UPDATE, 5th June: Video Guide added below!
UPDATE, 7th June: Follow me on Twitch!
UPDATE, 14th June: Best Priest deck in the current meta according to TempoStorm (https://tempostorm.com/articles/meta-snapshot-18-from-warrior-to-warrior)
UPDATE, 26th September: TGT Version Decklist
I am MatGagne, I made it into the top 25 legend last season with (by many consider to be) the worst class, Priest (moreover after consistently being picked last in the ViaGame HouseCup tournament) I must say I strongly disagree with the perception of where Priest stand in the meta. I build a deck (that like my statistics will show you) is strong in every matchup and is even heavily favored in certain matchups (mainly what the meta consist of)
This deck is built in a way to get you in a position where this class shine the most, when you have board control, which means; you can dictate the trades and use your hero power effectively to heal your minions afterwards. This deck has a low curve to allow you to gain that lead early on and has an unusual card which in my opinion really strengthen the deck by allowing you to take full advantage of that position, allowing you to compensate for the lack of cards this low curve might lead you and by allowing you to get in your hands the card that synergies together: Acolyte of Pain.
Why Acolyte of Pain would be good in Priest now?
Apart from Northshire Cleric which is one of the best card draw engine in the game, Priest always been searching for that little extra card draw to avoid situations where you could run out of card. The only option the Priest class really offering is Thoughtsteal, mainly popularize by Amaz, Thoughtsteal is a staple in most Priest decks.
Before assessing if Acolyte is good for Priest, we should first ask yourself; is Thoughsteal a strong card for Priest?
From my experience, those 3 mana spent in Thoughtsteal has rarely been a good investment, the cards gotten from this spell is often underwhelming. Most of the time the cards that I got from this spell are below average, cards that I don’t really want, like Whirlwind, Mad Scientist, Wolfrider, Doomguard, Shadowflame, Warsong Commander, Ice Barrier, Flametongue Totem, etc, etc. Moreover, I sometimes get cards that are simply useless like Shield Slam, Ancient Watcher, Deadly Poison or Blade Flurry. On top of that, when I finally get a card that I am happy with, it sometimes gets even worse, by unlocking the counter tech card of my opponent, like a Truesilver Champion counter by Harrison, 7+ attack minion (which my deck doesn’t have) counter by BGH, or secret or taunt.
These observations lead me to say that the cards you get from thoughtsteal are on average subpar, which basically makes it a worse version of Arcane Intellect. If you can agree that Arcane Intellect its pretty much the baseline of an ok card draw engine in term of value, we can say that thoughsteal is not so great, not to say pretty bad. Very few highly competitive decks have in it two pretty bad cards, which by the same token makes it hard for Priest to be a viable class. Some people have realized this and cut one or two, but this doesn’t resolve the card draw situation for Priest. The solution? Acolyte of Pain.
Multiple small changes lead me to say that Acolyte of Pain is now a strong card for Priest
- All the new synergies introduce with GvG: It’s almost endless, Light of Naaru with Cleric, Blademaster, Auchenai and Pyro, or Shrinkmeister with Cabal and Shadowmadness, or Circle with …, etc, etc. So, I don’t even need to draw many cards with Acolyte to make it more valuable than Thoughtsteal, I don’t want my opponent cards, I went to get deeper into my deck and unlock my combos.
- Zombie Chow and Shrinkmeister: They allow you to have boards advantage early on and when acolyte is played on turn3, he is often free to do the smaller trades.
- Light of the Naaru: With 2 of those in your deck, you now have 6 spells that cost one or less that can easily be combo with Pyromancer and Acolyte.
- Shrinkmeister Battlecry: It isn't the best play in the history of hearthstone, but you would be surprise how many times I used this combo with Acolyte to allow him to survive in a trade and draw additional cards.
- Velen’s Chosen: It might seem like an anti synergy, making it too vulnerable to silence, but most of the time it pays off, he becomes very hard to remove and can sometimes draw multiple cards.
