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Dragon Priest Gadgetzan Standard Deck

Last updated on Dec 01, 2016 at 22:57 by Sottle 10 comments

Table of Contents

The following guide outlines how to play Dragon Priest which has received a huge buff in the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion through the incredible Drakonid Operative and Dragonfire Potion which is one of the strongest AoE effects in the game. It is relatively simply to play and can be extremely effective against other aggressive decks that aim to grip the board early.

1. About the Author

This deck is presented to you by Sottle, a professional Hearthstone player who plays for compLexity Gaming. Sottle regularly streams on Twitch and explains all of his moves. Watching him is a good opportunity to see how this and other decks play out in practice, and how decisions are made in real time.

2. Dragon Priest Gadgetzan Standard Deck

Our deck costs 2,320 Arcane Dust and it is made up of the following cards.

Priest Cards Neutral Cards

2.1. Mana Curve

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3. Strategy

Dragon Priest is a deck that aims to curve out aggressively, but due to its lack of damage finishers, it needs to keep a grip on the board and in fact plays out quite passively. Although you will find yourself ahead on board quite commonly due to the quality of your minions, you need to consistently trade in order to hold board. Thankfully, the deck does also play some high quality removal tools in the form of Shadow Word: Pain, Shadow Word: Death, Book Wyrm, and Blackwing Corruptor.

3.1. Key Skills

3.1.1. Board Control at all costs

As a general rule with this deck, you never ignore an available trade to go face unless it sets up a realistic two turn lethal for you. Since Priest does not have great tools for being able to finish a game with damage from hand, this deck relies completely on having board control at all times. This means you need to make favourable trades on your terms to be able to consolidate your board. If you start to go face too early, your opponent will be able to get a foothold back on the board, and even if you then have Dragonfire Potion to AoE them, the drop in Tempo will mean that the game will spiral out of your control.

Furthermore, trading efficiently also maximises your options with the deck since it opens up the opportunity to use the Priest Hero Power to refresh an existing minion as opposed to dropping a new one (more on this below). Even though this is not always the correct play, the fact that trading efficiently presents you with this option over no option at all is of great benefit.

3.1.2. Heal or Develop

When playing this deck you will very quickly be faced with the decision of whether you want to heal an existing minion on the board, or use the Mana to develop a new minion entirely. Each side of this decision has its own strengths and weaknesses in various situations. Using your Hero Power to refresh an existing minion is great for resource management and allows you to gain more value out of each of your cards than your opponent. In matchups that are heavily resource based, then this is often a good decision, and it is also excellent in games that have come down to a late-game battle where both players are low on cards. It also functions excellently as a preventative measure against decks that play large scale AoE like Brawl or Twisting Nether.

This goes hand in hand with the earlier point as in some situations you may be tempted to use a removal card from your hand just to push some extra damage. However, this is often pointless against most decks since Dragon Priest is unable to capitalise on aggression easily. For example, say your opponent has a 3/6 minion in play and you have a Drakonid Operative and a Netherspite Historian. You may be tempted to use a Shadow Word: Pain from hand in order to deal with it immediately and attack the opponent's Hero. However, you can simply trade into the minion and heal up your Operative afterwards to take it out without commiting any new resources and have now retained the Shadow Word: Pain for a situation where you might need it more in the future.

On the flipside of this argument is the drop in Tempo that healing your minions will cause you to have. This can be particularly important against decks that have high value minions that must be killed on the turn they are played such as Fandral Staghelm or Emperor Thaurissan. By making the slow play that involves trading your minions and healing them up, you can often not have enough power in play to be able to deal with one of these minions. Therefore, always keep your opponent's power turns in mind when trying to decide between the two options and consider if you need the extra power in play to be able to discourage them from dropping their key minion, or to punish them if they do.

3.1.3. Drakonid Operative

Drakonid Operative is one of the huge power cards in the deck and is perhaps the sole reason why this deck has seen a revival with the new expansion. In a vacuum, the card is immensely powerful, offering a wide variety of different upsides contained in a single card. The skill of the card comes from its Discover effect however, and how to use the information it gives you, as well as selecting the right option.

On average, you will be able to pick up a very strong card since you are picking the best option between 3 cards that your opponent deemed good enough to play in their deck. However, it is not always correct to simply pick the card that is best on the surface. Dragon Priest has a few weaknesses that you can use Operative to cover up, starting primarily with the lack of direct damage finishers. If you are offered a high impact source of damage, it is usually at least worth considering it since it will provide a new dimension to your play and allow you to play more aggressively. Secondly, the weakness that Dragon Priest has in regaining a lost board means that any high value Tempo tool that can remove a minion while putting one in play is also well worth a look.

Perhaps more important however is the knowledge that you gain from your opponent's deck. You get to look at three cards that your opponent does NOT have in their hand currently, which is a huge amount of information. For example, if you are playing against Warrior and the Discover effect reveals a Brawl, you know that that is at least one copy of Brawl that they do not have in their hand. This knowledge is useful for AoE, for sources of finishing damage, for problematic minions such as Sylvanas Windrunner, as well as for the key minions discussed in Heal or Develop section. Always make sure to pay close attention to the information revealed by this card, making a note of it if necessary.

3.2. Mulligans & Matchup Specific Strategies

Mulligan for the best possible curve of Dragon cards as well as Kabal Talonpriest. Although Netherspite Historian might seem like an appealing keep due to its low cost, it is actually very weak on an early board and is often best thrown back into the deck. This is also true for Northshire Cleric in many matchups. The exception being if you are up against a deck that is likely to play 1/1s and 2/1s in the early game such as Hunter or Pirate Warrior.

Pay attention to your early curve as it may be better to hold a Twilight Whelp in your hand instead of playing it on turn 1. Even if you for example hold Twilight Guardian you may need to rely on Twilight Whelp to activate the Guardian on turn 4.

Shadow Word: Pain is an excellent keep against Shaman, as well as in Priest Mirrors and against Druid to deal with the threat of Fandral Staghelm.

Since we are at the start of a new expansion, class by class mulligans are not yet available since it is unclear exactly what each class will be playing. Check back as the meta evolves for a more in depth mulligan guide!

3.3. Card Swaps

Cards such as Northshire Cleric can be cut from the deck in favour of additional late-game threats such as Ysera and Ragnaros the Firelord.

4. ChangeLog

  • 01 Dec. 2016: Deck added.
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