Hello everybody, welcome back to another Fan Community Spotlight. I give a very special thanks to ShadowsOfSense for taking the last one for me, but I'm back this time to give you one myself. We've got our first returning interviewee in this series, CheeseEtc. If you remember a while ago, I looked at Shadows' take on revamping Priest's evergreen set. This time, it's Cheese's turn to take the spotlight in terms of class revamping.

So let's take a look at Cheese's take on Priest's core set.

A lot of cards were cut. What happened here?

Mind Vision Card ImagePower Word: Shield Card ImageRadiance Card ImageDivine Spirit Card ImageCircle of Healing Card Image

Lightwell Card ImageShadowform Card ImageAuchenai Soulpriest Card ImageLightspawn Card ImageMass Dispel Card Image

Mindgames Card ImageShadow Madness Card ImageCabal Shadow Priest Card ImageTemple Enforcer Card ImageProphet Velen Card Image

Cheese: "In total, out of the 25 cards that compose Priest's existing core sets (Basic and Classic), 15 were cut, 2 were nerfed, 2 were changed but not straight up nerfed, and only 6 cards were kept as is.

What happened here is the logical result of what the majority of players know: Priest's existing core sets suck. Not necessarily in the sense that the cards are bad, but they do not do what core sets are supposed to do: give the class a viable and well-defined identity without overshadowing expansion cards.

At first I was going to be very conservative in my changes, only fixing the most glaring issues like the DS/IF combo, the lack of AoE, etc, but over time I decided to really optimize Priest's core sets. This is way more fun!

Most of the cards I cut had at least one problem. Too OP or too bad. Too widespread or too narrow. Limits design space for future cards or doesn't bring anything of value to Priest's class identity...

(As an aside, there's a lot of talk about Priest's core sets but I think class with the worst core sets is actually Paladin. In fact Paladin's issues are bigger than Priest's because most of what constitutes Paladin's class identity isn't viable. This is a discussion for another time though.)"

What identity were you going for?

Cheese: "Like Shadows, I wanted to move away from an emphasis on control, value generation, and weird combos, and concentrate on board control through resilient high-health minions. Both of our versions have this in common.

I made several custom classes in the past. I used the experience I gained from this for my revamp. What makes a class feel unique? What's it's primary game plan? How does it win games? Which mechanics of the class is the central one? What should we put into the core set so that the class is always viable?

Blizzard's official post on the subject is weird. It mixes class mechanics with strengths and weaknesses so most of the stuff doesn't make sense. The way I proceeded is completely different. I started by listing what should be the primary and secondary mechanics of the class, the strengths and weaknesses of the class as well as the archetypes available to it should follow from this list.

Based on my game's experience and what Blizzard already laid out for the class:

  • PRIMARY MECHANIC - Priest's primary mechanics are healing and high-health minions. Priest should be the best class at healing. It should have the most powerful and cost-effective healing cards, both single-target and multi-target. It should have healing synergy. Going hand-in-hand with that, Priest should also have access to a lot of minions with high-health for their cost, as well as several ways of buffing a minion's health.
  • SECONDARY MECHANICS - I try to think of secondary mechanics as "shells" rather than as a specific way to play.
    • Hard Removals : Priest has a lot of hard removals, that is removal that says "destroy" on the card rather than removal throught direct damage or other ways. Think of the Shadow Words.
    • Copying your stuff : Priest has a lot of cards to copy his own or his opponent's stuff, either through summon or card generation. This also implies that Priest is good at greed and value.
    • Comboing small spells : This is a theme that was explored during the Year of the Mammoth (2017) and culminated in Razakus Priest, which was the best deck in the game before its nerf.
    • Resurrect : I know this is a...controversial aspect of Priest, but gameplay-wise it is ok as long as it doesn't allow minion cheating.
    • Silence : Priest has a near-exclusive access to silencing effects.

Following from that are Priest's strengths and weaknesses:

  • Priest is good at:
    • Playing big minions or making them big ("vertical pressure"). In fact it should be the best class in this area (tied with Druid maybe).
    • Removing single minions ("vertical removal").
    • Generating tons of value (through copying and rez effects)
    • Surviving (through healing)
  • Priest is average at:
    • Card draw
    • Board clears ("horizontal removal", I hope that my emphasis on board control through minions makes the need of a board clear less fundamental for Priest)
  • Priest is bad at:
    • Swarming the board ('horizontal pressure"). For Priest, it's quality over quantity.
    • Keeping tempo. In fact Priest is the slowest class in the game.
    • Direct damage

Also, I say "core sets" a lot, but the Basic and Classic set are NOT interchangeable in their functions.

