Deck CompositionAlmost all popular variants of this style of Priest play use a consistent starting set of cards:
2x Circle of Healing
2x Northshire Cleric
2x Power Word: Shield
2x Zombie Chow
2x Dark Cultist
2x Injured Blademaster
2x Auchenai Soulpriest
2x Cabal Shadow Priest
Outside of these largely consistent inclusions (most of which have positive interactions), the general plan is to round out the deck with a blend of removal spells and Deathrattle minions. Most decklists feature some of the following:
Shadow Word: Pain
Shadow Word: Death
Defender of Argus
Ragnaros the Firelord
Also, highly specific tech cards like Harrison Jones are always an option, based on what's prevalent in the meta.
New! You can also lean on some of the new Goblins vs. Gnomes cards in this play style:
Light of the Naaru
Playstyle, Tips, and NotesAs a unique blend of early game pressure and control - but not a true midrange deck, like some of the common Shaman or Hunter styles - your Priest plan of attack revolves around adapting your cards to counter what your opponent brings to the table. This reactionary decision-making is largely a byproduct of the multiple ways you can ultimately combine so many of your core spells - do you pair Circle of Healing with Auchenai Soulpriest, or with your Injured Blademaster? What about Northshire Cleric?
Bearing this in mind, you often have to have a plan of attack for outlasting early game threats. If you can't get early board presence, it can be very difficult to walk back from a poor opening, as your board clears and removal don't really start to appear until turns 4+ (unless you opt very specifically for an anti-aggro decklist). Mulligan aggressively for things you can play early on!
MulligansLearning the mulligan pattern for this deck can be quite difficult. There's certainly the school of thought that says, "Always mulligan for Undertaker!" In reality, however, you have to make a lot of choices - do you have a follow-up? Are you playing against a class where a turn 1 Northshire Cleric is safe? Throwing away spells is usually the right decision, but sometimes you have to hold things to combat the possible risks you expect from your opponent (e.g. an early Shadow Word: Death is your only hope against Handlock).
About the only conclusive thing that can be said of the archetype as a whole is that you should always mulligan away anything with a cost higher than four. After that, it comes down to your unique application of the archetype and what class (or archetype) you are expecting from your opponent.
Combos and Counters
There are almost too many ways to pair cards in Priest as a whole, let alone this archetype, to really cover them effectively, but here are a few key thoughts:
- Your removal spells are all fairly specific in their application. Use them as efficiently as you can - try to trade up on mana cost at a bare minimum.
- Circle of Healing is removal against aggro, but not against control.
- A great surprise nuke exists with Auchenai Soulpriest and Zombie Chow.
- Against any really late-game control decks, you are quite likely to lose the fatigue war, so play aggressively when you hit them!