In the world of Warcraft, Priests come in two different forms – light and shadow. Light Priests are leet healers, while Shadow Priests can deal hardcore DPS. Like Hel in Smite, switching between light and shadow is the key to victory.
Here’s the Hearthstone Priest deck build I’m currently using:
0 Silence – In any role-playing or card game, Silence is pretty universal. Deactivating any buffs and costing no mana, Silence is a deadly card in a Hearthstone Priest’s arsenal. Silence can also be gained cheaply through an Ironbeak Owl minion.
When carrying two Silence cards in a Priest deck, it’s great to pair with an Ancient Watcher minion card. One of the Priest strengths is to play seemingly harmless minions that suddenly become very powerful after a spell or two. Silence can either ignite or extinguish this strategy.
Don’t waste Silence on an early-game minion with something simple you can easily heal through – wait for an end-game minion to dismantle.
1 Holy Smite – Costing one mana, Holy Smite is a 2-damage spell. Depending on the battle scenario, you never know where you’ll need to play this card. A common Priest strategy is to damage your own minions in order to heal them (a malady Eminem raps about called Munchhausen Syndrome.
Not only is a Hearthstone Priest afflicted with Munchhausen Syndrome, but he can also change very quickly between the light and shadow side, and I don’t mean that in a child-molestery way.
Both Shadow and Light Priests use Holy Smite the same way, and it’s a great card to begin a combo.
1 Inner Fire (x2) – Inner Fire is one of the most powerful Priest spells in Hearthstone, and I’ll typically carry two in a deck since it only costs one mana to play.
Inner Fire changes a minion’s Attack to be equal to their health, making dormant minions like Shieldbearer and Lightwell or low-hit/hi-health minions like Mogu’shan Warrior extremely dangerous. Save this spell for the right moment (typically right before attacking) in order to maximize damage while minimizing the chance for your opponent to react and destroy the minion.
Inner Fire can quickly create an end-game minion with one-hit-kill power. This is why I try to keep two, especially when using a low-dps deck.
1 Light of the Naaru – A powerful Rare Priest healing spell, Light of the Naaru costs 1 mana and heals 3 health. If the target is still damaged, a Lightwarden is summoned. This card is a great way to start a combo, and also great when paired with an Injured Blademaster (especially along with a Northshire Cleric).
When used before a healing combo, the Priest will end up with much more health, along with one or two high-powered Lightwardens.
Light of the Naaru isn’t a huge game-changer, but it can easily contribute to tipping the Hearthstone table back your way. Save this card for an optimal time, as Priests can easily outheal many damaging attacks that would cripple another class. The more damaged a Priest is, the more can be healed, and the more the Lightwarden will gain.
1 Power Word: Shield (x2) – A one-cost spell, Power Word: Shield instantly adds 2 health to a minion while drawing a card. This is an easy way to keep a minion from being killed early, giving an opportunity to heal them to gain more benefits.
Hearthstone opponents generally know to either kill a Priest’s minion or leave it be, because Priests feed off heals. Any OG WoW player will tell you DPS is a science, but healing is an art. With Power Word: Shield, you can throw your opponent off their game and keep minions alive long enough to heal.
When cast on Priest minions like Lightspawn, this card also increases Attack (as it would if used in conjunction with Inner Fire.
1 Lightwarden – A low-cost, Rare, one-mana minion, Lightwarden starts at 1/2, but gains +2 Attack any time a character is healed. Sometimes it’s fun to heal the enemy hero (or even one of his minions) just to troll and make a point, but Lightwardens do attract heavy aggro, so play them sparingly.
It’s possible to have up to 3 Lightwardens in your deck using Gift of the Naaru, which costs the same, and heals for 3 health as well.
Lightwardens are susceptible to AOE attacks (which they often draw). They can be quite annoying when placed behind a tank and nurtured. This isn’t a Priest-specific card, though Priests have the easiest use for them. Lightwardens are neutral minions that can find use in other Hearthstone decks as well (including a Shaman).
