to target this deck and almost every matchup is winnable. Resurrect or Cloning Gallery Priest is more popular in ladder but the deck is more inconsistent and the matchups are more polarized.
The role of each card in the deck
I believe that one of the key points when piloting a deck is understanding the role that each card plays in the deck.
- Northshire Cleric: A good 1-drop (1/3) to early contest the board and your main draw engine.
- Power Word: Shield: A good draw source that at the same time allows you to trade 1 defensive minion for 2 opponent minions.
- Firetree Witchdoctor: An average 2-drop (2/2) that allows you to discover spells not included in the deck while not losing spell consistency. Its flexibility allows you to get situational spells like healing if your are trying to survive or more damage to your arsenal if you are in a good spot.
- Mind Blast: The most efficient burn spell of the game, 5 damage per 2 mana. Compared to popular spell damage cards like Fireball, you deal 2.5 (5/2) damage for each mana invested instead of 1.5 (6/4).
- Shadow Visions: A card that allows you to cheat extra copies of your deck spells in the match. In these extra copies lies the burst potential of the deck. Sometimes it is also a second chance for getting that spell that you did not get in the mulligan phase.
- Omega Medic: This choice is very controversial and some consider it to be a flexible spot in the deck. However, in my climb to legend I found running one copy of this card to be invaluable for healing when you opponent is focusing on your face and also to get some source of healing when you have played Shadowreaper Anduin. Moreover, against very slow decks, a (3/4) body in turn 3 is a decent play.
- Tar Creeper: Another flexible choice in the deck that some replace with Acolyte of Pain to cycle faster. However, because the early game of this deck is very poor, this card is one the best defensive options available in the early game (specially combined with Power Word: Shield).
- Twilight Acolyte: Your main large removal that allows skipping large removal spells like Shadow Word: Death in the deck. Moreover, combined with Cabal Shadow Priest you can steal valuable opponent's minions like Carnivorous Cube and to add two solid bodies to the board.
- Duskbreaker: The mid-range removal card of the deck, a clear counter to Emerald Spellstone while playing a 3/3 minion.
- Scaleworm: This is what I call a 5-damage minion-spell because, ideally, it should be traded with big threats. If it survives, you still have a 5-attack minion on the board.
- Twilight Drake: The most solid card in the deck, a good body for 4 mana given that your hand has at least 5 cards. If you are low on cards and you do not have more dragons in hand, I suggest you to save the card for activating dragon synergy with other powerful cards.
- Cabal Shadow Priest: A (4/5) 6-drop that gets some value when you steal, at least, a (2/2) minion or a small minion with powerful effects (such as Crystalsmith Kangor). As mentioned above, when combined with Twilight Acolyte it creates a more powerful effect than Mind Control per 9 mana.
- Holy Fire: A very flexible spell that can be used on minions for large removal or in the opponent's hero to close the game, while restoring 5 health. However of the 4 spells included in the deck this is the more situational. Thus, to increase the odds of discovering one of the other 3 spells, we are running only one copy.
- Crowd Roaster: A very interesting addition of the Rastakhan's Rumble expansion that comprises in the same card Dragon synergy, large removal and large threat.
- Psychic Scream: The ultimate board clear that enables comebacks when you are far behind in the board. It is especially effective against any Cube-based decks and the Hunter Class, which despite the addition of Master's Call it has very poor drawing mechanisms.
- Primordial Drake: Similar to Crowd Roaster it encompasses in the same card Dragon synergy, medium-size board clear effect and a solid defensive body.
- Shadowreaper Anduin: The star of the show thanks to his hero power Voidform. It allows you to control the board or to extend your face damage. Its reload after playing a card gives you immense free value. Moreover, the battlecry is very useful for clearing several large threats while gaining 5 armor.
- Alexstrasza: A perfect fit for this deck that encompasses Dragon synergy, a (8/8) body and sets the opponent's health to 15. Assuming that the opponent cannot heal and he has no armor, the next turn you can deal 16 face damage with the sequence: Voidform(2) + Mind Blast(5) + Voidform(2) + Mind Blast(5) + Voidform(2) for 10 mana! Thanks to the inclusion of two Shadow Visions copies it is not difficult to get at least two copies of Mind Blast. Of course, if you are low on health you can always use it to set your health to 15.
Matchups and mulligans
After the last nerfs, the Druid class has almost vanished. However, there are two archetypes in the current meta: Mecha'thun Druid and Malygos Druid.
