How to Play Combo Priest in Hearthstone
While Hearthstone has lost a decent chunk of its popularity in recent years, it remains one of the most played online CCGs (collectible card game). With each expansion, new cards are added to bolster existing strategies or invent new ones for players to use. Combo Priest has been one of the most popular Priest deck variants since the game’s inception, and every new card is an opportunity for its resurgence in the Wild metagame.
Here’s what you need to know about playing Combo Priest decks in Hearthstone.
How to Play Combo Priest on Hearthstone?
Combo Priest has been mostly relegated to the Wild format. The deck’s strongest cards are found in the Basic and Classic set and were moved to the “Hall of Fame” to make the deck less oppressive in the Standard format. This allows Priest players to concoct new decks for the Standard metagame that is more balanced and has room for improvement and interactivity. Recent expansions have done little to encourage Combo Priest’s resurgence in Standard, but some of the basic concepts still apply.
The deck itself features a mix of proactive and reactive cards. The player needs to have control over the board and gain an incremental advantage until the required cards (known as “combo pieces”) can be deployed in one turn to finish off the opponent. Priest players can accomplish this in various ways, aided by the class’s strong removal options and significant board clear potential.
Here’s our starting Combo Priest build for Wild format:
- 2x Circle of Healing
- 2x Power Word: Shield
- 1x Topsy Turvy
- 2x Northshire Cleric
- 2x Lightwarden
- 2x Inner Fire
- 2x Wild Pyromancer
- 2x Injured Tol’vir
- 2x Divine Spirit
- 2x Shadow Visions
- 2x Shadow Word: Pain
- 2x Acolyte of Pain
- 2x Cabal Shadowpriest
- 2x Injured Blademaster
- 2x Velen’s Chosen
- 1x High Priest Amet
You can change some of the cards to make a more Dragon-oriented combo deck, swap out minions for different options, or go for a more traditional control-based approach.
No matter how you decide to build the deck, some cards are a mainstay and can’t be replaced easily. These include:
- Northshire Cleric: One of Priest’s strongest low-cost minions and the primary value engine that allowed the deck to have a significant presence in previous Standard metagames.
- Inner Fire: This card sets the minion’s Attack to be equal to its Health. It’s one of the main combo pieces since Priests don’t have trouble getting their minions to astronomical Health values given enough resources.
- Divine Spirit: This simple spell, in conjunction with a few more Health booster and heals, can make even a small minion into a formidable Health shield.
- Power Word: Shield: Although this card has been nerfed significantly (it used to draw a card as a part of its effect), it’s still a potent, low-cost piece that allows your minions to outlive trades and sets up the combo for later turns.
- Topsy Turvy: This card is usually used as a cheaper replacement for Inner Fire.
- Shadow Visions: This spell allows you to snag a combo piece from your deck, effectively replacing a missing card in your hand.
The deck works by setting up a board presence with high-Health minions, casting a Power Word: Shield (or two, if available), two copies of Divine Spirit, and Inner Fire to bring the minion’s Attack up enough to one-shot the enemy hero. On a 3-Health minion (such as the Northshire Cleric), this combo gives a 28 Attack minion, nearly enough to kill a full-Health opponent without any armor.
Removal and Card Draw
In addition to Core Pieces, the deck relies on a mix of removal cards that clear the opponent’s board for low cost or give you abundant card draw in the process. These cards can include:
- Wild Pyromancer: One of the deck’s ways to both push for board presence and remove the opponent’s minions.
- Acolyte of Pain: When used with Wild Pyromancer, the Acolyte can provide you with enough card draw to keep refueling your hand.
- Circle of Healing: This is one of the innocuous-looking spells that takes timing and mastery to utilize effectively.
- Mass Hysteria: This card efficiently removes most minions from the board, but has a strong random component.
- Psychic Scream: This card clears the board and prevents Deathrattle effects.
- Shadow Word: Pain, Shadow Word: Death, Shadow Word: Ruin: These spells are simple ways to eliminate problematic minions.
Minions to Buff
The deck also makes use of high-Health minions that can survive enemy attacks and are prime targets for Inner Fire and Divine Spirit:
- High Priest Amet: This potent legendary not only has 7 Health to begin with, but any future minions you play will also mirror its current Health. If you buff him with a spell or two, you can spread the effect around and not rely on a single minion to start the combo.
- Injured Blademaster: One of the minions that started the deck archetype. Since Priest doesn’t lack minion healing effects, this is a low-cost, high-Health minion that is an excellent target for stat buffs.
- Injured Tol’vir: The Tol’vir has Taunt to protect your more vulnerable minions from enemy attacks and costs less mana than the Blademaster.
- Psychopomp: While this minion is more vulnerable, it grants you a copy of a minion that died that can give you a second shot or provide additional value. With Amet in play, both minions will get his colossal Health boost.
- Neferset Ritualist: Heals adjacent minions, usually the Tol’virs or Blademasters.
- Kabal Talonpriest: While this minion doesn’t have as much Health, it gives another minion +3 Health.
