Welcome again to the Messiah's series of weekly articles that looks at some of the popular, powerful, or just plain interesting deck builds that are out there for the Hearthstone Constructed Deck format.
This week I look at a deck that is an interesting combo style deck that lead to some huge hits and potential single hit kills. It is partially a control deck, but also an aggressive combo deck, which is what makes it interesting to play. Beyond just providing a deck list, this guide looks at how the deck should be played and how to play against it.
Priest - Big Hitter Deck
Priests can build some extremely strong decks based on a control play style. I first came across a deck like this while playing in the constructed format one night, and was amazed at how well it seemed to work. I therefore build one based on the theme and gave it a quick shot. It provided some really entertaining games and consistent win rates
Best of all for new players, it does not have a huge number of really expensive legendary cards and has many options for cards to pull in if you are missing some of the epic cards in it. In fact it only has one legendary, and it isn't really needed to win, you could swap it out easily.
This deck works off through the combination of different cards all adding up to create devastating minions. Your smallest minions can become unstoppable juggernauts that crush your opponent in a single hit.
Lightwarden and Northshire Cleric - These two cards for a solid base to the deck, both being cheap and providing huge benefits when minions are healed. The Lighwarden gets stronger on the attack the more minions or yourself are healed, making her an exceptional threat at any point in the game. The Northshire Cleric on the other hand draws a card each time a minion is healed. Either of these minions can generate huge benefit when combined with Holy Nova.
Inner Fire, Power Word: Shield, and Divine Spirit - These three cards all work to boost your minions stats. When used in conjunction with each other, and with your other minions abilities they can turn almost any minion into a huge threat. In addition they are all low mana cost, and Power Word: Shield even generates a card draw as well.
Temple Enforcer and Lightspawn - These two minions work extremely well together, and Lightspawn works well with the Power Word: Shield talked about above. Any time you can get a 6/6 minion for 6 it's a fair deal, but with the Temple Enforcer you get that plus giving 3 health to another minion. Since the Lightspawn's attack is the same as his health, that makes him a 8/8 once the Temple Enforcer hits the table.
Shadow Word: Pain and Death - Solid removal cards that allow you to buy time while setting up huge combinations. These are core cards in the control portion of your deck.
Holy Nova and Auchenai Soulpriest - These cards make up a solid amount of removal in your deck. Holy Nova can clear the enemy board in the early game. Better yet, it also heals your minions as well. The Auchenai Soulpriest may see counter intuitive in a deck that generates benefits when healing minions, but it can help clear off minions at any stage of the game. It does this by converting your healing class ability to a damage ability. Many times he is summoned just to deal some damage and then traded against an enemy minion so that you get your healing ability back to buff minions. He is a solid choice at 4 mana for a 3/5 minion with such a strong ability though.
Ideal Opening Hand Cards
A lot of what makes up a good opening hand will depend on your opponent. If you are playing a class that tends to rush, then a more defensive hand is best. If you are playing a more control based opponent then a aggressive draw is better. This means that most of the time against Warlocks, Hunters, Warriors, and Rogues I look for control cards, and against the other classes I look for aggressive cards.
Some good aggressive cards that you should look for in your opening hand are:
- Northshire Cleric
- Divine Spirit
- Auchenai Soulpriest
Some good defensive cards for you opening hands are:
- Northshire Cleric
- Powerword: Shield
- Shadow Word: Pain
- Inner Fire
- Defender of Argus
This deck is about two main things: aggression and control. While many decks can do either of these things as well, this deck can do both at the same time and flip back and forth between them effectively. Depending on your opening draw, and your opponent, it can do either well. I have drawn the right cards and played it as an all out aggro rush deck and won before turn 7. Other times I have played it as an all out control deck and waited until the late game to win. So many of the cards in the deck are so effective at what they do that you really have choices in almost any match up.
To play aggressively you want to get your Lightwardens and Nightshire Clerics out as soon as you can and then buff them with extra health. Use their built in abilities to power up and to draw cards to gain an early advantage. The goal early on is to simply keep them alive while building up a card advantage and chipping away at the enemies health.
After the first few turns when playing aggressively you can start bringing out your Auchenai Soulpriest and your Lightspawn as heavier hitters. Then it's time for your biggest hitter the Temple Enforcer, followed up a few turns later with Ragnaros. If a game does go past this point, you have Mind Control to grab your opponents big minions or Shadow Word: Death to deal with it.
