As if Priest wasn’t powerful enough in the last expansion, it just got a whole lot better in Kobolds and Catacombs! Currently, there are many viable Priest decks that you may encounter on the ladder. As of now, the most prominent Priest decks are Razakus Highlander Priest, Dragon Priest, and this deck itself – Big Priest! While each deck has its own strengths and caveats, Big Priest is more beginner friendly in comparison because its game plan is somewhat linear, and the options available to you are often straightforward.
When compared to other “big decks” in the expansion such as “EZ Big EZ Druid” and Big Recruit Warrior, Big Priest has a couple of advantages over them! First, Warrior and Druid both don’t have access to the “resurrect” mechanic, therefore when their minion dies, it’s gone for good! Secondly, Priest potentially has the fastest way for bringing out a heavy hitter naturally with Barnes followed by an Eternal Servitude, as the other two classes normally don’t have Barnes in their deck, thus they often have to wait to either ramp or play Gather Your Party on turn 6. Lastly, this deck has no real “insta-lose” matchups because of its wide versatile range of reactive tools with cards such as Shadow Word: Horror and Spirit Lash. Since the deck utilizes the “resurrect” mechanic, it does not need as many minions as other big decks! These slots can be filled with more reactive tools to combat against aggro!
Though the deck is still somewhat volatile because of its inconsistency, where you may find yourself having dead reactive hands without certain key cards such as Barnes and Shadow Essence against control matchups, it is still by far one of the most fun decks to play on ladder! Multiple players have consistently managed to hit high legend ranks with this deck!
Update: Big Priest – January 2018
Not much to change in Big Priest currently. The deck has gotten a bit less popular as the meta continues to settle.
Big Priest Card Choices
Holy Smite – A 1-mana spell that is really efficient in killing your enemy’s key 2-drop minions such as Sorcerer's Apprentice, Knife Juggler and Prince Keleseth, preventing the game from spinning out of control.
Pint-Size Potion – A potential deadly board clear when combined with Shadow Word: Horror, allowing you to clear minions with 5 attack or less, especially useful against Rogues, Paladins, and Mages – any class with Corridor Creeper!
Shadow Visions – A must have in this deck due to its versatile nature. You’re able to search for your reactive spells against an aggressive deck, and against a more control deck, you’re able to get your key resurrect cards, Shadow Essence and Eternal Servitude. The amount of value you can gain is immeasurable when you discover one of your resurrect spells! Keep in mind that against against a control deck, it may be wise to save your Shadow Visions until turn 5, so that you increase your chances of discovering Shadow Essence.
Shadow Word: Pain – A staple in almost any Priest deck. There is almost a target in every deck for Pain to get value out of!
Barnes – If Tempo Rogue has Prince Keleseth, then you have Barnes! Barnes on Turn 4 is insane against any deck archetype as it allows you to sometimes win the game outright! The best case scenario is pulling Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound into another minion, but even a Obsidian Statue is a strong pull on a contesting the board.
Eternal Servitude – This deck wouldn’t be much of a Resurrect Priest if it couldn’t resurrect minions. After your minions have died, you can resurrect them for additional value and tempo! This card is insane in the late game, where you already have developed big minions. A 4 mana Ysera or Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound is pretty good if you ask me.
Greater Healing Potion – Since you normally won’t be playing minions until the mid-late game, you are bound to take some damage. Greater Healing Potion is a great defensive mechanism to ensure that you’re alive by the time you play some minions.
Shadow Word: Horror – A great counter to Paladin’s Call to Arms, or any aggressive deck that likes to summon a bunch of small minions. Also works as a destructive board clear in combination with Pint-Size Potion on turn 5, where you call follow it up with Shadow Essence on turn 6.
Dragonfire Potion – A staple in any Priest deck, and aggro’s worst nightmare. This card can single-handedly clear a board. A kind reminder that Cobalt Scalebane is also a dragon, so it won’t be affected by this spell. It also has good synergy with Ysera and Emerald Drake as they’re both dragons.
Holy Fire – A seemingly odd pick in this deck at 6 mana. Although, it’s pretty great at dealing damage to 5-health minions such as Corridor Creeper and Cobalt Scalebane, allowing you to save health on your minions and apply more pressure.
Shadow Essence – This may seem inferior to Warrior’s Gather Your Party as the minion summoned is only a 5/5, but it works well the overall deck archetype. Normally, it isn’t the 5/5 that applies pressure and scares your opponent – it is when you resurrect it!
Lesser Diamond Spellstone – If you weren’t convinced enough of the deck’s potential in the last expansion, then this new card should do the job! This card can be massive after your opponent cleared your first wave of minions, especially if it’s upgraded. Keep in mind that the resurrection only works with distinct minions.
Psychic Scream – The long-awaited “insta-clear” board wipe that works excellently no matter what the board state is! Your opponent can have 7 minions on board while you have none, and within the snap of your virtual fingers, it’s gone – poof. It was as if you had a hidden reset button all along.
