Big Priest is a relatively recent archetype. As its name implies, it’s based on getting out big, beefy minions. But the trick here is that Priest has various spells that can get them out early, keep them on board and resurrect them if they die.
This makes it much more flexible and resistant to early aggression than most control decks. It also makes it much more vulnerable to unlucky card draw.
Either way, this deck is going to a hit when some critical cards cycle out in the near future. It may remain viable, but in the meantime enjoy it at its full potency while you can.
Unlike a lot of archetypes, there is general agreement over what ought to go into a Big Priest deck. Most look something like this.
- 2 x Holy Smite
- 1 x Pint-Size Potion
- 2 x Shadow Visions
- 2 x Shadow Word: Pain
- 2 x Shadow Word: Death
- 2 x Eternal Servitude
- 2 x Greater Healing Potion
- 2 x Shadow Word: Horror
- 2 x Dragonfire Potion
- 1 x Holy Fire
- 2 x Shadow Essence
- 2 x Lesser Diamond Spellstone
- 1 x Psychic Scream
- 1 x Shadowreaper Anduin
- 2 x Obsidian Statue
- 1 x Barnes
- 1 x The Lich King
- 1 x Ysera
- 1 x Y’Shaarj, Rage Unbound
Deck code: AAECAa0GCKIJ1QqoqwKFuALovwLCzgLo0AKQ0wILlwLTCtcKoawCt7sC6r8C0cEC5cwC5swCtM4C4+kCAA==
For those who need substitutions, the good news is that most of the Priest spells in this deck can vary in number. If you don’t have a Psychic Scream card, for instance, you can just add another Pint-Sized Potion or Holy Fire instead.
Other spells you can add in as replacements include Silence, Potion of Madness, Spirit Lash, and Free from Amber. The latter is more for fun than for effect.
The bad news is that most of those expensive legendary minions are pretty much essential. You can leave out Y’Shaarj in a pinch, in favor of something else expensive and nasty, but your deck will suffer and you do need all the rest.
Shadowreaper is also optional, and you can swap in one of the spells above if you don’t have him.
Your top pick in this deck is Barnes, followed closely by Shadow Essence. If you get either of these, keep at least one. Oddly, although they’re key to how the deck functions, you might not want to keep more than one in your opening hand.
That’s because you also need defensive spells to survive, especially if you think you’re facing an aggressive deck. Against these you will also want Holy Smite or Shadow Word: Pain to get early minions off the board.
Shadow Word: Horror is also a good contender. Although you have to wait 4 turns to play it, it’s often catastrophic against armies of small minions.
Against slower decks, you can afford to hold on to both Barnes and Shadow Essence if you’re lucky enough to draw both. The other spells you want in this situation are Eternal Servitude, Lesser Diamond Spellstone, and Shadow Word: Death.
Some players hate this deck, because your play style essentially comes down to: cheat.
The central plank of the plan is to play Barnes on turn 4, and Shadow Essence on turn 5. Both create weaker copies of the minions remaining in your deck. However, the minions on offer aren’t weak, even in their reduced state.
Copies of Ysera or the Lich King fill your hand with powerful cards. A copy of Obsidian Statue will kill an opposing minion.
Best of all is a copy of Y’Shaarj which will then summon a big, real version of a minion. When that happens it’s often enough to force your opponent to quit right away.
But it gets worse. Eternal Servitude will resurrect a dead minion in all its glory. So even when Barnes summons a feeble 1/1 Obsidian Statute, when you resurrect it two turns later, it’ll be at it’s full 4/8 strength, three turns before you could normally cast it.
Lesser Diamond Spellstone also brings back dead minions at full strength. But it can bring back more than one once it’s charged.
If an opponent is managing to claw their way back into the match, the Spellstone is usually enough to claw it away from them again.
By now, you’ve probably spotted the flaw in this plan – you’re relying on three cards in a deck without any card draw. What to do when, as is often the case, you don’t have the cards you need?
Well, everything else in the deck is there to help you survive until you do.
It’s fairly obvious how you deploy most of them. There are various removal and direct damage options that you can use to target annoying minions.
Be aware of what might be in the deck you’re facing and don’t waste cards on weak threats. Don’t, for instance, use Shadow Word: Pain on a Voidwalker when there might be a Flame Imp out the following turn.
Shadow Word: Horror is worth a mention, because it combos with Pint-Sized Potion to wipe most boards, even of quite tough minions. Dragonfire Potion will do much the same in many cases, but beware when playing against Dragon Priest.
You’ll take damage while you’re waiting, so use that hero power to keep your health topped up. You also have Greater Healing Potion for a big health boost.
Shadow Visions is a decent early spell to cast if you’ve got nothing else to do with your mana. If you can just heal up instead, though, it can be worth saving until a bit later.
The choice of three spells that it gives you offers plenty of flexibility to deal with the situation you’re facing.
All those defensive spells should keep you alive until you can start playing the big minions for real, even if you can’t cheat them out early.
And once you do, the power to resurrect them over and over is still hugely problematic for many other archetypes.
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