- *The Hero Power: When you are ahead, Acolyte is best in a Priest deck.
Ok, don’t get too excited, on average I draw 1.5-2 cards with it (including all scenarios like being silenced), it might not seem that much, but that's pretty much what warrior get with it (they may get more or less I am not sure), and considering it also put a small minion on the board, for 3 mana, it is more than wroth it. I also realized that it made my deck stronger vs agro, because even if it is not a great anti agro card, I vastly prefer to have a 1/3 minion on the board on turn3 that my opponent basically has no choice to remove than play Thoughtseal. And vs control, he is usually great; you can be more greedy and have the time to set him up to draw multiple cards.
That being said, one advantages Thoughsteal has over Acolyte is when games come down to fatigue because it gives you an extra card. But, I don't think this really matter, the meta is too fast right now, in the 92 games I compiled, I only lost one because of fatigue.
Cards Choice Explanations (Benefits, Tips & Replacements):
Two of those in your deck make your deck so much stronger vs agro (which the ladder filled with). This deck has enough cycle to afford having both of them. Zombie Chow is the best neutral 1 drop in the game and it is even better in Priest because of Auchenai. When you have the chance to kill it off with Auchenai in play don’t be greedy and (most of the time) go for it, a pyroblast his worth way more than a 2/3.
This card is great, it has such versatility, it is one of the most cost effective cards in the game imo. The only downside to it, is that it is a 1 mana card that you don’t play on turn1 and don’t keep in your opening hand. So, is it worth having a 1 mana spell only for the mid/late game? It depends. Only if your deck has lots of card draw capability, which this deck has.
Don’t be scared to use this card without Shadow Madness or Cabal, if his battlecry offers nice value in a trade go for it. A good example is: you play Chow turn1, your opponent play Flame Imp or coin juggler, Shrinkmeister on turn2 become a great tempo play.
This spell compensates for the low minions stats in this deck. A turn1 Zombie Chow or Cleric into coin Velen’s Chosen is one the best opening Priest can have, if the opponent as no immediate way to remove the buff minion's, this give you such a big tempo lead. Another benefit this spell has is that it unlock new targets to be targeted by Naaru, also, it is a great card to combo with Pyromancer.
In the end of May I was mostly facing; Patron Warrior, Zoo, Agro Mage and Hunter. Shadow Madness is very strong in all of those matchups. If you start facing less of those type of decks, you can consider removing one from the deck. You could maybe go for a more contolish card, like Ysera, if you are facing more control decks.
He seems strong on paper, but if you are unable to set him up, he is really not that great. Because of this many pros like Kolento aren’t using it and I don’t blame them. However, I think this is the right deck to maximize the value of Vol'jin. Most of the time, you should have something on the board like a zombie chow to finish off the opponent minion you are targeting.
Replacement: LightBomb or Shdwdeath.
Replacement: LightBomb, BGH, Ysera.
Why no Recombobulator?
Yes, Shadow Madness into Recombobulator looks nice. But, it’s just too greedy. Recombobultaor is only worth playing with 2 cards in your deck. This isn’t enough; see how long you need to hold it in your hand before pulling off the combo. Anyway, when you play Shadow Madness you usually want to trade off the minion you are stealing and get the deathrattle from it.
Why no Dark Cultist?
Dark Cultist is a strong card for sure, but there only so much room in a deck. Priest already had an excellent 3 drop in Blademaster. Which one is stronger might have been debatable in the past, but now, if you are playing Light of the Naara, Blademaster is undeniably better.
Why no Deathlord?
I don't like playing Russian Roulette. But seriously, this deck is already good enough to gain board control early on and counter agro.
Why no Sludge Belcher?
This deck has 1 drops, 2 drops, 3 drops, 4 drops… Most of the time, your opponent has to deal with them and didn’t really had the time to go for face. So, you are rarely in a position when you need taunts to protect yourself from dying. With this deck, most games aren't decided by face damage, it is instead who has a board the opponent can’t overcome.