Shadowreaper Anduin – A strong tempo play against high-attack minions. The damage from your hero power also allows you to additionally pressure your opponents.
The Lich King – The MVP from the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion. The amount of value that you can gain from this card alone is immeasurable. It’s a great pull from Barnes and a terrifying resurrect target.
Obsidian Statue – A nice defensive-orientated minion that allows you regain health, and with its insta-kill deathrattle effect, this card is an auto-include. If you managed to resurrect this, most aggro decks will just concede outright because of its stat-line and invaluable deathrattle.
Ysera – If a card’s text could be rewritten with just the word “value” on it, it would be Ysera. Because of its reoccurring effect, this minion has an invisible taunt, demanding your opponent to answer it in some fashion!
Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound – Have you ever had games where your opponent played Barnes on turn 4 and it pulled Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound, subsequently pulling a 10/10 copy, and you simply thought to yourself, “Well, that’s was a fun and interactive game.” as your mouse cursor hovers the bottom right corner? Well, it’s your turn to do the same! You’ve been through enough! It’s time for you to inflict the suppressed pain you’ve been enduring all this time onto others!
Big Priest Win Rates
Big Priest Mulligan Guide and Strategy
Similar to any other “big” deck in the meta, you don’t want to keep any minions in hand aside from Barnes, as it would reduce the deck’s overall effectiveness.
VS Fast Decks
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
Barnes, Holy Smite, Shadow Word: Pain – Against an aggressive deck, you want reactive spells that will mitigate your opponent’s board presence. You keep Barnes because of its high roll potential, which might give you more tools such as Ysera Awakens or Death and Decay. Holy Smite is useful against strong 2-health minions such as Sorcerer's Apprentice, Knife Juggler, Prince Keleseth. On the other hand, you want Shadow Word: Pain for 3-health minions such as Mana Wyrm and Southsea Captain.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
Pint-Size Potion, Shadow Word: Horror, Spirit Lash – It might be worth considering to keep the Pint-Size Potion + Shadow Word: Horror combo, so that you can curve your mana, and follow it up with Shadow Essence on turn 6. If you’re against an aggressive Paladin, then Shadow Word: Horror is a keep since most of their minions are 2 attack or less. Spirit Lash is also a keep against Tempo Rogue to counter their turn 1 Swashburglar, preventing the snowball from Southsea Captain.
VS Slow Decks
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
Barnes, Shadow Essence – Against a control deck, you want to be the aggressor, and apply constant pressure, so cards that would allow you to efficiently summon your minions are a good keep. The faster you’re able to bring out the big guns, the faster you are able to resurrect them, and hit them in the face!
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
Eternal Servitude, Lesser Diamond Spellstone – If you already have some spells that summon minions, then it might be worth it to think a step ahead, and keep some cards that can resurrect them! If you have Barnes or Shadow Essence in your opening hand, then Eternal Servitude is a keep. You may also keep Lesser Diamond Spellstone if you have Shadow Essence in your starting hand, so that you can almost guarantee the buff for the late game.
Big Priest General Playstyle and Strategy
The general playstyle of the deck is rather straightforward. You summon your heavy hitters, then resurrect them once they die. Rinse and repeat!
When facing an aggro deck, you have only one job in the early game – to survive! You contest the board by constantly removing your opponent’s threats with cards such as Shadow Word: Pain and Holy Smite, so you prevent them from building a sizable board. Don’t worry if you take some damage in the process, because your deck is filled with healing, Spirit Lash and Greater Healing Potion.
Once you’ve reached the mid game, you should be able to stabilize, especially if you managed to pull a Obsidian Statue from Barnes or Shadow Essence. Trading as much as possible is good as it plays around certain cards like Vilespine Slayer and Sunkeeper Tarim. At this point, you regained control of the board, but now you just have to watch your health total, so you won’t get bursted down.
Most control-orientated decks in the meta consist of some combo elements, so you want to disrupt their game plan as much as possible. Against a Jade Druid, you want to prevent them from ramping and developing their Jade minions. Against a Cubelock, you want to delay them from playing their demons! You do so by pressuring them through your value-heavy minions that are summoned and resurrected efficiently through spells!
In the mid-game, try to out-tempo your opponent, and pressure their life total if possible. This means attacking face with your Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound, so that you put them on a clock. However, make sure you don’t overextend on the board, and save your mass resurrection, Lesser Diamond Spellstone for when your opponent cleared your initial wave of minions.
Big Priest Card Replacements/Cards to Consider
Silence – A great tech card if you’re facing a lot of Cubelocks on ladder.
Free From Amber – A more of a fun and gimmicky card, but can sometimes work well with your resurrect cards!
About the Author
NeverLucky is a competitive Hearthstone addict who enjoys losing to RNG in local tournaments (he’s secretly a masochist). He has over 3000 ranked wins with Warrior. Oh, and he also likes turtles.