Our Razakus Highlander Priest deck list guide for the Kobolds and Catacombs expansion features the top list for this new archetype. This Highlander Priest guide includes Mulligans, Strategy, Card Replacements, and Combos/Synergies!
Introduction to Highlander Priest
Highlander Priest is a combo/control deck that aims to stay alive in true control fashion while digging through the deck until it can assemble multiple combo pieces and burst the opponent from high life totals. With the right pieces comboed together it can also OTK (one-turn-kill, meaning it can end the game in a single powerful turn) from 30 life or higher, however that’s not always necessary. The entire deck is built upon the interaction between Raza the Chained and Shadowreaper Anduin, who’s hero power the deck exploits to win the game.
The deck started off the Year of the Mammoth rather slowly – because of Reno Jackson‘s departure from Standard, the highlander archetypes did not see too much play initially. However, it was later discovered that Priest actually has enough sustain to support it and justify the inclusion of Kazakus, mainly, which is a really powerful card. Ironically enough, Raza the Chained was there as “just a good card” and simply because the deck was already singleton-based. The deck played the long game and grinded opponents out through attrition, removing everything and slowly accumulating an advantage. Back then, N'Zoth, The Corruptor was a common addition and the deck used the new Lyra the Sunshard to generate overwhelming value.
Then, everything changed, when the Frozen Nation attacked. With a new expansion came hero cards and Priest got Shadowreaper Anduin, which was soon discovered to be very oppressive with the cost reduction applied by Raza the Chained. Opponents couldn’t stick minions to the board because the Priest would clear them simply by playing cards. Although not immediately into the new meta, it didn’t take people too long to discover that if you instead go face with Anduin’s hero power and play lots of cards, you can actually end the game very quickly as Priest and actually winning the game is often times better than simply not losing. Around that time is when another package got added to the Raza and Anduin combo – Prophet Velen and Mind Blast, which along a discounter hero power deal a total of 20 damage from hand… as Priest. Soon people stopped trying to go off with Radiant Elemental and Lyra the Sunshard and instead were going off with Radiant Elemental, Prophet Velen and cheap spells for massive amounts of burst damage.
The Kobolds and Catacombs expansion completely solidified Highlander Priest as the top dog in the meta by giving it new tools – not many, but very powerful. Psychic Scream was released onto the game and is by far the strongest mass removal ever made and it fits right into this deck, since it doesn’t care about the board at all. It’s not a lot, but it’s very much.The deck evolved into what it is today by replacing everything replaceable with cheap spells and ways to dig through the deck in order to assemble a combo with seemingly many pieces. Currently, the standard assembly of cards that deals 28 damage and virtually OTKs everything is:
Add any other cheap spell to that and it goes over 30 damage, not to mention when you add more. The trick here is that this is not particularly hard to assemble or pull off, with very little disruption being possible other than having the Priest be rushed down by aggro or a random Dirty Rat pulling a combo piece by accident. The entire deck consists of three sets of cards – cycle to go through the deck, removal and sustain to stay alive while going through the deck and the combo, meanwhile playing Raza the Chained and Shadowreaper Anduin somewhere along the way, on turns 5 and 8 respectively if possible. Everything comes together to create a powerful deck that has warped the entire metagame around it because it can do everything. Continue reading for insight on how to properly pilot the deck and navigate through it’s many interactions and matchups.
Highlander Priest Mulligan Strategy & Guide
The mulligan section will be divided into two parts – against fast decks and against slow decks. Fast decks are generally the Aggro decks (e.g. Pirate Warrior, Murloc Paladin) or high tempo Midrange decks (e.g. Keleseth Rogue, Midrange Hunter). Slow decks are slower Midrange and Control decks.
VS Fast Decks
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Potion of Madness – This is as cheap as interaction and removal spells are ever going to be. It allows you to go 2 for 1 in card advantage and use their own minions to make beneficial trades, wrestling board control from the very beginning. It can also completely turn the early game around by grabbing a small deathrattle minion. The denied value for the opponent and the added value for you will set you up to lock the game.
- Spirit Lash – This unassuming spell is the key to beating aggressive decks. We all know what Maelstrom Portal can do against the pirate warriors of the world and where it summons a minion that can range from very bad to great, Lash will heal you for a set amount and stabilize you as you enter the midgame.
