First, let me apologize for the lack of content from me lately. I was sick one week and then the next I wrote a whole article about the Hunter class which is about to be nerfed quite a bit. I'll revisit the Hunter later this week and focus on what these changes might mean and why the Hunter needed to be adjusted. While I was away we have seen the explosive return of the Priest class. This was not a surprise to a lot of players since Priest got one of the better class cards in Naxxramas. What is surprising is how much some of the other Naxx cards have accelerated this resurgence. Undertaker is also a key component in the new Deathrattle Priest deck. Yong Woo is calling it Donut Rush but I'll go with Tempo Priest for this article as that is how this deck wins and donuts are fattening.

The key to the deck is to play a minion on every turn and use the Priest hero power to heal your own minions allowing you to trade more efficiently than your opponent. A lot of the previous Priest decks utilized Wild Pyromancer, Holy Smite and other tricks to clear the board but often times didn't have minions of their own to play which was a huge weakness early in the game. These decks relied on finishers like Ragnaros the Firelord and Prophet Velen to close games out. This can work to an extent and several players were able to able to achieve high legend ranks with Priest but the style was unreliable and had several really bad matchups. This Tempo Priest is much more reliable and is a proactive deck that relies on minions and board presence to snowball the game out of control. We'll go over one version of the deck and a couple of cards that can be swapped in depending on the meta.

The Deck

Tempo Priest

Circle of Healing - this card has a few really positive uses in this deck but it is one that could be a single. I've been running two copies to make sure I get one when I need it but it's a flavor choice. It can be used for a board wipe with the Auchenai Soulpriest but it's also useful to draw cards or just heal your minions up after trading to lock in board presence. However you use circle I think it's too valuable to take out of the deck.

Power Word: Shield - it would be silly to have a Priest deck without this card. 1 mana draw a card is good but to add health to your creatures actually means this card can essentially get 2 or 3 for 1s if it allows you to kill minions without your own dying. This fits the theme of the deck perfectly.

Northshire Cleric - it's okay to play this on 1 but you'd rather have Undertaker or Zombie Chow. This card is here as a draw engine and since you will usually have a lot of creatures on board you can draw a lot with Circle of Healing.

Shadow Word: Death - killing big creatures is the biggest weakness of this deck so this card should actually be a 2-of in my opinion. I went with one because in the current meta Handlock is rare but as soon as the Hunter nerfs hit it is likely that Handlock will be back so I will likely be running 2 of these again. For now, it just kills Highmanes, Doomguards and the occasional Ragnaros. You can also kill your own Sylvanas for a 2 card, 9 mana Mind Control.

Dark Cultist - as I said earlier, this is one of the best class cards to come out of Naxx and in this deck it is a champion. Adding health to your creatures helps with the theme of trading for board control of course but with the addition of Undertaker this card helps snowball the game with its deathrattle effect as well. I wish I could run 4 of these.

Auchenai Soulpriest - since this deck is light on removal this card is required. With Circle you can clear most boards and turning the hero power into a damage spell temporarily is great. The dream, which is rare but can happen, is to turn your Zombie Chows into Mind Blasts. I've only pulled it off a handful of times but it is damn satisfying.

Holy Nova - most Priest decks historically ran two of this card but in this deck it's a little too slow to play a second Holy Nova. One is necessary though as it allows for some great trading with the heal as well as another way to draw multiple cards with the Northshire Cleric.

Cabal Shadow Priest - this card can be a great tempo swing but after a lot of games I have moved to only running one. Running two is fine but I find that if I can't steal something I always wish it was a different card. If you know there are high value targets like Loot Hoarders or Harvest Golems then you should wait for them but playing it on turn 6 is such a great temp play that I would take a lower value target just to swing the game.

Undertaker - the ultimate snowball machine. If you play this on turn 1 and follow it with the perfect curve or Loot Hoarder into Dark Cultist there is not much that can be done to stop you.

Zombie Chow - another great turn 1 play. The side effect isn't actually very bad after playing with this card for a while. Also, in Priest you can turn that effect around and damage the opponent so this card just makes too much sense in this deck.

Haunted Creeper - not only do we get a 2 mana card with a good deathrattle but we get two minions when it dies so we often have creatures on board for cards like Defender of Argus. The 1 power on the card looks weak but over a few turns this card helps establish board presence quite effectively.

