Priest has always been the brussel sprout in the roast dinner of Hearthstone classes. Loved by a select few, despised by everyone else. Many of the problems stem from Priest's evergreen base and classic card sets, which are a clunky mix of hard-control answers like Shadow Word: Death and Mass Dispel, and dreaded combo enablers like Divine Spirit and Inner Fire. Historically, that has meant the design team has needed to shore up the weaknesses of the class—like the lack of a good 2-Mana minion—with expansion cards, but as these rotate out the same problems resurface. As a result, Priest spends most of its days propping up the power ranking, barring an occasional OP combo deck. (Yes, we're looking at you, Raza.)
The situation has long been accepted as one of those unfortunate but unfixable problems that's baked deep into the code. But not anymore. At the start of each calendar year, Blizzard makes changes to Hearthstone to mark the end of a previous cycle and herald a new one. Hearthstone's 2020 has been dubbed The Year of the Phoenix, and the dev team is breaking a lot of rules. Not only do we have a brand new class, better value thanks to the elimination of card duplicates from packs, and now, a total revamp of Priest's core cards.
In total, six old Priest cards are being removed from Standard. Say goodbye to Prophet Velen, Divine Spirit, Auchenai Soulpriest, Holy Fire, Shadowform, and *gasp* Northshire Cleric—all of which are being sent to the Hall of Fame.
Blizzard is printing new cards to replace them in the Classic set, while also rebalancing seven cards that aren't getting axed. Taken as a whole, it's clear that Blizzard wants Anduin to cement himself as a control bastion, capable of administering massive buffs, huge board clears, and generating debilitating card advantage to squeeze the life out of any deck that burns out fast. The great direct-damage, Mage-pantomime era is gone as Mind Blast is joined in the Hall of Fame by Holy Fire which, to be clear, wasn't even good.
You can see all the replacement Priest cards in the gallery below, but let's go through a few highlights.
Priest's new class legendary is Natalie Seline, an eight mana 8/1 with an effect that will remind long-time players of Vol'jin from Goblins vs. Gnomes. She destroys a minion and adds their current health to her pool. So, eat up a Deathwing, and you have an 8/12. That's a hard removal option packaged with a body to stabilize your end of the board, which, on average, is going to be a lot more useful than Prophet Velen.
Kul Tiran Champion is going to quickly enshrine itself as one of the most powerful two-drops in the game: It's a 2-Mana 2/3, with the ability to buff another friendly minion by two health. For comparison, Shattered Sun Cleric is a three mana 3/2 that buffs a minion +1/+1.
This will be an auto-include for any board-centric Priest deck. For years, the class has struggled to find a suitable early game minion. Back in the day Priests would run, like, River Crocolisk. Yikes. Kul Tiran Champion honestly feels like the Priest equivalent of Sorcerer's Apprentice in terms of ubiquity.
Board clears have always been an issue for Priest, which is weird, considering every other control class has efficient tools for mowing down aggro decks. That will change with the introduction of Shadow Word: Ruin, which destroys everything on the board with five or more attack for the oh-so-low cost of four mana. That will put pressure on aggressive decks to keep their attack levels down, and will also be a great answer to cards like Chef Nomi that generate a whole board full of big bois.
Now let's take a look at a gallery of the old Priest cards which are staying in Standard, but having their cost or text change so they better fit with what Blizzard wants Priest to become.
Remember Holy Smite? That two-damage spell that only saw play in fringe burn builds? Well, now it can no longer go face, but is arguably the most efficient early-game removal tool in the Hearthstone. One Mana, deal three to a minion. The only comparison I can think of is Wing Blast, which required a distinct set of circumstances to proc. Holy Smite is actually good now! What a world!
Meanwhile, Power World: Shield now costs zero mana but doesn't draw a card. It's probably awful! There's also a 1-Mana 2/1 called Scarlet Subjugator that reduces the attack of another minion! And Temple Enforcer might see play! Go take a look at the updated Priest catalogue in our galleries and get ready for Anduin's rise to glory*.
(*PC Gamer makes no promises on this front, the class may still be dumpster tier. We'll just have to wait and see what long-suffering Priest main Zetalot builds, assuming he quits Runeterra and comes back.)