In my climb to legend I only faced Mecha'thun Druid. Their goal is to cycle quickly and execute the Mecha'thun combo. They are faster than us and we will play a defensive role in the match. To win easily , save at least a copy of Psychic Scream and a 3 or less mana cost minion. Let them burn their cards until you see that his hand is ready to pull off the combo. Before that happens, if you do not have minions on board, play the low cost minion and Psychic Scream. Once you have put your low cost minion inside his deck, he cannot execute the Mecha'thun win condition any longer: Checkmate!. Now, simply enjoy the show, watching like the fatigue burns his health. Remember: do not play any minions at this point, of the could get rid of the minion that you gave him and pull off the Mecha'thun combo.
According to last meta reports, Malygos Druid is more common now than it was weeks ago and it is a difficult matchup for Control Priest. My advice (based on 0 experience) is to prioritize the tempo and to reduce the opponent's total life as soon as possible. Use Shadow Visions to get extra copies of Mind Blast if possible.
Hunter is the most played class in the current meta and it displays 4 different archetypes: Hybrid Hunter, Midrange Hunter, Deathrattle (Cube) Hunter and Spell Hunter. Fortunately, our deck is well prepared to face all of them.
When playing against Hybrid and Midrange Hunter our role is to play defensively. We have at our disposal some early minions to to stall the game (Tar Creeper), Duskbreaker for countering Emerald Spellstone effect and Psychic Scream to reset the board. If you leave the opponent without resources his only salvation is to draw Deathstalker Rexxar or Master's Call in the Midrange case. Although I have said several times that this deck is favored against Hunters, Midrange can be difficult sometimes, because it can put a lot of pressure very early.
Deathrattle Hunter is perfectly countered with the inclusion of two copies of Psychic Scream and Shadow Visions in the deck. If things looks bad, simply return all the eggs and cubes to the opponent's deck. Then, switch your role to aggressor and gain the tempo while burning his total health.
I did not find Spell Hunters in the ranks 5 to Legend but I can give you some advice (that should be also applied in the Hybrid matchup): try to avoid activating the secrets and you will not fall too far behind in the board. In the late game your deck will be more powerful.
Mage is another class with low representation in ladder. You are likely to encounter one of these two archetypes: Elemental Mage and Control Mage.
Elemental Mage focuses on building a powerful board and your role will be negating it and abusing your burn power to close the game. The most dangerous card in the deck is Frost Lich Jaina due to her hero power Icy Touch that is capable of generating solid bodies (3/6) with healing effects. Try to avoid playing low health minions or trade them before the opponent gets value of them.
I have to admit that I was very lucky in not crossing any Control Mage in my climb to legend, the second hardest matchup for this deck after Odd Warrior. You are the aggressor in the matchup and you want to end it as soon as possible. The problem lies in the ability of Control Mage to constantly destroy your tempo with Dragon's Fury, Meteor, Blizzard, Flamestrike and Voodoo Doll, waiting to play Frost Lich Jaina to stabilize his health. Indeed, infinite healing and armor are a hard counter to this deck plans.
UPDATE: A new contender has joined the meta in the last week, Odd Mage. Make good use of your midrange removals like Duskbreaker. If you play Omega Medic in turn 10 you will most probably win the burn fight.
Paladin boasts five archetypes in the current meta (from most to less popular): Odd Paladin, Holy-Wrath Paladin, Exodia Paladin, Even Paladin and Egg Paladin.
I am sure that you already know that against Odd Paladin your job is to survive the constant pressure of his never ending tokens. In this matchup, Duskbreaker will be the MVP and you have to use it wisely (not too soon, not too late). If you survive until the late game and you outlast the opponent resources with the help of Psychic Scream or Primordial Drake, the match is yours. Hint: Discovering an early copy of Spirit Lash from Firetree Witchdoctor is nuts.
I grouped Holy-Wrath Paladin and Exodia Paladin together because both of them are OTK combo decks and the first one is an upgrade of the later. In both matchups you cannot afford building tempo with your minions because these decks include a bunch of board clears: Wild Pyromacer, Equality, Consecration and sometimes Shrink Ray. Your goal is to cycle very fast and find Shadowreaper Anduin and several copies of Mind Blast as soon as possible to burn his life to 0. There are two things that you should avoid at any cost: the opponent healing. The combo Crystalsmith Kangor and Shirvallah, the Tiger can destroy your plans. Try stealing Crystalsmith Kangor with Cabal Shadow Priest and do not allow Shirvallah, the Tiger to rush into your minions (return it to his deck with Psychic Scream). In the late game you should rely only on your burn spells and Voidform, so do not play any minions!.
