A Wild Adventure with Priest
The last golden class I need is Priest, and since I wasn’t keen of suffering through the Standard Legend metagame I decided it was a wise choice to go farm my wins in Wild. It was the first time I ever played the format, I was pleasantly surprised by how fun it is. In this article I go into detailed discussion about my Priest deck as well as giving a general overview of what to expect if you venture in the Wild format.
The Main Deck
Whilst playing I switched cards in and out to try to find the list which I thought could do the best with. The picture on the left represents what was my most successful list against the Wild metagame. I will try to give a detailed explanation of what I wanted from each card in the deck list.
2 x Circle of Healing: There is not much to say about Circle of Healing, it can draw you a bunch of cards when coupled with Northshire Cleric and can also provide a great way to clear when coupled with Auchenai Soulpriest. The one thing I would say is that this card makes me really want to find a spot for Wild Pyromancer in the deck as this would increase the combo potential of the card by a big margin.
1 x Forbidden Shaping: This on is one of the weird choices of the deck, I will say the card performed really well. As a 1-of this card can help you go through bad draws, it gives you something to place on board if you lack a play. This is especially important as you play Velen’s Chose in the deck, you don’t want to end up with buffs stuck in your hands. Additionally in control match-ups casting this for eight makes it so that the deck packs a bit more punch, meaning that it is potentially possible to fight against greedier decks. Overall the card did perform well and as of now I wouldn’t consider replacing it.
2 x Flash Heal: I feel some burst healing is needed in Priest since the sustained heal is sometimes not enough to stabilize the board. Additionally the card can provide huge tempo when coupled with Auchenai, a one mana Fireball is great. Overall the choice is between Light of the Naaru and Flash Heal, I decided that the two more health/damage would help me more, five healing/damage is a better breaking point when compared to three, but the decision is very close. I could imagine running only one of these if Justicar Trueheart was to be put in the deck.
2 x Northshire Cleric: Core for the deck, it allows you to draw when you heal minons plus it is excellent against aggressive decks. It also gives an early body for Velen’s Chosen which is one of your win conditions. Unsubstitutable.
2 x Power Word: Shield: Cycle plus survivability for your early minions is an excellent proposition, the Priest Hero Power excels at keeping high health creatures alive. Additionally when paired with taunts it grants more survivability for the minion and can be very annoying to deal with. Like with Circle of Healing it really makes me want to play Wild Pyromancer in the deck!
2 x Zombie Chow: Running two Zombie Chows might be excessive since it is not a very good card to get back from N’Zoth, but on the other hand the amount of early game consistency that running four 1-drops and Deathlord gives you is invaluable. Additionally having two Zombie Chows also synergises well with Auchenai Soulpriest potentially enabling you to have insane surprise burst. Also consider that when coupled with Power Word: Shield, Zombie Chow will enable you to trade favourably with any minion which will come on board during the first three turns of any game. Overall I really like the card and I think the help it gives to any priest deck to transition in the late game is invaluable.
1 x Shadow Word: Pain: This particular slot changed a lot, it was Justicar, Elise and Excavated Evil at different points in time. I settled with Shadow Word: Pain because I felt an additional tool to control early minions could be useful. Additionally the fact that everybody plays Sludge Belcher in Wild means that Pain has always at least one great target to hit in most decks. I don’t want to play 2 of this card because I feel the deck has enough early game as it is, but if my Shadow Word: Deaths aren’t hitting many targets in the metagame I would consider switching one for second Pain.
2 x Deathlord: This card, when comboed with Velen’s Chosen, can lock out aggressive and midrange decks from doing anything in the early stages of the game. Additionally in Control match-ups it makes the opponents deck much thinner, making it very easy to fatigue your opponent. This is especially true if you can get the card back from N’Zoth. The main thing to consider is that sometimes the card does backfire, a Ysera or a Tirion turn 3 off your Deathlord will mean you will have to concede. On the other hand there are ways to play around this inconvenience as you might want to make sure to have an Entomb or a Shadow Word: Death before playing Deathlord against decks which run these big threats.