- Kazakus – The namesake card of the deck is always a keeper. Even though it comes down on turn four, the 1-mana potions are incredibly strong in a pinch and the 5-mana potions offer board clear and sustain. If you are lucky enough to find him in the opening hand, do not toss him back.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Holy Smite – Another form of cheap interaction that serves a very similar purpose as Potion of Madness (in the aggro matchup) – removing early game threats as soon as possible. It’s not powerful enough to kill even some of the 1-drops, but it can stop small minions that threaten to grow out of control and act as supplementary removal to your other damage-based spells. Keep if you lack one of the better options above or have the ability to line it up against a specific creature from the opponent’s deck.
- Shadow Word: Pain – While this is an unconditional answer to most any minion run by aggro, it is after all a 1 for 1 at best. If you have other interaction or cheap minions to play on the board it’s OK to keep but if it’s your only answer, toss it away for something more efficient.
- Shadow Word: Horror – Most aggro decks will be trying to go wide on the board with small minions in the early game and this card can blow them out when the time comes to transition to the midgame. The reason it’s not a 100% safe keep is that sometimes even fast decks can quickly outgrow its range, especially buff-based decks like Token Druid. Keep if there aren’t better cards for the matchup already present in your opening hand.
VS Slow Decks
If you are facing another control deck you would want to be mulliganing for your all of your value cards. The Discover effects offer strong card advantage and Kazakus can generate a 10 mana potion for a tremendous swing turn. Don’t be afraid to keep expensive and slow cards in your hand and you can hold onto cards you know you are going to need in order to win, such as Lyra, Velen and Anduin, but if possible try to find earlier plays.
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Shadow Visions – Value is the name of the game in Control mirrors and you will look for every way to generate more of it. Use Visions to grab an extra Un'Goro Pack for the ultimate resource advantage.
- Raza the Chained – The cheaper of your two combo pieces, a great stats per cost ratio and a much needed effect make this almost a no-brainer. Keeping will ensure you have one less piece to dig for and the discount on the hero power can be very good even on your basic Lesser Heal.
- Kazakus – It is almost never wrong to keep Kazakus in the opening hand, especially against Control. Most of the potion combinations you can go for will provide you with an enormous advantage in the form of a huge tempo play or just raw value.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Shadow Word: Death – Against control you know for a fact you will be needing that hard removal and you might as well keep it. It’s an investment in the mulligan stage that guarantees you will have it whenever you need it most, but it’s not a clear cut decision. Keep it if you know the key threats from the opponent’s deck and the different ways you can answer them, as well as if you think you can cash in on the tempo from the incredible cost efficiency of Death.
- Shadowreaper Anduin – Control and midrange decks are known for playing big durdly minions and building powerful boards. Not only does the new Death Knight allow you to clear a board full of those, his hero power will provide an unending stream of cheap and efficient damage that can be used both as removal and as a Hunter hero power to start closing out the game. Try not to keep expensive cards if there are better options but don’t feel bad if you chose to keep this one around.
- Curious Glimmerroot – You are going for value and this little guy brings it… if you know your opponent’s deck. More importantly, it can help you identify what their deck is as early as turn 3, while the body is not too terribly bad below the curve. Don’t keep if there are better options in your hand or you have a decent curve that you want to chain and try to prioritize drawing from your deck instead of the opponent’s.
Highlander Priest Win Rates
Highlander Priest General Game Plan and Play Strategy
When playing Kazakus Priest, it’s very important to understand what your deck is, what it does and what your role in the particular match is going to be. Luckily, you don’t have to think about it too often because you will almost always be the control deck. Your main win conditions are Lyra the Sunshard value generation and killing people with Shadowreaper Anduin‘s chaingun hero power, both of which are supported by an extraordinary number of cheap spells. Prophet Velen adds extra “oomph” to the latter, making your hero powers hit for 4 damage between every card you play.
Notice that there is a difference between win condition and game plan. Typically, throughout most games you play, you will follow along the deck’s game plan of playing the control game, exhausting the opponent’s resources and generating value . Win conditions can change depending on the matchup, but after all the deck is built in a way that the easiest and primary way to close out the game is through a Velen/Voidform powerturn of burst damage. That said, you can often adapt to the game at hand and win in an alternative fashion. The deck runs essentially every source of card draw that’s even remotely viable in order to do it’s thing more consistently, which is what makes it so effective. Even though it’s a singleton-style deck, no card seems out of reach with the tons of draw and generation the deck is capable of. As such, it can execute successfully a variety of different approaches depending on the matchup.