Your worst enemy in Even Paladin is Corpsetaker, a card that combined with Blessing of Kings can inflict 28 damage in only two turns. Because our deck is not running a copy of Shadow Word: Pain, try using your early minions to remove her Divine Shield and then, play Scaleworm or Duskbreaker to erase it. The rest of the match should be easy to handle.
UPDATE: There is a small niche of Egg Mech Paladin decks in Legend ranks. I have mentioned before that you should not have trouble dealing with Cube/Egg/Deathrattle decks thanks to the inclusion of two copies of Psychic Scream and Shadow Visions.
There are two priest archetypes in the ladder right now: Resurrect/Cloning Gallery Priest and Control Priest. The first one is more popular but I find it to be more inconsistent than Control Priest.
Resurrect/Cloning Gallery Priest is a 50/50 matchup. It is race to see who executes its win condition sooner. Their win condition is to summon/play/resurrect Malygos, Prophet Velen and Radiant Elemental to OTK us with Mind Blast. If he is lucky enough, he can inflict 40 face damage in turn 9 after playing Zerek's Cloning Gallery, given that he summons Malygos, Prophet Velen and two Radiant Elemental and also has two copies of Mind Blast in hand. So, Shadowreaper Anduin is a must keep in the mulligan phase to start burning him ASAP. Remember to cycle as much as you can and getting as many copies of Mind Blast as possible. In fact, if you queue into many Priests, replace both Tar Creeper with two copies of Acolyte of Pain.
The mirror matchup is similar to the Resurrect/Cloning Gallery Priest. The one who draws first Shadowreaper Anduin, plays Alexstrasza on curve or gets several copies of burn spells has a lot more chances of winning the game.
Odd Rogue remains the most popular Rogue archetype followed by Miracle Rogue in the current meta. Although it is not very common I would like to add Malygos Rogue because one of my four loses was to this archetype. The opponent finished me in no time.
Odd Rogue is one the best aggro decks in the game and we have to minimize the damage that he inflicts to us. Given that we do not run Shadow Word: Death in deck, one of his most dangerous plays is to dagger up in turn 2 and play Hench-Clan Thug in turn 3. If Hench-Clan Thug grows too much you are done for sure. To avoid this situation, save Scaleworm with Dragon-synergy activated and trade into it. As I commented in the card list section, this minion normally acts as a removal spell. Another important pieces are Tar Creeper with Power Word: Shield cast on it to stop the opponent aggression. If you make it to the late game, your hero power, the five armor gained from Shadowreaper Anduin's battlecry, both Primordial Drake and Omega Medic will turn the match in your favor.
In view of the statistics, I was very lucky not being matched against Miracle Rogue. It seems to be a hard matchup for Control Priest. However, its appearance between ranks 5 and Legend is very low, so it is logical. Frankly, I do not how to deal with the constant pressure and the ability to refill the board with (4/4) bodies thanks to Fal'dorei Strider and Myra's Unstable Element. Use your early and mid-range defensive tools while searching for Psychic Scream.
The less played class of the game has only one but powerful archetype: Even Shaman. I have seen in the tournament scene a control-oriented deck named Peanut Shaman but you do not have to worry about it, the chances of facing one in ladder are very low.
Even Shaman is board centric deck whose win condition is to generate tokens which at the same time lower the cost of Sea Giant. Fortunately for us, our deck is provided with some early game minions, midrange removal in the form of Duskbreaker and Psychic Scream as last resource. Clearing the entire board will leave the opponent without resources: tempo and cards (he should have used more than you). Once lost the board, one of its weakness is the lack of drawing mechanisms.
Warlock can be seen mainly in three forms: Mecha'thun Warlock, Even Warlock and Cube Warlock. The Warlock class has something that totally aligns with our deck plan : Life Tap. His self-inflicting damage makes easier to burn his life to zero.
Mecha'thun Warlock goal is to cycle super fast with cards such as Acolyte of Pain, Mortal Coil and using Life Tap. In this case we cannot replicate the strategy that I suggested to use against Mecha'thun Druid because Cataclysm clears every single minion on board. So, hopefully your will have finished him before he can pull off the Mecha'thun (cost reduced to 8) + Bloodbloom + Cataclysm combo. Important: Remember that if you leave him with less than 4 mana he will not be capable of playing Cataclysm and the match is yours.
