An introduction to “Low” Control Priest by Dankestdad.
Following the aftermath of the latest balance patch, Broom Paladin rose to the top of the meta, with Mage continuing to fade out of the picture. In this new landscape, Priest seemed poised to contend. Both Soul Demon Hunter and Bomb Warrior were beatable with anti-weapon tech, and Priest has the value-tools to keep up with Rogue and Paladin.
As a check to Hunter’s fast aggression, I kept the curve of the build quite low. I went as far as to cut the Galakrond, The Unspeakable package and most of the deck’s expensive cards. The cost reduction strategy paid off greatly. After reaching Top 150 Legend in Standard in the November season, I can say beyond a doubt that the deck will contend at a high level until the release of the Darkmoon Faire expansion.
The Low Control Priest Deck
Deck Code: AAECAaCsAwKOsQPIvgMOlwKKB/YH0wqZqQOBsQOYtgOTugObugOvugPezAPLzQPXzgPj0QMA
Tech Choices for Low Control Priest
While other similar decklists exist, the main differentiators in this version are Acidic Swamp Ooze and Penance. These two cards help our aggressive matchups, but they play a larger role in key ones. Soul Demon Hunter becomes one of our best sources of wins instead of a slightly favorable matchup, and the Bomb Warrior matchup ceases to be a certain loss.
Even outside these matchups, Penance is another activator for Sethekk Veilweaver. Acidic Swamp Ooze can still serve as an early drop to contest three health minions, which somewhat mitigates the cost of running to copies outside their key matchups.
These following cards are certainly a meta call, and if you wanted to replace them, there are some strong options out there. Mindflayer Kaahrj and Cabal Shadow Priest are common choices, but Harrison Jones can serve well if you are looking for more card draw.
Wandmaker is also a common inclusion, but I found that it lacked consistency in providing removal and immediate impact on the board, both of which are done better by other cards. As a final consideration, my deck build struggles with fatigue matchups, so Thoughtsteal or Madam Lazul can help by copying Galakronds or Archivist Elysiana at a lower deck-building cost.
General Mulligan Guide for Low Control Priest
Generally, the mulligan for the deck is straightforward. In faster matchups, you want Wild Pyromancer and early reactive tools like Holy Smite and Penance. In slower ones, you want Cobalt Spellkin and Draconic Studies to start generating value immediately. Of course, Acidic Swamp Ooze is a key keep against Demon Hunter, but you should only mulligan for it aggressively in the Bomb Warrior matchup.
There are some situations, however, where other cards are a high priority as well. In matchups where a particular minion is strong, Raise Dead becomes a great keep if you already have that minion in your opening hand. Renewal and Sethekk Veilweaver also combo well in control matchups, and using these to generate early value can put you ahead handily.
Finally, Soul Mirror excels against Rogue, undoing one of their swing-turns from Galakrond, the Nightmare or Wonderous Wand or clearing a board of lackeys and huge Edwin VanCleefs or Questing Adventurers.
In most matchups, you are following a simple plan with three steps:
- Check early aggression before turn five.
- Play Cobalt Spellkin to generate value.
- Answer threats one for one until your opponent is out of options.
Using the mulligans mentioned above, you can reliably execute this strategy most of the time. Sometimes, however, your opponents can develop threats too quickly and chip you down before you can find an answer.
With these cards, you can come slow down the game until Cobalt Spellkin comes online. Although Wave of Apathy is often a combo with Cabal Acolyte, it can do a great job of preserving your life total until you find a Soul Mirror or Shadow Word: Death. You will draw and create a lot of them, so don’t be too greedy with it. Apotheosis is great with Wild Pyromancer, and it will often turn games around against Face Hunter on its own.
Cleric of Scales is the only card draw tool in the deck, but keep in mind that it provides card selection. If you aren’t sure which card you need, it is better to float mana and wait until you know what is required.
Key Matchup Breakdown for Low Control Priest
Soul Demon Hunter: Highly Favored
When I first started playing the Demon Hunter matchup, I felt that Priest was at a disadvantage, but now I breathe a sigh of relief when I see the deck on the ladder. With Acidic Swamp Ooze, you have enough healing and weapon removal to outlast their burn, and the best way to do so is by making their turns awkward.
Six tips to beat Demon Hunter
- Try to avoid developing threats until just before the Demon Hunter’s turn four. Use Holy Smite and Penance to remove the three health minions Demon Hunter plays early, and don’t give them a target for Soul Shear. By developing at this time, you force them to use a Marrow Slicer charge as removal, which opens an opportunity for you to set up for an Acidic Swamp Ooze the following turn.
- Play tall dragons and threats when your opponent doesn’t have a weapon equipped. Without one, your opponent will need to choose between clearing with Blade Dance and their attack or leaving their board intact
- Don’t be afraid to use Cabal Acolyte as a taunt. You have more than enough removal, and stealing minions tends to be ineffective against Demon Hunter because of cards like Shardshatter Mystic and Blade Dance.