1 Northshire Cleric (2x) – I love having two Northshire Clerics in a Hearthstone Priest deck. A one-mana 1/3 minion, every time a minion is healed, Northshire Cleric draws a card. WIth a couple quick spells, this minion can be quickly amped up to one- or two-hit kill status.
When holding two in a deck, play at least the first Northshire Cleric as soon as possible. I’ll often reshuffle an entire hand just to maximize my odds of drawing one of these Priest minions to start the match. Blizzard’s “random” algorithms all but guarantee I’ll see the original starting hand again soon, and it’s nice to see what they’ll be.
This minion can survive Holy Smite, to start drawing cards early. Opponents know to kill this minion, and damage the hero until you can, so be sure to keep raising Northshire Cleric’s health to help it survive the aggro. This is a very high-aggro minion.
1 Shieldbearer – Since the Shieldbearer can’t attack, it seems like a good idea to place this minion early to spare a Priest 4 health, but save it for a later round.
This 0/4 minion can protect a Lightwell, survive a Light Bomb, and have its health doubled and attack set to equal health, very quickly making it a dangerous minion on the table.
When having to choose between a Lightwell and Shieldbearer, the only reason I’d choose the Shieldbearer, is if I’m hoping to cast Resurrect, so I’m only keeping the Shieldbearer alive to aggro a kill spell toward the Lightwell, so it’ll be more likely to be resurrected prior to the Shieldbearer dying.
Taunt draws immediate aggro, so this minion can create a delay or draw a spell card, regardless of when in the game its played. When given attack at the right time, a Shieldbearer can kill a minion or two, and it can be transformed to be deadly quick, though those spells are best used on another 0-attack minion (even a silenced Lightspawn).
2 Divine Spirit (x2) – Those little yellow minions in the Minions movie have no idea what the life of a video game minion is truly like. In games like Smite, minions are just fodder for the gods, while in Hearthstone, they’re cards in a hero’s hand. Priests hold minions in a different way, if the jests and whispers about them are true.
When caught with an underage minion, the Priest casts his Divine Spirit to double that minion’s health, making it (hopefully) of age. At a cost of 2 mana, it’s nice to have two of these cards in your hand, to either use on a 2nd minion after the first draws opponent aggro, or to really double the first minion.
A Lightwell or Lightspawn has 10 health after one of these spells, and 20 after two, and with two Power Word: Shield’s thrown in the mix at the beginning, you can get one of these minions up to 36 health with 6 mana. Inner Fire can make a LightWell, Shieldbearer, or Mogu’shan Warden much more deadly as well.
2 Mind Blast – A two-cost Priest spell, Mind Blast deals 5 damage to the enemy hero, and is best held until a kill round, or at least one round prior. This maximizes the effect of the spell and maintains card advantage.
Mind Blast isn’t affected by Shadowform or any other Shadow spells and effects, though it does gain power with Spell Damage increases, so it’s best paired with an Ancient Mage or other minion that increases Spell Damage.
If you receive Mind Blast at the start of the match, trade it in, as it’s too tempting to use in early rounds, but best saved until end-game. Don’t be surprised if you draw it out the deck again in a very early round, because Blizzard’s Hearthstone shuffling methods aren’t as regulated as Vegas (where the odds are only barely in your favor if you’re trying hard enough).
Though a low-cost card, Mind Blast is best used as a finishing move to catch an opponent off-guard. When you hit them in the face with the Mind Blast, the match will be over before they ever realize you already blew your hand’s load
2 Resurrect – A Rare Hearthstone Priest spell, Resurrect costs 2 Mana summons a random friendly minion that died earlier in the game. If drawn at the beginning of the match, trade this card in. If you end up having to keep it, use to keep the Northshire Cleric (or Shieldbearer, or even Lightwarden) alive through an inevitable death.
Players know to kill a Priest minion or don’t even bother, so expect a few one-hit kills before you’re able to gain a presence on the table. Playing this card at the right point in the match can tip the scales, allowing you to bring a minion back and (if you’re lucky) buff it beyond what even the original had.
