December 20, 2016
Table of Contents
Gadgetzan Dragon Priest Guide: Road To Legend
We all knew Priest is going to finally break out of its low tier spot and make it into the higher tiers with the launch of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. With Pirate Warrior, Aggro Shaman and other aggressive decks making it big in the meta the Dragons can be relied on to shut down aggressive decks quite handily. Dragon Priest is one of the decks that came to the spotlight with the launch of The Grand Tournament but its popularity did not last long enough to be particularly relevant and with the Standard rotation happening earlier this year the departure of a lot of core cards, it made things particularly difficult for the deck. With some exceptional cards getting added to the Dragon Priest arsenal, it’s time to bring back the old guns and fire away at the meta. Without any further wait, let’s head straight to the decklist and break down the card choices.
Northshire Cleric: Northshire Cleric is in a very good spot right now and with so many 1 HP minions floating around Northshire Cleric will go 2 for 1 quite often even if it does not draw you cards, while in other games you can just drop her behind high HP taunts that Dragon Priest is notorious for and continuously maintain card advantage and have all the answers you need in your hand.
Power Word: Shield: One of the card draw tools Priest has access too. It’s great on your taunts for making them survive longer and take out aggressive minions and also a great tool to go 2 for 1 with your bigger minions and get advantageous trading possibilities.
Twilight Whelp: A conditional 2/3 that is perfect against aggro decks that are floating around right now and it’s also a cheap activator for your Dragon synergy cards that require you to have a Dragon in your hand for pulling off their battlecry effects. It is one of the most powerful 1 drops in the game and one of the few effective Priest 1 drops that are available for countering aggressive decks in any meta.
Shadow Word: Pain: One of the more effective basic cards in the game, it is perfect for taking out a wide range of minions and it’s particularly good in the mirror matchup as well. It can take out anything ranging from 1 drops to even popular 5-6 drops like Thunder Bluff Valiant and Book Wyrm.
Wyrmrest Agent: A great anti-aggro taunt that is extremely powerful. Wyrmrest Agent is one of the better cards from The Grand Tournament and it is one of the few viable Priest 2 drops. If you manage to drop a Kabal Talonpriest on it on curve, it can go beyond 2 for 1 when it comes to trades. With so many low HP minions in the meta from aggressive decks and the lack of sticky minions overall, Wyrmrest Agent is a lot more viable in the meta and it has been doing better than ever.
Kabal Talonpriest: One of the best 3 drops in the game right now and the value it adds to your Dragon synergy taunts is quite relevant in the meta. Do not shy away from playing this on curve if you have no better play because even without its effect it is a fine card and can take out cheap threats quite handily.
Shadow Word: Death: A cheap and efficient means of taking out high attack threats and it’s great in any Priest deck. Since we do not run Entomb in this list, we definitely want to run two copies of this card to ensure we are able to deal with big threats as efficiently as possible and the cheap cost of the card ensures you do not slow down in terms of adding pressure on board against your opponent.
Drakonid Operative: The star of the deck, being able to play cards your opponent can’t quite play around and being able to keep him guessing at all times is a great advantage. It is also a great minion even if you do not manage to pull off the effect of the card and has great stats for what you are paying. Unlike most other discover cards you have absolutely no drawback at all for playing this and I’ll discuss this card in detail in the next section of this writeup in the What’s New section.
Dragonfire Potion: A great AoE removal tool that costs just 1 mana more than the other viable options available right now and happens to be a lot more effective. A lot of people have been adding 2 copies of Holy Nova as well to complement Dragonfire Potion but I left it out since I wasn’t facing enough decks that had flooded boards with 2 HP minions in my experience when I used the deck to hit legend ranks earlier this season. However, if you have difficulties and feel you could do with more AoE spells then feel free to add Holy Nova to the deck.
Acidic Swamp Ooze: With so many weapon heavy decks floating around in the meta it makes sense to include a weapon removal and there is nothing more efficient than dropping an Acidic Swamp Ooze to clear out a threatening weapon. Initially it was just Pirate Warrior that was popular but the rise of Aggro Shaman in the meta makes weapon removal all the more essential for not only avoiding face damage but to also preserve your minions and get more value out of them.
