Posted by: Grumpy | November 15, 2013

Hearthstone Priest 101

I have to say that the priest deck in Hearthstone is one of the most entertaining decks to play. It’s combination of cards that take the opponents strengths and twist them to our side along with it’s buffing spells and end game nukes make it enormously fun to play and watch. The following is a strategy that can be used to successfully play the priest deck. It is written for the beginning of game play when you don’t have many epic or legendary cards. However, many of the ideas presented should carry over into later stages of the game’s lifetime. I do list a few epic and legendary cards that will help out so that you can be on the look out for them.

Overall Strategy

The priest deck isn’t very strong at the start of play. This is the time where priests are in danger of being overrun. We don’t have a lot of priest specific minions. So you’ll have to grab some useful neutral minions. We’ll go over that in more detail below. But the overall strategy for priests is to survive until the end game and then bring out the big guns. If we can harass, damage and remove resources from our opponent along the way then so much the better.

Survive

It’s been said that the priest deck becomes more terrifying with every turn. Let’s see how that happens.

Tactics

Tactics are the things you do to achieve the overall strategy. These are probably not the only tactics out there. But they work for me.

Harass, Heal, Extend:

(Survival) This is pretty self explanatory. Heal your self so that you survive until the end game. Use your hero power and healing minions. Along the way take out the opponents taunters and other minions. Do damage to the opponent’s hero if you can. Don’t let the opponent get too many minions or you’ll be overrun.

Tanks Are Our Friends:

(Survival) Tanks protect the adventurers in World of Warcraft by keeping the boss attacking themselves instead of the party members. In Hearthstone that function is provided by taunt minions. As long as you have taunt minions on the board you are relatively safe from attack. There are some exceptions to this of course. Some spells and minions can bypass taunt minions. A good rule of thumb is to keep a taunt minion up as much as possible.

Send Them On A Wild Goose Chase:

(Survival) This tactic baits the opponent into spending precious resources on something that isn’t important to your plan. Many of us have seen the Fireside Duel where Hearthstone Community Manager Zeriyah played a warlock against a priest. The priest used the pump and switch tactic (see below) to create a very offensive 10/10 Lightwell that went on to do massive amounts of damage to the Warlock.

People who’ve seen that video will sometimes drop whatever plans they are working on and do whatever it takes to remove a Lightwell from the board before you can buff it. This is a great way to get them to spend resources that they could have otherwise been using to kill your hero.

Dropping a Core Hound can have the same affect. At 9/5 your opponent can’t afford to leave that on the table or they will take 9 damage somewhere during the next turn. They pretty much have to remove it and in doing so will spend resources.

Preventing Card Starvation:

(Survival) Card Starvation happens when you play all of the cards in your hand and the only cards you have left to play are those you are dealt at the beginning of your turn. It’s also called playing off the top of the deck. This is a bad thing because your options are limited by whatever the next card is. It would be better to have a selection of cards in your hand to pick from.

To prevent this problem we put cards in our deck that cause us to draw more cards.Loot Hoarder and Northshire Cleric are good examples of these kind of cards. Cards like Mind Vision and Thoughtsteal copy cards from your opponents hand into yours and also help. Also it’s really fun to polymorph a mage’s minions or hex a shaman’s.

What Was Briefly Yours is Now Mine:

(Big Guns) We can learn a lot from René Belloq and I’m not talking about how to get your face melted.  I’m talking about taking control of your opponent’s minions and using them against him. Mind Control does just that. It is arguably the most fun card to play in the entire priest deck. Imagine if you will, your opponent skillfully allowing you to lower his health so that he can play the enormously powerful Molten Giant card only to have you Mind Control the giant over to your side. I imagine your opponent tearing out his hair and screaming at the universe. But hey, I’m weird that way.

Mind Control has a little brother called Shadow Madness that takes control of a minion with 3 or less Attack power for this turn only. It’s useful for taking one of the opponents minions and pitting it against another minion. If you do it right they will destroy each other. Otherwise the minion goes back to the opponent at the end of your turn.

Mind Control Tech is a neutral minion that takes control of a random enemy minion if they have 4 or more of them.

Also Sylvanas Windrunner‘s deathrattle effect takes control of a random minion and would be a plus in a deck focused on this kind of removal.

The Pump And Switch:

(Big Guns) We buff the health of a minion with things like Power Word: Shield andDivine Spirit. Then we use Inner Fire to make the minion’s attack equal to it’s health. This makes very sturdy and very offensive minions.

That's a very offensive lightwell

Fireside Duel: Warlock vs Priest video is a good example of using this tactic to buff a lightwell.

Shadowy Goodness:

(Big Guns) The Auchenai Soulpriest twists healing into damage for as long and it’s on the board. So your Greater Heal becomes “Do 2 damage for every card in your opponent’s hand.”  Combine this with Prophet Velen and/or Malygos and you have one heck of a nuke.

Be very careful with this though. Once in play the Soulpriest changes your Lightwell and Holy Nova so that they damage friends.

Shadowform converts your hero power to “Do 2 (or 3) points of damage” and lasts until the end of the game.

Deck Building Advice

  • Get a wide variety of taunt minions.
  • And Neutral minions to fill in where the priest deck is weak
  • If your minions do more than one thing that’s even better.
  • Fill the rest of the deck with cards needed for the tactic you want to concentrate on.
  • That should give you way more than the 30 cards allowed in the Hearthstone deck.
  • Pare down the cards that are needed the least until you get to 30. Then play test and adjust from there.

A few example decks for you:

I’ve been playing the priest deck for a little over a week now and I’m really loving it. I hope this guide helps you get started and that you enjoy the class as much as I do.

DISCLAIMER: The game is in early beta and many of the cards and tactics mentioned above may change before the game goes live.

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