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What happened to the Priest class? It's never been the most competitive, but it's also never really been the worst. However now it very clearly is the weakest class in Hearthstone.

Though technically Paladin is now the least played class, Priest is easily the least likely to be utilized at high levels. It also has the lowest projected win rate of any major archetype in Viscious Syndicate's latest Data Reaper Report. This is very clearly a result of Goblins vs Gnomes and Naxxramas cycling out of Standard - after all, you still see significant class representation on the Wild ladder. But as far as the rest of the world is concerned, Priest doesn't really exist at the moment.

Some of this is due to the hero power itself, admitted by the likes of game designers Mike Donais and Peter Whalen just after the release of Standard.

"Priests have the worst hero power and the best hero power," Donais tells IGN. "If it has no minions on the board it has the worst hero power, but when it’s healing a friendly minion, it kind of has the best hero power, compared to, like, Mage, which only does one damage while it’s healing for two."

Whalen picks up where he leaves off, "And one of the dangers there is that it feels repetitive. You keep trying to kill the same minion over and over again when you’re playing against Priest, so it’s tricky to figure out what the right direction is to go with them."

Perhaps some of this has always been reflected in Blizzard's card design. The class had very little representation prior to Naxxramas due to the relatively low power of its cards in the Basic and Classic set. Everyone seemed to be on the same page in that Blizzard needed to develop cards that gave it more options, stronger minions, and a more proactive way to approach the game. And they undoubtedly did so at times, but take a look back at what Priest has actually gotten with each set and you'll realize there are a lot of strange anomolies.

Naxxramas

Dark Cultist was a boom for Priests. Though this card alone wasn't enough to make it great, it was certainly a step in the right direction. The lack of solid three drops was a longlived concern and now they had a new minion that can potentially buff a minion from the last turn? Seems great!

Goblins vs Gnomes

A board clear! Lightbomb gave Priest something they desperately needed: a way of clearing a board of high health minions. Previously, Holy Nova and Auchenai + Circle of Healing were the only ways you could hope to remove your opponent's entire board and they obviously have their own limitations, for the latter it was mostly requiring multiple cards to pull it off.

Velen's Chosen is great in that it allows you to proactively buff your Turn 2 minion and either trade or push damage, both of which are great options.

Light of the Naaru is also a notable inclusion that helped Priests not only heal, but apply pressure.

Blackrock Mountain

Blizzard starts pushing the Dragon theme with Twilight Whelp, a solid 1-Cost minion assuming you actually have a dragon in hand. But Resurrect feels pretty weak. Most of the time you want to play this you've already lost a few minions that you really don't want to come back at the cost of including this card.

The Grand Tournament

Alright, what's going on? Wyrmrest Agent is great for those Dragon decks, okay, we can keep trying to make those a thing. Sadly every other archetype is feeling a bit malnurished. Flash Heal is somewhat good too but really doesn't help our early game problem.

But there are a few cards here that are somewhat mindboggling. What is Confuse even supposed to do in a competitive deck? And Spawn of Shadows seems to be a bit out of place, Aggro Priests aren't a thing and we're not sure if they ever will be.

League of Explorers

Entomb is great! But it's yet another reactive card. Priests are still really struggling to do anything but sit there and try to steal or kill all of your threats. Museum Curator actually helped our Turn 2, but it's not all that exciting as a two drop, mostly just keeps us from passing yet again.

Whispers of the Old Gods

As you may have noticed, Priest seems to disproportionally get situational cards. But not even regular situational cards, a lot of the stuff it gets is downright silly like Confuse from earlier. We continue this trend: Embrace the Shadow, Herald Volazj, Power Word: Tentacles.
See the problem? The last minion that was a solid drop on its own is Dark Cultist. Everything else requires you to have Dragons, is situational, or is good but not great like Museum Creator. Priest needs more beef in the early game. It's largely accepted that Northshire Cleric isn't meant to be a Turn 1 play, and without any really good 2 or 3-Cost minions, what's a Priest to do but delay?

And don't even get us started on the Legendaries.

These are the Priest Legendaries.

Confessor-Paletress
Herald Volazj
Prophet Velen
Vol'Jin


Situational at best, none of these legendaries are particularly competitive. Vol'Jin was occasionally relevant prior to Standard helping you trade one of your small minions into your opponent's more expensive ones. Prophet Velen is popular in semi-gimmicky combo decks thanks to Emperor Thaurissan who will soon be rotated out of Standard. Paletress is too heavy on RNG to see consistent play, especially with her low stat values (particularly in health), and Volazj is one-hundred percent invested in you actually having a board to activate from.

These cards don't really fill any holes in the class' current landscape and that's a huge problem for Priests. Not once has it had a strong Legendary that can stand entirely on its own.

This is fine for the majority of the other classes, but proactiveness is something Priest has next to none of right now. Hence why two of the three main deck types people currently play revolve around an Old God, giving them a method of going on the offensive for once. Priest needs its Xaril, Poisoned Mind, its Grommash Hellscream, or in the best case scenario its own Tirion Fordring. Though Paladin currently seems to be none the better despite having the best Legendary minion ever released.

Tired of losing as Control Priest? Control Shaman has really been surging in popularity over the past month. Or for a more detailed look at Priest in competitive play, check out our Spring Championship infographic.