The only problem with Even Warlock lies in the early Mountain Giant. So please, make your life easier by leaving, if possible, Twilight Acolyte and at least a dragon card in your mulligan phase to reduce the attack of it from 8 to 2. Apart from that, the more he taps the easier it will be to burn him to zero.
Cube Warlock seeks to get insane value from the combination of Spiritsinger Umbra and Carnivorous Cube. So, our strategy consists on removing Spiritsinger Umbra by any means and stealing his value-packed cubes with the aid of Twilight Acolyte and Cabal Shadow Priest. If things look bad use your anti-cube spell Psychic Scream and let the comeback start.
Finally, if you are in low ranks it is possible to find Zoo Warlock. Do not worry, you have Duskbreaker by your side.
The two Warrior archetypes that you are going to find in ladder are Odd-Taunt Warrior and Odd Warrior. Both of them are the hardest matchups for Control Priest because of the insane armor efficiency gain of the upgraded hero power Tank Up! (2 armor per 1 mana). It makes difficult to burn the opponent's health. So if you find a lot of Control Priests, I recommend you switching to any of the Odd Warrior decks.
Both, Odd-Taunt Warrior and Odd Warrior, have insane defensive capabilities but their game plans are very different. Odd-Taunt is more proactive in the sense that it aims to complete the quest as soon as possible to use the DIE, INSECT! hero power, repeatedly. On the other hand, Odd Warrior is more passive. It outvalues the opponent resources and waits to win the fatigue fight. I faced only one Odd-Taunt Warrior and I won the match because he switched the hero power and I was lucky with the targets of DIE, INSECT!. In both matchups you really need Alexstrasza and normally you will get full value of it: burning 15 health. Use your tempo (minions), and burn tools (such as several copies of Mind Blast) to remove his armor and the remaining 15 health.
The purpose of this section is to list a series of easy plays that are useful to remember when piloting this deck:
- At 9 mana: Twilight Acolyte (activated by Dragon Synergy) + Cabal Shadow Priest = Steal any opponent minion.
- At 8 mana play Shadowreaper Anduin, next turn play Alexstrasza and in the following turn check if you can execute any of these sequences:
- At 10 mana: Voidform + Mind Blast + Mind Blast + Mind Blast(discovered) + Mind Blast(discovered) = 22 damage to face.
- At 10 mana: Voidform + Mind Blast + Voidform + Mind Blast + Voidform = 16 face damage.
- At 10 mana: Mind Blast + Mind Blast + Holy Fire = 15 face damage.
- Note: If you had the chance of putting pressure to your opponent, you can close games without the help of Shadowreaper Anduin and/or Alexstrasza. Getting several copies of Mind Blast is game changer.
- Mecha'thun Druid wrecker: 1 weak minion on board (or played from hand) + Psychic Scream.
- Nice recovery: Steal Crystalsmith Kangor with Cabal Shadow Priest and play Omega Medic for healing a total of 20 health points!.
Advice (Skip this section if you have hit Legend before)
Last but not least, I want to give some advice to players that have never hit Legend. It is basic but essential stuff that skyrocketed my win rate when I got serious and decided to get the Legend cardback once and for all.
- Do not underestimate the mulligan phase: A lot of times it decides matches in turn 1.
- Make a good use of the coin!
- Before playing any card in a turn, visualize how the board and the remaining opponent health will look like when the turn ends. Then, decide if it is convenient or not to follow that series of plays. However, sometimes RNG effects will force you to make partial decisions.
- Each turn (except the first turns) has a duration of 90 seconds. Do not hurry and make the most of it.
- Anticipate and keep in mind the board clear options of your opponent.
- Also anticipate the reach of your opponent to take an aggressive or defensive stance.
- Learn from your mistakes and try always to play a perfect match. Minimize your bad decisions and make the most of your opponent mistakes.
- Even playing a perfect match it is totally normal to lose, so do not feel bad! Let only RNG to be the reason behind your defeat and not your mistakes.
- If possible, play in Casual Mode or against a friend using other popular meta decks. This will allow you to predict your opponent actions more easily when facing them.
I want to clarify that I am not the author of this deck. As someone pointed out in the comment section, this exact deck was used by TrumpSC during December 2018. My goal when posting the deck was to showcase how easy was my climb to Legend (26 wins/4 loses from Rank 5) and to help other players to do so. Sorry if my explanations include too much detail but I wanted to make this guide accessible to everyone. As user Tydurdan has commented, the skill cap of this deck is very high and mastering it is not easy. You have been warned.