Loot Hoarder - if you don't get cards out of Northshire Cleric your hand can dry up quickly so this little guy helps shore up that issue. He also brings a deathrattle to the table and is a great target for Power Word: Shield.

Harvest Golem - I've seen people playing a deck like this and using Injured Blademaster instead but I would rather have a sticky minion and keep buffing my Undertakers. I've tested both ways and the Golem just feel more consistent as it doesn't just die to Fiery War Axe, Eaglehorn Bow or most 2-drops.

Defender of Argus - since this deck often keeps creatures in play it is common to get full value out this card. Most constructed decks don't have that luxury so while the Defender of Argus is a good card it rarely sees play except in Warlock and Shaman. In this deck it's a stud.

Loatheb - one day I'll play a deck that doesn't have Loatheb in it. That day is a long way off though. The key when playing Loatheb is to time the drop correctly. You can deny big combos and protect your board when you get it solidly built, as well.

Sludge Belcher - a solid body that with taunt that pops out another taunt is so valuable in a burst heavy meta it's sick. Once Leeroy is nerfed there might be a slight value drop in the Belcher but I doubt it. It is just a damn fine card and also has that valuable deathrattle to buff your Undertakers.

Cairne Bloodhoof - when it comes to board control minions there aren't many that do it better than Cairne. Playing against this deck can be very draining since you have to kill everything twice but killing Cairne twice often requires exhausting all available removal. At some point you will need to start swinging for damage as well and often times in a game that is still contested on turn 6 Cairne can stabilize your board and lead the way to victory.

Sylvanas Windrunner - I mentioned earlier that dealing with big creatures is a weakness for this deck. Sylvanas helps with this by allowing you to potentially steal them as well as Shadow Word: Death-ing your own Sylvanas you can also simply trade and grab a creature from the other side of the board. In a board control deck I think Sylvanas is almost a requirement.

Optional Cards

There are a few cards that also fit into this deck depending on the meta and your own personal preference. Harrison Jones is great in a Warrior and Hunter heavy meta. After the Buzzard nerf we may start seeing Shaman again playing the Doomhammer and that is, of course, the Harrison dream. I have also seen people run some more late game cards such as Ragnaros, Ysera and Kel'Thuzad. All of these cards serve a similar purpose which is to finish games and match up with control decks. Which one you prefer has to do with the meta you are facing as well as your own style so I won't push anyone is one direction or another there.

Playing the deck

In the mulligan phase you are looking for Undertaker, Zombie Chow, Loot Hoarder and Haunted Creeper. When you have the Auchenai in hand you can also decide to keep Circle but I would not recommend keeping one without the other already. It's important with this deck to get off to a quick start and then play on curve from there. I recommend using all of your mana each turn if possible to maximize the use of your hero power. For example, on turn 5 if you have a 3-drop and a 4-drop to choose from I would play the 3 drop and hero power allowing me to play the 4 drop and hero power again next turn. In most cases this will enable the positive trading that is the staple of this deck's playstyle.

During the mid-game continue to keep the board as clean as possible and creatures like Cabal Shadow Priest and Auchenai Soulpriest should carry you. It is important to also prioritize the amount of damage you can safely do to the face without opening yourself up to board clears. Since this deck has no finishers and relies on steady damage and board control the choice is often to trade but you cannot lose sight of the fact that you do need to get that 30 damage in somehow. In a deck like this the difference between a great player and everyone else is the subtle art of knowing when to move into being the beatdown deck. I wish I could give you a hard, fast rule for when to make that transition but there just isn't one. The best I can do is to remind you to monitor your attacking phases and pay attention to your wins and losses. If you notice that you are losing games that you seemed to be in control of then you may need to start altering your beatdown clock.

I have found that this deck does pretty well against everything but Handlock so until that Hunter nerf hits there is a lot of room to do well with this deck. Players like Zetalot and Brian Kibler have been utilizing decks similar to this on the ladder and in tournaments. Let me know how you do with it and also what changes you would make in the comments below. Next week is open. The meta will shift after the nerfs so we'll see what deck rises to the top and discuss that and why.

Until then, job's done!