Our Razakus Highlander Priest deck list guide for the Kobolds and Catacombs expansion features the very best list for this popular archetype. This Highlander Priest guide includes Mulligans, Strategy & Matchups, and Card Replacements!
Introduction to Highlander Priest
Highlander Priest is a Control/Combo deck based around the synergy between Raza the Chained and Shadowreaper Anduin. With Raza, Anduin’s hero power, Voidform, costs 0 mana and can easily be used several times each turn. Once this combo is enabled, the deck can use Prophet Velen to deal insane burst damage in one turn.
Highlander decks have existed since the introduction of Reno Jackson, but Highlander Priest wasn’t top tier until Shadowreaper Anduin was released in the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion.
Update: Highlander Priest – February 2018
Razakus Priest might be on the way out with the upcoming nerf to Raza the Chained. Without the ability to machine gun down enemies with 0-mana damage hero powers it will be a whole lot more difficult for this deck to exist in a fast paced meta.
Highlander Priest Mulligan Strategy & Guide
- Raza the Chained – Raza is the highest winrate card in the deck. Even before you draw the full combo, Raza gives you consistent value by enabling the use of your Hero Power every turn without having to spend any mana. Against Aggro decks this helps keep you alive, and against Control keeping it in your opening hand makes it that much easier to find your whole combo.
- Shadowreaper Anduin – There is some merit to throwing Anduin back against aggressive decks, but the whole deck is built to find this card (and Raza). Once played, Anduin’s Hero Power also helps clear minions off the board, which keeps you alive longer. Playing Anduin and Raza on curve means victory most of the time, and while it does take a while before you can actually play Anduin, it’s almost always worth keeping him to make sure you can play him as soon as possible.
- Kazakus – Kazakus is a versatile and powerful minion that can create answers to a variety of problems. He can clear your opponents board, transform minions that your opponent wants to resurrect, or just draw cards to accelerate drawing your combo.
VS Fast Decks
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Northshire Cleric – The only 1-cost minion in the deck, Northshire Cleric allows you to trade with early minions and get value from your Hero Power before your hero takes damage.
- Shadow Word: Pain – Good removal for almost all early minions. The smaller your opponent’s board, the longer you live to assemble your combo.
- Golakka Crawler – Thanks to Patches the Pirate, Pirates are staples in nearly every Aggro deck. You don’t need this against Burn Mage, but just about everything else runs at least Southsea Captain. Playing an above curve minion while simultaneously removing one of your opponent’s can buy you a lot of time against Aggro.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Auchenai Soulpriest and Circle of Healing -Auchenai and Circle as a duo create a powerful early board clear, but separately they’re pretty useless against Aggro in the early turns. If you have both keep them.
- Dragonfire Potion – Playing this card on curve really helps you stabilize. It removes most minions that would have hit the field by that point, including Corridor Creeper, and also prevents your opponent from playing Bonemare for full value. However, you can’t really afford to play you first card on turn 6, so unless you have earlier things to do send it back, especially if you don’t have The Coin.
VS Slow Decks
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Full mulligan for Shadowreaper Anduin and Raza the Chained. Each card you toss gives you another chance to play your combo on curve. If you find both pieces fast enough there isn’t much your opponent can do about it. Against Control your early survival tools are pointless, and everything else in your deck is there to find your combo. You can and probably should keep Kazakus as well.
Highlander Priest Win Rates
Winrate stats are currently unavailable for this deck at the moment!
Highlander Priest Play Strategy & Matchups
Survive until your opponent runs out of cards, or until you’ve played both combo pieces, at which point they can’t stick anything on the board.
This is a match where you really don’t need Anduin. The whole game you just want to stay out of range of their burn spells and wait, patiently. Eventually they play Aluneth, which draws them tons of cards (forever) and if they can’t stick minions and can’t finish you off with their burn spells, they eventually fatigue themselves to death, completely ignoring their Ice Block. This strategy may seem implausible, but if you keep track of which spells they’ve used and repeatedly clear their board, it’s very reliable. The maximum amount of burst damage they can do to you is 21, if they have two Sorcerer's Apprentice, two Frostbolt, two Fireball, a Medivh's Valet and a secret already on board. This scenario is completely unlikely, as they’ve probably used some of their burn to keep their minions on board, and would play Apprentice for board presence if they drew it early.
Remembering which spells have been used is very important, think about the most damage they could do to you and stay above that number. Always think about the enemy’s secrets, and play around them carefully. They typically run two Counterspell, two Explosive Runes and an Ice Block. It’s totally okay to waste spells like Silence and Circle of Healing to test for Counterspell, and if you think they have Explosive Runes, play higher HP minions like Auchenai Soulpriest and Raza to check for it. If it wasn’t runes, you have a big minion on board, and if it was, you didn’t take 5 damage.
