I finally hit legend rank.
I grinded to 5 using miracle rogue and a weird reincarnate shaman deck. Then Mad Scientist came out and everyone started playing Hunter. At this point, I switched to priest because I had the right legendary cards and it seemed broken with Dark Cultist. It started as a cookie cutter, Amaz style priest deck but it still kept losing to hunters. For a brief period, I experimented with a weird Ancient Watcher/Silence deck. It showed some promise but was just too weak to Buzzard/Unleash the Hounds. I fluctuated between rank 2 and rank 4 for about a week. By the end, I got so frustrated that I basically said fuck it and put in 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze and 1x Shadow Madness solely to counter Hunter.
The moment I did that, my win rate shot up. I managed to get from middle of rank 3 to 5 star rank 1 in just one day. It then took me 5 attempts at 5 star rank 1 to break into legendary. Overall it took around 80 wins with priest, which put me at about a 60% win rate. However, this included about 40 games where I stalled out at rank 3-4, so I measure the current variation is probably 65-70%.
With a hunter heavy meta, everyone plays either Hunter or the counter to Hunter (currently Control Warrior). So as long as you can break even with one of those classes while winning the other, you will surely but slowly climb. The stupid thing is that my original intention of including Ooze was to hard counter Hunter. Even with two copies of Ooze I still barely maintained a 50% win rate against them. What ended up happening was that I basically won every game I played against Warrior. Paladins were even easier, as Ooze > Truesilver Champion. Priest is already pretty strong against Zoo and nobody plays mage. Unfortunately, I lost every game I played against Reincarnate Shaman and Miracle Rogue. I don’t feel like those match ups are unusually bad for me I just couldn’t seem to draw well against them.
The core of the deck is pretty similar to any standard Priest deck.
2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
Should be obvious but Ooze counters weapons.
1x Mind Control
I think playing 1x Mind Control is 100% correct when laddering. The reason I think this is that it’s literally an “I win” card whenever you are matched against another control deck that doesn’t play it. Yes, 10 mana is expensive, it’s a terrible card to draw early, and it’s useless against super aggro decks even if you survive to 10 mana. However, most of the time 1 dead card in hand isn’t going to lose you the game. Losing 1 game against an aggro because you got Mind Control instead of a Holy Nova sucks, but winning 5 matches because you Mind Control the Warrior’s Alexstraza or Ragnaros is worth it.
1x Shadow Madness
I was really impressed with the utility of this card. It’s fantastic against aggro as it can constantly trade 2 for 1 and every now and then you get the dream scenario. In the less than impressive case it kills one of their guys and denies a deathrattle.
Mulligan for early game plays like Ooze, Dark Cultist, and Wild Pyromancer. Shadow Madness and Holy Smite are best if you can get lucky. Never have more than two creatures in play once the Hunter gets 5 mana to play around Buzzard/Unleash. When turn 6 or 7 comes around, you need to kill Highmane as soon as it drops, with Holy Fire, SW:Death, or just running your guys in. If he plays another one after you clear the first, you’re probably dead.
Something I always do is play Northshire Cleric on turn 1. This might just be incorrect but over time I felt it was right. It works because it often denies early Webspinner and Haunted Creeper. It’s very important to do this, as it keeps the board clear of beasts for Houndmaster. It sometimes backfires and just dies for free. However, I tend to want to stall out Hunters and Northshire Cleric doesn’t matter too much.
The overall goal is to just maintain board control with 2 units on the board while stalling till turn 10. Then once it gets to that stage, hope you can Mind Control a Highmane.
Mulligan for early game plays like Ooze and Dark Cultist. Always throw away Northshire Cleric and never play it early. Dark Cultist is a great card because it tanks War Axe like a champ. Cabal Shadow Priest is an all star in this matchup as it steals Acolyte of Pain and Armorsmith for super value. Overall, this matchup is incredibly easy since Ooze denies their weapons and you can normally seize board control. This forces the Warrior to waste Shield Slam and Execute on your 3-5 drops, leaving your legendaries to get major value. If things don’t work out early, you always have Mind Control to steal their 9 drops and basically win any game
Mulligan for Injured Blademaster and Dark Cultist. If you get ahead on board, it’s hard for the other Priest to regain control without committing one of their legendaries. The goal of this matchup is to make the opponent use their legendaries or Mind Control 1 turn before you do. This deck isn’t that greedy (e.g. I only play 2 Legendaries + Mind Control. I went up against people playing 4-5 Legendaries + Mind Control) so sometimes you will just lose. However, most Priests run the standard Sylvannas + Ragnaros and you will almost always beat those.
Mulligan for early drops like Ooze, Dark Cultist, and Blademaster. Northshire Cleric turn 1 is actually OK since it denies their hero power until turn 4 when they Truesilver. As I mentioned earlier, Ooze wins this matchup straight up for you. Just don’t commit too much to the board and die to a massive Equality/Consecrate. Keep 2-3 units max on the board and keep them healed up. Save Mind Control for Tirion.
Reincarnate on Cairne or Sylvannas, 2x hex and Earth Shock silence is probably too much for you to handle. Cabal Shadow Priest is probably good to deal with their deathrattles. I only played Shaman twice the entire time so I don’t have much insight into this matchup.
Mulligan for Loatheb and low drops to apply pressure or protect against aggro. Blademaster/Circle of Healing is incredibly strong, as they have to waste Sap or 2-3 cards just to remove it. Save Ooze for deadly poison or the 3/5 weapon. Hold onto Sludge Belcher until the last possible minute so you can deny the Leeroy combo and at minimum force them to Sap it first, thus reducing the total combo damage.
Assume Zoo and mulligan for 2 and 3 drops. Shadow Madness single handedly wins games here if you can grab a deathrattle guy. This deck has a lot of low cost creatures that can trade with Zoo early until your AOE board clear comes online, so it’s not the worst matchup. You will lose if they curve out, but that’s pretty much how Zoo works.
I only played against two secret Mages but from what I could gather, you treat it like another aggro deck. Mulligan for low drops and try to wrestle away board control. Bait out Counterspell with low mana cost spells like HW:Shield or Circle of Healing. Not much insight here.
Cabal Shadow Priest gets serious value here, as Harvest Golems and the Keeper of the Grove are great to steal. Ditto for Shadow Madness. Save your Northshires for midgame to try and draw multiple cards.