DarkArbiter’s WDS: Smart Hunter!!

The Hunter threat is far from over, even with the nerf to Leeroy Jenkins and Buzzard. A Smarter kind of Hunter decks are on the rise and here's a in-depth guide for it!

Welcome to another DarkArbiter’s Weekly Deck Spotlight, where I bring you an in-depth analysis of a recently played deck. For more information on what this article entails, check out my first Spotlight article here.

As you might have figured out by now, the nerf has only hindered Hunters slightly. They are still capable of being a force to reckon with on the ladder, and many pro players continue to play the class in big tournaments. Because of this, I went looking for a unique Hunter deck that I could talk about today. Nothing really stood out at me for a while, but I finally found this deck while browsing through the top-rated decks of Hearthpwn.com yesterday.

Its creator, Treffo, posted a nice little guide for the deck on the website which you can read by clicking this link here. Overall, his insight and mulligan guide are really useful to get people started, but I thought that I would take another, in-depth look at the deck to see how it functions.

With that, let’s look at the deck. I give you Treffo’s deck, “Smart Hunter !!”.

The Decklist

Well, we got some interesting concepts here at the very least. Overall, it fits the shell of a standard Aggro Hunter, but there are a few cards here that stick out as certainly unique. There are also a few combos here that I wouldn’t normally associate with the standard aggressive Hunter, which is good, because innovation will tend to take you opponent by surprise more often than not on the ladder.

Overall, some of the additional cards help the decks reach in providing additional damage, while others help fill in the void left by Starving Buzzard. I’ll get more into that in just a second though. For now, I want to look at the cards overall and see what each one does for the deck.

Card Composition: Staples

As always, before we can look at the cards that make the deck unique, we have to look at the cards that make it, as well as any other Aggro Hunter deck, tick.

First off, we have the minions. Many of these are pretty straight forward in how they work, but nonetheless are fairly potent creatures. Leper Gnome starts us off as the minion universally considered to be an aggro-intensive creature. You will not see this little one-drop outside of an aggro list, but he does a fair amount of work in the decks he is in by drawing early removal.

Undertaker finds itself a spot in the deck. Probably one of the stronger minions to come out of Naxxramas, Undertaker is just very powerful in the early game. In addition, it has significant synergy with many of the deathrattle minions in the deck, such as Haunted Creeper and Webspinner.

We also see the usual two copies of Mad Scientist. While not the most powerful card to come out of his set, this minion is still one of the reasons why Hunters are still a force to reckon with, as it’s ability to draw and cast a random trap for free on top of its stats generate pretty incredible value.

Last of all, Loatheb retains a spot in the deck. Normally for an aggro list this is slightly odd, but Loatheb has proven his mettle time and time again for the Hunter Midrange, so his inclusion as a potential mid-game stall can come in handy.

On the side of spells, I thought I would start with the most powerful spells in the Hunter’s arsenal, its traps. We see only a single copy of Explosive Trap in the deck, meaning that the aggro matchup will be decided by other cards. Nevertheless, even a single copy of Explosive Trap can be devastating to your opponent, and the ability of Mad Scientist to fetch it out of your deck is a huge bonus.

Next up we have the two copies of Freezing Trap. This is probably the strongest out of all of the secrets in the game, as it has the potential to do just about anything you want it to do. It can disrupt an enemy play, protect one of your minions from being destroyed, cause an enemy’s minion to be effectively dead, or slow down your opponent’s tempo. For two mana, you’ll struggle to find a more efficient secret.

Then we have the single copy of Snake Trap. A card that normally is only sporadically seen, this spell has an effect that usually varies in value depending on when it’s used. Furthermore, without the inclusion of Starving Buzzard, you’ll be pressed even harder to generate value out of the trap. Nevertheless, it can help you fight for the board when you need it to, and six stats for two mana isn’t the worst investment.

Other than that though, most of the other spell inclusions are pretty self-explanatory. Animal Companion and Kill Command have been included in Hunter builds almost without exception, and while Eaglehorn Bown can’t claim as much, it has ridiculous synergy with the number of secrets in the deck.

The inclusion of two Flares and only one Hunter’s Mark is the only thing I question about the deck. Having played the deck, I concluded that while the second Hunter’s Mark wasn’t necessary, its inclusion over the second Flare greatly improved many matchups where I might have floundered otherwise. In addition, with a reduction in the number of Hunters on the ladder overall, Flare, while already ridiculously good for the mana, will just be a cantrip card. This is subject to change on where you are at on the ladder though, so I will leave it at that.

Finally, we have the inclusion of the card that defines a large part of Hunter decks, Unleash the Hounds. Normally an infuriating card for many to play against, this card has gone through probably the most nerfs in the game’s history. I would even go so far as to say that the recent nerfing of Starving Buzzard was a pseudo-nerf to this card again, but it still pulls its weight in the deck. It allows the Hunter to fight for board control when otherwise it might have not been able to recover, and overall is a pretty solid card.

Unique/Tech Choices

While most of the cards in the deck are pretty standard for Aggro Hunter, we have a couple of unique choices that provide for some very interesting combos you normally don’t see with Hunter.

First off, we have two copies of Knife Juggler. At two mana, this card is capable of winning you the game outright if used correctly. This could be anything from coining it out on turn one to saving it for a combo with Unleash the Hounds.

Personally, I love this combo, as it gives these two cards so much more reach in terms of damage and versatility. While it’s certainly not as powerful as the old Starving Buzzard+Unleash the Hounds combo, it certainly gets work done.

Then, we have another card that can potentially combo off of Unleash the Hounds, Cult Master. While it’s not a perfect replacement for Starving Buzzard, Cult Master still gives you the ability to draw a significant number of cards in one turn. More often than not, you will gain value with this combo and can adjust your strategy accordingly.

More than anything, this card could be the crux that Hunters needed to remain viable. It’s not great secret that, overall, Hunter minions are generally weaker stats-wise than other class minions. Utilizing a card that takes advantage of this weakness is a great idea, and while others may have already suggested this, it doesn’t mean that there is no innovation in the card’s inclusion in the deck.

My Thoughts

So, with everything above in mind, what are my thoughts on the deck? Overall, I like the changes. Finding a new way of utilizing Unleash the Hounds, one of my top five favorite cards in the game, is always a cool experience, especially when that includes something like Knife Juggler.

Other than that though, I think the deck is quite strong. It competes with control and aggressive decks alike, and while it may be weak to decks such as most mid-range and combo decks, it still has great potential. It’s certainly not as strong as the pre-nerf Hunter lists obviously, but with those decks becoming no longer an option, this innovation is something the class needs to stay afloat on the ladder. Not only does it manage to do that, it manages to remain a strong class in spite of its setbacks.

Overall, I very much disliked how far Blizzard went with the nerf on Starving Buzzard. However, I will say that it is cool to see Cult Master, a card that for the longest time has only been good in arena, being considered for play on the ladder.


Well, that’s it for this week’s Spotlight. Treffo’s Aggro Hunter list provides a unique and cool take on how the class is capable of functioning now. It is something exciting to see for those who still want to pilot the Hunter class on the ladder, and I look forward to the continued innovation from the class. As always, I hope you enjoyed the article, and tune in next week for another deck to come under the Spotlight.

If you have questions or comments about the article or the deck, feel free to email me at [email protected] or just leave a comment in the section below! In addition, if you have a deck list you would like to see in a future Spotlight article, feel free to message me as well, and I will showcase it if I can.

Thanks for reading!