A lot of this match is just about clearing as many minions as you can, but you always have to be conscious of Savage Roar. Count the amount of damage your opponent could do with it every turn, and clear or heal accordingly. Also remember your opponent could have supplemental spells in their hand like Mark of the Lotus and Power of the Wild. If you survive until around turn 5 or 6, you’ve probably cleared your opponents minions once or twice, and then it comes down to dealing with Living Mana. There are a couple fun things you can do with this. Targeting one of their tokens with Potion of Madness and running it into something else denies your opponent a mana crystal and gains you one (but don’t save your potion for this if you draw it early. It’s hardly the best answer to it and you probably want to use it to clear earlier minions).
Mass Dispel removes all the crystals your opponent invested in their Living Mana, but leaves the minions on board. If you have enough life to survive whatever damage they could deal the next turn, then this is an excellent strategy. The most devastating thing you can do to a board full of Living Mana tokens is play Psychic Scream. Not only do you put them at minimal crystals and remove their whole board, but now they’re drawing unimpressive 2/2s for the rest of the game. When clearing individual Living Mana tokens, make sure you think about how much mana that will give them next turn. If killing one allows them to play Savage Roar or some other attack buff next turn, then it’s better to hold off and tank the damage.
Tempo Rogue can be challenging because their boards tend to be tall rather than wide (fewer big minions rather than many small minions). Highlander priest does have some great single target removal, but it only gets to run one copy of each. The good news is that this deck’s burst damage is limited compared to some of the other Aggro decks. Many run Leeroy Jenkins, and many but not all run Cold Blood. Other than that, the only burst damage in the deck comes from Southsea Deckhand/Patches the Pirate and Bonemare. Once you get into the later turns, most of Rogue’s impactful minions will have 5+ attack, so they’ll all die to Anduin’s battlecry. If you can survive until this late in the game, and clear their board at least once, the match looks good for you.
This deck comes in two varieties, with and without Murlocs. Against the Murloc Version, you want to keep as many Murlocs off the board as possible to prevent big Gentle Megasaur plays. You can be a little choosy about whether or not you remove a Murloc if your hand has limited removal in it. You don’t want to waste Shadow Word: Pain on Grimscale Chum if it’s your only way to get rid of a potential Murloc Warleader play the following turn. Other than that, the biggest difference between the two decks is how many Pirates they include. The Murloc version runs minimal Pirates, usually just Captain and Patches if any. The non-Murloc version runs a bunch of Pirates. Because of this, Golakka Crawler is a tricky card to keep in your opening hand. I recommend keeping it, as even if you’re facing the Murloc version you’re likely to run into a Pirate at some point or another. When deciding how much you want to invest into clearing your opponent’s board, always keep Sunkeeper Tarim in mind. The later the game goes, the more likely they are to have him, and he can turn even pathetic boards into lethal damage very easily. If you run into Paladin a lot, you can consider adding a Shadow Word: Horror to your deck, as it hits most minions in Paladin.
Draw your combo and blow up your opponent with Prophet Velen. The faster you draw your combo the more likely you are to win.
This matchup is all about who draws their combo and Velen first. Use your silence spells on their minions that could draw a card, every card they draw puts them closer to their combo. Similarly, in this matchup your removal spells are for your own minions. If you Shadow Word: Pain your own Loot Hoarder, then your opponent can’t silence it or steal it with Potion of Madness. In the later turns, if your opponent hasn’t drawn their Raza yet (if they haven’t played it, it probably isn’t in their hand) then Psychic Scream can be used to prevent them from activating it. Raza lists do vary a lot, but most players run mostly the same minions. If your opponent has a 3 or less cost minion on the field that matches one in your hand, play it and Scream. Until they draw one they can’t play Raza.
Jade Druid is a hard matchup. Druid gained a TON of armor generation tools in Year of the Mammoth, and this deck is likely to be running most of them. The best reason to play Jade Druid is because of the popularity of Highlander Priest, so some lists will even be running Earthen Scales. While Highlander Priest does have a high damage ceiling, the ceiling is there, and Jade Druid gets past it fairly easily now. Try to get as much chip damage in early as you can, and hope to draw your combo on curve. If you run into this deck a lot, it’s not a bad idea to tech in a Skulking Geist, as without it you’re unfavored.
This deck does have a lot of burst damage, but Highlander Priest lists are filled with tools to slow it down or stop it. You can silence Possessed Lackey or Potion of Madness it to prevent your opponent from cheating out a big demon. You can also silence Carnivorous Cube if they play one and don’t sacrifice it. Kazakus potions can be very handy if you manage to get the polymorph effect from it (5 mana). If you poly a Doomguard your opponent can’t bring it back with Bloodreaver Gul'dan. I would prioritize this effect even over drawing two cards in this match. A demon shuffled into your opponent’s deck also won’t return with Gul’dan. What you do with Voidlord depends on your hand. You can silence it before you kill it to reduce your opponents board presence. Alternatively, you can produce the Voidwalkers on purpose to clutter your opponent’s Gul’dan rez or clutter their deck with Psychic Scream.
Cube-lock does a lot of damage to itself, so once you’ve found your combo there’s not much danger. Remember that Holy Smite, Mind Blast and Prophet Velen can deal 14 damage without Anduin, so if they get low enough you can just blow them up that way.
