Yesterday we saw some highly significant leaks regarding the future of Hearthstone. According to accidentally published Polygon article, which was swiftly removed soon after, Hearthstone is getting a new class - Demon Hunter.
Besides details regarding the new class and its identity, said article also mentions some critical changes for one of the currently weaker classes in the game - Priest. Anduin and friends are getting some powerful buffs and new cards for the core set - Classic and Basic.
You can see these buffs nad new cards below:
Arguably, Power Word Shield is the only card that was nerfed rather than buffed, since the essential part of this card was its ability to cycle cheaply through the deck while allowing favorable trades. Bear in mind that 0-cost cards always find a way to end up in some broken combo decks, but I still think that this new version is weaker than the original.
In the early days of Hearthstone, Shadow Madness was a reliable card choice that could often trade 2-for-1 and even got some Deathrattle value from the stolen minion. But then came the power creep, and this card fell behind, with the price that simply wasn't justifying slot in the deck. And, to be honest, I don't think it will see much play event with the new cost of 3 mana. But, at least it can be considered as an option if the meta is fast, and with a lot of small minions that can add to the value, like ones with "deathrattle" or "when takes damage" positive effects. Because I think that putting Shadow Madness in the deck just for the 2-for-1 trades is not enough anymore, but I could be wrong, and it depends heavily on the meta.
Temple Enforcer (or Tempo Enforcer, how arena players like to call him), was always a strong choice in the Arena, and an auto-pick whenever it was offered in the draft, with solid six mana 6/6 body, and crucial +3 HP buff, which allowed Priest to do some severe tempo swings and often win the game with that value trade enabled by Enforcer. However, he was never really a competitor for any serious Constructed meta deck. Now, he'll be one mana cheaper with only one less attack, which actually might make him an exciting option for some Tempo Priest builds, and I'm confident that we'll see at least some experimentation with him in Constructed. Being able to play him turn earlier is a downright strong tempo play that could win the games on the spot.
Thoughtsteal being one mana cheaper is a long overdue buff this card deserved, if we compare it with dozens of new cards that cost two mana with "put 2 XY cards into the hand" effects. It will still be a meme card, strong mostly in the Arena, especially in the late game when you need some answers and value, but that's about it.
Holy Nova will now cost one less mana, and that's quite a buff for the card. It won't do damage to the enemy hero anymore, but that was never really that important, except in some rare cases where it was just enough for lethal damage. In the dark times for Priest (first few years of Hearthstone), this was the only way for Priest to deal with early boards, and as you can imagine, it wasn't precisely neither sufficient nor fast enough. Now at four mana, it can actually be quite an excellent way to clear some early enemy boards and heal you a little bit.
Holy Smite is getting a small redesign, which won't let this card to be used as a burst with Prophet Velen, but will now be far more efficient as a minion removal. For one mana, three damage to a minion is an excellent early game removal. If meta is aggressive/fast enough, this new version of the card will always find its place as an answer to those critical early minions, especially in combination with Wild Pyromancer, for some extra AoE damage.
Shadow Word: Death was already a reliable card in the right meta, and with even lower mana price, it will continue to be a staple choice for many Priest archetypes. Removing Giants or other big minions for only two mana, and without any conditions, is now probably the most efficient way of dealing with big threats in the game, and for sure will give even more edge to Preist in control vs. control matchups.
Now, let's look at the new cards. It's important to note that these cards are not from the new expansion, but will be added to Basic/Classic sets instead. We still don't know which cards will be replaced and send to the Wild format, but we can guess.
As if Death buff wasn't enough, Preist is getting a new Shadow Word card for the Classic set - Shadow Word: Ruin. It's an AoE big minion removal for only four mana, which is insanely strong and will make any opponent think twice before committing more than two big minions on the board at once. Even then, this card serves its purpose since it allows for tempo plays in the late game - remove two significant threats for only four mana, and still have six mana to play some of your mid-sized minions to seize the tempo. Another important thing with this card is that Priest is finally getting god and reliable AoE removal in the core set, which opens up the space for other attractive non-AoE cards in future expansions. One of the notorious Priest design flaws was the lack of good core AoE card, which led to printing insane AoE Priest spells in basically every single expansion: Lightbomb, Excavated Evil, Mass Hysteria, Plague of Death, Dragonfire Potion, Psychic Scream, and others.
Scarlet Subjugator is an interesting card. We already saw this type of effect on various Priest cards (And Warlock's Curse of Weakness), and most of those cards found their way into at least one meta deck. Subjugator is somewhat of a tempo card which will allow some good trades for tempo decks, but on its own, it doesn't do anything. Although it cost one mana, it's not a turn one play, but primarily a tool you use at the right moment. It comes with 2/1 body, which is nice, but it's really not that important, and in that regard, a card like Pint-Size Potion was much, much stronger than this. Ultimately, I don't think that it will see too much play in constructed, only as an activator for cards like Shadow Madness, Cabal Shadow Priest, and others with similarly conditioned effects.
Psychic Conjurer is really just a filler card. There's not much to say about it. It will be a good pick in Arena, and it might be an option in some priest deck, but I bet that it won't see a lot of play.
On the other hand, Kul Tiras Chaplain looks like a powerful tempo card. As a matter of fact, one of the strongest new Priest cards we saw yesterday. It's basically two-mana 2/5, which is insane for tempo. But even better, because you can make some rage-inducing (for your opponent) early board states that can quickly snowball the game from that point. Since Kul Tiras Chaplain will be part of the classic set, and therefore always an option in Standard format, Tempo Preist variations will always be a healthy option for the meta, if provided with proper support in expansions, of course.
If you played Hearthstone during the Old Gods expansion, you probably remember card Power Word: Tentacles. That card never really saw too much play, except in Arena sometimes, and for one apparent reason - 5 mana was simply too expensive for the effect it provides. Well, now the core set is getting this card - Power Infusion. It's the same effect, but one mana cheaper, and let me tell you, this card scares me. Snowball potential of it is insane in the early game when you can even coin it out turn three on some minion with 2 or 3 Health and create a monstrosity with 7-8 Health at the turn 3. My guess is that this card will be a staple of any Tempo/Combo Preist (if combo Priest will still exist), and it will be a powerhouse in Arena, where the early tempo is everything. In fact, I think that this card will be so strong in the Arena, that will eventually be banned from it.
And finally, let's take a look at the new Priest Classic Legendary. First of all, this almost certainly means that Prophet Velen is going to the Hall of Fame, as he will be replaced in Classic with this card - Natalie Seline. It's hard not to see Vol'jin when you look at this card. Vol'jin was Priest legendary from GvG set, and one of my favorites at the tame. He was five mana 6/2 with effect to swap Health with another minion. He was somewhat an efficient removal/tempo minion, but you didn't always have two damage to remove minion you swapped Health with, so it was sometimes awkward to use him properly.
Natalie removes that awkwardness and has +2 Attack, but is that enough? I think that it is! This card is powerful if meta shifts back to big minions and control vs. control games. Being able to remove one massive threat from the opponent while playing your significant threat was always a valuable perk in Hearthstone, and this card is the definition of it. Imagine killing Ysera with it (12hp), or any of the Giants. It gives you both a strong tempo swing and value (1-for-0 trade). Sure, it's a pricey card, and it can be clunky to play it sometimes, or sometimes will maybe come too late, but in general, it will often bring you a lot of value and tempo on the board.
That's it! These are all new Priest cards and changes! What are your thoughts? Do you agree with us, and do you have something to add? Write your opinion in the comments!