- Apotheosis is usually at its best on a large dragon instead of a Wild Pyromancer. It’s especially good on turn 6 when using Apotheosis forces your opponent to delay their Skull turn to respond.
- Try to save Soul Mirror to deal with Soulciologist Malicia. It’s your best answer most of the time.
- Your hero power is healing that disappears forever at the end of each turn. It helps a lot to use it in place of developing in the early game. Utilizing your Hero Power allows you to outpace Demon Hunter over time.
Generally, the standard Demon Hunter list is the best matchup for you, but the Hoard Pillager version has a bit more reach. Make sure to play around the possibility and save Acidic Swamp Oozes when you can.
Low Control Priest vs Libroom Paladin
Libroom Paladin: Favored
Hey, loser! You’re going to hear that voice line a lot, but thankfully Pen Flinger is wrong. You actually will win most of the time in a drawn-out war of attrition. Murozond is your best friend in the late game, and you will usually win by playing it on their Libram of Hope turn.
Lady Liadrin is the biggest threat in their deck, and once they have played Libram of Wisdom 3-4 times, you need to prioritize clearing the board to deny burst damage and Pen Flinger targets.
Defeating Libroom Paladin as low Control Priest, tips & tricks
- Wave of Apathy is an all-star in this matchup. Use it with Murozond to prevent a crack back after you copy their power turn, and use it with Cabal Acolyte to steal minions buffed with Libram of Wisdom.
- Try to deny your opponent trades once their Librams of Wisdom cost zero. If they can’t kill their buffed minions, you can severely limit the impact of Pen Flingers and Libram of Wisdoms.
- Soul Mirror has insane applications in this matchup. It can copy Divine Shield Taunt minions to build your board, and the Librams you find with it can help out Sethekk Veilweaver and Wild Pyromancer.
- Paladin needs Hand of A’dal and Sahlet’s Pride to get their engine going. Holy Smite and Penance remove buff targets early, and stealing a Sahlet’s Pride can give you your Cleric of Scales and slow down the Pen Flinger assault.
- Paladin’s will punish you for developing a board with Animated Broomsticks and Libram of Justice. Play around them by developing threats slowly, and this way, these cards impact you the least.
- Wild Pyromancer is better late than early in this matchup. Never keep it and try to save it until you can combine it with Apotheosis and get a full clear.
Surviving Bomb Warrior as Low Control Priest
The Bomb Warrior vs. Priest matchup is a fun one. An early Blastmaster Boom is their only way to win if you have Acidic Swamp Ooze on hand. Otherwise, you are playing the value game. Every threat you develop gives you more time to draw Acidic Swamp Ooze and delay Blastmaster Boom, so unlike the Paladin matchup, the Warrior one is about hitting the board hard and fast. The strategy against Bomb Warrior is simpler than the others, but, once again, here are a couple of pointers:
Improving your chances against Bomb Warrior:
- If your minions are bigger than the weapon, you’re in business. Make the Warrior Brawl instead of buffing their Wrenchcalibur or developing a new one.
- Blastmaster Boom is a pain to remove, but Pyro and Apotheosis can offset some of the damage. Developing into the Boom Bots is often painful but game-winning, so don’t feel bad doing it to save some life.
- Galakrond, the Unbreakable’s hero power is stronger than yours, but if they use it to remove minions, you can stop some of the damage.
- Bomb management can actually make a difference! Using Cleric of Scales to draw a bomb on purpose can both weaken Blastmaster Boom and let you heal immediately with Apotheosis. It’s a sick play pattern.
- Like Demon Hunter, Warrior does not have Cabal Acolyte targets. Use Acolyte late to block a Galakrond, the Unbreakable swing since, even after the nerf, it has enough health to force removal or eat up two hits.
- If you got enough early pressure, Soul Mirror could get you a cheesy lethal off Blastmaster Boom. Keep an eye out for that situation.
- Keeping a full hand to dodge bombs is too cute with Galakrond, the Unbreakable in play outside specific late game situations. Don’t try this at home.
All in all, Acidic Swamp Ooze is the indicator of success. Try to draw it as early as possible, and use your Clerics to draw to raise your chances if you don’t have it. Otherwise, heal as much as you can and take them to fatigue.
Closing thoughts for Low Control Priest
Despite the low curve, “low Priest” is a classic control deck, and if you like managing resources, the deck is a great choice for you. As a last piece of advice, if there is any matchup you struggle with, try playing a few games with the other deck. Once you understand its gameplan, you will know how to disrupt it, which leads to more success. Good luck with your climbs, and I can’t wait to see you in the mirror!
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the guide! If you would like some replays or have questions, please feel free to comment or reach out to me on Twitter. For more of Dankestdad, be sure to read all about his initial thoughts on the Darkmoon Faire!
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