Hello everyone! Control Priest is one of my favorite decks. I'm trying to play it a every season, even just a little, to at least stay relevant. And besides being my favorite deck, since LoE it's also a deck with a huge potential. While clearly not being a tier 1 deck, for the last few months Control Priest has been consistently strong deck to ladder with.
But, with so many different Control Priest versions on the ladder, some of you are probably asking a question: Why the deck is built in so many ways? And how to build a successful Control Priest deck? Well, let's start with the basics. If you're more experienced player you can skip the next part, because you probably already know that.
On The Archetype
Control Priest is, alongside Control Warrior, often cited as the two most common/popular Control decks in Hearthstone. They are, however, really, really different. Right now Control Priest lists are often counter-intuitive. Everyone hearing about a "Control" decks expect some big minions, pretty slow curve etc. And yes, Priest decks used to run more late game threats and the ways to seal the game in slower matchups. But it's in the past right now, because they have got new ways to win the late game without even needing to run big minions.
Control Priest decks are incredibly reactive. They rarely put a lot of board pressure or take the aggressive stance. Most of the time they either play slow minions (Priests like high health ones, and high health usually means low attack) or remove opponent's board. Obviously, if you get a minion-heavy curve it's possible to get out on the board in the early turns. But you rarely finish the games thanks to the tempo gained this way - enemy would need to have terrible start in order for you to win like that. Due to the nature of Priest's removals, they want enemy to play a lot of stuff on the board. So with a lot of cards like Lightbomb or the Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing combo, something like turn 10 Hero Power + pass is actually pretty common. Priest tries to bait enemy into overcommiting on the board and then punishes him with big AoE spells, thus gaining a big card advantage.
Another way for Priest to gain an upperhand is through the Hero Power. Healing is extremely good at board control game. When having a 4/7 minion on the board, other classes would probably trade it for like 2 smaller minions and be fine with it. Priest, however, can heal it over a few turns and potentially gain 3 for 1, 4 for 1 or even higher value. Since Priest can easily keep his minions alive, he doesn't need a lot of them in the deck and can play much more removals.
Control Priest is strong in a lot of matchups. He can defend himself against most of the aggressive decks thanks to the high health Taunts, AoE board clears and obviously healing from Hero Power. He can also win a lot of slower matchups by simply outvaluing the enemy in the long run or even winning the fatigue war. Due to the amount of removals, the class is also strong against the Zoo-like decks that require board presence to operate. Priest, however, struggles with high burst/combo decks. That's why matchups like Murloc/Anyfin Paladin or Freeze Mage are very hard. Given the nature of Priest class, it plays really slowly most of the time. Playing slowly means giving enemy much more time to draw the cards they need for the combo. And then, at some point, enemy can strike and kill Priest without giving him a chance to react. Priest also struggles in the slow matchups that he can't outvalue. It's really weak against Handlock or RenoLock, because not only they pretty much never run out of steam, they also might play Lord Jaraxxus at some point and even Priest can't keep up with a 6/6 minion slammed every turn. That's why some Priest lists have added some possible burn to their decks - the easiest way to win in those matchups is surprise burst damage.
Overall, Control Priest is an interesting archetype with a lot of potential. But how exactly Control Priest decks are built and what should you look out for when building your own deck?
Before we start, a quick note: I won't cover the Reno Control Priest, because the Reno lists aren't optimized and there are just too many choices to talk about.
Even though there are a lot of different Control Priest versions, every deck has their essential cards. Control Priest is no different - if you're building one you'll most likely have to include those.
First and most important are removals. Priest has access to a lot of them, but picking the right ones shouldn't be hard. When it comes to AoE, Priest really has 4 options. Lightbomb, Holy Nova, Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing and the Excavated Evil. 2x Lightbomb is the base of every Priest deck I've seen in a while. The card is just so strong and fits Priest's playstyle that I can't see not using it. Then, we need to pick our secondary AoE. It's usually a choice between Auchenai + Circle comb or Excavated Evil. They're pretty similar in a way; the first one is 1 damage more and comes down 1 turn earlier, but it's a 2 cards combo; the second one is easier to use and has the ability to ruin opponent's draws. Auchenai + Circle is most likely stronger, but Excavated Evil has also been experimented with. And then Holy Nova - it's like a tertiary AoE, some players include it, others don't. But it's pretty much always one-of.