Resurrect is also a great way to tell how well you’re doing late-game. If you’re winning or losing by too much, it’ll affect the randomness of the minions resurrected, so, much like when having a baby, try predicting which random minion will show up based on table position, who’s dominant, etc.
2 Shadow Word: Pain – It’s nice to have at least one Shadow Word: Pain card in your Priest build. I wouldn’t recommend less, because you’ll always find a time you wish you had one, and adding a second will almost inevitably match you with players using 4-attack minions.
Shadow Word: Pain costs 2 mana and destroys any minion with 3 or less attack. It’s great for killing a particularly annoying minion, especially one hiding behind a taunt character.
Saved for later in the game, This spell can destroy quite a few powerful, low-attack units, and it’s best to play like a sniper’s bullet. Priests have to be just as slick as Rogues, perhaps even more so – it’s easier to be slick with your hands than your words.
Shadow Word: Pain isn’t affected by Light or Shadow form, nor does spell damage change its effects. When building other heroes, remember Priests can assassinate or steal any minion at any given time, except early 4-attack minions.
2 Lightwell (2x) – A Rare Priest Minion, Lightwell costs 2 mana for a 0/5 minion that restores 3 health to a friendly character (including itself and the hero) at the start of your turn. Though unable to attack, the problem is easily remedied by Inner Fire, which makes a Lightwell more deadly than a Lightspawn.
With Resurrect, it’s possible to summon three Lightwells, which it may be necessary to do sometimes, as these healing machines draw aggro away from even the hero. If an opponent just keeps spreading damage around to each minion, they got nothing, keep healing, drawing cards, and hitting.
Hearthstone Priest cards don’t come much better than Lightwells pound-for-pound.
2 Wild Pyromancer – A Rare Neutral minion, Wild Pyromancer is a great addition to the Priest Hearthstone deck build. Costing 2 Mana, this 3/2 minion deals 1 damage to all minions after you cast every spell.
Wild Pyromancer is a great way to start damaging Northshire Clerics an opponent refuses to. It can also do massive aoe to the board that, when controlled with heals and even health-raising spells, Wild Pyromancer can make for a deadly matchup.
Wild Pyromancer doesn’t typically draw much aggro unless the lowest health minion. Many times, opponents just try weird strategies to use the minion’s power against you, and a Lightwell and Priest can easily outheal a Wild Pyromancer.
3 Shadow Word: Death – Shadow Word: Death costs 3 mana (as opposed to 2 for Shadow Word: Pain) and kills any mana with 5 or more attack.
Always kill a minion with whatever spells and minions you can spare before resorting to Shadow Word: Death. Carrying two draws low-minion opponents from Blizzard’s Hearthstone matchmaking system, so stick to one, and save it for end-game minions to throw an opponent off guard.
Remember a Priest can outheal many high-powered attacks, so don’t go using Shadow Word: Death on the first high-attack minion who comes along, especially when it can be killed in a round or two (or stolen, or mimicked, etc.) without incident. Save this card for those one- and two-hit kill megaminions every Priest must eventually face on a Hearthstone table.
4 Mindgames – Priests love playing mind games, and Mindgames the Hearthstone card brilliantly represents this in an artistic manner. A 4-cost spell, Mindgames puts a copy of a random minion from your opponent’s deck onto your side of the battlefield.
Mindgames is an Epic Priest spell that can be used to balance the odds when an opponent’s deck is stacked with difficult minions. when used too early in a match, odds increase of pulling a dud, but, like Deal or No Deal, you gotta take your chances.
Minions summoned through Mindgames don’t activate battlecry, which may eventually change as characters are constantly rebalanced and nerfed. For now Mindgames isn’t as useful as it could be, but I use and promote it to help raise awareness for gluten intolerance. Won’t somebody pleeease think of the glutens?!?!
4 Shadow Madness – Sometimes a Priest needs to turn your little ones against each other. A Rare Priest spell, Shadow Madness costs 4-mana and takes control of an opponent minion with 3 or less attack until the end of the turn.