2 x Shadow Word: Death: One of this card is core for sure, you need it to be able to deal with big threats, but I don’t know if the second one is required. In my experience I never felt I was stuck with the card in hand too often, there is at least Dr Boom as a target in most decks and usually there are more. Overall I could see myself removing one Death in order to fit some more removal for wide boards but it must be emphasized that having the liberty to use the first Death is very nice as you don’ t have to save it for specific minions.
2 x Velen’s Chosen: This is the card I built my early game around, the trade power it gives minions is borderline overpowered. Without hard removal it is basically impossible to remove a Deathlord with Velen’s on top without trading for multiple turns, running Flash Heal makes it that much better. Overall I had a really good experience with this card as a two of in the deck, the trading power early game is exactly what Priest lacks in standard in order to be competitively viable.
2 x Auchenai Soulpriest: This card is awesome as it can fit in many different situations. Sometimes it is a board clear when coupled with Circle of Healing. Other times you need more reach to finish your opponent and you can pop your Zombie Chows and Flash Heal for extreme damage potential. Additionally the stats make it so that even if played on turn 4 it is not bad as it can contest both Piloted Shredder and Sludge Belcher, two extremely popular cards in the Wild metagame.
1 x Holy Nova: I decided to include Holy Nova because I thought that, in a deck that can get on board control, the heal plus the damage could be useful. Additionally I also thought that Northshire Cleric could benefit from Holy Nova as you can set it up to draw you a few cards. Lastly the synergy with Velen’s Chosen is decent, a 3 damage AOE hits a lot of good targets (most notably Piloted Shredder). Overall as a 1 of in the deck it performed decently but I don’t think I would ever consider playing 2.
2 x Sludge Belcher: This is one of the best cards from the Naxxramas set, so not playing it in any control deck would probably be a mistake. Additionally there is also to consider that playing N’Zoth makes the card so much better, as you can play a game winning 10-drop behind a ton of Taunts. Again another unsubstitutable card.
1 x Cabal Shadow Priest: The card is really good if you hit something with it and Wild has plenty of targets. In Paladin you have Shielded Minibot, in Hunter there is Haunted Creeper and in general nearly every midrange deck has some sort of good target. Overall the card can be rotated out of the deck but I like running one in my list as it gives me the possibility to set up really powerful turns.
2 x Entomb: If you are ever ahead on board Entomb will seal out the game locking any draw from your opponent to contest the board. Against Control decks adding cards to your deck is very strong, it makes the fatigue timer much slower for you. Against cards such as Savannah Highmane, Tirion Fordring and Dr Boom you can remove the minion whilst adding a threat to your deck, crazy good! Overall in a control Priest deck not running two Entombs would be a mistake.
2 x Lightbomb: The more games I play the more I realize that maybe two Lightbombs is too much, the card is very clunky against the Wild metagame. Sludge Belchers do not die to the effect, meaning that Lightbomb is never a clean answer to N’Zoth. Additionally there are plenty of Deathrattles that don’t get cleared by this 6-mana AoE. On the other hand the potential this card has if you have a slight board makes it so that I really do not want to take it out of the deck, it is a very valuable clear. Overall I might test taking one Lightbomb out in favour of Excavated Evil to see how the latter card performs.
1 x Sylvanas Windrunner: With the Whisper of the Old Gods nerfs and thus silences being rarer, Sylvanas is usually a pseudo board clear which allows to come back from difficult board states. This alone makes it an excellent card as the deck wants to control the board and exhaust resources from the opponent. Additionally getting it back from N’Zoth is usually enough for N’Zoth to get value, you really don’t need much more as the effect is really powerful.
1 x N’Zoth, the Corrupter: Since you run Belcher and the Deathrattles N’Zoth is a no brainer, it is the reason you build this Priest deck like this.
As usual there are certain cards which could be pretty strong but didn’t make the cut in my list. I will try to explain my rationale for the ones that in my opinion stand-out the most.