Then we need to add some big removals. They're crucial in slower matchups, because enemy is much less likely to play into your AoEs. In fast matchups, enemy just needs to flood the board in order to kill you. But slow deck can just play a single big minion and you still need to have a way to kill it. There are really two essential cards here - Entomb and Shadow Word: Death. Entomb is slower, but better in Control matchups. It can target anything (so even stuff that's not in the Death range, like Ysera) and it gives you an edge in the long game. It also doesn't proc the Deathrattles, so it's save to Entomb Sylvanas Windrunner without worrying about her stealing something. SW:D on the other hand is a higher tempo card - it simply gets you 1 for 1, but you usually gain a lot of tempo, because the targets you hit with it are usually 5+ mana. If you kill let's say an 8 mana card with your 3 mana removal, that's a pretty nice tempo swing. That's why it's stronger in faster matchups - you don't have to spend your whole turn on removal, but you can actually develop something too to have stronger next turn. Most of the decks include 2 or 3 of those, but some even go all in and play all 4 (2 copies of each). 2x Entomb and 1x SW:D is probably most common distribution.
Another essential spell is Power Word: Shield. The thing is, there is just no reason to not play it. It cycles itself, so you never lose the card advantage when playing it. You might use it to heal your minion for 2 or to get a better trade on board. You might buff your high priority minions to make them harder to remove. You might PW:S the Auchenai after the Circle to prevent it from dying to ping. You might combo it with Wild Pyromancer for 1 damage AoE. Having high health minions is generally good for Priest, and if you can pick whichever minions you can increase the health of it's even better. The card is really, really strong and I haven't seen a serious Control Priest list that didn't have two of those.
That would be it for the essential spells. Now let's go through the most important minions:
- First one is the Northshire Cleric - it is used in every Priest deck as the main draw mechanic. Unlike most of the other draw cards, which just give you +1 card advantage or something, Northshire Cleric has HUGE potential. The longer it sticks to the board, the more cards it will draw. If combined with Circle of Healing or Holy Nova, it can draw a lot right away too. What's really strong about Cleric is that he's also a very high priority target. Even the Aggro decks will very likely use some burn on your 1-drop to prevent you from drawing.
- Then we have another 1-drop - Zombie Chow. I also think it's essential in Priest, most of the lists are running at least one. The card helps with contesting the board in early game. While Priest has a lot of ways to clear the board, they usually come in the mid/late game, so if enemy gets too much early game tempo you can lose before your AoEs. Zombie Chow prevents that + it should get some good trades against a lot of decks. It's especially strong against 2/1's or 2/2's - you can kill them and heal your Chow back to full. It also has good synergy with Auchenai Soulpriest (dealing 5 damage instead of healing for 5), which can be abused later.
- Next one in the line is Wild Pyromancer - even though it was not included in some lists I've seen, I really think he deserves the spot on essentials. Due to the number of spells Priest runs, Wild Pyromancer is very easy to proc. And what's important - unlike other classes, Priest can actually keep the Pyro alive. Other classes usually just play one spell with Pyro or if they need 2 damage AoE, Pyro dies. Priest can not only buff it up with Power Word: Shield (that's the most common way to proc it too), but also heal it up with Hero Power after the first proc.
- Deathlord has became one of the basic cards in Control Priest decks for a while. Incredibly strong anti-Aggro cards, 2/8 Taunt on turn 3 that Priest can further buff / heal up after it gets damaged is very hard to get through. He's also not too bad in Control matchups if you're going for the fatigue strategy - you force enemy to "draw" a card with the Deathrattle and you should have enough removals to deal with whatever comes out.
