Hearthstone at its core is a game that people should have fun with, but that can get bogged down in the pursuit of competitive meta strategies. Thus, I humbly present Memes and Dreams, a series on Out of Cards looking to bring some good ol' memey fun into people's Hearthstone experiences. Each week we will do a deep dive on a different 'for fun' deck, discussing the basic ideas of the deck, what makes it tick, and roughly how to pilot it. This week we spice up Control Priest with the latest and greatest in Corruption technology.
0-Mana Many-Eyed Tentacled Purple People Eater
I know it might be something of a controversial opinion, but I really like Control Priest. Priest is able to satiate my strongest desires for greed and value with its numerous board clears, healing, and card generation. However, I admit that I long for a Priest win-condition beyond simply outlasting the opponent through plebian methods (or Inner Fire shenanigans). When I go greedy, I want to do it with flair and style, which are things Priest has not always excelled in. When Madness at the Darkmoon Faire was introduced, Priest was shown as a class with the most Corrupt cards and some potentially strong Corrupt synergy via cost-reduction effects like Palm Reading and Insight. This identity was hammered home with the latest Dark Inquisitor Xanesh, which pushes mana cheating to an extreme level. Although Priest's Corrupt cards are admittedly a tad lackluster, Horrendous Growth is uniquely positioned to benefit greatly from Xanesh and Priest's card generation. It is now very easy to reduce Horrendous Growth to 0-mana, meaning that any card you play that costs more than 0 will corrupt Growth, allowing it to live up to its 'Horrendous' name and function as an exciting win-condition to enhance Control Priest's infamously slow gameplay.
The Meme - Engage in the typical Control Priest gameplay loop of hero-power and emoting in the early-game and board-clearing/healing in the mid-late-game.
The Dream - When the time is right, let loose your Horrendous Growth and watch your opponent marvel at the absolute unit of a minion you just played. At a minimum, you want to achieve the 15/15 stat achievement, but remember this thing can be infinitely large. Even Jade Golems cap at 30/30. My personal record for Growth is 31/31, bigger than The [B]Ancient One!
Warlock has Tickatus as a win-con, Warrior has Rattlegore as a sticky ball of stats, we have Horrendous Growth. As with all singular balls of stats, this runs into the problem of simply being removed. Thus it is advised to bait out enemy board control with other minions or until you have the second copy to grow.
Galakrond, the Unspeakable and his followers play a key role in this deck as a value engine. Infinite value from Invoking and his hero power give this deck an edge against other slow decks and doubles as a way to infinitely scale Horrendous Growth. Normally Growth might have a difficult time reaching huge amounts of stats, but continuously generating new cards that definitely cost more than 0 lets Growth amass beyond the extent of many other decks.
Dark Inquisitor Xanesh adds a great deal of consistency to the deck by priming all Horrendous Growths in deck or hand for infinite corruption. It similarly makes Insight and Fairground Fool exceptionally easy Corrupts. Without Xanesh, the deck would have to heavily rely on drawing Growth via Corrupted Insight or Fate Weaver discounts, which are both much harder to achieve than a global cost reduction.
Y'Shaarj is more or less a staple in any deck that heavily relies on Corrupted cards due to his ability to get them back in the late-game and play them the same turn. Getting Horrendous Growths back is imperative to outlasting Control decks, but the other cards he gets back are bit iffy. Fairground Fool is a hearty Taunt that's nice to help stabilize, but you generally don't want to be playing Insight in the late-game for fear of milling yourself.
Illucia is very tricky to use and somewhat skill-testing, but plays a key role in helping in Control and Combo matchups. If you're really good at reading your opponent's plays and predicting what they have in their hand, you can upheave their game plan and potentially cause them to concede on the spot. Uniquely to this deck though, Illucia can help guarantee the enemy won't have hard removal for your big Growth turns. This deck runs relatively light on hard removal so that there are more opportune times to play Illucia and stick your Growths. Illucia is also made much easier to play with the many discount opportunities in the deck.
A surprise third Honorable Mention! Another new card joining Xanesh from the Darkmoon Races mini-set. Hysteria is a nice Control tool on its own, but in combination with a massive Horrendous Growth, you can clear almost any enemy board and is reminiscent of Battlegrounds. It's kinda like a DIY Deathwing, Mad Aspect except the leftover body is even bigger. It's also very helpful as a 'board clear' that is safe to give to your opponent through Illucia since they will have a much harder time making use of it unless you dropped two evenly sized Growths.
Budget / Alternate Options
Soul Mirror should be the first Legendary to go if you're looking to cut down on cost for this deck specifically. It's a generally good card that will likely see play in Control Priest until it rotates, but it doesn't do anything especially important for this deck. Plague of Death isn't super cheap but works as a good replacement. Shadow Word: Ruin and Holy Nova are also both very good options for board clears. Ruin if you're struggling against other late-game decks, Nova if you want extra help against aggro. Kronx Dragonhoof can be replaced in a similar fashion since he is used as a late-game board control tool. Losing the option for the 6/6 + 8/8 Taunt is unfortunate, but sometimes you gotta cut costs.