Wild Pyromancer: The reason I didn’t include Wild Pyromancer is that I believe the card would be anti-synergistic with the aim of the deck. Early game my list wants to get on board with Northshire Cleric, Zombie Chow or Deathlord and buff the minion with Velen’s Chosen. This is in order to extract loads of value thanks to the healing Hero Power. On the other hand Wild Pyromancer is more useful when you are behind on board than when you are ahead, the Whirlwind-like effects can clear wide boards with low health minions on them. I will admit that since the deck runs circle of Healing and Northshire Cleric there is some reason to play the card as you can set up some really good card draw turns. Additionally there is the support of Power Word: Shield and Flash Heal to give some sort of consistent activators for the card. If I were to put in 2 Wild Pyromancer I would probably consider taking out Shadow Word: Pain and one Shadow Word: Death. Other card which could be taken out include one Zombie Chow and Cabal Shadow Priest.
Injured Blademaster: It is a decent 3 drop and it makes Circle of Healing have more uses in the deck. I think that if one wanted to substitute Zombie Chows, Blademaster wouldn’t be the worst option. The problem I see is that it is too inconsistent to be played on turn three as you need Circle of Healing in hand to give it any realistic chance of surviving. I think that whilst it might seem appealing, cards like Wild Pyromancer and Excavated Evil are better inclusions for this deck.
Thoughtsteal: In classic Priest this card was used as there were slots to be filled, as of now I don’t think there is any more space for it. The card is really greedy, you sacrifice a deck slot for two unknowns from the opponent’s deck. Obviously against control decks it is a really good card, usually their card value is high enough that any two cards from their deck will trade for at least two of their cards making you go two for one. Overall the card wouldn’t be bad in a control heavy meta but I think you would just get steamrolled by the hordes of Hunter’s and Paladin if you include it in your deck.
Elise Starseeker: I tried playing this card but I felt it was overkill as the list has enough tools to deal with most Control decks. I did find it difficult beating Control Warrior which ran both the Brann Doomcaller combo and Elise, but I don’t consider those match-ups relevant as it is just silly to play such a greedy control deck on ladder. Additionally I don’t think Elise would actually help me deal with such greedy lists, double C’Thun plus Elise finisher is just excessive.
Excavated Evil: Originally I didn’t include this in my deck because it is really bad against control decks, adding cards to their deck is never a good idea. Additionally my deck wants to fight for board, so damaging my own minions doesn’t seem the best idea when playing towards this game plane. As I played more games I really felt that one last clear could help me as I have difficulties dealing with wide boards, my only reliable answer is Auchenai into Circle. Overall I would like to try this as a 1-of, but I feel that probably if I want more clear for wide boards Wild Pyromancer is probably a more reliable choice.
Justicar Trueheart: Healing for 4 is certainly good for Control Priest, the reason I didn’t include it in the deck is that my deck is more teched against Midrange decks. In order to beat a Midrange deck it is more important to get on board and contest their minions rather than trying to heal. Additionally I feel that finding the space to play Justicar on curve is hard, a 6/3 gets contested by too many minions. Overall it is not a bad choice but when I tried it in the deck it severely underperformed.
2nd Cabal Shadow Priest: When you hit a 2 attack minion with this card it is one of the strongest in the game, if you don’t hit anything it is an over costed Chillwind Yeti. I think that if one were to include Shrinkmeister in the deck then a second Cabal Shadow Priest would make sense, but since I don’t think it is a good idea to include the card, as I don’t think a second Cabal is required. Additionally even if there are quite a few targets to Cabal in Wild I think there are better ways to deal with those threats. Overall I was considering cutting the first copy of the card in order to make space to Wild Pyromancer, I don’t think that adding the second copy is useful for the current list.
Other honourable mentions include: Light of the Naaru, Doomsayer, Museum Curator, Dark Cultist, Acolyte of Pain, Piloted Shredder, Priest of the Feast, Shifting Shade, Harrison Jones, Darkshire Alchemist, Loatheb, Vol’jin, Cairne Bloodhoof, Dr Boom, Ysera. Consider that the Wild format gives you the possibility to play with many different cards, meaning that it is much harder to find the optimal deck-list, I will say I am happy with the list I conjured.