- Auchenai Soulpriest. The Excavated Evil version doesn't run Auchenais, but I don't think it's really the right thing to do. Even without the Circle of Healing synergy, the card is just awesome. It's the only source of burn Control Priest has. It allows to damage enemy minions with the Hero Power, so instantly impact the board. It's also awesome after Justicar Trueheart is already played. Cabal Shadow Priest usually tops the Priest's curve, because the minion is incredibly strong in Aggro/Tempo oriented meta. Most of the high drops are slow, but this one isn't. For 6 mana you get relatively weak 4/5 body, but also steal a minion from the enemy. For example, stealing opponent's Shielded Minibot means that you play a 4/5 minion (4 mana), Shadow Word: Pain the opponent's Minibot (2 mana) and play your own Minibot (2 mana). That's 8 mana and 3 cards in one 6 mana card. It's very rare that cards combine high tempo with high value and this is one of them.
- Justicar Trueheart - Even though I've seen a version not running it and the author tried to convince me that it's not great in the current meta, I still consider it a core card. Priest's Hero Power is one of the best to upgrade. 4 points of healing per turn is huge in most of the matchups. And even better if you have Auchenai Soulpriest on the board - then it becomes 4 damage per turn. Great at keeping the board control and healing yourself out of range of different combos/aggression. The only issue with Justicar is that it's very slow card - you're inevitably losing tempo on the turn you play her, but it boosts your future turns in exchange. I wanted to put couple more cards into the "essential" category, but I don't think that other cards are really necessary. I've seen different Control Priest lists consistently work without them. The are however some cards that are really worth mentioning, that's what the next section will be about.
Although not necessary for the deck to work, they're often seen being used in the Priest. They either have great synergy with the deck or are played situationally to counter the specific meta decks. They are usually used to fill out the Control Priest's core. Depending on which ones you choose, the play style might vary a lot:
- Injured Blademaster - Even though I include them in every Control Priest list I create, I'm seeing more and more lists that drop them. The minion is great due to synergy with healing. When you play it, it's a 4/3 for 3, which isn't great. But the minion's maximum health is 7, so it can be healed back. Blademaster + Circle of Healing is a very strong tempo play, because you develop a 4/7 on turn 3 (it's similar to Druid's Innervate + 5-drop, possibly even stronger, because unlike Druid, you can heal your minion back after trading). It works very well with Northshire Cleric, because in some matchup you're lacking a targe to heal and Blademaster is guaranteed to be wounded.
- Museum Curator - Cool card to fill the 2-drop slot. It's better than just passing turn 2, even though 1/2 body isn't big, it's something. And this particular Discover is awesome - Deathrattle minions are generally strong and getting to pick one of your choice means you can adjust to almost any given situation. It might help you with curving out, it might give you an answer for their board or a late game threat. The aren't many cards that can be dropped on turn 2 as well as they stay relevant for the whole game.
- Flash Heal - Zetalot has started using it a few months ago and a lot of Priests followed after. At first it was a tech card against the Handlock matchup - the only way Priest could win the matchup was through surprise burst, which Flash Heal has provided. It's also pretty good card against rush decks - you can heal out of their range and combo it with Wild Pyromancer for the 1 damage AoE. But it's best with the Auchenai Soulpriest - 1 mana for 5 damage is awesome, a very high tempo card that can be used to remove a mid game minion or push for lethal.
- Velen's Chosen - Priest wants the minions to stick into the board to gain the Hero Power value. Increasing health helps with that + increasing the attack provides better trades. Can be also used to keep the important minions alive - casted on Northshire Cleric pretty much guarantees it will survive the early game. It also has good synergy with Deathlord - 4/12 Taunt so early in the game is insane.
- Thoughtsteal - Used as a value tool when the meta gets slower. Drawing two cards from opponent's deck is strong in slow matchups, because you have a high chance to get some removals/big minions/other value cards. It also doesn't draw from your own deck, so doesn't put you closer to fatigue, making it exceptional card in fatigue matchups.
- Shrinkmeister - Used as an one-of tech card from time to time. It can help with the early game board trades against faster decks. And against slower decks it combos really nicely with Cabal Shadow Priest - you can steal 3 or 4 attack minions this way, leading to the huge value swings like stealing Sludge Belcher or Druid of the Claw.