Against aggressive decks that try to bring your life total to zero as quickly as possible, there is a plethora of removal and healing in the deck that will allow you to outlast any form of finite damage coming your way. The goal here is to stall and heal up until the enemy runs out of resources, at which point you can easily lock the game with big threats and powerful turns. Key cards are mostly Priest of the Feast, Binding Heal and Doomsayer, which if dealt with is virtually a 2-mana heal for 7 hp.
The premier aggro/burn deck of the format is once again Pirate Warrior, which proves to be very problematic for this deck. Priest’s tools have never quite been able to line up well against their threats and it shows. Priest of the Feast and the Binding Heal are a nod to the inevitable need to heal up against this deck and even that is usually not enough. If you are facing too many warriors, I would recommend considering tech options such as Ooze or Crawler – with this deck’s off-the-charts cycling you are going to see them a lot more often.
Another very prominent aggro deck is Token Druid. Fortunately, the matchup against them is quite favorable, especially with inclusions such as Mass Dispel, which can reduce a buffed up board back to a pile of 1-attack minions. Priest has some of the most mana-efficient unconditional answers to big threats such as Bittertide Hydra or a fast growing Vicious Fledgling in the form of Shadow Word: Death, as well as multiple board clears to answer the deck’s flooding power, all of which stack very well against Living Mana.
Against slow decks you have more options, but they fall in two general categories – outdamaging or outvaluing the opponent. Using the deck’s ridiculous cycling capabilities (for a Priest), you can get your Anduin + Velen game state reliably and relatively quickly. As a bonus, most of your low cost spells can be preserved throughout the game as they don’t hold too much value in control matchups, making for a very effective burst turn. Alternatively, you can generate tons of value with the Lyra + Radiant Elemental turn or simply by dominating the attrition battle with sheer card advantage. The problem with that approach is that the ladder is devoid of other real control decks because Jade Druid is smothering them out of the metagame… and you can’t play the attrition game against that deck. Against them, always try to set up as much burst as possible, most of the time they will not have healed back up to ridiculous health totals. In fact, the biggest reason this control deck is able to exist in this ultimately infested meta is that it preys on Druid decks – bursting down the jades and staving off waves of aggro.
With Shadowreaper Anduin on the board, the highest amount of damage you can do in one turn from hand is – Hero power (2), Velen, Hero power (+4), Holy Smite (+4), Hero Power (+4), Silence, Hero power (+4), another 1-cost card, Hero power (+4), final 1-cost card, Hero power (+4) for a total of 26 damage. Now, obviously this is very unlikely to happen in a real game, however holding both Prophet Velenand Holy Smite for a 14 damage burst is more than reasonable – it’s what you’ve been trying to pull of the entire time. Then, there is the scenario where you already have Velen on the board going into your power turn – any combination of cheap spells and minions is going to deal massive amounts of damage.
Highlander Priest Card Substitutions
Priest decks have always been on the more expensive side of things because the class is naturally steered toward a control playstyle, which usually revolves around the most expensive and powerful cards, which can be often found in Epic and Legendary slots. This problem is only exacerbated in a Highlander deck which treats all of it’s cards as Legendary… and they often times are. This particular variation is built around a burst combo, so the following cards that make it up are irreplaceable:
- Shadowreaper Anduin – This is the most important part of the combo and the way to deal damage with it.
- Raza the Chained – Without discounting the hero power to 0 you’re not really doing anything, so that’s really important as well.
- Prophet Velen – If you want to be doing high amounts of damage in one turn, this is the Draenei for the job.
- Kazakus – While it’s entirely possible that this deck might still be played as a highlander build solely due to Raza’s interaction with Anduin, it would be silly not to take advantage of the other card that has the same requirement.
Moving on, there are some cards that can be replaced – how much “oomph” you lose in the process will vary on a case by case basis:
- Lyra the Sunshard – Although she is a great value generator for the deck and her effect can’t be mimicked successfully, there are other cards that can serve a somewhat similar purpose. Anything from Kabal Courier for the added value to cards like Eternal Servitude for a Velen on the cheap can be reasonable substitutions.
- Curious Glimmerroot – Another value card that doesn’t serve a particularly key role in the deck. Once again Kabal Courier is a great option that costs four times as less and can be played in two more classes. If you don’t have Glimmerroot I would recommend not crafting it and straight up using Courier instead.
- Dragonfire Potion – While nothing can directly replace the sheer power of Dragonfire, you can get away with using Holy Nova. It’s not nearly as effective against midrange boards and can’t be used in conjunction with either Thalnos or Spirit Lash to clear a Gul’Dan board flood, but it stacks up excellently against Aggro Druid’s Living Mana and Token Shaman’s totems.