When playing defensively in a control type game you instead should open with stalling techniques. Kill off enemy minions with Shadow Word: Pain early, then Thoughtsteal a few cards from them to up your options. Bring in an Auchenai Soulpriest to burn off enemy minions, a Spellbreaker to silence the worse of them, and mind control or Shadow Word: Death the strongest of them late in the game. By the time you get into the late game, you can summon several minions at once, then the following turn pick one to use all your buffs on and boost it to 15/15 or higher and wipe the enemy in a turn or two.
One thing to keep in mind, no matter if you are playing aggressively or defensively is that timing is king. Just two examples I see often that people do are:
- Buffing a minion up to obscene proportions like 15/15 on their turn when it can't attack. They likely use 4-5 cards to do so, then their opponent can silence it with a single card. It is far better to wait to buff a minion just before it attacks, then give your opponent a chance to react before you can attack. Many times this will mean that the minion dies anyway before you can buff it, but at least then you still have a card advantage.
- Playing a minion that gains buffs by healing, before you can heal it. This is always a tricky one as sometimes it is best to play aggressive and get that minion on the table, especially early. However, many times players will bring on a Lightwarden or Cleric on turn 6+ when there are no damaged minions on the table. At this point in a game, it is far better to wait a turn or two so that you gain an advantage with them. Being weak minions, the difference of playing them on turn 6 instead of turn 8 is not going to break a game open for you, unless you are going to get their benefit a few times before the turn ends.
Optional Cards / Alternate Deck
There are so many other great cards that can be substituted into this deck. In fact there are so many you could likely make 3 or 4 other decks based around the ideas presented here that have at least half of the deck being made up of different cards. The deck list shown to the right is just one such deck that makes use of various alternate cards. This alternate deck keeps the same idea of hitting hard, but looks to be a little more aggressive and a little less control based.
Here are just a few of the alternate cards that you could use in a deck based on this decks theme.
Injured Blademaster - In a deck that wants to heal minions to gain benefit, this minion is pure gold. He is a massive 4/7 for only 3 mana. Sure he comes in having suffered 4 damage and is down to 3 health, but in this deck that is a bonus. Heal him up, and gain other benefits.
Circle of Healing - This card heals everything for 4 health for free! The downside is that it heals you enemies as well, but since your force gains benefits from healing, that's OK.
Twilight Drake - Since this deck can generate a huge number of cards, a minion that's health is based on your cards in hand can be quite powerful. The fact that you can then boost its attack to match its health the next turn is even better!
Faceless Manipulator - What's better than having a huge giant minion? Having a second huge giant minion for only 5 mana more. Even mor importantly, this minion allows you to copy the best of the opponents minions if you need as well. Preferably just before you use your Shadow Word: Pain or Death on them.
Gadgetzan Auctioneer - Since this deck has so many spells in it, an auctioneer can do wonders in the deck with card drawing power. It is almost unfair to your opponent how many cards you can generate with both an auctioneer and a cleric in your deck.
Ancient Watcher - At 2 mana for a 4/5 minion this minion starts off strong. However, it can not attack. This is a great minion to boost though, as long as you include a silence or two in your deck. You can summon him early, use him with a taunt from your Defender of Argus, and then later silence him so he can attack and boost him with your other abilities.
How To Play Against It
Playing against this deck is all about getting rid of the key elements, which for the most part means removing minions before they can grow in size. If you can remove minions that provide benefits, or silence minions that get massively buffed, you will do well. That means cards that destroy any minion or that silence minions are extremely powerful. Removal cards like Doomsayer, Shadow Word: Pain and Death, Twisting Nether, Corruption, Execute, and Assassinate are all excellent against this deck.
Any card that can silence is also extremely powerful, but it comes down to timing. Make sure you wait until a minion is buffed before you silence it, unless it is too dangerous as it is. There are many different options here such as spells like Earth Shock or Dispel, or minions that silence like Keeper of the Grove, Ironbeak Owl, and Spellbreaker.
Another way to deal with the deck is to not leave them minions that are damaged. When hitting a minion make sure you can kill it completely, and if not just hit your opponent instead. If the minions are not damaged a lot of the power of the deck is mitigated. Trading minions when you can and just hitting your opponent the rest of the time is a solid strategy.
Minions with taunt are also effective against this deck if the player is not careful. The deck can only keep being highly aggressive for so long, and then it runs out of cards. If you can stall longer than the aggression lasts by forcing them to hit blockers you can aim to win in the end game. It's not easy, since the deck has a lot of late game power as well, but if you have more late game heavy hitters then this is a valid tactic.
Give the deck a try and let me know what you think. How does it work for you, how would you change it to match your play style. Let me know in the comment section below.