- Sludge Belcher - Most likely the best mid game Taunt option available to Priest. It's great at stopping the Aggro decks and protecting your Clerics. Since it's pretty hard to kill, it's very likely that something will survive until your turn so you can buff it / heal it and gain more value.
- Elise Starseeker - Used in some versions that opt for including more early game/card draw/situational stuff which are good against Aggro. Playing Elise in such a deck means that you can heavily tech against Aggro but still have an out in slower matchup - you just play the Elise and turn all your useless stuff into Legendaries in the late game. While it's random and you'll sometimes end up with hand full of useless stuff, the average quality of Legendary is quite high and having let's say 10 of them usually allows you to close the Control games.
- Acolyte of Pain - Not much to talk about, mainly used in the Elise versions as an additional card draw. It's decent against Aggro, because you drop something on the board that you can buff and/or heal to draw more cards + it gets you closer to drawing the Elise/Map/Monkey in slower matchups (or you can turn it into a random Legendary if you want).
- Shadow Madness - Great card if the meta gets tempo-heavy. It's awesome against decks like Zoo Warlock or Secret Paladin. You often get 2 for 1 and possibly even spawn some small stuff on your side of the board. Stealing a Deathrattle minion and killing it on your side of the board means that you get the Deathrattle - so it's really strong against Haunted Creeper, buffed Nerubian Egg or Sludge Belcher to give a few examples.
- Shadow Word: Pain - A small removal, it might give you a lot of tempo in certain matchups. Against Secret Paladin it allows to deal with the turn 2 Shielded Minibot/Knife Juggler, against Zoo Warlock it clearly kills the Imp Gang Boss, great against Deathlords in Priest mirror and against Sludge Belcher (quite a lot of decks run it).
- Harrison Jones - Even though that's a general tech card, I've decided to put it into the list of important cards for the Priest. I think that Priest is the class most struggling with weapons. Weapons are inherently the value cards - opponents usually get to destroy at least 2 things with a single weapon. It gets even worse if you stumble upon something like a Gorehowl. The problem with weapons is that the user has to take damage in order to kill stuff. Control Priest, however, can't really abuse that due to the reactive / non-bursty nature of the deck. Having Harrison might save you a lot of trouble while gaining value at the same time if you hit the weapon. Oh, and it's insane if you fight against Aggro Shamans - destroying Doomhammer was always a dream.
Building The Deck
So, what now? We have a list of essential and filler cards, but we don't know what to do with them. So here's the guide on how to build a successful Control Priest deck in just a few easy steps:
Start with the essential cards. Add all the essential minions and Power Word: Shield. Those will be there for sure. You only need to decide whether you want to add 1 or 2 copies of some of them. That's mostly a meta call and you need to know what decks you face. If you face slow decks - removing one Zombie Chow and/or Cabal Shadow Priest is okay. You also don't want to add the Auchenai Soulpriest if you're going for the Excavated Evil list, but more about in the next point.
Then you need to decide which removals you want. Let's start with AoE removals. 2x Lightbomb is standard, so you can just throw those in. Then you want to decide whether you want to go for the Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing or the Excavated Evil. The first option is faster and more deadly, but it requires two cards. So it's harder to pull off and it takes more card slots. If you want to add some more weird techs, you probably won't have enough card slots for them, so in that case going for Excavated Evil might be good idea. I personally prefer the Auchenai + Circle combo, though. You should also consider adding one Holy Nova no matter which way you go - two copies are most likely too much.
Then we add the single target removals. You probably want 2-3 of them. Less is not enough and more can get clunky. 2x Entomb and 1x Shadow Word: Death is the most standard one, but if you face faster matchups you can drop one Entomb. I've also seen 2x SW:D and 1x Entomb in a more tempo-oriented list. 2x Entomb and 2x SW:D would be good only if you face TONS of slow matchups, which isn't likely.