Speaking of hurtful cost cuts, Y'Shaarj, the Defiler, Dark Inquisitor Xanesh, and Mindrender Illucia are all very difficult to find replacements for. Illucia could be replaced by the board clear options discussed earlier, or you could slot in something like Mindflayer Kaahrj or Madame Lazul. Neither are budget, but they make decent proactive early-game plays. On the cheap end, you could use more Corrupt cards such as Auspicious Spirits or Darkmoon Dirigible to get more value out of Xanesh and Y'Shaarj. Y'Shaarj can be roughly replaced with Raise Dead or even Rally! since both have the ability to get your Horrendous Growths back, albeit in a much less reliable fashion. Xanesh's role in the deck can't really be replaced, so we'll have to settle for generally good cards like Convincing Infiltrator. Shadow Word: Pain, Shadow Madness, and Forbidden Words are especially good since they won't be able to kill Growth if you swap with Illucia.
Fate Weaver is the only Epic card in the deck other than Horrendous Growth and is similarly difficult to replace to Xanesh, as both offer unique discount benefits. Any of the aforementioned board control or generally good cards can make good replacements, but you could also try something like Twilight Drake since your hand will likely be full most of the time. If you're replacing a lot of cards the Cabal Acolyte + Wave of Apathy combo makes for a good tech against decks with big minions such as Control Warrior or Libram Paladin.
Galakrond is the most reliable value engine and is fantastic for building up Horrendous Growth, but a Thief Priest package could also work as it generates several cards at a time and can still provide good value against Control decks. Dragon synergy can also amplify this since Cobalt Spellkin, Draconic Studies, and Skeletal Dragon also supply more cards, but it will be a bit harder to cheapen Growth without Fate Weaver. I thought about taking this down a Miracle Priest route but ran into the problem of spells costing too little to reliably Corrupt Growth. You could also tool this deck to be much more centered around getting more Growths instead of bigger ones with cards like Raise Dead, Rally!, Grave Rune, Psychopomp, or even Unsleeping Soul since silence doesn't remove Growth's buffs.
This deck has a handful of heavy cards that are complete dead draws against aggro and can make this matchup a bit difficult. Disciple of Galakrond, Renew, Breath of the Infinite, and Penance are the main ways you will be able to stabilize the early game board and keep yourself healthy enough to survive late. Fairground Fool is a bit tricky to corrupt in this matchup unless you draw him off of Insight, so don't be afraid to play him as a lackluster 4/3 Taunt if you're really hurting. Dropping a Corrupted one can be very difficult for opponents to deal with and can go a long way in helping you stay alive. Hysteria can also be a bit tricky yo get used out of since their minions are likely to be aggressively statted and will kill each other after one hit, which is fine and makes this card essentially a Ramming Speed. If you can, try to wait for a Giant to drop and try to clear the board that way. Horrendous Growth will likely need to be played for tempo, but even getting it to ~5/5 or 6/6 is pretty good in this matchup and can make favorable trades.
Here is where you can chase the Dream and make as big a Growth as possible. Try to pace yourself and draw out removals before playing either Growth unless you already have Y'Shaarj, the Defiler in your hand. Control decks have plenty of hard removals and will be able to overlook Growth's massive statline with cards like Coerce, Cascading Disaster, or Devolving Missiles (this on hurts the most). Galakrond and his cronies are especially good here as they can bait out removals by generating other powerful minions and outvaluing the opponent. You can either let the Growth rip when you think they've used all their removal or when you have Mindrender Illucia ready to make sure that they don't have any. Illucia is also helpful if you know they have something ready to go that you can steal, namely Tickatus. If all else fails, you can simply try to outvalue them in a typical Galakrond Priest fashion and just run them out of resources.
This matchup is pretty bad. This deck is exceptionally slow and has very few ways the threaten the opponent prior to growing the Horrendous Growths. Try to threaten as much as possible and keep your health as high as possible just in case they can pull off a smaller version of their combo earlier. The main thing to do in this matchup is praying you draw Illucia. Illucia will allow you to dismantle their combo and render them roughly harmless. The tricky part is knowing when to play Illucia and reducing her cost to the point of being able to play enough combo pieces that they can't use it. There are some tells or opportunities that will make themselves known, such as a Demon Hunter using Felosophy or a Warrior drawing a ton of cards in one turn with Battle Rage, but the timing can be tricky since some combos can come online as early as turn 7 (I had a Mozaki Mage kill me from 30 health on turn 7, still salty about it). Outside of Illucia there really isn't a ton this deck can do to beat Combo decks, so pray first that you don't fight a Combo deck, then pray that you can secure Illucia, then pray for an opportune time to play Illucia.
As much as I love greedy Control decks, Priest hasn't always felt so great to play since it never felt like it was building to anything. Horrendous Growth fixes this issue by giving something that tangibly and visibly grows while it's in your hand. There is something so satisfying about watching this gross little pustule of Old God juice growing with every single card you play, until it finally gets released into the world as a mighty large minion and destroys everything in its path. Sure the opponent might have a hard removal for it, but that's why we run two in the deck. Damage removal will sometimes work, but this bad boi can outpace a Hagatha's Scheme that's been in the opponent's hand for 20 turns! Even if both die, Y'Shaarj has our back and brings them back while being a pretty beefy fella himself. If all else fails, we have one last eldritch trick up our slimy sleeve in the form of Galakrond, the Unspeakable who can generate an infinite amount of value and carry the rest of the game. This isn't as single-mindedly meme-y as it could be and could be overhauled to focus entirely on getting as many Horrendous Growths out as possible, but then we would sacrifice some of the ability to cultivate truly massive Growths, which is pretty meme-y in of itself.
What is your meme deck of choice? Do you try different ones for each expansion or do you try to evolve old ones with new cards? Do you have any meme dream stories? Tell us in the comments below!