- Stormwind Knight, Crabrider, or Escaped Manabaser: These minions have keywords that make them attractive options in the deck. The Knight has Charge so you can attack immediately upon summoning him, allowing you to execute the combo in one turn. The Manabaser has Stealth and can sit idly on the board until the right moment to strike. The Crabrider has Windfury and costs significantly less, allowing for deployment of the one-shot combo sooner.
Other combo pieces rely on getting you the most value from your spells or providing additional avenues of attack, like:
- Lightwarden: If you’re capable of protecting this fragile minion with Health buffs and healing, it can boost its Attack to extraordinary values with a few mass-healing spells.
- Test Subject: If you can kill this minion (or the enemy does it for you), you get all the cards you used on it back into your hand. You can then use the minion and a few buffs to stall the game and give a false target.
- Radiant Elemental: Makes your spells cost less mana. Multiples can stack and allow you to cycle through spells and make the overall combo much easier to pull off.
- Vivid Nightmare: Copies a minion with 1 Health remaining. If used on a Test Subject, it will remember the spells you cast on it, effectively doubling the Deathrattle effect once both die.
- Sethekk Veilweaver: This minion rewards you with free spells when you target your minions with spells.
- Renew: An inexpensive healing effect that replaces itself with a situational card (or a combo piece you don’t have one).
The Dragon Package
You can also use a package of Dragon minions and related spells to get incremental board presence and strong options to use in the mid-game.
- Twilight Drake
- Twilight Whelp
- Cleric of Scales: This is a minion that can provide you with a copy of a combo piece spell that you lack. It can be played early, and you won’t mind it dying.
- Breath of the Infinite: An efficient board clear.
- Duskbreaker: Commonly called “board clear on a stick,” this minion doubles as area damage and a minion to use for comboing off.
- Netherspite Historian: A replaceable minion that can give you some of the strongest minions in the game if you have a Dragon in hand.
- Drakonid Operative: Stat-efficient Dragon that provides card advantage.
The Best Combo Priest Tips, Combos and Synergies
Combo Priest is a slow deck that requires good timing and game knowledge to operate at full capacity. Most of your cards will be rather weak on their own and require other cards to be more useful or even deadly.
There are few main synergies that power the combo deck and make it easier to gain board and card advantage:
- Wild Pyromancer + Acolyte of Pain+ Power Word: Shield: You get to draw a card from the Wild Pyromancer’s trigger, and Power: Word Shield is a 0-cost spell. The combo costs five mana to start with, and every additional spell used draws another card so long as both minions live.
- Wild Pyromancer + Power Word: Shield + Northshire Cleric + Circle of Healing: This combo gives you as many cards as there are minions in play. If you add a Lightwarden to the mix, you can quickly get its Attack into double digits.
- Northshire Cleric + Divine Spirit: The Cleric is one of the best minions to start in your hand, and even a threat of comboing off in the early game can make the opponent spend a lot of resources to kill it. Divine Spirit will keep the Cleric healthier for longer. You can use a Power Word: Shield beforehand to provide even more Health.
- Injured Tol’vir or Injured Blademaster + Northshire Cleric + Circle of Healing: Not only do your damaged minions go to full Health, but you get to draw cards from the Cleric.
The deck is not easy to play, but here are some tips to start off:
- Always mulligan for low-cost, versatile creatures. Inner Fire is only really useful once you can execute the combo.
- Keeping the board clear from enemy minions is often the key to win. Don’t hesitate to remove your minions in the process, you can usually make backups relatively soon.
- Topsy Turvy can kill 0-Attack minions or soften high-Health targets.
- Inner Fire will set a minion’s Attack to its Health. You can turn a high-Attack low-Health minion into a non-issue in dire situations.
- Shadow Visions is exceptionally versatile but costly. You can fetch a removal spell in dire need or look for a missing piece. Use it in advance to utilize the available mana more effectively.
What Is a Combo Priest?
A Combo Priest is a deck that largely sticks to its game plan and only disrupts the opponent when necessary. You’re not looking to trade resources unless you absolutely need to, and every card in the deck will either enable the combo or prevent the opponent from killing you before you can do so.
Combo Priest decks have come and gone as new cards got introduced, but always relied on the base cards that pump a minion to obscene stats. You can tinker with other minions and cards to get more value and adjust to the metagame, but you usually won’t be able to go without the core package.
What Is the Best Card for Priest?
Many cards have been called “the best” over the years, usually as the meta changed and other cards allowed for interesting synergies and combos. The Northshire Cleric is one of the more notable minions. It was moved to the Hall of Fame since it significantly narrowed the class’s gameplay options when it was available in Standard decks.
Get Your Combo Off in Hearthstone
Combo Priest can be one of the most rewarding and fastest decks to play in the Wild format, but it requires time to learn and develop good strategies on the go. If you’re a new player and want to try the deck out, keep working to perfect the game plan and swap out cards based on the current metagame. There are several ways to build the deck, and each one has its advantages and drawbacks.
What is your favorite Combo Priest deck? Let us know in the comment section below.