Okay, so that was the easy part. Now, you need to decide on the type of deck you want to play. Just like I've said before, it's mostly a meta call. What you want to do is to find the matchups you face most and try to counter them. Don't go all-in into countering those, though. Meta is really dynamic and one deck is rarely more than 20% of the ladder. So you can't go all-in into teching against the most popular deck while having a lot of bad matchups. The first thing you want to consider is adding Elise Starseeker.
Elise decks are usually built a little different than the non-Elise ones. When you add Elise you can drop some of the high value cards, because you have your late-late game covered with the Golden Monkey. So if you decide to build the Elise list you can add more early game/card draw/situational cards. Kolento's deck I'll talk about later is a good example. You can drop some of your bigger/slower minions like Injured Blademaster or Sludge Belcher for the sake of more early game potential. Elise deck can also include some situational cards like Shadow Madness - it's strong in fast matchups and if you don't find any great target for Shadow Madness in slow matchups it just becomes a Legendary. Elise deck can also drop one Entomb. Not only it's bad against Aggro (and the main idea is to counter Aggro with the pre-Monkey list), but you don't really need it against the Control. It's great in the fatigue, but you rarely go for the fatigue win condition with Elise list. And playing it might delay your Map/Monkey draw by one turn, which might turn out to be meaningful.
You don't like Elise? No problem, you can build a good Control Priest deck without her. If you don't play Elise, however, you need to equip yourself better against slow decks. You don't have late game covered with random Legendaries, so you need to outvalue enemy in some way. Non-Elise lists are usually more minions heavy and include some strong minions you can play proactively. Injured Blademaster is a good example - it's a great way to get value in the slower matchups, as you can get couple of trades with a single minion. If you don't play Elise I'd always go for the double Entomb - that's already a huge win condition against Control decks. Not only you deal with their threats, but you also play them later. It's also good to play at least a single Thoughtsteal in the non-Elise lists - like I've explained before it's very strong in Control matchups.
No matter how you build the deck, you should have a few flex spots. After you add all the essential + decide on your deck's theme, you still have to make a few choices. And just to make things sure, there are usually no good/bad options here. It heavily depends on the decks you face and on the goal you want to achieve with your deck. For example, one of the important decisions is 0/1/2 Flash Heals. The card is good against Aggro, against Freeze Mage (or other similar combo decks) and against decks that require you to burst them (like RenoLock). On the other hand, they are pretty weak in matchups like Midrange Druid or Secret Paladin (tools to Control the board are much more important there). Depending on the opponents you face and your play style you want to decide on how many copies you want to run. I personally don't run a single copy in my non-Elise Control Priest. Is it right? Well, it really depends. I've seen pro players anywhere between 0 and 2 copies. Running two also means that you have less space for other cards that you might want to run. You need to decide whether you want to run stuff like Museum Curator, Velen's Chosen, Acolyte of Pain, Shrinkmeister, Harrison Jones etc. None of those cards is really necessary for the Control Priest deck to work and you can't put all of them. Remember that you have somewhere between 6 and 8 flex slots, so you need to decide which cards you need most and which ones you can drop.
Decisions, decisions. I know that it's pretty hard, especially if you don't have a lot of deck building experience (or experience with Control Priest archetype in general). That's why to make things slightly easier, next section will be dedicated to example deck lists. I'll talk about my own list and 3 other ones. Every of them has some similarities, but they are also all different.
So I'm going to start with my own creation. This particular deck was created when Entomb got released. It got changed a lot since then - Museum Curators weren't released yet at that point, I've started with Holy Champions but no Deathlords (yeah, I know), but this is the version I'm playing right now. First of all - no Elise. I've made the deck in a way to have a shot in most of the slower matchups even without her. I'm running more minions that enemy has to deal with, like 2x Injured Blademaster and 2x Sludge Belcher. This list is pretty minion-heavy for a Priest, but that's just because I prefer this kind of play style. In slower matchups I Just run enemy out of removals and win the game in fatigue. With 2x Entomb on big minions, Thoughtsteal and 2x Museum Curator it's pretty much impossible that enemy will find answers for everything I play, unless I play into obvious AoE removals (like Brawl or Lightbomb). So it's really hard to outvalue this list in the long run. And Priest, just like any other Priest, works quite well against Aggro if it doesn't miss the early drops and some kind of mid game board clear.