  • The Basic set is the spine of the class. It should be very simple and heavily feature the class' primary identity (healing in Priest's case) but should still contain a minimal kit of everything a class needs to be viable. A bit of card draw, removal, direct damage, etc. This is why I kept Holy Smite for instance, even though direct damage is not part of the class identity. It is fine if the Basic cards (that represent primary identity) are slightly better than what you would expect from an expansion card since it's about viability and identity.
  • The Classic set is the limbs of the class. It should feature Hearthstone's more complex mechanics as well as the class' secondary mechanics. Ideally, Classic cards are cards that would come and go depending on the meta. While the Basic set ensures the class' viability, the Classic set ensures its internal diversity. Since Classic cards are crafted and opened in packs rather than given for free, there should also be a sense of progression there. Unlike the Basic set, it is better for the Classic set to be slightly below average in terms of power level in order to leave room for expansion cards."

It's not an FCS without your own cards. What'd you whip up for us? What were your goals for each of them?

Cheese: "I made 5 entirely custom cards for my revamp. Each of these 5 cards fills a specific role in the Priest class which I think couldn't be adequately fullfilled by changing or "reverse-HoFing" an existing card.

  • Power Word: Fortitude is a less problematic replacement for Divine Spirit. (I've been told that this would be OP in arena, but I think it's okay as long as Priest doesn't have more OP arena than other classes on average.)
  • Power Infusion is intended for Razakus-like/Nomi-like kinds of miracle decks, although it can perfectly be used as regular card draw.
  • Mind Bomb is a replacement for Mass Dispel which does see some play but still feels very narrow. Mind Bomb can double as an anti-board-wide-buffs AoE (very practical against murlocs!) or as a mass silencer for your own minions for metas in which Silence Priest can exist.
  • Mindbender is a Razakus-like machine gun card for Priest, and sort of a replacement for Mind Blast. Sure, it is direct damage, but not really because it requires a LOT of small spells to be viable! Small spells that will vary between expansions of course.
  • Finally, Ishanah replaces Prophet Velen and its dangerous effect as the Classic legendary. Ishanah is obviously inspired by Activate the Obelisk. She is very potent healing synergy and cements Priest's identity as a class that wants to take control of the board by keeping its minions alive. Cutting Velen was a last-minute decision I made after I read Shadow's argument in favor of it. Velen is waaay too dangerous to keep as an evergreen card;"

There are a lot more cards from future sets compared to Shadow's set. Did these cards just happen to fit in perfectly with what you were trying to do?

Flash Heal Card ImageDivine Hymn Card ImageShadow Ascendant Card ImageAcolyte of Agony Card ImageDark Cultist Card Image

Holy Champion Card ImageConvincing Infiltrator Card ImagePower Word: Replicate Card ImageNightscale Matriarch Card ImageMass Resurrection Card Image

Cheese: "By "future" I assume you mean cards from expansions? If so, yes. My sets contain 10 "reverse-HoF'd" cards while Shadows' only contain 4. This is a design choide I made because I think it isn't necessary to make new cards if there are existing ones that fit the bill. It also prevented me from veering too far away from what already exists. I want my revamp to be credible.

For example, Acolyte of Agony is a lifesteal minion with a fitting stat repartition. Why would I make another one? Another example, Mass Resurrection - a choice I know will be contested in the comments - is both the safest and the most basic implementation of the ressurect part of Priest's class identity because it comes very late in the game and requires a deck built around it and a game plan."

Do you have anything behinds the scenes you want to share with us?

Cheese: "I went through 4 iterations before settling on the core sets you see now. I started last year around october I think. This was before Resurrect Priest became a viable deck in the meta. When Resurrect Priest not only became good but also a recurring topic of "discussion" in various salt threads, I already had the Convincing Infiltrator/Mass Resurrection deo in my Classic set so I seriously considered dumping those two.

I decided to keep them both because 1) Rez Priest is a good deck but has its counters and 2) Rez Priest wasn't a thing until recently. It only emerged when the meta became favorable to it. And this is exactly what I was looking for for my Classic set: shells that come and go as the meta fluctuates! If anything, I consider the emergence of Rez Priest as a validation of my choices!

What was definitely NOT a validation of my choices is Evolve Shaman. Last year, I was already working on a Shaman revamp (Shaman core sets are very bad too). Putting Evolve in classic felt natural to me. Then Evolve returned to standard and the Evolve/Desert Hare combo cancerized the meta. Needless to say I dumped it."

Do you have anything else you want to share with us?

Cheese: "I want to make a custom revamp the TOTALITY of the Basic and Classic set! Priest just happened to be the class I started with for obvious reasons. At first I wanted to share my work only after it's finished. However this is a VERY long and difficult job. Finding the right class identity. Going through the totality of existing cards to see which ones I can reverse-HoF. Meticulously selecting which ones to keep, if any, for a specific slot. And above all: making it all balanced. Each class should be viable and of roughly equal power level IN ALL POSSIBLE METAS, design space for future expansions should be preserved, etc... I shared my work on Priest early because Shadows also posted his own revamp so I wanted to post mine for comparison.

I'm mostly done with the classes. Now I'm working on the biggest and most difficult part of the revamp: neutral cards! I will share everything in due time.

Also, I hope Blizzard won't announce a revamp in the few hours following this article. This will be weird."

That does it for today's Fan Community Spotlight. Check out Cheese's revamped Priest set and let us know what you think of it in the comments.