Netherspite Historian: While a lot of people might argue, why not just include dragons you would want to run in the deck straight away instead of including Netherpsite Historian, the flexibility that it offers is a lot more valuable. You can find cheap dragons to smooth out your curve if you have a dead hand or simply play it with Brann Bronzebeard against control decks to outvalue your opponent. Netherspite Historian is a great card when it comes to finding answers or cards to play and there are plenty of times when it can bail you out in not only long drawn games but also against aggressive decks by getting that clutch Book Wyrm or Twilight Guardian to stabilize.
Brann Bronzebeard: With a ton of battlecry effects in the deck, it is fitting to include Brann in the deck to capitalize on the powerful effects the Dragon synergy cards tend to have. Ever since the launch of Blackrock Mountain, pretty much most Dragon themed cards have powerful battlecry effects and the deck has over a dozen Battlecry minions that you can squeeze even more value out of. One of the tips I’d like to offer the readers when playing very slow decks is to save both your Netherspite Historians and your Brann Bronzebeard and play them all in one turn to draw out 4 dragons. Since you do not have any form of substantial lategame against control decks and if you happen to run out of steam and your opponent deals with all if your cheap dragon synergy cards, you can fall back on the combo to draw out some lategame to contest against control decks.
Twilight Guardian: One of the deck defining dragons in the deck and it offers a ton of value to anyone who wants to play Dragon decks. Twilight Guardian is one of the best anti-aggro taunts you will find in the game when its condition is met and being able to buff his health up with your cards can put off enemy minions from hitting your face for quite a while!
Azure Drake: A classic minion that almost always sees play in any meta across a variety of decks. Azure Drake is mostly used for the cycle and spell damage in the decks it is used but the Dragon tag also helps us out in this case as well and adds a layer of synergy to our deck. While he does not have the best stats for a 5 drop, the pack of value that he brings to the table is substantial enough to include him in the deck even with Drakonid Operative being a solid contender in the slot.
Blackwing Corruptor: One of the best 5 drops in the game if you meet its battlecry condition and it’s just as good as Fire Elemental if you hold a dragon in your hand. Being able to take out a threat and develop a 5/4 for 5 mana is pretty relevant and he can also set up some efficient trades with some of your smaller minions.
Book Wyrm: A 3/6 body with Shadow Word: Pain attached to it if you are holding a dragon is quite valuable by itself and it is great for taking out low attack minions quite handily. We only run one copy of the card because we have enough tools to take out small minions already in form of Shadow Word: Pain and Blackwing Corruptor and we do not want to go too overboard with situational removals no matter how good they are.
Ragnaros the Firelord: I wanted to include a lategame card but I did not find any of the large dragons particularly worth it. I did run Chillmaw for an extended period of time but he wasn’t particularly necessary since you are able to deal with board spam quite handily anyway and Zoo isn’t very popular right now.
What’s New for Dragon Priest?
So a lot of discussion went through when it comes to building a fresh Dragon Priest deck with some of the new cards, meaning some of the older cards have to give way for the new ones. So what were the weaknesses of Dragon Priest and how were they resolved?
New Dark Cultist?
One of the biggest concerns was the departure of Dark Cultist and Velen's Chosen, two cards that were very important to the deck in the 3 mana slot. Kabal Talonpriest is one of the best cards to come out for Priest in the 3 mana slot in a long time and Blackwing Technician is just not good enough with the arrival of this new class card. One of the biggest issues with the ‘If you are holding a Dragon in your hand’ mechanic is that when you fail to fulfill the condition they are quite weak on their own for the most part and Blackwing Technician just doesn’t feel good when you play it as a 2/4. However, even if you do not get any value out of Kabal Talonpriest it is still a 3 attack minion, which allows it to take out 3 HP minions that are popular quite handily and offers value more often than not.
Secret Agent Coming Through!
Drakonid Operative finally makes the 5 mana slot a lot more appealing. Azure Drake was the go-to card of choice alongside Blackwing Corruptor, but a 5 mana 4/4 doesn’t feel too appealing in a deck that tries to throw in the maximum possible bunch of stats on the board every single turn and it is generally the exact opposite of what a tempo oriented deck wants to do. Drakonid Operative is one of the coolest and most powerful Discover cards ever released and it allows peeking into your opponent’s deck and taking a look at 3 cards and copying one of them to your hand. The best part of the card is that even if you fail to have a Dragon in your hand it is still a 5 mana 5/6 which makes you lose absolutely zero tempo without its effect.