I really like one copy of Shrinkmeister - in some matchups I'm struggling to find the good Cabal targets and with Shrinkmeister it's so much easier. For example, against Druid I'm sometimes forced to steal a 1/1 from Living Roots if both Keepers are already gone and enemy doesn't play Aspirants (it happens). But with Shrinkmeister, I can steal a Piloted Shredder, Druid of the Claw or Azure Drake for insane value. Not to mention that it's MVP in any slow matchup, like against RenoLock (once I stole the Feugen and got Thaddius, because Stalagg was already dead), Control Warrior or Control Priest (getting Sludge Belcher is pretty cute, but stealing Ysera against Warrior is even better).
The main thing I'm switching up on the ladder is adding +1 Zombie Chow instead of the Thoughtsteal or Sludge Belcher whenever I face more fast decks. Sometimes I tech in the Flash Heal in case I play against a lot of RenoLocks.
It's a pretty standard Control Priest without any weird techs and that's why I've decided to open with this list. It should be a pretty good list to take as a baseline and make some changes depending on the meta or whatever you like to play.
Second list I'm posting is Zetalot's one. If you don't know who Zetalot is, you should definitely check out his stream. He's one of the best Control Priest players in the world, he is very dedicated and plays the deck to high Legend ranks each season even when the meta isn't in his favor. He also changes his decks a lot to adapt or test different stuff, so if you want to see the latest decklist, that's another reason to check out his stream. This list is taken from his 16.02.2016 stream, when he peaked around top 100 Legend when playing it.
And it's also pretty standard, actually. First thing is that Zetalot really likes his Flash Heals. I don't remember his last list where he didn't have at least one. I'm not in the same boat and I usually don't include them if I don't have to.
Zetalot has completely dropped Sludge Belchers, so he doesn't play any 5-drop at all. It's not that terrible, because turn 5 can easily filled anyway - Injured Blademaster + Hero Power, play Northshire, heal something, play a 2-drop etc. Instead of Belchers, he has opted for even more removals. In this particular list he runs Shadow Word: Pain and Shadow Madness, both good in high tempo matchups. I can see why he runs them in the current meta, the only thing I don't like about those cards is them being really bad against the Midrange Druid. Their significant minions are 4+ attack, the best thing you can usually Pain/Shadow Madness is Keeper of the Grove, but you want to Cabal those most of the time.
Zetalot is experimenting with different stuff and he usually explains why he makes a certain change, why he adds / removes a card etc. I've learned a lot about building/playing Priest from him.
One of the most popular Control Priest lists lately, from one of the best Hearthstone players - Kolento. He used this list to hit rank 2 Legend a few days ago and a lot of people have followed after, so whenever you meet a Control Priest on the ladder right now, there is a quite big chance that this is the deck they'll be playing.
This list is completely different from the previous two, as it puts a lot of emphasis into the anti-Aggro aspect and the Elise Starseeker. It's much heavier on cycle with 2x Acolyte of Pain. Why I'm saying "much" heavier even though those are only 2 more card draws? In the right scenario, Acolyte of Pain in Priest can draw not 1, not 2, but 3+ cards easily. You can buff it with Power Word: Shield and Velen's Chosen, you can force the draws with Wild Pyromancer or Lightbomb AND you can heal it up. Against Aggro you want to draw a lot - the only thing that punishes you for drawing is Divine Favor, but in most of matchups you want to have as many cards as you can. More cards = more options. When you're 5 cards up on the Aggro deck and you're at reasonable health amount you should win the game easily.