Shadow Madness can be used any time a Priest wants to kill two minions with one card. It’s best used to protect a Lightwell, but it’s pretty hilarious any time you use it, much like Law’s walk-up-your-chest body slam in Tekken or Jigglypuff’s pass-out in Smash Bros.
You’ll know you played Shadow Madness right when you get an awed “Well Played” from your opponent.
4 Ancient Mage – Rather than carrying spell damage minions, I just keep an Ancient Mage in my Hearthstone Priest deck. Costing 4 mana, this Rare 2/5 Neutral minion is very basic, and ofren draws aggro, despite having lost all utility after dropping the affect.
Inner Fire can turn an Ancient Mage into another 5/5 minion in disguise Holding multiple low-attack/high-health minions increases the usefulness of Inner Fire, regardless of when it’s drawn.
The Ancient Mage can provide +2 spell damage, but in most use-cases, you’ll be lucky to see 1 spell damage left by the time you can actually cast a spell, except during end game. Best used in a Shadow Priest deck build, I use Ancient Mage in the heal-spec for his attack/health ratio.
4 Lightspawn – A 4-mana Priest-exclusive minion, Lightspawn is a 0/5 minion whose attack always equals its health. Each hit not only reduces health, it reduces attack power, so this spawn can grow and shrink quickly.
Priest spells are exceedingly useful for Lightspawns, doubling health, adding 2 additional, etc. keeping it on the board longer, doing maximum damage.
Lightspawn draw high aggro immediately, so be prepared to battle to keep this minion alive. If played at the right time when an opponent can’t instantly kill it, the Lightspawn can become a one-hit end game minion as described above.
4 Mogu’shan Warden – Adding more taunt to the Priest arsenal is the neutral Mogu’shan Warden minion. This 1/7 minion costs 4 mana to play and can be instantly amped up into an end-game minion just like the Lightspawn, Shieldbearer, and Lightwells above.
Instead of starting out with 5 health like the majority of the above, Mogu’shan Warden has 7 out the gate, making it easier to pull up to 30 damage.
Taunt draws high aggro, so be sure to keep heals on this minion to keep it alive as long as possible, while building up another defense if necessary.
Mogu’shan Warden shouldn’t be played alongside a Shieldbearer, as it attracts AOE spells, especially from Mages and Druids.
5 Holy Nova – A powerful Priest AOE spell, Holy Nova is similar ot a Paladin’s Consecrate spell, except it also heals all friendly characters. Use this spell to mass heal or dps as necessary, though it’ll more likely be used for DPS purposes in this particular Light Priest healing build.
Holy Nova is affected by both Spell Damage and Shadowform, so it can deal 2 damage to everyone or heal your side while dealin 3-4 damage to the other side.
Use Holy Nova to clear the table and start a new attack, hopefully with you in the lead this time. Don’t use Holy Nova when there’s only one minion that will be healed/damaged.
6 Holy Fire – Holy Fire deals 5 damage to any character of your choice while healing your hero for 5 damage. Shadowform makes this spell deal 5 damage to your hero, so be warned. Spell Damage raises the damage dealt by this spell.
Holy Fire costs 6 mana and is a Rare Priest-exclusive spell. It can be used to either damage (or kill) a high-health minion or the opposing hero, depending on the situation.
It doesn’t matter if the target doesn’t have 5 health, the spell will still heal the Priest for 5, independent of how much damage is dealt to a minion. Try not to be caught with this card at the beginning, because if you need to use it prior to level 10, you’re probably already going to lose.
6 Lightbomb – Although the US Government is likely monitoring me for using the term bomb on the Internet, it’s worth it to describe this Epic Priest Hearthstone spell card.
Costing 6 mana, Lightbomb deals damage to each minion equal to their own Attack. It’s like a giant version of the Three Stooges “Stop hitting yourself” gag.
This spell can quickly clear a table, and won’t do much damage to the high-health/low-attack minions contained in this particular Priest healing deck build.
Brian Penny is a former business analyst and operations manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has appeared in Huffington Post, BBC, Fast Company, The Street, Hardcore Droid, Cannabis Now, and more.