Priest is strong. After a rocky start to the Saviors of Uldum meta, the class settled into a world-beating combo deck. With a focus on healing and buffing minions with cheap spells, the deck boasts explosive openings and devastating finishers. The power of the deck can render it frustrating to play against. It feels like Priest quickly builds an unassailable board, and then kills you from nowhere. But is there reason to feel so hopeless? Or are there reliable strategies to take Priest down?
Kill that Cleric!
One of Priest’s most powerful tools is Northshire Cleric. This unassuming 1-drop is the principal draw engine of the deck. But with so many health buffs, taunts and high-value targets, it can often be hard to commit three or more damage to it when there are so many other juicy targets to trade into.
The best way to make sure you can kill the cleric is to aggressively mulligan to early drops and weapons that can contest it early. If you can’t kill it, or you have to take down a higher value target like High Priest Amet, then try to play around cards like Circle of Healing by limiting the number of non-lethal trades or damaged minions available. And hope against hope they don’t have a Wild Pyromancer/Circle combo.
Don’t fear the Pyro
One of Combo Priest’s key weaknesses is the lack of removal. There’s typically only one way Priest clears minions outside of trading, and it’s Wild Pyromancer. And sure, Wild Pyromancer can do some pretty unfair things, especially with Northshire.
But you shouldn’t give it too much respect. The priest needs a lot of spells to actually do real damage to the board; and many of those aren’t ones Priest wants to commit without card draw on top. It’s true that sometimes Priest has exactly Pyro, Northshire, double Power Word: Shield and Circle of Healing; but those are often games you’ll lose anyway. Far better to commit more and be able to take down that Psychopomp or High Priest Amet instead.
Count the burst
One common mistake against Priest is to spend precious mana and tempo healing when the Priest’s board is empty. Priest has no damage from hand, so as long as they don’t have minions, 1 HP is enough.
And sometimes, you have to toe the line between development and death when there’s a minion you can’t clear. Depending on what they’ve played, it’s often correct to play around only a single Divine Spirit. As ever, the ‘safe play’ can end up the least safe in the long run!
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.
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