Then, against Control you can approach the matchups two ways. First one is not drawing cards at all and taking the matchup to fatigue. Which is a solid tactic, but the problem is that this deck might fizzle out before actually getting to the fatigue, because of the really low curve. You might lose the game before you ever draw your Monkey and cash in the value on all the useless cards. That's why the second tactic is to actually draw as much as you can and cycle fast through your deck. Then when you draw the Monkey and turn your hand into all Legendaries, fatigue is no longer your win condition - you just overwhelm enemy with a big minion every turn and he'll run out of removals pretty soon. Both tactics are legit and it's impossible to say which one is better - it really depends on each game and you should adapt to the pace of the game and your hand quality. If you have 2x Circle of Healing, Flash Heal, Zombie Chow and Acolyte of Pain in your hand, well, the chances are that you should play the Acolyte and cycle. But if you have all the removals and things you want, you can go for the long game.
What's interesting in Kolento's list is that he runs only 1x Entomb. I guess that if you're going for Elise, Entomb is less useful, because it puts might put you one card away from drawing the Monkey and you don't rely on Entombing a big drops to win the game like the non-Elise Priest lists. Kolento also teched in the Harrison Jones, which works quite well if you face a lot of weapon classes. But you definitely should check out your statistics before doing that, because it's one of those techs that work only if you play against the particular decks. It's pretty bad 5-drop otherwise.
I haven't tested the list myself yet, but I'll definitely do that in the near future. I've seen some players already having quite a good runs with it so it definitely works nicely. But I think the Elise list might be even harder to play correctly than the standard Control Priest, which is already pretty difficult.
And finally, this is the Auchenai-less list that got popular about a month ago. Godlike is the name author gave it and I actually like it so I've left it this way. I've already analyzed the list in the Weekly Top Legend Decks #8 article, but here I'll focus on comparing it to the previous ones.
The main difference is using different AoE. Author has dropped the Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing combo. And I get the point - it's a 2 cards combo, so it's less consistent (you're often getting one piece without the other when you really need to clear the board) and well, it's 2 cards after all instead of 1. He changed it to the Excataved Evil - a very interesting tool in Priest's arsenal. Bad thing about the card is that it requires 1 more mana and deals 1 less damage. But it doesn't cost 2 cards and when played against fast decks it might mess with their draws. I mean, you really prefer let's say Face Hunter top decking an Excavated Evil than Kill Command to kill you. It gives you more time to stabilize and possibly wins you the game. And most of your bigger stuff is out of the range anyway - it won't kill Deathlord or Sludge Belcher. Also, when he plays it, then it goes back to your deck and it can be much more useful in your hands once again. But what's also important about dropping the Auchenai + Circle combo is that you free 4 card slots. You take only two of them with Excavated Evils and now you have 2 more flex slots where you can put some tech cards or whatever you want actually.
Titan has decided to play Elise Starseeker. Most likely to have an even bigger edge in slow matchups. With 2x Deathlord and 2x Entomb AND the Elise, this deck is insane against Control Warrior or in Priest mirror. Not only you can take the game slowly and go for the fatigue win condition, but if for some reason it's not enough you just turn all the small stuff to Legendaries after enemy is really low on removals already. And the good thing about Elise I haven't mentioned is that she's a 4-drop you can play whenever you want. Unlike a lot of other Priest cards that are situational, require some specific board to be good, you can just drop her as a 4 mana 3/5 and that's it, no conditions need to be met.
Besides those two, that's a rather standard Priest deck. From the more uncommon cards it also runs the Shadow Madness. And it plays 2 copies of Shrinkmeister. This way both can be kept to combo with Cabal in the late game if you can afford to or one can be easily played to get a good trade on the board while you still have second one to steal something bigger. While I don't necessarily dig it, I can see some merits and if it works for a lot of people, I can't complain.
I haven't seen this list played in a while, but about a month ago it was all over the ladder. I guess a big part of the success was people not seeing the Excavated Evil in play before and didn't really expect it/play around it.
That's it folks. I really hope that you've liked my analysis and you've learned something. While I'm not the best Control Priest player ever, it's one of my most played (and favorite!) decks and I have mastered it at least to some degree. I really enjoy playing Priest, because every match is different and requires a lot of thought. You don't just hope to curve out and play whatever you can just like with some of the most popular decks. With so many situational cards you need to decide which one will fit given situation, which ones you need to save and you REALLY need to think a lot of turns ahead if you want to consistently win.
If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below!