W/L = 67/28 (70% win-rate)
Not including game between rank 25 and 15: 54/26 (67.5% win-rate)
Representative Data (no data about match-ups which I faced less than 4 times):
Face Hunter: 6/0
The reason the Face Hunter match-up was so good is that most of the players I faced were quite low rank and misplayed hard. I think this deck has decent tools to deal with the aggression as you can create a wall of impenetrable taunts. Additionally there is also the advantage Face Hunter doesn’t play Call of the Wild, this card is extremely hard to deal with from a Priest perspective. Overall given the fact we have many early game tools it shouldn’t be too hard to lock out a Face Hunter out of the game.
Secret Paladin: 6/4
When Secret Paladins have the God curve from 1-6 it can be really rough to beat them. This is especially true if you can’t set up some board for yourself, Mysterious Challenger will just steamroll your face. On the other hand I found that with some ingenuity and thinking turns ahead there was always some ways to deal with their threats, usually you can find a way to put yourself in a decent position to win the game. Additionally the fact that Secret Paladin doesn’t usually run burst, makes it possible to stabilize at lower health totals. Overall the match-up is possible even if I wouldn’t call it favourable. If you manage to buff a Deathlord early you should generally win, Secret Paladins have a really rough time going through it as they usually don’t run Equality in their lists. Overall it is annoying to face Secret Paladins but they are not the worst match-up you will get.
There were not too many Zoolocks on ladder, I believe this match-up should be favourable. My two losses were due to me not playing around Shadowflame, I didn’t expect this card to be in their decks. Overall if you manage to set up a decent clear turn you should be able to win the game, additionally a big minion early should also grant you a way to lock the Zoo out of the game. I think if Zoo was more popular I would for sure put Wild Pyromancer in the deck, the card just destroys decks which go wide.
Midrange Shaman: 5/0
The Shaman lists I faced were basically the ones that people play in Standard, I was confused to the reason why they were playing them in Wild. Those lists get destroyed by my deck. Given an average draw I will be able to fight for board and have answers to their threats for days.
Reno Mage: 5/1
I have so much of this statistic simply because it seems everybody around rank 12-10 was playing Reno Mage. I can understand this, the archetype is my favourite in the game. The match-up is good, Reno Mage will rarely have the ability to out-pressure you and you can Entomb his threats. The game I lost was due to a misplay, I entombed a Reno in fatigue with my opponent still having Ysera in hand. Not knowing what people play makes it slightly trickier to navigate the match-up. Overall the match-up is really fun and you really need to calculate how you will use your resources throughout the game. Usually fatigue is this decks best bet for a win-condition against Reno Mage.
Against Priest this deck did really badly because all the people I played had insanely greedy lists with N’Zoth, Ysera and Elise. I will also say that whilst I know the Priest vs Warrior match-up really well, I played it a ton from the Warriors perspective, I am new to the Priest class, thus I have a slightly harder time navigating games. What I will say is that ideally you want to save Entomb for the N’Zoth and couple it with Auchenai Double Circle of Healing to nuke down the N’Zoth board, this is exactly 10 mana. Additionally be careful to not make the opponent steal too many Deathlord with their Cabal’s, as this will increase the chances of N’Zoth coming out from your deck and consequentially you not being able to play it. Overall the match-up is tricky and the deck is not built to beat Control Priest consistently, I feel you have a fighting chance but you are certainly not favoured.
Midrange N’Zoth Hunter: 7/6
I didn’t play against many until I reached rank 6, after that I felt there was nothing else on ladder. The match-up is really rough, I managed to be positive just because I feel the opponents misplayed a lot. The amount of pressure N’Zoth Hunter can dish out with cards such as Haunted Creeper and Piloted Shredder is insane, their on curve plays are nearly unbeatable. This, coupled with the fact that there is a N’Zoth in the Hunter list makes it really hard to stabilize the board, most of the time you are left hoping for a hole in their curve. The good thing is that most of the people don’t run Deadly Shot or Hunter’s Mark for lack of space in the deck, this makes it so that most of the times if you can coin Deathlord into Velen’s you can lock them out of hitting your face for a while. Overall a bad match-up which you should lose most of the times.