There’s no guarantee you’ll get the effect you need, but I’ll go over some guidelines on which Kazakus potions you should try to make.
1 Mana Potion – The one mana potion has the highest value for the cost of any Kazakus Potion. The good times to take this potion are when you are desperate against Aggro and when you’re looking to blow up your opponent with Velen. The 1 mana potion can find 2 damage AOE and 3 single target damage, so if you have 5 mana to work with and don’t have a more sure way of surviving, you can hope for this combination to kill one minion with as much as 5 health, and all other minions with 2 or less. You can also get 4 armor or Freeze a random target if you miss one or both of your preferred effects. To create burst with Velen, you’re only looking for the 3 damage option. This can hit face, and deals double damage while Velen is on the field.
5 Mana Potion – When playing Kazakus on curve, this is the best potion to take in most situations. Against just about anything, you’re looking for the “draw 2” effect, unless you’re dangerously low on life (in which case you’d rather have armor). The second effect varies by matchup. In Aggro matchups you want the 4 damage AOE, which is enough to clear most boards on turn 5. Against matchups with recursion, like Cube-lock and Big Priest, you want to take the Polymorph effect. Polymorphing Big Priest’s first minion slows down their Eternal Servitude plan, and Bloodreaver Gul'dan doesn’t bring back sheep. Against Control decks like the mirror the secondary effect matters less, but resurrecting 2 minions can be good if some of your draw minions have died already. Polymorph, deal 5, and summon a 5/5 minion are also good options to take here.
10 Mana Potion – Don’t take the 10 mana potion. It does provide the biggest effect, but spending your whole turn playing this one card is almost never worth it. When Kazakus was first introduced, 10 mana potions were pretty good because most Control matchups were value based, and this potion gives you the most overall value. Current Highlander Priest is not a value deck, it’s a Combo/Burst deck. The only reason to go for this potion is that it can polymorph the whole board, but the only matchups you would need that for are Cube-lock and N’zoth Warrior. If Cube-lock has a board full of demons you don’t have time to make this potion, and even if you saw it coming and created it in advance, Gul’dan probably summoned 4 Doomguards and killed you. Polymorphing and removing the board after a N’zoth can be pretty good, but N’zoth Warrior usually runs Dead Man's Hand to play multiples of them, and spends the game racking up armor. You’re better off taking the 5 mana draw to find your combo faster, or 1 mana damage to make Velen more bursty.
Highlander Priest Card Substitutions
The only manditory cards in this deck are Shadowreaper Anduin, Raza the Chained and Prophet Velen. Any list without Kazakus is strictly worse, but the deck can be played without him. Lists like this one, designed to find the combo as fast as possible without dying, have proven to be the best, but there’s a lot of room for this deck to be worse while still being good. You could try a version of the deck based around N'Zoth, The Corruptor and/or Awaken the Makers. The Quest allows you to have a pseudo Reno Jackson, and the higher minion count can be better against decks like Jade Druid. You could also try a Dragon package with Duskbreaker and Drakonid Operative. Including this package will slow down your combo, but give you much more productive things to do in the midgame. If you’re missing cards that aren’t the three mandatory ones above, you can include some of the following:
- Gnomish Inventor and/or Polluted Hoarder – This deck wants to find its combo as fast as possible, and the more cycle you include the more often that will happen. It’s better to have survival tools instead of going overboard with cycle, but if you’re missing some cards anything with “draw a card” on it is a suitable replacement.
- Shadow Word: Horror with or without Pint-Size Potion – Shadow Word: Horror is actually pretty good right now against most aggro decks, even on it’s own. Pint-Size Potion allows it to hit higher attack minions like Corridor Creeper and Cobalt Scalebane, but is largely useless if you don’t also have Horror to go with it.
- Dirty Rat – If you run into Combo decks a lot, Dirty Rat is a great inclusion. It gives you a way to cheese decks like Exodia Mage and you can even ruin opposing Highlander Priests by hitting their Raza or Velen.
- Doomsayer – Great to slow down aggressive starts, this card is often included in Highlander Priest.
- Lyra the Sunshard – Many versions of this deck include Lyra. Any card that creates additional cards is going to have synergy with your combo.
- Gilded Gargoyle – Were it not for Potion of Madness, this would probably be a staple in this deck. Zero mana spells synergize so well with the Velen combo, but having it potion’d away is a bummer.
- Thoughtsteal – More value and more cards to activate Voidform.
- Holy Fire – More healing that also removes a minion.
- Fire Fly – Trades well with early minion and provides two Voidform ticks with one card.
- Gluttonous Ooze – Without Pirate Warrior plaguing the ladder this card has fallen somewhat out of favor, but it does have it’s uses. Most Paladin decks run Rallying Blade and/or Unidentified Maul, and Rogue, Warlock and Mage lists often run their Legendary weapon. Acidic Swamp Ooze and Harrison Jones also work here. I don’t think there’s enough weapons in the Standard meta to justify running more than one of these.