Why no Lightbomb?
If I could add 3-5 cards in this deck, one of them probably would be lightbomb. But, Lightbomb isn’t the best fit for this deck. Lightbomb is only good in a situation where you are far behind, which won’t happen very often, because this is a tempo deck. Anyway, this deck already has other comeback mechanisms cards which are more versatile like Circle combo, Shadow Madness, Holy Nova, Pyro combo and Sylvanas.
Why no Mind Control?
The meta is just too fast right now. Most games have already been decided by turn10.
Why no Big Legendary?
One strength of this deck is that it has none prime minion to be removed. Which reduces the effectiveness of the opponent removals (like BGH, Shield Slam, Hex, Siphon Soul, etc) and the tempo swing that comes with it. Priest usually can't afford loosing board control so easily.
Adjusting to the meta
I have mainly built this deck to counter agro, the more agro there is on ladder, the stronger this deck is.
Many changes could be made depending on the meta.
Harrisson is one of the obvious tech card that can be changed.
If you are facing less agro you could consider removing one Shadow Madness for Lightbomb or Ysera. You could also consider removing one Chow.
Velen's Chosen is a card I put in/out the deck, if the meta is even more agroish, you could remove it for something like a SW:Pain.
If there a lot of combos and spells heavy deck, Loatheb would be a card I would consider putting in the deck.
Decks overall statistics: 61-31, 66% winrate (statistics compile at high legend rank from the 25th to the 30th May)
This is a very good anti-agro deck, he is favored vs all agro decks, because his capability of gaining board control from the start, otherwise it has many comebacks mechanisms that can potentially screw up any lead the opponent could take (with Circle combo, Pyro combo, Shadow Madness, Holy Nova and Sylvanas).
This deck can also stand it's own against control decks by:
- Taking board advantage early on, a lead the opponent might never be able to overcome by playing too long from behind.
- Getting cards advantage with the smart use of cleric and/or Acolyte of Pain and out value your opponent by being mana efficient, being able to chose the best possible play and by maximizing the value of your cards with their synergy.
- Messing up the opponent's deck by stealing his stuff, mainly by denying his card draw capability.
Against Warlock: 11-8 (60% winrate)
Zoo: 8-4 (67% winrate), Handlock: 4-4 (50% winrate)
Vs Zoo: You either need 1 drops, Pyro combo or Auchenai combo. All of those scenarios should lead you to a win, otherwise you are pretty screwed. Keep your comeback mechanisms cards wisely, wait for your opponent to overextend.
Vs Handlock: Very hard matchup, but it isn’t impossible to win. Try to make good use of the first 4 turns, ideally find a way to draw cards with cleric. A turn4 Vol'jin can be a good tempo play to can lead you to a win. Try to finish him as soon as possible, otherwise you will lack removal for his big minions. Otherwise, I think 2 of my wins have been by Harrison Jaraxxus weapon. From there, you usually have a lot of burst to finish him off with Auchenai and Chow/Naaru.
Mulligan: Unless you are 100% sure you are facing Handlock, mulligan for Zoo. Keep: Cleric, Chow, Circle, Auchenai and Pyro if you have the coin. If you have 1 drop keep Shrinkmeister, Pwshield, Velen’s Chosen and Shadow Madness.
Against Hunter: 15-4 (79% winrate)
Those are pretty easy games. If you have cleric or chow in your starting hand, I would say you have a 90% chance to win the game. You usually have enough heals with the hero power and light of the Naaru.
Mulligan: Keep: Cleric, Chow and Pyro if you have the coin. If you already have 1 drop keep Shrinkmeister, Pwshield, Velen’s Chosen, Shadow Madness and Harrison.
Against Warrior: 9-6 (60% winrate)
Control: 3-4 (43% winrate), Patron: 6-2 (75% winrate)
This deck is a lot stronger vs Patron than control Warrior.