Return of Northshire Cleric: One of the biggest talking points is how good Pirate decks are and 1 HP minions that were non-existent for quite a few months in the game happen to be flooding the ladder yet again. It makes Northshire Cleric; a card that many had cut out from Priest decks makes a comeback since you are more likely to get value out of her in the current meta. Also, having access to powerful draw mechanisms is a must if you want to counter the fast-paced meta.
By Dragonfire Be Purged: Another issue that the deck suffered from is the lack of a proper AoE in the deck after Lightbomb went to Wild. Dragonfire Potion happens to be the next best thing and it allows you to protect your dragons while clearing out enemy minions. One of the only weaknesses of the card is that the card is not useful at all when you are playing against other Dragon decks. Other than that, the card has definitely lived up to the expectation and hype as the next ‘Lightbomb’ for many people and it has been doing quite well in not only Dragon decks but also in non-Dragon decks. Needless to say, if you want to play the new Dragon Priest deck you definitely need a copy or two in your deck.
How To Play
The deck is heavily reliant on dropping your minions on curve and you want to take advantage of all your synergies and put out the most value possible every turn. With substantial amounts of taunts you will have no trouble dealing with aggressive decks and Dragon Priest truly shines in aggressive metas. It was already gaining popularity and was a top pick in the Heroic Tavern Brawl as it did well against the top decks of the meta but got hard countered by other decks that were prevalent. With mostly aggressive decks and highlander decks being popular and a favorable matchup against Jade Druid, Dragon Priest is in an excellent spot right now and I encourage people to try it out.
Knowing your opponent’s deck well and knowing the meta is relevant to playing the deck to its fullest potential. You
I will quickly go over through the top 4 popular matchups in the meta right now and give some insights on how they stack up. Below are my stats during my climb to Legend this season.
Aggro Shaman: Slightly favored. If you do not have the right draws and get your taunts up in time the matchup gets a bit too scary but Dragon Priest is just slightly favored against the deck. The problem in the matchup is if you take a bit too much damage in the initial turns they can just burst you down and your hero power isn’t enough to outheal their burn. I lost mostly to the variants that run added burn spells and Jade Golem mechanics while the non-Jade lists did not prove to be much of a threat.
Pirate Warrior: Heavily Favored. You are quite likely to win this one due to how efficient your minions are against theirs and you will be able to get multiple trades out of a single minion against their small drops. I never quite had an issue against them while climbing and Kabal Talonpriest is a superstar in the matchup due to its ability to buff up your taunts quite well.
Pirate Miracle Rogue: Unfavored. I have had a lot of trouble against Rogues as Priest but that is how the two classes interact due to the very nature of the class mechanics where Priest is quite bad against combo style decks and with the added aggressiveness of the Pirate package you not only have to deal with aggressive minions early in the game but also against their stealthed threats and sometimes even Dragonfire Potion is not enough against large snowballing minions like Questing Adventurer that just keep growing every turn without offering any form of interaction.
Jade Druid: Heavily Favored: As long as they do not get absolutely crazy turns at the start of the game that Druid can pull off at times you are good to go. Their inability to deal with high threat minions makes Dragon Priest a solid contender to the deck and you want to apply as much pressure as possible each turn to close out the game quickly.
- Northshire Cleric
- Wyrmrest Agent
- Twilight Whelp
- Shadow Word: Pain
- Acidic Swamp Ooze
- Twilight Guardian (with good curve)
- Kabal Talonpriest (with good curve)
Dragon Priest is in a great spot right now and overall Priest is doing quite well in the meta. If you want to try climbing ranks fast with Priest then this is the deck to go with. While Reno Priest is definitely a viable option, games last quite long and it’s not really my kind of thing and the unfavored matchups flooding the meta for that deck makes me come back to Dragon Priest every single time! Hope you guys have a great time with the deck and let me know how it works out for you. Be sure to change things up to suit the meta and there are many tech choices that the deck allows for due to the open nature of deckbuilding the list has to offer and you can put cards in and out to suit yourself better against different metas. Until next time!