Control C’Thun Warrior: 4/1
The only loss against a Control Warrior I had was to the greediest deck I ever saw. This list rank Ysera, Doomcaller and Brann, Elise and Grommash. I guess my Priest cannot beat such deck-lists. Against more standard Control Warrior build you should be advantaged as you can Entomb their C’Thun and Sylvanas and out resource them in the long run. The only way you lose this match-up is if the Warrior manages to set up a kill before fatigue, this can sometimes happen. Overall the match-up can be rough to play but the fact I have a lot of experience from the Warrior side gave me an advantage over my opponents. Additionally I felt quite a few people were not playing their decks optimally, Control Warrior can certainly win given the right game plan.
General Thoughts on Wild
The first game of Wild I ever play I lost to a rank 25 thanks to my beautiful Priest draws, this triggered me. Overall though the games from rank 25 to rank 15 were basically me feeling really bad about destroying newer players which had access to less cards. I feel a lot of players use Wild ladder as a safe haven where they won’t get destroyed by experienced players farming their golden portraits. Once I hit rank 15 the games got interesting, until about rank 7 the meta was very diverse. I fought against a lot of insane decks, from Reno Dragon Priest to Dragon Token Paladin. It was certainly hard to play around decks you had no idea what they played but it was also very refreshing coming from the Standard meta.
The last few rank, 7-4, got more boring. All I was facing was Secret Paladins and Midrange N’Zoth Hunter, both of which have decent chances against Priest if they curve out well. This was especially true once I started the last legend push since from rank 5 to rank 4 was basically facing only these decks. Overall though the meta is quite diverse until you hit rank 5, not being that different from Standard. Rank 5 to Legend in Standard is littered with Dragon Warriors and Aggro Shamans, in Wild you have Secret Paladins and N’Zoth Hunters.
I will say that seeing all the staples from the past sets, such as Piloted Shredder and Dr Boom, didn’t bother me too much, there are always ways to deal with these threats. Additionally everybody has access to really solid cards, coupled with the fact Combo Druid doesn’t exist anymore, means you can deal with these cards at the right time without being afraid of the Force of Nature Savage Roar combo. What got quite old pretty fast was the amount of N’Zoth decks on the ladder. Obviously everyone knows the Deathrattles from Naxxramas and Goblin vs Gnomes were really strong, but basically 70% of the ladder was composed of these decks. On the other hand I was quite happy that there wasn’t much Yogg’Saron in Wild, I don’t particularly enjoy playing against that card.
The Wild experience also includes deck-building. I haven’t had this much fun trying different decks in a long time, the amount of options is insane! In this run I only played Priest but I think I played around 6 different decks just to see what I could do. Some of the decks I played were really bad! You can read about them later on in the article. What I will say is that if you are an experienced deck-builder you might just want to open your collection on Wild and theory craft about the decks you can make just for fun.
One thing I noticed is that it seemed the general skill of players at rank 5/4 was much less than in Standard. I saw plenty of misplays and missed lethals against me. An example of this was a Paladin which used Forbidden Healing on me when I was low on health and I had Auchenai on board, he didn’t realize how the interaction worked (it was at rank 5). An explanation for this is probably that given there are less players, it is easier to climb to the higher ranks. Additionally decks like Secret Paladin and N’Zoth Hunter are really strong and don’t require too much decision making to play decently, making it so nearly anyone can achieve at least rank 5. I also noticed that I was facing some really badly built decks, either being way too greedy or just having cards which don’t synergise well together. If I had to guess this has mostly to do with the fact that there are less players experimenting to find the most refined lists and the fact players feel less pressured to climb the ladder, they would rather have fun with home-brews they built rather than optimized decks.
The last thing I wanted to say is that surprisingly all the friend requests that were sent in Wild were by really toxic players which told me to go kill myself or that I cheated. I found that the Wild community was far more toxic than the Standard one. Maybe this has to do with the fact I played Priest, losing to my deck was quite frustrating. It also can be because younger players play this format, I don’t know but I was surprised that none of the 6 friend requests I accepted were genuinely nice people.
Overall playing Wild was really fun. In the three days I played I achieved rank 4. Given the fact I liked the experience I think I will try to push for Legend, this is to at least be able to say I did it once.