Vs Control: The only way to win in this matchup is by denying their card draw by stealing their acolyte of pain with Shadow Madness or Cabal.
Vs Patron: With double Shadowmadness and Cabal you can completely screw his card draws, when comes turns 7-9 he is usually lacking many cards key cards for his combo. It becomes a lot less scary and easy to deal with. Try to keep in your hand cards bellow 3 attacks like Acolyte and Chow when you know the combo is coming. You usually anyways have so many cards in your hand to play, because of all the card draw you steal from your opponent.
In both matchups try to be greedy with Harrison, but even more so if you are facing Patron Warrior, try to keep it for Death’s Bite, it usually pays off.
It is important to avoid playing minions that can be directly be killed by their weapon. Wait for a Pwdshield or try to play multiple minions on the same turn.
Mulligan: One of the hardest mulligan, mainly because you really want Shadow Madness vs Patron, but it is an almost useless card vs control. Otherwise, keep: pwsheild and Harrison. You can keep blademaster and circle if you have both of them in your opening hand.
Against Druid: 9-4 (69% winrate)
In this matchup Priest is favored. You should be able to gain board control at some point, from there Druid will have really hard time coming back into the game. Try to get the lead as soon as you can. Be careful, this deck as no taunts to hold off the combo.
Mulligan: Ideally try to go for the Blademaster circle Combo. Keep: Cleric, Chow and Blademaster. If you have a 1 drop keep: Pwshield, Velen’s Chosen and 2 drops.
Against Mage: 7-5 (58% winrate)
Agro Mage: 5-4 (56% winrate), Freeze Mage: 2-1 (67% winrate)
Vs Agro Mage: The Flamewaker version is the hardest agro deck to beat because it is hard to establish board control with all their removals.
Vs Freeze Mage: It is difficult to apply enough pressure vs Freeze Mage. One way to be more aggressive is to surprise them with an Auchenai with a Chow already in play. If you know you won’t be able to kill him quickly enough, keep your Naarus for healing after he plays Alexstrasza.
Mulligan: Always mulligan for agro Mage, keep: Cleric, Chow, Circle, Auchenai and Pyro if you have the coin. If you have 1 drop keep Shrinkmeister, Pwshield, Velen’s Chosen and Shadow Madness.
Against Paladin: 5-0 (100% winrate)
The easiest matchup. Everything in your deck is good vs Paladin. Try to gain board control from the start.
Mulligan: Keep: Cleric, Chow, Pyro, Blademaste, Harrison. If you have 1 drop keep pwshield, shrinkmeister. Keep Circle if you also have Blademaster or Auchenai.
Against Priest: 2-2 (50% winrate)
In this matchup you should be unfavored mainly because the opponent can cabal your acolyte and because the opponent's deck usually slightly more controlish than yours. Luckily, there isn't much Priest on ladder. Just try to win the early game and go from there.
Mulligan: Try to go for the Blademaster combo, keep: Cleric, Chow, Blademaster and Circle.
Against Rogue: 2-2 (50% winrate)
Try to apply pressure from the start. There is only so much you can do in this matchup, if your opponent draws well, it is very hard to win. Just hope he won’t get into his card draw or he won’t have his bladefurry on a crucial turn.
Mulligan: Keep: Cleric, Chow and Harrison. If you have both Circle and Blademaster keep them. If you have a 1 drop keep: 2 drops, pwshield and Acolyte.
Against Shaman: 1-0 (100% winrate)
This deck is very strong vs shaman. It will be hard for Shaman to establish their board presence.
Mulligan: Keep: Cleric, Chow, Circle, Auchenai and Pyro if you have the coin. If you have 1 drop keep Shrinkmeister, Pwshield, Velen’s Chosen and Shadow Madness.
If you try this deck out, be patient with it, it is a hard deck to play, you usually have multiple options offer to you, it isn't easy finding out the best play. However, once you mastered this deck, you will be very hard to beat.
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