Build Your Dragon Priest

Playing ladder hurts. No change there. Old cancer decks were replaced by new. Several weeks in, it seems that Paladins reign and the secret throne is real. But what are your options if you want to have a good winrate against them, yet not play Patron Warrior? You might have considered Dragon Priest. But the moment you search for it and try to find a “good version”, you find conflicting decklists, huge arguments and massive reddit threads considering the dilemmas of Lightbombs, differing three drops and dragon choices. So which version is the best? We can’t answer that yet, but what we can do is try and compare the existing options.

Let’s start at the bottom.

How is the playstyle? Dragon Priest is specific. It plays similarly to the Deathrattle Priest, which was a thriving board control archetype before Undertaker was nerfed. The main theme is keeping board control through favorable trades and healing your minions back up. Dragons have traditionally high healthpools and now we have low costing dragons ready so we can curve out and play minions instead of sitting around and waiting for a good AoE turn. Dragon Priest has an extremely strong curve if everything is going right and by building our deck tight and slick, we can ensure that pretty well.

These are the cards you definitely want to include and have no reason to remove:
dragon framework
That’s 22 cards that create the framework for your deck.

You have the basic removal, good, synergistic minions, card draw and a finisher. Afterwards the problems start.

You have several paths to choose from and your choices heavily influence the playstyle of your new priest. You want two to three 3 drops. Which ones though? You play four buffs, so Bane sisters (Eydis Darkbane, Fjola Lightbane) are an interesting option. Dark Cultists are always a good choice and also the middle ground.

Here’s where the things start to get interesting though: you might go for Blackwing Technicians, but then you want more dragons to ensure their activation turn 3. You need nine dragons in your deck to have a 90% chance of holding one in your hand turn three. Our framework has 7 dragons. Inclusion of one to two more dragons is therefore preferable. That also helps our other synergistic cards.
But then you might think: how about Deathlords? Well now. Hating on aggro, eh? Sure, let’s try them! And if there’s an AoE clear that Deathlords like, it’s Lightbomb. Lightbomb is also good against 4 out of 5 current top decks on the ladder. So why not include them? Because you’re suddenly finding yourself 4 cards closer to 30, your three drop slots are full, you still haven’t teched against a lot of things and Deathlords suck against many control decks! And even then, they are not bulletproof or you might not like them in the first place!
Let’s mix it up even more. How about the flexible option of Shrinkmeisters + Shadow Madness + Cabal Shadow Priests? Ysera is ever popular and you can hardly trade her away unless you Cabal her. It’s very much a win condition in mirror matchups. If you don’t play these minions, then you want a Vol'jin so you can trade Ysera gone easily. But with Vol'jin, a Holy Smite is also helpful. How about that Sylvanas Windrunner though? Isn’t Chillmaw better than her against aggro while keeping dragon synergy?

Getting lost? I sure am.

Let’s get some visualization going. Here are the paths we have opened:

Our Blackwing Technicians require synergy, so we had to include 9 dragons total to ensure their activation. Therefore we need some good removals to fill the rest of the deck. A third solid three drop helps.

Eydis Darkbane
Fjola Lightbane
Cabal Shadow Priest
Holy Smite
Sylvanas Windrunner

Defender of Argus has good synergy with Sylvanas Windrunner and Deathlords silences by aggro. This version is relatively weak in mirror matchup.
Either ignore this and solidify further against weapon classes using Harrison Jones or try to improve it by adding
Cabal Shadow Priest x2
but cutting
Defender of Argus
Dark Cultist
Harrison Jones

Let’s conclude this article with a few final words: test the different iterations yourself. Their playstyles differ, the winrates differ. Play the one that suits you and be one of the players who revive Priest as a ladder class. Always play for board control. Or try including Loatheb and going for face more. Try defining the problems of the deck and help refining it. The deck is flexible and fun, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Comment with any ideas you have and post what you think. And last but not least, good luck and have fun.

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