The Other Decks
At around rank 10 I tried playing with other Priest decks just to have some fun. Additionally Onyx Bishop had just come out and I wanted to test the card in Wild. All the decks were kind of a failure, with Dragon Priest pulling a little bit more weight than the others. I thought to include a small segment on them here just to give my complete experience of my Wild run.
Dragon Priest: This deck did ok, but it wasn’t that fun to play. Additionally the minions it plays have definitely a lot of problems considering the Wild meta. Firstly Wyrmrest Agents usually just get eaten by a coin Piloted Shredder, not good. Additionally whilst the minions are decently strong there are much better neutral options in Wild, cards such as Sludge Belcher are more consistent than the Dragon counterpart and don’t require the activation. There is also the typical Dragon deck problem that there are not enough good Dragons you actually want to play. This means that you can expect to very often be in a position where you really need a Dragon in hand for the activation but you are just lacking the cards. What I found myself doing in a lot of games is keep Twilight Whelp in hand any turn over turn 3 to guarantee I could activate all my other minions. Lastly the deck has a very decent turn 1 and 2 and decent turn 4 and 5, the problem is that you really need the deck to curve out you cannot just skip turn 3 when you are on the play. Overall the deck went 12/9 meaning that it wasn’t the worse, that said it is a pretty boring deck to play and I was playing it at rank 10.
There are a couple of card choices I wanted to discuss about this deck. Firstly I included Nova instead of Excavated Evil because you are an on board deck, you can make good use of the healing granted by Holy Nova. I included only one Entomb and one Lightbomb because I thought that since Dragon Priest is a more of a Midrange deck it should play on curve rather than trying to control the board too much. Probably the changes II would make in order to really use the strength of the dragons in priest is removing 1 Shadow Word: Death, 1 Holy Nova and 1 Cabal Shadow Priest in favour of a second Shadow Word: Pain and two 3-drop minions. It could also be ok if instead of the second 3 drop minion one decided to include Justicar Trueheart, healing for 4 can give you a really tight grip on the board.
Combo Priest: Went 3/5 with this deck, I managed to pull the dram off once! Overall against aggressive decks having Wild Pyromancer Shenanigans help, but the fact that even more aggressive decks such as Hunters play Sludge Belchers means that it is infinitely harder to pull anything off with this deck. Additionally the draw for the deck is really inconsistent, either you are
overdrawing because of Pyromancer, Northshire and Acolyte Shenanigans or you are just stuck with a useless hand, there is no middle grounds. Overall in the games I played I had fun playing it but I have more fun winning, thus I went back to N’Zoth Priest. What I will say is that probably didn’t play the deck even close to optimally as it is very difficult to master combo decks and I didn’t put enough games to really learn the deck. Oh yes, last thing: I am an idiot and forgot to put Faceless Manipulator in the deck!
Onyx Bishop Fail Priest: The deck went 0/2, it was really bad. The incredible thing is that I lost having the perfect opening both times, Injured Blademaster into coin Onyx Bishop just wasn’t enough. I concluded that if the best case scenario doesn’t work I doubt the deck in itself can ever climb. Additionally decks in Wild still play cards like Shredder and Dr Boom, thus you really need to have strong minions to counter these monstrosities! The idea behind this build was to have really strong minions and revive them, with the added potential of fatiguing late game decks with Deathlords. I think that N’Zoth should be included in this deck as in the metagame we live now you cannot just fatigue opponents, you actually need a finisher. Overall there is probably a way to build this deck, this is certainly not it!
Overall I am glad I didn’t disenchant my Wild collection when Standard came out, I had a blast playing Priest in Wild. Probably I will play more Wild this month as I still have 200 Priest wins to farm before my last golden portrait is complete. I wouldn’t have expected it, but seeing Dr Boom and Piloted Shredder back in action made a little nostalgia kick in (even a bit of PTSD when bombs hit for four). The fact you have so many cards makes the format really interesting, it is really fun to experiment with different combinations of cards. Overall I would suggest to anyone who still has access to some Naxxramas and Goblin vs Gnomes cards to go in Wild and give the format a try, you won’t regret it!