A combination of newfound free time and fresh blood has resulted in realistic plans to get a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign running amongst my friends. Of all the new D&D adventure settings, I selected Curse of Strahd. I remember the old Raveloft module, although I never got to play it. I did win a sealed copy – that was handed to me by DM-to-the-Stars, Chris Perkins – at GenCon 2012, and it remains sealed in a box of D&D 4th Edition materials in the “Harry Potter” room under the stairs of our house. My excitement to start a campaign and get back into the DM chair is fun to embrace, and I am eagerly cooking up methods to hit the ground running with our new group.
One aspect of running a campaign that I thoroughly appreciate is weaving in the backstory elements of each player into the game sessions. Whenever a player takes the time to create a backstory, I want to reward that in a meaningful way. The nice thing about 5th Edition D&D is the Player’s Handbook gives players reference tables to craft a backstory through Backgrounds, which provide ideas for Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws. My hope for the new campaign is to add another layer to the character creation process to increase the interconnectedness of the party.
And to accomplish this I borrowed from my recent experiences playing the terrific boardgame, Pandemic Legacy.
My last video focused on Netdecking and one piece of advice I offered was that it is useful to go online and find out what decks are currently competitive in the Ranked format. This time around I decided to go 180 degrees and create a deck that I have yet to run across as a significant template in today’s meta.
The result is Father Gabriel, Silence Priest!
The idea for this deck began with trying to determine the best way to make a different type of APD (Annoying Priest Deck), and find a way to use the Silence mechanic against my minions as a weapon to bludgeon the opponent.
I collected some of my games below for you to see the deck in action; there is also an explanation of the deck’s strategy. There is likely room to improve on the deck’s design. I encourage people to experiment with the deck and let me know how your games go as well as what changes you’d make to the deck.
Father Gabriel’s Strategy
There are only a handful of Silence cards in the game, and Priest has two of the only options in Silence (0 mana) and Mass Dispel (4 mana). The Silence spell targets one minion while Mass Dispel targets all enemy minions while also drawing a card. Meanwhile, there are four minions in Hearthstone that use the Silence mechanic: Ironbeak Owl (2 mana), Light’s Champion (3 mana), Spellbreaker (4 mana), and Wailing Soul (4 mana).
Ironbeak Owl sees quite a bit of play as it is a low-cost minion that can significantly affect the opponent’s strategy by removing buffs or a Taunt. Light’s Champion can only silence a demon as a Battlecry, which seems extremely weak to include in most decks, and Spellbreaker also silences a single minion though it costs more at 4 mana and is less likely to be a good fit for most decks. Which brings us to Wailing Soul – a card that I honestly forgot existed because I never see it in Ranked play and ignore it whenever it pops up as an option in Arena. Wailing Soul is a 3/5 for 4 mana and as a Battlecry is silences YOUR other minions. One thing I learned (by accident) in my games is that Wailing Soul obliterates Freeze Mage. Being able to unfreeze all your minions at once is glorious!
Now we’re cooking with gas!
Wailing Soul is a card that can be played as early as Turn 3 (with the Coin) to alter the minions on your side of the board. There are numerous minions that could be played early and then benefit from Wailing Soul being played later:
Ancient Watcher (4/5 for 2 mana that cannot attack)
Ogre Brute (4/4 for 3 mana that has a 50% chance to attack the wrong target)
Eerie Statue (7/7 for 4 mana that can only attack if its the only minion on the board)
Fel Reaver (8/8 for 5 mana that triggers 3 cards being burned for each card your opponents plays)
The cards above feature above-average statistics though they each have a problematic drawback. The purpose of Father Gabriel is to play these cards in a way that eliminates their problems before they affect the game. The deck has six cards that can Silence one or more of these minions, in addition to copies of Sunfury Protector and Defender of Argus. These cards can apply Taunt to minions like Eerie Watcher, so even if you don’t draw into a Silence card, you can still get some value from it be forcing your opponent to clear it out of the way.
In testing out this deck, I had some humorous moments when opponents did not know what to do – even when minions such as Ancient Watcher an Eerie Statue are not silenced yet. Once I was able to attack with the first copy, they typically (after much thought and delay) responded by using resources to clear those minions off the board. Watching a Face Hunter shift gears midgame to clear minions was delightful.
Meanwhile, Sir Finley Mrrgglton can give you a different hero power if you draw him early. For example, there are several games when I was able to switch to the Hunter hero power and that helped to wear down opponents quickly. Other fine powers from Sir Finley are Druid, Mage and Warlock, as the first two can help with board removal and the last can assist with drawing the cards you need to facilitate the Silence or Taunt combinations.
In terms of Mulligans, it is great if you can get an Ancient Watcher in your opening hand. Being able to play this on Turn 1 (with Coin) or 2 sets up good value the rest of the way – as any Silence or Taunt cards can make it something the opponent has to deal with. The card is tough for opposing Priests since it avoids both Shadow Word: Pain and Shadow Word: Death with its 4 attack. Games are a bit more strenuous if you’re not able to get an early Ancient Watcher on the board, so certainly prioritize getting this or Ogre Brute in your opening hand.
At first, I tried to incorporate the Shadowpriest options to deal damage to the opponent’s minions and hero through Auchenai Soulpriest and Shadowform. I have been on the receiving end of the Turn 4 or 5 Auchenai Soulpriet + Circle of Healing boardclear to know how that combination works, so I tried to employ it for my own devices for a change. Sadly, those cards seemed to interfere with drawing tools I needed to get my minions off and running – so I removed them from the deck.
I continue to experiment with Father Gabriel. It is fun when that is started to yield some success in Ranked. Enjoy, and let me know your thoughts!